Friday, August 4, 2017

27/52 & 28/52 & 29/52 & 30/52.

August! Boom, just like that. We've had camps, we had free weeks. Days away and days at home. Museums, pools, parks, the theater, and afternoons of quiet time spent in the cool air conditioning. This past week both of the girls were in camp Monday through Thursday from 9:30 until 1 p.m. The sudden time to myself caught me by surprise. Not just the minutes and seconds and the ability to get things done without interruption. But to suddenly have access to one's own headspace, the ability to not have to listen to another voice but one's own. Is it possible to forget the way silence feels in the daytime? Apparently so. 

Yesterday I spent some free time at the art museum. Alone. Picasso, Matisse cut-outs, Pollack: Why is it they all seem to remind a mother of their toddlers' art? No, I'm not questioning art's value or an artist's skill. It just that when you're so used to small voices from small people filling your head, dictating your days, when you finally find yourself staring up at the soaring ceilings of I.M. Pei's East Wing at the National Gallery and you see Alexander Calder's outsized hanging mobile, why is it that the first thing that comes to mind is a baby mobile? Goodness, phantom limbs. 

This summer has been good to us. Of course there are moments, even whole days, when the girls are really tough. And it always seems it's on those days a stranger will single me out and tell me how fast it goes, yadda ya. And I'm seeing truth in those statements. What is it: long days, short years? Anyway, generally speaking Cecile and Genevieve are in this awesome place right now. While not exactly "easy" to travel with, they are manageable. Cecile, dare I say, can even be helpful, when she wants to be. And so our yearly summer trips to Kiawah and Lake Placid were, I might venture, fun! (Note that last year, following those very same trips, I declared we would never set foot in Kiawah, nor Lake Placid, ever, ever again.) I couldn't yet categorize our travel as relaxing, but enjoyable! Yes! 

I want to hit pause, savor this, hold them, smell the sweaty sunscreen in their curly hair. Cuddly moments are becoming fewer and fleeting. But there is such also pleasure in witnessing how brave and active and part of this big, big world they they are becoming. A tender process. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

23/52 & 24/52 & 25/52 & 26/52.

Since my last post we've had end-of-school parties and picnics, a spat of pneumonia (Cecile), ballet recitals (also Cecile), a quick trip south with my in-laws, and a neighborhood block party here and there. I keep thinking, oh, it'll be the next week when we hit that slow summertime stroll, but each week seems to roll even faster forward than the one before it. And so what begin as a twice-monthly post has become a monthly update. 

Genevieve narrates her day. "My get in car." "My go to MOM'S." "My play with baby and baby cry and my give her pacifier." "My pool now?" "My pool after nap." "Ice cream after good dinner." She's remembering a lot, too, often resurrecting moments I thought we had long moved past. All in all, I love two. It may be my absolute favorite age thus far. Honestly, if I could fast-forward through most of the baby phases (checking in every now and again to nurse ... oh, how I miss nursing) and stop just shy of a second birthday and take it from there, I'd have one hundred children. Sadly, I'm not sure I was fully present for Cecile's twos, as I was in the fog of pregnancy for the majority of it. And so this go-around with Genevieve, I can't get enough. There's just enough squish in her cheeks and legs, I can still comfortably put her on my hip or in the carrier on my back, and she still naps for a solid two-hour stretch. She's fabulous company and curious and a talker, and yet we're still a little ways away from the manipulation tactics and inability to distract ... traits I know are just around the bend. I am savoring every bit. 

Cecile transitioned straight out of school and directly into a full-day camp. She takes the bus! It's hard to believe she was ever a kid who was not too hot with transitions as a small child, because these days she pivots and dives right into new situations with such ease. These last three weeks she's home every day from camp with names of new friends and stories of how much fun she's having. It's fantastic. Cecile has also turned out to be quite the reader. Sure, she's been "reading" (a.k.a. memorizing and reciting) her favorite bedtime books to us for some time now (which has totally freaked out a few of our babysitters, ha). But these days she'll slip the newspaper out of its sleeve and work through a few headlines ... for better or worse, considering what those headlines have been lately, ugh. The last few weeks I've been reading her Charlotte's Web, chapter by chapter. She's so innately interested in storytelling and words. It's a beautiful piece of her person. 

A mistake I made: trying to potty train Genevieve and teach Cecile how to ride a two-wheel bike in the same week. Ultimately I threw in the towel with the bike-riding. But! Genevieve took up the potty so quickly! She is so proud of herself, as is the rest of the family with her. Both girls still wear pull-ups at nighttime, but how nice to be nearly diaper-free. As for the bike, I'll try to take off the training wheels again next month. One milestone at a time. 

Even as July has turned quite hot (the heat index is over the century mark as I type), the hue of our hydrangeas are telling me Autumn will be here before we know it. I dug up the last of our spring vegetables (I tired of holding out hope for the beets, which never beefed up), and sowed the beginnings of our fall harvest (arugula, carrots, Brussel sprouts). The girls fight over our ripe golden tomatoes ("'Mato ready!" Genevieve shouts), and we're giving a trellised cantaloupe a try. So, yes: Forward march into more long days with long shadows. Stone fruit and fireflies. Summer hair and hats. Naked ice cream nearly every night. And so it goes.

Friday, June 9, 2017

19/52 & 20/52 & 21/52 & 22/52.

Another four weeks gone by. Jon and I were in and out of town during the month of May, and a bit into June too. We had what I think were the last of our friends' weddings, phew. It always amazes me how I'm able to compartmentalize my "motherness" when I'm away from the kids. I feel like a different person. Not a better person, and not even the person I was before kids. Just different. A part of me is definitely missing, like a phantom limb. But there's a part I regain, too. I'm sure--or at least I hope--the kids are the same and live entirely in the moment when I'm not there.

During the time we were home in May, much of it was a bit soggy and gray for my liking. But the garden is happy. And now the sun is shining and, oh, it's nice to hear the clap of the screen door again. I just don't think I made enough time to look around and breath in and absorb this springtime. And here they are forecasting 90s this weekend.

Some notes: The girls have taken to asking for "naked ice cream," after I made them disrobe to eat some double-chocolate ice cream one evening. On Mother's Day, in a fit of frustration, Cecile asked, exasperated, "But when is child's day?" Another good "Cecile-ism": When we were away and the girls were at my parents', after noticing my father was did all the cooking and all the cleaning, she says, "Mac! You're just like Cinderella!" Tell her she's a silly goose and she'll say, "I'm not a silly goose I'm a person!" One hundred percent, girlfriend. You absolutely are.

Hello Genevieve, you're TWO! And your word explosion! Everything is a full sentence, though things aren't entirely in the right order. "In my hand, cap bubbles outside," means she's holding the cap to her bubbles in her hand and she is outside. Though we haven't been nursing for about a month now, we still crave a closeness. She always asks me to "rock a bit" before bedtime, and to rub her back. I hate to admit it, and perhaps it's because there are no extra hormones at play, but I'm more inclined to indulge her in this regard than I did when Cecile was this age. This makes me a little sad, that I couldn't have been more giving of myself with Cecile. It also highlights to me how siblings, though equipped with an inborn temperament, will interact with their given environment, which shifts from sibling to sibling, and that contributes to their personality.

Another wayward thought: I never thought I'd love having two girls. I mean, I love it. With both pregnancies I thought we were having boys, and even after they were born I've never adopted the girlie-girl, frilly, pink, princess thing. (No giant flower headbands on my bald babies, thank you.) Perhaps it's because my sister was born when I was fifteen and until then I grew up with four brothers? I don't know. And while I'm sure maybe all siblings support each other--at least at this age--there is some kind of special kinetic energy I see in Cecile and Genevieve's relationship. It's a true sisterhood thing going on, and it's not anything I've taught or fostered. I'm certainly not doing the best job describing it, and I can't give you a concrete story or example to explain it any better. But it's there and it's awesome. And so that's that. Welcome, June.

Monday, May 8, 2017

15/52 & 16/52 & 17/52 & 18/52.

Time cascading! I am always so disappointed in myself when I don't keep this log current. Late last week I finally set aside time to cull through photos since my last post and I can see such clear physical changes in the girls. Describing exactly how they have grown, on the other hand, is considerably more difficult. And naturally, recalling specifics becomes more difficult with every passing minute ... of which there have been many, many, many since my last entry. And so ...

I'll start with Genevieve. A flurry of words accompanies her wherever she goes. About a month ago, she and I were sitting at the kitchen table and she was wholly occupied with her yogurt breakfast. Until she broke the silence, declaring, "Mac eats my toes!" It was her first complete sentence. (A little context: My father, whom the girls have dubbed 'Mac' makes quite a scene nibbling on the girls' bare feet whenever he sees them.) Her words were proof there is so much more going on in that little mind of hers than I give her credit for. Like, the other day when the skies were pouring sheets of rain, without a prompt she found and put on her goulashes. It shouldn't, but it so impressed me. Also, she refuses to be misunderstood. I love this little thing she does: While she's generally a patient person who is happy to sit on my hip as I tidy the house and such (my back is paying for this move as of late), if she has something to say and I'm not giving her the attention she needs to say it, she grabs my chin, directs my face to face hers, and then tells me what she needs. It's really funny. There's still some baby yet in her, though. We are no longer nursing, but she still loves a good long snuggle, loves to give big hugs, loves to be loved. She still has her chicken run, as we call it, and that delicious protruding toddler tummy that is so fun to kiss. She's in a really good place, lately. This age and phase she's in may be my very favorite.

And then I also have my Cecile. That one is a strong personality. Or continues to be a strong personality. (Pantsuit nation!) Oh my goodness, and her mind is a steel trap. There has been more than one instance lately that she recalls details about things that I either thought she wasn't paying attention to (i.e. adult conversation) or that happened so long ago I barely remember all the details. And she has been reading! Really! She'll pick up the newspaper and piece together sentences, or strings of words. I am so impressed. She has also been pushing boundaries, spinning some mighty tall tales lately. One that made me laugh: A friend of hers from school is one of four children and she gets school lunch. Cecile asked me if she, too, could start getting school lunch and I absent-mindedly told her when we have four children in our house she could. (Please note we have zero plans to have four children in our household.) A week or so later her teacher cautiously offered her congratulations on our growing family. I set that record straight so fast. So, so fast. And girlfriend has also gotten tall. Suddenly I look at her and she's just so long. Like, there is true length to her neck, and her shorts and skirts are suddenly mini. None of her shoes fit. There is not a bit of baby left in her.

The girls play together better and better. There are conflicts, sure. And poor Genevieve gets hurt--by a sister in a non-sharing mood, or when she is trying to be bigger than she truly is--more often than I'd like. But she rolls with it. Cecile is a great teacher. She loves to instruct, and when she's in the right mindset, is one of the most patient people. Both of them love ballet, which I love, though I am trying not to encourage it too much or get too excited. Both love reading--I really lucked out there. Legos and building toys are a big hit, lately. Even when it's soggy, the kids want to be on the new swing, or digging in the garden. We are less afraid of getting dirty. 

So it's good. We're good. And there have been a lot of things lately that I won't get into in this forum that have further highlighted just how good we have it, how lucky we are, and how fleeting this all is. Even though, yes of course, there are challenges. There are stresses. But yeah, it's pretty damned awesome and I am trying to live it and absorb it so that when it's gone, as it someday will be, the memory will be there and it will be nourishing.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

13/52 & 14/52.

Despite Genevieve having strep throat and Cecile picking up some 24-hour fever, the girls and I have found a little bit of harmony lately. Okay, harmony not so much like Handel's "Messiah." It's more akin to hearing Row Row Row Your Boat in a round, a little off-key, and perhaps sung in a way you can't always tell for certain whether or not the canon is intentional. But it's most definitely the same song.

The dance starts when we come home from school. There is a snack, and I cook dinner while the girls play inside or out. (Yes! We've been able to be outside lately! A game-changer.) We eat around six o'clock. Cecile clears the plates and we march upstairs by 6:30. Pajamas on, teeth brushed, and I [try to remember to] lay our tomorrow's clothes. Each girl picks one book, which we read together in Cecile's bed. Then we turn out Cecile's light, I tell her a story and sing her a song from the door jam ("Maybe" from Annie, "So Long Farewell" from The Sound of Music, and "McNamara's Band" are current favorites), and then wish her goodnight and close the door. Then I go nurse Genevieve in her rocking chair before placing her in her crib and wishing her goodnight, too. Since her fall last month she cries when I put her down, but quiets herself and falls asleep within a few minutes. It's about as much as I can ask for. And the whole thing is usually done by 7:30. 

Does it always go smoothly? Absolutely not. Why, on Thursday last week Cecile let herself out of the backyard with Genevieve in tow for a "flower fairy walk" without telling me. I found them around the block with a neighbor; my heart in my throat. So I bought latches for the fence gates. And on Monday Cecile escalated her boundary pushing by hitting Genevieve, and later, me. Which is completely unacceptable and we had to stop everything to make completely clear just how unacceptable the behavior truly was and is and will always be. So, yes, the process is still trying. Very, very trying with many long, deep breathes. But like I said: Same song! Maybe my larger point is that it may have taken nearly two years, but I am finally, finally, finally not completely and entirely overwhelmed by the idea of staring down bedtime with two children alone. Small [mental] victories [of my own], I suppose. 

Naturally, everything is about to be shaken up. This weekend Jon's extended family is in town for a memorial service and Seder dinner. And then Tuesday the girls and I are up and out and down to Florida to be with my mother's side of the family through the Easter holiday. The girls will be sharing a room for the first time and I'm more than a little nervous about it, but I am hoping hours of sunshine and sand will poop them out enough that they go to sleep and stay asleep. And if they don't, I'm going to try very hard to check my idea of what constitutes a vacation and find a sliver of joy in what bare feet in the sand before 6 a.m. feels like ... before pleading with my dear husband to, again, please  update my passport and book us a damned vacation of our own ;) ;)