12 months

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You are an infant no more, my little Quince. A whole year old, and it shows. In this last month your cognition has just blasted off; you socialize, you sneak, you psych me out, you watch and mimic, you climb and dance and wave goodbye. You give kisses. You have thoughts, and you communicate them.

An example: you have always occasionally awoken at night. Not every night, and usually just once. I would nurse you back to sleep, no big deal. But suddenly this month your brain seized upon milk as an award given for crying at night, and for a week straight, you were waking at least 3 times a night. I decided to night wean, but I was useless at comforting you without milk. It just made you furious. So your dad had to take over night duty. The first time he went in to bounce you, you kept crying, pointing at the door (“I want Mom”). Finally you were so tired, you gave up, lay your little head on his chest, and pointed to your crib (“I’m ready. You can put me back there.”)

You sign ‘more’ and have made word-like noises (so hard to know what’s a coincidence and what’s a legit first word. Possibly ‘banana’, ‘ray’ for raisin, and ‘mama’ and ‘dada’) but pointing is definitely your preferred method of communication. Or more specifically, scream, eye contact, point, and scream again for emphasis.

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You love playing what Junip calls “share/no share”, where you offer us food, then snatch it away when we try to nibble. Your other pastimes include attempting to climb the stairs, attempting to splash in the toilet, attempting to unplug various small appliances, and attempting to¬†empty the book bin/laundry basket/shoe rack/toy shelf. You like to throw food on the floor and then grab my hair with your saucy little fingers when I bend over to pick it up. You love music so much, it’s hilarious. Anytime June grabs a noise-making toy, you came barrel crawling across the room, shrieking and pointing, then bouncing and waving the toy when she hands it over. Your joy is contagious.

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I still find myself occasionally dumbstruck, looking at you and your sister and realizing what incredible, impossible luck I’ve had, that these two amazing little people came out of my body, that you are mine and I am your mother. I sincerely enjoy your company; you are wonderful and funny and sweet and soft and squirmy, and I love you so, so much. Happy birthday, munchkin.

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up nort’

Our not-so-little gang of hooligans descended upon the northwoods last week for the annual family vacay. It was a week of just-barely-controlled, joyful chaos. We are 19 now, isn’t that insane? The shoe pile is like a mountain. Carloads of groceries are consumed in minutes. The children revert to their wild, baser selves, taking up arms in the form of punching balloons and pool noodles.

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With so many mouths to feed, we had to bring the paella pan. I just love everyone’s faces in this.

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There were pleasure cruises and wild rides. Junip went tubing with Drew and, having just seen her big kid cousins wiping out, told him she wanted to fall off. So he did. I was so proud of my tough kiddo and also, wanted to kill her dad. I mean, the boat was slowing down and they kinda just slid off the back of the tube together, but still.

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These two, oh my gosh, they were just thick as thieves. It was adorable. Whoever woke up first each morning staggered into the living room sleepily asking for the other. June was so thrilled to have a buddy happily obeying all of her spontaneous play scripts, and Zeke had the running, jumping, tireless playmate of his dreams.

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It wouldn’t be a trip up North without a day at the zoo. I’ve been at least five or six times now, but the bird house always blows my mind. All these joyful, chattering little fluff balls, buzzing around and landing on you like you’re a familiar part of their world.

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And those giraffes! They’ll just kiss anyone!

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Had to end the day with a little brain freeze to balance the summer heat.

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Quinn, of course, would not be excluded.

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And, perhaps not surprisingly, this was the closest we were able to get to a Gigi/Papa/grandkid smiling group shot. I would describe it not so much as herding chickens, but wrangling all the chickens into a tight pose and trying to get them to smile at the camera. Ollie’s escape attempts are my favorite.

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Kids: 1, adults: 0. Heh heh heh.

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We just had one rainy day, but with all the sun and swimming, there were plenty of times throughout the week when tired out little bodies went seeking a snuggle and a book.

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And this little one, my sweet little buddy, turned one year old. I can’t believe it. Quinn, I have so much more to say about that, I will save it for a post just about you. In the meanwhile, let it be noted how highly suspicious she was of the flaming foreign object we placed on her tray, but once she got it up to her mouth, it wasn’t going anywhere. She burrowed her face in and ate it from the middle out, tunneling through until the outer ring fell apart in her little fingers.

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It was hard to come home.


life lately

Oh, summer. You go too quickly! There is so much I want and need to do, my head is kind of spinning. I have a patio full of decking materials for the deck I need to build, stair stringers and boards for the stairs I need to rebuild, wood and brackets for the shelves I need to build (J’s room and the playroom), polyurethane for the tables (three at last count) I need to refinish, or finish refinishing, ha. Today I got two messages about rush order ketubahs, and we’re leaving for a week up north on Saturday! *White knuckles gripping table*

And balancing all that… total slowness. Mornings where I rush things and, say, try to help June get her pants on, and then pay for it with tears, her pulling the pants off, and 15 minutes of her putting the (now inside-out) pants back on by herself. Or slowness in nicer ways – evenings in the hammock, afternoons crawling around the house with my Quince while Junip naps, vacations with entire days of doing nothing but laying around in various locations (couch, beach, floor). The ebb and flow of summer.

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We had this thing inflated so long it nearly killed the grass, but it was so hilarious watching the girls interact with it. Love that butt.

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The maple lost more branches, damaged the house a bit more, and was finally cut down by the city. It was a relief but still, really sad. The yard is just so… exposed and barren feeling now. Also, I had totally forgotten about the little collection of rocks Junip had been hiding in the bark crevices, until they broke the guy’s chainsaw blade and he had to spend the next 20 minutes going around the trunk, hunting them down and picking them out! Whoops.

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My Aunt Susie and Uncle Charley came to town in their new camper trailer, so we had the rare pleasure of a couple nights with them. We picnicked out at their campsite, where June made some buddies and Quinn discovered watermelon, and then had them over for a grill out the next night. I’ve had a pretty successful run convincing people to move to Madison, but I still don’t see my extended family nearly as often as I’d like. I appreciate it when I do.

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We seem to have made it over some hump, where suddenly I can do things like see that the bus is coming in 10 minutes and actually get myself and the girls on it, or throw them in the trailer and bike us downtown to the market, and it doesn’t drain me for the whole day. I’m thinking it’s mostly a change in the girls, not me. I don’t want to wish away their babyness but I’m really appreciating this new dynamic.

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Speaking of new dynamics, suddenly Juniper is such a big girl, it’s really blowing my mind. Please see the tea party, below. How is this a thing all kids do? We don’t even drink tea really. I can’t think of any books where they’ve done this. And yet, Junip pushes a stool to the sink, fills up a cup with water, and when I follow her back to the playroom, there are all the toys and dolls sipping “chamomile tea” (like Peter Rabbit’s mom gives him?)

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And also, willpower. Wow. The guy at the BP gave her two dum dums, and when I asked if she wanted me to open one, she said no, she wanted to show her dad first. She carried them home untouched, wouldn’t take a lick until Drew had appreciated them. And then she unwrapped one for Quinn before opening her own. I hadn’t even asked her to give Quinn one, actually I felt a little weird about a baby having candy, but it was such sweet, natural generosity, I had to roll with it.

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The solemn bond between child and lollipop. Beautiful.



elkhart lake

This week Kate and I took the girls up to her sister’s vacation house in Elkhart Lake for what turned out to be a perfect little getaway. We had lazy mornings with doughnuts and Magic Schoolbus, afternoons on the prettiest little beach (it stayed knee deep just about as far as we could go, so the water was warm and gentle and I didn’t have to worry about June running wild in it), and we even managed to catch my parents for dinner at the Tiki bar (Elkhart is just a short drive from my hometown).

It’s amazing how being in a new space can transform a slow day from suffocating to indulgent, how spending an hour on the beach can exhaust you and make you feel like you really did something with your afternoon. So glad we made the trip.

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^I love those chunky little rolls, but I was still finding sand in them like three baths later!

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^ Most amazing toy ever?

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And to wrap things up, Junip shot this one. Mai Tai’s and Kitty Cottontails. Somehow it really seemed to capture the moment.

the fourth

I’ve been meaning to share these photos – we went down to Chicago for the Fourth, to intersect with some of the cousins while they were at Gigi and Papa’s. Quinn and Hattie did some bonding, and Junip had a blast playing with the big girls. Hutch and Drew took them up onto the roof of the HOH building to watch the fireworks (June’s first time seeing them!) and we caught the parade Monday morning.

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Also, Reid, Caroline, Drew and I took all the kiddos to Frontier Days (a big carnival they have every year on the Fourth). Junip was excited but stoic on the rides. She did NOT want Drew helping her hold on at all! Awesome and terrifying.

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So fun seeing June get her first taste of these holidays. Staying up late, indulging in funnel cakes and candy, hanging with her big girl cousins. Hope you all had a great fourth, too!



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Picking up a large rock on the street: “I’m gonna put it in a glass of water.” Me: “Why?” June: “An octopus will come out. She will be born.”

At a highway rest area: “Mom, a sandwich! A SANDWICH!” It took me a solid minute to figure out she was looking at the state flag. It is an exceptionally lame state flag. I think I much prefer Junip’s interpretation, where two people are holding a giant sandwich.

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I need to preface this next one by saying that I am notorious in my family for drinking everyone’s water. I don’t mean to. It’s just, we’ll be watching a movie or something, and I’ll take a sip of Drew’s water, and then I look down and the cup is empty in my hand. Well, at dinner the other night, J looks at me and says: “I drink your water up?” I told her she could have a sip. She shoots me this devious smile and, in one go, downs my entire mason jar of water. Like, cue the cartoon ‘glug glug glug’ noises. And, declarative this time: “I drink your water ALL up.” Can’t say I didn’t have that one coming.

Wrapping a toy in a dishtowel, talking to herself: “I got you a present, Coco.” So of course I ask who Coco is, thrilled at the emergence of a first imaginary friend. J, in a totally somber voice: “He’s my friend. He found me when I was lost. I was lost in the winter and snow and he saved me. He looks like a clown.” Wow, right? Creepy a little?

After Drew mentioned work: “I make work, too!” (Runs for her markers) “I’m an artist. I make artwork.” (Heart melting)

Quietly ‘reading’ to herself: “And the rhinosaurus says, ‘I will make mincemeat of you, King Babar! I will make mincemeat of you, Queen Celeste!'” Ah, yeah, that’s not actually what the book says.

While at the grocery store with Grandma: “We need beer at our house.” Grandma: “I don’t think you do.” J: “YES. We need beer. And chips.”

A cunning new tactic: beginning her sentences “Daddy was thinking that…” As in, “Daddy was thinking that we could go get some ice cream.” She is a clever little girl, my Juniper.




11 months

My little Quince, you are getting to be quite the adorable little handful. Climbing (and falling down) stairs, pulling knives out of the dishwasher, chasing your father out the front door (and getting stuck when it inevitably closed on you)… We are (happily) past the days when I felt compelled to check your breathing three times a night, but that paranoia has been replaced with a whole new host of fears about what might befall you while I wash the dishes, or pee, or blink.

Gone, too, are the days of you chilling silently in the k’tan for hours on end. You are still an exceptionally happy little baby, but as often as not, you are LOUD. I love our little babble conversations. We’ve been working on signing, but I swear, more often than you’ve signed ‘more,’ you’ve said it. Mimicry, but still. Less pleasant is the little pterodactyl scream you resort to when food/beverage/toy is out of your reach. And diaper changes… goodness. They are beginning to feel more like rodeo work. I need earplugs.

All the same, I’m happy to see some spunk in you. I think it’ll serve you well. Actually, it already is. Like, when you’re in the stroller with June, and she is hoarding some toy you want, and you get a handful of her hair to amuse yourself with instead. J: “Mom, help! She got me!” Me: “Give her the toy! Quick, give her the toy!”

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My cheek-pinching, glasses-stealing, nose-licking little lovebug. I love you so much.


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