life lately

Well, there is no denying that summer is in full swing here. That goes for the humidity and mosquitoes, which have totally been harshing my mellow, I’m not gonna lie, but it has also meant naked, wild children letting themselves into the backyard and entertaining themselves, what?!, me with a cold sweet tea in hand and my feet in a kiddie pool for hours at a time, grill outs, home-made ice cream, splash pad visits, and exhausted little ones falling asleep at random times.

We’re all super excited for our summer vacation (a week on the lake in Empire, Michigan) but the sad news is that when we get back, Junip’s best buddy Karin will have moved out of state. We’ve been fitting in as many last minute playdates and dinners as possible, but it’s kinda breaking my heart. The only other buddy I’ve seen her play this intensely with (like, get out of here grownups, we’re busy) is her cousin Zeke, who also lives out of state. It will definitely be an adjustment.

^”Ant!”

This little big girl is sort of barreling through milestones faster than I can keep track. In the last month, we’ve tackled weaning, potty training, switched from highchair to booster and from crib to toddler bed, and I’m about to switch out her carseat to the big kid, forward facing one. There is just no baby left in her. It’s definitely bittersweet. Her favorite things these days are trains and garbage trucks, spiders/caterpillars/ladybugs, pushing her babies in the stroller, and painting (mostly herself).

I feel like I’ve frequently found myself reading these internet lists of how kids are like tiny drunk people, and it would always be noted how they’ll lay down and pass out in random places, which left me thinking “How do I get one of these magically sleepy children?” Well, it has finally happened. Those two shots are from back to back nights when Drew was out, and I left June playing downstairs while I put Quinn to bed. Both nights, I come back downstairs and she’s totally unconscious, enough for me to carry her up and lay her down without waking her. Beautiful.

Super Juniper.

A visit and a snuggle with my godparents.

And, why I don’t even try to keep knee high glass clean. Gotta love these kids.

summer days

This summer has been so good, and I know it’s only the beginning of July, but I feel like it’s slipping through my grasp already. We’ve been packing it in as much as possible. Yesterday Drew only worked a few hours in the morning, so we hit the park, drove out to Lake Mills for swimming with June’s buddy Emmett, and then caught the last two shows at Stoughton’s Catfish River music festival. I think I was more tired than the kids by the time we got home.

I’ve got to start by saying, Quinn has become a little climbing machine, and I’m finding her confidence kind of terrifying. I keep turning around to find her precariously balanced at heights I can’t reach.

After Quinn’s nap, we drove out to a cute little beach just outside town. The lake is spring fed, so they’re not having the aglae-bloom issues Madison’s lakes are. I can definitely imagine this becoming a regular haunt of ours.

And then at the music festival, we picnicked and let the kids run wild. They bee-lined it to the stage and boogied until we dragged them out of there. They are such sweetly earnest little dancers. Not a hint of self consciousness.

Sister love.

juniperisms and quinnisms

She requested macaroni and cheese for lunch, and I was pleased to realize we had some good melting cheeses and that I could actually pull that off, so I did. When she sat down to eat, she asked, “What’s the sauce?” Me: “Melted cheese.” J: “What do you call melted cheese?” Me: “Umm… melted cheese?” Her: “No.” (takes a leisurely bite) “It’s called fondue.” So, yeah, schooled by a four year old.

At dinner, confronted with a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, J: “I don’t like cheese.” (Me: incredulous. Speechless. Jaw hanging.) Junip: “I told a funny joke!”

Getting dressed, and noticing her nipples: “Mom, did you know that when I get bigger, these will get bigger? …I think they’re bigger already.” Woah there kid. Slow down.

When Beth was visiting: “Mom, Gigi’s being really good. She can stay.”

The day before driving up to Minocqua, all day: “Mom, are we going to Minocqua now?” Me: “No, tomorrow.” Junip, exasperated: “I KNOW, but is today a tomorrow day?”

Me to Quinn: “Should we go get some food in that tummy?” Quinn picks up her shirt, looks at her belly, looks back at me like I truly must be an idiot, and answers with furrowed eyebrows, “No. In mouth.”

Hearing Drew dump the recyclables outside: “Beer!” (then, sadly:) “Beer fall down.”

Having requested bread, and received a slice of bread, but clearly unhappy about it: “No. I want the birthday bread.” Ah, yeah, that would be code for shortcake.

After her first day with our amazing, baby-whispering sitter (I’ve been picking up a few days at the bakery) Me: “Did you have fun with Liz?” Q: “Yeah.” Me: “Did you play games?” Q: “Yeah.” Me: “Did you read some books?” Q: “Yeah.” Me: “Did you snuggle and take a nap?” Q: “Yeah… Liz snuggle better.” Me: “Did you just say that Liz-” Drew: “That’s what I heard.” Seriously. Ouch.

At least a dozen times a day, or every time she hears the train goes past: “Trumpet! Train trumpet! I want pet the train!”

And some of my favorite words from her little language: Per = Juniper, Ida = Goodnight Gorilla (her favorite book), sunsee = sunglasses, tapidle = the state capital, or also any large building, dack = milk. Somehow these linger, even as she’s beginning to use complete sentences and her vocab is exploding. I’m in no rush to see them go.

Man, these kids.

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four years old

My heart is just bursting. My sweet little girl is four years old.

I may have set myself up for future failure by pushing the bar this high, but I have no regrets, because the day was absolutely magical for Juniper. Momo took her to see Totoro in theater, and while she was out and Quinn napped, I set up the party and a bounce house was delivered. She got back just in time for a first bounce with Quinn before her buddies started arriving, and we had an afternoon/evening of good food and good friends.¬†She has been telling everyone (basically since Christmas) that her birthday party would have juneberry-cherry cake AND juneberry-cherry pie, so Drew spent I-don’t-even-know how long making individual galettes and shortcakes from the berries Junip and I picked from the yard earlier this week, and they were amazing. She was gifted tattoos, which caught on like wildfire, so everyone left looking very tough. She was gifted spray chalk paint, which also caught on like wildfire, so my patio looked amazing. A raincloud blew in at the very end, scattering some of the crowd and shooing the other half inside, so the party wound down with children chasing balloons through the house and adults standing around the kitchen, nibbling leftovers even though we were all stuffed. At bedtime, Juniper made it through one baby book and fell asleep, glowing in the light of her new fish tank from Momo, still smelling like cream and berries, feet stained with blue chalk, sweaty and rumpled and totally happy.

Happy birthday, Junebug! I love you so, so much.

a visit from gigi

Drew’s mom was able to join us for a couple days last weekend, while Drew was up north for a bachelor weekend (I hate being alone, and by alone I mean without other adults, so I like to plan visits or at least playdates for myself anytime Drew leaves town). We kept ourselves busy (splash pad visit, ceramics lessons) but the highlight of the trip was biking down to the Union for ice cream on the lake. There was live music, perfect weather (just dodging a storm), and sociable hungry ducks, and Quinn spared herself from a total sugar high by rubbing half of her ice cream into her shirt, instead of eating it. A good night.

ch ch ch changes

Man, June. This month has been crazy. Big steps for a lot of my loved ones celebrated in these past few weeks.

To begin with, my little Junebug has officially completed her first year of school! They had an ice cream social to celebrate, and performed a couple songs for the parents (“Tunafish” continues to be my favorite, for cuteness if not for scientific accuracy of lyrics). The only photos I managed to snag were these of Junip with her buddy (and beloved penpal) Emmett. I’m so glad they’ll be in the same class again next year!

And then the next morning we were off to Sheboygan, to celebrate my mom’s retirement. I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the idea that she won’t be going back to school in the fall (I suspect she hasn’t either). It’s definitely a loss for the schools, but I’m really looking forward to having her in town more. Her friends threw her such a beautiful party at Bookworm Gardens, it was the perfect send off. We got into town a few hours early, enough time to pick some strawberries before throwing on our party clothes, and then stuffed ourselves silly on dinner and cake before wandering the gardens at the party.

And then the next day, we were hurrying home to set up for Chad and Mallory’s shower. Thank God I had my mother to help (and my father’s garage to ransack for props). It turns out I kind of underestimated what goes into throwing a party, ha. No surprises there. Everything came together really beautifully though.

I have Pinterest to thank/blame for the campfire cupcakes. Friggin’ adorable, no?

I did a bespoke ketubah for them, a papercut floating above a collage of old maps, illustrating Sleeping Bear Dunes where they’ll be married. Haven’t been offering these in the shop yet, but I might start.

Mini-graduations, retirements, weddings, oh my. It’s been a whirlwind but I certainly can’t complain about having so much to celebrate.

aunt diane visits

We had a quick visit from my Aunt Diane yesterday/today – we don’t get to see her as often as we’d like, and almost never when the weather is nice, so it was great to have her in Madison for a sunny afternoon at the zoo, a walk to walnut burgers and ice cream, and some park time. A few shots from Orton park, this morning, before we dropped her back at the bus stop:

^It cannot be denied: the girl’s got swagger. That’s just how she walks, I swear.

And even a sock hand can’t keep this one down. Today she lost one of the nails I’d been hoping would reattach, but it didn’t seem to bother her. I suspect the third might follow suit. Just hoping the nail bed isn’t too damaged and they regrow – doctor sounded hopeful.

Juniper definitely tends to go through a post-company slump (she loves her family and would prefer we all just lived on one massive commune) so Drew promised her an afternoon hike around the arboretum once school lets out. Of course, my ears registered ‘photo op’ and perked right up. To think, these next three weeks are my last chance to capture my baby as a three year old! Time, right?