a february afternoon

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Feeling so grateful for this little family of mine. Wanted to share a few photos from an afternoon earlier this week, that seem to represent this season of life we’re in quite nicely.

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one and a half

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My sweet little Quince. You look like such a baby, but your mind is growing so quickly, the juxtaposition is really something. You are speaking in sentences (!) Seriously, actual sentences: “I want shoes, I NEED that, I want lay down, I want walk, I LIKE that!” and to hear one of these phrases suddenly burst from your placid little baby face (Buddha baby, your Aunt Diane calls you, and it’s apt) is so startling, it’s like having a stuffed animal suddenly ask for a sip of my coffee. Strangers usually respond, “Did she just…?” Or my favorite, the lady on her cell phone walking behind us at Target (and yes, you walk at Target, and no, you will not let me hold your hand), “OMG, there’s the tiniest little baby just strolling through Target; she’s like a foot tall and wearing Levis.” Really, in your puffy winter coat, those miniature legs and high tops poking out are quite the sight.

Your dad is a little freaked out that you’ve been stalled in 18 month clothing for about half of your life (with no signs of outgrowing) but the doctors tell me you’re measuring up right at average. Teeth, too, seemed stuck (you had four by eight months and then nothing) but suddenly in the last two weeks ish, five more have shown up (including your upper two-year-old molars, a surprising discovery given your relatively empty mouth). You have significantly more hair than your sister did at this point, downy soft in front, with a coarse little puff in the back. That part usually sticks straight out.

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You have a real thing for shoes and accessories; you insist on rotating between three or four pairs in a day, and you help yourself to the hat/mitten drawer constantly (also the dress up bin, thus the photos). You love to dance and spin, especially with Junip. You enjoy grown up tastes – my unsweetened tea, Listerine breath spray (long story), ginger and raw onions and broccoli. You tend to walk either all on your heels or all on your tip toes, so predictably, you tip over a lot. When your dad gives you some dough at the counter, you actually knead it, with your whole body, and even with good form.

I find it representative of your sweet nature that with all the words you’ve picked up, “no” is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, if you feel strongly enough about something, you let the whole neighborhood know. But assuming you’re not in the throes of despair, if I ask you a ‘yes or no’ question, you either answer “yeah” while nodding so vigorously your whole little body shakes, or you just stare at me passively.

Spontaneously throughout the day, you like to crawl over to (or onto) your sister, hug her around the neck or take her face in your hands, and give her kisses. Every time it happens, she looks at me out of the corner of her eye, smiling, as if to say, “Mom, are you seeing this? I can’t talk or move or I’ll ruin it!”

You are just so full of quirks and opinions, unexpected habits and idiosyncrasies… you just charm the dickens out of all of us. We love you so much, Quinn.

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this kid

A wonderful little snippet of our day:

At the co-op, with Quinn in the cart seat and Junip sitting in the cart basket, coloring green over a spot she’d previously colored yellow: “Mom! I’m making chartreuse!”

My little heart just about burst with pride.

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life lately

I never considered myself much of a ‘resolutions’ kind of person, but lately they’ve been coming to me faster than I can write them down: bike more, make things for people more, take a car repair class, call my friends more often, get the girls to more play groups, update the blog more, be more aware, be more grateful… all these earnest little hopes. It sounds sort of flabbergasting when you line them all up (or like I’m compensating for not controlling the rest of the world?), but it seems really possible to me right now. It’s been a good January.

The girls are at this beautiful age, with the most astounding things coming out of their mouths every day. They have jokes with each other, dance together and tickle each other, comfort each other. I’m pretty good at reading Quinn, but often June is better, overhearing a certain exasperated cry of Quinn’s and my exasperated reply “I don’t know what that means!”, and she comes strutting by casually saying, “She wants the squeaky shoes, mom.” How is this three year old smarter than me? All I can say is: sisters.

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Anytime Dad is cooking, they are pushing their stools over to the short end of the counter to assist steal. If Drew is making pasta, Quinn is eating raw flour by the handful. If a sauce is in progress, Junip is sneaking slices of butter. If cheese is being shredded, our technique is to shred quickly and then hide it, or there won’t be any left for the dish.

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Now that Juniper’s fully grown into the imaginative play stage I keep stumbling upon her in these amazing get-ups, having elaborate conversations with characters I can’t see, doing battle with terrible knights or humongous whales. Friggin’ awesome.

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Quinn is developing a real love for technology, which predictably is making it difficult to get a decent candid shot these days. Juniper is pretty much over the camera, or pacified after taking a few shots of her own, or lured into performing for it, but Quinn… not so much.

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We had kind of gotten into a routine rut, where play dates weren’t really happening. There’s something about isolation that tends to send me spiraling towards further isolation. In any case, I’ve been really intentional about scheduling time with buddies (J’s and mine) the last week or two – that’s one resolution I’m feeling on top of. Can you believe how big these kids are?

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Water: the best thing ever, right? She can splash in a plugged sink for a solid half hour. I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about how this was Juniper, like, two heartbeats ago.

And now this is Juniper: I come downstairs from putting Quinn to bed, and she’s lined up every cushion in the the house, topped each one with a pillow, a baby, and a blanket, is casually defending her nursery from volcanoes. Yes, you read that right. She assured me the blankets were not to keep them warm, but rather to protect them from the lava.

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^Even Dump Truck got tucked in. And, not pictured, Stick. This kid   🙂

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And lastly, unrelated to anything, how incredible is Quinn’s Down Dog? She’s like a little spring, it’s ridiculous.

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searching for words

I only taught for six years, but they were formative years. Teaching was the first context in which I engaged the world fully as an adult, a professional, and one thing I’m grateful for about that time was that they were not self satisfied years. Teaching culture loooooves self improvement (I was actually legally required to collect data and prove that I – via my students’ output – was improving each year), and while I’ll be the first to admit I did my share of internal eye rolling during professional development meetings, I also gained an awareness about my own faults and ingrained prejudices that I can’t imagine acquiring through any other profession.

I make racist assumptions – I can acknowledge that now. I honestly believe that anyone who says they don’t simply hasn’t had the education to recognize it in themselves. When you learn about and start looking for micro-aggressions, you quickly realize that they are omnipresent, whatever one’s intentions may be.

I strive to be aware and honest enough with myself to identify and dismantle my prejudices when they rear their ugly heads. But let’s be clear: this sucks. This is insufficient. I don’t want those thoughts in my head to begin with. And now, as a mother (you knew I was going somewhere with this, right?) I have the (possibly futile) hope that I might be able to help these two precious, perfect little girls somehow grow up without all that evil getting in their heads to begin with.

It seems clear to me that awareness is key. I can’t control the experiences Junip and Quinn will have in this world, but I hope I can equip them with the alarm bells to recognize and the boldness to question subtle, normalized bigotry. I’m just still not sure how to go about that; I find myself really groping for words.

How do you explain the subtleties of modern racism to a child who has never had reason to distrust or feel herself not be trusted? Who has never experienced body shame? Who has never been afraid in the presence of the police? Who’s never had to apply for a job or an apartment rental? Who’s only conception of jail is the couch, where your loving parent throws you and tickles you when they’re pretending to lock you up?

How do you explain misogyny to a child that barely registers a difference between boys and girls? Who is as likely to play the daddy or the king as as she is the mama or the queen? Who has (oh, my heart) never yet experienced anyone implying she won’t succeed at something because she’s a girl?

How do you explain xenophobia to a child who has never been out of the country – never experienced another culture, much less grasped the enormity of its ‘differentness’ enough to fear it?

How do you explain religious intolerance to a child who’s only concept of religion is what her Gigi attempted to teach her while she played with their nativity set? How do you explain antisemitism and Islamophobia without first explaining Judiasm and Islam? How far back do I start?

As you may have guessed, yesterday’s inauguration rekindled these worries and gave a sense of urgency to answering them. Initially, in an anxious/hopeless kinda way. But today’s march seemed like a reason to rally and confront.

Junip and I had a good talk this morning, or, as good as I could have hoped, considering how inept I feel about this. I tried to keep my feet grounded in three year old schema. To use ideas she understands. We talked about how our country will have a new leader, and how he gets to make the rules now. I told her I was afraid he might make rules that aren’t fair for everyone. I know she doesn’t understand the specifics of that, but it’s a start, and I hope it helps her make sense of the hushed voices Drew and I use when we talk about this, the fear we obviously both feel. She was excited about the march when I told her it was a way we could tell the new president he needs to be fair and make good choices, even if he feels angry or scared. These are definitely ideas she gets. (She did leave the conversation apparently believing we’d get to tell him these things face-to-face. My bad. You think you’ve eliminated metaphor from your speech, and then you talk to a preschooler.)

Anyways. We biked to the capitol, we marched, we cheered. Obviously, I don’t think this rally or the conversation that preceded it really did much to make her aware of the ugly assumptions that pervade our society, or the possibility that those prejudices might insinuate themselves in our laws and courts in the coming four years. But it’s a starting place.

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^Reflecting as we left the square. Oh, I’m so punny.

And a better view of the day, on the other side of the square (State St), shot by Eric Baillies:

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bend

We had a pretty major milestone here this weekend: my first time away from Quinn for more than a few hours. Drew and I flew to Bend, Oregon for the wedding of his childhood best friend (there was much talk of their former habit of terrorizing the neighborhood in batman undies and tricycles). Their moms are still close friends, so Beth and Hutch were there, too – we shared a condo and had a great time skiing, hiking, hot-tubbing, and beer tasting. The wedding was gorgeous, and admittedly easier to enjoy sans babies, but I did have some twinges of guilt thinking of how much fun Junip would have had on the dance floor.

Bend was buried under five feet of snow, which seemed to be a huge pain for all the locals, but it was pretty awesome for us as tourists. I wasn’t brave enough to bring my camera on the cross country ski trails (a wise decision it turns out, as I spent a decent amount of time trying to extricate myself from the various snow banks I kept crashing into) but I did get a few shots of the hiking trail we did on Saturday.

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It really was a fun trip. Unfortunately it ended with our return flight being canceled, which we didn’t learn about until our 4:30am shuttle dropped us at the airport (26 hours later we landed in Chicago looking truly pathetic, medicating with copious amounts of coffee to get us through the final drive home). Walking back into my own house to the joyful screams of Quinn was the best feeling ever. Junip didn’t even bat an eye (“Oh, hi Mom. Let me show you something!” and she goes running into the kitchen without so much as a hug or a kiss, to find the toy she wanted me to see.) Grateful to my sister and parents for the time away, grateful to Beth and Hutch for planning so much of our trip and being such good company, but also relieved to be back.

christmas

Happy 2017! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. Christmas was a lot of fun but sort of a mad-house; we did Christmas Eve at my parents’ condo and then had my family over Christmas morning. The girls both got a little overstimulated on presents and sugar, but I didn’t mind so much, as Drew was making mimosas with fresh squeezed mandarin juice  😉

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Our good friends Dave and Rachel made their annual visit the next day. We had a relaxing few days with a trip to the children’s museum, some beer brewing for the boys, a trip to the Harmony for walnut burgers. Junip was introduced to Where’s Waldo and she’s kind of amazing at it!

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And then off to Arlington Heights for Christmas, round 2.

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(Sorry Lindsay, but I laughed so hard when I saw your expression in this one!)

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^That would be Drew trying to lure Quinn down the slide with blueberries.

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Plenty of time for games, decorating eating a gingerbread house, nerf wars, reading, and snuggles.

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It’s been ages since Quinn last fell asleep in our arms. Drew was soaking up the snuggles while the gettin’ was good.

And, if you ever need to lure all the children in the house to one spot, the answer is: Daniel Tiger on your phone. They wander over like moths to the flame.

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We’re home now, and I’m fighting off the post-Christmas slump with cleaning and work. Took the decorations down yesterday while Junip was at school (she handled their absence remarkably well) and am now catching up on paperwork and a ketubah order. The girls have been so sweet the last few days; a break in routine always seems to refresh them. I hope the same can be said next week – Drew and I are flying to Oregon for a wedding. It will be my first time away from Quinn for more than a few hours. Grateful my sister and parents will be babysitting, but still feeling kind of weird with guilt.

And, resolutions: renewing the date-night resolution (last year we aimed for twice a month and totally failed. This year I’m going with the more realistic goal of once a month.) And also, only eating eggs that are sustainably farmed. We are good about this at home, but I’m guilty of ordering eggs at restaurants where I know they’re getting factory farmed eggs (mostly an issue when we’re traveling.) Drew is going vegetarian! (At least for the year.) Oh and my last: more acts of kindness for my loved ones, particularly handmade surprises. I used to do that more and I miss it.

Happy 2017!