first steps!

This little dinker is on the move! Amazing how quickly it goes from seeming impossible they will ever so much as flip onto their bellies by themselves, to this. I know it’s happened a gazillion times before in the course of human history, but it doesn’t make it any less awesome. Quinn, you amaze me🙂

life lately

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Goodness, life lately. Sometimes I find myself remembering how excruciatingly slowly time seemed to pass when I was in middle school, a depressed tween, and I swear, it must be more than perception: time actually must be moving faster now. There’s never enough.

Juniper took that photo of me; she kind of has a knack for getting the vibe of things. Maybe because the subject always assumes the photo will be so blurry/abstractly framed they needn’t pose (let’s be honest, most are). That is me chilling/collapsing for the two minutes it takes to nurse Quinn (she doesn’t nurse much these days). Enjoying the eye of the storm.

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Anyways. Let’s go back. Way back, to the last real blog post I did mid-August. Well, my amazing husband threw me a surprise birthday party! The big three-oh. It was everything my heart desired: as many friends and family as could cram into our little dining room to hide (actually, more than could cram in), a taco bar, three kinds of cake🙂 It really kind of blew my mind he was able to keep the lid on it! As has become my habit these days (for better or worse) I left the camera inside and enjoyed the night, so thank you, Mandy, for the photo! I look like I’m the only one there, but it’s because everyone is facing me singing happy birthday😉

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Drew turned 33 a week later, so we invited some other families up to Minocqua for the long weekend and had one last hurrah swimming, tubing, and lazing before fall comes. Junip was introduced to Sega Genesis (like, Mario Cart and the like, those cartridges from the 90s) and was actually amazing at it! Ha. Terrifying.

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Junip’s school time leaves Quinn and I a two hour window each day where get some one-on-one. It’s funny; I would have said Q and J are having pretty similar growing up experiences, but then we have these afternoons at the park where I’m just focused on her, not hauling her around or watching her out of the corner of my eye or being otherwise distracted, and I remember that that’s what it was like all the time with June. I’m not saying Q is getting the shaft or anything; I think I can say with some authority that it’s pretty rad having a big sister. I’m just grateful that this way she gets a touch of each.

And, what have I mostly been up to? Fitting a lot of work into my two-hour work slots each afternoon. I photographed a couple weddings (aren’t they cuties?), I’ve been shooting/designing a lot of promotional materials for the bakery (big wedding show next week), I’m planning another bookbinding workshop (sort of a fun, quick and pretty technique). Also, I pretty much finished the playroom. It’s not quite camera ready yet, but it’s close. And also, I rebuilt both sets of porch stairs and the back deck.

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But let’s be honest; that’s not what you’re here for. You’re here for the cute baby photos. Me too, really.

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I should end this by clarifying that life is amazing right now. I’m busy and I tend to carry a simmering guilt when there are things (or blogs) I’m not tending to, but my life right now is the best it’s ever been. Thirty is my decade, people, I’m tellin’ ya. I can feel it.

first day of school

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My big girl made her pre-K debut this afternoon! Goodness, I’m so proud of this kid. She is going to rock it.

She’s in a really awesome program at the local school for three year olds with special needs, where they match those kiddos with peer models. I think she’s a perfect fit; my hand holding, hug giving, play-leading buddy. By the end of the meet-and-greet they held Monday night on the playground, Junip had three other girls totally executing her vision. J, jumping for emphasis: “We’re CAMPING! And it’s WINTER!” All the other girls, also jumping: “Yeah, it’s WINTER!!!” She leads via enthusiasm.

It’ll be four days a week, three hours a day. Quinn and I will get some more one-on-one time, and Junip will get the socializing she thrives on. I’m feeling really grateful to this fair city of mine for offering this opportunity. And also, totally flabbergasted, faced with the reality that my little baby is a schoolgirl! What the what?!

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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.

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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.

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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.