Monday, April 10, 2017

Little Bit

I have neglected to share a really big part of our lives for the past 10 months...
we call her "little bit" and "bubbaloo" and "boo" and "love"...

10 months
...and while we do a pretty good job of pretending that she is "ours", she is the daughter of good friends of ours, and our precious charge a couple of times a week. (Good gravy, precious? I'm sounding like my grandmother. Huh...)  Her mama K. gave me a heads-up a couple of years ago, saying, you know, I thought I should let you know that I'm expecting you to be around and involved as I'm raising my future kid.  Fast forward those couple of years, and I had the incredible honor of being present at this baby's birth, and when K. and N. asked us to consider being a part of her care team, we said yes. It was not a whole-hearted, no-qualms yes, though. We have busy lives and I've gotten really good at not giving our time away quickly.  There is a teenager in the house who has protected her independence and time by being a little disdainful of babies (imagine the scrunched nose and "ew" face), and I wanted to be respectful of that. So we talked about it as a family, and with K. and decided that we would say yes, on a trial basis.

You can see where this is going, right? The teenager fell in love with the first giggle, and Ani? Ani is, in her own words, "utterly devoted". She actually is my mother's helper when we have her all day. She changes diapers, gives a bottle, carries, clothes, entertains, observes, engages, consoles, reads, and is a human jungle gym. She talks with some surprise about how she feels like some day she could be a mama. 

reading time

Eliza walks up to join us in the afternoon after we've been there for a few hours, and gets her fix. There is some Beyonce on the hi-fi, and lots and lots of giggles. The baby is fascinated with Eliza's gibberish and it's often when I see her experimenting with new ways of turning her mouth and tongue around, trying to keep up with Eliza.

6 months

Our baby day is a 'work' day for Ani, who takes some things to do in addition to caring for the baby. She thinks she'd like to homeschool her when she gets older; she's offered to take care of the Harry Potter part of that, while Eliza covers creative writing, and they'll both teach her history, so she likes showing her how she writes and reads.  

Really, I should just keep throwing photos up here, 'cause come on. The cute factor is so huge, the oxytocin is a-flowing!! 

Seeing Ani take on a nurturing role, really tuning in to another person and putting their needs first, taking responsibility for her well-being - these are all huge experiences that I couldn't have devised any other way. I am so grateful that we said yes.

And this week there was a first: Ani carried her the whole way on an hour-long hike, building strength and confidence with every step. Heart swell.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Eliza made this for Ani. There is a lot of love going 'round.
(see the fish leaves? my favorite part)

I thought I would really confuse things and bounce around in time again. A little here, a little there, and maybe I'll get caught up!  I figured it has been a while - maybe years? - since my last "gallery" post, which would maybe imply that there is no art going on around here, which would be just silly. And wrong. Along with a long dive into the fantastic coloring books that are available these days, there has been making of every kind...writing, drawing, sewing, crocheting, sculpting, collage. I've decided that the way we're going to make it through February is to set Fridays aside for a full day of meandery making. Doesn't that sound like the best plan?? I think it will be soul-saving for me, and that can't be bad for any of us...

E's sketchbook, above and below

Eliza flew to NYC with Dan in January, and her last-minute got to get this done!!! project was embroidering these jeans so she could wear them.

Ani's art making often centers around play. She made these fine ladies for herself; I am quite taken with their hair...

The mesmerizing spirals are a tool we've all been using for some meditative time, while listening to music or a story.

Ani's spirals

The girls made signs for their rooms out of el wire. Eliza's says "wander" and Ani's "imagine".

My own making has been more of the postcard variety. My commitment to be more involved in knowing what is happening in our government goes hand in hand with learning to have a voice, and I'm playing a little trick on myself to keep interested: I'm making awesome postcards that - I KNOW, I know, will get lost at the bottom of a pile, but...they make me happy to make and to write and to clip to the mailbox to wait for pickup, so this intersection of art and activism is likely to become a familiar one around here.

My most recent piece of making is thanks to our friend Ari Beloved Jones, who taunted me with several precious octopuses, crocheted within snatching distance of my grabby little hands, before kindly and patiently teaching me to make one of my own. So dang cute.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

end of the summer part 2

I know, summer is long past. But I look back on these posts as a narrative of our life, and we might not remember how goofy we all got with Dan's brother's family the summer three of us had our first fancy phones and tried to be cool and take selfies. I'm sharing one, but trust me, there were many.

We are a big group when we're together, and mostly we eat and play and eat and play and...well, you get the idea! Happily, that is what we do.

Once in a while, when the weather cooperates and the mosquitoes aren't hovering, we get out for a hike together, which is also lovely. This time it was to Stephens Falls at Governor Dodge park. I hadn't been on this particular hike, and it was beautiful; lush with moss and ferns and water.


I also have only been to Governor Dodge once - for cross-country skiing - and not gone swimming, so in we went.

the annual reading of Molly Whuppie around the campfire

We see this family once a year, and it is mostly watching Ani play with the youngers that squeezes my heart with sadness. They fall into it with such love and affection, figuring out how best to include everyone.  She truly fits in with this bunch, content in the middle of the action.

We are still getting to know the youngest, but did she have us wrapped around her finger! Dan and I took a van full of kids over to his parents for a game night, and in the car she pointed out the drink holders and said, you know what we sometimes use these for? Custard! Frozen custard! Below is evidence of her immense powers.

Until next time, dear ones...