corner view: fire

On our little bit of land, we try to contain the fire to the useful task of smoking and grilling our food. When we married we received, count them, not one but two smokers! Our friends obviously knew Lovey quite well. This one gets the most use, as you can see, come rain, sun or snow.

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday date hosted originally hosted by Jane, currently by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it in photographic or writerly in form from around the world: Jane, Dana, Bonny, Joyce, Ian, Francesca, Theresa, Cate, Kasia, Otli, Trinsch, Isabelle, Janis, Kari, jgy, Lise, Dorte, McGillicutty, Sunnymama, Ibb, Kelleyn, Ninja, Sky, RosaMaria, Juniper, Valerie, Sammi, Cole, Don, WanderChow, FlowTops, Tania, Tzivia, Kristin, Laura, Guusje, Susanna, Juana, Elsa, Nadine

Celebrating 7 weeks of cuteness!

But I haven’t had a turn!!!!!!



is what is frequently heard and thought in our house these days. I’m happy to report 7 weeks into the formation of this triad known as The Sistred, feelings remain generally positive amongst the girls. It’s funny because where I expected trouble there has been none and where I didn’t expect it, there has been some.



When the Quail came home from the hospital, a spritely little two and a half-year old Zuzu welcomed her with open arms. She offered her a neh-neh nursing, took her hand and has held on ever since. I mistakenly just assumed that was the sweet little Libra in Zuzu and we would get a repeat performance this time around. The Quail on the other hand I thought might be jealous of the new baby consuming some of her parents time and attention judging by recent declarations of possession that had popped up in therapy sessions when sisters, parents and friends tried to join in the fun.



It goes to show how little I know. Apparently it was the age that made Zuzu so accommodating. This time around, she is ten times as intense in her love of her newest little sister. This means as long as she can hold her whenever she pleases she is the world’s most doting sister. As we all know though, that just isn’t always possible. And when that happens the conversation goes a little something like this:



Zuzu: Can I hold Sugarplum?

Me: No, not right now. It’s time for you to get dressed for school.

Zuzu: Please, please, please, please!!! I never get to hold her!

Me: Zuzu, you held her just last night before bed. Please get dressed and if there is time you can hold her before school.

Zuzu: No! I want to hold her now!

Me: I already answered you.

Zuzu: Wahhhhh…I don’t like change. Change is hard. Can Sugarplum go back into her old home?

Me: Um, no. That’s not possible. Please get dressed for school.

Zuzu: But, can I hold her first?



Sigh….these sort of negotiation conversations with Zuzu have been going in full force. Generally when I remember to disengage, you know not repeat things like, “I said go get dressed for school.” 40 times in a row and just remain quiet she will get up and go do it. But that’s not natural for me.I tend to respond when she talks to me, for better or for worse. Lately for worse. In fact, as I type this, we are having one of those conversations right now. Today’s varietal is over why I didn’t record a non-existent Super-Why episode last Friday when it isn’t scheduled to be on apparently for 2 more weeks and so now, at 7:40 in the morning; there is nothing to do and her day is ruined. Can you guess what I suggested she go do instead?


I’m sure these little storms will pass, but in the meantime we are having to batten down the hatches for this unexpected line of clouds that we can’t quite see the end of.



The Quail on the other hand, acts like this whole baby coming out of the tummy-thing, yeah, it’s no big deal. The girls came to the hospital to meet Sugarplum the day after she was born. Our friend Amy drove Gramma and the girls to see us. We had debated whether or not to have them come. Zuzu had been fixating the last few weeks of my pregnancy on who would stay with her and her sister while Momma & Daddy went to the hospital to have Sugarplum. She talked about how when we left to have the Quail she crawled under the kitchen table and cried with her babydoll until Gramma got down and crawled under to sit with her. This time around she was concerned if there would be enough room for all three of them.

Gramma took splendid care of the girls. Zuzu picked out a little trophy to give me for having Sugarplum so well. They called us at regular intervals. Including the moment Sugarplum was born. I didn’t remember hearing the phone ring, but my mom said Zuzu had been asking if Sugarplum was here yet since we had made the mistake of talking in front of her about how I tend to have my babies around lunchtime and we hadn’t called yet. Sure enough in watching the video of Lovey cutting the cord, you can hear the delivery room phone ringing!



We felt confident it would be good for Zuzu to come meet Sugarplum at the hospital. But weren’t so sure how the Quail would react. With her recent Momma-attachment we thought it might be too big of a struggle to get her back on course after having navigated the same issue just a day earlier. Surprisingly though neither of the girls cared too much when we left on Sunday afternoon to head to the hospital. Zuzu wished us well and happily returned to the show she was watching. The Quail looked concerned only briefly then went back to coloring with Gramma. And in the end we missed them too much to not try. Zuzu was her excited best as she marched down the hospital corridor declaring to any nurse that would listen that Sugarplum Chrysanthemum was here and she was a bigger stister and now the Quail was a big Stister.


Sugarplum had been well prepared for this visit and fortunately there were two beribboned pink and purple packages for the girls. Inside they each received a color coordinated set of superhero capes and Groovy Girls from their newest little sis. Zuzu immediately donned hers and could be heard flying through the halls on her way down to the cafeteria for a “hospital lunch”, which for her was the highlight of the visit.The Quail dutifully kissed her new sister’s sweet duck-feather soft head and tottered off in the direction she heard dessert was being served.


Then we came home. I have such a clear visual of the night we came home with the Quail. I remember tearing up as Zuzu went to kiss the new infant in her carrier and I hugged my own Momma tight. I remember giving up on bedtime and separate beds as we all gathered late that evening in a huddle to check each other out and comfort one another past fearfully large doe-eyes that made me lose my resolve to keep things as they had been with separate beds and bedtimes. I can hear the lullabies we listened to on the TV and feel the weight of their little hands intertwined on my lap while they nursed together. I expected a non-tandem-nursing, separate-bed-and-bedtime-resolve-remaining-version for Sugarplum’s first night home.



That’s not exactly how it went down.The first cries of “I haven’t had a turn!!!” and various other versions began to rear their ugly heads. Tired, hormonal and emotionally drained I didn’t respond exactly well and award-winning-parent sort of way. I considered heating the ham we hadn’t gotten around to eating before we left for the hospital and was too tired to remove it from its bag. That dear friends says more about my state of mind than anything I could hope to describe.



So we went to bed and happily began our new family pattern of averaging about every other day being described as a “good day”. You know- one where you don’t threaten to sell the children to gypsies to their faces, you have a chance to clean up the cat vomit before you step in it and you have five minutes to sit quietly admiring the baby with your husband?



I would say in the last two week’s we’ve been averaging 2 out of 3 good days. The baby holding has settled into an agreeable routine expectation- if one isn’t having a stomping fit or is on the verge of saying something they’ll end up in time out over, then they can expect a turn at holding Sugarplum while they sit criss-cross-applesauce during an episode of their chosen show with an adult sitting by their side. Generally, as Sugarplum spends a good portion of her day burritoed this is an acceptable arrangement for all parties. Zuzu is proud to be the one to hold the paci in when it keeps popping out and the Quail signals her all-doneness in a gentle enough manner that no one gets hurt between the time she lets us know and the time we retrieve the baby.



While TV watching has had a distinct increase in its popularity around here, I’m proud to report that the neglect-o-matic (also known as a  baby swing) wasn’t plugged in until the fifth week of Sugarplum’s little existence. You have to expect some give and take you know in this reformation of The Happy LIttle Famly, at least if you don’t care to change the adjective in the title.

Sunday Still Life

Sunday Still Life is an evolving mindfulness project; an weekly invitation to pause the busy of our days, to re-center and celebrate the beauty and depth of life. If you are leave inspired to join in, please leave a link in Erin’s comments.

I waited to hear her first cry eagerly. It didn’t come right away, at least not fast enough for a Momma’s ears and heart. I felt my own breath pause waiting to take the next alongside hers. She was beautiful, looking instantly like herself and my other babies, but so very still. I heard the nurse ask how things were going over there and my doctor reply that she was trying to hold her breath. In my mind’s eye everything went still as we waited, and then, there it was, that glorious sound of new life.

gratitude & love

Love & gratitude: these seem to be crossing in my milk-muddled mind of late. I find myself making lists of the little things that are wholy unique to Sugarplum and universal to my babies. While I can’t remember which side I last nursed on a couple of hours ago, I will look down and be suddenly struck with an instance of the other girl’s babyhood that I so don’t want to lose. Within hours of her birth in the hospital I started this list of the little extraordinary baby ordinaries that were fascinating us as we started our newest adventure. Lovey and I were both struck by her uniqueness and her instant familiarity.

1.  the white frosted tips of her dark brown hair
2.  that she started growing her eyelashes before we met her
3.  her white eyebrows and underlay of hair
4.  the dark swirl of hair at the back of her head that looks suspiciously like the eye of a hurricane
5.  the baby quivering lip
6.  the baby cross-eyes when she learns to focus
7.  that she can already hold her head up in the first week
8.  her watchful deep blue eyes when she tracks during little alert periods, particularly during feeding
9.  what a champion chomper she is from day one
10. her little kitten mews, puppy snorts and odd squeaks
11. the new baby smells that I so wish I could bottle for later
12. her LOUD protests when you guess wrong
13. how her cries sound just like the Quail’s and confuse me into calling her by the Quail’s name
14. how her face is the perfect blend of her stisters- she is Zuzu from the nose on up and the Quail from the cheeks on down
15. that she’s my hungry lil catepillar- on the first day she ate 1 side and she was stillllll hungry
16. her loving to root-root-root at any opportunity- including rootin cotton
17. that I heard her cry neh 3 times on her first afternoon
18. The little bean shape of her tightly curled body that she maintains when I pick her up I couldn’t picture what she would look like or who she would be for all these months, and now each day I look down, smile and think of course it’s her
20.her tiny looking self after months of being told she was a small giant
21. how much it suddenly feels like this happy little family has always been here

Cease & Resist

I went in there to get the IPad. Lovey and I had come to a decision that today was the day we would finish the birth announcement order. As I’ve been finding myself sitting, laying or rocking in small compact areas of our nest of late, I’ve kept the IPad close to maintain some semblance of contact with the outside world. I had saved 16 of my favorite templates on it weeks earlier even though my photo collection lives on another computer. It was a short enough trip away from the task we had started. I was simply going two rooms over to pick the IPad up off my nightstand and return to the office. I passed by our bed and out of instinct looked down and locked eyes with the serenest of little faces who steadily held my gaze. Sugarplum slumbers in her Snugglenest on top of our bed. Square in the middle of where Lovey and I sleep. We had started out with her in a co-sleeper off the side of the bed and managed to keep that up for the first few weeks. Then, she woke up. And she fussed. And I broke out the pacis. She spit it out and fussed some more. So I perfected the burrito effect of my swaddle. And she fussed some more. And I yawned and moved the snugglenest between us where I could prop my face up on pillows next to hers, weight down her gauzy giraffe swaddling blankets with my anchoring arm and breathe in her new baby scent.

It’s that scent that gets me everytime. Everytime I make a list for the day and cross nothing off. Everytime I have an extra coffee to perk me up for the afternoon in vain. Everytime I add a new layer to the Mt. Washmore that lives on the couch in our bedroom and threatens to bury our cat in its avalanche . I breathe in her new baby smell and immediately yawn, stretch and decide a few more minutes of resting with her won’t hurt anything or one.It doesn’t hurt that each friend and family memeber I pass this half-hearted explanation on to for why I haven’t gotten anything done validates me by agreeing that’s all I should be doing right now. Nursing, resting and nursing some more.

That’s what happened to the first 6 weeks of her life and my maternity leave. Happily for us we’ve had a steady stream of family and friends coming to keep the baby held, our bellies filled, our laundry washed, dried and stacked, our trash emptied, our cat’s throw-up wiped away and our children bathed and jammied. And then I woke up. I had a tad more energy this past week and decided I had to get the maternity clothes, the newborn sized onsies and toys put away. I needed to make it past the daily routine of dishes, laundry, milks and trash being managed to actually making an improvement in the nest since our guests left. I need to get the thank-you notes written, the birth announcements created, the gifts tucked away and her birth story written. I would resist the intoxicating new baby smell this week; I was certain.

And then she smiled. She looked me in the eye, her goofy little face scrunched up and she eeked out the tiniest coo and smiled. Zuzu was the first to be gotten by her. After Zuzu talked the first smile out of her last Saturday on the morning of her pre-school graduation, we all kept a vigil looking for signs of our own sweet smiles. Slowly they came, wavering at first, then working their way up to her bright baby blues. Always gentle, fleeting and serene. And the hunt for the illusive smile happily ate up that sixth week.

So today, dear friends, I went in to grab the IPad and when I saw her calm gaze lock on me I did what any number one fan would do. I completely forgot the reason I went in there and started chanting gentle hellos to encourage that little grin. Then I heard the typing stop from the other room and next thing I know, Lovey is there asking if he could have a turn. Then I pulled out the camera and that took up another good bit of time. Then she tired of us, she fussed, I nursed and needed another nap.

And that is the story of our lives and why the blogging has ceased. Maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to resist that heaven-scented grin next week. I wouldn’t put money on it though.