Sep 29 2010

triple-feature wednesday

for your viewing pleasure…

josephine enjoying some puffs (in which we give away the secret to getting josephine to say words — saying them 1,000,000 times ourselves):

josephine tickling herself:

and the evolution of dance.  she doesn’t even need the funky beats; she’ll groove like this if you even mention the word “dance.”

Sep 23 2010

tricks up her sleeves

oh, hello.  you again.  i suppose you’re tired of hearing about birthday celebrations and want to know about what josephine’s been doing lately, other than being feted.  well, i’ll tell you.  but i’m warning you: by the time you read this, she’ll have about a dozen new things she’s capable of.  i can’t keep up; you shouldn’t even try.

to sum it up, josephine has been talking.  morning til night, this kid babbles about whatever it is one-year-olds talk about.  yesterday we were sitting in the car waiting to pick up ned from work and she was looking out the window and talking so enthusiastically to the house across the street that i was convinced she was seeing ghosts or something.  was she really saying “hi” and “bye” over and over again to the house?  “hi” and “bye” are her favorite things to say.  she practices them a lot, even one time in the middle of the night when i thought she was asleep and i was sneaking out of her room.  i heard a little “hi, hi, hi.”

she can copy sounds we make pretty well, but the words she says that actually appear to mean something to her are “hi,” “bye,” “book,” “up,” “cup,” “woof” (for dog), “block,” “uh-oh” and “tickle tickle tickle.”  this last one is the best — when presented with her own naked belly (or someone else’s), she wiggles her fingers all over it while saying “tickle tickle tickle” in a squeaky voice.  she can also tell you, if she’s in the mood to do so, what the snake says, what the sheep says, what the monkey says (complete with armpit scratching), what the dog says and what the lizard says (tongue-waggling).  she can sniff.  she can do the signs for “more,” “eat,” “water” and, sometimes, “please.”  she can also blow a pretty nice kiss.

she surprises me every day with new words or new ways of showing she understands what’s going on around her.  we volunteered for another study at the UW, this one looking at babies who have older siblings with autism to try and determine if there are earlier markers of autism than currently known (josephine was in the comparison group of babies without older siblings). as part of the study, the researcher was showing josephine two pictures in plastic frames and having her pick the one she was more interested in.  with each pair, josephine picked a picture, examined the picture then flipped it over to check out the back of the frame.  the researcher gave her a minute with it, then gently took it from her and said “bye bye, picture.”   after selecting a picture from the fifth pair, josephine did her routine of looking it over, front and back, then handed it across the table to the researcher and said “bye!”

suddenly, josephine is very interested in pulling herself up to standing, much to the relief of a certain worrywart grandma who was growing concerned about little j’s motor skills.  i talked to the nurse practitioner at josephine’s one-year appointment about her (at the time) lack of pulling up and she said that she guessed josephine is a careful perfectionist who is just biding her time.  i liked that assessment.  and, just a week later, she was pulling herself up on the bookcase and the chair and the couch and in her crib and on the shelf in her room and on ned’s legs while he read to her and on my legs while i try to make her lunch in the kitchen.  something about her little legs standing straight and her arms working to keep her steady pulls at my heart and makes me prematurely nostalgic for my baby — i can’t help but picture her as a 5-year-old, dancing off to school.  or, worse yet, as a teenager, rolling her eyes at the tofu i serve her for dinner.

Sep 19 2010

ned as a one-year-old

or, josephine as a boy in 1978.

happy birthday, ned!

Sep 11 2010

the birthday girl at her birthday party

even though her birthday was last weekend, we waited until today to have josephine’s birthday party because a few good friends were out of town last weekend and we wanted them to be here to celebrate with us.

with her early september birthday,  i foresee a future of complicated birthday celebrations for josephine; a birthday in the middle of a holiday weekend with all her friends out of town, a birthday on the first day of school, a birthday on the last day of summer…  all three of our birthdays and ned’s and my anniversary are piled up within a three week span, so perhaps we should just ditch the individual celebrations and spend a few weeks on vacation each year.  next year, hawaii?

i’m glad we waited until today to have the party; almost everyone we wanted to be there was able to come and the weather, after a week of gray, was pretty darn near perfect.  also, ned and i both really loved having a just-the-three-of-us day on josephine’s actual birthday and then having today to party with our wonderful seattle (and ellensburg!) friends and family.

many thanks to our friend ann who, when we forced our camera upon her, graciously took up the task of photographing the party.  she did a wonderful job.  here are a few moments she captured.

Sep 7 2010

the birthday girl on her birthday

Sep 5 2010

to josephine, on her first birthday

dear bug,

when we met you, you looked like this.

the midwife launched you onto my belly with a wet splat and i was exhausted and exhilarated and instantly in deep, senseless love.  your dad was, too.  we laughed through our tears and looked at each other in amazement and looked at you again.  and again.  we had a daughter.

you’ve grown so fast, changed so much.  it feels like we’ve blinked our eyes and you’ve gone from a tiny, wiggling thing to a girl who laughs, squeals, waves and knows where her head, toes, belly and teeth are.

so many people told us it would all go by so fast; they were right.  and yet, when i try to remember our life before you arrived, i can hardly think back that far, can barely remember who we were then.  maybe it’s the sleep deprivation making my memory fuzzy, but i think more likely it’s because we weren’t complete without you.  and now we are whole.

happy birthday.  i hope it’s the first of a hundred.

i love you,


Sep 3 2010

four years ago, in the rain

Prayer for a Marriage
When we are old one night and the moon
arcs over the house like an antique
China saucer and the teacup sun
follows somewhere far behind
I hope the stars deepen to a shine
so bright you could read by it
if you liked and the sadness
we will have known go away
for awhile – in this hour or two
before sleep – and that we kiss
standing in the kitchen not fighting
gravity so much as embodying
its sweet force, and I hope we kiss
like we do today knowing so much
good is said in this primitive tongue
from the wild first surprising ones
to the lower dizzy ten thousand
infinitely slower ones—and I hope
while we stand there in the kitchen
making tea and kissing, the whistle
of the teapot wakes the neighbors.
–Steven Scafidi

(photos by rob meyer)

Sep 2 2010

nine, ten, glacier

[pour yourself a lemonade, beer or other seasonally-appropriate beverage and pull up a comfortable chair.  this post’s a long one.]

on a saturday morning in late august, we packed the car to the gills and headed east.  we stopped in ellensburg for some leg stretching, great company and delicious food that fueled us through the rest of the drive to idaho.

not only was idaho a new state for josephine (and ned), it was the site of her first camping experience.  she was a big fan of the tent and the al fresco dining.

the next morning, we slowly packed up camp and went for a walk along the lake we had slept next to.  feeling more relaxed and vacation-y by the minute, we drove north a bit and stopped for breakfast/lunch in sandpoint, idaho.

it was only after our leisurely meal and slow stroll back to the car and after we had driven over the montana state line that we realized (or, in my case, re-remembered) that there was a time zone change between us and the spot where we were meeting my sister, brother-in-law and brother.  meeting them one hour sooner than we had calculated.  oops.  far-western montana (state #10! and new for ned, too) is beautiful even when driven through at high speeds.  we were a little late, which was ironic as they had driven twice as far as we had, but i had chosen our meet-up spot wisely and after we slurped homemade ice cream in fresh waffle cones, all was forgiven.  (if you’re ever in whitefish, do yourself a favor and go to sweet peaks.)  we got back into the car for the final leg of our journey — a 1.5 hour drive on a road that had more washboard ridges than an old-timey laundry convention.  at one point, i thought the car might actually rattle apart.  but we made it unscathed to polebridge, year-round population of 20.  there’s a mercantile and a cafe and a few cabins and not much else.  including electricity. (there is, however, wifi.)

my parents were there, waiting to meet us and lead us the final seven miles (that took 20 minutes) to our home for the week, this cabin:

we settled in, unrolled sleeping bags, acquainted ourselves with the nooks and crannies of the place and sifted through the maps and guidebooks as we planned our week in glacier national park.  josephine settled in to having an entire household of people fawning over her.

the cabin was literally across the river from the park but, due to the rocky roads and the montana-sized distances, it took quite a while to get where we wanted to go.  luckily, josephine’s  a very patient car traveler.  the bag of borrowed and thrifted never-before-seen toys that i’d packed didn’t hurt.

first stop: bowman lake.  there was kayaking, toe dipping, a bit of lazy hiking and baby antics.

(for most people, there were actually two days at bowman lake, the first a lot less relaxing than the second.  i was sick the day after we arrived, so my mom, josephine and i spent the day in the cabin.  the rest of the crew went on an ill-fated, too steep hike and never reached the lake they were trying for.  can’t say i was sorry to miss it.)

the next day: going to the sun road — it spans the width of the park and affords pretty darn amazing views.

we stopped to hike at the far end of the park. when we reached st. mary lake, we went in different directions.  my mom got on a boat and enjoyed a tour of the lake.  my dad rested his legs and read a book in the shade.  and we “kids” continued on to st. mary falls, a worthy destination.

(i won’t recount how my mom’s boat trip only took 20 minutes and our hike took several hours and yet she had to wait for us to finish hiking, get back in the cars and come find her at the windy, lonely boat launch.  bad planning on all our parts.  sorry again, mom.)

the next day, ned and i had hoped to take a long hike, but i scaled back our nine mile plan to something more manageable on little sleep.  (josephine, while a wonderful traveler during the day, was a horrible terrible no good very bad sleeper on the trip.  her best night of sleep was one in which she woke up every two hours.  ned left our bedroom with her one morning and said groggily to the assembled family, “baby for sale.”  i added that no money was necessary.)  we drove with my brother down a road that was more dry stream bed than road to logging lake trailhead and set out through the warm summer sun through a burn from a 2003 forest fire.  we didn’t make it to the lake (that would have been the nine mile hike), but enjoyed a very quiet trail.  well, quiet except for all of our clapping and singing and shouting so as to alert bears to our presence.  we felt our only rain of the week; a little drizzle that was just enough to keep us moving, motivated by visions of what the road would be like after a heavier downpour.

everyone had different thoughts about how to spend our last day.  some of us wanted to hike more, some of us wanted to sit by a lake and nap, some of us wanted to avoid crowds and some of us weren’t sure what they wanted to do.  ned, josephine and i ended up heading back into the park and crowds to hike to avalanche lake.  the rest of the group sat by several lakes and went fishing.  everyone was happy with their choice.  but ours was the best.

and at the end of the day, at the end of the week, we all gathered around a picnic table outside the cafe in polebridge and enjoyed pizza in the warm mountain air.  and then we enjoyed dessert.

we all scattered from there.  my parents left for whitefish and their early departure by train back to the minnesota the next morning.  us youngens went back to the cabin to pack up the cars and tidy the cabin.

the next morning, a mouse jumped into the sink of dirty dishes just as we were about to wash them — our last task before leaving.  one of my favorite trip memories is of ned fishing dishes out of the sink with a broom handle and yelling loudly in an attempt to frighten the mouse out of the sink.  in the midst of yelling about how much he hated the situation he shrieked, “you are so adorable!” to the mouse.

on saturday morning, we bid montana farewell and headed towards home.  we were going to camp near spokane on the way back and break the 11 hour trip into two days, but the drive was going so smoothly and our bed was so appealing that we sailed past spokane and got home, 1,523 miles later, thankful to be back and so grateful for our trip.  i loved the opportunity to explore a new place with my family and, as always, adored seeing josephine being adored by them.  she’s a lucky girl.

(more photos here.)