Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It's been a mildly emotional evening here at the Kessler home. Eliana's papa is gone for a week to British Columbia for work, so Els, Lucy and I are holding down the fort without our Mr. Big. Eliana's been a little less smiley than usual, a bit more clingy, a teeny bit less effusive. I don't even think, oh she must be teething, anymore because I've been thinking that every time she's acted a bit down in the dumps for the past six months. But after her lengthy evening nap, I was feeding her dins in her high chair. As I spooned a bit of sweet potato into her gummy gums, I finally saw it. The unmistakable mark of a tooth cutting through the pink flesh on the bottom right.

Now the tooth story has been long and sordid. I think we thought Eliana was first "teething" back in November when she displayed some consistent fussiness and had rosier than usual cheeks. Five months and two bottles of holistic teething tablets later, still not a mark of porcelain in our G-Gums sweet mouth. And there we were, doing our thing, listening to some old, sentimental CD I made a few years back when I spotted the tooth. Then, of course, Stevie Nicks has to come on singing "Landslide." So I begin to sing, with all the heart and soul this mama can muster, to Elie in her high chair. Next thing I know I have tears streaming down my cheeks, while Elie stares at me with her big blues, a look on her face of equal parts confusion and amusement. She used to hearing, "Eliana, have you any wool, yes sir, yes sir, three bags full..." and "...someone's in the kitchen with Eliana, someone's in the kitchen I know, oh, oh, oh...." but the earnest, intense, American Idol style rendition of Landslide that was coming out of my mouth was unlike anything she'd heard from me before. If we were in a movie, my singing would have actually sounded good and some cheesy montage of photos would have flashed on the screen, perhaps various shots of Eliana's toothless grin, the last frame frozen on a single toothed mouth, then fading to black.

But, alas, it was just us, together, in the kitchen. Just another seemingly common moment in our little lives. Perhaps that's what gave me the emotional go-ahead and chutzpah to really let loose with both the notes and the tears. Knowing that my husband is across our northern border and not about to walk in the door and laugh hysterically at me made the moment all the more intense. Maybe the emotions of the tooth's arrival were mixed with the incredible hormones that have been blasting through my body lately as my reproductive system kicks back on in full force (cramps, bloating and mama blood to boot). Whatever it was, the tooth, the tears and the notes took hold of the room.

And then the song ended. The next song on the mix pulled me right out of the freeze-frame (Fiona Apple lacks the refined, aged wisdom of Ms. Nicks and completely spoiled the mood). And the moment passed, just another of many, fast, fleeting and full, that I'll face with my little girl.

Monday, April 28, 2008

kid stuff

Eliana's all into kids stuff these days. Legos, her player piano, books, stuffed animals. She even figured out that her little, wooden "Eliana" stool is actually a puzzle and now motors over and pulls the pieces out. I can hardly keep up! It's really too much fun. And boy is she strong! She manages to lift and maneuver things I never dreamed imaginable, hoisting herself up on every and anything. I remember when I thought she would never be interested in her toys, actually wondering what I was going to do with all of the ridiculous, lovely things we were given when she was born. Now I put her on the floor in her room and she crawls devilishly fast over to her toy basket and starts to pull things out one by one to examine, clap together, laugh at. I can even put her in her crib, surrounded by toys, and she just plays while I run around and attempt to keep the house tidy. It was so great to have my dad and Mary here, the last in the installment of Eliana's visitors. He read bunny with her, sang songs with her piano, delighted in her dimples and marveled at all her vivaciousness and wonder. They were here for barely 48 hours, in between city stops before they embark on their seventh pilgrimage to Malawi to work with HIV positive women and children. It's pretty inspiring to watch people at that point in their lives still dedicated to dreaming big and ardent dedication to something so much larger than themselves. After working as a doctor in the ER for nearly 40 years and raising eight children, my dad is still approaching life full speed ahead, living with gusto, grit and heart. What marvelous models my little one has to inspire her to live with passion and determination. You can already see it in the way she laughs at her duck or bangs board books together.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

bum bum

Eliana has produced her second, vowel/consonant combination. While she mastered the, "ma, ma" combination a month or so back, we haven't really heard anything new in a while. Until she started with the, "buh, buh, bum, bum", or bunny, for short (or long). Eliana has one favorite book. Actually I could call it her absolute favorite toy seeing as today she consistently chose it over all the others in the line-up - she just sat there flipping the long, cardboard pages like a mad-woman, smiling at bunny as he greeted the many seasons, chased the butterflies, and "curled up in his hollow tree" to dream about spring. The book is, I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry. Homegirl love bunny. In fact, she loves the book so much, that she won't let Jeff read her anything else. She's actually hurled herself out of his lap and towards Bunny on the little bench by the chair and grabbed for it while he tried his hand at, say, The Best Mouse Cookie or Snuggle Puppy. She's really not interested in any other book, just sweeps them off the shelf with a swipe of her ever-elongating arm. And now she says, "buh, buh, bum" in honor of her favorite guy. She says, "buh bum" when we say bunny. She says it when she sees the cover of the book. She even says it when Jeffy just starts talking in the bunny voice. She goes nuts when she actually sees the book and realizes that it's time to have it read to her, the whole way through (or in tonights case, four times through). And that kind of recognition and conviction and unwavering opinion is pretty damn cool.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

so much love...

Eliana is such a good natured lil lady. She loves to laugh, loves to charm, loves to chat, and loves to be with her family. Here she having special time with her Gran earlier this week. Watching them stare into each other's bright, blue eyes made my hazel's glisten with happy tears.

la familia

One of the highlights of having people come and visit us in Montana is having an opportunity to share the natural beauty of our surroundings with our loved ones. A trip to Jerry Johnson hot springs always delights visitors with the oohs and ahs of hot, thermal waters, huge, mossy cedars, and naked, silly hippies...

So we knew April was going to be a busy month. We started the weekend with my sister and her glorious team of seven, the Lineage dancers, hosted in my basement. I need to add, quickly, that my house has two very tiny bedrooms (to give you a picture, in our bedroom, you have to shimmy to the side in order to maneuver between the dresser and the bed frame to move to the other side of the room) and a finished basement. Five of the girls were downstairs while my sister and Caterina slept on a futon pad on our living room floor. It was very slumber party, very girlie, very fun.

The girls left on Sunday and my most beauteous mama arrived the following Wednesday. My mama, bless her tremendous heart, who is currently forty-eight hours out of knee replacement surgery. She wanted to see her sweet girls before she faces months of incapacitation and difficult rehab. Yikes. It always means the world to me to have my mom in Missoula. I made such a bold choice when I moved out here -- all seven of my siblings still live in California. For my mom to make that huge trip, alone, with a bunk body to boot is pretty amazing. So mama stayed for a week, had plenty of love-time with her granddaughter, shacked up in the teeny bedroom for a few nights while Jeff was in Glacier for work, and then crossed path with the six Kesslers who arrived the next Tuesday. While all of Jeff's peeps were staying up at his folks place, it still made for many a lively, mildly chaotic, laughter filled meal, and lots of logistics and decisions to sort through. They left today and Jeff, Eliana and the quiet in our house put us in a euphoric, catatonic stupor. Elie fell fast to sleep for an almost three hour nap while Jeff and I wandered around the house without speaking. I found myself mindlessly dusting the furniture while Jeff swept and did the dishes. Cleaning has never felt so fun because it didn't have to be done. Nobody was coming to dinner, nobody, that is, until my father arrives with his wife on Thursday. Gracias a Dios!

And here's the lowdown. Why are all these people coming to visit? My little tyke. And while she is the most personable, go with the flow kinda chica, even she needs some quiet every now and then. So I send big love to all my family who traveled over many mountain passes or through various airports to share in the splendor that is Eliana. To watch her fine form crawl and cruise, to watch her gummy little shark mouth suck down avocado and sweet potato (heck, she even tried some smoked salmon this morning for breakfast!), to speak "ahhhh" and "mamah" with her, and to feel her soft cheeks, her sweet breath, her waving hands and wiggling fingers. I am so proud of her, so proud of the way she relates and loves and gives of all her self to the people in her family. And, I have to say, I'm pretty glad to have a few quiet days with her alone before the next lovefest begins....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Like father, like daughter

Many people remark that they can't really tell where Eliana came from. The blue eyes, the pale skin, the teeny body. But I'll tell you what. I've always thought she looked like her papa.


Spring is sweet here in Missoula. Wild and sweet, unpredictable, fierce and ever so exciting. My mom has been here since Wednesday and in that time she has seen snow, hail, ferocious winds and two glorious, seventy plus degree sunny days. It's enough to make anyone a little nuts! I captured some great shots of Eliana enjoying our yard (did anyone say, eat dirt, leaves and grass?) It's kind of funny -- I have such a pale little Montana monkey and I hardly know what to do with her when the sun is shining. I was mildly panicked when I realized that about an inch of each of her ankles were exposed when we were hiking in the ergo on Saturday (where her little pants were caught). I spent the whole walk with my hands wrapped around her exposed skin for fear of her first sunburn. Anyway, she seems to love being in her yard and we are both very excited for all the treats that await in the garden in a few weeks. Spring in Missoula is kinda like life with baby Eliana - full of surprises, sudden changes, and moments of sheer beauty and brilliance.

Monday, April 7, 2008

eliana continues her political musings

So not only did the little miss see the senator from Illinois, she spent her Sunday with the senator from New York. Mrs. Clinton also graced our chilly valley and held her rendezvous out at the airport. With about 2,000 folks there, no line, and no where near as much collective energy (Obama had about 10,000 folks in attendance if you count the people who spilled out on to the stadium), Eliana spent most of her time with Mrs. Clinton fussing (it was her naptime) and, finally, sleeping. Her dad says that she is clearly in tune with the charisma of each candidate, seeing as how she grunted and bounced during Barack's speech, and whined and snored during Hilary's.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Obama Rocks Missoula

eliana for obama

Amazing things happen in this small, mountain town. Yesterday we had the absolute honor of welcoming Senator Barack Obama to the Adams Center. Jeff diligently got the family tickets, including our extended, seven person Lineage Dance family who was in town for a performance of their own. Over 8,000 Missoulians filled the space and there was a beautiful sense of pride, enthusiasm, and of course, hope surrounding Obama's words.

Though Eliana was exhausted by the end of the morning, she did a fantastic job listening and jumping up and down on her mama's legs when appropriate.

Jeff sat down on the floor and caught some beautiful pictures of the wise, charismatic, bright and (I just have to add it), extremely handsome senator.

The ladies of Lineage could not have timed their visit to Missoula any better. What a treat to have such star quality in our tiny town! Jeff's mom, Roseann, was thrilled with Obama's visit and even had an opportunity to pose with the Obama kayak!