Monday, June 30, 2008

in the summer swing

It's Monday morning and it's the first official Monday of summer for me. By that I mean, I woke up in my own bed, the smell of early Montana mornings coming in through the fan in my window, sunlight streaking the walls through the slats in the blinds. I woke on my own, which means to say, Eliana slept a straight ten hours. My breasts were full, my heart was full, my mind was quiet. I 100% embrace my career as a teacher for giving me this precious time to be home with my family!

Summer has been a bit of a whirlwind so far. We had our crazy California adventure, then returned to have our last few days with Morty and Roseann before they returned to New Jersey for the summer. Upon their departure, our dear friend Johnny arrived in town to play for a few days. And then the entire weekend was spent celebrating and sharing in our friend's Erin and Adam's wedding. So hanging around the house, just the three of us, really hasn't been an option yet.

I think Eliana is ready for it, though. She could spend hours in her room playing, all her things ready to rock and roll. She loves crawling around in the grass and playing with the water spicket while I tend to my flower garden. She is such a trooper. Her superior social skills have wowed people on planes, trains, and automobiles. She's slept in three different pack n' plays, one of them with rolled up towels in the bottom because we forgot the mattress at home. And she still always wakes up smiling.

Here are some pics from our adventures of late.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

so cal in all her glory

Eliana, my sister Hilary, and I made the trip south for four nights with my mom in Pasadena. The time was replete with love. There is nothing more beautiful than watching Eliana with her Gran or, rather, watching Gran with her Eliana. A lovely photographer approached us at a restaurant and asked if she could photograph Eliana. We gladly obliged. These images capture the beauty of our time together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

fourth trimester, revisited

Eliana and I are so enjoying our time with Melissa and Avi. What really strikes me is how very different these two babies are who are a mere six months apart in age. Avi and Melissa are still in that very sweet fourth trimester. He has nothing but eyes for her. She has nothing but eyes for him. He nurses, sleeps, poops and lies on his back, looking longingly up at his mama. Melissa has a sweet, running narrative with him, telling him what she's up to and making sure he always knows she is right there for him. They have this little love bubble around them. They are still in that cocoon-y love place.

And then there's my girl. She is into everything. She crawls around the casa and throws all Avi's toys around. Yesterday while Avi was in his bouncy seat, Eliana confidently stepped her two little feet on either side and balanced, hovering over him with a big smile. My little big girl. She is such a part of the greater world these days. She doesn't sleep in the ergo because there's just too damn much to see and take in. She interacts with everyone.

Last night we found ourselves in a crowded, loud tapas place, way past her bedtime. We had met up with Andrew and Julie and Heather and John, Eliana getting to spend time with her extended San Francisco family. Mama was drinking sangria and trying to just go with the unstructured flow of vacation. Eliana was making eyes with the busboys, shoving black beans and bread in her mouth (and on her face, clothes, neck, hands...) and trying to stand up in her high chair. She is dying to catapult herself out of anything these days. She is constantly on the move.

And then suddenly she feels sleepy. And all she wants is a quiet place with her mama's breast. We find ourselves back in that cocoon like space. We stare at each other and communicate by blinking deliberately back and forth. Eventually she falls to sleep. I gingerly place her in her makeshift criblet and remember that she's not all that grown up after all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

We Made It!

Eliana and her mama had one hell of a day yesterday. We started bright and early when Daddy left for his bachelor backpack/ski trip in British Columbia. Actually we started at about five when Eliana woke up and nursed. Mama never really went back to sleep and next thing I knew I was hugging my husband and saying adios for a week. Around eleven, when it seemed to be time for Elie to nap, we hit the road for the three hour trip to Spokane. After about twenty minutes, Eliana was asleep and mama was ready for her to sleep for the next few hours. But after about forty minutes, she started to stir. It was hot back there in the carseat and even with the weirdo window shade thingys that I bought from Target just for this trip, the sun seemed to be hitting her pretty hard. Oh sweet pale horse! We made it to the bustling town of Wallace, Idaho, where I decided to take her out, cool her off, and give her some food. Of course the one little coffee shop was closed, so we found a park bench and Elie downed a jar of baby food. We then changed her nappy on the counter of some random restaurant bathroom and got ready to load up again. I was sure she would go down. Nope. Just fussing and heat and chatting from the backseat. Finally we were in Spokane. Just as we approached the sign for the airport, I checked the mirror. Eliana had dropped off. Just in time for me to stop driving. Good God.

Do I drive around after three long hours just to ensure she sleeps, or do I park the car, stretch my legs and wake my child? I opted for the latter (bad idea) as she promptly woke up the minute the car stopped. We gathered all our gear (and I mean, ALL our gear), and waited for the shuttle driver to take us to the airport. At this point I was pretty damn exhausted. I think I get so anxious when I have to do these types of things. The whole day had been a stony sort of haze -- my mind seemed to have two modes, checking the little mirror to see if Eliana was asleep and checking the road for wildlife, scary drivers or freaky mountain pass curves. I didn't even want to listen to music. I felt like I had to focus supremely to get there safely. And finally, after all that extreme concentration, I was sitll only at the airport and had yet to even board the plane for the two hour flight to San Francisco.

Not to worry. The flight was delayed. When I first saw the words, "flight delayed" on the screen, I felt the begining of that focus start to crumble. I wanted to cry. I couldn't wait an extra hour. I had to get there. Melissa was picking up Indian take out. She had a special bottle of wine all ready. I was supposed to be sitting in her cool, SF apartment by 6:00.

Eliana and her mom decided to go to the airport Starbucks. I loaded up on sugar and caffiene and pretended to nobe in an airport. Eliana ate crackers and flirted with strangers. We had two hours to kill. Until I checked the screen. The delay was now an hour and a half. I called Melissa. By the time we were off the phone the delay had moved to an hour and forty five. My heart sank. I brought Eliana to the bathroom to pee again (peeing with a child attached to your chest while you are trying to fit a stroller stuffed with gear into a small bathroom stall is not something you want to have to do repeatedly). I was trying to keep her on me with th hope that she would fall asleep. I paced the airport. Her eyes were rimmed with pink but still bright and eager. Everytime the stupid loudspeaker would announce some more bad news, I'd feel this little flash of rage because that was part of the over-stimulation that was keeping my girl awake.

They announced that the flight was now two hours late, so I folded. I went to the bathroom stall and let myself crumble and cried my own big girl tears. I was exhasted. Stressed. Hungry (but not settling for anything but that Indian meal waiting for me int he big city...).

I found a nice stretch of nasty airport carpet and took Eliana out of the ergo. She crawled around and stood up, balancing on the rows of plastic chairs. It was disgusting, but I was beyond caring. By this point she was totally over tired. Even her crawl was slower, sloppier than usual. We killed more time. I called my mom and complained. I fed Eliana more baby food. And finally it was time to board our plane. I was certain she would bonk in the air. She had slept but forty minutes. This is a girl who needs two long, crib naps a day. We would be those people. The poor new mama, all alone with the screaming baby, apologetically walking up and down the aisle of the plane, hushing frantically.

But we sat next to a nice woman. Eliana loved her. Eliana loved her books. She loved her dolly. She loved the cheesy crackers they gave us. She sat obediently on my lap and enjoye the ride. By the time I saw the Golden Gate bridge from the plane window, I let myself finally relax. She had done it. Once again she had surpassed my expectations and proved herself a truly remarkable, resilient little duckling.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day 2008

It's been a whole ten days since I've written. A big, full ten days of wrapping up a school year, graduations, parties, performances, sunny days in the garden, chilly days in the snow (good lord...), and all of the other craziness that surrounds teachers in June. But here we are. The first Saturday of summer. Last night as we were falling asleep in the exhausted, hazy stupor that always seems to accompany the last Friday night of the school year Jeffy said, "Hey honey. We don't have to set our alarm for two and a half months." I smile, kissed him, rolled over and finally felt it in my heart, in my bones. We made it. Another summer.

Jeff and I met as new teachers in a wild, frantic, poor public school in Los Angeles. Our first "summer of love" began around this time of year, 1999. Almost ten years ago. I remember squeezing his hand as we flew over the gulf of Mexico. We were journeying south as part of an Earthwatch Educators Grant to study biodiversity in Jalisco. Journeying south as colleagues, friends, amigos, who just happened to be in the same field at the same school at the same time. Oh how far we've come.

The most luxurious splendor, the greatest payoff, in our lives has always relied heavily on the free time we've had in the summer. We've traveled extensively, moved to Montana, had a child, all in that glorious open space between June and September. As I think about this Father's Day, I think about how blessed I am to have a husband who is so very involved in his daughter's life. I think a big part of that comes from her birth in July and the six weeks we had just the three of us, all day everyday. Even when he went back to work, he was always home by five, ready to take her for a lap around the park or up the mountain in the ergo. They are so sweet together.

Today I hiked up to the top of Mt. Jumbo while they had a daddy/daughter lovefest. They'll be apart for a whole week. Tomorrow dad leaves for a backcountry ski trip in British Columbia and Eliana and I board a plane to San Francisco to see Melissa and meet baby Avi. This is, of course, after we drive the three hours to Spokane (what this mama will do for a cheap plane ticket...). I've been feeling a bit anxious about the drive/flight because Eliana is so damn mobile these days. She doesn't exactly like to stay still. But now that we are on the eve of our departure, I feel less concerned, more ambitious, more excited. I know that, whatever happens, we will get there. We will hang in that lovely city, Auntie Hilary will join us on Tuesday, and then the three of us will journey down to L.A. to see the rest of our peeps. We'll eat well, see lots of sunshine, laugh hard, and embrace the adventure. Daddy will have a blast with his boyfriends and get all the good male/testosterone laden juju in that he needs to keep him sane. And then in a week, we'll put up our red hammock, bust open the windows, fire up the grill, and settle into another summer together.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

montana's big day

If these pics don't say 'hope', I don't know what does...

Today is a big day in our fair state. Who wudda thunk that the wise, earthy voice of Montana would actually matter. I just love it. Obama fever has swept the city and there are signs and rallys and tee-shirt making fiestas. I am wearing my brightest, canary yellow shirt in honor of positivity and the power of change (as much as I want to wear the "Another Mama for Obama" shirt that I had made on Saturday, it seems a bit too much for a school teacher to wear to work, even in this little liberal belly of a town). As always, Eliana's all caught up in the day's events. Yesterday she wore her kickin' red tie-dye "Obama" Montana state tee. Today she's in her "My Mama's For Obama." I couldn't resist this historic photo op.

Monday, June 2, 2008

my peeps

One thing I continuously return to since having Eliana is the beauty of the community that I live in. While there are many things Missoula lacks (authentic ethnic food anyone?), there are countless other reasons why I know we'll be here for a good long while. Beyond the access to glorious open spaces, the need to hardly operate a car, the festivals and rallies and markets bustling with lovely, bright, forward thinking folk, there are my friends. I have a tremendous posse. Here we are at a recent baby celebration for our friends, Seth and Jennifer who are awaiting number two. Eliana wore her special white bonnet for the occasion!