On Friday, the Early Childhood students at Juniper's school had their May Day celebration and family picnic. We made flower crowns (with lavender from our garden!) and watched the Kindergarten children dance around the May pole. Juni was thrilled with such a special day at school with her friends.
I made Juni's May Day dress using the Sunny Scallop Dress pattern by Jona G. and a couple of simple calicos from JoAnns. Despite the complete lack of pink or sparkles, Juni says it is still "princessy", which is the only fashion metric that matters these days.
Juniper and I have seen the Easter bunny in our backyard all week long, hopping in and out of the treeline, munching on our grass, and looking out for little nooks and crannies to hide his eggs.
"Mommy, why does the easter bunny have eggs? I thought so chickens have eggs."
He is large and plump and brown and very impressed with the Swiss chard in our garden bed. So impressed, apparently, that he was particularly generous with us this Easter morning.
"Look at all these wonderful Easter suprises! It's finally Easter!"
Juni has been looking forward to Easter for weeks. She has been talking about eggs and picnics and bunnies and Spring. And chocolate.
"I have to go find my basket! And we need to get the picnic blanket for outside! I think so we have to go on an egg hunt!"
Before I had children, holidays were important, of course - times for reflection or reverance or just good old celebration. But now they are particularly meaningful milestones - sweet little pauses here and there in these days that tumble away. I remember last Easter as clearly as she does. Like today, it was warm and bright. Seedlings were just beginning to sprout. The finches had started their nest on our front porch. Owen was all giggly, joyful baby chubs. Rolling and sitting were new and exciting adventures. And Juni, she still had some baby in her as well, the little girl still hatching. Now he is lean and fast and full of words. And she is tall and confident and brimming with excitement about everything, with curiosity and opinion and certainty.
Always, they are growing and changing. And so I'm grateful for these special days, these touchstones in the calendar, that help me to remember that our years circle around and around, even as they run away.
"This sure was the very best Easter party I've ever seen, don't you think so, mommy?."
Sure it was.
Juniper turned three last week! She's been practicing her "three" fingers for weeks in anticipation.
Of course, it seems like just yesterday that I held those newborn hands in mine, impossibly small and perfect. I remember the perfect "O" of her slow baby yawn. I remember the sweet comma of her body and her big, big eyes. But then again, has it really only been three years? If feels as though I've been kissing her forehead goodnight for so long.
This girl. Her world is so exciting. It's full of amazing, magical things. Things like acorns and moonrises, glitter and glue and pet rocks, rock music and carousels and hiking in the woods, salty pretzels and fairy wings and rainbow picnics. She loves pirates (argh! ahoy mateys!) and nutcrackers (who knows...). She loves to run super-fast and feel the wind on her face. She loves gnome stories and hugs from Owey and dancing around the living room. She loves making vegetable soup and cheering for sports teams. She wrinkles up her nose when she smiles.
She can do so many things.
Three is going to be such a fun year.
Juni had a sweet little birthday, filled with all her favorite things. We ate yummy treats and rode the carousel. We had lunch outside in the unusually warm weather. She decorated her own (ice cream) cake. She opened all her lovely gifts and was over-the-moon excited about every single one of them. She ate spaghetti and meatballs and blew out her candles and sang her favorite songs and fell asleep as one happy three-year-old.
I never did finish that Rainbow Blanket, so Juni didn't get a handknit for her birthday. She did, however, get her birthday crown, which she wore all day long. She requested that it have purple on it and a gnome. My gnome ended up looking like some sort of wizard, but she seemed satisfied. I also added a forest of mushrooms and a big snail button.
Me: Hey, Juni, what's your favorite color?
Me: What's your favorite thing to do?
Me: What's your favorite food?
Juni: Tubey pasta.
Me: What's your favorite game to play?
Me: What's your favorite book?
Juni: I am a Bunny.
Me: What's your favorite animal?
Juni: A giraffe.
Me: What's your favorite place to visit?
Juni: The park.
Me: What's your favorite thing in the whole world?
Oh this guy. This sweet, snuggly, huggy guy. He melts my heart into a big puddle of goo.
Truly, cuddling up to those cheeks is just about the best thing in this world. They cuddle back.
Now that he's a whole year old, I have to keep reminding him that he's my baby. He seems determined to prove otherwise.
He walks across the room with a big, proud grin on his face, climbing on and over anything in his way.
He makes his little voice heard, full of words and phrases and songs, suprising me every day with something new and clever.
"Excuse you!" he teases.
"Read a booook?" he asks (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is his favorite. What is it with babies and that book?).
"Want a Bapple!" he pleads, asking over and over again for an apple. He likes them whole, so he can nibble his way through and around it, spitting the skin out all over my floor.
"Touchdown!" he yells, with his arms straight up in the air.
"Wuv you... wuv you, wuv you, wuv you." And I melt all over agin.
His birthday was a sweet, simple little affair, with singing and cake, a sushi lunch and a Lo Mein dinner, and many lovely gifts from our families.
Lately, I've become quite enamored with the idea of cakes looking like cakes rather than like cartoon characters. This is at least in part due to my love affair with the gorgeous, nostalgic perfection of Sweetapolita's many-layered confections (Charlie made this cake for my birthday and it was incredible). So we made Owen his own double-layer cake to enjoy. Charlie mixed up chocolate and spiced pumpkin batters for the cake and I made the leftovers into cupcakes for the rest of us. It was topped with a drippy maple cream cheese frosting and, per Juni's insistence, a variety of "nice, pretty sprinkles".
Owen was certainly less fastidious with his cake than Juni was, but he did insist on an arsenal of spoons and sporks rather than digging in with his hands. After about half an hour of nibbling, he nearly fell asleep in his frosting, at which point we gave him a warm bath and a warm bed and a warm snuggle and the tired, happy little birthday boy fell right to sleep.
Owen's birthday sweater was knit from this simple, quick pattern for a toddler t-shirt vest (I adore woolie sweater vests). The yarn is Malabrigo Rios merino wool in the lettuce colorway - it is ridiculously, incredibly soft... almost too soft. I haven't made up my mind whether I like it or not. It feels more like bamboo than wool, with none of the sturdy body that I expect from a woolie thing. Here's the Ravelry link.
The birthday crown was my own design, using wool felt and ribbon. I was going for an autumnal woodland theme (with a bear for my little O-Bear). Juni calls it the banana hat because she insists that the moon looks like a banana. "That's not a moon! Silly mama..."
Ah, Christmas. The excitement. The anticipation. The suspense. Juniper spent days eagerly petting her presents and dancing around the tree singing Jingle Bells. She asked about Santa Claus constantly. Landing on roof? With reindeer? Bringing books? And chocolate? Visions of sugar plums certainly danced in my little girl's head. And when the day finally arrived? Well, it chewed her up and spit her out.
Now that the whirlwind of December is over, I have several posts to catch up on, not the least of which is... TWO! My baby girl turned two on December 14th!
Which means, as she likes to remind me, that she is a "big girl", not a baby. I search every day for the baby in her, but all I see is little kid bursting through, charging at the world head-on. Ahh, it was hard to let her turn two, to grow onward and upward. A year ago, she was still all baby fat and bald-headed awkwardness, no signs of walking or talking (or bossing me around).
Now she is tall and skinny, limbs always in motion. She talks constantly, happily narrating her day in long, winding sentences, each one sounding like a question.
She is in love with the letter W. In her world, all letters are either W or not W. Finding W's is her own little game and she is quite good.
She insists on climbing stairs all by herself. "Don't touch!" she yells. I let go, cringing at the sharp corners and rough tumbles in front of her. "Go!" she yells, as I linger. Sigh.
She astonishes me each day with how much she knows. How does she know that this is an ostrich? That a barber cuts hair? How does she know that we're driving past Daddy's work or the sushi restaurant with the "yummy edamame"? I can't even fathom absorbing information that quickly.
Some mornings, while we're all still in bed, I hear her chatting with her stuffed animals, telling elaborate stories, instructing them on what to do and where to sit and whom to kiss. Then I hear the tell-tale creaking of her door knob. I wait, because I know she will not walk down the hallway without first closing her door. Slam! I hear the slip-slapping of her feet on the hardwood floor as she makes her way towards our room, stopping here and there, distracted by who-knows-what. She pauses outside our door, giggling, anticipating. She swings open the door and, with a huge grin on her face, yells, "boo!" It is the best way to wake up.
While I miss the baby that she was, I am so grateful for this two-year-old. Wrestling with her independent, stubborn, defiant, mischievous little self is challenging to say the least. But I also get to spend the whole day listening to her chattering, playing her games, and exploring her world. There are snuggles and eyelash kisses and big hugs. She makes us laugh constantly, even when we're trying to be stern and serious and parental. She radiates joy and we, the lucky bystanders, get to feel that joy every single day.
She is our little chef. She helps me make cookies and cakes and other yummy baked things. She practically knows the recipe for my favorite chocolate chip cookies. She brings the flour and sugar from the pantry. She points out the vanilla and the baking soda. She steals handfuls of cookie dough. She also likes to make pizza with Daddy. She takes her job of adding toppings very seriously. The mushrooms are her favorite. I like the way she says, "pepper. oni."
So her big birthday gift from Mama and Daddy was her very own kitchen set. She got pots and pans and utensils, wooden veggies for soup (including mushrooms), and some felt breakfast items I sewed for her the week before. She loved it all. She still does.
And then there was the cake. The minute Juni woke up on her birthday, she couldn't stop talking about eating birthday cake. The Hello Kitty birthday cake was a big hit, though this Mama sorely underestimated how long it would take to pipe an entire kitty head with buttercream. The cake was a delicious chocolate orange marbled cake, adapted from this fantastic recipe. Juniper was much more interested in eating the red letters off the cake board, but we all enjoyed the birthday treat.
Enjoy every second of being two, sweet girl! We're enjoying it right along with you.