Bedhead

Her sweet, wispy hair wavers between blond and brown, a kind of burnished, aged gold.  She is always happy to wake up, always excited to gaze at the cars passing by when we open up the blinds to let in the morning sun.  That little curl in the back just does me in.

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Looking

I have been thinking lately about the act of looking, and specifically all the things we do that interfere with that gaze.  TV, the phone, even books – all the things we do that disrupt that looking and focus our attention elsewhere.  I confess, I have been reading and loving Woolf, and I can tell the impact her writing has had on me.

At any rate, today I took Julia out in the yard to enjoy the beautiful weather, and I took my camera, and I just watched her watching the cars, investigating the grass, following the sounds of birds and rustling leaves.  It was a lovely time; very little babies are refreshingly unaware of being watched, especially with a camera.

And then Hazel and Amos came home from preschool and work, respectively…

And that changed things quite a bit!

 

Landslide

When you get pregnant, and you really want that baby, all you can think about is how much fun it’s going to be.  Everyone around you is joking about how much sleep you’ll lose and how babies never stop peeing, literally never stop even though you are in the middle of changing their diapers, but you keep thinking about little stripey onesies and pajamas with butt ruffles.  Then you’re humbled by the pain and the intense watching that birth brings, and after that intense glaring at you in your most raw, the light switches off you forever and onto your baby.  And there it stays, night after night, as the baby grows up and more independent and yet still more dependent.  While you’re rocking a wailing baby at 2, 3, 4 AM, you tell yourself that soon they’ll sleep all night.  Then, while you rub clove oil on their gums to alleviate teething pain and they just scream at your efforts, you tell yourself you can’t wait until they’ve cut all their teeth.  When you’re going through endless rounds of potty training, trying 400 strategies and having them all end in pee pee on the floor, you keep saying how amazing it will be when they can go to the bathroom by themselves.

But really, it isn’t.  It doesn’t really get easier when they sleep all night or can go to the potty alone, because that’s not the nature of parenting.  It gets harder.  Do you hear me, pregnant friends?  HARDER.  Because suddenly caring for them isn’t only holding them until they stop crying; it’s layered, it’s complicated, and it’s illogical.  I have been walking through this semester, trying my best to keep Hazel, Julia, the house, and my studies all pulled together, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Hazel, who clings to me all day and would crawl back into my uterus for keeps – Julia, who’s so sweet-tempered and so much less needy than any other 10-month-old alive – the house, with its piles of laundry at various spots throughout – our food, which I try so hard to make super healthy and fresh and YAY, but is slowly involving more meals of just hummus and carrot sticks.  I’m so exhausted, and maybe parenting isn’t this hard for everyone else.  I concede that I have some factors working against me:  I’m a control freak, a neat freak, a non-touchy/feely loner freak who gets mad as hell when I can’t find my exact right highlighter and who, in reality, would probably have said “f*ck” instead of “hell.”  I’ve got some daddy issues, which are 1. being furious and 2. being furious.  Whatever the cause, whatever the complications, parenting, for me, is the most difficult, consistently inconsistent position I’ve ever held, and I mostly feel like a failure of a mother.  I WANT to go to school, want it so badly that I’m staying up until 1 AM reading articles and working on papers, and sometimes I get mad at the universe when I have to push it all off for the tiny humans in the next room.  Because I’m not mad at them, or at Amos or even me, it’s hard being mad.

But sometimes things unexpectedly clear, and, for a moment, it’s perfect.  Today I have had Julia home, still feverish, while a coughing but not feverish Hazel went back to preschool after several days home sick.  I’m super behind; I have to read Bleak House, which is like 900 pages of Dickens that I had never even heard of before, and having two sick girls has seriously affected my reading time.  So I have Julia in the sling, letting her doze on me whilst I read, and Hazel’s school calls with a suspected case of pink eye.  An hour later I settled a newly clean Julia, who pooped in the bathtub for the 3rd time this week (she has a bad diaper rash, so I put her in there to give her some non-diaper time) in her crib with relaxing nature sounds playing on my phone and a Hazel who’s half asleep and half irritated and just doesn’t know what to do with herself.  I put her beside me on my bed, hoping she would sleep.  She asked me to read to her, and because I’m so behind I started reading Bleak House to her.   What should have been a boring book for her was, for some reason, exotic.  That moment turned into Hazel stealing my glasses and book and reading the text to me.  That ordinary moment of maternal desperation turned into something so beautiful and refreshing, made extraordinary by the amazing little girl I have.  It gets harder as they get older, but the beautiful moments get exponentially more beautiful.

 

First Snow

In Kansas City, we promised Hazel every day that there would be snow in New Jersey.  We checked out books about snow from the library.  We read books about Christmas and Hannakuh Hanukkah (thanks Jenn!  😛 ) and pointed out the snow.  “See?  There’s snow on the ground at Christmas, just like there will be in New Jersey,” we exclaimed to her.  Soon she was in on it too, talking about the snow and how at Christmas we would see the snow falling and make a snowman after we opened presents.  Then, when Christmas actually came in on its 40 degree heels, she told us that it wasn’t really Christmas at all because it didn’t snow.  Sad face.  Nope, it didn’t snow at all here, even as Kansas City has seen snow several times since we’ve moved.  Yesterday, though, it snowed a little bit here, just a teaser snow that barely stuck to our clothes, but holy moly was that enough to fire old Hazel up!

“Run out here and catch the snowflakes with your mouth LIKE ME!!!”  My baby girl could not have been more excited.  Julia played it cooler, just pointing at a couple of flakes and proclaiming them, “bat!”  We all ran around, looking like fools from the South who are freaking out over 5 snowflakes falling from the sky – which, you know, we pretty much are.

Rainy Day

It’s gray and rainy outside, so we had a sleepy day indoors.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, since honestly we don’t always make it outside these days; I’ve been too busy making baby food, doing 80 loads of laundry, unpacking, organizing, and then reorganizing all our stuff.  Oh, plus Christmas.  Today, though, we were all kind of blah, very clingy and trying to wrap ourselves around Mama’s legs to just pretend we are her pants, until some magic rainbow smiled on our house in the early afternoon.  After cleaning up clothes & floor & baby for two, yes two, diarrhea incidents and both stepping on Hazel’s foot and elbowing her in the face because she was so close to me during this process, the girls just stopped.  I let them get every toy they own out onto their floor, and I guess that’s the trick, because they just started…playing.  Together.  Without me.  MIRACULOUS.  I did sneak in for a moment, though, to take a photo of Julia.  I feel like I have 50 thousand photos of Hazel alone and like two of Julia, so I told Hazel she could velcro herself to my back for two minutes while I photographed Julia.

Double Blegh

We are moving in five days.  We found out about that date two days ago.

I am sick.  AGAIN.

Those two things in combination have been sucking up all my time.  Luckily, I don’t have to pack us; Samsung’s movers are taking care of the packing & moving & some of the bigger unpacking (like putting beds together, that kind of thing – and that’s no little thing for those bunk beds).  It’s all very corporate (and maybe a little creepy, if I think about it too long, but I’m not).  This weekend will be spent doing the things we like here for the last time, cleaning out the fridge, and packing our unmentionables.

My mom came to visit us last weekend, which was a fun time amidst all this moving blah blah.  I got a couple of nice pictures of her and the girls (mainly Hazel, since she’s the more not-sleeping-in-the-stroller type).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me & the Girls

I’ve been feeling nostalgic about the girls’ babyhood lately.  It slips by so quickly.

Where Do We Play?

I know our time is limited in Kansas City, and I like to look at it like we’ll never be here again.  I’m totally taking advantage of our relatively cheap living expenses, nice location, and obligation-free lifestyle to act like we’re on this massive vacation.  Otherwise I might go insane, if I started thinking about preschools and grad schools and houses and…vacation.  We’re on vacation, baby!  SPRING BREAK!

So, as part of that, today I took the girls to their first play!  At Union Station, which is a real working train station, there are also lots of other attractions for families, including Science City, art exhibits, a theater, and a kids’ theater.  We joined a crowd full of other kids to see “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” a play based on the popular children’s book.  We got in just barely in time, thanks to my rather poor downtown navigation skills, and managed to score the absolute LAST two tickets, right down on the front row.  As we sat in the theater, practically onstage, Hazel kept asking things like, “Why is it dark in here?  Why are all these kids being so crazy?  Where do WE play?  Can I go touch that stuff?”  I found it tricky to explain what a play was, since my “it’s like a real-life movie!  With really real people!” didn’t seem to make sense to her, so I just told her to be patient.  When the lights completely dimmed, then a spotlight hit on first the boy, then the mouse, and then a cookie, Hazel was completely enthralled.  Julia even popped off from nursing to watch the action (and she didn’t look away for the rest of the show, either!).  Both girls were entranced with the play, which was so exciting and even had some music.  We had just the BEST time, and I was so proud and happy, watching them watch it.

All Hallow’s Eve

Or whatever!

In the middle of all this goofy are we moving, okay when, okay we still don’t really know exactly, we don’t have a house there yet business, the holiday season began.  And yeah, I think Halloween marks the beginning of three super fun holidays (Thanksgiving gets points for being smooshed in between two cooler holidays), culminating in CHRISTMAS!  I love Christmas, people.  Anyway, I would have just skipped this holiday except I have a three-year-old and a new baby in need of a 1st Halloween costume, and so we did it up, Confer style.

Typical family portrait, and typical Confer costumes.  Hazel’s was particularly fun this year, I think.  Since she’s old enough to really express herself, I thought it would be fun to let her design her costume.  She came up with this idea, which is a pink monster with white polka dots and two sets of ears (one big girl, one mouse).  The bow, though, is because we’re growing her bangs out.

Julia was a muscle man!!  She kept eating and eating on that belt.  I thought she might find her little chest hairs, but nope – just the belt.  I took the girls trick or treating at the shops yesterday, then we picked up Amos from work.  Instead of going door-to-door after that, we opted to take Hazel to Glace for an ice cream treat and next door to the Apple store for a treat (a keychain) and to play on the ipad (her favorite thing).  I was hoping Hazel would choose flavors that are seasonal and kind of Halloweeny, but I don’t know why.  Sometimes I have these really domestic thoughts, like I’m going to switch out all our bathroom and bedroom decor for all matchy seasonal ones and everyone will take Christmas photos wearing matching red and white sweaters with deer knitted into them.  I don’t know where they come from – leftover HCGC reserves? – but I was having one MAJOR last night.  I was all, “what flavors do you want?  Roasted pumpkin, banana, maybe squash, even rum raisin?”  And she looked right at the server and said “I want that blue cheese one and the spicy chocolate.”  When she says stuff like that, it snaps me right out of those weird SkyMall fantasies and back into our real world, the one where she orders blue cheese and spicy chocolate and eats them together.

Halloween and Other News

I never thought that we would be so crazy busy after moving to Kansas City.  Maybe it’s because we dislike being in our tiny, beige apartment, or because we have never really lived in a big city all together before, but we are CONSTANTLY on the go.  These past couple of weeks have looked like this:  go to a new park 40 minutes away.  Get a super puking virus (AGAIN) and spend the next five days drinking diet cherry 7 Up (me) and Pedialyte (aka sick juice, Hazel).  Drive to STL, spend the weekend, drive back.  Act crazy all week, taking very long walks, going to the playground, and eating lots of Korean.  Aunt Laura visits, and we drag her all over the city to a park that has a giant penguin and an outlet mall.  Now we’re in the middle of another week of playgrounds, walking, and being outside while it’s still fall, and we’re going back to STL this weekend.  And the next.  And then after that my mom is visiting.  Seriously, could we be any more popular right now?

One thing we consistently do during the week is go to the story time at the library.  It’s small, and fun, and about a 3-block walk, so we all really enjoy it.  Today the librarian asked the kids to come dressed in their Halloween costumes.  So, unveiling Hazel’s 2011 costume, a creature that sprang fully formed from her own imagination (for the first time!):  a scary pink monster with white polka dots!  She was pretty excited about seeing herself all dressed up, and was even running around pretending to eat me!  We had fun at story time, and I know she’s looking forward to trick-or-treating this year.  She’s so ridiculously proud of the costume.  We let her tell us what she wanted to be, and then draw a picture of it, which was a super fun idea I highly recommend to other parents.

As if things in Kansas couldn’t get more hopping, I have some news.  We’re moving!  Again!  Across the country!  Again!  Can you believe it?  Aren’t we the movingest people you’ve ever met outside the military?!?!!?!!  I don’t know how many this is for Amos, but this will be the 16th time I’ve moved.  GAH!  Anyway, here’s how it happened:  important people want Amos in New Jersey.  Yep, that’s all it takes!  Plus we agreed, for lots of reasons, and so while I have really loved this city I am excited to live in that area.  It’s in Bridgewater, which is approximately 30 minutes from the shore and Ikea, 50 minutes from NYC, 1.5 hours from Philly, and 4 hours from Clinton.  We are spending Thanksgiving here, and immediately after we’re headed out.  That means we have a month left to explore the city and eat as much of Mr. Gyro’s as we can!!

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