Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fisher boy

Camping, for Sidamo, is fishing. He spent most of the weekend either fishing or asking to fish. When he's actually fishing, he's not nearly as peaceful as he looks here: His line tangles, his hook snags, he catches nothing but the bottom of the river. In short, he's frustrated. And yet he is desperate to do it more. It's not really a mindset I understand, as someone who avoids frustration and discomfort at all costs, but it's pretty typical of how Sidamo navigates his world.

(I should say here and now that all photo credit goes to Greg. Except the crappy pictures: When you see those, you can be sure they belong to me.)

Sidamo's second-favorite activity: Scrambling up rocks—especially if those rocks meet water. At Rocky Mountain National Park, there is an awesome alluvial fan, which is the technical name for the strewing of rock that occurs when a body of water floods. Or something like that. What do I look like, a guide book? Anyway, the end result is something it would take 23 playground designers 23 years and $23 krillion to build. It kept our entire crew of 4- and 6-year-olds (we were camping with friends) busy and happy for hours despite the record-breaking heat.

These pictures, for example, were all taken by Greg. I was busy sitting in that teensy bit of shade you can see way off in the distance if you squint, with a hot little baby on my chest, scoping out where I'd install the air conditioner if it took them any longer to get back down. (Mama gets cranky when temperatures break 80; see note above about frustration and discomfort.)

Sidamo is getting to a very fun age for outdoor adventures. He can hold his own and is motivated to explore and try new things. The trick is just getting his needs met while also attending to the littles (and the cranky mama), who have a little less tolerance and endurance than he has. I see some solo dad-Damo excursions in our future.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dirty girl

Here's Nora within 15 minutes of arriving (clean) at the campsite.

This is why, when she tells me she's going to be an archaeologist, I believe her. She is happiest when she's eyeball deep in dirt.

We have another camping trip planned about a month, but we're hoping we can get back up there again sooner than that. The kids are in heaven when surrounded by dirt, sunshine, and water.

Unfortunately, our state is on fire right now. It's scary and awful, and absolutely heartbreaking for everyone affected. Please send your love and good thoughts toward the foothills and mountains. We, being in the city, are just fine, but our hearts go out to those who are not.

The High Park fire, seen from Estes Park

Monday, June 25, 2012

Elliott's first camping trip

I'd say he enjoyed it.

Recap to come, but I thought everyone's Monday could benefit from a little happy baby.

Family portrait

Our family, according to Nora. I think the conehead is Puddle. The biggest one is Sidamo, and the others vary every time you ask. The upside-down, hemorrhaging one is usually, but not always, Elliott.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Norasaur is fourasaur!

Can you believe little Norasora is foura? Because I sure can't.

We had a lovely day today celebrating this incredible little being. It started with balloons, pancakes, and pink champagne (a.k.a. lemonade).

Then some gifts, including a super pink scooter and a pooping pig (see the video), and a trip to the zoo with some family and friends to see the new elephant exhibit. We topped it all off with dinner at her favorite restaurant, and silly stories (mostly involving poop) on the car ride home.

What a wonderful day of celebrating a wonderful little person. It's really hard to put into words just how much I love Nora. Of course she's my daughter, and I can't help but love her like I love my lungs, but it's more than just that primal attachment—I love the person she is. If I could design a 4-year-old girl, she'd be it. She's so, so very funny; quirky as they come; unswayed by the opinions of others; fiercely determined; sweet, but not overly so; and just 100% herself. If she can hang onto even half of the good traits she's got now, she'll do pretty well in life. And she'll have a hell of a good time doing it.

Future Nora, if you're ever reading this, I want you to know just how much joy you bring to my life, and how incredibly, indescribably lucky I am to be your mother.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Nora's birthday is tomorrow. Last year, my friend Jess and I spent an entire day making these little lovelies for the "chicken cake" Nora requested:

This year, Sidamo is making cupcakes out of a box while the baby naps and I pump. It's all about shifting expectations. Just keep that in mind next time I tell you having a third is a breeze.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My dad

My dad died last week. It was awful and horrible and so, so very sad. And at the same time, it was a blessing in that my sisters and I, as well as two of my father's siblings, and several other people who loved him dearly, were all by his side as he left. That both of my parents died with all of their kids by their sides telling them how much they loved them is a gift I just can't describe. Greg said he hopes to be as lucky when it's his turn. I guess we all do.

Watching a loved one die, as you know if you've ever done it, is one of the most raw and transformative experiences we face as humans. It reminds me of giving birth in a lot of ways. It's a messy, painful process. It happens in its own time, and there's nothing we can do for the person going through it other than offer our hand, our love, and our support, and hope that the journey is as painless as it can be. That they have what they need—whatever that may be—to find peace, let go, and follow the process where it leads them.

Elliott was with me as I sat by my dad's side for the two days before he died. My father was mostly unconscious, but he'd rouse from time to time, look at his grandson and smile: "Beautiful baby boy," he'd say. There was something poetic about seeing them together—Elliott pure, bright, innocent, and joyful as he begins to figure out his place in this world, and my father—frail, tired, but, I hope, fulfilled as he relinquished his.

Another day I'll start to share the stories about my dad. And there were lots. Everyone who knew him had at least a handful of stories about him: about his generosity; his kindness; his incredibly short memory, which, while frustrating at times, gave him an incomparable ability to forgive. People remember his songs; he was always singing or whistling a tune—usually an Irish one, often with comically confused lyrics. They remember his easy laugh. How much he loved his family, his friends, and his community.

My sister, in her beautiful eulogy, discussed the fact every stage in our father's life was his happiest stage. What a wonderful and admirable trait—to see your life, flaws and all, and understand just how incredibly lucky you are to have it.

So today, even amidst the grief at having lost both of my parents at a sort of young age (bite your tongues), I need to look at what life gave me—two loving, smart, funny, unwaveringly supportive parents—and realize what a lucky, lucky woman I am.

Me, circa a thousand years ago, with the greatest dad a girl could ask for.