Feathered Aspen

Two months in one…

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It’s been ages since I’ve posted.  Luckily, Joshua has been picking up some of my slack with his fun videos, but it’s definitely time for an update.  I did begin writing another post at the end of June, ut I never finished it.  Here’s the news from last month:

June 28th, 2016

Last time I wrote, I was bemoaning our cool spring.  Well.  Summer has arrived.  Today it’s nearly 90, and we joined our friends at the park and splashpad.  Lily ran off and played hard, only coming back for snacks, and Lu hung nearby, occasionally following the older girls, but mostly wanting to be held or near mama.

June has been pretty amazing.  Joshua wrapped up the school year in the first week, and he was even awarded the Golden Apple Teach of the Year Award!  When he told me, I was so proud of him, I started crying.  Sometimes I feel like his workplace is evil and thankless, but I was heartened to see that at least they can recognize quality and devotion when they see it.  He’s also one of a very small number w

ho has been in the network for five years, making him one of the oldest and most veteran teachers on staff!  Haha!  At the ripe old age of 30…  Might tell you something about how rewarding it is to work there…

After a long weekend, we packed up and headed to Capitol Reef, a National Park I’ve never even heard of.  A couple of hours past Moab, this place is full of the red and tawny canyons and rock walls we’ve come to love.  With a river running through the valley and fruit trees all around, we set up camp and took turns hiking and dipping in the water.  Lily and Lu loved it, and with the exception of one very, very hot and sleepless afternoon and a nasty cough both of the girls had at night, we had lovely time.

In Grande Escalante, we hiked out a mile to a desert oasis with a 70 ft waterfall and an ice cool pool.  We jumped in, but mostly we hung out by the edge feeling pleasantly chilled and admiring neon blue dragonflies.

We drove from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon after nearly a week of camping.  On the way, we stopped at a coffee shop along a remote scenic highway, and there we ran into a girl Joshua and I had gone to high school with…  Very bizarre.  Fun, but generally I hope to have bathed within the past seven days if I’m about to see someone I haven’t seen in over 10 years.

When we finally got to Bryce Canyon, we held our breath as we looked for a campsite.  The chances of nabbing a site in a National Park on a Friday at 2 pm were not great, but we got the last one!  Hooray!  And it even had a bit of shade 🙂

Bryce was beautiful.  The hoodoos, if you’ve never seen them, are rock spires clustered in a canyon.  It’s a strange sight, and we enjoyed quite a few hikes admiring the park.  I was also a fan because there were showers less than a mile away and it was about 15 to 20 degrees cooler than in Capitol Reef.

We stayed for over a week, hiking and exploring the surrounding area, including Red Canyon, Powell Point and Reservoir, Kodachrome, and another day in Grande Escalante where we had the best hike EVER.  And we’ve hiked a lot, folks.  It was just amazing.  We drove out on this remote and not terribly well maintained road.  I was feeling a bit dubious by the time we got to the trailhead, but it was AMAZING.  The trail followed a small creek through a narrow slot canyon.  The girls loved it.  We loved it.  So much fun.

On our last weekend, K and Stacy showed up with their kids.  We had a good time playing in the dirt and some water we found, and on Friday, we packed up to crew for Joshua’s second hundred mile race.  Unfortunately, the first aid station was a bust, and so by the time we finally saw him, he was at mile 41 and completely wrecked, ready to quit.  With not a cloud in the sky, the heat compounded by some nagging injuries and tummy troubles made continuing pretty unappealing, and we all drove back to the campsite feeling a little bit sad.  Hundred milers are crazy races, and I really have no desire to ever attempt one (maybe a 50!), but it’s still sad to put SO.MUCH.WORK into something and not finish.  That being said, Joshua was not the sad-sack I expected.  He had a good attitude about the whole thing.

On our last day, we packed the P’s shade tent and found a spot in the river to set it up.  We sat in the cool water, shaded and munching on snacks.  It was a great way to end our trip.

We made the long drive back, waving goodbye to the Ps.  They were heading further west – all the way west, actually.  And while part of me wanted to go back to California and see the ocean and eat all the food, the other part of me absolutely refused to do the driving.  Nervous nelly driver/passenger over here, kids.  Cartwheeling down I-70 will do that to ya.

Once we got back to Denver, Joshua jumped into our latest project – the Osceola basement.  Usually, it’s really hard to give him up for those long hours of hard labor, but this time, it’s felt a bit more manageable.  He’s got help (and just as importantly, company!), and coming off of a vacation makes everything feel a little bit less of a grind.  We’re really, really hoping that this renovation will take a bit less time.  Right now, the goal is to have it finished and ready to rent by August 1st.  We’ll see!  The other funny thing is that now we have a garage?!  Haha!  That seriously happened in the blink of an eye.  We had been talking (and I had been resisting) for quite some time and then I realized that garages increase property value at least dollar for dollar, someone else does ALL the work, and with one we might actually be able to make our yard look presentable, rather than the scene straight out of rural Appalachia that it looks like right now.  So yeah.  That took less than a month.

And then the big news (well the first part at least) is that Lu turns two on Thursday!  Don’t ask me how.  I can remember the weeks leading up to her birth and then her delivery and those first few days like they were last week.  To me, she still looks like a little peanut, but then I get her around the crew we have going here in Edgewater, and she’s the third oldest and the second biggest outta six, so that kinda blows my mind.

So let me tell you about the girls and life with them right now.  Because it’s sort of the best.  As far as I’m concerned, Lily at four years old is freaking amazing.  Tantrums are at an all time low, and most of the time, she’s just the sweetest, most pleasant little girl.  She’s funny, chatty, and full of energy.  She’s a phenomenal hiker and a great big sister.  She’s caring and loving, imaginative and playful.  I love her to bits.  Also?  Somehow we brought back the nap?  And both of them are napping RIGHT. NOW?!  Because life is just that good, you guys.  We’ve had solid napping with only two or three misses since school let out three or four weeks ago.  HALLELUJAH.  Because these days, the only tantrums we have are borne of pure exhaustion or severe hanger.  So mostly they’re preventable.  It’s a huge shift, emotionally.  Tantrums began right around Lu’s birth, picked up speed over the next year, and then began tapering at about three and a half.  Throughout the rest of Lily’s threes, we experienced weeks of reprieve interspersed by weeks of renewed tumult, but as we progress further into four, the tantrums have really begun to fizzle out.  It is an enormous relief.  After long stretches where we would have big meltdowns at least once a day, it’s nice to have a little girl who can express herself with words and who is much better at asking for what she needs and responding to reason.  There were times there when I felt all wrung out and the toll of another meltdown was steep.  I realize that the language I use surrounding these episodes might be confusing.  I’ve often used the term tantrum, but it could just as easily be described as a meltdown.  The reasons were as varied as the wrong dress, pants with pockets, sudden hunger or thirst that couldn’t immediately be met or wasn’t met with the desired food or drink, exhaustion, or of course, the myriad of little things that were simply a masquerade for the real issues like jealousy and changes in routine.  The nature of the meltdowns varied too.  They could last half the day and consist primarily of whining, whimpering, and short crying jags, or they could last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes and entail copious amounts of tears, headsweats, and snot.  The common thread was that there was very little I could do to extricate her from the meltdown.  Offers of hugs and kisses, peaceful time, or eventually my exasperation did little to lessen the outbursts.  It was an exercise in non-reaction – on of my first – and I met the challenge with varying degrees of success.  Reading The Conscious Parent and trying to see Lily as my little spiritual gangster was the most helpful thing I found.  Knowing that, yes, Lily is sensitive and so she perhaps experienced this phase for a longer period of time with more meltdowns than average BUT THAT THIS BEHAVIOR WAS STILL WITHIN THE REALM OF NORMAL, was also very helpful.

(Anyway, I go into this because I do feel like we have come to the end of a phase, and I am grateful for the end as well as the lessons I learned.  I also go into this because I’ve been thinking about those lessons and also how I’ve portrayed them on this blog.  It’s my hope that by being vulnerable I am also normalizing the behaviors and struggles that can be so challenging for a parent.  I have often felt alone or worried that I am the only person experiencing these challenges, but I have also been reassured by many parents that they are going through the same things.  From fewer parents, I have heard that these behaviors are NOT normal and that by describing my daughter’s tantrums and my responses to them I am not only injuring my daughter’s privacy but also disclosing my incompetence as a parent.  From those people I request humility, compassion for my own vulnerability, and perhaps the understanding that judging other parents – specifically mothers – is an exercise primarily undertaken to assuage your own insecurities. )

All this is to say that we’re in a sweet spot.  Lily and Lu play so well together, and they clearly love one another.  I see their sisterhood more and more as a gift rather than a challenge.  I’m alternately touched by acts of inclusion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and gentleness, and in the time we’ve spent with other children, I see these behaviors carrying over.  Yes, we still have our moments of grabbing toys and naughty behavior, but it also feels like those moments are easily outweighed and outnumbered by the time spent happily playing.  It’s a good, good place.

Hello!  Narrator moment again.  Back to July 30, 2016.  I haven’t gotten to Lu, but I’ll do that now, plus a few updates from the last month:

Ha!  Lu’s update may have been unadulterated praise a month ago or even a week ago, but the past week has been a bit of a doozy.  Such is life with a growing babe.  I never know if it’s a transition that’s setting them off or maybe a mild fever, but every once in a while we regress to a state of constantly wanting to be held, lots of tears, and me reminding myself that my children will only want to be held for so long and that some day I’ll miss it (and longingly wishing to eat a meal without a babe in arms and fantasizing about a 15 minute power clean without a sobbing child tugging at my knees).  Anyway.  Before last weekend, Weston (our neighbor) and I were talking about how chill Lu is.  So calm, low drama, one of those kids who’s totally at ease in a crowd but not much for the spotlight.  And to top it off, she’s gentle and generous.  She’s so sweet with our friends’ little twins, and she loves her little cousins, Bierstadt and Ellison.  For some reason I thought she might be a bit of a brute because she’s so tough when it comes to her own play and pain tolerance, but she’s really quite gentle and sweet.  These days, whenever I ask Lily for a kiss or a hug and Lily coyly refuses, Lu hurries over and plants one on me.  I love too how when I tell Lu that I’m disappointed in a choice she’s made, she’ll voluntarily stroke my arm and say, “sorry, mama.”

Lu’s other big development is all language.  She’s stringing together words more and more these days, and I’m even realizing that what I used to assume was nonsensical babbling actually turns out to contain the discernible sentence or two?!  For example, the other day she’s babbling along and all of a sudden I realize she’s saying, “go roll down the hill!”  We had our two year check up two weeks ago, and she’s doing well.  The only surprise is that she’s a bit of a mini:  she clocked in at just the 6th percentile for weight, even though she’s 60th for height.  Overall, it’s a fun age full of talking and more communication.  Her personality emerges more each day, and it’s so fun to see her grow.

And now!  I shall never get a post up unless I leave it at that.  Lu is currently sobbing for my attention, and there isn’t even time to tell you about the awful hair cutting episode this morning or my dad, Mandy, and Hannah’s visit this week….  More later 😉











Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

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