I am happy the Autumn equinox has come. We have entered the dark half of the wheel of the year, which means things will slow down a little bit. Of course, I always think this, & then the holiday chaos descends, & I am over here wrapped in tinsel & stress, singing holiday tunes to myself, rocking like a lunatic. But I am basking in the false sense of "things will slow down" security. You can't bring me down! (I shall relax & enjoy this time like a toddler in a bath tub in the company of all the rubber duckies my heart could desire!)
I have recently taken up three pen-pals; one in the States, one in Germany, & one in Australia. I am so excited about this, but it has taken me FOREVER to find the words for that initial letter. I think I finally have it today (it took a month; I promise it won't be so ridiculous once I have broken the ice!). I have been so excited about having pen-pals again (first time since I was a kid) that I have to remind myself that my initial note does not have to be perfect. And yet it still takes me a month to find the words. And I still have anxiety about it. Tell me I am not alone!
A lot of things are changing for us. We are expecting another baby in March (!) & are planning our first home birth. I am working on crafting & making more art, which I hope to eventually sell in that Etsy shop I have been talking about for forever (lighting fire under self as I type). I am trying to find some time to set aside for that novel I started three years ago, & I am working on my photography business more, mostly fine-tuning the direction I am headed in. It's a lot to accomplish, &, in true Gemini fashion, I am of two minds about it all. This makes every task take twice as long, I am fairly certain. I ultimately want to become self-sufficient as an artist & daydreamer, & I know that will take so much work... but it will be oh-so-worth it!
Meanwhile, Ruby is turning into quite the little girl. She is beginning to learn the words to everything. It took what seemed like forever, but one day she just woke up & started naming EVERYTHING. I was so happy; we had just entered the age when mute toddlers elicit remarks about delayed speech & possible therapy. Not that there is anything wrong with speech therapy (I know I had some as a kid), but I was so relieved that she hit that cognitive leap I had been holding out for. She is beginning to identify her colors & has a passion for art. She loves to sing & dance, & she is such a storyteller! I don't always know what the stories are about, but the animation in her face alone is entertainment enough. She calls herself "Ruby", constantly talks about her cousins, & is obsessed with our future baby. One of her favorite past times is watching beautiful water birth videos on Vimeo or YouTube. Whenever a mama pulls a new baby from the water, Rue crows, "BAY-BEE!" triumphantly, & when the mamas cry from all that emotion, Rue whispers "no cry, mamas, s'okay". This kid & her heart make mine explode.
This past summer we were able to take her up to my grandparent's lake house in NY. I loved it up there as a kid, & love it still today. Ted & I have gone only once together in our ten year relationship, so visits are not nearly as often as I would like. Both my grandparents were in good health at this time, so up we went (with tents & way more luggage than we needed) to spend a week of family, fun, & BBQ. Oh, & a little pregnancy announcement for the whole entire family in one blow. And I mean practically the whole family; two of my cousins were there, one with her kiddos, the other with his fiancee, my aunt & her boyfriend, & my folks, brother, & grandparents. We rarely have that much family in one place (unless someone is getting hitched), so it was the perfect opportunity. Not telling anyone in my family for over a month of knowing we were expecting was tough. Especially trying to hide early pregnancy during a 12+ hour car ride with the family? I strategically stayed up the entire night before so I would sleep on the ride up, thus limiting how many times I had to ask to stop for the restroom! It got tricky after there was beer to drink & I turned it down, but nobody seemed to really notice because the looks on their faces as my brother read his letter from Rue were priceless! Her note was at the bottom of a drawing she made, & said "to Uncle Billy, World's Best Uncle (Twice Over!)". I thought my mom was going to actually drop her jaw. It was as good as I hoped for! Of course, my aunt asked the blunt questions a bit earlier, so a few family members were clued in before the official announcement- I couldn't blatantly lie when asked "is there a bun in the oven NOW?!" (I believe I replied "I can neither confirm not deny the accusation at the moment..." while blushing furiously. haha). I think my ultimate favorite part was taking Rue out on Pop's boat into the lake, & taking her swimming. It was literally the only time we went swimming this summer (that did not involve an inflatable pool in our back yard, anyway). I learned that I cannot tread water & also keep a kid afloat (even when said kid has a floatation device secured on her person). Thank goodness there were lifejackets for the taking! I am so not fit!
Mom, Grandma, Rue, & I took a couple of trips to nearby shrines for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who is apparently the patron saint of conservation, which is pretty cool. My family is Catholic, so I grew up in the Church, & while I do not practice as an adult, I still am trying to keep an open mind about religion. I see how much it means to my family & I respect that. It really was quite fascinating to wander the shrines & Native American museums. Rue really liked the intricate weavings, beadwork, & pottery. She also liked anything interactive (of which there really was not much, but we made some parts more interactive than they may have been intended!). We were a bit underwhelmed by the baptismal waters we hiked out to see (which was more like a dribble & some drying, stagnant puddles in the woods), but the hike was fun exercise. I wrapped Rue on my back in our Didymos Orient wrap & wound up hiking most the trail barefoot, as my sandals slipped too much. Clearly, I was not prepared to hike, but it was probably my favorite part of these visits. I like being in nature & exploring outdoors. Between the wrap, the Ergo, & our Sakura Bloom silk sling, Rue had her pick of fashionable & comfortable wearing options!
I don't get to spend as much time around my family as I would like to, but I cherish the moments we do get to spend together. Every year, I say I hope that this year, we will get to see more of our family. While that is not always realistic, I am grateful that this past summer was actually one of those times we did.
(PS- that amazing quilt below? My Auntie Lynn MADE that for my kiddos! Rue LOVES it, & it is hugely responsible for her identifying animals & colors as suddenly & accurately as she is!)
(PPS- when trying to get a picture of the great-grandbabies, use the mama as a seat for the clingy toddler who will not allow herself time away from the mama!!!)