Thursday, December 27, 2012

Never Enough Time

We are in Ithaca with my family for the first holiday since Taran was born. Until now, we haven't had the guts to attempt the 8 hour drive in the winter with a child who starts vociferously complaining about his car seat 10 minutes into a drive. This year we decided that he was old enough so that, even if we were slowed down by snow, we could talk him through the trip.

I'm so happy to be here and simultaneously so sad at how quickly the time is going. We are all trying to soak up as many cuddles and kisses as we can before we leave, knowing we won't be back for at least another 6 months if not longer. 

Sometimes, living so far away, I worry that he won't feel connected to my family. Won't really remember them each time we come to visit. And then I watch a big smile burst onto his face as he gazes at his Ithaca family and I'm so relieved that my fears are completely unfounded.

When most of the way that my family gets to know Taran is through phone calls, or skype, or emails (or this blog), there are so many subtle nuances of his personality that they don't see.  So one of my favorite things when we visit is to just go through the small moments of our day with them and kick back and watch them soak each other in. 

As I mentioned in my last post, Taran has been enthralled with the Nutcracker. After his bath last night, he insisted on wearing Grammy Pauly's robe. Noticing the way the robe draped on the ground and billowed about his hands, he was struck by it's resemblance to the cape of the magical Herr Drosselmeyer. At once, he began to regale us with his very own dramatic retelling of Act I of the ballet, complete with dancing and singing. We all laughed and laughed and in that moment I felt so proud of his vibrancy, his imagination, his spirit and it felt wonderful to have my mother there to share in it with me.

In May we are expecting our second child. I hope that she is an amazing traveller and we can come home more often. If I could choose one superpower, it would be the ability to teleport my entire family to far-flung spots in the blink of an eye. Barring that, I'll just have to treasure the moments I have and remember that love leaves a deep impression that can carry us through many months in the physical absence of that love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sharing a little magic

As a kid, my favorite part of Christmas was decorating the tree, turning on the lights, and then sliding underneath the branches to inhale deeply and gaze up at the sparkling specks of light shining through the deep green needles. Up until now, Taran has been just a little too little to appreciate much about Christmas, but this year is so different. When we first turned on the lights to our christmas tree he threw his arms up over his head and in a rather Tiny Tim-like voice cried out "Merry Christmas". He capered back and forth between the ornament box and the christmas tree, piling snowman, angel, octopus, avocado (yes we have an avocado ornament on our tree. If you know Joe, you know why), all on a single sagging branch. Of course, being the vaguely OCD person that I am, I encouraged him to spread the ornament love equally through the tree while I sneakily did a little rearranging myself.

His pupils seemed to dilate so wide with excitement that his eyes turned into the deepest, darkest night with the lights reflecting like stars.

Another of my favorite things about Christmas is the Nutcracker. I took ballet for years and even performed in it - as a mouse. I recall staring out longingly from the mesh eye holes of my ugly, gray mouse costume at Clara's lovely ringlets and the beautiful mille-feuille tutus of the waltzing flowers. Alas, I never achieved anything more than mouse status in the annual gala. I was more heart than talent, more bony elbows and knees than graceful limbs.

But to this day, whenever I hear the Nutcracker music, I waltz gaily around the house, knocking into chairs and lamps as I spin and leap about. And this is the other bit of magic that I've watched being breathed into Taran. Every night before bed for the last two weeks, Taran and I have snuggled up and watched snippets of the Royal Ballet's version of the Nutcracker and he's loved it. I've always thought of the main character as Clara, but in a book we bought of the Nutcracker, her name is Marie. Taran has been intermittently pretending that he is Clara and Marie and making up all sorts of stories about his day. "Clara is taking a bath", "Baby Marie (aka Taran) had a bonk, but don't worry Mama Marie (me) will scoop him up and kiss him". Aah yes I will little Marie. With relish.
[I love this development in his imaginative play. Throughout the day he transforms into various characters - people he knows and sees every day, characters in books, Yo Yo Ma...]

Every year I try to get him a special ornament that represents something about his growth or his interests. This year was the Nutcracker - not just for this one sharing of a story, but to represent the blossoming of his imaginative life in general.

Rock On

This might be one of those times where a picture really is worth a thousand words. I know the photo is blurry, but somehow that seems to add to the whole rock star quality of it all. He's just so into it. I think he was rocking out to his very own version of "London Bridges" here.

I'm working on a post about decorating our Christmas tree, but couldn't resist just posting this one, quick pic.