"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

one day

It's a Sunday evening and the dirt road is awash in the fading sunlight of a summer's-end day. The two boys fly ahead on bikes and Janie tries to engage them in some sort of competition. Annie pushes the stroller lulling Charlotte to sleep as Celia walks alongside amiably chatting.

The man beside me has one hand in mine as the other pulls the wagon bearing Eliza wrapped in a blanket to ward off mosquitoes.

"Daddy ... One day ... I saw a kyab at the beach," she begins her story for the hundred millionth time in that sweet, little, sing-song voice. It's the same crab story she's related to every individual she's encountered over the last two weeks. Each and every time we've smiled at the recitation adoringly.

"Will I always remember this?" I say to Newel beside me.

It occurs to me that I struggle to recollect the taller ones swirling around me as little bitties. There are pictures but the actual memories are harder to recall. In the moment, I think hard about each individually and the fog is thicker than I care to admit.

"Not as well as you would like," he voices the awful truth.

And it's happening faster and faster.

Teenage children crowding my kitchen at the end of a long school day, spill stories of crushes, friend conflicts, and daily drama.

Celia, turning in response to her name being called by a friend, slams straight into the chest of a cute boy at school making it the best. day. EVER.

A girl named Miranda, grabs Christian's arm and pens hearts all the way from hand to elbow. He's clueless as to why.

A best friend is insulted by a third party and Annie has spent the day helping her rise above petty nastiness by encourage a 'we're better than this' attitude.

Golly ... play dough and finger paints were once the biggest daily highlights.

On the other end, there's a baby who so satisfyingly fits into the crook of my arm to sleep. She's content like she was always meant to be there. Like this is her spot. She doesn't know it was many other's spot long before it was hers.

But the mental image of those days is not nearly so vivid as I'd like.

She's already passed from that squishy, fragile stage to a more sturdy one. The one where, for fleeting moments eye contact is made, eyebrows raise in recognition, a genuine smile spreads, and her chest puffs up, straining for who knows what. To form unattainable words? To desperately control a body still herky jerky? Slow down baby. All of that will come.

"Will I always remember this?" I ask myself to the echoes of "Not as well as you would like".

It bounces around painfully in a space deep inside. A space, perhaps lacking in detailed recollection and yet, hopefully, filled with the sound of sweet, little, voices speaking in sing-song tones.

"Daddy ... One day ... I saw a kyab."

Friday, August 24, 2012

grant is 8

I'm late on this, but August 19th was a really great day.

A little over eight and a half years ago, I'd kneel by Christian's bed to hear his nightly prayers and at the end of each, he'd ask so sweetly for a brother. It wasn't easy to be surrounded by girls.

I worried over his disappointment right up to the ultrasound date.

And then burst into tears at the reveal of that asked for little brother.

Here are a few things that make Grant really special to us.

He's fun.  Ask Christian.  Even at age 13, he just loves to play with Grant.  They are always off and away to ride bikes, shoot BB guns, play baseball in the yard, scavenge, or explore. I think they'll always be connected.

He's accommodating. Easily mistaken for being bossed around, the reality is, he doesn't mind being the puppy on the leash or the student in any one of Janie or Annie's games.

He's the best self entertainer.  As other kids might need direction toward activities, he's great at creating his own where he's royally wrapped for hours.

Which is probably why he could play Lego's all day.

He's a sensitive guy. For years we'd have what he called "cuddle time". Though, he doesn't crawl in with me quite as much as he used to, he has a real need to end his day with a one on one and never heads out my door without a genuine hug ... not just the quick kind.

And he lives for the moment when he can put back on his pj's.  Right through the door off the bus ... pj's on ... because home is his comfort and nothing says comfort at home like his pj's.

I love that he wants to hold our new baby and that he calms her so gently.

I love his crazy snaggle-tooth grin.

And I love that he's part of what makes us complete.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

daddy ... I want a squir—rel.

An overgrown house comes with a fair amount of critters and five years ago when we moved in, such was the case.  Nothing that, in the end, a couple of barn cats couldn't handle.

Despite the cat, however, a craftily laid pile of mouse droppings deposited nightly on my doormat remained unaffected. My boys made extermination of the nighttime visitor their mission.

First came mouse traps.  Each morning the tempting morsels of cheese and peanut butter left in the traps were somehow daintily removed from the danger and piles of "presents" left in their wake.

Then came bigger mouse traps with the same results.

Then there were sticky trays and the nightly marauder mocked them by defecating on top of the offering, never touching the gooey gum of the tray.

Even the whiley cat was eluded — and eventually my boys threw up hands in frustration.

And I sunk into a routine of daily morning welcome mat sweeping.  Mouse — 1, Mom — 0.

This summer, in their boredom, my boys went about attempting to play catch and release with a live animal trap ... howbeit, with little success.

"Hey boys," says I, "Why don't you do something useful with that trap and rid me of that nocturnal pest?"

So they revived their interest in the undertaking.

In the meantime ... Christian attended scout camp where he was asked by a fellow scout, "I hear you live in the country, Christian, now where exactly is that?"

An older scout, always eager for a good natured tease, jumped right in, "Yeah, .. Christian lives out in the boonies where all they do is catch squirrels all day."

"I do not," my boy laughingly defended and shook his head at their misconception of country life.

On his return, he once again resumed his quest for my elusive mouse and one morning came in calling us all to the porch.

To see this angry culprit.

We loaded him up for a long drive to the other side of our loop and on his release, he jetted up into the woods toward the home of our good friends and neighbors.

And so, and therefore ...

Firstly, ... I'm sorry dear friends and neighbors, if you find daily presents on your doormat.

And secondly ... I'm sorry dear scouts but it looks like we really do spend our days catching squirrels.

Monday, August 20, 2012

and they're off

A new school year. Full of promise. I'm ready and I'm not ready.

It means so many things.

It means my days of warmth and sunshine are coming to a close.

It means Eliza needs constant entertainment as she misses all of her "guys".

It means Celia will drive herself in the year ... and date boys.

It means I get to worry about the sheer numbers of teenage driving accidents right out in front of the high school.

It means Christian wraps up middle school and gets ready to transition to a bigger pond.

It means Janie will prepare to leave the elementary scene and become a much smaller fish.

It means Annie will hit me with the "but all the other girls are wearing makeup" argument about a hundred times as I pretend not to listen.

It means that Grant will be the youngest ... and littlest ... guy in the whole big, bad third grade.

It means other moms will ask me if I'm putting Eliza in preschool next year and I'll have to glaze over not thinking about that possibility at all.

It means early mornings with excitement for some things and for others .. not so much.

It wears us out so's we can hardly make it to nap time, just thinkin' about it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

vacation overload

Okay ... one fail swoop of way too many pictures.

We're back and like most, faced the beginning of a new school year immediatly upon return. Too many late nights, too much sugar, too many hours in a car. Now laundry, school supplies, early morning seminary, lunches and the ever present rush for the school bus.

Where did the time go?

And can we just go back here?

These guys are serious pickle players.

Among other night games.

I have always loved these little clam thingys.  They are each so individually different in size and color. No two alike. The tide sweeps them in and in seconds they rebury themselves in unison. I collected buckets of them as a child.

We got our seafood fix.  I got addicted to not cooking and cleaning.

As well as a desperate daily need for something fried and something sweet. That's the south for ya.  When in Rome, though ... you know?

Fishing skills off the dock improved.

I do so love these boys and girls.  All will be much quieter one day when I'm no longer surrounded by this ongoing party.

Even when they're cranky over too much older brotherly love :)