Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Because I do!"

That was Keith's catch phrase when he was two. It didn't matter the question you asked him, he would always respond with "Because I do." It always made us laugh. Still does, in fact. Jeffrey and I pull that one out, dust it off, and put it to good use occasionally.

For example, Sunday night I didn't go to bed until way too late.

Earlier in the day I had sat down at my piano and was playing a song when the jagged ebony on the keys cut me. Again. I was getting tired of playing out my stress turning into a painful bloody thing, so I marched down to my office, pulled out my electric sander (yes, it really is mine. Jeffrey gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago. I love that my man buys me power tools!), and began sanding them as per the advice of the piano tuner. Except my big sander sometimes wanted to miss the keys and sand the wood right beneath them. So I had to remove that strip of wood. And then I had to clean out from under the keys because they were scary dusty. Thank you vacuum attachment. And then I sanded until my sandpaper was all cut up and the edges of my keys were nice and smooth.

Except I couldn't stop there.

I may be slightly OCD.

While I was cleaning the dust off the keys, I noticed the metal on the front of my piano that had controlled the player part of the piano which has since been removed. The metal pieces were very tarnished and looked a greenish black color. So I pulled out my metal polish and went to town on them. A lot of the dirt was very stubborn and it took a lot of elbow grease, but I triumphed, and it looks gorgeous now.

Except when I finished with that, everything else looked so nice, but the hinge that held the lid of the the keyboard was also that ghastly greenish black color, so I had to take that apart as well and polish it, too. And then the petals. Oh, and then polishing the whole piano, of course, because my parents taught me to never leave a job half done (I say with dishes in my sink. Oh well, I am inconsistent, what can I do?).

And so, I finished way too late, but am so pleased with my hard work and my piano now, it was all worth it.

"Why did I stay up so late cleaning my piano?" I asked myself.

"Because I do!" instantly popped into my head.

As I was going to bed, remember that it is extremely past my bed time, I saw a lock of hair on my floor. I squinted at it, trying to figure out if it was doll hair or human hair. It was a beautiful honey brown color, and nicely curled. I didn't want to pick it up because I honestly feared the truth.

I did a quick scan of the floor and saw a handful more of the curls mixed in with some pieces of cloth which looked suspiciously similar to my sheets. With a sinking heart greater than the Titanic, I dropped to my knees to confirm what I already knew.

Faye had found some scissors.
Is mine the only heart that turns cold when that sentence is uttered?

There they sat, innocently winking at me in the lamplight, obviously unconscious of the carnage and heartache they left in their wake.

I really think Faye tries to make up for Keith's lack of mischief. He is just such a good boy, rarely breaks rules, always tries to do what is asked or expected of him, he rarely gives me any strife.  I am convinced that Faye sees that and feels it her duty to educate her big brother through example, and so gets into as much mischief as two kids combined.

I admit, when I saw those curls lying on my floor, I cried a little.

Today I find it a little ironic that I had just written about Faye's last hair cutting fiasco, nine months ago, thinking it was long behind me, and then this happens.

Dumb irony.

Add that to your song, Alanis Morissette, it is far more ironic than finding spoons when all you need is a knife.

I went to bed, feeling a bit like a failure. We had already done this. Why hadn't Faye learned anything? Her hair was just getting back to the stage where I could fix it in cute ways, and I had hoped in a month I would no longer need to braid her bangs to incorporate them.

Alas, it was not to be.

The next morning I was relieved to see it wasn't bad.

In fact, it was barely noticeable.

Still, though, it did need some fixing.

I called my cousin Nykele, who lives a few streets over and asked if she could help me out.

She came to my rescue.

Faye now has some very cute layers and bangs.

When I asked her why she had cut it, she said it was because she wanted to have short hair again. It was probably a good thing I found the hair while she was sleeping because it really gave me time to cool down. Had I not had that time, her comment would have been much harder to hear. For both me, and her.

Trying to make the lesson stick this time, we talked about her consequence for the next time it happens. If she cuts her hair again, we will either cut it short like a boys, or shave it. More of a punishment for her parents, if you ask me. That did strike fear into her eyes, and she knew I meant business. Quickly trying to think like her and cover all my bases, I added that if I found out she had cut Beth's hair, or anyone else's, that would also be grounds for getting her hair cut like a boy's. Or, if she allowed someone else to cut her hair, or encouraged her friends to cut their hair. I think we covered all the bases there. I certainly hope so! She is a very creative child and very good at getting past all of our brilliantly Faye-proof plans.

I have to admit, I really do like the haircut, and it is very becoming on her, but I do miss her long locks.

If she isn't careful, Beth will have longer hair than her very soon. As for now, they are about tied. Except, of course, Beth has much thinner, finer baby hair. And who knows, Faye may feel the need to get a pixie cut.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chipping Away at Everest

Best. Birthday. Ever!

This is what Faye happily sighed the night of her birthday as she was laying down to sleep. She had had a very busy and full day, and was so ready to sleep, but the excitement was still high and Mr. Sandman was nowhere to be seen.

She was so excited because together, we had worn down Everest.

And by Everest I mean Jeffrey's resolve to never have another cat.

We have had 3-ish since we got married. Our first kitty was Basil. He was a kitten who liked to pee on the carpet. An indoor/outdoor cat. One day Jeffrey found pee on the carpet, yelled at him, and he ran away, never to be seen again.

Next, our friend was renting out our basement and had a kitten. I can't remember its name, but we just called him Kitty. He was incredible with Keith! Best cat for a baby I had ever seen. Our friend had been deployed and so had left the cat with us. We were going to move to a house with a dog so couldn't take the cat with us and so had to find a new home for him. I was so sad to see him go.

Our same friend came home, bought a house and got himself another cat. He then deployed again, this time for a year, and so asked us to house/kitty sit. The cat's name was Duchess. She hated Keith. He was 2 when we moved into the house and she wouldn't let Keith walk down the hall. She would arch her back and hiss and claw at the air if he got too close. It really made potty training hard since she wouldn't let him go into the bathroom unless I was there. I remember laughing at the absurdity of it, but Keith was genuinely frightened of her, and she was very obvious in her dislike of him and so tensions ran high and Keith was very relieved when we moved.

At the same time we got Basil, our first cat, my mom got his brother who she named Spooky. Spooky is the meanest cat I have ever met. She hisses at and scratches or bites anyone who comes near her or touches her. My mother is the only one who is allowed in the same room with that cat. My kids are terrified of her because she doesn't give any warnings before lashing out.

For all these reasons, Jeffrey has staunchly held firm to his resolve of No Cats Allowed.

And for nearly a year, Faye has been begging for a cat. Like water, she patiently chipped away at his determination, and with her ability to wrap her daddy around her finger, she convinced him to let her get a cat.

Except she didn't know it.

On the morning of her birthday we dropped Keith off at school and I told her we were going to go for a drive. I do that sometimes. Just take a drive into the mountains because they calm me, and the kids and I talk about whatever enters our brains. That morning, however, Faye was a bungee cord in her seat, bouncing up and down and laughing with excitement. She had no idea where we were going, but as with all people on their birthdays, she could sense something wonderful was about to happen.

The van wound through the city and then up into the foothills of the mountains where a shelter is located. When we arrived, I was satisfied to see it was a very unrevealing building. There was no hint as to what was inside, so my surprise was going to be complete. That morning I had prearranged with one of the workers, and when we got there she wordlessly she led us to the back room, past all the cute as could be dogs (which very nearly shook my resolve. if we had a fence around our yard, I may have caved and come home with a dog instead of a cat) and into the cat room. Faye and Beth both both squealed in unison once the cuddly mass registered in their minds. Beth did her excited high legged quick march in place thing that she does when things are particularly wonderful, and both girls looked around with large eyes.

When I was finally able to tear myself away from Simon, because it was quite evident that Faye wanted nothing to do with him, *sniff* I looked over to where she and Beth were chasing cats around the room, ecstatically stroking the kitties with enthusiasm which would have made Elmyra Duff seem gentle.

The room was crawling with cats. Little kittens, elderly cats and all the in-between ones, too. I instantly fell in love with a slate gray cat and desperately wanted to adopt him. I knew it was impossible, though, as this outing was for Faye, Jeffrey would probably never let me go places alone if I came home with two cats.  The slate gray cat is named Simon, the worker told me. He and I had bonded and it was so hard to have him nuzzle me with his head and climb into my lap, looking at my lovingly, because I knew I wouldn't be taking him home with me. I am still pining for that sweet cat (so if anyone is interested in a short haired cat that is cuddly and sweet tempered and loves kids, I can recommend an incredible one named Simon.)

I intervened.

Faye was in rapture. She ran from one victim to the next, too excited to make up her mind. Together we took a deep breath and told the worker what it was we were looking for. A female kitten that would be good with kids. All of the kittens in the room were male, though, so the worker told us there were a few more that were getting ready to go in to be fixed and she thought she knew which one would suit our needs, and Faye would love. She brought in a gorgeous little girl kitty that had the same bond with Faye that Simon and I share. I knew there would be no way we could leave without signing the adoption papers for that little kitten. The kitty and the birthday girl  locked eyes and didn't want to be parted, but she had to go back to get her surgery, and we had to get home to get other birthday things done.

Like Jet Li, She was The One

They told us we could come back and get her later that day after she had her surgery and they gave us all kinds of instructions on how to take care of her. Faye could barely contain her excitement all day. I had to ask her several times if she needed to use the bathroom because she was dancing around and could not hold still. It wasn't the potty dance, it was pure excitement. Finally, centuries later 3:00 came and we could go pick up Faye's new best friend. It was heaven for both of them, I think.

After vetoing a few names, Faye finally settled on Tai Li (or Ty Lee, the jury is still out on the spelling). She was so drugged up the poor kitty had no idea what was going on, which made her that much more appealing to Faye. She could hold her and cuddle her and love her forever and the kitty didn't care, or try to get away.

Friends for life, that is what they are.

Beth, too. Tai Li really loves Beth and puts up with the eye poking and the extra mauling around and cuddling and being made into a pillow by the baby. She (the kitten) is surprisingly patient and good with the baby, much like Kitty was. I am so glad we got a good one and not a mean one like my mom's cat!

We have had the kitty for a week now, and Faye has really surprised me with how responsible she is. She checks the food and water every day (a few times a day, actually), and even cleans out the littler box less frequently, but she still does it.

Tai Li is adjusting quite nicely. Everyone loves her to pieces, and she just fits with our family. The day before we got her, Keith, who didn't know we were planning on coming home with a cat, told me he was afraid of cats and really didn't like them. The day after we got our kitty, Keith rushed home from school just to see her, and when he walked in the door, all rosy cheeked from his hurry, he sighed when he saw her and let slip how much he loves her. It really was quite a tender moment.

As with all cats, Tai Li has a love for the keyboard when I am on the computer. It makes me laugh. When she sees a keyboard in use, she instantly makes a bee line for it, plops down right where it is being used and makes herself comfortable, regardless of the moving fingers beneath her. She looks so much like my cat Topsie from when I was growing up, I have a soft spot for her.

It is a good thing I have a soft spot, though, because currently, she is banished to the bathroom with her litter box and food. She has been relieving herself around my piano, thankfully not on it, and so is not allowed to come out (except to cuddle with Faye) until she learns to use the litter box. I have enough bums (the kind you sit on, not the vagrant kind) to clean up after, I don't need to add to it.

And so, Faye's fifth birthday will go down in the history books as being the best. birthday. ever.

Just ask Tai Li.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Faye, Faye Emma, Faylicious, Faye-rella

My dearest darlingest Faye,

You are simply a delight in my life. I always aspired to be a mom, and you make me so happy with that decision. I am the luckiest mom in the world. 


That is how you tell people your birthday if they ask.  It gets all smooshed together like it is one word. And yesterday it didn't matter if they asked or not, you told everyone you met. Your other favorite thing to say was "I'm five years old!" This was always said with a gigantic smile and an excited hop. Because somehow you think being five will change your world. 

I hope it does.

You requested we make personal pizzas for dinner.

And pink marble cake with play dough ice cream. Grandparents came over for donuts because that is what you wanted to eat with them and then you celebrated like it was 1999 with pizza, soda, and pink marble cake.

I cannot get over how old you look now. It doesn't make sense that one night could work such magic, but here you are, reading over my shoulder as I type this, looking like such a big girl. You love to be a Little Mommy. I told you that when I was little that is what my mom called me, and ever since you have loved and asked for that title. And you really are. You are so nurturing and such a great help when you want to be. 

And you never turn off.

No, never.

Not ever.

The blurry pictures my camera gets of you really depict your every day. It isn't that the camera made you blurry, you are just a living constant blur of movement. I am always worn out by the end of the day by your antics. You love color and so I constantly find your walls "colored in." Painting is your favorite past time. And you ask anyone and everyone you can find to tell you stories about things when they were kids. "Tell me about a time when you got in trouble." "Tell me a story of what you and your brother would do when you were little." "Tell me about what you asked for for Christmas." You are my little historian and I can't wait until you learn how to read and write and then you can record our family history.

You love all things old fashioned. You love antique stores as much as I do and you want to do things the old fashioned way, which I simply adore about you. I have never met a little girl so in love with antiques like you are. Pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream are your favorite thing in the mornings. With hot chocolate and marshmallows, of course.

You tell the same jokes over and over, and yet they always make you laugh, every time. Your laugh is very infectious and I can't help but laugh when you do. Pranking people makes you delirious with joy. You hide in the coat closet every day when Grandma and Mimi come by, just so you can jump out at Grandma when she opens the door to hang up Mimi's coat. When she nearly has a heart attack because you really did scare her, you feel like your day is complete.

Faye, dear, you are a complete goof-ball. You love to take goofy pictures, or put on funny outfits and demand I take a picture of you. I love when you do this as it gives me lots of great photos. It is rare I get a normal face from you as you are always spreading cheese like an Italian.

You are an optimist. Your brother is a pessimist and whenever he begins complaining about everything under the sun, you always take the opposite side and praise the very things he just complained about. You and Keith are still very close friends, and love to play together and make messes together. You look forward to your Friday night sleepovers with Keith where you both watch a movie after dinner and then sleep on the futon together. Not much sleep happens on Friday nights.

Whenever you are missing in the house, I am sure to find you outside. First priority if there is snow is to go outside.

That is your favorite place in the world, and rightly so. I love that you are out in the snow before breakfast, and if there is a puddle big enough to make any kind of splash at all, you will be found jumping like a little grasshopper until there is no water left to splash. You delight in all of my favorite rituals; the first snow walk of the year, leaf crunching walks, ice crunching walks, dancing in the rain, and twirling with the wind. You relish the lightning and thunder as much as I do, and cold snowy afternoons with a blanket, fire, and book make you so so happy, too.

You are so happy and optimistic all the time, sometimes I don't know what to do with you. When you do something extremely naughty and need to be disciplined, you just don't care! Groundings, or losing privileges, or losing toys, or getting hot sauce or even toothpaste in your mouth don't phase you. When you cut your hair in the spring, I was more devastated than you were with the impending short hair cut. Even though you desperately wanted to be Rapunzel, you kept reminding me and your father that "it's okay because hair grows back."

When you grow up, you tell me you are going to be a world famous singer and travel all around the world, singing for people, like a rock star. You tell me that I can come to your concerts for free, and you will sing to me anytime I want you to. You tell me that when you grow up you are never going to move out, though, because you will miss me, so when you get married and have babies, you will still live with me so that I don't have to miss you. So thoughtful of you!

Most of all, though, you are my best friend, and I am yours. You are planning a trip to Austrailia when you grow up and you fluctuate between having me come with you or me stay home and you write me beautiful letters full of fancy grown up words about Australia. You want me to come because you say you will miss me too much if you go without me, but I think you want to go alone because already you are craving independence. I am really hoping we can always have a relationship like we do now. You are the clingy little girl I always prayed for and I love you so much!

Happy birthday my little fairy princess!



*** This entry was written November 20th, I just haven't had a chance to add the pictures and hit post until today. ***

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Great Sky Con and Selective Laziness

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I couldn't sleep last night. I was too excited. The forecast promised snow, and I may have mentioned it once or twice before, but I am always eager for that first real snowfall. Last night, however, my delight translated to insomnia. First, there was the age old issue of the cold feet keeping me awake. When I finally fell asleep, I continuously awoke wondering if it was snowing yet. I wanted to run to the window and look out to see, but fear of my feet getting cold and keeping me awake for hours more kept me snuggled in bed. After eons of agony and anticipation akin to a child waiting for Christmas morning, dawn approached in the form of Keith clunking around in the kitchen. It was 6:30, which was late enough, I reasoned. I got up and found Keith huddled in front of the heater beneath the sink, eating a bowl of cereal. The boy loves cereal. I laughed at the guilty face, mouth dripping with milk, as he looked up at me. I winked, and crept to the window, frantically beckoning him to follow. Together, we knelt on the couch and pressed our noses to the glass peering through the darkness, to see if the weatherman's promise had been fulfilled.

There it was, small and taunting, barely visible to the human eye. Beneath our imaginary microscope we were able to divine that it really truly was snow!

Softly, lazily falling, like a senior in high school who doesn't want to go to class but knows he has to, the flakes with attitude eventually, reluctantly touched down. An attitude that, unfortunately, rubbed off on all of us.

"Who wants pancakes?" I shout whispered.  Faye had joined us in our spying out the window position and at the mention of pancakes, both kids squealed loudly, oblivious that the baby
might still need some sleep, which is why I was whispering. 

Knowing I held some very powerful bargaining chips in my hands, I instructed them both to get dressed, make their beds, clean the bathroom, and for Keith to get everything ready for school. Loudly they complained, but since I wielded all the power, they were prompt to obey.

Pancakes were had, in a mostly clean house on the first snowfall of the year, my friends. And that is what a Thanksgiving miracle is all about. Because I am still giving thanks. It is a tradition that needs repeating. Maybe when the sky mans up, so to speak, and isn't so greedy with the snow, we will do it again.

But the promise of more snow held strong my desires, and optimism and expectancy were high all morning. We were late getting out the door. Something about everyone refusing to get in the van because the dusting of white on the grass and driveway were so much more fun. No longer could I bribe the kids with pancakes so I resorted to begging and pleading with them to get into the van. The big kids grudgingly obeyed, but I had to chase Beth down the street as she shrieked happily and tried to catch the wimpy snowdots on her tongue whilst dodging me. The girl is so good with her serpentine run the snakes are jealous. However, much to her dismay, I am the mom, and moms always win. It was a hollow victory as we were super late and I do the morning carpool, thus making everyone else late.
Mischief is brewing in those eyes, can you see it?
When we got home, the girls and I got our snow clothes on and went outside for our First Snowfall of the Year Walk. Since it was a measly taunting snowfall, we walked around the cul de sac. I didn't have time for much more, nor did I want to commemorate that as the first snowfall. Besides, I had to dust off the driveway and put salt down so Mimi wouldn't slip when she got here. Beth hated her snowsuit and tried to tear the gloves off nearly the whole time we were outside. I learned that 12 months just doesn't fit her anymore, and yet 2T is still way too big. But she did love playing in the snow. And Faye, well, she was like a... what is the equivalent to fish in water when it comes to snow? An Eskimo in its element! Boom! It is going to be a thing now, Eskimo in its element. Suffice it to say, they were deliriously happy out in that 18* weather, flirting with the sky dandruff.

We came inside and warmed up with some cocoa and marshmallows. And then the day began. Just a regular day now that the novelty of fake snow wore off the little ones. Business as usual. I cleaned out the fridge, did some laundry, helped Faye with some homework, put dinner in the crockpot. Just usual stuff.

Jeffrey got home from work and then Keith came home from school and the hilarity and rough-housing began.

Beth grabbed an armful of books and followed me around and she and I snuggled and read the same two pages over and over and over. She shrieked every time we turned to the cat page. And then she mewed for the next half hour, waiting for people to either laugh or comment on it. She would walk up to someone, stand right in front of them and then mew. She wouldn't stop until she got the expected response or praise, and then she would move on to someone else. And she made the rounds. Faye joined in on the reading part and was Beth's greatest encourager.

After another jaunt into the cold to check on their fortress, the kids came in with cheeks and noses glowing and eyes bright from the fresh air and running around. Of course they were treated to cocoa. Again.

she never stops moving. Never.
Finally, when the day was over, I got to help Keith with his spelling. He has a spelling test tomorrow, and we wanted to be prepared. I sat down with him and had him do a mock spelling test.

That kid is all kinds of smart, except he sometimes makes things much harder than they need to be. For the word "safe," at first he spelled it "Saeph." And for the word "snake," he spelled it "snaeck." When I corrected Keith on the "safe" spelling, he was indignant.

"But that doesn't make sense. Why would it end in 'F'? Ph says fffff. Besides, read it. It still says 'safe.'"

I laughed, barely able to get out my explanation that 'F' as in Faye also makes the fffff sound. I then had him take the test again. This time he got them all right. Just to make sure it stuck with him, I had him write each word three times.

And then Faye asked if I would tuck her into bed, and Beth ran away from me, knowing I was coming to put her to bed. She hid behind her closet door, opened her dresser drawer (which is in her closet) and threw socks at me. This was completely backwards from the norm. Usually Faye is the one hiding and playing while Beth is in her room, binki dug out from under her crib and clamped firmly in her mouth, one hand rubbing her eyes while the other is patting her bed as she looks imploringly at me.

Finally, all the kids were in bed. I quickly straightened up the kitchen. Some rice from dinner was on the floor, and thinking it would be too much effort to get the broom, I bent over and picked up the rice.

Every grain. 

By hand. 

Because that was so much easier than doing a quick sweep of the area, right? That is what my friend calls Selective Laziness, and I have it bad tonight. Another example? Blogging instead of sleeping.

Will I ever learn? 

So, with the kids in bed


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Puddle I Like To Call My Heart

Beth loves to go for walks. Or play outside. Actually, it doesn't matter what we are doing, so long as we are outside. It is her favorite place.

This morning after dropping Keith off for school, I got little miss Betty Spaghetti out of the van and she immediately ran over to her stroller and tried to climb into the seat. Grunting with the effort of just not being tall enough, those cerulean blue eyes gazed up at me, imploring my help. I laughed, scooped her up and carried a back arching, leg kicking, torso twisting, protesting little girl into the house to dress in warmer clothes so we could go for the walk she so desperately wanted to have. A happier girl you have never seen when we completed our preparations and headed outside and for the stroller. It was 19* outside, by the way. Not even the frigid temperature could deter us girls of Scandinavian blood. Cold is our heritage and being able to champion it is a badge of honor. My family hails from Denmark and Sweden. Jeffrey's great grandmother was part of the first Norwegian (or ever, I think) expedition to the South Pole, for heaven's sake. If she can do that, we can surely go for a walk around the neighborhood. Bundled up in our coats, hats and gloves we embraced the arctic blasts that cuddled around our bodies, trying to push pull and blow us away. We took some of the bread I made last night to our neighbor as payment for piano lessons for Keith. Beth laughed nearly the whole time we were walking, letting out particularly exuberant squeals when a gust of wind tore between the houses, clutching at our clothing. When we headed back home somehow she caught wind of it (pun intended) and let us know she was not amused through the kicking and back arching antics again. Somehow she knew we would be going inside soon. It must be a sixths sense with her.

The Scandinavian blood runs deep in this one.

When we got home, I ground some wheat to bake more bread because the two remaining loaves would last about half a day around these parts. In some homes sugar disappears quickly. In others, it is the fatty foods. In my house, we can't keep carbs to save a life. I will probably have to bake bread again on Friday. But the smell that lingers in the house is intoxicating and nearly as delicious as the actual bread. While the bread baked and Beth napped, Faye and I pulled out the winter snow gear in preparation for the promised snow of tomorrow (don't lie to me, weatherman. We are far too excited for lies. You don't want to break our trust in you this early in the season) and tried to get a little caught up on the laundry. It was so nice to spend that one on one time with her.

All day long, though, I had been ignoring a headache. Because quite frankly, nothing would get done if I surrendered to the pain. Maybe it wouldn't have gotten as severe as it did had I pampered it, but that is something I will never know, and there is no use in wondering. The point is, I ignored it for the greater good of playing with the girls and getting necessary things done, and by the time Jeffrey got home from work the throbbing pain was nearing incapacitating levels. No longer was it a mere headache, the thing had morphed into a migraine. I had just enough enduring powers left to rush to the store for some self medicating supplies. On the way home we had to ride in silence because the pain had breached all my self hypnosis training. I got home and crumpled up next to Jeffrey in bed. He had been napping.

The older kids went outside to work on their fortress and Beth saw a need and decided to fill it. She climbed onto the bed and just gave me hug after hug and lots and lots of kisses, sometimes with her teeth and sometimes without. If she wasn't on top of me, she was playing quietly by my side, mothering and nurturing her little dolly. She is my little orbiting moon, always by my side and always giving me the balance I need. Because kids do that. They give life balance and purpose. Bless them.

After a  while, Keith burst into the room, cheeks flushed with the dusk air. "I'm home." he announced. We asked him where Faye was and he told us she was still at the neighbor's house. We asked him why he had come home and he answered "Because Faye said to go home at 5."

"Wait, I'm confused. Did she say you both had to come home at 5, or just you?" I asked.

The look of complete confusion and betrayal on his face was incredible. I wish I had been able to capture it. After thinking for a minute, he turned to go back outside to play. Jeffrey told him to be back home before dark and to have fun. With a huff he disappeared into the glacial evening air.

We laughed for the longest time at that. I am still laughing! Keith is so obedient and Faye is so in charge. I love that Keith left her playing and came home by himself merely because she told him to. What a great kid that boy is.

When it was officially dark, both kids came home and climbed into bed with me laden with books.

The Excedrin I had taken was beginning to work, so it didn't hurt as much to move and I welcomed their cold bodies to be warmed by my snugly blankets and stories. Keith offered to read and so Faye and I listened to him go. He is such a great reader, he only needed help when the words were written in cursive.

Half way through the book Faye suddenly remembered she had left her smarties outside in the fortress. She jumped out of bed, ran to the kitchen where Jeffrey was and demanded he take her outside to get them. He told her to go on her own to which she stoutly replied "No! It is dark and bad grownups take little kids. Do you want a bad grownup to take me away? You have to come with me, now go get your flashlight!" He laughed at her confidence and got a jacket and flashlight and together they went off in search of a pack of smarties. How cute is that husband of mine to humor a little girl and her treats? If my heart hadn't already been melted from all the Beth cuddles when she knew I didn't feel well, or from Keith still reading at my side, it would have been a puddle all over again from that.

And then Keith went to play legos so Jeffrey took over the reading. Moving my eyes that much still hurt my head but I was very happy to listen. Remember that puddle I mentioned? The one that was supposed to be my heart? It became smitten all over again by the time Jeffrey was finished reading to Faye.

He read a book called Butterfly Kisses which alternates between a Daddy talking to his daughter and the daughter talking to him. Jeffrey pulled out a funny voice and did the daughter's lines and whispered the daddy's lines to Faye so she could feel like she was reading.

I sniggered behind my hand while watching them. I didn't want to outright laugh as that would distract them, but they were so precious together. Jeffrey is such a good dad, and I love that he enjoys reading to and playing with the kids.

Because that is what nights like tonight are for. Family cuddles and reading and talking and above all, laughing. Laughter keeps the cold out and the headaches away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

Today was the end of the world.  

Just ask Faye.  

I told her it was time to clean her room.  I don't know what that girl is thinking, but it seems every time she gets dressed, she has to take all of her clothes out of her drawers and off her hangers and strategically carpet her floor with them.  It gets old.  Fast.  Then, when it is time to clean up her room because I can no longer walk in there or stand the mess, she throws an Academy Award worthy fit and cries like an actress.

Today I told her I wouldn't clean for her.  I sat on the floor and pointed out what needed to be done, because she still has a hard time knowing what to do next. Especially when the mess is overwhelming.  And so there I sat, pointing, and acting like a scratched cd saying the same thing over and over and over. She threw a fit every time I pointed to an object and told her where it goes.  She stuck out her tongue at me and blew so many raspberries, I began to worry the vibrations would damage her tongue.  She point blank ignored me whilst throwing herself to the floor in agony complaining that her legs were soooo tired and couldn't move anymore. After an hour or so of putting up with that abuse, she threw an etch a sketch at me and put a large dent in the wall.  I told her I couldn't help her anymore if she was going to treat me like that, and that I would love for her to join us for lunch as soon as her room was cleaned up.

That is when the world ended.  

At 12:43 this afternoon.

Eventually she came and apologized and we finished up with her room.  To celebrate, we decided to go outside.  I wanted to get things ready for the lovely snowstorm we are promised on Thursday, and she and Beth were just happy to frolic in the leaves.

My dad came by with his wood chipper.  Earlier in the fall he helped me cut down some bushes.  Not cut them down as in pull them out, just manage them so they didn't suck unsuspecting children into their deep dark bowels.  And so, my yard has been littered with bush branches for the past month or so. While I was helping my dad, the kids and a neighbor got together and built a fort out of the branches.  I told them they could keep the fort up until the Spring when we would order a dumpster from the city to have them hauled away, and each and every one of those kids did a happy dance right there.  I fulfilled their Christmas wish and I didn't even know it!

When it finally got dark outside, they all came in for some cocoa and soup. They chattered on about the plans for their fortress and how wonderful it is going to be.  Then while I baked bread, all three of my kidlets climbed into the bathtub and splashed around happily.  It was music to my ears.

After her bath, Beth went to sleep immediately, and Keith, Faye and I sat on the couch listening to Keith read to us Harry Potter. That insane aroma of baking bread washed over us as Keith tried so carefully to get his voice inflections right, painting a picture of danger and excitement for us. When both kids began telling me they were tired, I sent Keith down to get Jeffrey for family prayer and continued to sit with Faye.  She laid her head on my arm while I took care of some things for primary.  At one point her little elbow was digging persistently into my leg, so I shifted and saw that she was sound asleep.  It was too precious!  I picked her up and her fresh clean bath scent with her sleepy arms around my neck nearly overpowered me. I love that girl so much, and I really miss spending alone time with her. That is something I plan to fix very soon.  Jeffrey and I are trying to simplify Christmas, so rather than give stuff, we are planning on giving our time.  I am planning to make Faye an apron and give her cooking lessons.  Every Sunday after church she will don her apron and join me for a baking session.  I am sure we will bake all kinds of yummy treats, and I am completely okay with that.  For Keith, Jeffrey and I are discussing them having a game time.  While Faye and I bake, the boys can be playing board games. Keith is obsessed with Jeffrey's Axis and Allies or Risk games.  Also, he loves chess.  It will be a wonderful bonding experience for both of them, and I am actually quite excited for this simplified Christmas.  Who knows, maybe it will stick. If not, at least we will create some wonderful traditions and memories from it.  Long tangent later, I finished breathing in my little girl, tucked her into her bed and tenderly kissed her forehead while she snuggled down into the pillow. It was a picture of the sweetest contentment and I didn't want to leave.

Today was a rare and much prized Golden afternoon.  

Autumn seems to have the loveliest Golden Afternoons. No other time of year can quite compare, simply because all the other afternoons just aren't golden. There are nice afternoons in the winter, spring and summer months, but in my mind, they cannot be classified as golden because that haze of delirium simply does not exist except in the autumn. Add to that the crunching leaves, the spicy smell of hearth fires wafting through the trees, the musty leaves slowly decomposing in forgotten and hidden corners, and the invigorating fresh air coupled with children's laughter and squeals of leaf jumping and you have a recipe for an absolutely perfect afternoon.

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
...While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide
~C.S. Lewis

I tell my kids if a leaf falls on them from a tree it is good luck.  Double dog good luck. 
And so when we go for walks or spend any time outside, they insist on walking beneath the trees in hopes a leaf will fall on them.

Sometimes they will keep the leaves until they are dry and brittle and crumble at the slightest touch, and then I wonder how on earth so many leaf bits got all over their room until I remember.  It was a lucky leaf that touched them, so of course they had to save it. Because they are kids and lucky leaves are magic, as is everything when you are a child.

Days like this make me happy.  And yet, somehow, they make me think of T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men

....This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I am sorry to contradict you, Mr. Eliot, but the world did indeed end with a bang today.  A great and glorious golden bang.

Just ask Faye.
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