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.