Friday, April 24, 2015

There it is

Some things are beautiful.
Things you cannot see, but can see.

Some things are amazing.
Like family. Like love.

Like a brother having a child, and getting to hold that child.
And love that child.

And that child snuggling in and nuzzling and not knowing you, but knowing you.
And knowing safety.
And knowing love.
And knowing trust.

There it is. There is no placard that says, "This is my nephew and I have love for him."
Placards are not necessary where it is there.

And there it is:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Day In The Life III



another THUMP as she rounds the corner and jumps into my room, landing in a "starfish" -- arms akimbo above her and feet in a V on the ground.

"HI Mah-MEE!"

It's 6:17 and that is how my morning begins. It's how it begins most mornings recently.

"Go find Daddy."

As my mother says, "Her feet hit the floor and the devil says, 'Oh Sh*t!'"

The mornings are his domain. I get up with Fuzzy in the night and he sleeps on the couch. It's how it works around here.

I hide under the covers and drift in and out for another hour as Bennie bugs Husband.

Finally admitting that I am fooling no one, I wake up and this is the first thing I see:

After nursing Fuzzy, getting a quick shower, and finding clothes I head up front to see that Leenie is doing a pretty good job on breakfast and Bennie has broken one of her favorite rules... no throwing food:

Today is Tuesday and Tuesday is incredibly busy. Even hairy. From the time we get out of bed until we put our head back down- the girls and I are fetching and stepping. By 0845 I will have walked over 3000 steps.

Husband has become a master at pig tails, but pony tails are the preferred method of hair styles these days.

For some reason this morning, and absolutely no thanks to me, the household is running ahead of schedule. So, a daddy back ride is in order:

But.... someone gets kicked in the face when they try to join in on the fun:

Leenie got a nice lecture and new threats of new punishments. Her behavior is not something I am overly proud of these days. Several friends have said that the upset in family dynamics is to blame and to ride it out giving her a little extra leeway. I also hold fast to the rule "you can always loosen up but it's hard to tighten back down." Or...  kids need to know boundaries. Whatever the cure all- we are working on it.

Husband was going to take Leenie to school, but I volunteered as he had some work he needed to get done before his first case. He loads them in the car...

And Bennie thinks that she can sneak off and maybe catch a ride with Daddy instead.

"Ben-Nie RIDE Dah-Dee Cah!"

Tears ensued.

Kisses all the way around, I pass Husband his book to read while he is in the MRI machine and we tell him good-bye.

Excuse me while I use a few quotation marks: "Traffic" is "heavy" on the way to Parochial. But Leenie is singing a song and Bennie is in good spirits, so it is not that big of a deal. As we drive, I start to look around and admire both the houses and the people around me.

I pass by this house several times a day...

It was built in 1916 by my great grand uncle. His brother built a similar house to the right of it. They started Merry Brothers Brick and Tile and grew it from a little business here in Hometown into a Fortune 500 company traded on the NYSE. My family has been in Hometown for generations and we, literally, carved the roads and raised the buildings in this place we call home.

A few blocks down, we turn right and I hear Bennie squeal, "I-E KOOL! I-E KOOL!"

I park and Leenie asks me to walk her in. I love watching her walk to the Early Childhood Education wing at Parochial. She looks so grown up and it makes me happy to know that she loves school so much. (Of course, as I sit and type- she is laying on the couch because she is "sick" ... and not at all because she was embarrassed that I sent her to school in a non-uniform skirt)

I walk her in to her class, totally against classroom rules, and tell the Gremlins "hello."

"Hello, Mrs. Cagle!"

Kisses good-bye and I am back in the car. It is...

Bennie, Fuzzy, and I are on our way to mom's house for breakfast. We pull into the neighborhood and Bennie claps her hand and says, "AH-Kee-Kee House!" She is pulling at her buckles saying "Pick-E! Pick-E!" on repeat.

She has on a fresh diaper, but is still in her jammies. Brother is also on his way to mom's house for breakfast. He pulls into the driveway with "Sloopy" playing at full blast. It reminds me of him being young. He waves to me and beelines straight to the kid that looks like him.

He is so proud of Bennie. He knows how much she looks like him and they love to be together. They share more than genes. When people see all the kids together, more often than not- it is assumed that Brother has three children, one of which- Bennie.

Bennie tries to feed mom a Dora Bite that she has been chewing on for a few minutes. Mom says no.

Brother tries to steal a kiss from Bennie. In turn, she says no:

Mom went to Sam's the day before and bought 75 pounds of baby carrots. When we showed up, she was measuring, chopping, bagging and freezing. I showed her "Aunt Mary's Carrot Pudding" and told her how good it was:

Brother and I sit down to a ham and cheese quiche and grits. What? You don't get that kind of breakfast on a daily basis at your mother's house mid-week? Yeah. Well, it's cooler to be me than you.

I convince Mom that she needs to go eat lunch with Leenie today. It's chicken nuggets day and Mr. Wick, who used to be a caterer and now runs the cafeteria at Parochial, makes excellent nuggets. She agrees.

Mom: How much is it?
Brother: $2.00
Me: No, $3.50

Mom: What's for lunch?
Brother: Today is vegetable medley and pork chops
Me: No, today is chicken nuggets and waffle fries

Mom: Can we pay cash for our meal?
Brother: Yes.
Me: No, it has to be charged to our account.

Brother, obviously, sends his kids to a different school.

Dad calls from the office and says he needs some help with his computer:

Dad is wicked smart, but Dad and technology just don't mix. He still talks about "booting up the computer" and "pounding out an email." So, he gets a list of questions and we sit down and go over them every couple of weeks. Same with Mom. And Brother. And Brother's secretary. And my aunt. And, well, my other aunt. And a few cousins, too. And -- well, I am not a genius.

Mom dresses Bennie and makes her lunch for me while I help Dad. We are back in the car and it is:

 We drive back by the same house on the way to Bennie's school:

Traffic has lightened up in an hour:

And we get Bennie to school on time. However, getting to school on time and getting her into her classroom on time are two different things. There is a process. First, we have to do it all ourselves... like climb the stairs, and find 14 blades of grass.

After we get to the door, we have to find a "sniff-sniff" to bring to Miss Amanda, her teacher. After the search for the perfect flower, only then can we enter the building. Unless I am in a tremendous hurry, I let her walk herself in... so she can run up and down the ramp at the opposite end of the hallway from her classroom:

We get in. We give kisses. She high Fives her teachers and passes off her "sniff-sniff" before running off with friends.

I am back in the car and it is:

I get home and let Fuzzy sleep:

While I get some work done. A friend of my dad's needs some help with grant writing. I am in way over my head, but am learning. Sitting at my "desk" -- also known as the dining room table, I spend a few hours researching. After about two hours, I remember that today is Tuesday and Lorie will be here soon.

The house is in disrepair and needs at least a few minutes of my attention...

After picking up Legos and sorting laundry, I put away a few more things and then load Fuzzy up to head to lunch.

We are meeting at 11:45 to beat the rush and give me time to pick up Bennie from school at 12:50. We load up and the time is:

 I told Friend to make sure she brushed her hair as I would have my camera. Of course, the one picture I took of her was on the fly, and not much to mention- so she brushed her hair for nothing. However, she does wear some pretty cool shades:

Her daughter is four days older than Fuzzy. When we were checking into the hospital, they were checking out. Isn't she pretty? 

I love eating lunch with Friend. It gives me such a nice chance to talk to someone kind and funny and get such a positive and faithful perspective on anything. It's a lovely friendship, very new but with all the qualities of lasting a long time. Hopefully so, as our kids will be in school together for a lllloooonnnnggg time. And they're social partners. So, we have that going for us.

I have to run out of lunch, as I am running late to pick up Bennie from school.

Picking her up, she is ready for me:

First, we have to get a drink of water:

And run to the car. Note please, that her mouth is closed. This means she never swallowed her sip of water she got from the fountain. She will leave it in her mouth until we pinch her nose and she has to swallow it.

I load her in the car. The time is:

And we are back in traffic heading back to Mom's house for a nap. Lorie is at the house and Bennie is a little too busy when Lorie is there. Bennie likes to help. By 'help'- I mean she likes to pull out cups, unfold laundry, throw toilet paper, and otherwise add to the challenge we already provide for her.

Driving, I spy this pink house and remember being a kid when the original house that stood on this lot burned to the ground. I attended Parochial, which is just up the street from this house and our teachers walked us down to show us the burning house. The street smelled for days. The "new" house (about 25 years ago) is Spanish in style and very cool.

We pull up to Mom's house and I let Bennie out again.

This time she beelines for a "Ben-NE flower"

Mom tells her no flowers, they have prickles. She takes off the golf cart. "Ah gof-kah rye, Ah Pick-E"
"No golf cart ride, Bennie. Let's go find Woody."

 Kisses and more kisses....

Woody comes out the door, running late for his dentist appointment. There are many things I want you to notice about this picture. He is brushing his teeth, driving on the grass, in a space age car. Technology might elude him, but he loves his Prius.

I am back in the car. The time is:

I run home to change a diaper and grab my purse (because certainly, no, NO I have not been driving around all this time without my license.), tell Lorie "Hello" and then get back in the car to stay out of her hair.

Back in the car, the time is: 

I hit a red light and am glad, because this song always makes me laugh. It was voted the Number One  Stripper Song in Stripper Quarterly thirty one years running: (Pour Some Sugar, not Come On, Eileen)

I opt to kill time at HomeGoods before I pick up Leenie from school, because that is good for my bank account...

Standing in line, I get a phone call from a familiar number.
"Hi Wife, it's Tim the Piano Man."
"DOH! I forgot my appointment. Did I forget my appointment? I forgot my appointment. Did I? Yes. Yes, I did. I forgot my appointment. Did I forget my appointment?"
"Not necessarily. I am in your driveway. Where are you?"
"Not in my house. Lorie is there. She'll let you in. I'll be right there with a check."

As I pull into the house, my phone rings and Husband offers to pick up Leenie from school for me. I readily agree, write Tim's check, get Fuzzy out of the car, check some emails, make a few phone calls, and our oldest walks through the door. 

Fuzzy liked the piano getting tuned...

What chu' talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Leenie has no homework tonight, thankthesweetLord, as it is PTO night. I convince Husband that we need to go so she (read: me) can get two homework passes. I love homework passes.

But, it's Tuesday. Tuesday means she has tap and ballet from 4:45-6:15. Like I said, Tuesday is a long day.

She gets herself ready: 

And I check on Fuzzy....

That is a baby staring at his mobile. That doesn't look like much to you, but it looks like something amazing to me. I smile and thank God for my healthy children. 

Leenie is dressed and finding ways to entertain herself.

I go to my room and thank my lucky stars for Lorie.

Leenie gets her tap shoes on, while Husband supervises: 

We load back up in the car. The time is:

 We get to ballet and she unloads. It's the only place I let her walk in by herself. While my heart jumps every time she walks in, I feel like she needs to feel like she has independence. I watch her from a short distance to make sure she makes it in. She always does and I always breath a sigh of relief as the door closes. As if nothing could happen to her once she is behind the door.

I go by the bank to cash a check. The bank keeps a stockpile of cream soda dum-dums for me and the girls. The teller was not sure why I had a camera out.

Driving to mom's to check in on Bennie, I see these two bumper stickers. I started laughing, because it looked like the guy is shooting the person praying. Someone should have thought a little harder about his sticker placement.

Mom was sick of me taking pictures. She agreed to pick up Leenie from tap so Husband and I could go to PTO. I promised that we would pick up the kids at 8 sharp.

Back in the car, I head home to change clothes. We are going to go out for a drink before the meeting.

Husband ordered a dark and stormy- something that takes him back to his Fellowship Days and reminds him of good times. It is his drink of choice.

We order mussels in some sort of heaven sauce as an appetizer. I have a second glass of wine. Those glasses of wine, we would discover were $13... a piece. So much for the house wine being the cheapest on the menu. I was not impressed, but they did taste really  good.

PTO has come a long way- they keep it to an hour and everyone is ready to go when they are called. A lot is accomplished in a little amount of time.

Fuzzy slept.

We left right as it ended and headed to get the girls from the grandparents. See Leenie's eyes closed? She did not want to leave. They had just gotten back from a long golf cart ride, where some dogs chased them. Dad saved the day by throwing ice at them-- the dogs, not the kids.

We get back in the car one final time on this Tuesday. The time is:

Husband puts the girls to bed. I nurse Fuzzy and join him in the kitchen. Holding our youngest, Husband and I continue the conversations we had started throughout the day.

While he makes beer, I watch and enjoy him enjoying the process. At 9:01, I admit defeat. He's still cooking, the kids are still awake, and I am about to crash.

Kisses goodnight, the camera is tucked away and left for another day.

That's our Tuesday. Other than the date and PTO it is almost average and always hectic.