The Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas…..

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six pairs of little bare feet.

Running through the yard, romping through the house.  Getting them where they wanted to be, catching skinks and lizards and frogs and lovingly creating them wonderful habitats.  Running after each other and riding bikes and scooters.  Wandering all over Blackberry Flats.  Or little bare feet, kicked back, relaxing, just being together.

The cousins are in town, and we are very, very happy.

Love and laughter fills my house and the one at Blackberry Flats, full to bustin’.

Merry memory making has commenced.

And yes, in the photo above, you have counted correctly.  There are only five pairs of feet and fifty toes instead of sixty.  That’s because when you play all day after a long trip from home and you are a little fella of a certain age, you just might not want your feet in a picture.  Even though they are the cutest little feet you ever did see.

You’ll have to take my word for it, because Baby Monkey wasn’t having it.  He had better things to do.

And I’m okay with that.

Thankful for all the sounds of little feet and big, for laughter and stories and make-believe and all the imaginations.  This is the most beautiful sound of the season, and this is what brings Christmas to my heart.

Love to all.

 

 

the mouse who roars

twenty years ago tonight

i shared with the world a tiny secret

that i carried beneath my heart

tucked away with a life of her own

 

the impending arrival of my little one

shared with all

was greeted with handclaps and laughter

and tears

so loved and wanted

from the very, very beginning

 

barely formed two cells together

and already we were dreaming and planning

and tossing around names

one name stuck that night

“the mouse”

my Daddy could be so clever at times

 

twenty years ago tonight

i had stars in my eyes

joy in my heart

and a little fear too, if i’m being honest

i felt quite small and inadequate

to do the task before me,

to enter the “otherworld” of being mama

 

twenty years ago tonight

i had no idea the joy and worry

i would feel over this little one–

but mostly joy

and pride too,

and love

 

all the love

all the joy

never could i have dreamed that the little one

growing beneath my heart

would one day carry it in her hands

and become my best friend

 

tonight i weep a little

that four of those who celebrated

with me

that night are gone

the story is left for just two of us to share now–

of that night and the laughter and the excitement

and the hugs and the hope

she is our hope

for all the good things to come

 

twenty years

how is that possible

just yesterday i was barely beyond that

and awaiting her arrival

my little mouse

with the roar of a lion

 

she will change this world

for the better

just as she already has

mine

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“the mouse” when she had just begun

 

November

And so November begins,

pushing the door open gently

and entering, smelling of cinnamon

and cloves and things roasted over the fire,

bringing all of her

stories and memories

and celebrations in with her

 

The birthdays and the changing leaves

drifting down to the earth that

no longer welcomes bare feet to

wander and scamper about

 

The magnificent sunsets and

the brisk breezes that bring

out the scarves and hats

and mittens and fires in the hearth

 

November plays across the days

like a haunting melody,

familiar and comforting,

always known and sometimes sad,

as the days grow darker and the memories

remind us of the Novembers of years gone by

 

and how different they have become

 

Comforted by the rhythm of the seasons

I welcome her in

and offer her a place to be

and while I love her and all her colors

and traditions,

some of her stories are hard

and don’t seem to get any easier with the passage of time

 

Love etched in my heart

our stories intertwined

names etched in stone,

the echo of laughter and

the silence of last breaths,

tears of welcome and tears

of letting go

and now

the tears of remembering

 

The pages of the calendar will turn

and the days of November will pass

and she will take her leave as

demurely as she came in,

backing out and pulling the door to

behind her

 

And I will close her story

and whisper goodbye

until we meet again

 

 

Binks, Smiles, and the Joy From Within

Last week there was a little fella around here who is absolutely, slap dab adorable.  There were also two others here I love who are handsome.  But the little one–adorable.   

Because when they are under two, you can get away with calling little fellas adorable.  After that, not so much. 

My nephews.  My brother and his family were here, and I realized just how unbaby-proofed my house has become in the past four or so years since Cooter was a toddler.  I spent the first day following my eighteen month old little fella around.  Not sure what he might think of getting into (not much) or how Miss Sophie would react to someone she no kidding could knock down (she didn’t), I followed him around the counter and through the kitchen and around the table.  Over and over. He toted his graham cracker around and became Miss Sophie’s new best friend when he handed it over to her and giggled.  After that, she figured out he was the one to watch. 

When it was naptime, this little fella was allowed his pacy–bink, pacifier, soother, whatever you might call it.  He took it happily and put his head on my shoulder and cuddled close.  When he fell asleep, I didn’t even pretend to try to put him down.  Because I’m the Aunt, and I can get away with that. 

Today I saw a picture of a friend’s little guy with his “bink” in his mouth.  ADORABLE.  What is it that draws me to these little ones with their pacifiers?  I miss seeing my littles with theirs in their mouth, and it didn’t bother me to give it to them when they were little like that–it helped comfort them.  (Which is ironic because I never gave Aub a pacifier–the hospital discouraged it.  And so I became her comforter.)  They were so cute.  I can still picture their little faces. It was a hoot because our Princess was much like her little cousin–one in the mouth and one in the hand.  She often smelled hers too.  Sorry, sounds disgusting, I guess, but there it is.  As she got older she would do funny tricks and weave them together.  She also figured out where the magic drawer was that held her extras. 

As I looked at the picture of my friend’s son, it hit me.  I was focusing on his eyes.  He was smiling.  I couldn’t see his mouth to confirm this, but one look at those eyes and the joy was apparent. 

Precious. 

And that’s what it is.  I love to see joy that is so great it travels to the eyes.  So sweet. 

When Mama had her last HospitalStay, she was on a vent to help her breathe.  She wasn’t conscious for much of the 25 days, but one morning during that last week, she was.  I was sitting in the horrible STINKU (STICU) with her, and I said something inconsequential.  She looked over at me and wrinkled her nose, and from her eyes–she couldn’t move her mouth very easily with the vent–I could tell she was smiling.  That smile lit up the room and my heart.  And it all came from her beautiful eyes. My spirit lifted.  A smile with a wrinkled nose?  That meant “I love you” in no uncertain terms. 

Bless her. 

In all of that, a smile. 

Tonight I’m thankful for smiles that lift the spirit.  For smiles that come from so deep within that they bubble out and upward and light up a person’s whole countenance.  Children know how to do this without even trying.  Some adults haven’t forgotten.  I am thankful for the joy that brings on such light and beauty. 

May something bring you such happiness today that your smile can’t help but fill your whole face. 

Love to all. 

Lessons in Legos

pic of legos

Today we went to what my littles call “Lego Building School.”  It is put on by the local franchise of Bricks4Kidz, and my crew all love it.  It is a combination of free play building with all sorts of Legos and a mini-class, where they learn about something and then build a model according to the directions they are given.  In the past we have built mechanized spiders, a dragster, and a windmill.  Like most things, it is the people who run it who make it the most fun.  They love what they do, and they take the time to get to know the children there.

Last month the assigned project was a Venus Flytrap.  Thanks to the lesson about them, my two became interested in these fascinating plants again, and we are on the lookout for one.  We had my nephew with us that day, as my sister was in China and we asked my brother-in-law to let him join us.  My little man paired up with his Daddy to build the Venus Flytrap model.  My poor nephew was stuck with me.   It was a complicated model, complete with friction bushings and gears that had to meet just so.  Oh let’s face it, I was totally inadequate when it came to helping my sister’s baby boy with this.  In the end, he gave up on me and wandered off to test the one the teacher had built.  Correctly. Mine never would snap just right when triggered.  One of the instructors tried to correct whatever it was that I done incorrectly, bless her.  It was not salvageable.  I left with my head down, feeling like I had let my nephew down.  Though I don’t think he was much upset.  He still got his mini-fig that he built to take home and a lunch of pizza after.  I’m pretty sure he has let it go.

I only wish I could.

Today we arrived to find that we would be building two projects.  As my two were the only ones there (whoo hoo!), they handed my husband a kit.  One of the instructors asked if I would like one too.  The shame from last month overshadowing me, I said rather meekly, “Oh no, I don’t think so.”

However the other instructor, Mr. Tom, did not hear me.  He brought me a kit and a manual and told us we could start on our projects–a paper crimper.  Okay.  Sure.  I was very hesitant as I pulled out the 1 by 12 tech plates and bushings and so on.  But my confidence gained when my gears were moving together.  Could it be I was on the right track?  The Venus Flytrap in my mind whispered and giggled, “As if!”  Oh my.

But there it was.  The last step.  I was finished, and I was ready to attach the battery.  As I was the first one done, I had no idea exactly what it was supposed to look like.  I gave the switch a flip and voila!  It was running.  I was handed a pile of 1/4″ wide paper strips.  I ran one through.  Coolest. Thing.  Ever.  (or at least this morning)  So cool.  It came out all crimped up like those fancy strips you can buy to put in gift baskets or bags.  Awesome!  Win.  Soon all four of us were whirring paper through and laughing triumphantly.

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Our Princess with her Lego paper crimper running smoothly

Time to take it apart and build the second project–which was a stand for spiral art.  It spun a plate in circles while you held a marker in place.  Really cool art resulted.

As I was attempting to put the pieces back in their correct spot in the kit, I noticed a “Key to Difficulty” on the last page of the directions.  Wow, I thought.  I wonder how hard this one I just did was.  I was probably a little full of myself at this point, I have to admit.  I felt redeemed after last month’s failure.  I just wish my nephew had been there to see me.

I turned to the front cover.  A green dot.  What did that stand for?  I looked back.  Green dot.  Green dot.  Green.  Dot.  Oh my.  Easy.  (Facile)  Sigh.  My spirits sank.  I think I may heard the Venus Fly Trap snicker.  I tried to let that go, and I put the Spiral Art Stand together.  Again, no problem, and it was so much fun making the picture.  I did not even look at its level of difficulty.  I have a feeling I know.  And there is the looming feeling that perhaps my failure last month is the reason for this month’s projects’ levels of difficulty?

It was this evening when a couple of things came to mind.

If I had let last month’s failure keep me from participating this month, I would have missed out on an awful lot of joy this time around.  I mean, it was really, really fun.  Lesson #1.  As Mama and Daddy said, “Try, try again.”  (Or “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.” Literally, in my case.)  Pretty obvious, that one.  But for some reason I have to keep learning it.

When I saw the level of difficulty, I let some of the joy escape for a minute or two.  In a sense I was comparing myself to the “others” who set the skill level.  Daddy often said in his later years, “When you compare, you lose.”  Every.  Single.  Time.  Errahday.  Thank you, Daddy, for that reminder.  Lesson #2.

When we have failures, no matter how little, it is hard to get back in the game.  We tend to compare ourselves to how so-and-so or the generic “they” would have done it.   But I’m thinking tonight we should give ourselves grace in these situations.  Steps, even if they are baby ones, are still steps.  Some days that’s just as good as it can get.  And if we find joy in the “easy” or “simple,” so be it.  We should embrace that.  If it brings you joy, and it ain’t hurting anybody, don’t let anyone, especially not an old Venus Flytrap, tell you it’s not worth doing a jig over.  Take that joy and hold it close.  Joy don’t grow on trees, so when you do find some, treasure it.  Even if it’s VERY FACILE.

Joy and beauty with Legos.

Joy and beauty with Legos.