On St. Nicholas Day, embracing the camera with my goofy afternoon-school buddy…
…who would like everyone to know that he has lost his first tooth:
There was actually an abundance of drama about the loose tooth. He was convinced that all his teeth were going to fall out at once, and loath to hear any suggestions of pulling it. It finally fell out after an ironically well-timed punch in the mouth from an aggrieved brother. The brother was reprimanded, of course–but we were secretly relieved. Brotherly conflict has its uses, apparently.
Our trip to Arkansas early this month, although made for sad reasons, afforded us precious days to soak up our sweet girl all by herself. And she was in her element, basking in the attention, regaling us with her chattering commentary, and bestowing liberal snuggles.
One afternoon her daddy had gone in to wake her up from her nap (her first time sleeping in a big girl bed, so she was protected by an embankment of pillows). I heard happy giggling and tiptoed to the door, where I caught this moment:
Just a girl and her dad, having a comfortable chat. She thinks he is wonderful. I’m confident the feeling is mutual.
Heading out this morning with the stroller and two of my favorite walking buddies. They also happen to be notorious backseat drivers–or, as here, stroller-riders. “Why did you go that way, Mama? Why did we slow down? Why aren’t you going faster? I want you to run. Running’s faster. I like running better.”
Running was not on the agenda today, because I walked for a total of two and a half hours yesterday (my treadmill workout, five round trip walks to the school, and trick-or-treating–which involved steadily chasing my daughter who never walks but only runs) and I’m tired. Oh, and the kids and I caught another round of colds. I don’t even know how that’s possible. These public school germs we’re being exposed to for the first time are serious business.
But we had a nice walk today, and B explained all kinds of things to his little sister, who amuses herself by asking, “What did you say, B? What?” when she knows perfectly well what he just said. Those two are like an old married couple, nettling each other. She, especially, knows just how to get under his skin and relishes it. He puts his hands on his hips and scowls and harrumphs with the age-old exasperation of a man faced with a woman’s utter insusceptibility to his form of logic. In their exaggerated case, he will point out some obvious fact (like the name of a song we are listening to, or the color of something nearby) and she will flatly and gleefully contradict him. “No, it isn’t!” chirps the little sprite, and B snorts with frustration.
She actually is a lovely child, but after she had refused her nap for the past two days in a row, this delightful (to one of them) raillery was getting out of hand. I got Miss Ornery and her victim out of the house. The walk was peaceful, and this afternoon E took a blessedly long nap and emerged a little blossom of amiability. Walks, and naps, are good things.
But after almost three weeks of accomplishing very little apart from feeding, clothing, and medicating people and then putting them in front of screens, I think we’re back. I hope so. There are lots of fun things I want to do with these little ones, and we have a backlog of schoolwork to catch up on. Every afternoon B asks with shining eyes if we’re going to “do school,” and if I have to tell him that it’s too late or Mama’s too tired, he dissolves in querulous tears. That sweet boy would happily sit on a lap and listen to books all day long. With breaks for perfecting his fastball delivery, of course.
C wandered into the room and volunteered to join our pictures. They both thought being squished was great fun.
Then I tickled them.
I like goofy photo shoots and big genuine grins. I also like the absence of runny noses. I’m hoping all these good things last a long time.
This prep shot made me laugh out loud:
That’s a face guaranteed to lift the spirits a little.
I was still in my running clothes and unshowered, and the responsibilities were piling up inside. But we played, and we took pictures.
My tiny, opinionated daughter has started taking mortal offense when I go anywhere without her. If she finds out that I had the audacity to stop at a store while I was out on this unauthorized excursion–oh, my. She resorts to merciless heart-wringing tactics, exclaiming, “Sometime I can go to the store with you, Mama? Sometime I can? I want to go to the store with you! Sometime can I, Mama? Please?!”
Never mind that I took the boys to buy jeans and school supplies while she was napping, and she woke up to a special playtime with her Daddy. She wants to go to a store.
That’s my happy girl.
We had a great time shopping. She thought my decision-making skills in the binder section at Target were rather lacking, but she ooohed and ahhhed over the craft store aisles. She came home with her very own spool of ribbon, and happy as a clam.
Yesterday we joined some friends in a field trip to a country orchard. It was a crisp, clear, windy morning, warming slowly with the sun.
We rode a haywagon all around the orchard, watched cider being pressed, observed a hive of bees swarming busily under glass, and posed as pumpkins:
Everyone got his own apple:
Or her own, of course:
E had never eaten an apple whole before, but to my surprise she polished it off on the way home. (I was nervous about giving it to her in the car, but I thought she would only take tiny nibbles since she wouldn’t know what to do with it. A few minutes later I looked baack to check on her and she had nearly finished that apple. I had to pull over to make her give it up.)
It was glorious to wander around outside, in the clear air and the country quiet and the farm smells.
My kids loved the mountain of straw bales:
And the maze, with its perfect peekaboo spot:
She kept asking sweetly, “Do you want to come in here with me, Mama?”
He was atop the bales. I love that it looks like he is walking the clouds.
And no little slice of our family’s life is complete without the theatrical antics of the B-man. When I asked to take a picture of him on the bales, he immediately assumed this pose. Just what I had in mind.
Emily isn’t doing the link-up today, but I’m embracing the camera anyway–first, because I happened to actually have a picture to use, and second, because I have been thinking lately about how important this is. I certainly don’t love getting in front of the camera on my second day of unwashed hair (see that hat? Yep, I’m sporting it again today!). But I do want my kids to be able to look back on pictures of them with their mama. I don’t want to just be the ghost behind the camera, even if it has been…how many days since I washed my hair? I’m off to take a shower.
He’s going to kill me for this picture. Sorry, honey, but this is one of those memories that’s going to be funny and sweet someday. He does own nicer sunglasses–in fact, he’s owned multiple pairs in our almost nine years of marriage. They just happen to be broken or impossible to locate at any given moment when they are needed. The only pairs that survive and are to hand, invariably, are the cheap rest-area purchases, the kind that you find after assessing the variously horrifying options available at the only store for miles when you’re on a road trip or at the beach. So this is part of our children’s childhood–and I do think it’s a pretty nice picture of him in spite of the sunglasses.
Over Labor Day weekend we spent a happy morning riding on ponies, a carousel, a haywagon, and a miniature train, and I brought home some nice pictures of Daddy and our small fry–along with plenty of shots of their rapt faces taking in the wonders. B reminded us frequently, and severely, that he “didn’t go there for a VERY long while.” We have been soundly chastised. Next summer, we go more often.
Girlie insisted on clinging tightly to Daddy’s hand on the carousel. It’s not a new experience for her, but I think she seized the opportunity to wrap her Daddy around her little finger. Literally.
“Hold me,” she says to us piteously, when she really wants to wring our hearts. “Hold me.” We oblige, of course.
C is very serious about any ride. He’s probably figuring out how all this machinery works.
I didn’t manage a picture of E on her pony ride because I was hurrying to keep pace beside her, but I caught some of the boys. I love C’s grip on the saddle horn, and his nonchalant expression.
Here it comes!
Waiting to board. Her brothers have fully convinced her that trains are amazing.
The kids got their train fix, Mama got her photo-shooting fix and saw my babies ride a pony (I feel about horses the way they feel about trains), and we all traipsed around outside together. That was a good family day.
We tried to get a creative upside-down shot, but the timer on my camera doesn’t last long enough for that. The result was a tangle of arms and legs and a lot of laughter:
I love these grins.
All of their faces make me laugh in this one: B’s dutiful attempt at a smile, E’s quick peek at the camera, and C’s overwhelming enthusiasm.
C usually likes having his picture taken, but prefers to see the results immediately. In this case I think he had concluded he would never get to see them. He brightened up when I showed them all the outtakes with people’s heads cut off. They all thought those were pretty funny.
It was a good day. The busyness tends to swamp the memories for me, and that is one of the reasons I try to take a lot of pictures. I need this evidence that in the midst of the chaotic and the mundane, there is this happiness to remember. I’m glad I have pictures of today.