Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kindergarten Graduation


I was surprised how fast this year zipped by. I looked up and was sitting in the church, waiting on my little girl with blonde curls to come sit next to me. I once heard someone say that 'life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes.' How very accurate. Don't you remember being a kindergartner and summer lasting forever? I mean like an eternity?

I sure do. Of course, back when I was in kindergarten, we went to school around Labor Day and got out the first of June. And walked to school uphill both ways in the snow lugging 20 pound packs with heavy hardback books.

But, she graduated. My little thing went from being a little kid to a less-littler-kid in a quick span of short time.


Her teacher? Amazing. I was constantly impressed at the things Mrs. W accomplished with her class. She taught sign language, verbs, adjectives, and fractions. Let's be honest-- I'm 34 and still don't understand fractions. Ever want to stump me? Ask me about 1/8 + 3/7. Right now.... I am sitting her trying to remember how to do it and, well... nothing.

Throughout these pictures, I hope you will take notice of a little gold bracelet that she is wearing. It's not fine, but to me- it is priceless. My grandmother gave it to me when I graduated from kindergarten. She wore it when she graduated from kindergarten and her mother had given it to her. It's from the late 1800's. My grandmother told me it was brass. When the clasp broke, I took it to Estate Jewelry and he said it was gold-filled, whatever that means.


She took to a love of the library. We still have one book floating around this house somewhere, but was over the freaking moon when I discovered they did away with book fines. I hate book fines. I understand why they have them, I just don't like them and absolutely feel like I am throwing money into the wind when I have to pay them.


She brought her brother to school and got to hold him in front of the whole class. "This is Fuzzbug Wobert. We call him Fuzzy. He drinks milk from my mommy's....."

And the class screamed, "EWWWW! GROSS!"

And her BFF, Cas, says to me, "You have to run to get rid of all that jiggly stuff. You don't want to be fat."

Thank you, Cas. Thankyouverymuch.

A few weeks ago- a few months after that conversation... I started running. Nobody wants to be jiggly.


She took Spanish and art and computer and all kinds of other "specials" that while she did not excel as the top kindergartner in these sections, she did above average. Who wants to peak in kindergartner anyway?

She figured out how to make holes in her jumpers. Let me rephrase-- she learned how to dig her pencil into her jumper that wears like iron, creating a hole that looks an awful lot like a moth had a nice snack. She has not done it again.


She learned to read, finally got around to watching Harry Potter, and is still perfecting her talent in deciphering between coins. It is less deciphering and more remembering which one is a dime and which one is a nickel.

She lost her school shoes that make her run "super fast." I was a little peeved, but we found her old shoes and they lasted us through the last ten days of school. Why does she always have growth spurts right at the end of the year?


She won a fish. We got fish fever and bought a second fish-- more on that second fish when I get around to it. Bennie tried to feed Sprite the Fish Cagle and proceeded to almost kill it. I never wanted that dang Carney Fish, but my baby did. So we stood in line over and over again to win Sprite. When I thought he was going to die at the hands of my two year old, I was so hacked that I discovered my soft spot for Sprite. He's tough. Carneys have to be tough though.


She got to participate in the "pepper" rally twice and the eighth grade girls loved helping her out of the car in the mornings. She got lots of hugs and Bella, her Mass buddy, was her favorite part of Mass.

When the kindergarten class hosted Mass, she led the gift bearers down the aisle. I have never seen three girls look more reverent at such lightning speed as they walked as fast as they could down the aisle to the priest.


I got to volunteer in her class-- a lot. It was my favorite thing and I looked forward to it. It was a chance for me to do something for her and not for her and her siblings. They got the nickname "Gremlins" early on because Gremlins multiply when fed after midnight or get doused in water or something. Anyway, they multiplied. And Gremlins became my term of endearment to them. They liked it.


She became a big sister again.


She started to learn how to play the piano and a kick-ball-change in tap. She's my first grader and while she can try my patience on a daily basis, she is amazing and I would not change or trade her for the world.



sidenote: see those headdresses? Yeah, I know they aren't called that-- rather, head wreaths-- but that just sounds stupid. If we're going to call them something, let's call them something that instills fear in people-- like headdresses. Ok, see those headdresses? Who made them? Me. That's who. I cut some rosemary from the backyard and whipped them out for the girls in her class. First time mom, right here.



First grade bound! After a summer of swimming and dancing, of course.








Friday, May 22, 2015

The Words

Dear You Who Read My Blog,

I need to say something. I am probably going to botch it, but I need to express my upmost gratitude to friends, strangers, friends I did not know were friends, and strangers I did not know existed that I have a humble heart. It is something that Husband and Wife have spoken of several times and it is something that surprised me.

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog about my son and his eyesight. It was something I was struggling with-- not the situation, rather should I open this door to this aspect of my life? I had struggled with the situation and then I was struggling with if it was "right" to let this part of our lives out into the open. In the end, obviously, I posted it. It was the first time I was ever nervous about hitting that "Publish" button. My soul was in those words and my child was the topic. How would people respond? Or worse-- would they? He could see- that was the bottom line, but did I need people to know that we were in the dark for so long about his ability or lack thereof to see? Would I sound like a hypochondriac if I shared the last two months of our lives?

The way a community almost instantaneously formed around my family and held us in the apple of their eyes, made me grateful to be here. Now. With you. In this spot. At this moment. People came out of the woodwork to speak softly to me. To touch my arm and to tell me that we were prayed for by their family and the rawness of my words made connections in ways I never dreamed.

The words heard over speakers... the words sent on screens... the words written on paper... the words spoken in person...

the words

I had no idea the impact of the words I wrote would have. I had no intention of making you cry, but am thankful that you wept with me and that you shared your worry with me. I am even more thankful that you sought us out to tell us of how my words touched you and touched yours.

Your words to me and my family were so... powerful. They made us feel at ease as people approached us about the subject of faith- a subject that so few people address with the subtleness it needs. A subject that I have never felt comfortable broaching. A Bible Beater I am not.

A person of Faith- I am.

Often in my life, I have wondered if I should say something to someone I know is in a hard place. Sometimes they might be embarrassed at the cards they have been dealt. Or, they might be a very private person and this thing is not something they want anyone to know. Whatever the reason, I wonder if I should let them know that I know. I know you are ill. I know you are hurt. I know your spouse cheated. I know your family member is dying. I know you are in pain. I know.

Being on the other end of this, I know what I would want and I will always assume in the future that you need to know that I am with you. I will carry the words to say that I am with you, helping you carry a burden. I will think of you with a kindness in my heart and hope that you are feeling goodness.

Because that is what you did for me. For us. You let us know that we are not alone. We are never alone.

With a humble heart, I remain--

Wife

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Opening my heart for his eyes

In high school and college, we would often have non-philosophical debates posing dumb questions and deciding what we would want or what we would do. 

Would you rather… is how the question would start.

Would you rather have 10 fingers and 8 toes or 8 fingers and 10 toes?
Would you rather be rich or never have to buy anything?
Would you rather be sightless or without hearing?

What would you rather have? No eyes or no ears? 

This question was never one I could answer- because I cannot understand what life would be like without my ability to hear grass grow or see with my perfect vision eyes. I cannot fathom what the world would sound like if it were eternally silent or look like if it were constantly one shade of nothing. 

Being without sight or hearing is not a question I have thought about for a very long time. As a parent maybe being without hearing might not sound so bad- because the incessant whines would be mute. Or if I were without sight, the den would never be a wreck. The toys would always be put away- because I would know no other. 

But, in reality, eyes and ears are a vital part of my world. I need to see. I need to hear.

Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs— I need my eyes and ears. 

But, do I really?

This question has been weighing on my heart the past several weeks. Is sight really necessary?

And the answer I have come to is that — no. No, sight is not necessary. 

Sight is not necessary to play the piano.
Sight is not necessary to dance.
Sight is not necessary to learn or to even read.
Sight is not necessary to see love. 

I have become reliant on my eyes, as we all have. The reality is that our eyes are a luxury. A gift from God. But, God gives us encumbrances, too. Challenges for us to learn from. To teach with. We have crosses to bear and burdens we hide amongst our empty pockets. 

For the past few weeks I have watched my son and seen his eyes. Seen how beautiful his wide stark blue eyes are. And I have wondered…

Can he see me? 

Little things start to snowball into bigger things. These tiny nuances that were once cute, now make me think…

Can he see anything?

I did not think anything about these little things until I mentioned to Husband, just in passing, how his doctor’s appointment went weeks ago. He started to nonchalantly ask me questions, wanting to not arise my concern. 

It took about three questions before I realized what he was getting at. I called a friend who can keep things close to the vest and asked her what we should do. As a specialist of the eyes, she immediately calmed what felt like first-time-mom nerves. 

The pit in my stomach grew. What would we do if this son we had created lacked the precious gift of sight? 

Was it something I did as I knitted him in my womb? Is this a punishment for something I should have done? Is it because I am selfish and did not want to answer the question of no eyes or no ears? 

Was this my fault?

After weeks of fear, Husband and I found solace in research of how to raise a child with no sight. We found the best boarding schools for sightless children. Husband always knew that a visionless child was still a child of God and that this child could play the piano with his father. This child could go fishing with his father. This child could do so many things. 

It never dawned on me to cry. It never crossed my mind to feel sorry for him, so I stopped beating myself up. This is my son. MY child. And my children are awe-inspiring.

My children are prayed for to be assets of society.

My child will do great things in this world. Just because he cannot see does not mean he cannot find friends and see a light in the darkness. Maybe the darkness will give him a clearer sense of the world, bring him closer to God, and hear things more clearly. 

My son is many things.

My son is amazing.

And he is blind. 

——

I wrote this about a month ago, helping to prepare myself for the life ahead. I find calmness and serenity in the words I write.

——

At his two month check-up, I received the standard clipboard with boxes to check as to his accomplishments. The ladies at the front desk allude to the sheets being required by the government but are not taken too seriously. As I checked and did not check boxes, Fuzzy screamed. This is SOP for him. When I need him to sleep, say at nighttime, he is awake. When I need him to be calm, say at the doctor’s office, he is screaming. The life of baby seems much more frustrating to the baby than to the adult caring for him. 

Going through our appointment and reviewing shots, the doctor glances at the sheet and says, “He does not track?”

Track. A word I have used more times in the past six weeks than I have probably used in my entire life. 

“Sure he does? I think so. To be honest, I have not noticed one way or the other.” 

Fuzzy screams. I pick him up and hold him close to me as I move his head around trying to get him to look at me. A light flicks at the realization that this is common— his not-tracking. 

“Yeah, he’s tracking. See?” I say, and then follow it up with, “Well, he’s just too upset right now to track. But, he tracks.”

I knew I was lying but tried not to think much of it. Just because he cannot track does not make him dumb. He has bright parents. He will be smart. 

Blindness never crossed my mind. 


At the realization of blindness, I turned to where I always turn. I got down on my knees, held one hand in the other to pray. As I sat there, my head was silent and my heart was quiet. Words could not connect. 

What do I pray for? 

Do I pray for God’s will? Do I pray for sight? Do I pray for strength? Do I pray for blindness in the hopes that it is merely blindness and not something so much worse?

Registering that I am the daughter and sister of two salesmen and that I, myself, am an eternal salesman, what do I want? Is it selfish to ask God for something you want for yourself? Or for your children? By acknowledging what I want- is my subconscious churning away on how to manipulate the situation in my favor? Could I sell God on giving me what I seek?

But you can’t manipulate God. And you can’t sell him on anything. He has a plan and it is mightier than mine. With God, there is no subconscious. There are no secrets.

I kneeled in silence. Instead of lifting words to the Mightier, I flipped a switch in my heart. I opened it. I opened it to Him. It felt like I was opening it for the first time. Staring at my son, I wondered if he could see me. 

I can see enough for the both of us. As he continued to cry incessantly, I wondered if he was crying because he was in darkness. Was he crying because he was lonely? I held him more.

I kissed him more.

I whispered softly in his ear, “I don’t know if you can see me, but I can see you. And I love you. You don’t need eyes to know that.”

He would cry in the night and I would place my hand on his chest. His little fingers found mine and he would tightly grasp them. My other hand would find his face in the darkness, cup his cheek, and it would soothe him. In these moments, in the darkness, I flipped that same switch- opening my heart and acknowledging my Higher Power. It was as if to say, “God, I don’t know what to pray for. But, I am here and I am yours.”

Prayers are just questions and statements. And for the first time, I was both speechless and without a question to ask.

It was in these moments, in the dark, that confirmed my suspicions: my son is blind. 

Now, to know me is to know an open book. If it is in my mind, it is out of my mouth. If it is in my heart, it will be your knowledge. But this was different. This was not personal. This was my child. And I had to wrangle my head around blindness. My husband and I had to accept this and know it as fact before we were ready to share it— with anyone, family being no exception. 

My parents started to gather their suspicions. In hindsight, they were careful not to ask directly, but to notice things and question around the wanted knowledge. When the eye specialist could see us at the last minute and I needed a sitter for Bennie, those suspicions were confirmed when they asked if we were going to see our pediatrician and I would not lie. 

A weight lifted off my shoulders admitting this fear we had and finally acknowledging that we are not alone in this. 

We are never alone.

In the end, it was too soon to tell. The specialist saw what we saw (or lack thereof), but said we would need to wait to know something for certain. All we could do was watch.

And pray.

Again, I closed my eyes and opened my heart, uncertain of what to say. Uncertain of what to want. Uncertain of everything. Positive that I am constantly selling someone something, whether it was a client on insurance, a child on a bath or a husband on supper- this mother is in sales. Positive that I was fearful to pray for the wrong thing- choose the wrong path. 

In the past several months, inconsequential things have been happening. Things that were never even worth mentioning, but things that— in hindsight— make me wonder if they were preparing me for my uncertain future. 

My father was asked to be on the board of directors of the eye center at the medical college.
Fuzzy’s godfather is a third generation eye doctor. 
A friend asked me to help her write a grant for a piece of equipment for the optometry school. 
Husband's lifelong friend from Small-town relocated to Hometown with his wife, the eye specialist.

It seemed like all these things were lining up in my life to give me a pool of resources. A place to seek guidance. It was as if God knew something was coming and was helping me to prepare for it. It was if He knew I would know what was in my heart before I would know it was there. 

It was if he was listening to the silence.
It was if he was listening to the silence before it existed.

I mentioned that his godfather is an eye doctor. He is also one of my oldest friends and a very devout Catholic. Even he did not know what we were facing. I was not ready to pull the trigger until I knew for certain.

But nothing in life is certain. 

The Thursday before his Baptism, I went to the church to fill out the necessary paperwork to make him a child of God. Even in the church, there are forms to fill out. The secretary, an ancient African American woman named Helen has sat behind the desk since I returned to The Church. She has prepared the paperwork and certificate for all three of my children. 

This Thursday I went into the church, holding my baby and Miss Helen stood up to see the newest addition. She said, “Look at that baby! He can see!” I found her statement odd. She knew not where we were, but that there was a baby in my arms waiting to be Catholic. 

I looked down at my son as Helen shook her scarf and said again, “Look at the baby… he… can … see?” He stared blindly at nothing. He did not blink at the enticement. I knew. She said it a third time and smiled at me- secretly knowing what I knew. I smiled back and looked down at those stark blue eyes. 

During Mass, I watched my brother hold my son with his one good arm. I thought about when he had his stroke and how easy it was to pray for him. To ask God for strength for him. To pray for my niece and nephew and ask God to let them know how much they are loved. For his wife, to please give her one more ounce… and then one more. Those things were easy. Why were the words suddenly so hard to find?

After his Baptism, we all leaned in and shared kisses and smiles. My dad whispered into my ear, “Put some Holy Water on his eyes.”

I looked at the ancient font that blessed thousands of babies before my three, blessed my great-grandparents, blessed babies that lived, babies that died, babies that grew to adults, babies that became anything from everything. 

He made the cripple walk.
He made the blind see.

Holy Water found its way to my tepid right hand and as his godfather held him, I drizzled a few drops of water on his eyes. Making the sign of the cross between his eyes, I closed mine and thanked God for these people in my life.

Whatever happens- it will happen. Peace settled in as we wrapped up and headed back to the house to celebrate the newest Christian with family and the closest of friends.

In the stillness of his room, I held him so close and kissed the Holy Water off the bridge of his nose. I smelled the oil of the catechumens on his little head as I laid him down to change him out of his white gown. His eyes wandered aimlessly and found mine. 

His eyes found my eyes. 
And they locked in on me as I moved about the room. 

Thinking that this must be a coincidence, I kept it to myself as we observed this momentous occasion of our son over fried chicken with macaroni and cheese. It stayed my secret for several days.

As those days turned into a week and that week started rubbing against a second week, his eyes started to seem less stark blue and more of a blue like the sky. He seemed to blink more. he started to follow me around the room and cry when I was not in sight. He would cry out for his father and stop when he came in the room. 

He started staring at the blades of the ceiling fan. 

Could he see before? Can he see now? Will he be blind? Will he have vision like mine? Will he need glasses for the rest of his life? Will he? Will he? Will he?

Will he be so many things in this life? Yes.
Will he love and be loved? Yes.
Will he live? Yes.

Are there things worse than being blind? Yes.

Is this life splendid, extraordinary, humbling and constantly evolving? Yes.
Am I thankful, forever thankful for these days we get to string together? Yes.
I watch him gaze at that ceiling fan as he drifts off to sleep. I watch him watch life swirl around him. I open my heart in thanks and I hold back tears of gratitude for this boy, my son.

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

THUMP

pitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatterpitterpatter

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.
"Hello?"
"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.