We are down to two weeks left in this school year. Big things are happening -- like Abe taking his first ever AP test. (European history. He'll do great. While his friends joked about it having done little more than provide a nice door stop over the year, the kid actually READ the class's massive text book and is often found to be telling me things like how funny it was that for a moment he accidentally paired Catherine of such and such with Henry or Edward of whichever number when they would have made such an obviously opposing pair).
And small things are happening . . . like me deciding Jesse and I have done his homework assignments enough times for the year. (Shhhhh.)
And in between things are happening -- like Daisy talking about end-of-year parties with friends, and Goldie and Penny signing up for a running camp, and me looking at the calendar and asking Mike about vacation days in an effort to find at least one long stretch in which we can manage to be at Bear Lake (and wondering if it will be with a repaired cabin basement [the flood!!!] or not), and Penny reminding us that Northern Ice (a seasonal snow cone place behind our local grocery store) is open again, and Anders insisting he's too scared to go to swimming lessons and too scared to leave me and go to kindergarten when the summer ends, and everyone wondering what they will do for books all summer with our library having just closed its doors in preparation to be demolished (and rebuilt).
At times we think about big things like about how we only have a few more summers like this – all of us together for whatever adventures or chores come each day – before life will begin shifting to something very different: kids on missions, kids in college, and me no longer wholly involved in the crafting of each day for all of my children. Or we think about last summer – how it started out just like this, with no major expectations, but suddenly changed directions – handing us a three week impossible rollercoaster of “Dad (grandpa) is recovering. No, he’s dying. No surely he’s recovering. No, I think he is leaving.” And then his death. And then an unexpected month 2,000 miles from home.
But mostly we think ordinary thoughts involving whatever things are happening during whatever day we happen to be living.
Hans just hit four months. At three months babies can still pass for newborn-ish, but four months seems to complete the transition to . . . baby. After all, he’s beginning to sleep swaddle-free, stay somewhat upright in a stroller, and wear the clothes from boxes that I never bothered to pull out when he was first coming (because him being that big was an eternity away). It was hard, I think, adjusting to a newborn with two little toddlers running about; but I can’t be absolutely certain; because before I had a chance to really decide how hard it was, or wasn’t, he’d left newborn-ness behind. He’s a pleasant little fellow though. Calm and undemanding. I am forever having to go check to see if he has woken from his naps because he’s far too polite to ever cry to let me know he’s up. He’ll just lie there – patiently looking about or scratching his fingers on the side of his bassinet a bit as he waits for someone to notice that he could use a little attention.
And also . . . for one brief, glorious moment, we had a pet squirrel. I suppose he wasn’t ours exactly, but he was here. We first caught sight of him during a Sunday dinner as he dashed along the strip of rock and bushes against our back fence. Mike insisted he would never stay (as we’ve nothing for him here), but I saw him day after day for the next week. He kept growing bolder and bolder -- throwing in, amongst his dashing, more and more intervals of . . . sitting (and nibbling on what, for all the world appeared to be weeds -- which, of course, couldn't possibly be true, [because too good to be true] and yet?) And we'd NEVER had any squirrels in our yard! Only rats. (And the rats, unfair though it may be, only filled me with low level revulsion. Poor things. I feel terrible even admitting it. What about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh? I CRIED at the death of rats then!) Still, the case remained: I was thrilled to have the rats gone but delighted over the possibility of the squirrel -- our squirrel -- staying! I knew they could be a nuisance. My dad used to shake his fist at the squirrels in our backyard. They'd pick our apricots, take one bite in order to reach the pit, and throw the rest of the fruit to the ground. But even with their apricot-ruining ways I’d liked watching them run along our telephone wires and up and down our trees, and I couldn’t think of anything I minded a squirrel taking here in my own yard. He was welcome to our chicken feed and we had no fruit. So Penny named him acorn and I continued shouting, “Look! There’s the squirrel!” every chance I got. And then, he left.
Which is a bit of a sad ending, but an ending all the same, and off I go to feed the little people some lunch (and one of them just came in saying she’d stepped in chicken poop so . . . it’s somewhat pressing that I set this aside).