Time does, indeed, keep going by. A whole year, in fact, since I’ve laid eyes on this space or given it much thought. I remember back when the boys were little – maybe two in diapers – and the carrot at the end of my frazzled stick was some vague notion that it would eventually to get “easier.” My sister, the veteran mama I turned to for all sage advice, was somewhat hesitant to reveal the truth that it doesn’t really get easier so much as it gets different. I’m no longer worried about keeping the bathroom door shut so the toddler de jour doesn’t play in the toilet but I DO lay awake at night re-playing battles with my argumentative pre-preteen about showering frequency and whether my decisions are “reasonable.” I wave my white flag and admit that yes, it’s gotten different, but oh boy it’s not any easier. We’ve moved from the battle of keeping them alive and happy to the battle of making sure they grow into respectable adults. Which – turns out – is far more difficult.
All of this is to say that while Max starting full-time Kindergarten and kids growing more responsible (sometimes) and self-reliant (again, sometimes) has certainly changed the dynamic of our lives, it has not necessarily resulted in more leisure time or a cleaner house (ha!). Time being the vacuum that it is, I’ve filled up my days with some additional consulting work, a new position as treasurer of the school board, regular exercise (perhaps the most “selfish” change I’ve committed to) and am trying as best I can to clear the decks so that I can meet the school bus at 3:00 and be totally with the boys for those now precious afternoon/evening hours. It doesn’t always work quite so idyllically (we are balancing the very distinct needs and personalities and interests of five distinct humans, after all) but oh, when it is good it is very, very good.
Holding to the belief that “the way you spend your days is, of course, the way you spend your life,” an incomplete list of our 2013:
We mined for garnets, we camped out in the backyard, we cut firewood, we threw water balloons. We sobbed when a brother threw the water balloon too hard, too close to our face. We flew to California to buy a VW camper, scraped knees, made duct tape catapults and match rockets, ate ice cream cones, hiked to the top of buttes, pretended the forests were Narnia, watched YouTube videos to learn how to make the most realistic zombie wounds to complete the Halloween costume, climbed too-high trees to retrieve winter-abandoned wasps nests, studied scat, opened savings accounts. We lost keys and lost our tempers. We caught frogs and snakes and crabs and “pet” worms. We cut ourselves with brand-new pocket knives and texted pictures to dad to see whether we might need stitches. We did lots of laundry and made lots of lunches. We ran our first marathon, battled over homework, snuck away to San Diego for a sister’s weekend in the sun, cross-county skied, learned to swim, had friends over for home-made pizza and let the kids get away with anarchy so we could enjoy 20 more minutes as adults around a table. We had a really hard time getting out of bed (and maybe we yelled about brushing teeth and finding socks and “three minutes til the bus comes!!”). We slept in the pop-top, in a tent beside a roaring river, beside the foggy Puget Sound with ferries floating quietly by, in a lookout, in our sleeping bags under the stars, in a snowy cabin, in hotels with the requisite pools (and sugar cereal dispensers). We played tennis, we played chess, we played Marco Polo. We built blanket forts and elaborate block cities. We went to Quickcare, to the library, to the pond, to parades, to Sun River, to the zoo, to the rock climbing wall, to Tacoma and Spokane for time with so-adored cousins and grandparents. We set the table and lit the candles and tried to eat a “nice” meal without bodily functions or wiping our mouths on our sleeves. We re-decorated the living room and painted a turquoise wall. We got a TV and (gasp!) cable and watched perhaps too many episodes of Mythbusters. We played hooky and ate lunch together, just the two of us. We got braces. We started kindergarten(!). We wrestled, slammed doors, spilled drinks, fell off the top bunk, got stung by bees. We picked huckleberries and drew lots of maps. We got a piano and learned to play. We found Nerf darts in the dishwasher, a hacksaw in the snow fort, Legos in the van door slider. We spent five nights floating the lower Salmon River. We raced cyclocross. We celebrated 10 years of marriage with a big ol’ Oktoberfest party. We ate lots of s’mores. We started to care about pop music. We screwed up. We said we were sorry and moved forward. We read “The Bridge to Tarabithia” and cried (ok, I cried). We became obsessed with soccer. We went to our first Sounders game. We read Calvin and Hobbes on the heater vent in our underwear. We made pies, put the beer in the river to keep it cold, we told munchkin stories. We called sisters and friends and moms when we feared we might be screwing it all up. We lost teeth, fixed bikes, got the flu, jumped off high rocks into cold rivers, caught fish, grew half-hearted gardens, made bike jumps, went to the principal’s office, made ice skating rinks on the patio. We learned to read, learned the multiplication tables, learned to design websites, learned to start a load of laundry. We traveled to Germany and Colorado and Utah and North Carolina for work. We made a Chicago work trip into a long-overdue sans kids getaway. We went to Wrigley Field and ate Chicago-style pizza and drank $15 cocktails at the top of the John Hancock building. We settled oh so many disputes, keeping in mind that siblings are just random people forced to live together. We jumped off the diving board, had sleepovers, played Bird Bingo in front of the fire. We joined the school board, made birthday cakes, walked the dog (without parents), ice skated on the creek behind the house when it froze. We dyed eggs and lit sparklers and carved pumpkins and cut down the Christmas tree. In short, we lived. Pretty damn well.
And so that someday (maybe when Max leaves for college?) I can turn this blog into the scrapbook I never took the time to make, the “best of” 2013, in photos and quotes jotted on my phone “notes”:
If I’m gonna make a match rocket I need a lighter that works I wish our car was a swan and the butt shot fireworks Fat little guys are really funny! Mo: ” I kinda forget to do my homework kinda often” Henry: “I can fart the lyrics to ‘lean on me” Me: “not right now. ” H: “aww – you and dad don’t appreciate my special talents” Morgan: “Is there stuff in the real world that makes things be invisible?” Me: “Nope.” “Well that stinks!”Morgan, on his birthday: “A survival kit! Just what I need!” If a bear swallowed someone with the flu, would they get it, too? Is Minnesota in the same time zone as Rio de Jenaro? Morgan: “<Groooooan> – they’re going to kiss! Like in every other movie.” Max: “not in Tom and Jerry!” Mo: “If the tax collector came to my house, I’d give em an ol’ thunder cookie up the hooter!” That turn didn’t count – I didn’t get to catch anything on fire!Max: “If you fell off of Godzilla’s head you would definitely die.” Henry, to Max: “When you sense that your buttcrack is showing, please pull your pants up!” Morgan: “Mom! Mom! We time-traveled into the future! I was a race car driver! And Max was a karate teacher. Henry had a mustache. I think he was an historian. Or maybe a mathematician.” Max: “Next summer I’ll have a pocket knife and I’ll be able to swim in the deep end!” If you burp in space, everything comes out of your mouth – like your guts and stuff. Henry and his friend trying to decide what to do this afternoon. “Let’s take a vote: make clay poop or launch peanut shells into the creek?” World’s shortest game of 20 questions
Henry: “Is it brown?”
Henry: “Is it poop?”
Morgan, to me: “What are you so stressed out about?” Drove past “The Man Shop” in Pullman and Morgan exclaimed: “Awesome! A shop just for men?! Is it full of shotguns and lighters?” “And motorcycles?” Max adds. Max’s friend asked him who he was going to marry. He answered: “I don’t know. I might not even get married. I might just be a ninja.” The thing about Star Wars is that it’s hard to understand if you don’t know about politics. Because that’s the cause of most of the stuff
“You go take a bath!” Morgan: “No one is good *all* the time…except maybe people with no brothers.” Overheard from the pillow fight: “I can’t breathe!!” Older brother, in response: “If you can talk you can breathe.” Henry, after being reminded to unset his plate: “Sometimes I wish we had a house elf.” Is there stuff in the real world that makes things be invisible? Well that stinks. Max: “Mom! Something has changed about me! I don’t need a stool to cook the eggs anymore!”
At dinner, after the umpteenth manners correction, Mark says: “You know why we teach you these things, right?” Henry replies: “Yeah, so we can get girlfriends and carry on the family name.” Max: “A cow would be handy to have.” Some people in my class just can’t handle Macklemore