With book reviews, visits from family, and birthday celebrations.
We had a houseful over Thanksgiving and it was pure joy to watch my girls play with their cousins in the snow. The two-year-old twins got to experience their first glimpse of the white stuff along with their family's puppy and my girls and CB were only too happy to introduce them to snow angels, snowballs, rolling in the snow and hot chocolate to warm up afterward. The house was full of noise and a clutter of dishes and coffee mugs, snow boots, jackets, board games and truly creative Lego creations and I was sad to see it end, but exhausted and ready for a break. At least until we do it all over again in four weeks.
My mom came up this weekend to help us celebrate Eve's birthday, a tradition she started eleven years ago when the little monkey was born. Capitalizing on the tween girl attraction to everything shopping mall, I created a scavenger hunt for Eve and her friends that had them sleuthing through stores to find things like the ugliest pair of shoes, a sweater they all would wear, something with more than ten buttons, Hannukah decorations, etc. They were armed with digital cameras and had to snap photos of each of the items on their list and they only got kicked out of one store for taking a picture of "copyrighted information." I'm pretty sure that they weren't trying to re-create the stinky perfume they were photographing...
The final item on the list was to find a gift for a child in need to put underneath the giving tree at Lola's school. Bubba and I gave each team some cash and it was so sweet to watch them pick up the toys that they used to covet not so long ago and all talk at once, lobbying for the gift they wanted to choose. They made excellent budgeting decisions and were sure to pick things that, as Eve put it, "kids really want, not NEED." We finished off the evening gorging ourselves on Thai food and hot fudge sundaes and the girls played tag and hide and seek until they finally fell into sleeping bags around midnight. I'm certain that every year I think Eve is at my favorite age, but the rapid chameleon shifts from child to young woman that take place before my eyes are so miraculous. One moment they are rolling their eyes at the grown-ups tailing them in the mall, insisting that they're old enough to be left alone, and the next minute, they're oohing and aahing over a cute stuffed animal in the shop window. They chatter about how cute some celebrity boy is and then pretend-vomit as they catch sight of lacy underwear in the store, wondering who in the world would wear something like that!
Saturday, Lola had her first basketball game of the season and these girls are firmly in the land of little-girl. They are still working out how to be aggressive with each other, too timid to put their hands up to block the other team's shots and trying to figure out how to politely dribble around their competitors without knocking into them. When someone makes a basket, the entire team stops to scream and hug the lucky girl before running down to the other end to resume play, and often they cheer on the other team when they make a basket as well. Lola's cheering section consisted of Eve, Bubba, myself, my mom and both of Bubba's parents. Every time she glanced into the stands and saw us with our eyes attached to her she grinned that grin that warms you from the inside out.
Today, everyone is back at work and school and CB and I are here alone listening to Annie Lennox sing Christmas songs and wrapping Christmas gifts. I will slowly put the house back together, stopping to reminisce about the last two weeks with every turn. These moments more than any other are filling me with peace and love and hope. When the house is back to its normal state, I will light a candle and send out my wish to the Universe that everyone can experience some measure of family connectedness and joy today and every day.