It's been good to take a break. My kids have needed me, and I needed the rest.
Here's what's gone on the past couple of weeks:
1. Christmas. It was a quiet one - like last Thanksgiving, it was the first time ever that our little family was alone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. After years of muddling through, my side of the family has agreed to try to get together the Sunday before Christmas every year, leaving Christmas Eve and Day for immediate family. So wonderful.
2. Ruthie's birthday. I still can't believe my baby's four. She's growing up tall, shaped like a very cute string bean. She changes clothes fourteen times a day, and plays pretend with Annie (6) for hours on end ("You can be the huthband thith time, Annie," she says.). She's starting to get a little big for her britches, so we're working on that, but when she says, "You're the betht Mommy ever," it sort of makes up for the struggles we face over who's really in charge around here.
Here she helps make lefse, our Christmas traditional Norwegian potato flatbread. Aren't you glad to know the lefse bakes on a very hot griddle?
3. Tessa. I should just have it engraved on my forehead: S-U-C-K-E-R.
Tessa is our new calico kitten. She was a gift to Libby (10), who started begging back in October for a hamster for Christmas.
No offense to any of you rodent lovers out there, but we have a No Pets In A Cage policy here at the Raising Five house. Let’s just say, Been there, done that with hamsters, birds and rabbits. It’s bad enough that kids (no matter how many tears and promises to the contrary) don’t clean smelly cages out without frustrated mothers holding the proverbial gun to their heads. I don’t have time or patience for that. But the Unacceptable Factor for me is, who wants to hold ANY animal whose digestive outputs are, shall we say, unpredictable?
We set our last hamster - Chubs, the evil, biting man that he was – free. We feel confident that he married a mouse wife and now rules the vermin of the creek behind our neighborhood.
Sooo, after a few visits to the pet store to humor her, calculating the ridiculous cost of cages (you know it’s bad when the pet store offers “free rat with purchase of cage”), we decided another cat would be a better bet for our dear, animal-loving Libby (remember, she wants to be a people AND animal dentist?). Our resident cat, Jack, sleeps all day in the house, and then we put him out at night to hunt
hamsters mice. And no litter box, to boot. But maybe a nice, inside cat would do.
So we visited our local Humane Society and found Tessa. She is sweet, doesn’t relieve herself unexpectedly when we’re holding her, she doesn’t bite, and she has no cage to clean.
4. Moving. After years of dreaming about it, we are taking our first halting steps toward getting out of our concrete jungle. We love our house, and have lots of friends here, but we live in a huge "suburb," with a mall and a Walmart on every corner, and where there are over 1,100 students in each high school class.
It's just too big.
We spent the weekend looking at houses in a town about 30 miles away - the commute would add about 15 minutes to Dennis's current in-traffic drive to work.
But in my mind, to come home to this every night would be totally worth it.
**And, edited to add, just because**
Due to the sprawling nature of our megalopolis, going thirty miles from here does not mean thirty miles out of "town," necessarily. This particular town has two good-sized cities (40,000 and 100,000) 15 miles in either direction. I think that many people live in my current ZIP code, so getting 15 miles away from at least some of them sounds awfully nice!
5. Today is Libby's 10th birthday, so I'm off to bake a cake. She's my animal lover, my time keeper, incredibly smart, and a little on the pensive side when she's not cracking a hilarious joke with her very dry sense of humor.
She's on that cusp - she loves playing (a little too roughly!) with the little girls, but doesn't want to be relegated to the little girls' world. And although she shares a room with Allie (14) and they talk and laugh until way too late for a ten year old, she's not quite ready for the older kids' world, either. It's a precious time of innocence and anticipation, and I'm holding her close.