I wish I could put the last three weeks in a package and mail it to myself, receiving it maybe about the same time next year. How else to deal with the melancholy of its ending? Like Christmas when I was young, I could at least console myself with the thought that it would be waiting for me — if only I could wait for it — in twelve months’ time (an eternity for a young’un, so there are some flaws in my strategy).
We had two weeks of a most perfect, full-up, everyone together time with the Alexander kid-clan which brought with it large doses of good food, wine, laughter, and of course, Mickey Mouse. It was like being on a steady sugar high and then, sadly and inevitably, it was time to come down. We were in complete withdrawal. Gordy dealt with the departure of kids and grandkids by waging a chainsaw war against a patch of thick vines, which has been snarling at us across the back fence line since we moved in a year ago, and then bumping around the yard on the lawnmower, kicking up more dust than grass from what I could see. I suppose I would say I cleaned the house, but I wasn’t yet ready to wipe the toddler-height hand prints from the glass doors and windows nor move the Mickey Mouse chairs to a more discreet storage location. Did I just refer to Mickey Mouse a second time (now three) in one paragraph? Proof that we are still moping.
Lucky, lucky us, our best buddies, Casey and Bill, made arrangements to add a few days to their Florida family vacation to visit us and that happened just five days after the kids left. Gordy has known Casey and Bill a good, long time. In truth, he delivered their babies and, because he knows the value of good folk, became fast friends with them. Those kids are grown now and have babies of their own; such joy in the sharing of those stories. I am forever grateful to Casey and Bill because of their great kindness and openness in accepting me as Gordy’s new sidekick (aka, wife). It can be darned hard to keep a couples friendship through a divorce, let alone a remarriage. They were unflinching in their willingness to give it a try and now here we are, 15 years later, with a history of our own.
Also (and equally luckily), Casey and Bill are dog people. It’s a thing I think about. I love the house, newly minted, and how it graciously accommodates guests. I earnestly try to keep the dogs out of the “guest wing”to lend some sanity to the situation.
Still, we live with six dogs, three of whom are size x-large, and they rule our lives. No, really, it’s the truth, they rule it. I wouldn’t know how to rein that back; how to keep Sophie from her safe spot under the dining room table, even when the table is full of people, or Molly from her lounging area on the window side of the sectional or how to hide the fact that five pounds (give or take) of sand and dirt track into the house on puppy paws every single day. Dog people get stuff like that. Big relief.
The Alexander clan is pretty cool about the whole puppy and pony thing as well, though it is probably a bit mind blowing at times to see their doctor-father turned farmer. None of them have pets of their own, yet they are all so kind to our tribe and their willingness to let their own kids have the experience of sharing space with animals means the world to me. So, without further ado, I am going to pummel you with my most favorite kid and animal-kid moments from our time together. It’s like giving myself a present. I will re-read this and savor these pictures and get filled up all over again with the happiness and goodness that is family.
Reagan was just the size of the twins when Boo came into her life. Now look at her, growing up so fast and beautiful and introducing them to him. Boo knows exactly how this works.
Molly came to us in August and this is her first time with the little ones. We know so little of her twelve years of life before us, including whether or not she was comfortable with children. Oh my goodness, she was in heaven! She was like Mary’s little lamb: everywhere that the twins went, Molly was sure to follow.
After everyone left and before we had put away all of the toddler paraphernalia, inside and out, here is how we found Molly:
Giada also showed a new side of herself. Maremmas mature slowly into their full guardian instincts. Giada is just over two now and it was as if the light switch clicked on with her about her role with the “babies”. She was sweet and patient and eager to share space with them, especially with Clara. Kind of hard not to want to share space with that little sweetie.
Of course, no person, regardless of size, is outside the sphere of doggy influence.
Geographic distance has expanded the gaps between our times of togetherness with family and friends. That bears its own sadness, but it also brings a richness. I notice the way my mental picture feels a touch out of alignment when the real person walks in the door, because they have evolved into a deeper rendition of themselves while we were each off in our own respective worlds. How delightful to get in sync once more. How delightful to be in their space, to see the ways in which they’ve grown, to hold them close, and then to set them free again. Life is most certainly very good.