Lent has brought us halfway to Easter, and my chosen deprivation, a small token, hasn't become the daily death of a true sacrifice. Despite this, my thoughts wind involuntarily toward the Cross.
Outside, spring barely begins to unfurl. Sunlight, pale from a winter locked away, still warms the breeze that slips around our bare necks. Birds warble and fret by the windows again; they flap and flutter in the walls. A stain of color on his breast, the zealous bird on the roof loudly seeks a wife. Drowsy insects stir. The box elder bugs are patience itself, moving one spindly leg and the next and the next on a fruitless journey from one end of the room to the other, unapologetically using our arms and feet as rest stops. Dull leaves scuttle across the yard, and we wait for green to appear, for bright shards rising from pebble and muck. We've not seen one blossom. The sky shifts from haggard gray to brilliant blue and back again because March is too skittish to make decisions, and we wait.
Seasons are reassuring. Each year, we see a chill, lifeless world in its monochrome of grays and tans and know that it's not really dead, just waiting. Beneath the surface, worms break from their group-bundles and squirm to the sun, small creatures dig and move, and green waits for the right time to spear upward. The hope of each Easter is the same, and this season of overlapping death and life reflects the Christ.
For this, too, we wait.
John works on Saturdays, and we usually treat it like another school day, but this past Saturday, we threw schoolbooks out the window and made a grand escape. First, we went to a book sale, only to discover in front of the locked doors that I should have checked the library's opening time. I took pictures of the girls sitting on the steps while I talked on the phone to Becky about my stupidity.
The funny thing about this next picture is that they were tearing around the pole like banshees when I hissed, "Hey! I want to take your picture!" They immediately stopped and looked down at me with plastic grins. It was a blue moon shining me full in the face.
Then we went to the mall for Farm Days. Pens of livestock in Center Court! Free samples! Music! Games! I took no snapshots of furry animals, but I do have a picture of the bathroom, which is almost as nice. I took the following picture as a companion piece to this one. It's an identical view, only my belly has grown a head and striped legs. Creepy!
We never go to the mall- never- which makes the FOUR HOURS we spent there pretty darn impressive. (Proof-- Susannah doesn't remember seeing mannequins before. When we entered the Macy's entrance, she started screeching, "She has no head, Mama! She has NO HEAD!" The headless mannequins, especially, were endlessly amusing.)
Millie's part of a reading program and has "earned" all sorts of amazing prizes for doing what has become as natural to her as breathing (i.e. reading from morning 'til night). One of her most recent rewards was a $10.00 gift card to the mall, so we searched high and low for the perfect way to spend that massive amount of money. The first things she bought were a giant bag of cheese doodles and a bag of gummy fish. We crunched away, wiping electric orange on our shirts, skirts, tights, our mouths smeared with tangerine powder that could never, ever come from real cheese. We sat, thankful for Mildred's largesse, when along strolled the Man Himself, Senator L., the wizard hiding behind the reading program. In a serendipitous moment, he sat on the opposite side of the bench, back to back with us as we ate tax money. Before I could shake his hand with my orange-stained fingers, he walked away. Next time, Senator.
For dessert, the girls ordered free ice cream cones at Friendly's. Thanks for the certificates, Grandma O.! A day only becomes better when it's topped off with two scoops of cold cream.
As we walked through the mall on our way out, we stopped and listened to this a capella group. They were fantastic singers and great entertainers, but Millie said to me several times, "They're all right. I do like them, but I certainly don't enjoy them as much as I'd enjoy a horse show."
Sorry, guys. Maybe next time you should spring for the horse costumes.
She ran over to me and breathlessly requested I take her picture, and as she flashed a Dread Pirate grimace, I did just that.
*Mary- thanks for those stockings. In the last week, they've become the new monster socks. Apparently, pirates prefer striped stockings to plain. (To be honest, I do, too. Arrrr.)
A week and a half ago, our car-home rolled about 15 miles to its new resting spot. The three younger girls and I waited at my parents' house while Millie and John escorted the trailer.
We waited and waited and waited until, finally, this parade limped down the road. The trailer had three flat tires on the way. Mobile home, my foot!
While the movers unhitched everything and the other men helped and stood around with manly stances, the girls and I were across the road in the quonset hut. It's the perfect place to amuse oneself with hay and mud.
Susannah made me laugh as she repeatedly shrieked, "Look! I'm BIG!" Her delight reminded me of what it was once like to live in a world of giants. Anything Of Importance in the World of Adults is always much too high.
Piper wasn't impressed with the mud or the hay or the manly men or the car-home. She did, however, strike a friendship with the sunshine. It lulled her right to sleep.
My Great-aunt Mae (the one in whose footsteps I once intended to follow) told my mom that our trailer is "cute."
As you view the ten-foot width, just remember that the way to life is narrow.
And our home, with its face to the camera (it's a bit longer than this).
You'll have to wait for pictures of the inside. En route, the trailer bowed down a bit in the center, so neither door would open. It didn't break in half, though! We need to level it with jacks, and then all you snapshot-greedy folks can have at the inside, too. It's even more sumptuous than the outside. (At least my nephews and nieces think so. Andy lifted them up to peek in a window, and they were impressed that "It EVEN has a CHAIR in there!")
That's right, a chair.
Top that, Mr. Trump!
I am excited about this move!
I loved the shape of these backlit bodies and would have taken more pictures if they hadn't scrambled down.
Millie empties her boots of hay.
Then she mulls on her enviable existence before slipping to earth again.
Childhood is a wonderful time. Lord willing, our girls will enjoy the finer things of this world, like haystacks and open spaces. Our life spills over with wealth, and I am so thankful.
Some requisite Sitting on Pony occurred. Susannah sat on taller Miracle, perched like a wee little man, until Annie joined her. Just imagine her above, too.
And Zephyr looked at me funny. I think she knows we're soon to be neighbors, and I think she knows I'm up to no good.
...which is my explanation for why, the very next morning, our van suffered a flat tire midway to church, the only flat tire we've had since I carried Millie inside me. I believe the other reason for the flat was my absolute smugness that we'd left the house early for church that morning, an occurrence so rare that I don't expect anyone to actually believe it.
I told the girls four tales of Serifia, who entranced them with her world of Whizzing Wangdoodles (or is it Wanging Whizzdoodles?)*, her father who eats fish for every meal, and her mother who communicates only through singing. *Either way, I thank you, Roald Dahl.
Between the stories and free SoyJoy bars*, they were perfectly happy.
*Thank you, CVS, with your ECB lunacy. Return! Return to your former glory!
Though she received no SoyJoy bar, this one was happy, too.
We arrived to church one and a half hours late. It's a good thing the first service is two hours long, huh.
THE END. (Aren't you glad?)
Because this day's posting has featured Annie's reading, how 'bout some of her writing? While I was upstairs, Annie barged ahead in her Phonics book. The instructions only requested she write the first letter of each word, but she likes to reach for the sky, hence the ELUFIT and MUCE and DEMIMD.
This is funny to a mother-teacher, but I concede that it's probably not to the world at large. When stumped about "what and what makes six," she merely changed the sum to 16 and proceeded from there.
Have yourself a dumpling.
I meant to put a wordy post on here, but it's late, and I've a floor to mop. Glamour!
p.s. Before I forget-- while my camera was on vacation at the non-repair shop, we went on a wonderful vacation that I mustn't neglect to mention, even though I have no snapshot proof that we were ever gone. Brother Pete, Sarah, and their boys are top-notch, and we soaked in the rays of their company several weeks ago. If you'd like to snoop on all the ways in which Crazy Sarah spoiled us, go here. (And, Sarah, if you had taken video footage, there's no way in heck I'd be shooing people your way, Choleric Smackdown be darned!)
My mom-in-law is the undisputed champion of bargain shopping at stores.
I tried this dress on Piper from a brimful package that arrived in the mail and promptly lost all self-control.
I tried my best to draw out a smile so that you could see her teeth. She now has four more poking through on top, too. (She grows teeth! Brilliant baby!!)
She also blows bubbles. (INGENIOUS!!!)
And she stares. How she stares...
These expressions are a perfect representation of Sobersides.
I used Flickr to upload them because I wanted the pictures to be a larger size than the Blogger upload allows. Then I casually told John I should load them even larger because her head is so marvelous.
As a sign of his deep and abiding love, he immediately made this.
Big Headed Baby.
As my long-winded and unasked-for explanation details, my camera suffered an accident. Osteoporosis and all that. (Photo credit for the above picture goes to the pleasant camera repair man.)
Still frail, my camera returned. That same day, I celebrated by taking pictures of the plant in our bathroom. Dave Petersen gave us a Christmas cactus as a wedding gift. It came from a plant that his parents had been given at their wedding. It's been sore abused in the last seven years, even spending two summers in my mom's garden (at my instruction, no less!) while we lived abroad in Buffalo. It never bloomed once. Go figure.
But look! Seven years of marriage not only brought us our very first car-home but also coaxed the cactus into blossoming. This is indeed a fortuitous year.