Monday, August 29, 2011

Coming Home

Dear Daddy,
You come home tomorrow.  When I started writing this, we had a few days to go, and Clio had started counting the days until your return.  Not much to count now.  In fact, you must be traveling already, though the time difference confuses me.  It is tomorrow there already, but you are moving backwards through the time zones and will arrive here 3 hours (and something like 24 hours of travel) after you left there.

Eleri sometimes forgets, still, and thinks you are at work and might join us for dinner.

We have been pulling the house together, not that it got out of control while you've been away, more preparing for the fall and back to school.  I'm trying to get organized.  The kids are decorating the sidewalks with chalk.  The garden is wild: sunflowers halfway to the roof, squash vine halfway to the garage.  The squirrels have dessicated your beautiful delicata squash, I'm sorry to say.  I was about to get out the lawn mower but the grass is wet and rain is coming, so I weeded the raspberry jungle instead.  I'll need your help to get the massive pile of bracnshes into some yard bags.  There were actually some beautiful berries under all that mess, and the girls ate them up, then yelled at me when I ate the last one: I was supposed to save it for you.

Orientation started at school this morning, for both girls as it turns out.  I think they had a good day.  When we got home, my cousin Jesse called and suggested swimming at my mom's.  Tonight as we ate dinner, all chlorinated and sun tired, it felt like summer vacation has a last little stretch to it yet.  Did I tell you already that we tried out the Highland Pool and it is awesome?  That we spent a morning at Nokomis beach, with barely anyone else, and counted the planes and the minnows?  I keep finding that I am holding my breath--that old bad habit--and when I think of my time with my girls in the sand and the sun and this beautiful late summer Minnesota weather that I am remembering, finally, fondly, and with nostalgia, I remember to breathe deep.

While you've been gone, people have said things like "That's a long time to be a single mom."  But we have been very well taken care of, with dinners at Nonny and Papa's and at Rory and Nicole's and that whole weekend at the cabin.  I think this has saved us not so much for the help with meals but for the adult contact it has provided me, re-energizing me so my patience will stretch.  And it has needed to be supple: the girls are at each other quite a lot.  But then they hug, and Eleri announces "I LOVE you Clio," in this very sweet cadence, and all is fine for the moment.  They had some much-needed separation Saturday when I took Clio to Silo's birthday party (making his card she was delighted to discover that their names share three of four letters) and Eleri happily spent the day with Rory and Nicole, then we all had dinner there, with Erin and Kyle and River and Autumn, too.  River and Clio made a couch fort.  Eleri did the same puzzle over and over.

There are puzzle stations all over the house.  One in front of the fireplace, one in the office, one in front of the island in the kitchen, and tonight Eleri made those two-piece reading puzzles (Bear and Cub; Goat and Kid) in a long line across the office doorway.  She is doing a puzzle every time I turn around, and won't leave the house until she finishes.  True story.  It is still sort of cute and endearing, but if it lasts I think it will get old, fast.

We went through the girls' toys and books and brought a big bag of each to Oliver and have more to donate. We cleaned out the art supplies and turned over their closets.  We empty the de-humidifier regularly, and each time the girls want to come downstairs with me, but of course then they don't want to come back up.

Do you find it hard to believe we have been here over a year now?  I think about what we have done--and not done--in this time.  How I like our life here and what I would like to improve.  I wonder most as you head home if you feel like you are coming home, and if you do, if that home is about people--your girls--or if it is coming to be about this place, too.  I hope so.  I know time away can amplify the things you leave behind, and I hope you like some of the things you see.

See you tomorrow,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

At the Lake

Dear Daddy,

This weekend we got to go to Lucia and Finn's cabin.  We had a lot of fun, and everyone's favorite activity was fishing off the dock.  We fed the fish bread in the mornings so they would be nice and fat when we caught them in the afternoon.  We used leeches and worms as bait, and Mommy even baited the hooks for us, but Maud was the only one who could get hooks out of fish bellies if they swallowed it whole.  She had special pliers and calls this "surgery."  We saved our fish in a bucket, but they kept jumping out, so we put a net over them.  Clio held it closed.  We released some, but kept five fish to eat.  Maud showed us how to clean the fish.  When we cut the heads off, they still move around.  Maud and Mommy told us about nerves.  When Maud tried to cut the biggest fish, it flipped around and around.  Lucia and Clio got to eat that one.

We took boat rides, and Finn went tubing, but Clio wasn't ready to try it.  Maybe next year.  She says she doesn't want to try it ever, but we'll see.  While we tooled around the lake, under beautiful blue skies, we missed you, and I thought that you would trade one day of your time in Japan to be there with us like that, if only the logistics were not so complicated.  I hope we can all go next year; we know you would have the most fun of everyone.

Yesterday we took the boat to the sandy point.  We built a river.  We put rocks in it, and when it was full we made a dam so the water wouldn't go out and come in again.  We built a rock wall around it.

In the cabin, we did puzzles and Eleri is getting really good.  We did a 60 piece floor puzzle of pirates.  Clio and Lucia built a fort in the living room, using every single blanket and towel in the place.  They also found some old baby gates to use, and said No Boys Allowed.

My favorite thing was watching the girls swim.  They called the wading area by the shore the "shallow end" and the lake the "deep end," which is really very cute.

Clio would like to sign off now.

(Clio typed those hugs and kisses)

Your girls

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dear Daddy,

What a day we had!

This morning we had a visit from Connor.  He helped us finish our new puzzle.  Then we went to Nonny and Papa's to go swimming.  Clio would not like to report about her mood, but we can tell you this.  Pool success!  Mommy forgot the back floatie, so Clio discovered she can swim just fine without it--even in the deep end, even going off the diving board.  Amazing.  She can even swim across the pool with her face in the water.  As for Eleri, she has taken her daredevil ways to the big board, throwing herself into the water with glee.  (wearing a life jacket, of course.)

We got to swim with Joy and Frank before they left for the airport, and Molly, Mike, and Connor came by, too.  More puzzles, lots of popcorn, and one pair of raspberry chocolate ice cream bars made it a great day.

We got stuck in traffic on the bridge coming over the Mississippi, so we ran through McDonals drive through for Happy Meals.  Our prize was a car that had a man pop out of it.  They go realy fast, and the man comes out all the way, or hides in the car.

The treats didn't end there!  Since it is movie night, we got to watch some TV.  But we got home late, so we just watched some Diego.  It was the funniest episode ever.  There was a penguin who tried to slide on her back, but they have to slide on their bellies.  And also she was just a baby and so she tried to climb a rock but she kept on falling anf falling and falling and that was so funny.

We are going to bed now so we are rested for our drive to the cabin tomorrow.

We were so glad to get your note that you arrived and found your family.  What a long journey that was!  We couldn't believe how long it took.

More soon,


Clio, Eleri, and the mommers

Thursday, August 18, 2011

While Dad is away....

We dropped Dave (aka The Dadders) at the airport bright and early this morning for his family trip to Japan.  He will be gone for two whole weeks, which already kind of feels like an eternity.

The girls and I decided that we would miss him less (and he might feel less left out) if we recorded messages for him here.  So here goes.

After the airport, we were still so sleepy, we decided to get bagels and juice and eat them at Bruegger's.  After breakfast, we tried out the new Hello Kitty puzzle, and got it done together.  We went to the wading pool, and Clio's bathing suit ripped wide open.  Oops!  When we came home, she tried to put it in the recycling, but I explained it belongs in the "garbagh," thereby introducing Clio to this fancy term for plain old garbage.

We all took naps, each in a room of our own.  Eleri thought it was silly to sleep with her pillow halfway down the bed.  After nap, we went to the playground, but Eleri had a little accident, and the fun was short lived.  We picked up our farm share, and you'll be happy to know that greenilocks was revived.  This time her adventures took her to an island in the middle of a pond with a turtle house that has smaller and smaller and smaller doors to get in.

For dinner we had Grandma's meatballs, corn on the cob, french fries with ketchup in special bowls, and tomato cucumber basil feta salad, with ingredients from the farm.  The girls each had three servings of salad.  Eleri ate watermelon, and Clio had peaches, and I remembered that those were my favorite foods with each of them when they were still in my belly.  We think this is like magic.  We marveled at the fact that you are still not in Japan yet, after this whole long full day.

We had bath right after dinner because Eleri wrote on herself (in pen.)  The little plastic flounder went missing from the tub and Clio started some detective work, first looking for footprints, then handprints, then hair to see if we could track down the fish.  She did find some hair, but the fish remains at large.

After we say good night to you, we will go up and read library books for stories.

Clio is dying to type "xoxo," so I think it's time to say we love you.


Your girls

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Farm

Even more than their teensy tiny disney princess dolls, the girls love all manner of plastic animals.  Especially of the teensy tiny variety.  Lately, they have taken to staging their little kitchen, which they call The Farm.

Before bed, Eleri insists on putting all the animals "to sleep" on the farm.

I'm amazed by the sorting work going on here: each species together in its place.

I'm not exactly sure why the pandas get the microwave when they have their very own panda house.

I love that ALL the animals had a family movie night.  Good times, little ones.

Pictures by Dave, naturally.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Outfit of the Week

Our friends Carrie, Morgan, and Greta passed this dress on to us, knowing how much I adore Liberty of London.  Carrie gave it to us when we picked up our CSA share last week, with the caveat that she would like a picture of (notoriously camera-averse) Clio wearing it.

Clio agreed.

In the Garden

There's nothing I like more than uploading photos from our camera and discovering a little treasure trove of images from a day or moment that I was not a part of.  Leading up to Dave's big trip to Japan (he and his parents will visit Derek from August 18 - 31, leaving the girls and I to fend for ourselves), Dave is watching the girls on Mondays and Fridays so I can wrap up a bunch of work before my impending single-parent status.

I guess this is what they did on Monday.

Added bonus: I love Dave's pictures, always.