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Monday, April 30, 2012

Q&A with the Boys

Somewhat fresh off their first time to sleep at a friend's flat, I proudly present my adorable boys:
Q: I know you guys, but some people out there might need help putting names with faces and remembering what you're up to these days. So, can you introduce yourselves? And are there no barbers in London? Are you auditioning for a Beatles tribute band?
Biggest Brother: I'm on the left. I'm 10 and I play guitar and drums.
Big Brother: That's me on the right. I'm 7. I'll be 8 in July. I like any sort of racing and love to draw.

Q: How is life in London? Feeling settled?
Biggest Brother: Life in London is busy and something new, although I do miss home sometimes.
Big Brother: It is definitely bigger and much noisier. I'm feeling mediumly settled.

Q: Is it true you've tried some unusual food?  Do you really like blackcurrant juice? And do you really not like McDonald's anymore?
Biggest Brother: Yes!  I like blackcurrant but not McDon.
Big Brother: I have tried some unusual food. Like fish and chips and Lebanese meatballs. I kinda like blackcurrant juice. And I DO still like McDonald's.

Q: What are the biggest differences about your school in London?
Big Brother: Here we wear uniforms. And not everyone brings a packed lunch [this is compared to his school in La Grange which didn't have a cafeteria. If you didn't go home for lunch (sigh!) you could bring lunch to eat at school].
Biggest Brother: Our playground is on the roof!

Q: Do you miss anything from the States?
Big Brother: I miss Target and Walmart, Lucky Charms [which his mother notes he's never had...], PopTarts, being close to my cousins, and small town life.
Biggest Brother: I miss Target, cereal and PopTarts.

Q: What's going on these days in London?
Biggest Brother: There are brand new buses with two sets of stairs.
Big Brother: The Olympics!  Queen's Jubilee!

Q: Where have you travelled since moving?
Biggest Brother: Germany, Paris...
Big Brother: Spain, the beach in France, Scotland, Eastbourne, Whistable, Oxford

Q: Where are you going this summer?
Big Brother: Spain and Morocco!
Biggest Brother: And lots of our cousins and grandparents will be here!

Q: What are your favorite places to go in London?
Biggest Brother: Good question -- John Lewis! The train stations, Holland Park's adventure playground, Battersea Park, Hamley's
Big Brother: Hyde Park, the indoor playground, Covent Garden, the transportation museum, anywhere on a bus

Q: How about outside of the city?
Biggest Brother: I liked Eastbourne and Brighton.
Big Brother: Eastbourne was really neat. And Brighton's Pier. Oh, and Oxford. I really liked going on that bus ride and seeing all the buildings and universities.

Q: Favorite part of living here?
Big Brother: That we live right outside of Hyde Park, that we're close to a bus stop, and that we have a really good view from our flat. Seeing all the really cool cars - Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Range Rovers, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Mercedes and last but not least, Maseratis!
Biggest Brother: Riding double decker buses and all our new friends!

Q: Least favorite?
Big Brother: Definitely all the noise and pollution. It's a bit too busy and city-ish for me.
Biggest Brother: Being away from my family and friends.

Q: What's the funniest British thing you've heard? Funny British sayings or words you've picked up?
Big Brother: A food called a 'toad in a hole.'
Biggest Brother: Once, when I helped someone they said, "Cheers, Lad!" We still say that because it is funny!

Q: Who's your favorite blogger?
Big Brother:  I have to see more blogs to decide.
Biggest Brother: I only know one!

Q: Anything else?
Biggest Brother: Tell everyone to come visit us so we can show them around!
Big Brother: Yeah - our couch pulls out and we have bunk beds, lots of space in our room and 3 sleeping bags, too!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love Is.

Remember those 70s books and cards with the little sketched couple going about their business being in love? And all kinds of clever things that defined their life in love?

Here's the 2012 version. It makes me happy that this could be a very, very long post. I may have to do it again.

Love is...
tormenting your mother by pretending you're going to drive your bike into big mud puddles. And likely slip and fall and track lots of mud into the flat. With your very best friend doing the same thing.

Love is...
passing the time on a long train ride "reporting live" on Barbie microphones with your best girlfriend. Even though your mother dislikes licensed characters, she will think this is a hoot.

Love is...
helping Baby Sister enjoy a hike even though you were mid-way through exploring a rocky Scottish beach with your buddy.

Love is...
reading to a tiny sister on the way home from the park.

Love is...
a soft hand to hold on a walk.

Love is...
letting a scared little person squeeze you as you whiz above a German village on an exceedingly fast Ferris wheel.

Love is...
a buddy to play with on the bleachers while your brothers perfect their skills at the skateboard park. 

Love is...
watching faux princesses at an old castle with someone who thinks you are a real princess.

Love is...
choosing to sit without any space between you when you have acres of a park to explore.

Love is all that and more. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Motherhood Vows: In Defense of Modesty.

New to blogging, I have to remind myself of a few self-imposed rules every once in a while. Mostly because my children are very cute and have such adorable, quickly changing little bodies. Legs that are long and thin, legs that are short and chubby, tummies that are round, shoulders that are scrawny, bottoms that are bubbly and firm. And all seemingly perpetually on display. Eeegads, this pledge may already be overdue.

Most of these rules are grounded in my desire not to subject my children to more embarrassment than I already am able to deliver quite successfully in person.

So, I'm working on A Mommy Blogger Code of Conduct. Featuring a Modesty Clause. I am resisting the term Mommy Blogger for countless reasons, too. Starting with that I've never liked the name, "Mommy" for myself as much as Momma.

I promise never to post photos that will be particularly, or maybe instead just exceedingly, embarrassing. And that doesn't by any means preempt pictures of them in goofy outfits. Chances are, at their ages, what is pictured is their own sartorial handiwork. That I document their temerity to wear various costumes in public cannot be held against me.

Even though I am especially proud of and humored by some of their developmental milestones lately, I am prohibiting some of them from online photos or discussion. For the most part. I will not discuss a significant amount of bodily functions. Or that one or two my children insist they need deodorant because one has just had the "puberty" lesson in school when they really smell like sunshine and soap.

I will not post photographs of anyone sitting on a little pink potty. Even when I am over the moon that our days of diapering are coming to a close. This is a tough stage for me. The Mister says it is because I'm not in control of it. Harrumph. But he's right. I share potty success and cheer it. But I will not let it go viral.

(Instead I will one day do the math on the kazillion packages of Pampers (and yes, the purple ones really are the best) that we have purchased and disposed of and try to do the earth (and our balance sheet) a good deed in kind.)

I promise to try not to say things that will be dug up by college friends (or potential employers or dates) in search functions Google cannot even imagine yet, printed and posted on dorm (or office or space station) walls. I cannot be held accountable, though if postings related to their being cute merit similar attention. Executive Summary thus far: Bare, no. Cute, yes. Embarrassing, case by case basis.

And if we can agree to the above, let's move on to body piercings, smoking and tattoos. Just like putting things online, all of these are significantly easier to avoid than undo. And here let me speak directly to my 4 people: By all means don't start with any of the aforementioned things. And absolutely don't document yourself doing so. See also, sitting on pink potties. You were all, to varying degrees, tricky to construct and done so with great care and help from above. If I'm not crazy about even the oldest of you writing with Sharpies for fear we'll be scrubbing it off you for days, you are pretty well sure how I feel about body art and other decorative things.

Life is tricky enough without putting the worst bits online. I'm hard at work resisting the urge to put the cutest bits online, too. I promise. It is for the best. And you know if the pictures and stories are really worth seeing, I'll just email them to you.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Goes Around

Biggest Brother was reading the seat swiping post on the bus on the way home from school yesterday. We held my phone in our hands, heads together. Meanwhile, Baby Sister, Big Sister and Big Brother sat in the front seats ahead of us chatting and snacking.

When we got off the bus with another woman, she stopped us and asked me, "are ALL these children yours?" I looked around quizzically. I braced for a negative bomb about to be dropped on my little children and me. I hadn't been paying a terrific amount of attention to the youngest three for a bit. I'm pretty sure I gave them all a fierce "what have you done?" look.

When I responded that indeed they were all mine, she went on to comment that she'd watched us on our ride home (Gracious. Also: Horrors!  What were we all doing!?) and that I looked "so young" to have them all. (ahahaha - I hear you laughing all the way from here! I'm laughing right along with you.)

Here was my tip off that she was about to be exceedingly (dramatically even) generous, effusive with praise. I'm no fool and I'm in fact, many days feel more haggard by the moment. I'm fairly sure the only thing keeping early onset menopause at bay is that I'm half heartedly weaning a child too big to be considered a toddler. With the exception of a few weeks, in over 10 years, I have been either or both nursing and pregnant. That begins to take a toll. And just this weekend, I paid dearly for a long beauty shop appointment during which the stylist said she had to "cover all the greys" while I stared for hours at a giant blemish on my chin. I'm not fishing for compliments and am well aware that there are worries way, way more important than my vanity. Even more, hooray my body to have delivered and sustained 4 healthy babies. But just so you are clear, only the truly giving (or even visually impaired) would say I am looking young lately. No one would mistake me for the babysitter.

She was just being really nice. And who doesn't need that?! I'll take it.

Anyhow, once she called me youthful, this kindly woman lingered at the bus stop to compliment the children! Does it get better? Well. I suppose she could have said I reminded her of a brilliant, worldly supermodel who devoted her life to charity and whose family was collectively nominated for sainthood.

Kind words indeed. So I soaked it all in. Soak being the operative word as it was once again beginning to rain. We do live in London. Captive audience, I showed her how tickled I was that both the boys were wearing badges awarded for their efforts at school that day. Now you're thinking that this was an impromptu meeting of 2 nutty woman in the rain. But, no. She was really normal. And I'm relatively so. The kids weren't getting terribly wet. They had umbrellas.

I told her that they are good helpers and friends to each other and delightful little people. They make it easy for me (on our best days). Not perfect, but perfect for the Mister and me. We're a team. That woman is lucky she's still not standing there while I yammer on about my favorite subjects. I could have also gone into all of the Mister's great qualities, too. She was very, very nice to say something so sweet and then endure my response.

As she walked away, and with memories of the less than kind women from our trip still in his head, Biggest Brother said, "See. God sent us a special messenger today."

How right he is. What a nice lesson that was. It is so easy to recall the big and little slights exacted upon us (sometimes even those undoubtedly meted out completely unintentionally). But can't it be easier still to accept a compliment and let it roll around in our heads and hearts for minutes, hours, day, years even? It was a great reminder to me to speak up when seeing someone doing something right. To send praise to others soon and often. To catch people big and small doing well.

It is a bit of a downside to being a homemaker that there are few "performance reviews." And a hazard of my job that I distribute criticism pretty readily, too. But people of all ages appreciate recognition of their efforts. When I was working, I would keep a little "atta boy" file of notes (that was way back when people wrote things on paper) that would boost me when jeers were louder. These days, praise gets stored in my head more often than in a file folder.

In the ebb and flow of our family life, sometimes it seems that we're all rowing in opposite directions. (Never more so than when we gather at the front door to our flat for about 10 or 15 minutes trying to leave while enduring multiple outfit changes, gathering of lots of stuff, nervous breakdowns and temper tantrums. And then the kids start to misbehave.) I know I am about to tempt the Fates saying so, but lately, it has been going pretty swimmingly. That someone noticed and said, "Hooray, you guys!" was much appreciated.

The kindness of a stranger will build up our strength to endure the days that aren't so good. Maybe it is the children graduating to easier stages together, maybe it was a nice, long break or a just a completely errant flukey few days, but this has been a really lovely, easier than most few weeks. I am just so tickled that someone else experienced it with us, too.

Our bus riding friend restored my faith in The Code. It doesn't take but a minute to pass along cheer. You never know just how much good it will do. Without a doubt, it just might make someone's day. She sure made mine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Breaking the Code

We have always travelled with our smalls. On buses, on short and long flights, and very long car trips. I've done plenty of those trips without the Mister and he reports to helping families when he's travelling on business. Like everyone I know, we do our very best to help others. We're no do-gooders, it is just the right thing. Maybe even more, we do our best not to require lots of assistance. We pack backpacks of quiet games, books, snacks, and emergency supplies. We try our best.

There are lots of a kindnesses shared among travellers with and without children. You lift a bag for someone who can't and let someone go ahead who might need more time to board. Travelling is tricky enough without adding an element of competition. Getting to your destination is more an endurance test than a sprint. It certainly isn't a race with others. This isn't the Tokyo subway.

I've long been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers on trips. On our first airplane trips with baby Biggest Brother, we were overwhelmed by the helpfulness of others as we jetted to and from Canada. After a long day and multiple connecting flights, we arrived home to discover I'd left a little zipper purse (my wallet included) in a Canadian airport restroom when changing the baby. Given the level of kindness we received in our travels, we were grateful, but honestly not terribly surprised, to have someone turn the bag in and the airline speed it to us. And it remains legendary in my mind the compassion with which staff and passengers helped me in the worst imaginable few minutes of an 8 hour journey across the Atlantic.

So being on the receiving end of someone's outright unkindness when travelling last week was a new experience. That it was another mother (and grandmother!) of small children who was the perpetrator made it sting that much more. I've always felt there was a code of sorts. People who see you pushing a stroller and hurry to get the door, a knowing smile and kind word when a child is fussing, and a general friendliness. A code. An understanding. Part of a tribe helping another.

Not so this mom. And because I'm not fully evolved, I still want to say something more to her. I can't, so thanks for listening.

Anyway, after a lovely visit to Scotland, we arrived at a bustling train station on a busy bank holiday. Lots of travellers returning home. Most of them fortunate enough to have reserved seats on the train. As our seat assignments were unreserved (we booked late), we elected to let an earlier train go without us to ensure getting 6 seats together on a later one. So we waited patiently at the train doors with others in a friendly, loose queue. Everyone knew who had arrived first (US!) and was seemingly in good spirits for a pleasant return to London.

The children and I were first in line at a door and the Mister walked our luggage to a baggage car. A mother, a set of grandparents and 3 children strode up, sized up our line and waited by an adjacent door at the neighboring train car. I am too naive to have realized at the time what they were up to. While they were smiling and chatting with us about Baby Sister's get up (a crown and wand from having visited a castle the day prior), the mother was handing the grandmother her children's backpacks. Sure enough, when all the train doors opened and I began to hoist my little girls from the platform into the train, the grandmother rushed through the other door, raced passed my stunned children and grabbed the very seats we'd obviously stood in line for. Their little backpacks holding their places. On the only unreserved seats on the train together.

Laughing and settling into their seats, the grandmother and her adult daughter seemed to congratulate themselves on their "victory" over my little brood. And the grandmother wasn't even travelling with the family - she was the designated runner - the base stealer if you will - for coveted seats on a long journey.

While I am not proud of it, it is my nature to be externally gracious while inside preparing a future breathless recount of injustices for the (poor!) Mister filled with dozens of things I should have said. But not this time. Once I finally found my children seats scattered throughout the car and received lots of sympathetic words from other passengers who had waited with us, I felt compelled to talk to those women. About how embarrassed they should be. The grandmother, still laughing, said, "You could have done the same thing." I pointed out that I wouldn't stoop so low. And that she'd broken a code among mothers. And travellers. I didn't say it all because the grandmother continued that her daughter was travelling with THREE children!

Gracious. Is the bar car open yet?

Let me say, we have dear friends with one child and lovely friends with eight children. We fall somewhere there in the middle. Family size, of all absurd things, is exceedingly personal and is absolutely never grounds for competition. But I, just this once, felt justified in mentioning that I was travelling with FOUR CHILDREN. Who were clearly better behaved than these 2 grown women.

Well. I got enough of that out to feel better. But apparently not all of it. Indeed, I sat seething in my seat for a bit, hoping that in the next 5 hours, those children and their uber-competitive, seat-swiping mom (clearly trained by her own mother) might need a diaper, a coloring book, a snack, or any of a number of things that go with us on trips. And the Mister. When he made it to our car and found the smalls and me in various corners, he said he hoped she disembarked at a stop prior to ours so he could help her off in a show of genuine kindness. And he meant it. He wasn't offering to throw those little backpacks out the window, but rather to lift her stroller carefully. And he would have. He is nicer than I am. I waved to the grandmother with a smirk on my face as we pulled away. Now who is the child?

But the Mister didn't have a chance to be gentlemanly as we all got off together in London. Prior to that, though, she eventually left their comfy seats around a big table (after her children had mild meltdowns) and sheepishly offered them to us. We didn't take them. The smalls were busy by then with their games and projects and I had my nose in a book. The Mister smiled a pleasant, "No thanks." I think I growled.

And you know the worst of it? I still feel bad. Because when I saw her husband collect his family at the station in London, I looked right through them. I'm no saint. But following a long journey with 3 children alone, seeing her reunited with her husband, I should have given her a genuine smile to say, "Water under the bridge. Enjoy the last days of break! You were lousy, but I can be, too. We all are!"

So what I'm trying to say, even if not to her directly, is just this: I broke the code, too. I'm no Pollyanna, but feel better sending her a virtual truce.

But by all means lady, don't do that seat swiping again. It is just not nice. And it looks bad in front of the kids.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Let's Have a Jubilee

New to expat living, what do I know, but I'm pretty certain that we happened upon being here at one of the best times ever. Certainly better to be here now than when London hosted the Olympics last. Although how they were able to pull of the "Austerity Games" is worthy of a whole post in itself. I keep thinking that would be akin to having just had a massive flood or fire in your home and yet still inviting a huge crowd for a fancy dinner party.  I suspect the British are almost singularly capable of that sort of effort. Keeping calm, carrying on with stiff upper lips and all.

Anyway, I'm not sure we could have picked a better time to be Londoners. It is certainly a blessing that we arrived, unpacked and are now fully settled as a new year of excitement (the Queen's Jubilee! The Olympics!) in the city is upon us. Not to mention that our guest book will soon be filled with returning visitors!  Cause for celebration all around.

Easter Sunday and a long break are behind us and now the big kids are back to school today. Sniff and sigh. Family Night last night took on a special feeling of frantic fun and it is all too terribly sentimental for me. So much of our life these days seems to be marked by passages of time and I see the children changing so quickly. We had such a lovely break and everyone - Big Sister especially - really needed the time off. The smalls were playing games together this morning literally until the last moment before we had to hop on a bus and I'm luring them home this afternoon with the promise of more games!

So now, my friends, as you may have noted, preparations for the Queen's Jubilee are well under way in our flat.

As Baby Sister and I watched the Queen address Parliament this morning no fewer than 2 packages were delivered for our decor. Honestly, they must have been sent from a special source knowing we'd be missing the kids terribly in our suddenly all too quiet flat. I'd done some of the decorating of our dining room already and had the chance to add to the goodies with what was delivered today.

And while I know she's not our Queen, and I'm not necessarily a royalist, I am touched by the history of our countries, inspired by British endurance, excited by the pageantry already on display, and charmed by the vintage treasures that will always remind us of our life in London.

Here's hoping these remembrances won't consume our flat before the actual celebrating begins this summer.  I've already started buying for friends Stateside and shipping them abroad. The things here are just too delightful to pass up. Not pictured, but among my favorites collected so far is a plate bearing the simple words "It Should Have Been Me." It was meant for the royal wedding, but seems equally as appropriate for fanfare surrounding the Queen. Not that it should have been me. Gracious. I would be a bit of a disastrous dignitary. If I felt the prick of a tear hearing the nice things said to and by the Queen today on my couch, I can't imagine how my face would have melted in high definition close ups.

Lucky us: Decorated flat, full calendar, festive sideboards and a busy London life!  So, without further delay, let's have a jubilee!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Decade

This little guy (he of silky soft hair, round belly, precious shoes and fantastic pants) somehow turned 10 on Easter Sunday. He is such a gem. It is hard to imagine, but we love him even more than we did when he was brand new. He's the captain of our team, king of our castle, and cheerful leader of an admiring little brood.

This sure has been a big year for Biggest Brother as he became our family's pioneer in British schools. He's picked up a bit of an accent and toured Europe along the way.

For his big birthday he asked for a guitar. And celebrated turning 10 in Scotland. Who would have thought that when he burst onto the scene in Richmond he'd be a full-on European city dweller a decade later?  Life is funny that way.

Truth be told, this is his second guitar. Years ago he asked Santa to bring him a "tar" and enjoyed playing it along with his drums. He continues to thrive on the drums and we're excited to see where he'll take his new instrument now that he's ready for lessons. So far he's already taken it to the Diana playground where he gave several impromptu concerts!  A busker in the making. He saw more musicians playing this week in Edinburgh and was undoubtedly inspired.

Biggest Brother is hosting a few of his friends for lazer tag and a sleepover (apparently "slumber party" sounded a bit girlish to him!) this weekend. It will be the first of that kind of party we've hosted. Appropriately so. Biggest Brother is always leading the way with the firsts.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that the Mister and I had to excuse ourselves from visitors to work together at changing his diaper. And it definitely took the both of us to strap him into the Bjorn in those first days. In those quick years in between, he's continued to be a sweet and sunny part of our family. He was even kind enough to endure my lengthy, minute by minute retelling of the exciting day he arrived!  And happily recounted his previous 9 birthday party themes. The first being "farm" which included my nearly 90 year old grandmother wearing a red bandana like all the guests!

He is an all around good guy. And not just because he changed diapers at 4. He's just always been sweet. He is bright, happy, charming, patient, responsible, talented and very silly.  We are all in love. Happy Birthday, Lovey!  Even though I no longer have to bend down to talk to you, you'll always be my little dolly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

These Are The Days

It is day 2 of our 2 week break. Actually Day 4 if you count the weekend. This time last year we were off to Paris and still feeling less than sure footed about which end was up in London. Now fully settled in our life here we're breathing easy, still touring and sending up a big cheer for a long vacation! We've left spelling tests and maths homework for a bit. We're having a blast and we haven't even begun to pack for our actual vacation or celebrated Easter or Biggest Brother turning 10 yet!

This weekend found us building a LEGO minifig parade. Big Brother and I were inspired by a visit to a LEGO store in an actual shopping mall while finishing birthday shopping for Biggest Brother. Then we hit the skateboard park. Yesterday found us at the Diana playground until closing. We followed that with ice cream for dinner. Until the Mister, bless him, arrived home and cooked the children an actual meal.


Today we hit 3 exhibits at the V&A and Natural History museums. We're new experts in British culture and history having taken in a photography exhibit about the Queen, a post-WWII British design retrospective, and a poignant review of Scott's fatal quest to reach the South Pole (and return).

Tomorrow we're going to lounge around in our jammies. We've earned it. All this out and about enjoying the city has us worn out. Baby Sister was asleep long before tonight's dinner picnic. She better rest up because tomorrow morning will find us hunting for Easter baskets in the flat and Thursday and more treats with visiting American friends.

As Biggest Brother noted, "Today was a good day." Yesterday he toasted a wonderful first official day off by holding his ice cream cone aloft. And to think, many more days of luxurious break stretch out ahead. Hooray for it all!

Today was a particular delight. The exhibits are ones I'd go to solo, but are made so much more interesting with the smalls. But without a doubt the highlight of my day was watching Big Brother hold Baby Sister on his lap on the bus on the way home. He absently played with her hair while they watched London out their window. She started playing "This Little Piggie" on his fingers and then on his face. He endured "This Little Eye" quite nicely and with great humor when it threatened to be painful!

A few bus passengers caught my eye watching them. They seemed to share my happiness the sweet moments between them. I thought my heart might burst. I was so proud of my little people all day and genuinely loved their company. (And to be fair to us all, we don't revel in each other's company every moment of every day. It isn't always a mutual admiration society. That is what has made these last days especially delightful.)

In between exhibits, we had a snack in the V&A garden on a blanket. Jam biscuits. I had a glass of wine with lunch. We soak up the Europeanness. We are so fortunate and grateful for it all. We sent the Mister a message to thank him for sponsoring our lovely outings.

These are days I so hope they'll remember. If I cannot freeze time here this spring, this break, I am desperate for them to remember it all. To know what sweetly simple days we're having together. That Biggest Brother made us breakfast buffets delivered by his LEGO train and that they spent hours in pajamas building train tracks. It is admittedly, why I was (secretly) happy that Biggest Brother turned down an offer to attend an all week sports camp. (BIG BROTHER: "I'd miss you guys too much!" ME: Really? Okay!)

So one day little Lovies, when you see a David Bowie video, a children crossing sign (which we've learned was designed in the UK and based on a childhood photograph of the designer and her little brother), a Beaton photograph, or the Terra Nova emblem, think of us. Or maybe when you're savoring an ice cream at a park on a spring evening and it is way too late to be considered a snack, I hope you'll remember these days with great fondness.

I know I will. And while I'm hoping, please take the time to remember these days together. Because without each other, each part of our little puzzle, it wouldn't be just so. Everyone added their piece to the day. Biggest Brother by carrying Baby Sister on his back, Baby Sister by cheering us all with her witticisms, Big Brother with his wide-eyed enthusiasm, and Big Sister for her observant, gentle ways.

The boys begged me to let Big Sister have a slumber party in their room tonight. I tuck them in with this wish: That we'll have lots and lots of days like this ahead of us. And when these days are behind us, that they'll treasure them as I do.