Zach and Hayden picked me up at the airport. When I got in the car, little Hayden was grinning from ear to ear in her car seat. She is such fun and loaded with personality! As Zach and I visited on the way back home, our conversation was interspersed with Hayden insisting that we play "I spy with my witto eye..." She showed me the little snack box she'd packed for the journey, because for a small child, the trip to Logan airport is a long one. After at least 4-5 toll booths, we arrived at their home and hauled my ponderous luggage inside.
Mia and Katie had been having a little mother/daughter movie night while waiting for us to arrive, and baby Drezden was asleep. Deceptively so, as it turned out. During the time I was there, he was a dream during the day, but starting at around midnight, he got fussy and required someone to walk around with him. I don't know why babies get so turned around, but it seems to be a rule. But it's hard to complain about such a sweet little guy.
I got all settled into my basement room - so cozy and warm and handy access to set up my laptop, since I had to put in a little bit of work time while I was there. It had been a long travel day, and it was good to get into comfy clothes and wash my face and visit with Katie for a bit after the girls went to bed. We forgot to turn the clocks back that night, and so when we got up for church the next day we were an hour early. Zach and I looked at each other and figured we deserved some brownie points for effort and intent, and wound our way back home with the girls, never to return that day. The girls were happy to have a day to play and have my attention, so it all worked out. Katie and Zach were able to take a nap while the baby was napping, and I kept the girls occupied.
I sat outside while they rode their bikes and scooters. We counted laps that they rode back and forth. Mia is all about being healthy and strong. She loves sports and outside activity. She loves to snack on cucumbers and bell pepper strips. Hayden loves to sing. I can't think of a time when she wasn't singing or talking to herself or to whoever would listen (And Mema ALWAYS listens!) Her little body didn't stay still until she was sound asleep every night. She loves chocolate. Anything chocolate. She doesn't care a fig about healthy.
During the week, the days just ran into each other. I took the girls to school some days, and other days I'd stay home with Drezden while Katie took them. I think it was good for her to get out of the house and get a little taste of freedom. Their neighborhood is surrounded by woods (as are most neighborhoods in the east) and the leaves were in full color. Every drive was filled with nature at it's finest. It's what keeps people living there, even when it's freezing cold. The changing seasons, each one with it's own brand of loveliness, are a compelling reason to stay, I think. I'm a California girl, and love the west (and even further west to Hawaii!) but I still think about living in a climate like that.
One day after picking Hayden up from school, we met up with Zach and all had lunch at the local Thai restaurant. Surprisingly, Hayden loves Thai food, and we had a great time all together.
Another late afternoon, as the light was fading, Katie remembered that she'd wanted to take a picture of the girls and Drezden for their Christmas cards. I helped her as best I could to gather them all up, change them into the outfits she wanted them in, and open up the blinds to get as much light as possible. It was way too cold to go outside, and the light was going fast. Mia wasn't much in the mood, and the baby was unpredictable. Hayden kept giving us the stiff smile. I have to say, Katie is a miracle with a camera. I don't think she was completely satisfied, but I actually thought this was a beautiful image of all 3 of them.
Another day Katie took Drezden to a newborn photo shoot that a friend, Pebbles and Polkadots Photography, agreed to do for her in exchange for some necklaces that Katie makes. How I wish I could have been there to watch the process that produced this image:
On Thursday night - actually ALL DAY Thursday - we celebrated Miss Hayden's 4th birthday. She got to choose the breakfast menu (Chocolate chip muffins) and also dinner menu (spam and rice - go figure... She's a little Hawaiian at heart!) She got home from school and had a long afternoon ahead of her until Daddy got home and her neighborhood friend could come over for "pupcakes." She had helped us make them the previous day. (Miss Hayden love, love, LOVES to bake!) Finally, FINALLY, it was time for her tiny celebration, and I was so proud of how patient she'd been. Her friend arrived, cupcakes were served, and gifts were opened. Here is a picture of her surrounded by her birthday haul.
L and I had given her the mixing bowl with baking accessories, and the blender with smoothie fruit to complement her little kitchen down in the basement playroom. One of the things that Mommy and Daddy gave her was the adorable birthday cake, that was actually divided into serving pieces. Where were these toys when I was small? Needless to say, she was a happy little brand new 4 year old.
On Friday I spent some extra time one on one with each girl. When Hayden got home from school we busted out the water colors and painted for about 2 hours. She just kept cranking out masterpiece after masterpiece, all the while singing "Bibidi bobbidi boo, colors change to blue." I have no idea what she meant, but obviously the color mixing was a magical process for her and she had the time of her life. When Mia got out of school, Katie dropped us off at one of those places where you can pick out a ceramic piece, paint it, and then they fire it for you. Mia took a long time to decide, but finally settled on a snack plate that looked like a sunflower, and a mug. She carefully chose her colors and went to town. I helped her a bit with some stencils, holding them still while she brushed on the paint. I can't wait to see the finished product - daisies and dragonflies and butterflies and a sun on the outside, and on the inside (like a lovely surprise) she painted purple and blue stripes. It was such a fun experience to do with her. It was 2 hours of pure fun, and I think she'll be pleased with the outcome. So both girls painted with Mema, each in her own way.
The week went by so quickly - grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning up, playing, driving kids to and from school. It was a mundane week - no outings, or sightseeing. It was a week to help out, and reconnect with (and meet!) 3 wonderful little people. Spend a little time catching up with Katie. I hope I gave her some rest from everyday chores - that was my intent. I went to bed every night tired and with aching feet, but completely happy and satisfied.
Friday night - my last night there - we decided to swing by McDonald's and get dinner. Something the kids would enjoy, and something where we didn't have to think about cooking anything. Zach was working a moonlighting shift and wouldn't be home until after 10. We rented Monsters University, ate our food, and settled in for a movie night complete with popcorn and hot chocolate. I think Katie conked out after about 10 minutes into the movie, and it was good to see her sleep. The baby snoozed until the end of the movie, and woke up almost as if on cue when it ended. The girls were beyond tired - Hayden was actually crying from exhaustion while I was tucking her in - but it had been a snuggly little evening together. Mia had some hangnails that needed cutting, and so I did that and massaged her hands and feet with lotion and lavender oil. And soon, she too was drifting off to sleep.
Saturday dawned, and dang if those girls weren't up and at 'em by 7am. *groan* Poor, old Mema was soooo tired... But up I got - I only had a half day to play and enjoy before I had to go to the airport! During the morning they had a cord of wood delivered to their driveway. Firewood for the winter! Zach started stacking it in back by their deck but came in for lunch. I was cleaning up the lunch dishes, when I looked out the window and saw this:
Mia, stacking wood into the stroller, then pushing it into the back yard and unloading and stacking it all by the deck. No one asked her, she just loves to help. And she loves to be outside! Look at that face... she makes me so happy...