"Get out here, everyone. Children, everyone come out here," I say. There in my PJs I stand, wool sweater and stripy pants.
Seven thirty and the cogs of the house in motion, children patter down the hallway; two pad up from downstairs.
"Did you not see that my door was closed?" I say.
"Um," Lucy says. Blank stares, nod, almost-nod.
"Yeah?" Myra chirps.
"I had a very hard time falling asleep last night," I say. "Now I almost have a headache. I woke up at 6:30 and thought, Oh good, I can get a little bit more sleep, and I bet I'll be ok. But I couldn't fall asleep with all the noise."
"Oh," they say, "oh."
"Yup," I nod, my eyebrows practically pinned on the ceiling.
"I told the other kids to be quiet," Lucy says.
"And then you were SINGING right outside my door," I say.
"Oh," she says.
"Lucy did clean up the end of the hall," Jane offers. Lucy, a half-smile under furrowed brows, diminutive mock-ups of my staccato-ed brows, shrugs.
"I've been trying to do an extra chore in the mornings to help out," she says, half-shrug.
"Mmm," I say. "That IS nice, Lucy." An appreciative-but-no-thanks-necessary smile, she shrugs again. "Thanks," I say.
"Sure," she says.
Then it's lunch, we're gathered at the old black table.
"I think I need to start practicing piano for longer," Lucy says.
"Oh?" I say.
"Yeah, I have so many songs I'm working on I just don't feel like I can get to them all in half an hour."
"Huh," I say.
"I think I need like maybe 40 minutes," she says.
"That is a very good idea."
And so it is, the arms of time enfold these children and begin to turn from children to something more than a child but not yet adult. I see the teen years will be something altogether different than the expected teenage-ness, something more like the balancing of a scale than the pushing of a bird out of the nest.
6414. Brisket. Warm, falling apart, crockpot brisket. Meat cascading into soft bread and falling into our mouths like manna. Brisket.
6415. Craig gets the new-old-fashioned farm sing set in place, our rapturous eyes blinking happiness.
6416. Shortbread cookies, the toasted almost black kind.
6417. Craig travels to a conference and back. The kids and I continue the daily routines, the school day blended to real life, and our symphony of life carries on as if our beloved tempos could carry the whole endeavor.
6418. Craig returns home safely and carries on the continuing saga of kitchen remodel as if it were the work he'd been born to do. Adoring eyes watch his every move.
6419. His beard grows long enough to be silky soft.
6420. A dear friend offers to send a lovely wrap for me to try.
6421. Another friend receives terrible news and then horrible news on top of that. The burden is Christlike paradox of both unbearable and weightless. I pray for her trials.
6422. Sad tragedy of a third friend leaves me breathless. I throw myself on the mercy of God. I long for the day when all wrongs are made right. And I feel so grateful for his presence with me now.
6423. I find playing piano more sweet than ever.
6424. Lucy discovers nourishment in music. She plays piano, and it's there. She sings, and it's there. She raises her hands in worship, tender affection of Christ, and it's there. Something sacred lingers, the kind of something that seems too delicate for direct gaze. I hold it in my peripheral and try not to look, all the while staring long and sharing in her nourishment.
6425. Craig buys me barbecue chips. Swoon.
6426. Joe and Betsy help me finish some old chocolate from last Christmas. Joe concludes it's the sickness-curing kind of chocolate.
6427. We settle again into the daily routines like the comfort of favorite clothes. We let the familiar creases pull us down the familiar paths, all the while taken by the loveliness of being together. Minus all the regular struggles, of course. That's still there. But it just seems smaller and smaller each day, it's importance fading like babyhood.