Walking the Trail

by Leslie

We were out on a dreary day and met a crawdad on the way to our walking trail. He was the biggest I’d ever seen!

Mr. Crawdad

He was right beside the road, closer to our house than to the trail, making his way to the stream after a big rain. He didn’t move for the longest time. Still, Bee and Jack were happy to sit still in their wagon and watch him from there.

Once we got off the road, the kids ditched their ride to enjoy the freedom of the trail. Jack ran ahead as fast as he could. Bee took her time, and stopped to investigate rocks and pick flowers.

Jack walks alone

We stopped at the brown bridge.

Jack and Bee on the brown bridge

Bee was wearing pajamas bottoms. That would have driven me nuts before. Not now. Not anymore.

Bee and Me at the brown bridge

I love walking the trail. It’s easier to be present there.

Jack and Daddy on the trail

It’s easier to feel grateful.

We were out on the trail on a sunny day while Lucy and Dave were at softball.

Jack and Julia

Jack and Julia walked ahead while Bee held my hand, letting go now and then to pick me a flower or to pick up a lucky stone and put it in her pocket.

She carried him

After a while, Julia carried Jack.

And carried him

We could hear them laughing and singing songs.

And he loved it

And so Bee and I caught up to them and joined in.

Julia, Bee, and Jack on the trail

I felt grateful.

I was brushing my teeth on Easter morning when Phoebe the Early Riser quietly sidled up to me and said, “Mom. I need to tell you the story of the Easter Bunny.”

“Okay,” I garbled. I spit, replaced my toothbrush in its holder, and took a seat on the edge of the tub in preparation for the telling. “Let’s hear it.”

“I crept down the stairs,” she began softly and slowly, wiggling her fingers, then suddenly gaining speed and volume she erupted, “and there was toys and candy everywhere!” She gestured sharply with her hands to emphasize the words TOYS and CANDY and EVERYWHERE. “The Easter Bunny brought them,” she said with whaddaya gonna do hands.

It was a shorty story.

She told it again to her brother, sisters, and grandmother and then we all clamored downstairs to verify the facts. Toys? Check. Candy? Check. Everywhere? Sure. The kids tore right into it all while I made bacon baskets filled with scrambled eggs for breakfast. After that, we set them loose outside to search for Easter eggs.

This year, I found a set of three giant nesting Easter eggs and included them in the hunt. I filled the smallest of the giant eggs with candy. The bigger one held bottles of bubble solution. I stuffed the biggest one with cans of silly string. I hid it in plain sight on the dashboard of the van, which was sitting in the driveway, and I locked the doors to ensure that all the kids would be together in one spot when they were unlocked and the contents of the egg revealed. This was how Dave and I were able to strike first, strike hard, and ultimately, win the silly string battle.

After that, the giant egg parts became helmets.

Yes, magic helmet, and I'll give you a sample!

“Yes, magic helmet, and I’ll give you a sample!” Right?

To See and Be Seen

by Leslie

Dave and I celebrated our 11th anniversary at Oglebay on Sunday, just the two of us.

11th Anniversary

We enjoyed a lovely dinner, gambled at Wheeling Island, and treated ourselves to a couple’s signature massage experience at the spa the next day – all delightful things. But the best thing was simply being with my husband. It seems odd to miss someone when they’re with you each day, but I had really been missing Dave. Sometimes life comes at us with such force that it feels like we’re back to back, facing outward, fighting to take it all on. He’s there – I know it, I can feel it and trust it, but he’s not what’s in front of me. It was revivifying to stop and turn around.

He told me he’s getting too old to wear baseball caps. But he’s not too old for a baseball birthday cake!

(Side question: When are you too old for a baseball birthday cake? Answer: Never.)

Dave's birthday cupcakes

Okay, technically it is not a baseball cake. Rather, it is a baseball cupcake configuration. It’s a ball in a glove, so saith Pinterest.

Dave may be feeling old, but he doesn’t seem like it to me. Our home is at its liveliest when he’s around. He’s always up for a game or wrestling with the kids. We laugh so much. He’s fun. He makes me feel young.

Dave and the kids on his 42nd birthday

He’s made a simple life feel like an adventure. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

(Described in the style of If You Give A Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff.)

If you give a wife a weekend at one of her favorite places…

Our 10th Anniversary at Oglebay

…she’ll want the kids to go along. So, you’ll rent a cottage.

Ash Cottage at Oglebay

When you arrive, the kids will remind you that cottage guests can swim in the pool at the lodge. You’ll go there after you check in.

At the pool

Swimming

Jack and Grandma swim

You’ll feel thankful you asked your mother-in-law to come along and help with the kids. You’ll send her to the spa for a massage and pedicure the next morning. Your wife will want to go with her.

The kids will want to go somewhere special, too. You’ll take them to ride horses.

Ready to ride

Bee's signature pose

Bee and Boomer

Julia and Scotch

Lucy and Prize

Lucy rides

Indoor arena

When the rides are finished, they’ll want to go to the zoo. But it will be very cold and windy. So you’ll visit The Children’s Museum instead.

Bee, the snake charmer

Bee!  Not as tall as the snake.

Turtle

Sand Table

Poetry

Reading nook

Bee, in a mermaid costume, plays with a train

Jack

Sewing

Julia's Quilt

When the museum closes, the kids will be very hungry and tired. You’ll order them pizza and buy the movie Frozen on iTunes so they can watch it with their grandma at the cottage while you, finally, get to take your wife out, just the two of you.

While you’re out, you’ll reminisce about the past ten years. You’ll talk about the kids. Talking about the kids will make your wife miss them. And chances are, she’ll want to go back to the cottage so you can share the rest of your anniversary with them, too.

Happy 10th Anniversary

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