What else to do on a sunny Thursday afternoon than to spend some time in the backyard?
The kids decided to jump rope with K holding one end and a tree, the other.
The Girl decided she wanted a photoshoot while on the swing. And soon enough, she was making silly faces.
The dog was, well, just the dog.
Monday afternoon. We’ve all survived work and school. The first day back is behind us.
We run down to the new trampoline and start bouncing like mad.
Clover, too, is ready for some fun.
And then, when it’s time to put the Boy to bed, I fall asleep with him, and Monday afternoon doesn’t get recorded until Tuesday evening.
There’s a price for everything: a snow day when you’ve already used your allotted make-up days means there’s a chance you’ll lose a day of spring break or have to go to school one Saturday. If it’s just one, the state — because then it becomes a state issue — might just forgive that one day. If it’s more, that’s a litter trickier. We’re out tomorrow for sure (hence “Day 1”), so we’ll be two days behind. That’s not too bad, but there’s a good chance school will be canceled Friday as well, which makes it all the more likely we’ll have to make it up.
But even if we do pay for it, who cares? The kids had a great time; the dog had a great time; K had a great time; I had a great time.
Cue: old MasterCard ad tag line.
It’s been cold here lately — ridiculously cold for South Carolina. The majority of the nights over the last ten days have been below freezing, which is something here; a substantial number (a majority of that majority?) have been below 20 degrees. In Poland, nothing out of the ordinary; K and I are used to such things. Here? It’s ridiculously cold.
Add to it the tragic fact that we’ve all taken turns getting sick over that same period of time and it’s obvious why no one has done much of anything outside these last few days. The dog is the only exception: she doesn’t really care. The rest of us have done our best to stay warm.
So when we all were home and it was 59 degrees this afternoon, there was only one thing to do.
The Boy and the Girl were happy to jump on the trampoline again. The new trampoline, which should actually have some bounce to it, is still in parts on the basement floor.
“Let’s wait until it warms up,” K encouraged. That was Christmas. It’s still on the floor.
“Daddy! Today it’s warmed up! Can you work on the trampoline?” was the refrain from both the kids, but I was too busy laughing with K as she jumped out of the swing like a teenager.
The dog was thrilled to have someone to play with her again. She’s really such a gregarious dog. She’ll play outside by herself for a while, but she’s always happy to have a companion. And don’t even think about doing something outside the newly fenced area: she’ll stand at the fence and whimper like she’s being abused.
How much does it cost to have a puppy? There are the upfront costs — the puppy itself, shots, sterilization, etc. There are the hidden costs — a new fence, multiple harnesses to find the right one, etc. Then there are the destructive costs — shoes chewed, furniture chewed, etc. We’ve been lucky in the latter, perhaps because we’ve been unlucky in the former two. We’ve managed to keep Clover from destroying much of anything of value. She’s learned more or less to ignore shoes. More or less. She went through a gnawing on furniture legs phase, but that seems to have passed as well. However, there’s a chair in the living room that she enjoys chewing the bottom of, which probably won’t make it through her puppyhood.
So I guess we should be thankful…
(A random thought to keep my post-every-day-for-a-month goal going even though I’m not 100% and slept most of the day…)
The Boy loves playing with the dog — sometimes, he gets a little too excited about it.
The dog occasionally gets a little too excited as well, taking matters into her own jaws.
And all the while, the Girl has been working on her flip.
We’ve been taking Clover over to our neighbor’s fenced in backyard while we wait to have our fence complete. Our neighbors, who are absolutely the best neighbors one could have, told us to feel free any time to bring the dog over to let her have unfettered free play, and we take them up on that generous offer daily. They even set a plastic chair out for whoever — usually K — is there with the dog.
Right now, I sit in that chair, and I glance over at our house and see K leading E into the house. It’s not clear if he’s hurt or in trouble, or perhaps neither, but for a moment, I’m an outsider looking at my family as if I were the neighbor.
What do I know about that odd family that lives next door?
The wife is a sweet and hard working woman from Poland, who has a slightly noticeable but endearing accent and a penchant for phrasing things in an unusual way. She’s clearly devoted to her children, and spends a great deal of time with them, often down at the little corner recreation area the family has made in the far corner of the lot. She fusses at her children from time to time, but I’ve never heard her yell.
The daughter was such a little girl when they moved here, a regular princess. How she’s changed and how she’s stayed the same. She was always dancing and prancing about as a princess as a little girl, but now I see her out in the driveway sometimes, roller-skates on, improvising some dance routine with the seriousness of an accountant. And how tall she’s grown: she’ll soon be as tall as her mother, I think.
Then there’s the little boy, who is always so eager to help. Every time I’m out washing the car or the camper, there he is, eager to help.
That’s what I think — hope, believe — my neighbor thinks of my family. And what might my neighbor think of me? That I’m helpful, a good father and husband, a good neighbor — all the normal things, I guess.
He runs around the pack of children that are kicking wildly for the ball, circling the periphery without ever penetrating. At one point, the ball comes right to him. He looks at it and then glances around, his expression saying, “Well, I’m not really sure if this is mine or not, and I don’t really want to take it from anyone unfairly.”
I’ve told him several times that he has to penetrate that group, force his way in, push people out of the way if necessary.
“I try,” he insists, but I’m not convinced he even realizes what he’s doing. I try to take a video of it, but the sun is shining right into the phone, making dark silhouettes of all the players.
Even in the best of conditions, I’m not sure he would see the issue. When he runs, he does so with such intensity, such ferocity — his arms pumping wildly as he runs as fast as he can — that you would be forgiven for thinking he’s running down a challenge of existential significance. He sprints towards the ball, then slows and resumes his position as an outsider, a virtual on-looker.
On the way back to the car, he shows once again that it’s all irrelevant, that there are more important things to be concerned with, both as a child and a parent. Particularly the latter. Holding his Gatorade that he got as an after-game snack — most parents just bring juice boxes, but someone went all out, I guess — he declared, “I’m only going to drink half of this. L likes Gatorade, too.”
I’ve never been good about tool maintenance. Other things are a different. The bike I ride to school looks and rides like it’s brand new. My chain is always glistening; my cables are always in tip-top shape; my bottom bracket spins like there’s no tomorrow.
But tools? I let perfectly good things wear out. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? But when we retired our lawn mower a few months ago and bought a new, shiny Honda after a fair amount of research, I decided things would change with that mower. I began hosing it off thoroughly after each job, even the underside of the mower deck. (Having a fuel shut-off valve helped a lot.) Today, I took it a step further: I dug out an old brush and actually brushed off the stains forming on the underside of the deck.
“If you could only get that way about our cars,” K is surely saying to herself.
We usually are going counter-clockwise, Clover and I. When we reach the yard — that yard — we approach it blindly. I know it’s there, but a stand of trees hides that fact. Clover knows soon enough when we’ve reached that spot, though: the two dogs come tearing at her, barking madly, stopped only by the fence. She pulls and pulls the opposite way, but I pull her in close to me, pet her and reassure her.
“It’s okay, Clover. They won’t touch you.”
Eventually we make it past the house, but she’s positively terrified.
That’s been the reality for a while. Today, we went the opposite way. When we approached the road from up the street, she recognized the house almost immediately, hesitated, then walked on. The dogs came out; the dogs barked; Clover kept walking.