July 8-12

Friday, July 8th
We journeyed to Spokane to visit MyBetterHalf’s family and we stayed with her aunt. She has a huge crafting area above a two car garage. The place was spacious, open, clean, well lit, …much better than several apartments or hotels that I’ve paid for. And it was free! When we first got there, the two dogs Brandy & Nikki, a pair of small dogs, were very excited to see us, and jumped up on us, barking. At first, this freaked out the childrens, they were certain they were being attacked by a dog that weighs as much as they do. But, quickly, MsSqueaky had led the way in learning how to play with the doggies, and for the rest of the weekend, whenever we were there, MsSqueaky and MrGrunty were out playing catch with the dogs. MsS was very cute, “Come here boy, drop it, drop it…you’re a good doggy” (the dogs were reluctant to drop the ball). Yes, I am nervous that the childrens will soon realize that they can ask/beg/plead with me for a dog of their own. The short answer: No. The slightly longer answer: When we have a farm. Because dogs are so much work, so loud, poop all over…and we can barely keep up with our two cats, and one of them is lazy…I mean, relaxed, very, very relaxed.

Saturday, July 9th,
The day of the family reunion. For most of the reunion, I was on a hill with MsSqueaky and/or MrGrunty. They liked exploring and climbing, with me or with one of their cousins. I got a chance to talk with niece-K, who just finished her first year of high school, and deduced, that even with all the cool technology that kids today have, kids today are pretty much the same as they were twenty five years ago, contrary to the impression one might get watching a special report on the evening news.

Saturday night, we were at the grandparents, and we were all out in the front yard playing baseball. Cousin Mo was knocking them out of the park. And we saw a hot air balloon, (or as MrCuddles says, “ah Bah-lah-lune”) landing in the neighborhood. I tried as quickly as possible to pack up my three kids, and cousins Mo & Co to go find the balloon. We never did. So, as consolation, we went and got ice-cream.

Sunday, July 10th
MrCuddles asked his mommy, “play with me”, and that cute little way that he does, his eyes wide open, eyebrows arched, head tilted slightly, each syllable a bit faster and higher pitched than the previous. It’s impossible to refuse his cuteness. So he and MyBetterHalf played with puzzles in the living room whilst I had coffee & bacon and the twins were playing fetch with the dogs.

Bedtimes in Spokane went better than anticipated. The childrens were very tired from only short afternoon power naps, and all the running around they were doing. And, they didn’t even wake at dawn, like I feared they would since there were no curtains on the windows. I woke at dawn, grumble.

Tuesday, 12 July

I happened to wake before everyone else, and after giving a “starving” Sophie-kitty some breakfast, and make myself some coffee, I went into the loft to quietly play a bit of guitar. After a bit, MsSqueaky made her way up the stairs, with a big smile on her face. Either she liked the two-bar walking bass-line chord progression I was practicing, or she was happy to have some solo papa & Squeaky time. I found a cheap ukulele that a friend loaned to me years ago, and sat her down. I had her pluck each string, counting each string as she plucked it. Seemed alright for a first lesson. She seemed to enjoy it. A few minutes later, MrGrunty joined us, and he wanted to play. MrG did not follow musical instruction as well as his sister did, I’m afraid. They both wanted to play with the ukulele, they didn’t want to play pan-pipes (and who can blame them?). But when MsS found some wire drum brushes, they both were happy to play with those.

Later, when MrCuddles woke, he wanted me to hold him, and walk around. Then he saw MyBetterHalf was still in bed, and he smiled, “Mommy’s sleeping.”  He lunged out of my arms, onto my bed, and when he was laying next to his mommy, he had a huge smile, and was so excited he had to just kick and dance.

Tuesday night, MsSqueaky had some mommy time while the boys stayed with me. MrCuddles played with the magnetic letters on the fridge. MrGrunty played the ukulele for us, holding it flat on his lap, varying where on the strings he would strum, telling us when his song was over, so we could clap. MrCuddles was playing with coins, transferring them between a tin-cup and a piggy-bank. Later MrG wanted to play catch with me. One of my first childhood memories was trying to play catch with my father, we were sitting on the linoleum floor in a kitchen, and I was getting very upset that he was bouncing the small rubber ball towards me, I wanted him to slowly roll it. I must have been afraid to fail, or I wanted to be able to do something that I was good at. I must have been four or five, a slight bit older than MrG is now. MrG however, is much better at catching than I was at his age. He wants the ball to be thrown, he chases it down when he misses it, he keeps trying to catch it when it bouces, and last night, we used three different types of balls, just for variety’s sake (or maybe because a ball got lost under the couch.) I figure in a year or two, he’ll be better at catching than I am now. That makes me happy.

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