Christian likes to come home from school and hit the treadmill. It unwinds his day. He runs hard and he runs far. Sometimes, I hear that thing going on and on for what seems like a really long time. So I intervene.
I come around the corner and he's plugging away .. with the belt at a decent incline and his hands jammed in the pockets of his shorts.
"Not the best way to run!" I call.
"What??" he hollers breathlessly, headphones still in his ears. I touch mine and he pulls out an ear bud.
"Running with your hands in your pockets .. not the best way to run. If you face plant tripping on your shoelaces ..." at least after all these years he's finally learned to tie them.
"You've been down here a long time." I say, peering around at the treadmill's dashboard stats. 7.5 miles at 5.6 run with 75% incline.
"Don't you think you've had enough?"
I can't even begin to imagine that kind of run. "Sorry, I lost track of the time," he sucks in a big breath and hops off looking suddenly easily un-winded.
Still can't imagine it. My brain would scream hateful thoughts at myself should I even try.
"How do you do that?" I ask on the way back up, "What can you possible be thinking to produce such motivation??"
I'm genuine. I'd really love to know the secret. The rhythm of my feet chant in the moment, 'Don't like this, Don't like this, Don't like this' no matter how much distraction I attempt to use in over-ride.
"Well ..." he pauses at the stair top to inhale one last breath, "Mostly ... I think about candy ... and whether or not they'll be enough candy selections at the gas station the next time I go in ... and how much money I might need to earn to buy all the candy I could want if they had it ... like big league chew .. and swedish fish ... and zebra striped gum ... " and he continues trailing off up the stairs.
Oh, to be an uncomplicated fifteen year old boy.
It's later and I'm shoving dishes into the dishwasher. Cleaning a kitchen left over-turned by afternoon snack making. There's frustration behind it because by now these folks should know better. But there's homework stacks and I'm allowing the slide.
Still, there's gripe in my voice as I call the 6'3" boy in to take out the trash for the third time.
"Are you irritated, Mom?" he asks in apologetic tones.
"How could you tell?" I can't help the squint and smile approach as his astute concern melts my momentary irritant.
He pauses at the garage door trash bag in hand, "You know, Mom ... Maybe you should try thinking about candy ..." and the door closes behind him.
I shake my head at uncomplicated simplicity.
Amid the smart mouth truth of it.
That moments in motherhood's rougher run can come with a sweet solution of affectionate reflection. And when it doesn't .. just think of candy.
I feel so grateful that we are able to escape with our little people as often as we do.
It is always a reminder that I should give the projects, jobs and responsibilities of life a little less weight so I can feel this way all of the time.
For a just a bit, we set aside the carpools, the practices, the schedules, the regular chores, the bedtime routines, the homework, the obligations, the to-do lists ... and I can just be the mom next to this great dad.
Who, by the way, we missed incredibly through the last six weeks of back to back business travel.
We could not get enough of him.
His birthday fell in the middle of our spring break and we couldn't have been more delighted to spend time with him doing what he loves best.
I didn't worry so much about being behind a camera.
There's no camera in the world that could capture how my heart skips a beat watching all my little ones follow .. or race .. him down a ski slope, anyway.
Mushy as that sounds, we love him and hope his birthday amid the hoopla was great.
It was certainly nice to have him back with us.
And though I know that life can't be just one big vacation all of the time ...
And all that stuff that keeps my brain half-preoccupied on a regular basis will creep back in the minute the suitcases hit the entry hall ...
I count my blessings every day through all of the daily weight, that I get to be their mother along side my best friend in the world.
Fact is, there are a lot of mental pictures from the last few weeks that I wish I were fast enough to catch.
Like Eliza and Charlotte standing expectantly at Janie's feet, looking up at her and waiting for her to finish a last bit of homework so she will go out and play with them. They wait all day for her.
Or Celia, sitting on the end of my bed talking up a storm after a late night out. Her every thought, going on and on as my eyes grew heavier and heavier.
Christian standing on the right side of a discussion, not questioning for an instant where his standards lie in the midst of a grey area.
And Annie, leading a young women's activity in the setting & clean up, caring for each girl and her feelings as a concerned class president.
Grant making a bowl of cereal for Eliza.
Christian and Grant flying out the door after homework, long boards under their arms.
The sound of some sort of sing-a-long by girl's-supposed-to-be-going-to-bed, drifting through the vents of my bedroom.
Tonight, Newel returned after five weeks of back to back business trips over seas. I wish I could have captured the jubilation as he came through the front door. Little girl's climbing all over him. Teenagers hanging on every word.
And though none of those experiences were actual pictures, here's a few from our last few weeks that make me realize how long those five weeks felt.
Found my lost binder under the snow on the driveway. I must have driven over it a few times. At least I'm not crazy.
We've had some warmish days. Charlotte hangs on the doorknob daily, begging to go out. Those that are pleasant are filled with the tinkling of laughter until the sun disappears. I could listen to that sound forever.
One of those warm days came with a stop for an ice cream cone. A first that brought a priceless smile.
Annie and her best friend have spent many of those warm afternoons playing photo shoot.
I've loved sharing little tips and watching their enthusiasm. They really are producing some pretty creative shots.
This one just makes my heart hurt ...
During a meeting for church, Charlotte was fascinated by another baby. I know she's our ending. It's just never easy to think on all of that.
On the lighter side, I'm eating up all the little things, like how she folds her arms for every prayer ... even if she can't help eating before we say them.
And how she called all of these "puppies" and they came to check her out. No babies were harmed in the taking of this photo.
We still have some quick snow storms blow through. That's Colorado spring.
Then, the girls peddle around the shed calling "Pizza Girls!!" or as Charlotte echos ... "Peeta Gurlz!!"
It only looks like we've given up on our hair since our dad left.
Annie worked and reworked a school art assignment to create a drawing for Google's "google doodle" contest.
Man, the winning art from years past is out of this world. But, Annie's idea for the theme "What one invention would change the world?" ... was pretty outstanding if you ask me. She's a winner in my eyes.
St. Patrick's Day hijinks's.
I came home from all the morning school drops to find this in the refrigerator. Thank you, sneaky kids. Glad I wasn't needing milk on any cereal.
Eliza, on the other hand, had quite a story of leprechauns to tell regarding these freckles she found on her face in the morning.
When life gets dull, Christian livens things up. His latest plan is to support the events of all of his female friends by being their "super fan". I hope it doesn't throw off any one's game ... my apologies, girls ;)
These two waited daily for Newel's Skype call.
And when it was over ...
(Pardon my unmade bed. The minute I try, those two turn it into a trampoline) .
Longest five weeks ever, but we couldn't be more glad to have him home safe and sound tonight.