Robert comes over at 6:30 am and his knocking is enough to wake me. Jessi is already up getting ready for work and lets him in. As we sit at the table chatting Caleb shuffles over to join us in laughter. We enjoy the quiet of the morning and the smell of Jessi’s large cup of coffee and the oatmeal with raisins she made for the girls. Jake is already at work and will be home in a few hours. The girls will be up in less than an hour – and we will know it by the singing voices, pounding little feet running in circles, and the vibrating vocal chords when they scream.
It will continue this way for the next hour as Robert tells them to calm down and I suggest they play outside. Luckily, Caleb is willing to put on his coat and follow through with my offer. It took awhile to find a certain pair of boots (not Jessi’s), their favorite gloves, clean socks, and put their shoes on the right feet. I was fine with them being kept busy, but soon they were ready. Caleb took them to the backyard where they played in their clubhouse for mere moments while the dogs finished their morning routine.
I had to bring Sparky in so he would stop attempting to eat the parts of the Lyra and Sammi snowwomen (when they were rolling the snow into a ball – with Caleb’s help). I had suggested they make a snowwoman and that was a boring idea compared to a massive snowman, but making one that resembles yourself is fun, cold, and time-consuming. Caleb made sure the balls were compact enough to stack and the girls found stick arms, mandarin eyes, and carrot noses – with the help of Jake who was now home.
He had wondered why it was so quiet inside. Robert left immediately to return to the quiet confines of his apartment. He’d endured enough screaming for one morning. Jake wanted to join the girls outside, but his feet were warm and his coffee hot. The girls posed beside their creation with red cheeks and hands and wet feet inside their shoes. Then they decided it was time to come in and spend some time with Daddy and the next thirty minutes eating breakfast – what an entertaining and decisive time.
The girls want to choose which bowl to eat out of, who to sit beside and how close they can be, and where to sit – counter or chair. I remember being small enough to sit on the counter and help my mom bake, but this morning includes sibling rivalry and learning to share. Once we’ve all had some oats and dried grapes Sammi decides it’s time to make little children sandwiches. If I were into eating meat and had the bread been baked, not woven, I might have found more of an appetite.
The sandwich starts with an old couch cushion, then a very soft furry blanket, followed by a kid covered in a warm piece of toast. Then, Caleb got to eat (tickle) as much as the girls could stand. Then they made him into a sandwich and he did a great job of making them think that their lite piano-playing fingers were doing a ferocious job of hitting every funny spot between his armpits and knees. Then it was their turn again. This time we stacked more pillows, cushions, and blankets with a bell (cherry) on top.
Jake tried to catch a nap while he was being made into a pita until he got attacked by a foot-long red feather. Lyra took over with toppings and Sammi was having more fun making faces during a staring contest with Caleb – or the opposite – with their eyes closed. Jake needed to go to the grocery store and took Lyra with him – a sort of divide-and-conquer method for keeping the girls more calm. We played cards with Sammi for the hour they were gone. The first was her idea – pass the cards around, pick the top one, and then arrange them by suit in numerical order.
Caleb taught her how to play Go Fish. It was easy to see what cards she had as she laid them all out, but seven cards is about the amount a five-year old hand can manage. We had fun with that and then Caleb taught us Old Maid – another pairs game, but too many cards in the hand that’s half the size of ours – at least when splayed out so she would look through her stack and pick a card each time. And while we played Sammi was able to keep Sparky entertained with the variety of balls, ponies, and a duck candle among their toys.
With Lyra back home it was time to make children burritos. Caleb rolled and wrapped them and tucked in their ends. Then they wanted to go into the oven (parent’s bed) and be baked at 4,000 degrees. They were fine as long as we were there, but when left to cook they became too hot and too close to each other. Caleb brought them out and Jake was able to find toppings – olive hat, plush fish and monkey, cheese hat, and a lettuce scarf. All this food play reminded Jake that it was noon – lunch time.
Caleb and I went to our favorite Missoula restaurant – The Staggering Ox. We got sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke heart sandwiches for us, roast beef for Jake, and turkey for the girls to share with two bags of bread guts and ranch. Back at the house, almost an hour later, and the girls have built up an appetite. They eat the guts while Jake cuts their barrel of food in half. He gives Sammi the larger piece with the bottom still on and Lyra gets a turkey and lettuce stuffed bread ring that upon picking it up falls apart.
Jake planned it this way, thinking of which girl would throw the least fit in this predicament. He put the parts of Lyra’s lunch into a bowl. Now the entertainment would start. Lyra put her face into her bowl and began to chow down leaving a little spot where her mouth had been while she chewed. I got the camera out and that gave Sammi incentive to be photographed too. They both shoved their faces into dough and meat and came up with pieces of lettuce stuck to their faces.
Then Sammi picked hers up and put it on her face at different angles, but I didn’t just want pictures of bread butt so we finished eating and got ready for our next venture – the five-minute drive to Robert’s house. We brought the dogs and left them in the car to give them a break from the chasing, stomping, and screaming. Jake kept the girls so that Caleb and Robert could concentrate on father-son time. We spent 3.5 hours there looking for a red duffel bag, searching for hunting, camping, and shaving supplies, playing the ukulele and ipu heke ‘ole, and lighting hand sanitizer on fire.
Caleb was given one of his grandfather’s straight razors and a shaving brush. I was gifted an ipu and we added a center console cup holder, roasted barley for our birds, and four bottles of wine – orange, vanilla, spice, and pink – to our bag. We also got two bags of tea from Russia, two decks of cards in a little wooden box, and a fire starter kit. Robert used to be a gunsmith and was in the process of making Caleb a pistol before he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I hope the two of them are able to complete it one day – when Robert finds the parts Caleb already ordered.
It’s getting near dinner time and Jessi should be home from work. We would bring Robert with us but he doesn’t like what’s on the menu – pumpkin soup. We stop by the Good Food Store to pick up some chestnuts because I want to roast them on an open fire – like in the Christmas Song. We ask an employee for help, “if we have any they will be on an end cap.” I find the last bag of precooked nuts. Well, this will have to do for this year’s experience. I’m getting spoiled in San Diego having so many eating and art activities available and I don’t hear this city bragged about like I do Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
Jessi needs to pick up chips for her party at work tomorrow and takes Caleb with her to the store. That leaves Lyra on Jessi’s phone playing the fart piano and Sammi wanting her turn playing with the fun and educational apps. We try to get Lyra off the phone, but now she is playing redress the avatar just to keep Sammi from playing. Jessi gets home in time to defuse the situation while Jake sets the table with a fancy cloth and candles to display the delicious meal he prepared: pumpkin and squash bowls filled with pumpkin soup and kale chips. We also had tortilla chips and beer – I had an Inclination IPA.
I got seconds even though I knew I shouldn’t. There was still enough squash in my bowl for thirds, but I didn’t want to erupt. The girls had fun eating the multi-colored tortilla chips and after dinner got cinnamon chips for dessert. I helped clean up while Jessi put on Rudolph for the girls and then gets out three cheeses with crackers and chocolate covered popcorn for our dessert. We talk for the next two or three hours about all kinds of things while Jessi shows us what she’s been working on this year – knitting metal napkin holders and lacy little purses – and the books she got the ideas from.
Jake goes to bed before we begin the get-the-girls-laying-in-bed-quietly routine. I let the dogs out, unplug the Christmas tree, and turn off the teapot on the stove. I brush my teeth and then Sammi asks, “Did you spend all day in your pajamas?” Yes. I did. And as I told her earlier when we were discussing lunch, “I’m an adult and I want a sandwich. I’m getting one and if you want I can pick you one up too or you can figure something out.” I’m an adult who chooses to wear jammies all day – not just when it’s a theme at school.
Then Jessi decides to take advantage of our presence and take a shower tonight to save herself some time in the morning – when she usually has to wait for Robert to arrive. Caleb and I unwind and keep an ear on the girls. When we walk back in there they have removed their pajamas and are wrestling in Sammi’s bed. We get them separated again and then Sammi begins to ask me a repetitive question. I’m good for the first five replies but soon run out of creative responses.
As 11:00 pm starts to pass I know the girls must be tired. They just need to be left alone for a moment. I go back in for goodnight hugs and when I turn around – it’s quiet – like birds when you turn the light off they go to sleep. I’m tired enough too for that trick to work on me. It takes a lot of effort to keep track of such energetic kids that want to do things their way very loudly that need constant supervision while you cook them food, feed it to them, clean the dishes, wash the laundry, bathe them, shop for groceries, craft anything at home, work outside, and even while you try to relax at the table, in the bath, or in front of the TV.
Question of the day: How do you sandwich?