Monday, June 11, 2018

Don't cry because it's over

Collin posed with his Springhill Camp counselors.  Mr. Steady Eddie personality received the dependability award.

Connor was all smiles when I picked him up from camp.  He rated his camp experience as a ten out of ten.

Cooper hugged his counselors and friends.  The boy was a filthy mess, which means he had a ball.

Our very last run with Marie.

The rain didn't stop this group of friends from saying goodbye on the trail.

I'm in a mood.  I feel like sneaking under the bed covers and devouring a tub of ice cream (maybe a peanut butter jar too).  I'm mad at the world, and I'm on the brink of tears.  As icing on the cake, it's raining.  Remember the song, "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."  I'm battling both, with the added bonus of saying goodbye to a dear friend.

Today, my friend Marie moved to South Carolina.  At 5:45 a.m., our running group met under a blanket of rain for Marie's last run.  Despite the downpour, we logged our last three miles with Marie.  During our final miles, we tried to keep the conversation light.  But in the final steps and last hugs, our tears flowed.

Marie and I have been running together for almost a decade.  We've run thousands of miles together and filled the space of those miles with an endless amount of words.  We've always run on Christmas morning.  It's just the two of us, a beautiful tradition.  Marie is smart, quick-witted, compassionate, and wise.  She's a one-of-a-kind, and she means the world to me.

I have a Marie-sized whole in my heart.

As I've mourned her moving throughout the day, I've thought about my favorite Dr. Seuss quote, "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."

When I'm tempted to wallow in pity and erupt into tears, I remember how God lavishly blessed me with my friend Marie.  While we will now live miles apart, it will not diminish the beautiful memories we made with our many miles together.  

We've reached the finish line of our runs, but not the end of our friendship.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Yard Flyers: When Gumption and Creative Writing Collide

Memorial Day Weekend Party at the Farm.  Third generation of cousins, siblings, and general relatives.  Age span in this photo ranges from 15 years old to 4 weeks!  Getting this group to congregate in one space was no small feat.

My generation.  Again, cousins/siblings/spouses.  Age span from youthful to creaky.

We've been friends since freshman year of college.  Seems like we can slip back into conversation easily, even decades later.  So grateful for my dear friend Rachel.

When we were 18, I never expected our kids to be playing together years later!  (And that neither one of us would have a girl!)

Cooper acted as tour guide for the Clark boys through the cornfields.   These special tours are only given in Indiana!

For the last few weeks, the clock is ticking down to when my friend Marie moves to South Carolina.  Another going away party with laughter mixed with tears.

Cooper's dear piano teacher is 88 years old.  She teachers over 50 students with a joy and a quickness that makes her appear decades younger.  At Cooper's recital, we delighted in all he has been taught by his precious teacher.

 I had to snap this picture on the move because: 1) Cooper was giddy about his last day of 5th grade, 2) It's embarrassing to get your picture taken by your mom at school (obviously).

While we dropped his brothers off at camp, Caleb enjoyed time with his Grandparents.

Collin and his buddy Aaden ready to embark on a week of camp.

Cooper settled into his teepee home for the week! 

A few days ago, I received a text from my neighbor.

"I just love Cooper's flyer," she gushed over the screen.  "We'd love to hire him."

I scratched my head and typed back, "What flyer?"

Within minutes, she sent over an image of Cooper's homemade flyer.  It was a typewritten page with the heading "Summer Cleaning and Yard Word" splashed upon the top.  His words filled an entire page with a breezy intro.

"Do you know what time it is?  It's summer time!  It's time to relax.  In summer, you don't deserve to work on your yard," he began.

The remainder of the flyer outlines his services, expectations, and contact information.

While I was impressed with an entrepreneurial spirit and gumption, I questioned a few of his offered skills, including lawn moving and weed whacking.  In Cooper's 11 years on earth, he's mowed the lawn once(ish), and he's never touched a weed whacker (minor details, I know).  When I asked Cooper about this minor oversight, he suggested he could learn on the job.  Savvy.  Yet, I'm not sure how many customers are inclined to serve as his lawn guinea pig.

Since the flyer has been distributed, Cooper's weeded a neighbor's yard.  He assisted with bush trimming and porch cleaning.  With each job, he proudly walks into the house beaming while clutching a few dollar bills.  

A few weeks ago, I attended school award ceremonies.  Administrators and teachers awarded students for academic achievements and athletic prowess. All good things.  But as I sat through all the awards, I wondered if too much time was being spent awarding kids for the wrong things.

If I could have my own private award ceremony, I would award Cooper for his initiative and hard work.  His little flyer, the sweat on his brow, and the dirt in his nails demonstrates strength in character.  Dear Cooper, these traits will get you far in life.  But next time son, list skills you actually can offer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mother's Day Gift: Productivity

Caleb's first meeting with the high school principal at academic night.

Grandparents cheered him on from the spectator seats.

Seventeen years of marriage celebrated over a Mediterranean dinner. 

Not Celebrating/Celebrating Marie's move to South Carolina.

Mother's Day with my Mom and sister.

Celebrating Mother's Day with my favorite boys.

On Mother's Day morning, I sat behind my computer registering the boys for the next school year.  Due to the volume of questions, I zoned out after awhile and mindlessly entered yes or no on all the responses.  (In my inattentive state, I might have indicated the boys have Meningitis or leprosy!)  After what took half of a lifetime, the boys were registered.

Then, I weeded through six trillion emails.  I tackled a few thank you notes.  I paid some bills.  The laundry beckoned my name, and so I shuffled into the laundry room.  My Mother's Day morning was far from glamorous.  I didn't lounge in a day spa, or slumber under the sheets until noon. 

Yet, I was gifted what I wanted most for Mother's Day: productivity.

With four boys in tow, productivity is a scarce commodity.  Between feeding, cleaning, discipling, driving, listening, and grooming, I have little time to simply get things done.  What I wanted most was to check off a few items on my to do list.

I felt a little lame about my request, until I chatted with some girlfriends.  One friend spent her Mother's Day morning cleaning her house.  She raved about her freshly clean counters and sparkling bathroom vanities.  Another friend purged and organized her garage on Mother's Day morning.  As she discussed the process, she gushed as if she held the winning lottery ticket.

Sometimes the best Mother's Day gifts aren't wrapped or purchased.  I adored my Mother's Day present because it was perfect gift for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Equipped for Life

Two of my favorite things: cupcakes and friends.

Dad's 73 years young!  Boston Creme Pie is his favorite way to celebrate another year.

This was my first time seeing Wicked, and it was wickedly delightful.

Watching Connor race around the track brought a smile to my face!

Seventeen years of marriage flashed by in a blink.  Grateful to still call this one my favorite.

Chris's whole family came together to celebrate his nephew's college graduation.

The boys treasured having Grandma and Grandpa visit from North Carolina.

A few family photos from the weekend....more to come.

I'm a morning person.  Before the sun peeks over the horizon, I'm shuffling around the house.  In those early hours, before my children rise out of bed, I either run with friends, knock items off my to-do list, or simply relish in the stillness of the house.

Mornings feel like a fresh start.  They provide opportunities to eradicate the mistakes from the day before.  Mornings offer a crisp opportunity for perfection.

"Today I will not speak harshly to my kids.  I will remember teacher appreciation day.  I will whip up a fabulous meal.  I will smile at my husband.  I will call that friend in need," I vow to myself.  Within an hour, the day unravels, and I'm left defeated and craving the fresh start of the next morning.

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

Perhaps I struggle with insanity.

Last night, I tucked the boys into bed.  I pulled a copy of the "Jesus Calling" off the floor and flipped to the day's devotion.

"Do not long for the absence of problems in your life," the author wrote.  "This is an unrealistic goal in your life, since in this world you will have trouble."

She continued, "Begin each day anticipating problems, asking Me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter."

A lightbulb moment. 

Why do I enter everyday hoping for the absence of problems?  Problems should be expected throughout the day.  Rather than spending my mornings dreaming about a problem-free day, I should focus on equipping myself to deal with the hiccups and struggles to come.

This morning, over my breakfast cereal, I prayed, "Lord, please equip me for the day."

The boys awoke minutes later.  The moody teen sauntered over to the breakfast table.  The habitually late pre-teen hibernated in bed.  The youngest spilled milk upon the kitchen counter.  The dog chewed on a tennis shoe.

Problems came within minutes of daylight, but I was equipped and ready to face a messy day with an ounce more grace.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Smiling through a marathon

I finished my 10th marathon and.....

qualified for the Boston Marathon!

My Bible study friends truly are the best.  Love moments with these gals.

Beautiful weather made for a great soccer weekend for Collin.

On Saturday, I stood at the starting line.  Temperatures lingered in the 40s without an ounce of wind or rain.  God provided perfect race conditions. 

I stretched and mumbled to myself, "This is fun. You shouldn't be nervous."

Yet, I couldn't stifle the nerves as I was about to embark on my 10th marathon.

The race director fired the gun and the crowd surged forward.  I fell in line with a pacer and a group of like-paced runner. 

Within the first few miles, we had exchanged life stories.  One woman flew in from Miami.  She was a former tri-athlete trying her hand at marathons.  Michelle, a teacher and mother of three, was no stranger to the marathon with a handful of successful races under her belt.  A Jessica, a runner/walker, fluctuated between running and walking with an impressive degree of success.

Keith, the pacer, graduated from IU (albeit almost 20 years after my graduation).  Despite our (glaring) age difference, Keith and I swapped stories and grumbled about the Hoosier sports programs.  By mile 13, we joked about being added to each other's Christmas card lists.

Halfway through the marathon, I was beginning to tire.  I pulled back on my trusty headphones and blared my Spotify running playlist, familiar tunes with quick beats. 

Our pace group dwindled to three people.  Michelle waned.  The Miami runner fell behind.  Keith handed off the pacer baton to a new runner.  This fellow appeared a bit more scattered and less social.

I made a commitment to just stay on course.  Focus on the music.  Another runner told me to smile.  He said that smiling tricks your body into feeling better.  So I smiled like a fool.  In my head, I said, "I'm so happy to be running" while gritting my teeth and second-guessing every word.

By mile 23, I passed Chris.  He held up his cell phone.  Collin and Connor's picture filled the screen.  Seeing them spurring me forward.

At mile 24, I smiled harder.

At mile 25, I authentically smiled.  The race was almost done.

At mile 26, I beamed. 

At mile 26.2, I nearly cried happy tears.  I completed the race with a Boston Qualifier for 2019.  My husband smiled at me and pulled me into his arms. I didn't have to trick my body into being happy anymore; I was legitimately thrilled. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When Mom's Embarrassing

This face.

Coming back from a basketball game, I spotted this sunset and scenery....right before the snow.  

When the boys were little, they hated Sunday School drop offs.  As we approached the classroom, they clung to my leg and whimpered softly.  I wiggled out of their chokeholds and thrust them towards a nervous teacher.  Then, I'd scamper out of eyesight while my little ones' cries drifted down the hallway.  I greeted those mornings with a myriad of emotions: sadness, worry, and a tiny bit of happiness.  Yes, happiness.  I had sons who adored their mama and hated to be detached from my side!

Fastforward a decade.

My teenage son packed his lunch for school.  He piled potato chips and pudding into his lunchbox (where's the carrots?).

"What time should I arrive at your track meet?" I questioned while washing breakfast dishes.

He fiddled with his lunchbox latch, seemingly oblivious to my inquiry (or perhaps experiencing an instant-bout of hearing loss).

I repeated the question and cornered him with a dish towel.

"I don't want you to go," he mumbled.

Good thing I wasn't cleaning the knives.

"Say that again?" I asked thinking he was also experiencing an instant-bout of lunacy.

His response remained the same.

Now I wanted to fall on a the heart.

He uttered no reasonable response to my demands for an answer.  I read between the lines.  I've officially become embarrassing.  Why?  I'm not sure.  I don't scream profanities from the sidelines.  I wear age appropriate clothes (no leopard minis or short shorts).  I've never cradled him into a bear hug and called him my "baby" (in public).

Because I am his mom, I am embarrassing.  I am embarrassing, because he is a teen.

This, I know, is a right of passage.  In a decade, I imagine we will laugh about the year mom hid behind a bush trying desperately to get a glimpse of his track meet (while avoiding her son's glances).

Nine-year-old Collin recently said, "You are better than my best friend, you are my mom."

Sweet Collin.  I savored his word knowing in a few years I'll probably be embarrassing to him too.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

On the Road Again: Spring Break In New Mexico, Arizona, and California

Old Town Albuquerque

Caleb's favorite part of the trip: the rattlesnake museum. (Yikes!) Old Town Albuquerque, NM

We’ve been home from vacation for less than 24 hours, and a child has already thrown up.  Right now, he’s nestled on the couch under a comforter.  I’m staring at a carpet saturated with cleaning solution and drenched with water.  The post-vacation honeymoon is over.

The rejuvenating effects of our family vacation have evaporated.  But truthfully, I’m not sure I’d pair the word “rejuvenated” and “family vacation” in the same sentence.  Our family vacations are best summed up with the “E” words: enjoyable, exhausting, and energetic. 

 For the last week, our family trekked around the Southwest.  On a Thursday, we flew into Albuquerque.  For the next eight days, we traveled along the desert byways, along stretches with an endless supply of dust and cacti, to reach Los Angeles. 

Albuquerque was the first leg of our journey.  Old Town Albuquerque transports tourist back to the 1700s when Spanish settlers occupied the city.  The plaza retains its roots with pueblo-style galleries, restaurants and shops lining the streets.  Ristras, string pods of dried red chilies, hang on stucco walls and welcome visitors into each establishment.  San Felipe De Neri, the white-towered Catholic Church with five-feet deep walls, serves as the focal point of the square.  

The plaza is teeming with people, but it is the dusty vagrant with leather skin and salty hair that commands attention.  He is propped on a bench strumming a mandolin.  His open hat lay at his feet begging for spare change.  The musician wails out a throaty chorus.  I’m unfamiliar with the lyrics, but the emotions behind the words require no translation.  His was a mixture of sadness and longing that engulfed the plaza with each song.

Native American items are in high supply in Old Town Albuquerque.  Many items are authentic, but some wares are of the plastic variety perfectly suited for the eager, heavy-pocketed tourists that populate the plaza.  My young sons were among the exuberant consumers (and quite possibly the target market for the plastic doodads).  Each boy had $20 burning a hole in his pockets.

 Cooper, my 11-year-old spendthrift, has never met a bad souvenir.  His happy place is among the personalized key chains, airbrushed t-shirts, and mini shot glasses.  In one store, amid the many finds, Cooper scooped up an Indian whistle flute.  The ceramic instrument fit into the palm of his hand.  He marveled at the Indian markings covering the exterior, and he beamed when the whistle emitted a toot.  For a mere $6, Cooper lauded his find.

Cooper left the plaza smiling and clutching his new flute.   The family piled into the rented Dodge minivan and headed towards the Homewood Suites.  Less than a mile into our ride, we (the family) collectively detested the flute.  Here are a few things you should know about the situation:

1)  The flute plays at a volume that could easily be heard at a monster truck rally.

2)   Cooper has no training in the Indian whistle flute, and his performing skills are a bit shaky.

3)  The minivan traps noise and people.  Should conditions become dicey, there are no fleeing options. 

As an added complicating factor, Cooper’s older brother Connor is a professional at needling his little brother.  The Indian whistle flute provided ample opportunity for Connor to gnaw at his prey.  A pattern has developed in the brothers’ relationship.  Connor serves as the eager spark next to Cooper’s gas can; it’s only a matter of time before the eruption ignites.  

“Can you play a little louder, I don’t think they can hear you in California,” Connor mocked.

“Sure,” Cooper retorted while he blew into the instrument ten times louder.  (And yes, I do believe they heard it in California.)

“Still didn’t hear you.  Maybe you should try louder,” Connor gibed.

The interactions slid down hill from there.

A mere hour into the second day of our trip, Cooper bawled while picking up broken fragments of his Indian flute.  The flute slipped through Cooper’s hand and shattered on the solid tile.  While it appeared to be an accident, I truly can’t rule out foul play.  The list of suspects who harbored bad feeling about the flute reads long.

The Sandia Peak Tramway offered spectacular views of Albuquerque.

Acoma, Sky City

Despite his flute trauma, Cooper mustered up the courage to face the second day of the vacation.  We left Albuquerque and ventured into the barren New Mexico landscape.  An hour outside of Albuquerque sits the Acoma Sky City. Perched on a 350-foot sandstone mesa amid a craggy and desolate valley, this active Native American city traces its roots back to 1100 A.D. 

Our family piled into the Acoma Sky City tour bus, and we prayed as the bus sputtered up the mesa.  I could almost here the bus chanting I think I can.  I think I can as the wheels huffed and hugged the cliff walls. 

Finally at the top, we soaked in the views.  Adobe homes filled the mesa.  San Estevan del Rey, an abode-style Catholic mission church, stretches 35 into the sky.  City dwellers peddled crafts: painted pots, arrowhead spears, and turquoise necklaces.

Our tour guide Marcel* notes that only 15-20 Acomas live in the Sky City.  However, hordes of people line the roads and mill around the mesa.   

“Why are so many people here today?” I asked Marcel.

On tours, I am like the eager student in the first row of a classroom with a hand constantly waving in the air.  Marcel, I’ve discovered, detests questions.  She values brevity; I appreciate clarity.  There lies the rub.

Marcel huffs before engaging in an explanation.  Even then, she doles out information in parcels, making me work for each and every morsel.

“It’s Good Friday,” she mentions while daring me with her eyes to ask more.

I don't take the bait.

“Where do they come from?” I continue.

She fully avoids eye contact, but indulges me with an answer.

“From 15-17 miles away,” she scowls and pulls away from my gaze.

I glance at the people walking up the bluffs.  Few walkers resemble fit, triathletes.  With temperatures creeping into the 80s, the devotees are blanketed in sweat.  Yet, smiles cover their faces and a joy radiates from their souls.  “Happy Easter,” they sing while passing our group. 

In the San Estevan dely Rey church, with dirt-covered floors and seven-foot thick stucco walls, I watch the Acoma people approach the altar.  Dusty and drenched, they reach for the communion with a jubilance and reverence that seers into my mind.

At the back of the church, a table is filled with donuts, juice boxes, and jugs of water.  One Acoma woman is manning the refreshments.  She is radiating with cheer and begs my children to take a donut.

“They couldn’t,” I insisted while reminding my boys the donuts were reserved for those who had traveled many miles to arrive at the church.

She persisted.

The boys walked out of the church holdings donuts.

The Acomas have more to teach us, than us to teach them.  That's what I learned on the tour.

*Not actual name.

First stop in Arizona: Petrified Forest.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.

Slippery Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona.

Two days later, we arrived at Sedona, Arizona.  Red rock buttes and desert landscape provides a feast for the eyes.  One afternoon, we traveled to Slide Rock State Park nicknamed “America’s Playground.”   Within the park, mountain water spills through red rock crevices creating a natural water slide and swimming hole.  Although the water was icy, the boys plunged off the rocks into the rooted basin.

I watched from a nearby rock snapping pictures of the antics.  A little part of me wondered what it felt like to leap off an Arizonian canyon rock.  I imagined it would feel like youth, but the fabric of my being (the wisdom lines and achy joints) kept me firmly anchored to the cliff.  Perhaps I've entered the spectator years.  I have mixed feelings about that fact, but at least I'll be warmer.

Easter boys in Flagstaff, Arizona

On Easter, the next day, I stood by a washing machine at a truck stop laundromat in Flagstaff.  Yesterday clothes, saturated and dirtied from our canyon excursions, required a washing (fumigated would even work better).  The truck stop laundromat doubled as a public shower.  I watched an interesting array of characters travel into the public showers.  (Although I can’t be certain, I’m not sure every visitor to the showers engaged in hygiene-related activities.)

For 90 minutes, I stood next to the washing machine in the truck stop/laundromat/public showers.  I was certain if I veered too far from the machine, a truck stop patron would scope up my soaking garments.

During my wait, I befriended the woman cleaning the showers.  A Mexican transplant, my new friend worked two jobs to support seven kids.  She watched me standing by the machines and flipping through a book.  Reading, she said, was a luxury.  Sadly, that thought never crossed my mind.

An hour later, my family and I belted out hymns at the Redemption Church Easter service in downtown Flagstaff.  The makeshift church was housed in Flagstaff High School.  A wooden crucifix and Easter lilies bordered the stage.  Parishioner sported pastels, florals, and bow ties.  Hair was gelled and pulled into bows.  Faces were wiped clean. 

 The pastor preached about Jesus washing away our sins.  I thought about the people at the public showers walking into the stalls dusty and road-worn.  Minutes later, they emerged glistening, dewy and pink.  Was it the same when I followed Jesus?  Did His blood have the same cleaning power as the showers?  I believe it did.  I walk into His presence layered in grime, only to emerge shiny and new.  Thanks to a truck stop laundromat in Flagstaff, the Easter message came to life.

Joshua Tree, California.

From Flagstaff, we landed outside of Joshua Tree.  five-hour car ride brought out the worst in the boys.  A cramped minivan with four sons can feel a bit like a Survivor episode.  One wonders who will make it to the end?

In Joshua Tree Park, a scuffle arose over a pretzel bag.  Two angry boys tugged at opposite sides of the sack.  As a surprise to no one, the bag exploded, and pretzels blanketed the floor of the minivan.  One son continued to feast on the pretzels on the ground.  I was tempted to stop his snacking, but I lost my energy to parent a few days back.  I gazed at his mindless snacking with equal part envy (a pretzel snack did sound good) and disgust.

The Connor/Cooper tension was at all time high.  No disagreement was off limits.  No argument was too insignificant.  Worse yet, Connor had recruited his youngest brother Collin to join in the fray.  Oldest brother Caleb drowned out the commotion with his headphones.  I envied his ability to detach from the commotion. 

The three younger boys engaged in a game entitled “call it.”   Here’s how it works:  one boy sees a fabulous car on the road (a Ferrari and such) and then screams “call it.”  Evidently, the mere yelling of “call it” is the equivalent of calling “dibs” on that vehicle. 

The problem with the “call it” game is that there are no winners and no referees.  Frequent disagreements centered on which boy called a car first, even though everyone is fully aware they will not walk away with an actual car.  I will never recover the minutes of my life spent sorting out “call it” spats. 

While the boys weren’t arguing over fictional car purchases or eating pretzels off the floor, my husband and I soaked in the scenery of Joshua Tree National Park.  The park, located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado Desert, is dotted with boulders, buttresses, and rugged mountains.  The Joshua tree, a hybrid tree-cactus, is the park’s most famous and plentiful resident.

Joshua Tree National Park turned out to be my boys’ paradise.  The endless supply of boulders provided boundless fun and adventure.  At first, I felt the need to be the safety monitor (or stealer of joy, as referred to by the boys).  I warned the boys of every potential unstable step or shaky surface.  I was certain venomous reptiles and deadly scorpions lurked at every corner.

After my 29th warning, Cooper replied, “Mom, don’t worry.  If we get lost, we’ll just eat the least useful part of our bodies.”

I questioned, “What’s the least useful part of our bodies?

“The pinkie, of course,” he shouted over a boulder while walking a little close to the edge.

At least if he tumbled over a cliff, he had a plan.

Laguna Beach, California

La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, CA

Universal Studios, Hollywood, CA

(Yes, the last picture is Butter Beer:))

 Five days into our trip, we arrived in Los Angeles.  After days of barren landscape, we reached a bustling metropolis.  The volume of cars and mass of people shocked our systems.  The first two days, we engaged in many touristy things, being mindful of the fact traffic constraints hindered us from covering every inch of the city.

For the last day of our trip, we promised the boys a trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Nixon Presidential Library. 

“You need culture and a bit of education,” I asserted to the boys.

“The jelly bean exhibit will be fascinating,” my husband gushed.

Thirteen-year-old Connor was practically in tears.  In his world, a spring break trip to presidential libraries was akin to placing dental floss in a Christmas stocking.

We piled the boys into the car.  Whimpers and whines resonated from the back seats.  Ninety minutes later, we arrived at Universal Studios.  The presidential library trip was a ruse.  The boys burst into happy tears; my husband and I beamed at our successful stunt.

I told my husband we should enjoy the one day in our lives when all four sons were happy with us.  Theme parks make parents into heroes.  I wanted one day to proudly wear my cape.

From Universal, we drove to LAX airport.  We checked our bags and skated through security.  At 11 p.m. California time, we took the red-eye flight back to Indianapolis.  Airplane seats don’t mimic beds.  Little sleep was to be had that evening.

We arrived in Indianapolis at 6 a.m.  The weather hovered around freezing.  Snowflakes drifted around our yard later in the day. The refrigerator was bare.  Laundry piles stacked in front of the washer.  The next morning a child was sick.  Exhaustion floated through the family.  I flipped through the pictures on my phone, and I stopped to soak in the images.  A smile crept over my face as I remembered the enjoyment of the last few days.