Friday, April 29, 2011

Strawberry Fields

I love field trips. One of the best parts of being a mom who doesn't have to work full-time is not having extra cash to get weekly facials going on field trips with my kids. We've gone to the ballet, the zoo, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, museums, animal farms, and other super sweet places for kids to explore. It is soooo fun to be a part of these adventures and witness the excitement on the kids' faces when they get to have new, interesting experiences. We've been to Harmon Farms a couple of times to pick pumpkins and go on hay rides. We've gone to Country Adventures in the spring to see the baby animals and in the fall to gather pumpkins. We've gone to Edventure and to Riverbanks Zoo. All fun. All good. I've loved them all.
Before Christmas last year, I got to chaperone Ella's class on a trip to the Columbia City Ballet to see The Nutcracker. This wasn't the first trip for this purpose, but it never gets old. This past time was hilarious because half of the class was excited (the girls) and the other half was trying not to be excited (the boys) to see men dancing around in tights. To be fair, the fellas could have done something about hiding their men parts because ALL of the kids were like WTF? Seriously, their jaws dropped to the floor when the male dancers made their appearances on the stage. Seeing it from 6 and 7 year olds' perspectives, I was a little taken aback as well. Those, er, packages, were right there, in your if they'd been stuffed with socks.
Today Ella's class traveled to Cottle Farms to pick strawberries. I was assigned Ella and two other children to hang out with during the trip. Not to brag or anything, but I'm a cool mom to chill with. When I have lunch with Ella at school, the kids love sitting with me... probably because we get loud and rowdy and laugh a lot... and maybe because I'm not so strict about everthing. I like to say I'm laid back. Of course, laid back slows the eating process and may result in spilled peas and milk, but we always clean it up, so it's all good. Right?
Of course today was fun. The kids were allowed to go up and down the rows and collect strawberries in baskets. Some of the rows had mud puddles at the start, and these were the ones that ALL of the other parents avoided, but I told my kids to just trek on through...I went first...and, not surprisingly, we all ended up with shoes clumped with mud. But, you know what? Because nobody else was willing to get a little dirty, our rows were the ones that hadn't been picked over. Our rows were the ones with the biggest, juiciest, sweetest berries. And the mud felt good to squish around in. It was awesome.

Maybe that's the lesson for today. To not do what everyone else does simply because it's clean and conforming and innocuous. When you traipse through the mud and get your feet and hands dirty, you'll find the best treasures. The dirt will always wash off, but the memories that come with getting messy stay with you, and sometimes those are the best ones to have.

The Blues

Yesterday was a very important day in my life and in the lives of my family. Yesterday marked two years since my dear, sweet grandmother left this world. Two years since one of the greatest loves I have ever known bid adieu to the family that she treasured more than anything in the world. Two years. Two years. Two very hard years. Her passing certainly left a gaping hole in my heart. I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. But she was that kind of woman. One who loved unconditionally and whose love was a blessing and a gift. One whose love taught us what love is. Taught us how to love without limits. Without fault. With forgiveness. With grace. She was nothing short of remarkable. She was my beautiful, blue-eyed lady.
Last night, I spoke about two books that my Ella and I read together, and I focused more on A Mother's Wish than on the other. A Blue So Blue is about a little French boy who dreams of a certain kind of blue. And he leaves home on a journey in search of the blue of his dreams. He visits a museum, travels to the ocean, boards a ship to the tropics, crosses the sea to America, ventures to Africa... all in search of the blue of his dreams. Finally, he realizes that the blue which he so earnestly seeks is at home, in his mother's eyes.
In my life, some of my dearest family members have striking blue eyes. My Ella has gorgeous sky blue eyes. My mother's are the color of my grandmother's eyes... eyes that are warm and icy blue at the same time. My Summit has sea greenish-blue eyes with little gold circles around his pupils. Matt and his mother have ocean blue eyes. All of their eyes reflect goodness, kindness, hope, happiness, and blessings beyond compare. It is no wonder that my favorite color is blue. For me, the color brings calm and joy and peace. For me, blue equals love.
I find it interesting that the term "the blues" is associated with sadness and heartache and hardship. When women have postpartum depression, they have the baby blues. Singers along the Mississippi Delta sing the blues about struggles in life. And on this day, when my heart weeps for missing my grandmother, when I all I wish for is just one more moment with her to gaze into her eyes, some might say that I have the blues.
Isn't it ironic that the blue eyes that brought me so much love and adulation and contentment... that the absence of the blue, of her, brings great sadness and longing for her? I suppose, then, that I am sad that I don't have the blues. It's like a contradiction of terms. What I know more than anything, on this day, is that my life is better for having had her at all. That the world is a better place for having someone of her caliber in it. That I am blessed beyond measure because she was my grandmother, my beautiful, blue-eyed lady. And that I should be thankful for every second that she was here.
But the coolest thing is that I know she's still here. She lives on in our hearts and in our actions. And she lets us know that she's watching over us even in her passing. I know this because my mom used to call her "Ladybug." When Grandma died, there were ladybugs everywhere outside, and at her graveside service, they were all around for her great-grands to play with. She comes to us this way still. And yesterday, when we visited her and my Popa's grave, there they were... two little ladybugs hanging out to say hello. Thanks for that. I miss you both.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why we give them our hearts.

When most people learn that they are going to become parents, they immediately plot ways to enhance their babies' lives. Right from the start, they plan nurseries, register for items that they think are essential to sustaining and growing children, take supplements to ensure proper development of their little ones, play music for the precious lives forming inside of them, etc. As a lover of literature, and partly because I was finishing my undergraduate degree in literature (yeah, I was a pregnant chick in college... yeah I took the 10 year track to finish my bachelors... so what?), I made sure to read a lot to my Ella. I took her to class with me (we didn't really have a choice) and she heard discussions about theoretical concepts in poetry, novels, and drama. She was there with me as I wrote 20-page papers on philosophical ideas concerning Middle Eastern authors' points of view. She was schooled from the embryonic stage on Whitman, Achebe, Shakespeare, Joyce, Soueif, Hamid, and other great writers from around the world. 
And when she was born, I made sure that she had some of the greatest childrens' books ever written at her disposal. Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Jon Muth, Lois Elhert, Ludwig Bemelmans, The Brothers Grimm, Margaret Wise Brown... these authors' stories have been mainstays in her bookshelf. Besides her health, this was one of my most important concerns... that she become immersed in books and written words right out of the gate (or vagina, whatever). Every holiday, birthday, even just a day treat was garnished with a new book. A beautiful book. Of course, the same was true for Summit. Luckily, by the time he was born, we had a stockpile of books from his sister.
For me, some of the best times that I remember spending with my babies have been those times that we've shared reading together. Every night before bed, the kids each get three books and a song, which I believe is a perfect way to end a day. (For anyone else, I am sure the song would be pure torture, as Matt and I both have the singing ability of cats in heat, but Ella and Summit aren't so aware that people with voices like ours shouldn't sing.) It's always been one of my favorite moments in the day... snuggling with them and kissing them sweet dreams good night. And as I read, I can reflect back to when I read certain books, and recall various times throughout my kids' early years and remember how they felt in my arms or how they smelled after a bath or how small their hands were. I love it and I soak it up.
Tonight at bedtime, Ella asked for two of my favorite books, A Blue So Blue by Jean-Francois DuMont and A Mother's Wish by Kathy-Jo Wargin. The first is a book I bought for her to help her appreciate art and discovery and home. The second is a book  that her Leenie bought, which tells the story of a little girl (aptly named Ella), her journey from childhood to leaving the nest, and wishes that she and her mother make upon butterflies when the girl is about the age my Ella is now. Both are beautiful stories that I have always relished reading to her.
Tonight, though, tonight was different. Since this school year began, Ella has been reading books to us... usually one a night... if we follow the teacher's rules and aren't too tired... Most of the books have been those she selects at school and brings home to read. Sometimes she reads books from her collection, but she hadn't read either of these to me. I suppose a little part of me wasn't ready for her to read from A Mother's Wish, but tonight she did. Tonight she read to me the little girl's wish in that story, which goes, "I make this wish on wings of love/ And send into the sky above/ That Mother holds me every day/And never, ever goes away." And my heart cried a little. All of a sudden, it was harder for me to read the mother's wish, "I wish to give you wings to fly/ Wings to soar across the sky/ I wish to give you wings to see/ That you were made for flying free."
But, I should know, that even when I want her to always be my baby girl, when I want her to always need me and cry for me and be the one she goes to and be the one she wants to be around the most, that this mother's wish is so true. This is why we prepare our kids right from the start. Why we read to them and play them music and buy organic foods and pay attention to safety this and that. Why we furnish them with the best chances for development from the moment we know they'll be ours. We know that they will grow up and leave the nest and become their own people... and it's why we do all of the things that we do... It's why we give them our hearts... because we know that they aren't truly ours, but that we are fortunate enough to be theirs. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Namaste Kind of Day

Today was definitely the namaste kind of day that my heart has been missing. Of course, any day that begins with Sun Salutations A, B, C, and D is gonna be a good one. Perhaps the fact that yesterday wat the last official day of classes for Midlands Tech helped ease my soul. My students still have to submit portfolios, but the semester is pretty much over! Ahhhhh. I now, for the most part, own my mornings again. Sure, I'm in partnership with my Ella and Summit on the a.m. train, but at least we don't have to share it with anyone else. AND, I get a break from the paying job (being a wife and a mommy are pro-bono work) until summer school begins on May 18th! Phew!

To celebrate, I went to bed early (well, for me) and woke up early (again, for me) and caught my favorite morning yoga class. And, man, was it amazing and relaxing and exhausting all at once, all from the start. One of the most significant aspects of yoga is linking breath with movement. This is something that we should take off the mat and into our everyday lives. I forgot how important this simple act is, how grounding it can be. And, I needed to be grounded. I needed a reminder to slow down and enjoy just living. Just being. Having a still mind. The class kicked my ass, but in a fantastic way... it worked out the mental kinks (yeah, I've got mental kinks. Anyone who says otherwise is a big, fat liar) and made me stronger physically and spiritually. And you know a yoga class is successful when, during the final relaxation at the end, you actually go into that half-awake, half-dreaming world. I love that place, and I loved being there today.
When I was done with yoga, I decided I needed a new haircut, but I needed a new person. I am the kind of gal who doesn't mind paying the extra cash for a good stylist; in fact, I seek one out. I've had plenty of bad haircuts to know that this makes a difference. After a hiatus from the Carmen! Carmen! salon, I decided to give them a ring and see about trying out someone new. I knew this day was mine when one of their top stylists had a random opening and could see me 2 hours after I called. (I'm also the kind of gal who enjoys a good impulsive haircut.) My dad agreed to have Summit hang out with him for an hour while my girl (well, new girl) Chelsea worked some magic on me. And, thank god she did; I was looking extremely rough around the old edges.

After I scooped Summit up from his Popi, he passed out in his carseat. I had some time to kill before getting Ella from school, so I drove to my grandparents' old house and relished in some of the memories of my childhood (like when Angie beat us up for those eggs). Maybe I looked like a stalker just parked in front of the house (which my grandma sold 16 years ago), but I didn't really care. It was calming to remember the fun of Grandma and Popa's. I recalled the way the doors sounded when they opened and shut and picking camelias and gardenias off the bushes. I remembered the sheers in the front living room and dress-up clothes in the guest room. I went back to a time when my dad and I would fish for brim in the pond out back. I could have sat there for hours, but I'm sure that wouldn't have been a good idea.
On the way to get my Ella, I stopped at the produce stand on Old Bush River Road for boiled peanuts. New crop boiled peanuts, which, connoisseurs of these southern delicacies know, is the best kind, and this bag delivered in spades. They were salted and boiled to perfection. After getting Ella, we cruised home for a rest before the baseball game tonight, a game that I'm really looking forward to. I know that the kids will have fun and that is the perfect way to end this day. Seriously.

This has been the kind of day that makes my heart sing. A calm, refreshing, peaceful, reflective day. Days like this... when things work out just so, when all the planets seem to line up... are few and far between. For this day, I am so thankful. Namaste

Monday, April 25, 2011

language arts

When people use terms like 'yo' and 'word' with ease and panache, I get jealous. Really jealous. You could say I'm socially awkward when it comes to being linguistically cool. I'm not the kind of person who can bring herself to drop -er for -a on certain words. I don't have it in me to use hip inflection to say stuff like gangsta or brotha. Seriously, my grandmother sounded more laid back saying 'gangster' than me. And when I try to be all cool and tell my friends to holla, I start to sweat and my stomach gets tied up in knots and I sound more like Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off than the up-to-speed urban dictionary user that I'm shooting for. It's a disaster.

I know that part of my dilemma is that I studied literature in college and I have a strong predilection for appropriate spellings and pronunciations of words. I spent a lot of time understanding linguistics and how people form sounds with lips, teeth, and tongue. Maybe it's because I make statements like the two previous sentences. Maybe it's because I use words like 'panache' and 'predilection' and other nerdy terms. I don't know what drives me to do that, but those words are my comfort zone, and I cringe to think what Shakespeare or Whitman would say about how English has evolved. Perhaps part of my inability to use that sweet, sweet slang is that I'm trying to preserve the integrity of language.
This really comes into play when I read my students' essays and see that they write in text language. For essays. In text. Like just the letter r for are. Or u for you. It kills me. How can they think this is suitable for college papers? I can't even bring myself to employ abbreviations in text messages, much less substitute a word for a letter. Will and Walt must certainly be rolling over in their graves.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not totally uptight. Those who know me know I can swear with the dirtiest sailor and make hard-core criminals blush with my ability to rattle off words that would shake the Junior League to its core. For this, I have finesse. Swearing is also a comfort zone. It makes me feel good to say bad words, yes, but I still say them correctly. When I use my favorite 'F' word as an adjective, I make sure to fully annuciate the -ing. And when I say the 'B' word, mine is the one syllable version, unlike Snoop's 'beeatch.' I've tried it his way, and I just butcher it.
Dang it. I suppose this is one of those occasions when I have to hold true to who I am.... a lover of language with a fierce desire to use proper pronunciation. Someone with an obsessive compulsive need to form words correctly. Maybe this has turned me into a total geek. Maybe it's keeping me from realizing my inner slang-using baller. I'll probably never know what it means to get slizzard or tell someone not to be all up in my grill. I won't know what it means to go from the window to the wall. I won't use 'yo' or 'word.' But I gotta be me, and that's not so bad. Language is an art, and we all have different expressions.
But, seriously, what does it mean to go from the window to the wall?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Going on an Egg Hunt

Today we celebrated Easter, and I had so much fun seeing the kids enjoy the holiday. I love the magic that shines in their eyes and radiates from their hearts. I love that the Easter Bunny is no joke and movies like Hop are so cool for them to see. It's my time to live vicariously through the innocence and newness of everything in their lives. It's my time to remember what life is like before the harsh reality of the world permanently makes its stamp on the minds of adults.
We started the day with the kids finding their Easter baskets filled with surprises and candy... candy which takes them on a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows... candy which causes Summit to turn into a manic depressive little monster at various times throughout his waking hours. I'd like to say that it's just for today and we'll try to hide the rest of it, but I know that kid hoards candy about the house. I've found it stashed beneath his bed on a number of occassions. He's a junkie. When we finished eating a breakfast of champions of Peeps and marshmallow bunnies, we rushed to church so the kids could understand the true meaning of the day. (Last Easter, as we sat at breakfast talking about Jesus, Summit got excited, and said, "Cheezits? I love Cheezits." Jeez.) Of course, we were late, but that's nothing new. I'm late for everything
After church, we headed to my parents' house for a day with Popi, Babi, Kent, John Wesley, and Ashley (JW's girlfriend). We I lounged around while Matt, my dad, and the kids went fishing and my mom finished Easter dinner. I really tried to help, but after I put the sweet potatoes on to boil, the couch lulled me onto it like Odysseus' sirens and wouldn't let go until I had a 30 minute nap. Before you go hating on me, my mother had cooked most of the other stuff before we got there, and I made dinner for everyone Saturday night. I'm not completely worthless.
Lunch was followed with a hunt for the eggs we dyed the previous day. The kids loved it... well, right up until the end when they were searching for the final tie-dyed egg and Ella stepped in Summit's basket and smashed his hard-boiled treasures. It didn't help that there was an uneven number of those things, and Ella broke the tie when she snagged the last one. Talk about a meltdown. C'est la vie. When I was a little girl, we had always Easter at my Grandma and Popa's, and my oldest cousin Angie perpetually barrelled her way to the eggs, flattening anyone who dared to get in her way. All us other kids would be bruised and bleeding with just a few eggs in our baskets. It got to the point where we just gave up and handed her the eggs... like we had Stockholm Syndrome. At least Ella wasn't tackling her brother for the eggs. It could have been worse.
The day ended with a round of hitting balls in the front yard. All of us, even my mom, stepped up to the plate, and, honestly, it is hilarious to see my mom doing athletic stuff. You'd think she'd be better since my Popa was on his way to the Big Leagues before he lost his eye sight in World War II, but she's not. I love my mom, and she's good at lots of things, but swinging a bat isn't one of them. She did hit the ball, but little Summit has better form. (Also, I hit the ball farther than anyone except my dad, who was using a tennis ball, which is the only reason his had that distance. That's right, John Wesley, farther than you!)
Yeah, this was a good day. The kids are completely asleep and we're all full of yummy food and greatly appreciated relaxation. Even more, we'll all have these memories to carry with us. One day my kids will look back on these times with fondness and realize that they have always been loved and that they are a part of a family who likes to have fun and be together. And, for me, that is one of the most important things that they can know.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Congaree Promenade

Today, we went on a family adventure and we didn't have to go farther than just down the road. Okay, well maybe down the interstate, but whatever.
I hadn't spent much time down in Congaree National Park since my days in the Girl Scouts when my parents shipped me off to get me out of their hair to camp for a week in the summer with my cousins, Angie and Robin. It was probably that trip that deterred any kind of desire to return as at the week's end, my body was covered from head to toe with chiggers, Robin had been stung by a bee through our tent as we slept, and somebody peed on me at night when I was too scared to sleep in a bunk by myself for fear of the awful attack bees. It didn't help that our camp counselors, Cookie, Cupcake, Muffin, and the rest of their gang of pastries were mean as the snakes we were trying to avoid.
The thing is, Congaree is absolutely beautiful. I mean, really, I've been missing out on some serious experiences in nature. I wish that I had been using this place all along. There are a few ways to journey through the park. A lot of folks visit in canoes and kayaks and paddle through the heart of the forest. Others trek through on foot, and the NPS has designated different trails of varying lengths for visitors to use. Since we had the kids, we chose the often-traveled boardwalk trail for our first odyssey into the swamp. And, oh my goodness, it was an experience I won't soon forget.
At the visitor center right before the trail is a 'Mosquito Meter' with a range from 1 (All Clear) to 6 (War Zone). Since I had left the bug spray at home, I wasn't so excited about the 5 (Ruthless) rating on the meter, but I thought, screw it, how bad could it be? Ha! I now know what happens when a mosquito mates with a bird. These things were so big my shoulder would drop when they landed on it. And I could hear them sucking my blood. I could hear them thud on the ground when I knocked them off. And they were everywhere. The air was cloudy with the flying blood bandits. Should I have been surprised? We were in a swamp, after all, which clearly has mosquito birds. Summit couldn't stand it, so the child wore a rain coat with the hood up for 2 1/4 of the 2 1/2 miles around the swamp. Poor kid, those suckers love him as much as they do me.
The trick around the mosquitoes was to just keep moving. Of course, we had to stop to take some pictures and check out the trees. These things were amazing. The bald cypress trees and the water tupelos are crazy and enchanting and surreal. The loblolly pines are massively tall. Some of those bad boys are 700-800 years old. Bald cypress have these crazy knees, which are root systems that grow up out of the ground so that they can get air when the plain floods. When the ground isn't flooded, the knees stick up out of the earth, looking like something Peter Jackson would have elves living in. I just imagined glowing fairies playing stringed instruments and dancing and flying around at night. Too cool.
There were other sights to take in. Lizards were everywhere. Caterpillars and butterflies, too. We saw beautiful dragonflies with dark blue wings and bright green bodies. Hollowed out trees where bats live since there are no caves in the swamp. Gigantic mushrooms. Black swampy water and muck. There was an old moonshine still in the woods that, before we read on the map what the creepy, rusted-out, one-room size box was doing there, we told Summit that's where the bad kids had to go in the old days. We saw a huge red-headed woodpecker going to town on a downed tree just beside us on the trail. So much of the awesomeness of nature in South Carolina was right there.
It was an incredibly fun exploration, a great learning experience for the kids and the parents. Good exercise and good times with the family. I don't think life gets better than that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Betty D Saves the Special

A couple of years ago we got a sweet new camera (well sweet for an amateur like myself). You know, it's the kind with the detachable lenses and all that other stuff. The kind that I should have taken a class to get to know. Unfortunately, since I'm the kind of person who doesn't read manuals or instructions, I never made it past the Academy of Trial and Error. Regardless, that camera has been tested, used, manipulated, whatever quite a bit. I like to think we have a relationship that will have to unfold over several years before I get to know all of the intimate details about Betty D40. Like what all of those numbers that appear in the view finder mean. Or what aperture really is. She's not an easy first date...or third or sixth or hundredth. But, I'm glad she's mine.
So, I love to take photos, especially ones of my babies. I love looking back through them and remembering. Of course, who doesn't? I also love taking pictures of flowers and plants outside. I totally dig that. And I kind of think I'm pretty good at taking pictures...but this shouldn't hold too much merit...I also think I can sing like Madonna and dance like J.Lo., and if you know me at all, you know I cannot do either of those. Actually, if you go to my gym, you know I can't sing like the Material Girl because you've probably heard me belting out "Like a Virgin" when I'm running on the treadmill. And, yes, I know I should be embarrassed, but I'm not. I just get so filled with energy when that song comes on.
Anyways, whenever a chance arises, I make use of sweet Betty. Most of the time she plays nice and we have fun together. I think she likes me because she's gotten to travel to some cool places in her short lifespan... Mexico, Caymans, Colorado, New England, Bahamas, Florida... Betty's been to the beach and the mountains. She's been camping and hiking. Let's face it, she's had a good ride. And I'm happy for her.

She deserves it. She's capturing my babies and helping to preserve special moments. She is there constantly and patiently, and puts her all into everything even if I don't thank her for the work she's done as often as I should. She takes clear, focused, beautiful pictures and she make me want to be a better person photographer. So, I'd like to take the time to thank her now. Thanks, Betty D40. You have made all of our lives better. You've helped save the special.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Honeysuckle Kisses and Dandelion Wishes

Springtime in South Carolina can't be beat...everything is beautiful and green and fresh and aromatic. The world bursts with life and renewal and anticipation for things to come... baby birds to learn to fly out of their nests... water to warm up enough to swim in... tomatoes on the vines to grow and redden... flowers in the planters to fill up their homes in the soil.
The kids are learning the special offerings of the spring here, too. Bugs and lizards are at their disposal to chase and capture and study. Playing in the sprinkler and working in the garden are mainstays of everyday living. Life is blossoming and growing all around them, and they mirror that life, growing and blossoming and absorbing their world. And they know that soon, very soon, they'll get to do cannonballs into the pool and feel the fish nibble at their toes in the lake. Watermelon will soon be covering their "outdoors dirty" little faces and hands.
We try to be outside as much as possible, so lunch today was a picnic at Saluda Shoals Park. Afterwards, the kids rode their bicycles down the path by the river. Along the way, we made sure to stop and smell the roses honeysuckles and take some pictures. I always love going to this park by the river. It reminds me of my early childhood growing up in Woodwinds, which was a stone's throw from the banks of the Saluda.
Even when we weren't supposed to go down to the river, my brothers and I would do it anyways. Once, when I snuck down with a friend to lay out on the rocks and jump in the water, a leech latched onto my leg. Being the hypochondriac, God-fearing religiously paranoid child that I was, I immediately thought that the big guy in the sky was trying to kill me (that's right, people, with a leech) for disobeying my parents. After the fisherman we met burned it off, I swore I'd never lie again... after we finished tanning our behinds.

Of course, we went back to the river again. And sometimes without the parents. Its promise for time well spent was too much of a pull. We'd stop and suck the sweet out of the honeysuckles and search for fool's gold in the river. We'd skip stones and swing on the vines. It was a perfect spot to play growing up. And, now, it's a perfect spot to take my kids to play.  
So, lunch today was a good one. It was a visit to the past and an appreciation for the present. I got to hear my kids' laughter trail through the trees and see the excitement on their faces when the beavers swam past. I got to see them make wishes on dandelions (Summit's was, "I wish I could be a dinosaur. ROAR!) and I remembered when I believed that that's how wishes come true. I got to see my babies grow and blossom and absorb the world around them... see their sweaty, red faces light up with hope and excitement and happiness and peace and contentment. I am so thankful for this day and for so many of the ones that have passed.