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A Day In My Life
I know that Daniel has a lot on his mind, knowing that once again his power as The Chosen One will be required to get our collective butts out of a very uncomfortable sling. I refrain from rambling on as I do most of the time - I was always such a quiet person...until I met him. I have so much I want to tell him, share with him, ask him, that I seem to chatter non-stop. He's told me time and again that he loves it. Sometimes I even think he means it. When he looks over at me, asks me what's wrong, I understand that he needs me to talk to him. Right now he doesn't want to have to think about who he is...what he is. I'm the Heart of the Chosen. It's my job, my duty to protect him. I'm still excited about that mural, and the other artifacts that came back with it, and when I'm excited...I chatter...to him. By the time we pull into the driveway, I can see the smile tugging at the corners of his lips as I speculate on about the type of life those people may have lived.
The first thing that we discover when we walk in the door is that Nicholas has made drawings of each of us...his project for the day in preschool. Mom informs us that he's been pacing anxiously, waiting for us to get home, eager to show us his artwork. There is nothing more precious than being presented with a crayon drawing from your child, one that is a depiction of you. Just as Emmy did, and still does, whenever she draws a picture of her daddy, Daniel is depicted with oversized muscles and his glasses. And a huge grin. With teeth. Lots of teeth. It's hard not to laugh at loud. When my baby boy hands the white sheet of construction paper to me, with his idea of what I look like covering it, tears fill my eyes. Lots of yellow hair. It seems to almost touch the ground. Very red lips in a smile. Just as Daniel's eyes are drawn very blue, mine are very green. And my son has given me angel wings.
"Daddy calls you 'Angel'," Nicholas says, when I look over at him. "Miz Lou Ann says angels gots wings an' 'lo's. But I couldn't finish the 'lo caused it was time to go home."
It had been during the time I was dead when Emily had drawn a picture...a very sad, heartbreaking picture. No happy red smiles in it...but lots of blue tears and down turned mouths. Soon after my return she did another one. In which she put a halo over my head, declaring that I was an angel. I'm certain that the idea has been planted by Daniel. He's called me 'Angel' for a very long time now. Most people don't understand that it's in reference to one of the most incredible nights of lovemaking we've ever shared. He called me his 'fantasy angel' that night.
But no matter how, or why he calls me that, he does...and the kids have grown up hearing it. Thus the connection between me and angels. I have to admit, it melts my heart to think that they view me that way. "It's beautiful, Nicholas, thank you."
His response is to throw his arms around my neck and hug me tightly. "You gonna put 'em in the ha'way?"
The hallway to the bedrooms is papered with drawings that Emily has done. Nicholas has been adding to the collection. I know that soon I'll have to start taking some of them down to make room for new ones. "Of course I am!"
He races into the kitchen, tugs on the drawer that holds all of the odds and ends that collect, and that are occasionally useful. Daniel is right behind him...Nicholas will tug and pull until the drawer is in danger of completely falling off the runners.
One of the procedures in the family ritual of hanging 'original' artwork, is that the artist gets to choose the color of the pushpins that will hold the paper to the wall. "What color, son?" Daniel asks.
Just happens to be his favorite color. Daniel dutifully finds eight green pins, puts the plastic box of pins back into the drawer. We all follow him to the hall. Now it's my turn. I get to choose where the drawings will hang. There's a spot right beside Nicholas' bedroom door. Just about his height. He'll see them every day. "Right here," I announce.
The look of pride on my son's face as his father very carefully 'hangs' his 'paintings' makes my own heart surge with such love that it nearly overwhelms me. We all stand and admire the drawings for another minute or so.
"How about dinner at Tyrone's tonight?" Daniel suggests. "Mommy has to go to the grocery store-"
"And she don't wanna go alone!" Nicholas shouts, then laughs. He tugs at my hand. "Wight, Mommy?"
"Right, Little Man," I reply. To be perfectly honest, if I went alone, I could do the shopping in about half the time it takes when Daniel and the kids are with me. But I prefer that Daniel come with me; he can tell me if there's anything special he'd like to have, or just let me know he's in the mood for something particular. He's also very handy for carrying all of those heavy bags. Somehow, grocery shopping has become a family outing. And I wouldn't change it for anything. I know that soon the kids will be grown, too 'big' to want to be seen with mom and dad. Too old to want to hang around with their parents. So even if it takes twice as long...and even if it does get exasperating at times, I'll treasure every moment.
'Is it okay with you?'
I look over into those beautiful blue eyes. 'It's no big deal to pop a casserole into the oven when we get back.'
'It's going to take at least an hour to shop. Then another hour for dinner. On top of putting everything away.'
That, I realize, is an excellent point. That would put dinner off until nearly eight o'clock. Not a good idea. We have a routine, and Nicholas doesn't react well when that routine is broken. If we eat too late, and he goes to bed too late, he'll be so tired he'll have trouble falling asleep, and getting him up tomorrow morning...oh, so not a good idea! 'When you put it that way...Tyrone's is fine.'
For a change Nicholas won't need to be practically bathed before we leave. I guess waiting for us, being inside the moment we walked into the house, was more important than playing in the dirt with his beloved dump trucks. Daniel changes Ethan while I make out my list.
"Emmy, is there a bottle of ketchup in the pantry?" She's become quite the little helper. And she seems to love helping me. Surprisingly, there are times, like now, she really does.
"No, Mommy, no ketchup."
Ketchup goes onto the list. "What about syrup?"
"There's the blue kind that Daddy likes, but none of the brown kind."
Okay, one bottle of syrup. I do a quick inventory of the freezer. I can put off making casseroles for another week. So I won't have to pick up a lot of meat, or the ingredients I need for them. That will speed things up considerably.
Daniel walks into the kitchen, Ethan over one shoulder, diaper bag in hand, Nicholas at his heels. "Any bottles ready?"
There are two on the refrigerator door. I grab one, tuck it into the diaper bag. "I think we're ready to go."
"Too easy," Daniel comments. "What are we forgetting?"
I can't help but laugh. It's true, usually it takes thirty minutes to get the kids ready to go anywhere. I suppose not having to wash Nicholas and put clean clothes on him is what is throwing us off. "I don't have a long list tonight."
His eyebrows go up. "Not going to be making casseroles this weekend?"
"Nope. Next weekend."
"You've been hanging around Jack way too much."
"Ever wonder what habits of mine he's picked up?"
That thought sends half a dozen random images through my head. I try to imagine Jack engrossed in reading, or examining an artifact. The mental image is too much, and I can't help but laugh. "No, I don't think you have any that he can pick up."
With a smile that threatens to reduce me to a mass of goo, Daniel heads for the back door. "Let's go, gang."
Ethan is snuggled into his car seat, then Nicholas is buckled into his. Emmy is able to fasten her own seatbelt now, sitting on the booster seat that puts her at the correct height for wearing it. That tugs at my heart...my baby girl, my first born, is becoming more independent every day. I won't...I can't dwell on the fact that she's in second grade. My baby. In second grade. I sigh. Nicholas is in preschool. Ethan is the last baby I will ever have. Daniel has already made his feelings clear on the subject; we wouldn't have Ethan if not for The Ascended. I suppose all mothers experience this feeling of wanting...needing... their babies to remain babies as long as possible.
"Mommy, guess what I learned today?" Emily asks.
"What did you learn today?"
"I learned about poems. I telled my teacher that you write poems. Someday I'm going to write poems, too."
When Emily was a baby, right after I had returned to active duty, I was convinced that by not being with her I was a terrible mother, and that even as an infant she could sense that...and would grow up resenting me...hating me. My darling daughter and I have a relationship that I didn't dare to hope for. She seems to want to emulate me at every turn. When I go to Silver Scissors, she always goes with me. We get our hair trimmed, and a manicure, sometimes a pedicure as well. And then she insists on calling her daddy, and telling him that we need to go out for dinner, because 'we got all prettied up and you should show us off'. He always takes us to Curly's, just her and I. He's even started having flowers for each of us when we arrive. "I have some books of poetry, would you like to read some tonight at 'Snuggle Time'?"
"Oh, yes, Mommy! Can we Daddy?"
She asks the question of Daniel, because he is the one who does the reading. I sing silly songs with them. And we are not allowed to deviate from that routine. It's actually rather funny, when I think about it. If I try to read, or Daniel tries to sing, the kids just give us a look that lets us know they aren't amused, and while we might believe that I'm perfectly capable of reading a story, or that Daniel can sing a song with them, they aren't buying it. Daddy reads stories to them. Mommy sings silly songs with them. And that's the way it is. The way it has always been. And the way it will be until the day...and a sad one it will be...when 'Snuggle Time' is no longer a part of our nightly routine.
"Sure, Princess," Daniel replies. He grins over at me. Reaches for my hand, lifts it to his lips. One of those actions, done so often and so casually, that no one seems to even notice. I do. Each and every time. It makes my heart dance against my ribs. It makes my soul sing. And it makes flames of Fire race up and down my spine.
"I leawned po'ms too," Nicholas announces.
"Uh uh!" Emily says.
"Uh huh. I leawned them!" he insists. He's at that stage where he has to mimic everything his older sister does. I have no idea if he does it to drive her crazy, which it does, or because he just wants to be like her, which he does.
"Daddy, tell Nicholas he didn't learn poems!"
"He's looks up to you, Princess," Daniel says calmly. "So he wants to be like you."
"But he didn't learn poems. Saying so is lying, isn't it, Mommy?"
Oh boy...why is it that kids aren't issued with instruction manuals? Or at least warning labels. 'Caution: Dealing with these surprisingly intelligent, independent minded little individuals who have yet to learn the finer points of societal behavior may be hazardous to your pride and sanity.'
She's right...technically. But accusing Nicholas of lying will only break the child's heart, because that's not his intention at all. I doubt if he understands that he's 'lying'. But I have to let her know that lying is not acceptable. "If we read those poems tonight, Nicholas will be learning about poems. He's interested because you've learned about them, and like Daddy says, he loves you and looks up to you, so if it's something you enjoy, then it must be fun, or interesting."
I can just about hear her thinking about this. "He still didn't learn 'bout 'em at school like I did," she grumbles.
"But he'll learn about them tonight, so it won't be a lie to say he has learned about them," I tell her, hoping that she'll understand. "You, know, Emmy, it's a very big responsibility being a big sister."
"It is?" There is a definite hint of interest in her voice.
"Yes, it is. You're the oldest, so that means you'll do everything first. Everything that Nicholas and Ethan will do and learn in school, well, you'll have already learned it, and done it. You can help them by telling them all about it."
"Will it make them smarter if I teach them first?"
"It will certainly give them an advantage."
"What that word means, Mommy?"
Oh, great. Do I look like a walking dictionary? 'A little help?'
Daniel grins. 'Give me a second.'
He's either laughing at me, or he's really trying to figure out how to explain the word to her. I figure it's the former.
"It means it will help them...be ahead...of the other kids in the class," Daniel says.
There's a reprieve while she thinks about this. Emily thinks way too much for a five year old. "Nicholas, I'll tell you 'bout poems," she says after a few minutes of silence.
When Daniel smiles over at me, I know that we've managed to survive another episode of 'explaining the world to Emily'. I have my suspicions that Daniel was exactly like Emily as a child. Toss in his son's adventurous streak...and I'm glad I didn't have to raise him! I know that the stubbornness that Ethan is already displaying he did not get from his father. Because his father still has his. For one moment I wonder how Melburn and Claire Jackson survived Daniel!
I listen as Emily launches into a description of poems. The child has a memory like her father's...I don't think he's forgotten anything he's ever learned, and she seems to be the same way. Maybe having Emily 'tutor' her younger brother will prevent him from having trouble in school. He's not 'dumb' or 'slow' by any stretch of the imagination. He just doesn't seem to have time for letters and numbers and colors and shapes. No, my son is too busy vying for the Dennis the Menace of the Century award. Once again I think that my children are Fate's way of apologizing for all that Daniel and I have endured. And that Fate is getting the last laugh at the same time. Just wait. Three Jackson kids. Brilliant. Inventive. Stubborn. Oh yeah...yuk it up. We'll just see who's laughing last.
A A A A A A
Tyrone's is fairly busy. Which is typical, given the time. There aren't any tables available inside. Which thrills the kids. After a very noisy discussion about who wants what, Daniel orders our meal, then gets out and opens up the back of the Blazer. The car seats are all brand new, made right here in Hope, using a really ingenious design and Tollan materials - and they're a snap to move, much better than the others. It doesn't take but a few minutes to have all three of them in place, which means we can take them out when it's our turn at the carpool, without the hassle. It also means that they can be taken out, put in the front of the car, the back seats folded down, and we have room to move around. Great for making love. Also good for eating at Tyrone's Drive-in. The best thing is, they 'rate' safer than the more cumbersome Earth produced car seats. How's that for moving into the 21st century?
The blanket that will catch the crumbs and any spills is spread out, and Daniel lifts Nicholas into the back while Emily climbs up beside me. Ethan is still in his car seat, which is pushed against the back of the driver's seat, watching all of the commotion with interest.
I've learned to keep a few small toys and books in the car, and it's one of those books that Daniel opens, Nicholas on one side, Emmy on the other, and begins to read. It will keep them occupied until the food gets here.
I take the opportunity to feed Ethan. With luck he'll sleep through Murphy's. Having an older brother and sister, he can sleep through just about anything, and usually does.
"I can feed Squirt, Mommy," Emmy tells me.
"Move over here."
She scoots over beside me. I put her baby brother in her arms, letting her rest her arm on my leg. I know he gets heavy rather quickly. He's already watching her face, cooing up at her. She talks softly to him while I have Daniel warm his bottle. I'm not sure that the Big Boys intended for him to use his 'gift' like this, but he can hold the bottle, and call up just enough of the Fire to warm it in his hand. I figure if he has the heat, why not use it, right? Besides, it gives me perverse pleasure to think that somewhere, someone just might not like that fact that he's using his 'power' for something...constructive.
Ethan sucks on his bottle, reaches for Emily's face as he eats, and she lets him touch her, and grab her hair. Even when he tugs hard, she doesn't utter one word of complaint. I gently open his little fist, pull the long strands of fine blonde hair from his fingers, and brush it over her shoulder. I've offered to let her hair cut in the same popular style as many of her little friends. She has refused each time. I rather imagine that when she gets a little older, she'll change her mind. Like his big brother, Ethan has a healthy appetite. He's finished with his dinner by the time ours arrives.
The kids tell us about their day, and we talk about letters and numbers with Nicholas. Who seems more interested in talking about the pick-up that is parked beside us. Oh, well. Not everyone is an 'intellectual'. So far he seems more...mechanically...inclined. Which may or may not be a good thing. He's already shown more inventiveness than I'm actually ready for. One wagon. One dog. One rope. Nicholas. Toss together and you get thirty minutes of sheer terror, as we raced around the neighborhood trying to find him, terrified that he had been kidnapped. Something tells me that we'll only see more of the same as he gets older. I can only hope that I...and the house...survive.
A A A A A A
One thing about doing my grocery shopping this time of the day, not as many other people are doing theirs. We get the carts, Ethan in his car seat in the basket of one cart, Nicholas in the seat. Another for the groceries. Emmy walks along with us now, but Nicholas is just too much to try to keep track of at times. He's fascinated by how the shelves are put together. As in he likes to crawl onto them and examine each and every bolt. If that means moving merchandise out of the way, so be it. Dennis the Menace has nothing on my son.
We go up and down each aisle, Emily eager to help me find the items that I need. As usual, the cereal aisle generates a debate on just what we should get. Cap'n Crunch of the peanut butter variety for Nicholas. Like Emily, he loves peanut butter. He'd live off of the stuff if I'd let him. I've caught him sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, jar in hand, sticking his fingers into it and happily licking them off. Emily is learning that variety is the spice of life. She's still debating while I get coffee and filters, chocolate powder and chocolate syrup, all conveniently located on the shelves opposite of the cereal. Daniel tosses a box of Honeycomb into the cart. Growing up, he was never given the opportunity to choose the cereal he liked. In one of the foster homes in which he lived, cold cereal wasn't even allowed. That particular foster mother had been a 'health-nut', according to him. Don't even mention tofu or alfalfa sprouts to him.
"Emmy, pick a box, Baby, we need to move on." I try not to rush her, but she needs to understand that we have other things to get.
She picks out a box of Corn Chex. Then looks at the box of Fruit Loops. Her uncle Jack likes Fruit Loops. With a sigh, the Chex go into the cart.
I grab the Fruit Loops. I am not spoiling her. I happen to like them, myself. Everyone else gets to pick a box of cereal, right? Daniel grins at me. Emily beams up at me. Let them think what they want. It was my choice. I wanted them. Really.
The produce section is where we spend the most time. We eat a lot of fruit, a lot of vegetable salads. I happen to adore salads. Ed Murphy has always offered his customers the best produce he can find. The variety is amazing...the usual fare from Earth, and more recently, our own greenhouses. Which makes it fresher and tastier. Then there are the 'alien' varieties, like the orange and yellow 'tornan fruits' from Langara. They're sweet and juicy, and different enough that I can't make a comparison to an Earth fruit. There are vegetables from Terra, that possibly are hybrids of local flora and seeds brought with them from Earth.
Emily loves carrots. She has from the time she's been able to eat them. I buy them in the five pound bag. All of the usual 'salad' type veggies...leaf lettuce, fresh spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, green and red and yellow peppers, celery, radishes, green onions. We like fresh broccoli in our salads as well. Apples...Daniel's favorite. I try to keep several varieties for him, although his preference is red delicious. Pears...Nicholas' favorite. Oranges...Emily's favorite. Peaches...my favorite. Bananas we all enjoy. Cantaloupe, another family favorite.
Daniel has often joked that we're the poster family for a proper diet. I think he's exaggerating just a bit. But it's important that the kids learn to eat the right foods while they're young. Secretly, I'm a junk food junkie. I always have chips and cookies and ice cream in the house. Occasionally I'll indulge my 'bad' side and buy frozen burritos and enchiladas and pizzas. But I'm a mother. Have to set a good example. Even when what I really want to do is sit in front of the television surrounded by chips and dip and cookies and pizza.
Bread is the last thing to go into the cart. We have the best bakery in existence right here in Hope, and it supplies all of the supermarkets with their culinary delights. Three boxes of cookies go into the cart as well. I haven't had time to bake, and it doesn't look like I'll have a chance in the next week or so. Cookies and milk have become a favorite dessert at our house.
Surprisingly, we're done in just over an hour. That doesn't happen very often. The stop in the meat department only took a few minutes, as I wasn't looking for meat to use in casseroles. Next week, we'll be lucky to be out of the store in under two hours!
I get the kids into the car...I hate to admit we're driving an SUV...while Daniel stuffs the groceries, literally, into the cargo space. By the time I get everything put away, it will be bath time. Then 'Snuggle Time'. Then Mommy and Daddy time...my favorite time of all!
A A A A A A
Daniel backs the Blazer into the garage, it makes it easier to unload the groceries. Nicholas follows his father back and forth as Daniel brings in the bags, and I have to giggle watching him, trying so hard to imitate every movement of the man he adores.
Once again Emily is more of a help than the hindrance she was even a few months ago, putting the fruit and vegetables into the bins in the refrigerator as I hand them to her. The big ceramic bowl that has always been the 'fruit bowl' is once again overflowing.
I start a pot of coffee, Daniel will want at least one more cup before he goes to bed tonight. When I turn around, he's standing by the island, leaning against it. "What?"
"Ever thought about doing your grocery shopping online?"
As a matter of fact, I have. But I'm very picky when it comes to the meat and produce and baked goods for my family. That's why shopping takes so long...I hunt for the best. From the question, I gather he's tired of accompanying me to the store every week. "You don't have to go with me."
He shakes is head slightly. "I don't mind going, Case. I was just thinking that it would be one less thing you'd have to do."
"It's not like I do that much!" Sometimes, to listen to the man, you'd think I toil sun-up to sunset!
"You do a lot more than I think you realize."
"I have a housekeeper, for crying out loud."
"And you still clean our bathroom twice a week. The kids' bathroom just as often. And you usually vacuum."
"No I don't." Not exactly. I have a Swiffer. Love it. It takes two pads to go over all of the floor space that I have. And if it takes more than fifteen minutes, I'll stop baiting snakes.
"Okay, fine, you don't get out the vacuum, but you clean the floors."
"If I didn't, we'd be up to our asses in dust bunnies and dirt."
I can see his cheek twitch. "Not hardly. You do all of the laundry."
"It's a shame I have to kneel on the lake shore and beat it all on that big old rock, and then use the washboard. Maybe you should think about buying me one of those newfangled washing machines, and a dryer, too!" I will bet a full month's wages that there isn't another woman alive anywhere who has ever had a conversation like this with her husband! I know I'm a very lucky woman. This is proof positive.
He's starting to chuckle now. "Casey, you do a load every day."
Which reminds me, I need to toss a load into the washer. By the time the kids are tucked it, I can fold it. "There are five of us, Daniel. Sheets and towels alone have to be washed every couple of days. We have children...and Nicholas and Ethan usually have to be changed at least once during the day. Most of our stuff goes to the cleaners. So what other horrible, back-breaking chore do you want to save me from?"
He follows me to the laundry room. "I worry about you, Angel," he says softly.
Mmm-hmm. He's worried about me. Something is up. He only gets this...protective...when something is bothering him. I toss in a load of the kids clothes, turn the washer on. "What's wrong, Daniel?"
He reaches out and pushes my hair behind my shoulder, lets his fingers run through it all the way to the end. "To be honest, I'm not really sure," he says softly. "You look tired, babe."
"Well, I'm not." Okay, I really am, just a bit. But from here, the night gets easier. Or it will, as soon as the boys have had their baths.
"Bullshit," he whispers. He reaches for me, pulls me close. Have I ever mentioned how annoying it gets when he can 'read' everything I feel, good or bad, in my eyes?
"You're just as tired," I counter. "You get up the same time I do." Actually, he's usually 'up' by the time I'm fully awake. Sometimes he's already 'busy' by the time my mind has caught up with my body, and what he's doing to it...to me.
I can see him thinking about this. We wake up and make love. The best way to start the day, in my opinion. We take a shower. He makes the bed, I dress the kids. We have breakfast, and then we're off to the base. We don't go out and run errands or grocery shop every night. Usually we do it on Saturdays, but last Saturday was Carly and Teal'c's anniversary, and we spent the afternoon there. We come home, have dinner, and spend time with the kids. Nothing overly demanding there. Well, as long as it hasn't been one of those days on the base.
"Maybe we just need a vacation. A real, honest-to-god vacation," he says quietly.
We've had a few days off, here and there. But not as long as we've wanted, or needed. Nothing like the vacation we all took on Langara. Even then we wound up dealing with the NID in the middle of our two weeks. "Maybe we do. After the holidays, we'll see about going somewhere."
"Daniel, Thanksgiving is four weeks away. Four weeks after that is Christmas."
"So, we'll spend Thanksgiving at a resort this year," he suggests.
No way in hell! Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are the two days of the year I'm guaranteed to have with my family, all of them. There have been a few years when we've celebrated a few days late, or early, due to the inconsideration of the damned Goa'uld. "Those are family days."
He looks at me. Studies me. I can tell he's trying to come up with a way to convince me to go on a vacation during my favorite time of the year. "Four weeks until Thanksgiving, huh?"
"Give or take."
"I'll talk to Duncan tomorrow."
I have to admit, the idea of slipping away to Langara, spending two weeks in what has become our favorite resort, is very appealing. "I won't miss Thanksgiving."
"I don't suppose you'd consider letting someone else host it this year?"
"To give you a break."
"It's not like I fix the entire meal! Mom and Sam and Tessa and Carly and Amanda cook just as much!"
He snorts, shakes his head again. "You fix more than an entire meal. Yes, they bring stuff. One or two dishes. You do the rest."
"I like doing it! It's something I can do! I'm not smart like Sam, I can't build generators and gizmos and satellites! I'm not an artist like Tessa! I'm not a dancer like Carly! I'm not an Ancient like my mother!" Oh, hell! I had no intention of ever letting him know how I really felt...how my insecurities still bother me. The darkness may not have any control over me. But the scars that gave birth to that darkness are still there...still painful.
He crushes me against his chest, his arms are like steel bands around me, holding me tight...safe...secure. My arms are around his shoulders before I've even had time to think about it, my face pressed against the warmth of his neck.
"You're just as talented, babe. You have a gift that I can't even begin to understand. And I know just how much those 'searches' can take out of you physically. It's not easy being part of the defense system for an entire planet. It's not easy trying to protect every SG team assigned to Gamma."
"But that's different! I don't...I can't create anything! The only thing I can do even moderately well is cook!"
"You're a hell of a lot better than a moderate cook, Casey."
I shake my head. He just doesn't understand. "It's all I have."
"Okay, babe," he says softly. "We'll take a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Deal?"
"Deal." I only need to be back here at least two days prior to the holiday. I can order the turkey from Ed Murphy before we leave. I usually order that far in advance anyway .
"We'd better see what the kids are up to."
Ethan is just starting to stir...he slept the entire time we were at the store. It's a good thing he's waking up, it's bath time. I pick him up, cuddle him closely as we head toward the bedrooms. Nicholas is playing with his 'indoor trucks', toys that aren't allowed outside. It helps to keep the carpet a bit cleaner in his room. Emily is reading a book. Have I ever mentioned how much like her father that child is?
"Hey, Little Man! Bath time!" Daniel announces.
"Emmy, get your jammies and go take a shower." We've begun letting her use our bathroom to shower while we bathe the boys. Daniel is talking to Tim Potter about finishing off part of the basement. Right now it's all in the 'planning stages', we're waiting for his drawings of what we want done...a family room, two bedrooms and a full bath. When she's older, she'll be given one of the rooms in the basement, and will have a bathroom to herself, more or less. The boys will each have their own room, and share the main bathroom.
"Okay, Mommy." She carefully closes the book. One of the Princess Fishtail books we picked up from the library Saturday morning. We still pick out several books to be read at 'Snuggle Time', but she's been getting one or two to read 'by herself'. Nose in a book half the time. Just like someone else I know and love.
Daniel is getting clean clothes for both boys while I warm the water. The metal basket of baby soap and shampoo and lotion is hanging from the shower head, I put it on the floor for easy access.
Nicholas races into the room, naked as the day he was born, and immediately goes to the toilet. He drags the stool that he and Daniel spent an entire Sunday afternoon making and painting so that he can stand on it. And he dutifully takes care of business.
"Do you need to sit down and potty?" Daniel asks him.
He considers this for a moment, then decides perhaps he should. Better that he does it now, rather than have to get out of the tub halfway through his bath. Which has happened...many times.
Daniel is an incredible father. He's patient...loving...absolutely adores his children. He plays with them. Reads to them. Colors with them. He spends time with them in ways that they'll never forget, no matter how old they are.
Finished, Nicholas leans over and lets Daniel clean him up before trying to dive into the bathtub. We took the kids to the new city swimming pool a couple of weeks ago. Young Mr. Adventure followed some older kids onto the diving board before we were even aware he'd slipped away from us. By the time we saw him, he was on the end of the board, and tumbling head first into the water. Daniel dove in, grabbed him and pulled him to the surface, where he howled with pure delight. He spent an hour going off of the board, Daniel right there to pull him up each time. After twenty minutes, he was starting to work his way to the surface on his own.
"Hey! What have I told you about that?" Daniel asks sternly.
"Baf'tub nots a swimming pool, and I'll busts my head open if I jumps into it," Nicholas recites obediently. "But it gots water in it!"
"Not deep enough to keep you from busting your head open," Daniel mutters in response. He lifts his son into the water.
By now Ethan is undressed. I sit him in the tub, let him splash for a few minutes, and then carefully begin bathing him. Daniel knows the routine and squeezes the baby wash and then the shampoo onto my hand as I need them. Once the baby is washed, Nicholas can have his boats and play. I already know that when Ethan is older, I'll be cleaning the bathroom every night after they've bathed.
Wrapped in his warm, fluffy towel, I hand the baby to his daddy. And turn back to my oldest son. "Where's Mr. Ducky?"
He pulls the yellow duck up from the water. "He's leawnin' to dive," he tells me. "Watch, Mommy!" He 'walks' the duck along the edge of the tub. Puts his arm out as if it were a diving board, and Mr. Ducky dives into the bathtub.
"Better check Emmy. She should be ready to have her hair dried," Daniel says softly.
A quick trip to the laundry room to toss the now washed load into the dryer, then back to my bathroom. She's just stepping out of the shower when I walk in. "Mommy, can I puts lotion on like you do?"
"Sure, Baby. Which kind do you want?" I have my favorite, one that I get from Victoria's Secrets. There are also a half dozen others that I've picked up to try, a couple that were gifts.
Emily studies the bottles that line the back of the counter. "The yellow one."
It's a bottle of Coconut Lemongrass lotion from Bath&Body Works. "Oh, good choice."
She takes the bottle from my hand, carefully pours a bit into her hands. She's watched me put lotion on before, so she rubs her hand together, then begins to apply it to her arms, down her tummy to her legs. I help her get it on her back and bottom. "Thank you, Mommy."
"You're welcome, Baby." A few squirts of the 'No Tangles' spray that Marcie suggested for both of us, and the comb goes through her wet hair. My hairdryer is lying on the counter, I grab it and her hairbrush. "Lean over, let's get the underside dried first."
By the time we're finished, Nicholas is ready to get out of the tub. I take Ethan and dress him, after changing his diaper. It seems that Daniel barely got the diaper on his little butt before he cut loose. I think it's funny. My Husband, however, fails to see the humor in the near disaster.
Daniel washes Nicholas, lifts him from the tub and dries him. The pajamas covered with puppies, one of his favorite pair, go on and he's ready for 'Snuggle Time'.
A A A A A A
I pause in the doorway of Emily's room, one of my favorite volumes of poetry in my hand. Daniel is already stretched out on the bed, Nicholas is sitting on one side, Emily on the other. We discovered a wonderful series of children's books written by an author right here in Hope. The stories are about four children...one from Earth, one from Hope, one from Langara, and one from Terra. They have various adventures, and learn about each other's homes in the process. The fact that they're written for very young children makes them all the better for us. The book is still on the bedside table.
Daniel smiles up at me. Reaches with one arm for his youngest son. This is the way it's supposed to be. Ask the kids, they'll tell you.
"Sing, Mommy," Nicholas begs. I settle down on the bed beside him.
"On top of spaghetti," I start. The kids are already giggling. This is a favorite of theirs. "All covered with cheese..."
"I lost my meatball when somebody sneezed," Emily joins in.
"Rolled off of the table, and onto the floor, and then my poor meatball rolled out of the door."
Nicholas is giggling too hard to sing, imagining that rolling meatball.
We manage to get through the entire song, although we did stop once because we were all laughing about that tall meatball tree. After two Sesame Street songs, the kids cuddle up to Daniel. It's story time...well, poetry time tonight.
Emily has a brass bed now...a dainty filigree of curves and curls that just screams 'little girl'. I lean back against the foot board and just watch and listen. Daniel answers every question, lets the kids take turns turning the pages. He explains anything he thinks Nicholas might not understand. He's barely had time to read 'Paul Revere's Ride' when eyes begin to get heavy. By the end of the 'The Beauty of the Mountain', our little Dennis the Menace is asleep.
I take Ethan, he needs a bottle before he goes down. Daniel moves carefully, picks his son up. Emily starts pulling back the comforter as soon as they're off of the bed. We tuck Nicholas into his bed, kiss his blonde head, then go back to say goodnight to our daughter.
"Go take your shower, babe. I'll give Ethan his bottle." He's already moving into the bedroom to check Ethan's diaper. While he's doing that, I straighten up the bathroom, spray the shower cleaner, and call it good enough.
It was never our intention, but somehow we've fallen into a pattern of taking turns giving the baby his last bottle of the night. And tonight is Daniel's turn. I can't help but watch for just a few minutes as he gets the bottle ready, quietly talking to his son. When it's warm enough, he settles into the rocking chair in the living room. The dryer buzzes, and with a sigh, I turn to take care of it.
When I walk into the living room a few minutes later, I catch my breath at the sight of my husband cuddling his son. I can see it on his face...the love, the joy, the absolute wonder. I love watching the amazement in those beautiful blue eyes when the kids hug him, or call him 'Daddy'. The delight he takes in watching them. I slip out of the room. This is private time, for Daniel and Ethan alone.
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