Monday, March 31, 2014

There and back again

Let's see... On Saturday, I got a full night's sleep and managed breakfast. My morning session (with a wiggly Timmo) was titled "Holding on and Letting go—sanity and sustainability in homeschooling." I missed about half of that as Timmo was going between me and Daddy and didn't want anything we had to offer. One of the things I did get from the session is a reinforcement of the idea that, no, we can't do everything we see That Other Person doing. It's not our job to keep up. We are in different seasons from each other. And, well, the rest of that Saturday morning was the season for me and Timmo to rest. (He crowed with delight to see his pillow, honestly.)

We all made it to lunch, and attempted to be on time to our photo session with Jocelyn Mathewes. I made sure the children were dressed and rebraided Lucia's hair. Didn't think so much about how wrinkly Fr. Peter's cassock (always) is or the fact that my favorite shirt may be a great color but isn't technically a maternity shirt and, of course, I could have worn black shoes rather than the sneakers which need to be replaced... but we were late. Lucia and I came into the lobby to find Fr. Peter and Jocelyn frantically mopping up someone's forgotten coffee which Timmo had found and shared with a couch.

Then she took us outside (which I didn't expect) and had us run around and do things. The children were okay for a while but then crankiness took over. The album of pictures to choose from doesn't have many which stand out as something I'd like to own, but even the ones which aren't all that great (from facial expression or some lack on our end—the shots are beautiful!) are still pretty funny. Also: I am a freaking Mountain. Just huge. (I can't stop laughing when I even think about one particular picture: Fr. Peter is holding all three of the kids and I still take up more than half the frame.)

After lunch I made it to half a session on field trips, then Timmo and I went and rested some more. Fr. Peter took the children and the Duplo blocks we'd brought to play with all the others in the auditorium while I went to the planning session for next year. It was interesting to see this aspect more fleshed out and to be able to offer my perspective as a first-time, new-to-everything mother.

Lucia dropped out halfway through vespers, and Fr. Peter took her and Timmo (if I recall correctly) back to the room, where she crashed and slept for the next 13 hours. This meant that I stayed and Fr. Peter took the boys to dinner at some mysterious place called the camp dining hall. There were such things involved as rain, mud, beans, falafel, and chocolate cake. (He brought back dinner to me and ate it when I didn't, as I tided myself over a little too much with bread and peanut butter.) I put the boys to bed and the husband went to the second keynote speech. Ah, well, at least Dr. Veniamin writes books so I can get at him that way, and it did provide fodder for the conversation on the trip back.

Sunday... was tough. We got up for Liturgy (some of us more than others). Fr. Peter went to see whether he could serve (yes, of course). I fed the children some peanut butter and bread, finished getting them dressed, went down the hall for orthros. Timmo has never been through an entire orthros, and decided that he wasn't going to start then: time to change his diaper as they started. We made it through most of the rest of orthros sitting in the front near the chanter's stand. Timmo was mesmerized when the three priests put on the rest of their vestments.

Liturgy was another matter entirely. I yielded to the pressure (okay, and the screaming) and went out. I herded children with Kh. Nicole (oh! blessed relief!), preventing small persons from departing by elevator, climbing the outside of the stairs, playing with the trash can, carrying off a prie dieu, setting anything (including selves) on fire with the candles, starting percussion ensembles with chairs... During the sermon both Timmo and Lucia kept shrieking, so we went to another area (behind a door)... where Timmo found a piano. And figured out how to open it after I closed the cover. I couldn't find a key, so that escape route was out for us after the discovery. Another mother put her baby to sleep in the stroller and stood guard on Timmo towards the end of the service so he wouldn't go into the chapel (he fits in places where I physically cannot, and does so at high speed).

After communion things were a bit better, but still wiggly, of course. Then there were trisagion (memorial) prayers for His Eminence Philip and Fr. Alexander Atty, then prayers for food and safe travels (I found out from my husband later). We stayed for the post-communion prayers, Teddy somewhere out of the chapel, Lucia right near me, and Timmo contentedly lolling on the floor with blessed bread.

In sum: we survived, and that's a victory. I was so grateful for all the support from the other people there. It wasn't the worst service, child-behavior-wise, but it was definitely wringing. (I only cried when Timmo stuck his fist in my eye and dislodged my contact and my hair got stuck on one of his buttons when I was taking him down from my shoulders and he had pulled off my headscarf.)

Then we went back to the room and packed madly so we could check out before brunch and leaving, since they needed rooms for His Eminence Philip's funeral and other activities. The food during the entire stay was simply marvelous. We were sad to say goodbye to all the lovely people.

Then we drove home, deciding to avoid tolls, so we didn't go through South Bend this time, but south through Indianapolis. Again, Fr. Peter drove... until the last bit. With about 40 minutes to go, he spotted a rest stop and asked whether I would drive. Since he'd been driving for almost 12 hours (counting two stops for fuel with children-related breaks), I figured he would only ask if he was really tired. I did pretty well for the first few minutes, and then it was an agony to stay awake. I jerked awake going off the road at one point and then, boy, it was time for that audiobook (The Prairie Home Companion's Third Annual Farewell Tour). Made it through the highway part, but then there was a strange figure in the road, not quite standing or crouching, and I couldn't figure out what it was or what it was doing (was it moving or was I just really tired?) and the hair on the back of my neck started to rise up... and then I realized with relief that it was some idiot on a skateboard with no reflective clothing, in the middle of the street at midnight.

So then Monday was supposed to be a lovely day of children playing quietly and resting and me unpacking and getting things done and Fr. Peter getting back in the swing of things. Evidently I neglected to get that draft approved by the proper authorities. Teddy complained that his ear hurt, was running a temperature, napped until midafternoon, was diagnosed with an ear infection, and got his first dose of antibiotics this evening. Lucia played happily (despite eye patch) and then went to speech therapy and shopping with Daddy, getting in only a 15-minute nap due to further churchly errands. As a result, she was pretty cranky the rest of the evening. Timmo went to sleep for a morning nap and continued into his afternoon nap, skipping lunch entirely. Both of the littles went to bed early.

The middle of the living room is clear again (of laundry, Legos, and luggage), but there's not really room to sit on the couch, and I think we still have a dining room table but I couldn't offer you any proof.

I struggled through some volunteer work copying and pasting in Greek for Fr. Seraphim, and started an AFR transcript, but didn't get very far with either of those today. The email about our taxes was about twice what we'd expected, so that will curtail pretty much anything further and put more emphasis on my finishing as much income-generating work before the baby comes as possible. (We are still comfortably off, just not as far ahead as we had dreamed we'd be.) I don't mind all the work so much as people being sick, and, while I'm at it, I sure could use a new pair of feet and ankles.

I am looking forward to making a dent in all the things that need to get done... but judging by the things on tomorrow's schedule that probably won't be a large dent, nor soon. One thing in particular that I am looking forward to is writing thank-you notes (and having Teddy do the same, epistolary champion that he is) to all the lovely parents who took charge of the children's workshops at the conference. Both Teddy and Lucia had a superlative time.

I feel a bit shy about telling other people how much I enjoyed meeting them because I totally have crushes on them (and sometimes entire families) and I already feel like enough of a doofus. I had streams of people asking me whether I was okay and could they help with anything and even (just a father walking by) telling me I was amazing for driving so far and being pregnant. Did I really look as tired as I felt? Was there some secret mission I was the object of? It was humbling and rather beautiful.

Another thing that was lovely (sorry; running out of happy adjectives) to me is getting to see my children from someone else's perspective. Teddy was impressive in his behavior, Lucia was loved on from all sides, and Timmo simply delighted everyone (even if they were mystified by the missing shoe(s) theme at meals).

I didn't get what I thought I would out of going, but I am definitely grateful for what I received.


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