Work continues to consume me. Projects, personnel, the fall break that's no break at all when you're on staff at a college . . . some of it is good, some of it is just difficult. I feel like I'm learning a lot and being challenged in some meaningful ways, so I'm trying to focus on those positives.
I've got a pot of butternut squash soup on the stove and an applesauce cake cooling on the counter. There's sage in the soup; the smell reminds me of my grad school boyfriend, who always had dried sage from the California desert on the dashboard of his car. The weather has turned unapologetically cool, breezy, and damp. I turned on the heat two nights ago when I started to shiver uncontrollably after a middle-of-the-night visit to the bathroom. It's pitch black when we get up in the morning and dark not long after I get home from work. All indications are that fall is here.
Our au pair arrives next week. She'll actually be in the States on Monday, but will spend three days in training with the agency who is helping with her visa and all the logistics. She's here late next Thursday night, and then a whole new phase in our lives begins. We're muddling through this transitional period with lots of help from friends and friends of friends and our own can-do attitudes. I'm grateful every day to have kids who embrace change and who enjoy new people.
We spent the weekend on the Oregon coast. It was rainy and windy. "Mama, my hair is being CRAZY!" declared a windswept Maddie on Sunday morning. We ate dinner at a delicious, delightful restaurant where the baby-faced executive chef indulged Maddie and Riley's queries as they observed his work in the open kitchen. There was pool time, lots of snacking, a bit of beach time, and even a nap. I needed that getaway.
I got Maddie and Riley's first school pictures today. They are unbearably adorable. I'm stunned by how the school photographers captured the essence of each of them: Maddie's closed-mouth smile, her sweet but sophisticated gaze; Riley's open grin and easy charm. They are so grown up!
A close friend's child sustained a serious, if not life-threatening, injury recently. Another friend has been diagnosed with cancer. Make that two other friends. My computer is DOA and my bank account has seen better days, small woes in comparison to the health and welfare of loved ones, but harsh reminders of the day-to-day that is life. It all moves forward in ways positive and negative. I feel like an observer sometimes of all of this activity, undeserving of the good and paralyzed by the bad. I can barely pick Maddie up anymore for a snuggle; when I tell her how big she's getting as I hold her, briefly, she says, "But not so big for this." For now, not so big for this. But that bittersweet day is coming as part of all these steps ahead.
The soup needs pureeing, the cake needs frosting. In a few too-short hours, another day will begin in darkness, the forward motion unrelenting, the good and bad coexisting, too much left unfinished but the necessities accounted for.