The heavens finally blessed our parched garden with rain this afternoon. Before dinner, the kids and I needed a change of pace so we stepped outside. I pulled the car out of the carport, and while Michael grilled us steak and corn, Jed, Zoe and I broke out a new box of sidewalk chalk. My mom has complained recently that their haven't been enough photos of Zoe and she is absolutely right. Sorry, Mom. These are for you! Zoe's top-know always garners a lot of attention, and for good reason. Look at that curly little sprig garnished with a flower bow. Irresistible! She looks like a little dolly but she is the busiest, most filth-encrusted child I know. Her little feet are always black with dirt, she's always exploring in places she shouldn't, shoving all sorts of gross stuff in her mouth. I love this foot shot. Grass between her toes, dirt all over her backside, chalk smeared up her leg, she's a woman on a mission. She's quite the girl, our Zoe.
I'm up early today - Zoe awoke at 5:30 or so, and though she went right back to sleep, I'm not quite so lucky. I see her little body-bump beneath the blankets, identified by the ponytail sticking out the top. Her ponytail is getting long enough, at last, that it curls over rather than sticking straight up, sprig-like. My little girl changes every day, and I panic slightly thinking that her first birthday looms large, so soon...
Zoe loves grocery shopping. I can't imagine why. Just because virtually every person who passes us coos and giggles and tells her how darling she and her ponytail are and tell me that she is the cutest little thing they ever did see (I readily agree.) Random grandma and grandpas immediately adopt her as their own. Last week a little five year old boy went running behind us, shouting to his dad, "LOOK AT THAT CUTE BABY, SHE IS THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WHOLE WORLD!" In return, Zoe plays the part. Yesterday an older couple walked up to me in the parking lot and started going gaga over her. "We just had to say hello!" Turns out while I was loading groceries in the trunk, Zoe was cheerily waving to every car and person that passed us--like the queen of the parade on her float, gracing the masses with her perfection.
Zoe climbs stairs. She made it up both flights the first time. She stands on her own. She waves her hands wildly in the air shouting when she wants "MORE!" She knows if she puts her hand on the laptop touch-pad she can get drive Mom batty. Mom and Dad are no longer allowed to feed her, she can do it herself--get that spoon away from me. She talks constantly. When we attend playgroup, Zoe swiftly crawls off, disappearing into the toys in the midst of the big kids, zealously keeping up with them in their games. I peek in occasionally to see her toothless (well, 2-toothed) old granny grin peep over the side of a toybox, or little rump poke out from beneath a chair.
Zoe hates being left out. If Jed's helping me make dinner, she emphatically insists on being included. Jed doesn't much like sharing his stool at the counter, but Zoe's glowing face makes it hard to say no. When I set her down on the floor during a hot or tricky moment, she collapses, head on the floor, sobbing in abject sorrow that I have left her oh. so. alone. But only for a moment and then she's up standing, clinging to my legs, demanding to be allowed back in on the action.
Jed adores his sister, wrapped in her spell just like the rest of the world but with even greater passion. He loves having a playmate at last. Earlier this week, as I folded towels in the bedroom, I realized with a start that I hadn't seen or heard Zoe in... 45 minutes? An hour? I rushed into the living room. "Jed, have you seen Zoe?" Jed looked up with a grin. "She's right here, mom!" Zoe crawled out, cooing, with my black half slip draped across her shoulders and an Easter basket hanging off her head. "Look, Mom, she's in her clown dress and her clown hat!" They looked at each other and giggled, then disappeared behind the couch, whispering in an unintelligible tongue.
The core purpose of our trip to Nauvoo was to accompany my dear friend Brooke on her very first trip to the temple. The Nauvoo Temple has a special place in my heart ever since my mission, served there during the temple open house. Every bit of it feels like home. Michael caught a few photos while we were there. The back of the temple is my favorite part, probably because as a missionary I loved to sit in the gardens back behind the temple and talk in the quiet shadow of its inscription -- "Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord." One thing I love about this temple is the way it glows, it just seems to radiate light from within. The view from old 1840s Nauvoo. On our way home, back to the real world but leaving a little bit of my heart in Old Nauvoo.
We took our first real overnight family vacation this past weekend - a seven hour road trip to my old stomping grounds in OLD NAUVOO. Jed just hated it, can you tell? Just kidding. He thought it was the BEST THING EVER!!!! Both the kids were amazingly good on the road. I stocked Jed up well with snacks, books, coloring, books on tape, alphabet magnets (which entertained him for HOURS), and of course a big ol' bag of matchstick cars. I brought enough food for nearly all of our meals -- two breakfasts, two lunches, and a dinner. Michael thought I was nuts until he saw Nauvoo, which pretty much has the worst dining choices known to man. I remembered it well and those muffins and homemade granola bars were lifesavers!
To save money, I found us a sweet little deal on a little cabin in a Community of Christ RV-type campground. Hard to beat 16 bucks a night. The facilities were rustic but clean, and Jed could not have been more thrilled with our "Cozy Cabin." Best of all, it came with four rickety bunk beds so he got his very own bunk with his very own pillow and very own sleeping bag!!! His head nearly exploded with the thrill of it all. The first night he eagerly slipped into his bag and fell asleep nearly instantaneously. The next morning, here is what we saw: SO SO SO excited to wake up in "my very own little bunk!" The charm of the bunkbeds did not wear off for him after two nights, and in fact the morning after we got home, he woke up, ran to the living room, and cried to realize that we weren't going back to his bunk in the cozy little cabin. I will say, we had the loveliest of times on those little bunks. Here we are all together in Mom's bed the first morning: We drove down (up?) Friday evening and spent the next two nights there, attended missionary church, and then drove home Sunday afternoon. The road to Nauvoo was beautiful. I appreciate the beauty of the Midwest so much more now than I did at 21. However, after the oppressive heat of recent weeks here, and the hot sweaty nights, we didn't come prepared for the absolutely frigid weather. Who knew just a couple hours north could make such a difference! The days barely topped 50* with a vicious biting wind, and the nights got down into the thirties. We had a little heater in our cabin but it had a hard time keeping up -- the second night Zoe had to sleep with me in my sleeping bag to stay warm.
We went to Nauvoo along with our dear friends, Brooke Rosen and Kadarah Highwood and Annie-girl along to watch Brooke's kids. The overarching purpose of the trip was to attend the temple (more on that later) but we managed to cram in plenty of other activities too. After going to the temple Saturday morning we took a wagon ride around town. We all bundled up in layer after layer of quilts until all you could see of us were our faces, with little swaddled kid faces poking out below. So fun to weather the wind and feel so pioneer-ish. Those early Saints leaving town at 30 below zero sounded mighty miserable when we were all shivering at 50 above! Later that evening we attended my favorite musical - Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo. The next morning, we attended the missionary service, though I didn't get much out of it with busy kidlets swarming around. Before we left town, we squeezed in just one historic site -- my only one of the trip. Seems my lot in Nauvoo -- I'm always up at the temple. Guess I don't mind. Someday I'll go see them all.
I must say, Nauvoo brought back so many cherished memories and faces. Old Nauvoo friends, if you are reading this, I am missing you so much. I wish we could all be reunited at the temple one last time. I can't believe how quickly the last 8 years have flown by -- I still feel like that young missionary girl in her long skirt and straw hat sitting outside the temple, telling stories and greeting all those who came to see our beautiful new temple. I felt strange visiting with my husband and two children in tow, it has all passed so quickly as if in a dream. I love the spirit of that place.
I know, I know, April has been the worst blogging month ever. And after I did so well in March. But the weather has been GORGEOUS here and we all want to be outside as much as possible before the swelter of Indiana summer arrives. Every spare moment is spent out in the garden, walking through the blossomed-out beauty of downtown Newburgh, or picnicking our hearts out on the lawn. All our time inside is spent catching up on chores we didn't get done while we were outside.
As requested, however, we bring you... A PICTURE POST. Quality not assured.