Friday, October 19, 2018

Punkins & Pumpkins

We had our sixth annual pumpkin patch outing with the Lewis family yesterday! The girls are getting so big. The weather this year could hardly have been more different from last year. Last year we were in Kansas at the end of September, and it was so hot that my kids ended up taking off their shirts to get squirted with water! They don't have complexions that get naturally flushed, but they are so red in the photos. It was in the nineties and we were just baking in a Kansas pumpkin field. This year was the complete opposite and we were bundled up in winter coats!

This year, back in Illinois, it was about 42 degrees and cloudy. My ears literally hurt from the wind! The girls were good sports and still enjoyed their ride out on the haywagon pulled by a tractor, but we were all kind of relieved to take an enclosed bus ride back after we'd (quickly) chosen our pumpkins. Nobody fell in mud! The restaurant was busy and they were out of tomato soup so my dreams of warming up with tomato soup and grilled cheese were dashed. BUT it was Free Pie Monday, so my slice of caramel apple pie kind of made up for it!

(Side note: after lunch, I asked David if he would split a pumpkin bliss dessert with me and he said no, he was too full. But after he found out it was Free Pie Monday, he definitely managed to eat his entire slice of caramel apple!)

It was also fun just to hang out here with Monica and Johnny and Ellie Kate. The kids played a long time in the basement by themselves so we were able to do a lot of talking and catching up. It's fun to see the girls together, and they got along really well, especially considering their personalities are so different. The biggest distinction is that Zuzu gives zero effs and Ellie Kate worries about everything. Maybe they will balance each other out at some point? A nice surprise was that Clementine and Leia Lewis got along great and wore themselves out wrestling. At one point, Leia started getting a little humpy on Clementine and Zuzu laughed and exclaimed, "Go, Leia! She's like a cowgirl, and Clem is like a wild horse!"

And then we all laughed until we cried.

(Side note: I should give Clem a little credit here and say that she has chilled out quite a lot in regard to visitors. There was a time this summer when she was so growly when people came over and it made me really anxious, which I'm sure only added to her feeling tense. We've all simmered down a bit and even though she is still distrustful of tall men at first, she warms up to people pretty quickly. I'd love to say she's 100% potty-trained, but she decided to prove me wrong on Friday evening. I'd also love to say she's quit chewing so much, but there's a Minnie Mouse doll with a detached leg sitting by my sewing machine who would beg to differ. I'd love to say that she's quit eating and destroying her dog bed in her crate, but she's basically sleeping on a pile of loose fleece with a rag towel thrown on top of it right now. I expect that two or three years from now, Clementine will be a very good dog. Until that time, we just keep loving her even though she a pain in the tushie.)

David made a little fire in the firepit and we huddled around it with blankets (Coco chose to wear a strapless dance costume outside) and ditched our original dinner plan to just order pizza so nobody had to get up and fix dinner and it was a good decision.

I really try to prioritize time with friends in my busy life, but it's still hard to block out evenings just for talking and doing nothing else--even with friends who are local! It is always time well spent, though.

I feel like I've been struggling a lot lately with the dark, dismal news. Climate change, irrevocable damage to the environment, hurricanes wreaking havoc on communities on the mainland (not to mention Puerto Rico), the recent supreme court debacle, a political administration whose policies infuriate and devastate me--and I'm only a witness rather than a victim, as my white and socioeconomic privilege protects me from a lot of the problems.

At the same time, I feel so fortunate that my life feels full in many ways. I can remember when I felt that this level of general contentment would never be possible for me. But I feel lucky to do life with D, to raise these kids of ours, to live in a house surrounded by trees and full of dog hair. I find myself surrounded by friends who are supportive and encouraging and smart and interesting--and while I am lucky to have a bff from high school, I also feel incredibly fortunate to have made some really good friends just in the past couple of years. This kind of amazes me since I wasn't sure post-loss if I could ever make friends with a non-bereaved mom. D and I have gotten tapped into a community of energetic and like-minded folks who are working for social justice and real change here in St. Louis and that's also been such a gift.

And I guess all this is to say that life continues to be full of contradiction and paradox and I guess we're all here to hold on to the good stuff and do our best to change the bad stuff. I'll be wearing black with my ERA necklace and RBG dissent collar pin every Friday from here until November 6. But I still feel lucky to be here, to have a voice and to be able to take my kids to a pumpkin patch wearing matching outfits every year from now until forever.

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