She is perched beside me, eating a bowl of Life cereal. We are enjoying a peaceful lull between waves of happy chaos: the utterly fantastic week-long visit with our beloved Virginia Joneses (or Jonesii, as Scott calls them) and a still-in-the-planning stages rendezvous with the Cottage Clan.
(Beanie: "Mommy, did you know whales nurse their babies?")
Our Jonesii visit passed all too quickly, a delicious blur of San Diego sightseeing, cinnamon bear devouring, Settlers of Catan playing, sandwich making, late-night giggling, air mattress bouncing, sunscreen slathering, ant battling, and talking, talking, talking. The six girls (her three, my three) managed to share four mattresses and a futon in one room for eight nights without mishap, which is a notable achievement, if you ask me.
(Beanie: "I'm afraid you will be sad to hear that I poked my stomach on the corner of the table. But don't worry, I'm OK.")
There is tons to write about last week, but I don't know when it will happen. This is one of the busiest Augusts we've ever had. Our globe-trotting friend Keri will return to the States next week, and we get her first. If you want lots of visits from friends, San Diego is the place to reside, let me tell you!
(Beanie, who is now interlocking arms with me as I type and she reads 1001 Bugs to Spot: "I can tell you a lot about honeybees, you know.")
Travel seems to have been the theme for this year of my family's life. We've hung breathlessly on Keri's adventures and Alice's. We made our own epic journey and have had a glorious time exploring this new frontier. More adventures await—some this very day, in fact. I'm off to prepare...but in the interest of leaving you with something useful, here's a post I wrote a long while back about how even when we were stuck at home for a long time during Wonderboy's precarious infancy, we managed to make many circuits of the globe in the company of a charming flagbearer named Mr. Putty.
Recently the kids and I hit upon a new idea that has brought an extra layer of interest and mirth to our morning read-aloud sessions. We decided to make a little marker that we could move around the globe to the location of each story we're reading. We started with a little blob of blue putty—you know, the kind that was supposed to hold our timeline to the wall without marking up the paint. It didn't. Instead, it seems to travel all around the house in the busy fingers of my children.
Well, now it travels around the globe. A little piece of it, at least. Such a simple idea, and such fun! Yesterday Mr. Putty began (as he always does) here in Virginia; hopped over to Palestine; sojourned down to Egypt; zipped to Italy to visit St. John Bosco; flew back across the Atlantic to New England, where Robert Frost was picking apples; escaped to Germany to avoid hearing my children mangle the language in our sitting room; reunited with us in Greenland, where a windswept traveler was regaling the household of Eric the Red with tales of a new land to the west; hurried to Scandinavia, arriving just in time to see some strange folks pop out of the armpit of Ymir the frost giant; and there he lingered for the rest of the day.
The girls take turns assisting Mr. Putty with his travels. (Beanie often has to be dissuaded from allowing him to visit her grandparents in Colorado instead of venturing to his next book-inspired rendesvous.) At some point, our intrepid explorer sprouted a tiny American flag (complete with gold-painted toothpick flagpole) from the top of his blobby self. While I'm a little uncomfortable with the imperial overtones of such an adornment—Mr. Putty is, in effect, planting the U.S. flag in the soil of countries all over the world—it does make it easier to see where he's stuck himself now. And it's such a sweet little flag.
Dear Mr. Putty! I wonder where in the world he'll go today?