Only after we made it, safely seated in the airy food court with our five children and seven sandwiches, did my sister and I joke about whose idea it was to meet up in Rochester in the middle of winter. It was hers, in case you're wondering.
With her husband still deployed (and her birthday and anniversary looming), I wasn't surprised when I asked how I could help, what she wanted, and she said, "A distraction."
So she drove west, and I drove east, both toward reunion, both along the highway stretching lake to lake. Interstate 90, the great gray line of American gloom. We've learned, in this snow belt existence, never to underestimate the usefulness of knowing where the road is, particularly as it pertains to ditch avoidance. And so we sat thankful for seeing the road for at least most of the trip, for making it to this anti-climatic scene of promising the kids sun chips in exchange for two more bites of turkey.
We spent the whole of the afternoon at the National Museum of Play. I can't begin to say how much we enjoyed it. And after four hours of fervent playing, I also can't begin to say how much I wanted to curl up in a ball on the Bernstein Bear's bed and hibernate for an hour or twelve.
I see how in just a weekend, the list can grow, and with it, this feeling of gratitude:
#17 Ditch avoidance
#18 Dani dancing and/or skipping everywhere for the first three hours of our museum visit
#19 Cousins getting lost in play together
#20 Castles and theater and dress up and tea parties
#22 Shopping and scanning and printing a real receipt, and oh, the looks on those faces
#23 Adjoining hotel rooms in which to crash, worth way more than the bargain price we paid
#24 Dani and Glory snuggling in matching jammies, listening to stories
#25 Purple boots and pink snowpants handed down, exactly the right size
#26 Talking with my sis for those precious few hours after the kids finally fell asleep
#27 And for the Sunday morning that came too quickly....a drive-through Starbucks
#28 Did I mention the drive-through Starbucks? Well, it won't hurt to count it twice. It was a double shot, after all.
#29 Joining Larry's extended family (uncle, aunt, cousins) for worship in a sweet, vibrant church
#30 A lovely Sunday afternoon meal--one I didn't have to cook!--with loved ones
#31 The kindness Larry's cousins (much closer in age to our children than to Larry) showed toward Caed and Dani, how my kids begged to stay and hated to leave
#32 A safe, snowless drive home
#33 Having just enough butter to make the snickerdoodles I'd promised for Valentine's Day
#34 Having just enough bubblegum flavored Motrin to get my now feverish girl through the night
#35 The faint sound of spring in the wind, the way 45 degrees feels blooming warm
#36 The icicles shedding winter in drips, agreeing with the groundhog, at least for today
#37 Oh, and just now, right as I was going to hit publish, as a test no doubt of my gratitudinal (yes, I made that word up) fortitude, my little girl covered her sheets with the dinner from four hours back. So let's make #37 gratitude for washing machines, and
#38 For a husband on his way home from work with a fresh bottle of children's tylenol...