Saturday smiles: unexpected pleasure edition

Less than a week after missing my kids like crazy I’m counting the minutes till bedtime again. It’s been a stressful, tiring week. (Is there any other kind? I’m hopeful but I haven’t seen it yet.) We’re adjusting to a new work schedule for my husband and a new set of circumstances for the kids and me. Change always brings a bit of friction, doesn’t it?

But like those car commercials featuring Ted Allen explaining a type of fruit at a market and Peter Frampton filling in for a local band’s ill guitarist, this week held some unexpected pleasures.

Like our kids being super cooperative car travellers. This isn’t really unexpected because they’ve been subjected to these cross-country car trips their whole lives, but I keep thinking one of these days, we’re not going to be so lucky. So far, that day hasn’t come.

On this trip, Isabelle, our 4-year-old, made up her own game called “Dress the Houses.” The idea was that if you saw a house, you pretended to dress it: with a hat on the roof, overalls on the “body,” etc. Where she came up with that, I have no idea, but it gave us some laughs. Then we decided to try the story game, where one person starts a story and the next person adds to it and so on. I thought we were going to crash the car, we were laughing so hard. Isabelle titled the first story “Twins of the Heart.” I gave the “twins” the names “Lucy” and “Goosey.” She decided the parents would be named “Warzone” and “Exit.” (No prompting. I have no idea what goes on in that head of hers.)

Later she said, “I can’t keep my thoughts in my head.” Boy, do I know that feeling. Our second story featured a community of alligators. When some people came to visit the alligators “ate them to death” according to Isabelle. She also said her hair was the color “dipped in lizard.” It was all much funnier at the time, probably because we were road weary. School for her ought to be interesting. I’m dreading the parent-teacher conferences already.

We were housebound most of the week, which is unusual for us. I found some joy in the domestic arts of cooking and cleaning. I stocked our freezer with cream of carrot soup and homemade chicken stock. I made dinner every night this week except one. I even tried my hand at homemade cinnamon rolls this morning. (I need more practice.) I scrubbed the bathroom floor. I dusted. I kept the dishes clean. I washed and folded laundry. We still have areas that are messy in the house, but the next couple of months might find our house the cleanest it’s been since we’ve lived here.

We went trick-or-treating with another family, who have all become good friends to us, and even though it was dark and cold and we had to approach people’s houses (I get anxiety just thinking about it) and stand in a long and winding line at the local retirement home for safe trick-or-treat, we had fun. And the kids have enough candy to last us all till next year, at least.

We reconnected with another set of friends and had an afternoon of play that not only broke up the monotony of the week but encouraged me in many ways. Sometimes when I’m stressed and not feeling quite myself, I retreat from other humans and find comfort in books. This week, friends were a blessing. Not unexpected but I easily forget what I need.

I’m in no danger of buying a Buick anytime soon, but I can agree that this week, unexpected pleasures were the best part of life.

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