Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Our Labor Day Weekend at home was too short—Joshua and I were in the Twin Cities for only 72 hours—but we had a wonderful visit.

Other than attending Sunday morning service, Josh and I never left my parents’ house from early Friday evening until late Monday afternoon. My middle brother and my older brother and his family spent all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday at my parents’ house, too, so that we might visit with them the entire weekend (and play with the kids).

Josh and I had last seen my parents and my middle brother in March, when they had traveled with us to Greece, but we had not seen my older brother and his family since Christmas.

My niece, who will be two years old in another three months, has grown enormously since Christmas. Eight months ago, she was beginning to walk, tentatively, and she was able to emit a few sounds and utter a few syllables. Today she can walk like a pro, and she has several words in her vocabulary. She’s now a miniature person, and no longer a baby. She watches what goes on around her, she expresses curiosity about everything, and she likes it when people talk to her and engage her. She can even make it through a picture-book story without her attention waning.

She smiles all the time, and she looks at people around her to see whether they are smiling, too. Invariably they are, because she is always watched most closely and always the very center of attention—and people cannot help but smile when they look at her.

Her fussiness about foods has passed, and she has become a much better eater. She gets a more varied diet now, although she is still restricted to bland, easy-to-digest foods. Her favorite dinner at present remains boiled chicken, mashed potatoes, butter beans, mashed carrots with maple flavoring, and fried apples. She adores angel food cake for dessert and, consequently, my mother now makes angel food cake once or twice a week, just for my niece’s benefit.

She remembered Josh and me from Christmas—of course, Josh and I had not changed as much over the last few months as she had—and this was probably because her mother and my mother talks about us to her frequently. Further, she knew we were coming, so she was not surprised to see us on Saturday morning. In fact, I think she was happy to see us—and she allowed us to hold her and play with her freely.

My nephew certainly was happy to see us, because our presence meant that he had two more playmates to join him in his games. He smiled and smiled Saturday morning when he saw that we had arrived safely.

My nephew attended Sunday School for the first time on Sunday. He will not be five years old for another two months, but my brother and sister-in-law decided that it was time for him to begin Sunday School—because they wanted him to have a year of Sunday School mastered before he enrolls in Kindergarten a year from now.

Preschoolers do little more than play games when attending Sunday School—the kids are not quite ready for Saint Augustine—and my nephew reported that he and the other kids played with “boxes” and sang. The “boxes” in question, I believe, are large red plastic building blocks the Sunday School crew uses to create play spaces for the children in their charge.

My nephew must have behaved himself, because his parents have not yet been requested to withdraw him!

The entire weekend, Josh and I played with the kids—and so did everyone else. We went through the complete array of toys and games the kids most enjoy, and we did so from morning till night.

The dog has slowed noticeably since Christmas. He is often content simply to lie on the floor and rest. He is less energetic than he was eight months ago, and more prone to nap throughout the day. He still likes to go to the park early each morning, but his trip to the park is now more of a stroll than a romp.

My parents believe that his hearing is beginning to fail. He apparently does not react to sounds in quite the same sharp way he did even one year ago.

At the rate he’s been deteriorating the last year or two, I’d say we will be lucky to have him for another two years.

My parents are looking forward to the end of the current school term, when Josh and I will return to Minneapolis. They’ve missed us, very much, just as we have missed them. I think this three-year period has been and continues to be harder on them than it is on us, especially since they thought I was home for good in the early Summer of 2006.

Over the weekend, we did a little preliminary planning for the Fall.

Over Columbus Day Weekend, my parents and Josh and I may travel to Houston to see the two German Impressionism exhibitions—one exhibition is paintings, the second exhibition is works on paper—at Houston’s Museum Of Fine Arts. The painting exhibition is probably the most important American exhibition of the season, and we would very much like to see it.

The fly in the ointment is that there will be nothing else going on in Houston that weekend. The Houston Symphony will be touring in Europe, Houston Grand Opera’s season will not yet be under way, and Houston Ballet will have already concluded its Fall season. Even Houston’s Alley Theater is offering nothing but “Peter Pan” that weekend, and “Peter Pan” holds no allure for us.

We will make a decision about making a trip to Houston in the next week or two.

Over Veterans’ Day Weekend, my parents will visit Josh and me in Boston, and this decision is firm. There are several performances from which to choose that weekend—“La Bayadere” performed by Boston Ballet, “Tosca” performed by Boston Lyric Opera, a Boston Symphony concert with Christian Zacharias, a Murray Perahia recital, and a concert by Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica—and the performances will definitely make a trip to Boston worthwhile for my parents. It will probably be their final trip to Boston to visit us, excepting Josh’s law school graduation next Spring, which they will be sure to attend.

As of tonight, it looks like Josh and I will spend Thanksgiving in Oklahoma or Dallas, and Christmas in the Twin Cities.

I’m already counting the days.

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