Friday, July 15, 2011

Giving Thanks

            It has been a wonderful gift this week, to spend lots of one-on-one time with Littlest, to hear his thoughts, and to realize again how very far he has come. During the school year we spend a great deal of time together working on math and reading and narration, but the time we had this week was minimally scheduled, and our fun times were largely dictated by what Littlest wanted to do. He is an easy child, this one, and while we have worked hard together to help him overcome his early delays, he really doesn’t demand a whole lot of attention. He is an easy traveler, an easy sleeper who is cheerful upon waking, and a voracious eater of all things healthy who tells me each night which leg he’s filled with the inordinate amount of food he’s consumed. He has been so easy, in fact, that I have to make sure that I am paying extra attention to him, encouraging him to use words instead of nonverbal body language or his brothers’ interpretation of his body language. Without his two closest-in-age brothers here this past week, it has been amazing to hear what this little one has to say!

            We have played games together – Lewis and Clark and Apples to Apples. We have read together – he is delighted to listen to Little Pear every night – and he tells me he likes to hear stories about naughty children, even though he tries to be very good. The fact that Littlest can listen to a chapter of a book, comprehend it and share his thoughts is HUGE.  The past school year was devoted to lots of work on narration, using the methods of Charlotte Mason. For Littlest, it was also a form of therapy – for listening, and for speech. We started with books I’d read the other children at this age, but Littlest couldn’t recount even a bit of just a page I’d read to him. I chose books that were simpler, and Aesop’s Fables, and we started, a paragraph at a time, to work together. I’d read, then stop and ask him to tell me about what I’d read – not digging for scripted answers, but looking for signs he’d heard and comprehended and could make it his own in some way. It is much easier for him when he reads it himself, but listening comprehension is so important, I feel it’s worth working on this too. It is a continual delight to me now, after months of working together, to see Littlest enjoy Charlotte’s Web, Pinocchio, and Little Pear. So this week, we read. Lots.

            We hiked, the rocky, winding path running along the side of a waterfall, and picnicked near a calm pool downstream. The Rower and I sat in the sun to eat, and I watched Husband and Littlest enjoy their sandwiches on the top of a large shaded boulder while the dog lay in the cool below them.

We swam each day, out to the raft at the pond we’ve been bringing the children to since College Boy was just ten years old. He will be 21 this September, but I remember him, brown and lithe, diving off this dock, digging in the sand, catching crayfish. Each of our younger boys has come home to this pond, and it has been lovely therapy, full of sand and water and dragonflies and little minnows that swim around your feet and scoot away when you move. This week, what a pleasure it was to watch Littlest’s improved dive and backstroke, to sit on the raft and watch him do trick after trick – and to listen to him talk about it all! The Rower kept a steady Frisbee game going on the grass, and checked in for drinks.

On the way home, we stopped at a little organic produce stand in the front yard of a nearby house, and bought 2 zucchini, a huge bunch of broccoli and a bouquet of cilantro, all for four dollars. We put the cilantro in a vase College Boy made for me long enough ago that his name is written on masking tape on the bottom, all in wobbly capital letters. I sautéed onion, zucchini,  broccoli, and julienned carrots with a few shakes of red pepper flakes, sea salt and a splash of soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free). Littlest thought this was much better than the leftover pizza he’d excitedly brought out for the Rower and himself, and went on and on about this incredible thing I’d made with just a few ingredients, right from someone’s garden. “You should put this on Facebook,” he told me, meaning here, so here it is.

After stories and snuggles, he went to bed, sad that we hadn’t had time to bake cookies for the bigger boys’ homecoming from camp tomorrow, but much too tired to be a baking helper. We decided together that I’d make the dough tonight, and in the morning, we’ll bake fresh cookies for our much loved and much missed boys.

There a bunch of them, these kids of mine, but I cherish them. They are like flowers, unfolding and blossoming, and I am continually mystified that I get to be part of this. So many of these small moments – the dives, the conversations, the little gifts – I want to etch into my memory so I don’t lose them. It goes so quickly, I have seen this.  It is not always easy, this walk, and I’m sure others have different walks with different challenges, but goodness, God has blessed us each with so many every day miracles. I pray my eyes will be open to them, each new day.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18


  1. What a wonderful post! I'm so glad you enjoyed our bounty and hope you will come back. Tomatoes will be in soon! And the Littlest can play with my biggest if you knock on the door! :)

    In Him, Dawn

  2. You continually amaze me. Even if I did not know the characters in this entry it would still be a beautiful piece of writing. However, knowing who everyone is makes it even more so. Littlest is one lucky boy and I know I do not have to tell you how lucky you are!