He snores slightly. This tiny two-year-old nephew of mine. He slumps over on the couch, wrapped in a bright blue blanket and letting out soft rumbling snores.
Upstairs the girls are sleeping sideways in the bed so they can share without rolling off. At 5 and 3 1/2 they are nearly the same height and compete for everything though they love each other with this fierce sister-love that keeps them tight even when they’re at odds.
The pack-n-play is set up inside our bedroom door, the baby snuggled up with his bottom stuck in the air and a pacifier thrown to the opposite corner so he can made room for his thumb.
We picked beans for dinner from the garden. The baby crawled along the edge, giggling at the way his brother would snitch a bean from the basket and then dart away before I could scoop him up and tickle him. “Pick your own!” I would yell after him, unable to stop smiling at their antics.
The girls couldn’t remember which were beans and which were peas. “This one, Auntie Tashe?” They would yank it from the plant before I could answer, so I would shake my head. “No, silly. That was a pea. Go ahead and eat it now.”
“Oh, whoops,” the older one would send a twinkly-eyed glance my way. She really likes peas.
Later, after dinner was made and ready but my husband hadn’t appeared, we packed up the babies in a double stroller and dug some carrots to take to Donkey. He pranced away slightly at the stroller, but trotted over happy-as-could-be when I held a hand out with a crunchy orange carrot.
We stopped at the barn to see the stalls filled with a new dairy herd. They aren’t ours this time and I waved at the truck-driver-turned-farmer as he put the machines on the last cows. The little ones squealed in delight and I unbuckled the two-year-old to give him a better view. “Cow, cow!” he jumped in my arms, pulling the pacifier from his mouth, “Moooo!”
There is only a load or two left of last years corn. The silo was filled to overflowing and now we can look down as the unloader throws the silage over our heads onto the elevator. My husband lifts the girls up high so they can see were the elevator is dumping the corn into the truck.
“It’s done us well,” he says and I nod, remembering the day, just over a year ago, when we walked out to the back field expecting to see shriveled up corn from the drought that was plaguing the area and found, instead, 8 foot tall stalks with 3-4 full ears on each stalk. We raced through the field laughing and knelt together in the middle, knees hitting dried, dusty dirt, and praised God.
Now the last is being sold and we’re still thankful, each day, for the income it has provided.
Dinner time finally arrives and I tie the baby into the antique highchair with two yards of lace. The girls giggle. “It’s lace, Tashe,” the blue-eyed one exclaims, “and he’s a boy!” I wink and tell her it’s okay because I’m a girl and it’s my highchair.
We eat lasagna and beans and the little bit of broccoli that was mature enough to cut. The baby loves the green beans, smashing them between his fingers and stuffing them into his mouth. His brother, on the other hand, eats one bite and spits it back out. I frown at him slightly and he says, “It yuck,” with such a serious face that I laugh.
“Just eat the broccoli then,” I tell him and he happily complies. Wonders never cease.
We dish up ice cream and they all yell “yes!” when I ask who wants chocolate syrup. When they finish the girls drag their chairs over to the sink. The older one washes and the younger rinses and before long the dishes are stacked haphazardly into the drainer, leaning on the side of the fridge to keep from falling over. I snatch the boy as he climbs up to help wash and give him the job of laying still while I find pajamas and a new diaper.
“Can we watch a movie?” the three-year-old asks and I tell her that all we have are old Andy Griffith shows. The girls squeal and jump up and down, “We YUV those,” they tell me.
So we snuggle and watch. Half way through the gray-eyed girl takes a deep breath and looks at me with concern, “Where Uncle Ice Cream?” she asks and I explain that he still needed to work more. “It almost dark,” she exclaims, “he might get lost. I no want Ice Cream get lost.”
I tussle her hair. ”He won’t get lost, Dassah-cakes, he’s right at his shop.”
She looks at me carefully then rolls her pretty eyes in a dramatic fashion, “Silly me!” she giggles, “he’s a daddy. Daddies never lost in the dark.”
My sister-in-law and I were talking about when to meet up tomorrow. She, laughingly, left me a message saying that I could “keep them as long as I want”. I may never let them leave…