Monday, October 24, 2016

autumn break

For public school teachers, it's called MEA break. For us, it's just fall break, as Montessorians have conferences themselves, and I think for many of us, the idea of heading into that convention center with all the brightness and chaos is a bit crippling.

Instead, my family and I drove down to Austin, Texas, to meet the newest member of our family: Maya and Finn's cousin Traver, named for my sister and my grandfather, who was much adored by both of us. My favorite thing about the first few minutes after we walked in the door? Finnegan was the one who begged to hold him first. My little three-year-old, who has asked me questions about what life will be like when he becomes a dad, or a mom (my kids have asked some interesting clarifying / philosophical questions on what makes a "mom" and a "dad," which is fun to discuss when your kids grow up asking, when finding out someone is married, whether one has a husband or a wife).

We stuck close to home, mainly because life with a seven-week-old is pretty hectic and those little globs of adorable want mama and milk and rest and most of the time all three at once and now please. So we enjoyed the blessing that is their big backyard, which is rich with a variety of southern trees, ones we will likely never see in our Minnesota climate, and Maya immediately took it upon herself to gather as many unique seeds and pods and snail shells as she could find. She also impressed us with her ability to write her brother's name. (She's resisted academics a bit and this fall, we're seeing a breakthrough, which we're not trying to undo with too much enthusiasm--just the right amount of peacock-pride.)

Austin has its old reliables: fried avocado, grackle cackling, the rescue zoo. The baby is new and probably my favorite part of the whole adventure, though it's nice to know you've been down enough to have favorite things. We even snuck into a used bookstore and I brought home a stack of pedagogy books and a few Eyewitness books for the classroom.

A peacock took a shine to me, and a rooster sang to us as we had food from a truck and those syrupy flavored ice cones. The peacocks have shed their tails this late in the year, though you'd never know it wasn't summer by the weather. (Unless, of course you are native to Austin, in which case you say, thank goodness the weather has finally broke.)

Maya has been begging for a turtle for her "surprise birthday party," so she bonded, and below is a frog named Finn.

Maya also bonded with a goat. And a deer. And some pigeons. And a lion. If this girl doesn't end up with animals as a part of her daily life when she's an adult, I will be incredibly surprised.

I loved watching my sister being a mama. It reminded me so much of myself with Maya--she has the same relationship with her son as I did to her, that strapped-to-chest velcro kind of closeness, the roughshod sleep, the utter stars of gratitude, the constant hunger, the sweet doe eyes. I certainly felt grateful to witness it. And her husband is a great papa, though these are those fourth trimester days, where nothing else is the same as mama, and that will change. For now, everything cocoons around this little boy.

Of course, my children didn't miss a beat in telling stories. Sharing little things found, informing about habitats and plans for little beds for little bats and building a fort in that one special corner.

Grandma and Grandpa flew in on Saturday, but we only got a few hours with them. So Grandma got to glory in the little bit of time of three grandkids at once, and then we began the long slog home.

Thank you, C + C + T for the wonderful southern hospitality. We cannot wait to have you introduce your son to Minnesnowta, and to return again and again. And when you find out how to fold the map a bit so we can be closer together, let me know.

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