That’s more like it

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This weekend has been ever so much better than last.  The good vibe began on Friday, when Timothy Jones, a friend from college days, came over to spend the afternoon and have dinner with us in advance of his performance as the baritone soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Boston Baroque.  I’ve known Timothy for nearly two decades, and he holds a special place in my heart.  We don’t see each other or speak often, but there is a rich vein of love and caring between us, and it was sheer delight to have him in our home and to introduce him to the boys.  He arrived in the afternoon and kept us company, sang a little, accompanied me a little on the piano while I sang, and helped me cook dinner.  Just at dinnertime, Bill arrived home, and we were joined by our friend Julia, for a tasty, festive Chanuka & Shabbat dinner.

Saturday morning the kids and I puttered around at home, making collages, playing in the living room, and listening to music, all with our particular flavor of chaos.  (Just in case you were picturing an orderly progression of activity rather than a jumble of everything at once.)  After I got Gideon to sleep (barely), my dear friend Jennifer came over with the intention of babysitting both kids so I could get a break.  I had planned on having a bang trim and then going off on my own (where I don’t know) but at some point Friday it hit me that Akiva has not had an uninterrupted minute of my time for many months, and that maybe having a little one-on-one with his old lady might be good for him.

It turned out to be good for both of us.  We went to the coffee shop, where I bought him a cookie.  Miraculously I had credit for a free drink on my coffee card (from before) so I used it for a large steamed hazelnut soy milk.  Akiva and I sat in the big comfy chairs and chatted about this & that. Once he finished his cookie, he looked a little sleepy, so I asked him if he wanted to snuggle with me on the coffee shop couch, which he did.  There’s a little corner of children’s books at this lovely neighborhood coffee shop, and he grabbed a couple and snuggled in while I read to him.  Although I might have liked to have that hour or so to myself, sharing it with Akiva really settled us both and renewed our closeness, which was somewhat frayed after last weekend’s drama.

We got back just in time to get dressed up and ready for our Temple’s Chanuka Dinner & Talent Show.  The boys helped me reassemble the living room — jumping on the couch isn’t just for Tom Cruise, I’ll have you know — and we got ourselves out the door with a relative minimum of grousing and craziness.  (Fine, the boys’ kippot were held on with butterfly clips.  So sue me.  They always take off their kippot within minutes of arriving at the synagogue anyway.)  I managed to rehearse for the talent show portion of the evening without the kids getting into too much trouble, and then we hung out waiting for Bill to arrive.

The organized part of the evening began with Havdalah, followed by candle-lighting (everyone brought their own menorah), dinner, talent show, singalong, and schmoozing.  Luckily I was first on the talent show, because the boys were starting to lose it.  Bill took them home after I sang, and then I stayed out with the grownups till I bloody well felt like coming home!  (I wanted to be sure the kids were tucked in so I didn’t undermine Bill’s autonomy.  Yeah, that’s it.)

This morning, I had my church job and Bill had to work, so our wonderful friend Nancy came over to watch the boys for the duration of my church commitment.  When I arrived home, they were well-fed, and Gideon was ready to go upstairs for a nap.  Resourceful Akiva stayed downstairs and used his new paints and sketch pads.

Once Gidi was asleep, Akiva and I hit the kitchen where we/I made, over the course of the afternoon, two loaves of oatmeal bread, two dozen doughnuts (a Chanuka tradition, my first attempt), a huge pot of applesauce, baked sweet potato fries, cranberry sauce, and wide noodles.  Most of which was served with the amazing brisket that Bill cooked up last night.  (All I had to do was microwave the meat!  What a husband!)

After we got the kids to bed tonight, I set to work packing up several cartons for my volunteer project, which this month included three boxes just of Christmas gifts and wrapping supplies.  I was touched by how many people made contributions to the toy drive — this is the first year I attempted to organize it and I use the term “organize” only because I don’t know of a word for “slap together with barely a brain cell to spare” — including some folk from my church job.  It’s good to know that even in hard times, people are still willing to share what they can.

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