This was the year that I told everyone I would have so much more free time. Emma would be in preschool three mornings a week, and I would have all of those free hours to spend as I chose -- a cup of coffee with a friend, shopping at my leisure, writing blog posts. But then, September was here and reality set in. The first two months of school have been crazy. Each time I think a week is going to be normal, something new pops up. There is a half day or a field trip or some other change in our daily routine. Routine just doesn't happen.
Though I am still waiting for those quiet mornings, there have been breathtakingly beautiful moments midst the chaos. One Saturday morning Alivia, her Mom and I went raspberry picking at a local farm. How peaceful it is to drive down a country road in the quiet of early morning, passing fields of cows, and then to pick berries as sheep graze in a nearby pasture. Raspberries from the vine are delectable, and picking them with my granddaughter's happy chatter as background music is a joy.
There have been preschool field trips with my little Emma, one to a local apple orchard at the foot of the beautiful Helderberg Mountains, with a tour of the farm, a hayride and a snack of cider and donuts. The other was a pumpkin farm with a huge hay slide, a hay maze, and a field of pumpkins waiting to be picked. Another day, we were treated to a visit by a beautiful therapy dog, named Oliver; after listening to the story of Oliver's good works, the little ones were all encouraged to pet the gentle giant.
The half days, which were teacher conference days, were more hectic than usual, as we picked Alivia up from her school, greeted Luke at the bus stop, and then headed to the preschool to pick up Emma. They were all so happy to be together for the afternoons, though. One afternoon Luke worked with his Grampy on a toolbox they are building together. Another afternoon we had our traditional "Family Lunch" with Luke & Emma's other grandmother and their little cousin. Feeding four excited and rowdy little ones lunch and getting them settled in the playroom left Nana and me anxious to settle into the softness of the sofa with our cups of tea at hand.
One Sunday morning, I sat in church as Alivia sang with the Children's Choir. How proud I am of her as she sings her heart out, and I gaze at the faces of her and her cousin, who look so much alike, and share the same long, curly hair and sweet smiles.
And there have also been quiet moments that I have enjoyed by myself. There have been early mornings as I walk the dog and am greeted by the sun rising through the autumn leaves. There have been moments in my own garden when I savor the sound of leaves crackling underfoot as I walk, the chatter of the sparrows as they jostle for space at the bird feeder, the sheer miracle that transforms August's shady green yard into a multi-colored path of dried leaves. There was even a moment as I walked back from Luke's bus stop and noticed the slant of the sun highlighting the last hues of color on a neighbor's trees. Such beauty is to be had for the taking in autumn.
And then, as October draws to a close, we celebrate Halloween. The children are so excited, and the world suddenly becomes one of pumpkins and spider webs and ghostly creatures hanging from trees. Costumes are chosen and parties planned. Even some of the stores in our little town join in with their own lovely decorations.
Everyone bustles around to be ready -- candy is chosen, pumpkins are carved, candles are lit, and homes wait for the trick-or-treaters to arrive, with their laughter and shining eyes.
And then it is over. Sleepy heads droop and the little ones head home to sort candy and dream of a world lit by candles and happiness. We blow out the candles, turn out the lights, settle into bed, and suddenly it is November!!!! Where did the time go? It passes so quickly midst the chaos of school and choir and ballet and sports, but there are those special moments -- the moments we will remember and ponder in our hearts forever. And of course, now it is time to look forward to November --