Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Few Very Good Things

There were some rough spots on the trip, that's for sure. The mosquitoes, for one thing. Vile little nanobots, they are. Also, I struggled the first few days with feeling like I'd made a mistake, watching my friends relax on the dock, jumping in the lake, playing in the boats while I tried to keep my children from drowning, which I was sure was going to happen at any time.

And then, the ten-hour car rides, bracketed by flights on either side. I got home and felt like my back had been an accordion in a traveling hobo music show. I still want to sleep 12 hours a night, not because I need it but because the memory of exhaustion still lingers. 8 days of watching my kids, without E, felt like too much at times.

But then, release. The "Aunties," as they came to be called, came to my rescue, and my children's. Without a word, without negotiations, they stepped into the breach, and I got to breathe, to run, to swim, to experience solitude.

With that, I realized what family means. Family means that folks are there for you, in a real sense of the word. There was no obligation, no worry about paybacks. They somehow read my needs, and the girls, and just appeared! An entire village. The Aunties held my girls, held me, and rocked us into relaxation and the routine of a new place, so that we really did have a vacation, and soaked up the beauty of Stoney Lake and the love of our extended, adopted family.

There are a million great pictures to share (many on the cameras of the various Aunties), but here are a few that invoke the spirit of that week for me:

Nolie's first big-girl ice cream cone. She's almost three, you know, and gets to do such things.

The bliss of building, and destroying, sand castles on the "beach." Our amazement that the water in a lake could be so warm and inviting. It was even warmer after rainstorms, which we weathered by cozying up in front of the fire Meghan would make for us almost every morning. My absolute favorite moments were diving into that water, and resurfacing. I wanted to stay in forever.

Everywhere we went, Addie built habitats for bugs and fairies. A real estate boom.

The delight of trips on the boats, especially when we would go fast, fast over the wakes of the other boats, floating high, suspended for a moment, before gravity forced us back down, splat, onto the surface of the lake.
Also, there is nothing better than life jackets. I felt a loosening in my chest when Auntie Meghan said, "Jen, if I can make a suggestion? Put them in those life jackets, and leave them in there all week." Ah, yes. Breathing again.

I don't know. Ponytails. Big eyes. Little noses. Smelling my girls' heads over and over and over again. The weight of their sun-tanned legs on mine. Their little bellies in swimsuits.

And, ever-present, the Aunties. Keeping us all safe. Pouring love over our heads, anointing us. Always a hand, holding on so that we could fly a bit.

Getting to drive the boat, in the arms of Auntie Meghan!

Relaxing with Auntie TT, who tirelessly read kids' stories, listened to the Dora the Explorer CD over and over again as we got lost around Toronto (twice), and made the ten-hour car drive to and fro in the kids' car, all the while nursing a wicked leg injury. Never once did a harsh word come from her mouth, and she kept me laughing the entire way.

Nolie and Auntie Millicent, who proved to be both patient and hilarious. A new Auntie and friend for us, for forever.

Auntie Sandy, always watching, making sure everyone was taken care of and safe. Quietly capable, smart, funny, beautiful. Mama Hen, in the best way.

Yeah, I know this post is a bit treacly. Sorry. I just had a big softening of the heart that happened around this trip and had to share it. Biting sarcasm back tomorrow.


  1. I'm thrilled that someone else gets our dear aunties and can find words to put down.
    And the bliss of stoneylake.calm
    Can't wait to go WITH you next time!

  2. I can FEEL the softness here. It's so marvelous to have "aunties" abounding. Such a good break for the mama, and such a lovely socializing for our children. I love the photo of Addie building fairy/bug habitats.

    Looks/sounds like an amazing trip.