As I look over my scribbled notes of the happenings earlier this week, they seem a world away. Much has happened in the span of seven days. We had just begun creating a blueprint of our family of four days - trying them out for size, baptism-by-fire style. We were feeling blessed, lucky: a quiet healthy baby, a doting big sister eager to help (who, thank goodness, seems to be completely unchanged by the shift in our family, or shift in circumstances as the stories below will show). Then, thirty minutes after the stroke of 2010, our heat went out.
Jason used to reminisce about weekends spent at his aunt and uncle's house: the Saturday morning ritual of cousins piling onto the master bed for a morning of games and cartoons. It's the sort of ritual he hoped to recreate in our home one day. I just don't think he imagined a weather-induced start. But in the early minutes of New Years Day, we piled all of our family members (even the dog) onto our bed to keep everyone warm in the absence of heat (the high for New Years was slated for the mid-teens). We spent our morning there, until the repairman diagnosed the problem and regretfully informed us that they are not allowed to carry the part we need, and the store that does was, and still is, closed. So we wait. Jason sent me off, kids in tow, on New Years to seek warmer accommodations. Then, in true captain-of-the-ship form, he stayed behind, armed with space heaters, to insure that our pipes don't freeze.
So as I read my early-week notes, missing my husband terribly and hoping that he's warm, they seem from a different time, one of which I am happy to be reminded:
On Sunday, Audrey was playing with one of her new toys, a magnetic easel (complete with alphabet magnets) from her grandparents. She was picking out magnets and handing them to Jason. She picked up a "D".
"D for Daddy," she said, handing it over. Impressed, Jason put it up on the easel.
She fished an "A" out of the pile and passed it on. "A for Audrey." Jason placed it next to the "D".
"M for Mommy," she said as he put the "M" up beside the "A".
"N for Nathan."
And then we saw it, "D-A-M-N", spread out in bright colors across the child-size easel. Just more proof that you can't think of everything when naming your children.
As we went through the paces of Audrey's typical bedtime routine on Monday, Jason snuggled up next to her. She began rubbing the top of his head while he told her goodnight. In the midst of telling her he loved her and that she was his little pancake, she interrupted, "You do have hair!"
Jason's mom came over to help out on Wednesday. While tending to Audrey in the kitchen, my mother-in-law called her "babe". Audrey looked at her blank-faced. "What's babe about?"
Thursday, we decided to have breakfast at a local place that serves great pancakes. Since Audrey is his little pancake, Jason has taken to referring to Nathan as Flap Jack. Not one to leave me out, he's deemed me his Crepe. Crepes were on the menu (and, I have to admit, I am a bit drawn to them). Audrey asked what they were and Jason explained. "Mom, you're a fancy pancake," she said.
On Friday, I loaded the kids into the car to head to may parents, where we have been enjoying their generosity (and heat) ever since:
Nathan got fussy as I finished gathering the last of our gear into the car for our trip. I came out to find him crying and Audrey saying, "It's okay. Okay! Okay!" followed by a plea to me, "Can you sing to him?"
My mom took care of bath duty Friday night. I could hear Audrey singing made-up songs as she splashed in the tub. Mom tried to join in, but was quickly informed that she wasn't allowed to sing.
"Maybe I'll cry, instead," my mom said.
"You can't always get what you want," Audrey informed her.
On her way to bed, Audrey found a couple stuffed Miss Piggy dolls, which she gathered and ran to put in her bed. "They missed me, dude!" she yelled halfway up the stairs. My parents and I exchanged glances before asking in unison, "Did she just say dude?"
When I packed on Friday, I brought enough for a night's stay, thinking we'd be back in a toasty house Saturday afternoon. But Jason still sits at home, surrounded by space heaters, and I sit at my parents' wishing he were here. It's not quite how I envisioned us spending our first full week as a family of four. But it is how we spent our week, and it reminds me that I am lucky and blessed: to have a husband so easy to miss; family close by to offer their home and help; and the reality that this lapse in heat is a minor inconvenience for us rather than the constant struggle it is for some who also have little ones and spouses to protect. And let's not forget the blessing of Audrey and her laughs, because laughs - they can keep you warm.