Monday, April 14, 2008

Simple Pleasures

Before we moved up North almost six and a half years ago, we lived in Madison, WI, for a short time, around sixteen months. Joe and I had met in Madison a little more than ten years previous. I had lived there for five years at that time and Joe for three. So when we later returned for the second stay, we had many friends and connections still in that city.

On Sundays during that winter, our friend Ben, a bachelor, would often come spend the afternoon with us. It was just a nice relaxing, comfortable way to spend a Sunday afternoon. At that time we had five children, ages 1-7, so gadding about wasn't much of an option for us.

I would usually pull out a jigsaw puzzle after Clara and Elsie went down for their naps. Joe and Ben and I would listen to 70s and 80s music and talk about lofty things. Everything from theology to societal problems to reminiscing over old happenings.

Louisa and I would work on the puzzle with some help from Ben and a bit from Jeremy and Matt. Even Joe might periodically pop a piece in, but he is not much of a puzzler. By the time Elsie got up we were far enough along to find pieces here an there that she could help with and then when Clara joined the ranks after her nap, the puzzle was usually nearly done.

These days we don't do many puzzles. No particular reason, other than we just don't think about it. We are busy with different things and since we now live in a much bigger house, the puzzles are packed further away and out of sight.

But recently, as readers of Joe's blog already know, we have been rearranging and reorganizing the household. With switching rooms and general upheaval, it is a good time to go through everything. We have been sorting. Making sure all the bits and pieces of games and puzzles and toys are all packaged with their proper cohorts.

As a part of this process, the girls and I have again been doing jigsaw puzzles. With a bit of help from the boys. I don't know whether it is just my boys, or if in general boy brains do not enjoy puzzles. But the brains of us girls sure do. It is so nice to sit with my growing girls and see them progress in their spacial abilities.

But more than that, it is such a nice way to sit together with our hands busy and our mouths just chattering away. Most of my work as a parent involves the type of brain power that does not allow me to visit as I work. Please understand that while growing up one of my Dad's favorite phrases describing me was "Mary, you can't walk and chew gum at the same time."

So for a mom such as I, who can not walk an chew gum at the same time, it is especially nice to pursue an activity with my daughters that allows us to visit so freely. It gives me an opportunity to appreciate what fine young ladies they are, in a way that parenting through normal chores and school and sibling battles do not.

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