Life is always full around here, but this time of year is very nearly overflowing. There are only 24 hours in every day and a whole lot of them are spent running to and fro, here and there, and ... I'll take a deep breath when we get to February. That's when it calms down.
For now, though, there are days when we need to be in six places at once. There's a lot of giving and taking, which results in things like two little girls accompanying adults to a birthday party. This was the sort of birthday party where old friends are getting older. Like, REALLY older.
I (correctly) assumed that a birthday party for old people could only be fun for kids for a short amount of time, so I ran from a fantastic photo shoot to the party so I could rescue my dynamic duo from an afternoon of boredom.
We couldn't just run home, though. It wouldn't be a day ending in "y" if I didn't find a way to let the little member of the dynamic duo explore a playground. So we pulled into a parking lot and spent some time climbing and sliding and swinging and all of those things. We spent a solid 45 minutes enjoying a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
And then came the rain.
The rain rolled in suddenly and with force. There were mere moments of warning sprinkles before the skies opened up and water poured down in sheets. Fortunately, we were already in the car and halfway home before things got really bad.
Things got really bad when Alexis realized the mistake. I was focused on cautious driving when she suddenly shrieked, "Mooooom! Do you have my necklace?"
I didn't have it. It was a cute little necklace that spells out "smile," and while I had held it for a few minutes while the big member of the dynamic duo did back handsprings at the playground, I had set it down with Alexis' other stuff nearby. She had grabbed her jacket and such, but the little necklace hadn't made it back into her hands.
It was at the playground.
Thirty minutes away.
Through pouring rain.
"Where did you get the necklace?" I asked. "We'll just go and you can pick out a new one." I didn't want to spend the time chasing something that was relatively simple to come by.
The sobbing started instantly. At first Alexis couldn't speak because she went straight to Hot Mess. She sobbed and she shrieked and then she finally sputtered, "Miss Lori gave it to me."
Miss Lori. Alexis' bus driver in kindergarten. She was a very special sort of fantastic and apparently, four years later, she's the sort of fantastic that can't be forgotten.
I turned the car around.
Alexis ran through the rain to pick the necklace up off of the ground.
As she burst back into the car, breathless and relieved, I wondered what parts of the day Alexis will remember 20 years from now. The grown-up birthday party? Playing with her sister? The fact that I turned the car around to retrieve a necklace that likely came from Claire's? Or the fact that the bus driver who made such a fantastic difference still matters years later?
The differences between Mila and Alexis could form a list long enough to stretch to the moon and back. Every day it's a startling yet fantastic new adventure as I find more and more ways they view the world differently.
They have the EXACT same view on one thing, though.
While Alexis was far more shy as a one year-old, she still would have happily spent her days and weeks and months like this.
Both girls have a special place in their hearts for animals.
Any animals. All of the animals.
Right now Alexis says she either wants to be a dance teacher or a veterinarian when she grows up.
In the meantime, I think she's going to get a run for her money around here. Mila has discovered the fun of feeding animals, so now she's on a mission to become every four-legged creature's favorite little person.
I just wish Mila hadn't decided the best way to become everyone's favorite is to carry fistfuls of grass with her absolutely everywhere she goes.