while we were gone

So last week my husband and I took off for Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for several days of MDS leadership training.

The entire time was spent in meetings (I stepped outside once, for about one minute), so it wasn’t exciting in the “Ooo, I’m in another country” sense, but we did hear lots of French in the airports and I got to have coffee and donuts (my favorite: the honey-dipped) at Tim Hortons , so there was that.

The trip home was brutal, thanks to a midnight-until-5:30 a.m. layover in Toronto. Sleeping (ha, yeah right) under a plastic tree on a dirty carpet in a drafty airport was so NOT glamorous.

And to add insult to injury, the two older men we were traveling with hardly even batted an eye at the sleep deprivation and travel conditions. They were like a pair of energizer bunnies. My husband and I could hardly keep up.

But the best part? Coming home. (Which begs the question: if I love coming home so much, then why in the world are we leaving for four months?!)

While we were gone, the older two kids stayed at home and the younger two rotated between my parents’ place, a friend’s house, and home. Throughout the week, our older daughter would send us photos: of the table loaded with pans of rising sweet rolls, of her dinner plate of steak, cabbage slaw, and purple cabbage, of the kitchen counters piled high with dirty dishes (and the caption: “Cooking is so hard!”)

She was the one who picked us up in town. On the drive home, she filled us in on their week. They’d eaten supper at my parents’ place, and another supper at my brother’s house. My daughter’s mentor took her out for lunch once. One of her friends was visiting from out of state and the three girls had a sleepover.

Our youngest lost a tooth, she said, so she’d bought him a Tooth Fairy present (though she hadn’t yet given it to him, since he promptly lost the lost tooth). She’d scheduled four riding lessons for the next week. And, she proudly told us that she’d cleaned the entire house. “When I’m in charge,” she said, “I keep my house clean,” and I laughed at her use of first-person possessive, and wondered: Have I made myself redundant?

When we pulled into the driveway, my husband sucked in his breath, “What in the world?!” and my daughter laughed and said, “Yeah!” but even though I was looking all over the place, trying to figure out what the big deal was, I couldn’t see a thing. My daughter kept talking — “eight tons … gravel … bobcat” — and I finally saw it: they’d redone the driveway!

Fed up with listening to my husband gripe about the mudpit that was our driveway, our older son had finally taken matters into his own hands. He, along with the help of his sister, borrowed a bobcat, graded the driveway, ordered the gravel, and paid for it in cash (their own — though we refunded them the majority of the money later because hello, they fixed the driveway).

The house was spotless (except for the upstairs bathroom that my older son never cleaned like he was supposed to…and that is still quietly, dirtily, waiting for him), the freezer stocked with sweet rolls, a big tub of leftover broccoli soup in the fridge, laundry on the line, vases of flowers on the table.

‘Twas glorious, utterly glorious.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (4.17.17), the quotidian (4.18.16), wrangling sheep, cheesy popcorn, take two: Omri, nutmeg coffee cake, and then he shot me through the heart, ground pork and white bean chili, asparagus walnut salad.


  • DnD_Saga

    Wow! By george I think you've done it. You've raised kind, independent and extremely thoughtful children. You are super mom.
    Mine are only 2 and 10 months but I asspire to have my children be as wonderful as yours.

  • mommychef

    Your kids are great! But have you checked the parlour wallpaper for discreet patching? (Sorry, we just finished reading Farmer Boy and I could not resist!) Glad you got such a great welcome home, kids are precious – a lesson all of Canada learned again this week.

    • Jennifer Jo

      This is EXACTLY what my kids were talking about before we left: putting a hole in the wall, eating all the sugar and watermelon, etc…!

  • Amy

    This post brought tears to my eyes. I have four children ages 6 and under, and I'm inhaling the goodness and sacredness of this season. Our culture teaches us to fear the teenage years and I absolutely love your blog because it shows through your day to day life that it doesn't have to be like that. Through the pictures you take and the words you write I see such love in your home and family relationships and it speaks to a better way. Thank you for your hospitality of spirit to share this with others.

  • Jonathan Murch

    Eh hem. I also cleaned up the field, put manure in the garden, and filled up the woodshed. Among other things.

  • melodie davis

    We used to love to surprise Mom and Dad when they went away (there were four of us, and I'm referring also to the time of life that your kids are now), and clean the house or at least do the dishes–but never a huge project like re-graveling the lane! Wow, so impressed. I can imagine they were excited for you to see it.

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