This past weekend, we attended our ward's annual fall festival. I entered the chili cook-off using a recipe that I had not yet tried. Although the award went to someone else, I felt deep satisfaction after sampling a bowl myself and seeing the amount (or lack thereof) that remained in my pot when it was time to go home.
Not to mention, I'm sure my husband (Andrew, this is a SOLID hint!) will leave a comment regarding the awesome nature that was my chili. And I quote,
"Ali. This is like REAL food."
"As opposed to all of the FAKE food I've been serving you these last five years?!" I almost said that, but I didn't. Instead I smiled and said thanks. Andrew's compliments occasionally feel awkward, but it's okay. His heart is in the right place.
Andrew was given the assignment of parking attendant. It was his job to keep various shrubs, gardens and trees protected. Lucky for the kids and myself, we were able to steal him away for the hayride.
That was followed by a visit to the face painting station. I don't know why it surprised me that Eliza was completely still and fully cooperative during the process, but it did.
Round one, Eliza chose a lovely, purple butterfly.
Lucky for her, it hasn't completely come off of her face yet. It was a beautiful addition to her Sunday attire two days ago. Round two, she opted for a pink flower; which didn't have the staying power of that butterfly. Eliza and Henry took their first ride on a horse named Easter Lilly. Andrew escorted Henry on his first ride (despite not being pictured here).
The kids were able to pet and feed carrots to a pony (they saw llamas, goats, two ponies, etc.)
Next came dinner which included chili, cornbread and roasted hot dogs (for the kids). Did I mention there was pie too? My personal pie of choice had one remaining slice. Rather than try to add one more thing to my plate that was playing host to my children's food as well, I played the role of glutton as I grabbed the entire tin (... I swear, there was one slice left).
Did I mind the stares? Well, kind of. But I got over it as soon as I had that first bite. My favorite part of the evening was getting cozy around the fire with my kids, drinking hot chocolate and visiting with the great people who make up our ward.
"What are you doing Eliza?" I asked as she stared intently into the fire. In a voice that was filled with awe and wonder she replied,
"I'm watching the marshmallows change color!"
As we sat, I felt peace. Our life choices, that in the past have seemed outlandish and random, led us to that campfire. There are still days when I wake up and wonder why I'm in South Carolina. However, thanks to these growing relationships (and the awesome Carolinian weather), the confusion has shifted to gratitude. For the time being, I feel content.
Just so you know, my mom (and family out west) still owns a major piece of my heart. My desire to be near my little Marie hasn't feigned. I just know that I can't live my life wishing and hoping for what isn't. Rather, I need to be grateful for what is.
Speaking of contentment, that was the total opposite of what I felt last week when I heard a subtle, yet distinct, "Sniiiiip, Snip" of the scissors. Eliza had been coloring/creating at the kitchen table as I stood nearby at the kitchen sink.
Our history is full of conversations that revolve around THINGS WE DO NOT CUT (mom's bracelet, carpet, furniture upholstery, finger nails, clothing, etc). These talks were followed by the affirming statement that the only thing Eliza is allowed to cut is her preschool paper with the use of child size scissors.
I turned my head just as the second lock of hair fell to the table. My emotion fluctuated between horror, sadness and curiosity. Lucky for Eliza, I was feeling sad as I approached the table. I quietly asked,
"Why would you do that?" She burst into tears, said she was sorry and led herself to the time out couch on her own accord where she proceeded to sob. As I sifted through her strands of hair, I realized that we'd been lucky. The firs two days, I couldn't find the spot where the hair had come from. That lasted until I styled her hair this way. It could have been much worse.