This ridiculous cold snap that has trapped so many of us inside our homes like arctic prisoners these past few weeks has had a curious side effect on my family. Reminiscing. It usually happens around the enormous island that serves as the focal point of our kitchen where I cook dinner every night. As the boys start to smell something delicious cooking, they emerge from wherever in the house they've been holed up away from one another and take a seat on one of the six orange bar stools around my meal-making work zone. I've learned to not turn my back on the stove too long because Michael or Jack are always good for some premature thievery of a pork chop or a chicken cutlet before dinner is ready to be served. If I've cut strawberries, I have to keep an eye on them, too. I've watched Bobby, pictured above, mindlessly munch through two pounds of them before I'd even taken out the plates and silverware. Boys. I'll tell you.
What's interesting is that these walks down memory lane rarely involve monumental things my sons have experienced. It's the little stuff. The silly stuff. The family stuff. Jack was digging through a few toy bins in the twins' room and found the itsy-bitsy hand-knit caps Christopher and Bobby were given in the NICU at Magee Women's Hospital more than 9 years ago. That triggered his first memory of seeing his little brothers in incubators, connected to machines. He remembered holding them and being afraid he was going to hurt them. Then smelling the soft fuzz on their heads and feeling something special happen inside him.
Michael remembered going on our first family trip... just the 7 of us. No grandparents of extended family. Just us. We had traveled over the Christmas holiday to St. Croix. He remembered the smell of the air. How cold the pool was (it wasn't heated) and how excited his little brothers were to wake up to remote control cars on Christmas morning. Each boy received one present that year. And no one complained about it.
My father always describes family happenings as memories. He equates each day, and whatever happens during it, as creating yet another page in our family's album. He's right, too. And it's often the littlest, simplest things that leave the greatest impact (Bobby will never forget his first Steeler game with me a few weeks ago, just as his twin Chris enjoyed his first with Jack in early December.)
I've learned a lot about life... about love... about myself during these nearly two years that I've been home with my family. Making money and providing financially to our bottom line was important to me. But being here, listening to my sons, watching them learn and grow and turning another page of my family's album, well... there's no price tag for that.
I, for one, would like to thank Mother Nature for our deep freeze. Somehow, the colder it got outside, the warmer we felt inside, remembering so many wonderful times and celebrating life as a family.