Before I was a mommy, I was an aunt. And boy, did I love it! It was my goal to be the auntiest aunt who ever aunted. And I feel as if I accomplished that goal. With two nieces and one nephew, I’d never been more in love…until I met Mr. Frank. He captured my heart, made me his bride, and whisked me away to Frank Corner. The distance and the new responsibilities of motherhood kept me from being with my nieces and nephew as much as I had been in the past, and I missed them terribly. So, last week we had the two little ones come and stay with us.
It was a big week for us. Mostly because having six children in the house makes for a very full house indeed. But with older children to help with younger children, everyone was accounted for. We had a picnic in the park, went swimming, ate ice cream, played in the hose, had a cookout, snapped beans, snuggled and giggled, and enjoyed each other fully. But the biggest accomplishment of the week: Emerson ate green beans!
Here on Frank Corner, we’re big on chores. If you ask my kids, they’d probably say we’re a little too big on chores. There are charts in the dining room that detail each child’s responsibility, lists on the doors to define Mom’s expectations, and a schedule that helps them know when things are to be done during the day. Chores range from cleaning their rooms, helping with dinner, and vacuuming the floors. We hope to teach them something about responsibility, about how to clean up after themselves. (It also prevents me from having to vacuum the floors because I hate vacuuming. Vacuuming’s the worst.). We’re a big family so we need all hands on deck, including the six-year-old’s. In fact, he’s my most eager helper.
I’m not a cat person. I tried explaining this to the stray that wandered up on our front porch as I fed her lunch meat and stroked her gently. I don’t think she believed me. She’s been hanging around our house for the past few weeks and the kids decided to name her: Summer, for the season she found us in. Charles, after my grandfather, of course. And Frank, well because we’re the Franks (that one was obvious, I know).
I told her if she was a cat worth her salt at all she’d get in our garage and kill the mouse that has been causing conflict between me and Mr. Frank. I believe the mouse should not live in the garage, he believes I’m overreacting. But while she did bring me a dead chipmunk the other day and a bird just today, the mouse continues to roam the garage, and the conflict continues.
When Mr. Frank and I were on our honeymoon in Key West we went out on the ocean on wave runners. Super fun. We were part of a group touring the island and we had a couple of young tour guides leading the way. Because there was a line of inexperienced riders, the guide taught us two signals to use when we were out on the water. One was the signal for distress (he really didn’t have to teach us this one, it’s instinctual across cultures): Hands up, waving the arms back and forth. The second one was the signal to show that everything is okay. We were told not to do a small gesture like a thumbs up or making a circle with the thumb and forefinger, these gestures aren’t large enough to be seen across the ocean. The signal to use for “I’m okay” is making a fist and putting it on top of your head. The guide told us that whenever we saw him doing this, we were to respond back in kind. A call and response. “Are you okay?” Fist on head, elbow out. “I’m okay!” Fist on head, like a mirror image.
My first attempt at gardening was when I was about nine-years-old. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Mom.) Insprired by my grandfather, I remember planting corn and tomatoes but what grew was mostly weeds. And boy, were they hearty! I believe we did harvest a few vegetables that year, but I never again put my hand to the plow. However, a husband changes everything.
Mr. Frank had been planning our garden from the moment we moved into our home on Frank Corner. He knew right where he wanted it, close to the property line on the far side of the creek. Among our many trees, it’s the spot that gets full morning sun, he explained. We talked of beans and peas, carrots and zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers all winter long. Many times he discussed about the rototiller he would use, how the children would need to weed and water the plot, snapping beans and canning. And I, all adoring eyes, would hang on his every word and hope that I could muster up the proper enthusiasm when the time came.