The Passage of Time, As Measured By Easter.

There’s something about Easter in The South that compels people to dress at least 2.25 tiers up from their usual Sunday attire, and also in an Easter-Basket variety of pastels.

This further tempts said southerners to record such events with photography and post them on Facebook, making news feeds everywhere below the Mason-Dixon look like Spring J.Crew catalogs.

I don’t know why. It’s what we do.

Although I’ve shared my negative feelings (perhaps far too often) on smock, which is of course the prime rib choice of southern mothers for Easter-tiered dressing, I am not exempt from this disease and indeed have taken it a step further, always having our Easter family photo made in the exact same spot – on our porch swing. So if we ever wanted to see how our family has morphed over five years, well goshdarnit we can.

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(And yes. I wore the same dress this year that I did last year. No, I do not deserve to be a southerner.)

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I also try to take a cousins picture every year in that same spot, only having been forced to attempt a different location last year.

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I could get caught up in lamenting how much our children have grown and further find myself desiring to add just one more tiny adorable baby to the mix, but the increasing levels of chaos in each year’s picture help remind me that…we’re good.

Other than those few still(ish) moments, Easter is all about movement. The Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, egg hunts abound, and Easter Basket Candy Fuel must be run off.

As such, I find the short-term time passages of time just as fascinating as the long-term ones.

For instance, a rapid-fire photography journey of waiting, then running out the door for an Easter Egg Hunt…In youngest-to-oldest age order.

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The correct order should be Andi, Noah, Tessa, Eli, Ali. But before the green light was given, the order had already shifted to Andi, Noah, Eli, Tessa, Ali. Watch the next two seconds as Ali, bound by oldest child characteristics, desperately attempts to maintain line propriety even though any chance of that was already lost with Eli and his blazingly fast airplane basket.

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But once she was set free from her shackles of self-imposed responsibility, she caught up with determined frenzy.

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Another experiment in time lapse photography was when I told my children to stand RIGHT next to each other and smile so I could get their picture…and maybe even put their arms around each other.

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I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Ali, however, always seems to be holding out hope that maybe this time Noah will follow her strict moral tenets of behavior.

Poor girl.

And of course, the cousins photography attempt is always a time lapse goldmine. Not less than one nor more than four children shall ever look composed at once. Ever.

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But after everything,

If I just need a picture to go right for a change,

There’s always Ali.

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Thank God for Firstborns.

…Even if they do spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about all the terrible possibilities that can come to pass due to people shorter than them.

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A Rainy Day With Thomas.

On Monday morning, nine out of ten Facebook Statuses in my feed were bemoaning a flooded basement, a flooded back yard, a flooded street, or a flooded everything.

Sunday was slightly moist around here.

And of course, that would be the day we had picked out to visit Thomas the Train.

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It was the last day he was to be in Birmingham, so we couldn’t change our minds.

But Thomas was a non-negotiable – rain or worse. Because Noah has asked to return, nearly on a daily basis, since last year’s visit. It is pretty much his crowning achievement from the age of two.

“I REMEMBER riding on Thomas!!”, he said, at least a dozen times, as if he knew he shouldn’t actually be able to remember things from being two. “I REMEMBER getting the bracelet!!”

…because red Paper Bracelets are the best part of any event.

The rain did not lessen the palpability of Noah’s ecstasy.

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Nothing could.

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Thomas had gotten some work done since last year, and actually had a moving mouth and eyes, and cheeks so soft and realistic that when they moved, they looked rather eerily like we were in the cartoon. Making me wonder why no one has bought a small island and turned it into a Sodor Theme Park.

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We skipped all of the other rather wet Thomas-y activities and went immediately to the awning to wait for our ride, which didn’t seem to upset the children at all.

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And, thanks to the rain, the train was nearly all ours.

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Noah got some quality time with the Conductor,

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And after spending much time silently staring,

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From every angle,

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Being as still as he’s been for at least a month,

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He rewarded me for making his dreams come true by making my dreams come true – and actually looking in the general(ish) direction of my camera for a whole. Thirty. Seconds.

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He even let me see a quick glimpse of his true excitement,

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And wanted to take a train selfie.

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We all left calling it a success,

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And now begins another 365 days of the question, “Is it time to go see Thomas yet?”

The Mystery of Fred.

Fred came into our lives at lunchtime on the last day of February.

We were having one of our many recent picnics in the front yard, enjoying the benefits of living in Alabama (early, lovely Spring), when he ran purposefully up the street, into our yard, caught Ali’s attention, then immediately rolled over to invite her to pet him.

It was love at first sight.

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For both of them.

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After Ali’s 72-hour ownership of Sam the Cat almost a year ago, she’s been melancholy about her extreme need for another cat.

And Fred seemed willing to comply.

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Fred was an immediate puzzle for me to figure out. He seemed well-fed, tame, groomed, flea and infection-free, yet hungry.

He had no collar, but he was clearly used to children.

He seemed pretty happy to be an outdoor cat, but didn’t pass up the opportunity to attempt entry when the opportunity arose.

He was also quite hypo-allergenic, a fact I much appreciated.

But the MYSTERY.

Where did he come from?

How did he know my daughter needed him?

And, most importantly, how long would he stick around?

I reluctantly checked Craig’s List for Lost Cat listings, as well as watching out for signs in the neighborhood, but Fred seems to be wholly unlisted.

After having several neighbors all corroborate my suspicions that he was male (and one going so far as to say he was a neutered male, thank goodness,) Ali gave him the name of Fred, because apparently she likes strong, one-syllable male names for the felines in her life.

Fred immediately set up shop. With Sheldon-Like Analysis, he tried out each of our porch chairs and swing to find the optimal resting spot, then quickly made it clear that this one was Fred’s Spot.

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He would disappear sometimes, but normally could be found on our porch.

He happily endured the children, both mine and the neighbor’s, taking part in their games and being the utmost of a gentleman.

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He became a regular attender of our picnics,

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Didn’t mind at all that Ali pampered him with treats,

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And posed willingly for her finger-laden photography.

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He even followed Ali up her favorite climbing trees.

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Noah, however, was not as convinced of Fred’s Goodness.

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Because, he explained, “Gramamma has a cat and her cat is mean.”

(He’s right.)

Whether Noah had a fry, a car, or his favorite brick (yes brick), if he saw Fred within 1000 feet, he would yell out,

“No Fred! Don’t take my fry! Mooooommmmmy!!! Fred is trying to take my fry!!”

“No Fred! Don’t take my car! Mooooommmmmy!!! Fred is trying to take my car!!”

“No Fred! Don’t take my brick! Mooooommmmmy!!! Fred is trying to take my brick!!”

Because apparently my Mom’s cat also has a problem with stealing bricks?

But Fred didn’t care.

 

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As Noah thawed, he would work up the courage to run up to Fred, pet him, then run away, squealing with adrenaline.

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And Fred didn’t flinch.

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Fred also has human qualities, picking up food with his paw and eating it like a man – or at least when I rudely fed him straight out of the can.

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(He usually gets dry cat food. But they give you one free can with every bag in hopes that your cat becomes a foodie and demands it.)

Ali proved herself to be quite the responsible pet owner in the most meticulous of ways. She fed Fred. She fretted over Fred when he went off on adventure. And she rarely let him eat a meal alone.

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Or unfettered.

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Even though Fred managed to daily throw his food bowl off the porch and somewhere in the far reaches of the yard, Ali would dutifully find him another bowl or retrieve and wash his thrown bowls. One morning we woke up and found that four bowls had been retrieved and put in front of the door. We immediately assumed that Fred was especially hungry that day and wanted us to know it. Then later realized that Chris had cleaned up the yard the night before.

Fred seems to be friends with the neighbor’s cat, as well – she steals his food, but he follows her around. In fact, we watched her tromp across the street and down into the storm drain. Fred watched too, then took off to follow.

I don’t know what they were doing in that storm drain, but whatever it was I’m glad they took it to a private place.

He’s recently acquired the habit of napping in my lap on sunny afternoons, and I often stare at the top of his head and wonder what secrets he holds.

Who owned you?

What made you leave?

What kids loved you enough to make you so comfortable with my little people?

Where do you go when you disappear for 24 hours at a time?

Will you leave my daughter one day, too? Once a leaver, always a leaver. And I don’t want any heartbreakers hanging around.

And so, I pet him a little harder, begging him with my fingernails to stay forever. For her sake.

Although I cannot seem to come up with a reasonable explanation for Fred’s very purposeful adoption of Ali, she did.

“Mommy, I think I figured out why Fred came here. I think his old owners had a picture of me and Fred saw it and scratched at it and scratched at it every day. And then one day he just had to set off to look for me until he found me, because he knew I was supposed to be his owner.”

And really, who can argue with that?