Way back in January, which seems like only yesterday, the triplets were scheduled to participate in a strings concert at their school: William and Elizabeth, performing on the violas, and Carolyn performing on the cello. I happened to mentioned this upcoming event, in passing, during a phone call with my mother, and much to my surprise (and delight), she decided that she would plan on attending the children's performance.
This was no small feat, because she would have to find someone to help look after Jim for a few days, so she could fly to Virginia for the event. To further add to our surprise, a few days after Mom told us she'd definitely be attending, she called to tell me that our beloved Aunt Grace, would also be traveling up to Virginia for the concert.
So I immediately had the children blow the dust off their instruments and bribed them to practice. Yo-Yo Ma and Yuri Bashmet, we're definitely not. At least not yet.
The concert was scheduled for Tuesday evening, so the plan was that we'd spent a few days together before the big show, and then they'd leave for home on Wednesday morning. While my mother was able to fly in from Florida on a Saturday, Aunt Grace ran in to all kinds of challenges with her flight, and wound up driving solo the 500 miles from South Carolina on Sunday.
As luck would have it, Monday was a clear day. (I'll write later this week about what exactly we did on Monday. It involves rotary cutters, sewing machines, and an absolute miracle.) But by Monday night, a storm rolled in and dropped several inches of snow, such that school was canceled on Tuesday. And with the cancellation of school, came the cancellation of all school related events.
Including the fourth grade strings concert.
When I woke up at 6:30 AM to see the snow falling outside and read the e-mail that school had been canceled, I thought, "Well, we'll just have a nice quiet day at home and spend some wonderful time creating memories with Noni and Auntie!"
Those thoughts no sooner formed in my mind, when I heard a cough - cough, the weak cry of "MOM!" followed by the running of little feet down the hall to the bathroom, just in the nick of time. Elizabeth, it would turn out, had the stomach flu, which would last for 18 hours.
With Elizabeth on the couch for the full day, and me next to her holding a bowl trying to fight off the feeling that I was staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun ... William, Carolyn and Henry suited up and ran outside to play with their father. Auntie and Mom stood in the window overlooking the yard, and remarked how wonderful it is that Charlie plays so well with his children.
Here are some photos of Charlie playing "well" with his children in the snow...
He departs from the fort, in what appears to be an attempt to help his child who has fallen to the ground and seems to be in pain.
Hark! He is not there to help, but to crush them, with balls of snow in his hands.
This causes the others to pile on and further crush their sibling.
Charlie untangles himself and pelts a child with chunks of snow.
Every action has an equal an opposite reaction. Unless, you're dealing with three children against one adult in a snowball fight, and then the reaction tends to be more positively weighted.
SLAM! (Poor little Henry, he's looking at me for help.)
Around this point, Henry had decided he'd had enough "fun" and came inside to play Dominos with Noni.
And Carolyn - our Gracie - retreated to the kitchen to make a homemade chocolate cake with her namesake.
There is no better chocolate cake IN THE WORLD than the ones Aunt Grace makes from scratch.
Less than an hour after Mom and Auntie left on Wednesday morning, Charlie came down with the flu. Carolyn had it Thursday night, and I had it 10 minutes after Carolyn. Thankfully, the boys were able to dodge the virus bullet, as were Mom and Auntie.
Although Elizabeth wasn't feeling well enough, William and Carolyn were able to have an impromptu living-room concert for a few minutes on Tuesday night, and Mom and Auntie both agreed, That Was Plenty. I'm not sure any of us could have withstood 60 children playing their stringed instruments for 30 minutes, in a closed gymnasium.
See, there really are no accidents.