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Two of four children finished their giant tree candy creations. This is what we did the day after Christmas, I think.

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Summer in Florida

This is our fourth summer in Florida- a number that amazes me.  I still don't feel at home here, although  I know my way around.  I don't feel completely out of place in the supermarket, but I have this suspicion that everyone knows I'm not from here, and they know that they don't know me.  That special kind of paranoia belongs to the homesick, and even while I acknowledge its foolishness, I still feel it.
Summers- I may have mentioned this before- are the worst. 
     It's partly an issue of comfort, or rather, of discomfort.  The long summer days are hot and sticky, the bugs are ravenous and abundant, the plants are vindictive with thorns and poison, and the air itself is attempting to decompose your body 37% faster than air in dryer climes.*  If there is a spring or pool to soak yourself in, it's fine, pleasant, even, because there are no ticks in the water, and you can usually avoid mosquitoes under the water.  To Florida's credit, there are any nu…

And he's gone.

The last week has been all craziness and preparation, poor schooling and frustration.  After a long decline, my Umpa passed away on Tuesday...this picture, above, was of him before we left for Florida, and in the last three years, he has lost the joy and comfort of being alive.  His death doesn't seem overwhelmingly sad in and of itself- he was 91 years old, in constant pain, and missing my Grandma all of the time.  To be removed from suffering makes death a kindness.
It's what his death means to my family that makes it sad.  This is our Patriarch- a man that presided over all aspects of our family with strong opinions and countless sayings.  His generosity was unbelievable.  He valued his family- he taught us all to value our family.
When my Grandma died five years ago, our cultural decline began- at her funeral, three separate cousins confided in me that Umpa was soon to follow- he felt this way, too, and longed for it, I think, although my Umpa was not a quitter, and if th…

Jack, who is 9, and Miles, who is 7.

This is Jack.  He loves zip-ties and drawing.  He has a best friend named Dan.  He will be 10 in less than a month.  His favorite food is "nutella crepes."  He wants to be an artist.  Or an actor.  He wants to do a lot of different things, all at once. 

 This is Miles.  He is 7- he will be eight in July.  He likes lots of things in general and not so much specifically.  He is a picky eater.  He wants to sleep like a burrito, and never make his bed.  He never has a problem finding a friend to play with on the playground- on any playground.  His best friend is Michael.

These boys seek each other out, and want to play with each other, but at any moment- ANY MOMENT- it might become a violent and loud fight.  What was play one second ago becomes a battle this second.  The worst punishment I can give them is to not let them play with each other.