We are reunited as a family and it feels so good. I think I’ve heard that before… Here are the kids on Sunday night when Max finally got home: Do they look happy or what? I was mean and made Lu go to bed because she was so grumpy but I think she missed that boy the very most. It had been two and a half weeks since Max left us with Dave to come back to the desert to work his tail off practicing volleyball and work construction at our new house…and then head out for another volleyball tournament. The girls and I got home from this drive back here last Tuesday night, I did about a bazillion loads of laundry (ok, five), got the fridge stocked and the next morning Dave and I headed out to Max’s “high performance” volleyball tournament in Fort Lauderdale. Dave bought a ticket a while back because who knows when he’d get to see another tournament like this, and he has a free companion pass so I couldn’t resist going with him and watching this boy play. (As you know, I’ve had that hole in my heart all summer worried about how fast he’s growing up…I just had to be there with him!) There were volleyball players from all over the world at this thing. The courts went on and on… …filled with some of the tallest people we’ve seen!(that net is eight feet tall…yeah, that girl’s got some height on her!) These girls were all taller than me (I’m six feet tall). Dave and I, and even Max felt a little shrimpy as we walked by some of these players. I’m not sure if I have mentioned how much I love to watch volleyball (ha). But oh boy I do. Sure it helps that it’s my son I adore who I get to watch, but it is a great sport as far as I’m concerned. Does Max’s face tell you how excited he was that we were there?I kid, I think he really did love having us there. I’m thinking it was more the taking-the-picture thing that caused that over-enthusiastic expression, cause he looooves that. I wish I had a picture of his enthusiasm when he got to eat a thing like this sucker: Makes my mouth water those things were so darn good. In our spare time when we weren’t watching the games Dave and I checked out the beach: …and checked out how much food Max could put down on the side-lines:In that sitting it was two fruit-by-the-foots, two rice krispie treats, one package of fruit snacks and two granola bars. Wow. We tried to fill him up on real food too…(that kid of ours did not eat free BTW) We also learned all about the ins and outs of the funny things these boys do in their spare time at tournaments like this. They cracked us up with all the things they come up with like “bed ball” (Max is apparently third seed in that game), “stall ball,” “volley pong,” etc. Such a great group of kids there. Florida is kind of pretty I must say… And although we came in fourth in our division, these boys sure played their hearts out. I love how many “manners” there are in volleyball. I love how they line up and wait for the go-ahead to walk across the court at the beginning of a game. I love that as they walk they wave to the crowd. And I love that Max got to meet so many new kids who he will see during season games this year…and that he got his first recruitment possibility letter when we got home. Boy that kid is learning a lot. I love having views like this at dinner. And being with my boys. Whoops, missed that one. But I sure like his smile! Max got some great coaching and learned so much. They had a kind of rough time because he was the only “middle” which causes some problems when he is serving and rotated out. The coach did a great job rotating other players through to try out the “middle” position but in the end it didn’t lead to any gold medals or carrying each other on shoulders kind of deals 🙂 They did come back in one game from being down 0-2 to take the whole thing in five. That was awesome. What an amazing opportunity these boys had. …and us too. When the tournament was over we drove around in the pouring rain to check out all the humongous yachts parked outside all these houses: …and wished for a little more beach time. Who was taking care of the girls back home you may ask? Those girls of ours were mostly taking care of themselves…with their awesome older cousin coming back and forth to sleep there and be the overseer. The girls were trying to earn some extra cash for school clothes and man oh man was I ever proud of them when we got home. The house was cleaner than I have seen it. The girls were pleased as punch with themselves: There were leftovers from a great dinner Grace had made waiting for us in the fridge. I even found traces of their own job charts like the ones I always do. And a candle was burning to make the house smell good for crying out loud. How awesome is that? Now don’t get all confused and think that happens all the time. As I type I’m surrounded by dirty socks and books and games and pieces of play-doh my girls have left out just in a matter of minutes. But for that moment there in time, I cherished that they are learning. And growing. And I’ll be patient that there are lots of messes along the way in this mothering/family gig I’ve got going on as I cherish the moments where the stars align and they “get it.” There’s a saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and it has sure been true this summer. So glad to be back together more in love with this messy, sweet, sometimes-yelly (and smelly) imperfectly perfect family of mine. And I’m gonna hold them close for these last couple days before school starts.