At night before the girls go to bed is our special time. We pile on the couch, sometimes go over school work and read Time For Kids to keep the girls up on current events. Sometimes I read things I have printed off the internet that relate to what we are studying or interested in. We talk a while and then I read to them from our latest novel of choice. We've recently been reading the Austin family series by Madeleine L'Engle, one of my favorite authors and the books I loved as a kid myself, which is very meaningful to me. Such a quiet peaceful time together - or is it? Let me take you to a typical daily scene from early this morning right before the girls went to bed (on our night-shift schedule).
Usually as we enter the room, Zoey is snoozing on the sofa and sometimes the puppy alongside her, and we insinuate ourselves among them, so cozy. The birds are hunched on their perches across from us, dainty little feathers fluffed up, tiny little finch heads tucked into wings. Sweet serenity. We settle in and I begin to read. Without fail, Matilda decides she MUST go outside to relieve herself right at this very minute despite having been lying by my side for hours without needing to go.
We let her out and settle in again. No sooner have I gotten into a chapter than she is woofing to come in. We let her in and resume reading only to hear a scratching on the window next to me, reminiscent of fingernails on blackboard. Daisy, our other cat, wants to join the party - or actually to stuff her mouth for the umpteenth time of the day. This excites puppy, and she dives off the couch and begins to chase said cat. We herd her back to the couch, cajole skittish Daisy back to her food and settle in again. I try to find my place once more and resume reading accompanied by the loud crunching sounds of Daisy eating a few feet away. How rude!
By now the finches are warmed up and are cheeping with their full hearts and souls, and Junior and Pete are ringing their little bell toys ceaselessly - who knew finches enjoyed playing? Daisy is still crunching and we are restraining the puppy so she doesn't go eat said food. I am desperately trying to maintain an even voice and the attention of the two children in the room. Now Zoey decides it would be really cool to hop down, knock over the large gift bag next to the sofa leftover from Christmas, dive in and wildly attack the Chic-fil-A calendar and smaller gift bag inside. She thrashes around crazily, her front legs wrapped in a death grip around the small bag, back legs kicking and shredding the paper, which appears to be the enemy in her game of Zoey, cat warrior. Between the cheeping, bell ringing, thrashing paper sounds and crunching, I find myself practically shouting out the words to the book. Ah, Daisy is now meowling loudly to go back out. This excites puppy again and Jing practically tackles her to keep her from following the cat outside.
We settle once more and I bravely continue to read and just about the time I am done, trembling a little, the birds settle back into their sleep mode, the puppy snuggles sleepily into the crook of my arm and Zoey lies peacefully inside her conquered gift bag kingdom. Once again, all is right with the world and it's time to kiss the girls goodnight and tuck them in, lulled to a peaceful drowsy state by our quiet evening on the couch.