My strategy for a sweltering summer has always been to send the kids outside after lunch, give them the water hose and tell them not to come inside until Daddy gets home. The grass gets thoroughly watered, the windows get hosed down, the car gets washed off, the kids stay hydrated, I get my lunch break, the little one gets a good nap and the kids have their “summer” bath all by 6 p.m. I actually saw some kind of bacteria-free, BPA-free, or something-free water hose that was safe to drink from. It made me laugh. What’s a summer quench without a little twinge of metal and plastic … and mold. The thought makes the inside of my mouth curl even now. Maybe my aversion to metal utensils has a basis other than just eccentricity. Tonight, it is just me and one boy. Just one kid is no vacation because vacation is such hard and tiring work. I can get half my night’s rest taking care of just him. It’s interesting when I have just one kid with me for any length of time I study him or her. I guess because when we are all together it is always so chaotic and distracting I only see flashes of them in order to get to each one. With just Caleb here this week, my brain works hard to impress his four-year-old face into my memory. He is right up in my face asking me if bld is word or showing me that the sticker on the side of his train engine is coming off. I watch how he picks up one leg higher than the other when he runs across the yard and sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth and I think is this going to be a moment that I can remember. Caleb hums the tune of Scooby-dooby-doo all the time to whatever words or form of words he wants. Sometimes, it’s just mama, mama, mama, mama, ma, mama, mama, mama, ma. We rarely watch the cartoon, but it is his busy tune. And, he has been happily busy with his trains with no sister drama to distract him, although he was lonely on the trampoline and asked several times when they were coming home. He and I spent the night with Vic and Eli at Target House after dropping the girls at camp, but we are home now. Eli’s ANC has hit zero and he had a blood transfusion today, plus the G-CSF boost and a myriad of other medications to offset the effects of chemo. It sounds like, from Vic, that all is going fine from any of that. Eli has taken a couple bites of something today as well. He was excited for us to get there yesterday and was watching the Target House gate for us from his window. He kicked Vic out of his room for the night so I could sleep in the other twin bed next to him where I usually do when I’m there. He smoothed out the blanket on top and rolled up a quilt for my pillow as I like to do instead of using a pillow. He is paying attention. I’m not sure Vic even knows I don’t use a pillow any more. Eli seemed to feel good, was playful and enjoyed seeing Caleb especially. We had him wear his mask in the apartment, and cleaned both their hands and any toy Caleb touched constantly. We let Eli go with Caleb to the playground at Target House with his mask, and we took a walk around the campus that evening as we usually do. Eli is starved for playtime with kids. But, he is not comfortable in new environs, so I’ve had to make him go to the two or three dinners or events to which we have gone. He is not charismatic, so the few times we’ve been on the playground he has not attracted any attention from the kids that were there. Then he’s either busy with appointments or has an immune system that has imploded, so we can’t be around anybody anyway. And, unless I speak Spanish or smoke so I can sit on the smoking porch, I don’t have much of a chance to make friends either. I had a pretty good chance of having something in common with the Amish family that was there for a while, but I left my bonnet in Alabama. So, I’m considering learning Spanish in my spare time. The newest thing for me after having only been gone a week was Eli’s feeding tube. The bag and pump is housed in a backpack that is shaped like a monkey’s head, and it is attached to one of his lines. So, it goes everywhere with him and hangs on his bed at night. It’s a tough blessing. The reason he needs it breaks my heart, so the sound of the pump every two minutes is a haunting reminder of why we are there. But, I am so thankful that he has it because it is keeping the edge at bay. Caleb and I did not stay for the week as planned just to cut down on the chain of exposure for Eli. I could cut and paste this statement from almost every post I make: It was so hard to leave. Caleb and I should have come back Sunday night, but it is so hard. The boys were good, I was able to help the two “bachelors” get the apartment cleaned up, washed their clothes, their dishes, took out their trash, so they were set. But, it would have been selfish to stay because it is not what is best for Eli. The picture I’m including tonight is of Eli and Caleb on the playground. You can see the backpack with the little tube that runs out of the side and goes down under his shirt. Vic is in the background, kicked back relaxing.