For much of our marriage, J. and I had a herding dog, Simone...a Bouvier des Flandres. I had always read that many herding dogs would herd the children, and I thought it would be so cute to watch Simone herd our future children around. As you probably guessed, reality wasn't quite as cute as I had imagined it. Simone was happiest when everyone was in the same room, preferably sitting down. When outside in the yard or going for walks, Simone would be on constant alert. If a child ran across the yard, Simone was after him or her, yipping (if you can say a 68 pound dog yips) until the child could be convinced to return to the 'herd'. Games of tag were impossible if Simone were out in the yard too. For an animal who had never seen a real sheep in her entire suburban existence, she understood about keeping her sheep together and gave it her best effort...whether it was convenient for us or not.
I have decided I must be part herding dog myself, minus the running part. I am never so happy as when my whole family is all together in the same place. As my children get older, I realize this is becoming more and more rare. I want to fully appreciate the times that it does happen. With the return of B. from Boy Scout camp, I have several weeks of togetherness before A. goes on vacation with a friend for a week. I also have a chance to recover from two very sleepless nights this past weekend while J. was gone to bring B. home.
For the scouting types among you, B. was elected to the Order of the Arrow. J. really wanted to be there for when the nominees were tapped out, so he went up a day early...on Friday. Saturday was the ordeal: the nominees must remain absolutely silent, eat a very limited amount of food, and spend the day doing service work for the camp. (Tree trimming and sand bag filling were two of the jobs I heard about.) The nominees were inducted in on Saturday night and Sunday they made the drive home.
Meanwhile, two of M.'s friends had signed up to each take a night to sleepover. Our plan was that I would care for the babies (ie nurse and nurse), and if they had eaten enough, but were still fussy I would pass them off to the girls to pace around with. It worked fairly well. But, having J. gone and having to parent solo at less than two weeks post-partum, made me a bit nervous, and I think the babies picked up on it. Last night, with J. home, everyone was feeling calmer and they slept the best they ever had.