Porch Swings and Read Alouds

I try to hang out on my porch every day. We have a terrific front porch. It's one of the things that sold me on the house in the first place. It has brick walls with ledges wide enough to sit on. I have a collection of potted herbs that my delightful neighbor Marlene plants for me every year. A window box full of cheerful yellow marigolds and full ferns hanging from the ceiling and waving back and forth in the breeze. Most of the houseplants take up residence outside in the summer months. We have a porch swing, gifted to me for my 30th birthday from my in-laws, and that's Laurel's current favorite place to listen to stories. We read many chapters of Frog and Toad the other day, in between looking at motorcycles and waving to neighbors walking by.

I can't believe she requests chapter books. I can't believe it is our third summer together; fourth if you count the one she spent in my belly, twisting and turning around, introducing her wild personality before I ever saw her face. She never stops talking, except the other day, when I geared up for another lengthy go-to-sleep-Laurel routine, when she stopped me and said, "Go away. I need some chill out time." And she chilled out and I tried to chill out in the other room, trying to resist the urge to peek because I was convinced she was going to jimmy open the bedroom window and escape. (She did not. She just took a nap.) We were out walking the other day and I asked her if she could find her way home, if she got lost. She said that she could, and I believe her.

She knows the number 2 and considers it a label of herself. One is her cousin Alexis. Two is also Daddy, because he is 32. Mama is not 2 because she is 33. P for Pittsburgh Pirates! O for Olivia, her friend from down the street. M and K and L are well known by now. H and B and S are becoming familiar. Maryland is her favorite state and she can find it on a map. She likes to wash dishes and asks for carrots in her lunch every day, but never eats them. She loves dogs and pretends to be a doctor and her favorite game is to set up a picnic or a food stand and invite us to it. What I will remember most about this time is the contrast between her need for independence and her need for "snuggles."

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