How many shades of blond are there? Apparently there are 11 this weekend. This is not counting our few carrot tops who fit in anyway and a fuzzy new darkling who is too young to care.

With lots and lots of kids in the house it is easy to lose one's head. Easy for things to go awry. The trick is no stress about planning. You know everyone will be safe and do not worry about timing or schedule. Do not worry about bedtime or nutrition. Just happy and safe.

It is fruit time and Ms. Em is cutting grapes for her baby sister and for her little Punklin cousin and she is only eight and I am thinking Damn. It is book time and Mickie is reading to Ben and Manny and Hannah and the other Hannah and D.L. and the couch is full of kids, quiet. It is bubbles time and for some reason 4 wands and 2 containers work for 9 kids. This time I am thinking Wow. I wonder at the marvelous diplomacy but do not question gifts like this.

Three days after the new baby is a delicate time still and when an emergency shows up we are still thinking Safe. Healthy. This is all we want. Someone (like maybe a god) decides to grant us this and it is fixed half an hour later, in tears with relief and stupidity. How big are the words Thank You God?

Here is my shameful secret: the trick of buffets and All You Can Eats is that you keep coming back until you want no more, and then you leave it behind. Why do you think I love these kids so much? I have decided to be Aunt Jane who will hand out candy and play stupid games and spoil them rotten making them giggly hyper and then give them back to their parents. It’s my prerogative. HAHA.

I do not know but I never noticed how many of these children are sunny.

All the kids make a lot of laughter noise food mess and it is not long before the Punklin decides to eat all the cucumbers in sight. This of course upsets Henny and it is tears, hysterical wailing, and it is me who saves the day by Presto peeling slicing more of what she calls crunchy green stuff for her. All the kids make a lot of laughter noise food mess and then it is me who suddenly decides on the park. Like the old woman in a shoe, shining heads in a long handholding chain behind me. Fucking love it. And then we are there and it is swings and ropes and ladders and slides and it is motion motion motion and it is also my trick for making them tired.

You read books so I know you have seen this before. Still it is a picture you need to have. Lined them all up, squinting at the sunlight. Took out the cameras. This is it, you know. This is family. This is forever.