Photo: I love photos of the boys like this, where I can capture them “to scale.” They are the titans of my life, yet they are, in every way, tiny things.

A gorgeous red cardinal decided to rest on the boys’ sandbox this afternoon. They both looked at it and gasped. Not with indignation that it was on their thing, but because it was beautiful.

“Wow, Mom! Look at that beautiful red bird! Look at it on our sandbox!” Major sighed with wonder. Even Minor, usually captain destruction, stood breathless for a moment.

I was pleased in that way that mothers are pleased when their children do wonderful things. There is a warmth that emanates from the breast, slowly moves through the body, makes it up to the lips and curls them into something that is more than a smile, less than a toothy grin.

I write this because, my goodness, it feels like I had a week of missed moments. Plans that fell through, events that I thought would be great but fell short of expectations, moments of internal crisis as babies did [insert something ridiculous here], and then, of course, there was that damn debate last night and the anxious feeling in anticipation of my in-laws coming to visit next week. I’ve fought with my Republican husband twice this week about politics, and not in that good, fun, sparing kind of way… and yeah, there was a tornado scare… it’s all so strange and draining. You do what you have to do, squeak in a few things you want to do, then deal with the rest of the universe and… that jar, it loses a little something. You have to give and you don’t necessarily get anything put back in.

So I had to write about a red bird on an ugly, muddy froggy green sandbox because, wow, sometimes a breezy and fleeting moment can take you right out of the fog. It can wake you right up and push you over the finish line.

So here I am, at the finish line, about to wash away the grime and dust of the week, put on my favorite pajamas, get in bed, and curl up to some new Toni Morrison. If I’m feeling particularly needy, there might be some hot chocolate involved. Not because it’s cold (though we’re getting back into the upper 50s at night and our windows are open), but because I seek to be warmed. I need the self care. I need the replenishment. My jar is not empty, but it could certainly use a splash to help it out. You know what I mean?

I certainly need it. It’s not just the finish line of the week, but the finish line for the season. The weatherman was too happy to inform us Massachusetts folk that we are going to lose an hour of sunlight this month. I’ll be spending part of my weekend trying to figure out just what clothing is going to make it to school and what I need to purchase during next weekend’s all-important tax free shopping (come onnnnnn good Stride Rite coupon! Mama needs to buy two pairs of shoes!!). The playdate requests are settling down, the countdown to school texts have begun. My Facebook feed has a smattering of complaints already about the season of “All Pumpkin Everything” (also known as the most wonderful time of the year!). The wind is blowing in a different direction, faintly, but signalling the inevitability of change…

So. I must fill up my jar so that I can get to the end. I don’t want to limp over it like I did last year. I want to stride over, excited to send the boys back, but full of wonderful memories like the one from this afternoon. Little sighs of contentment. Little embers of warmth that will get me through the less perfect moments to come.

When was the last time you assessed your jar, Dear Reader? Could it be more full? What is one thing that you can do this weekend to fill it up, even a little bit?

This late summer weekend, I wish you a peach. Large, beautiful, ripe, juicy and perfect. I wish it for you pure and with nothing else on it, or, if you’re in need of indulgence, I wish it for you grilled by a master and served over vanilla bean ice cream (bonus points, of course, if you made the ice cream yourself!). I wish you something spicy and fun, like a bowl of chili with extra peppers or a steak fajita with a good chipotle adobo sauce. You know, if you dig that sort of thing. I wish you a few lines of poetry, a puffy cloud that forms to a shape the size of your imagination and warm sunshine on your smiling face. Anything to fill your jar, Dear Reader, big or small, because you are a person who is loved, admired, and worthy.

Until Monday, my Dear Reader, take care.

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