Today, Paul caught the bus to Madras. I believe Paul and I both have some secret love affair with public transportation. We seem to relish the slow, lurching way to go about things. Once on, the mind can go anywhere. And there is a superiority gained in going green and cheating the oil giants of some of their ill-gained profits.

Elsa has also caught the public bus.

“Mom, there are some weird people that ride the bus,” she said.

“Yes, there are,” I agreed. I was about to give the speech about Don’t judge people but show compassion and respect for everyone. Then, I realized that I didn’t need to give this speech to Elsa. She was just making conversation. She wasn’t meaning weird in a cruel way.

“Describe some of them,” I said.

“Well, there’s the guy in the back that is trying to tell his number. He said, ‘5-4-1-4-1-6 … and the rest is my birthday.’ But he couldn’t remember it,” Elsa explained. “Then, there is the gal with a tiara from the Dollar Tree on her head. It even had the plastic gem in it.” She giggled at this. Again, there was no cruelty in it. She just enjoyed the surprise of an adult wearing a plastic tiara.

This is good for her, I thought. It is good to experience life outside of what she knows.

I felt that we were making it work: living, working, playing sports, and going to school in three counties.

That is … until we forgot Greta.

After sending Paul on the bus, I promptly forgot that he was car-less. I took Elsa to a game in Bend and sent Paul a text … don’t forget to pick up Greta from volleyball.

Paul didn’t check his texts until he was on the bus from Redmond to Bend. Then, it was too late. But it would have been difficult for him to do much about it anyway without a car. He would have had to walk to get her and have her take the bus with him. It was my oversight. Luckily, the SJs noticed and took Greta home with them. It was the third night she stayed with them.

Something’s going to have to change. We must simplify. How can we live the timeful life when a majority of it is in a vehicle?

House-hunting is slow-going. Most choices are built without character, without love, and without class. The facts that we are a homeless family that should be thankful for shelter doesn’t stop my heart from searching for a home. Like choosing a pet to bring into the family, I keep looking into the eyes of places trying to see if this is the one. I’ve only seen two that really reach me. One is being lived in and is for sale. So, all the stars must align to make it happen. The other is that little 2-bedroom I wrote about before. It would be tight, but somehow it would be a better fit than a bigger, soul-less duplex. I’d rather squeeze into a place with heart than slowly die in a place without it.

This morning, it was just me and the little girls. I crawled into bed with them when I saw their eyes open and cuddled them and giggled about silly stories they told and tickled their legs and squeezed them to me and kissed their cheeks in ecstasy at being home.

Every morning they ask, “Where’s Dad?”

And the answer is, finally, “At work.” And not easy work either. He is with the toughest kids in the toughest school district.

He comes home tired. I try to have dinner planned out and clothes washed and the house clean but I’m still not perfect in these endeavors. Especially in someone else’s home and I’m in the car a lot. But as I cuddled my girls and it felt like it had been so long, I wish I could have communicated to him how happy he’s made me — how much he’s given us to have this time together.

For homeschooling, I corrected math mistakes and caught bad handwriting habits before they formed and read aloud and tried to stop but they kept begging for more. We went on a walk and collected feathers and examined the buds on various trees. All the while, the girls talked incessantly like they were starving for attention. Ingrid has been complaining of mysterious aches and pains. I think it is an exhalation of all we’ve been through. But my being home helps me to know that these issues can be met with confidence because with prayer, time, and attention, they can be solved.

Paul has given us that gift: time to be together.

In two months, my baby will be eight. A month later and we’ll have two teenagers in the house. I try to avoid clichés, but … it goes by so fast. It accelerates. In awhile, they will be gone.

Today, I’m thankful to so many people. I’m thankful to my Mom and Dad and Elida for feeding and housing us while we looked for jobs. I’m thankful to Dave, Paul’s brother, for feeding and housing us while we looked for a home. I’m thankful for the SJs for emotional and kid support. I’m thankful to the rest of the family and friends for prayers and encouragement.

But most of all, I’m thankful to Paul for the decision to keep me home. As I smelled the girls’ hair and hugged them on my lap, I felt the delicious delight of time slowly tasted, of hearts and eyes meeting, of souls knowing each other in this crazy, busy life!