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In Our Own Backyard...Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow

The time was 7 a.m. I had been tiptoeing around the house, trying not to wake our houseful of guests who had arrived late the night before. I needed to leave for work in less than an hour and I was just putting away the breakfast things when 4-year-old Maia came walking down the stairs.

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She was garbed in a bright, pink “princess dress,” tiara and heels from the dress-up box I’d put together for the girls, and she was wearing a full complement of eyeshadow and blush.

Serenely, she descended the stairs in regal princess fashion and waited for me to exclaim over her stylish looks before proceeding to sip orange juice out of a plastic champagne glass.

A few minutes later, 6-year-old Madeline wobbled sleepily down the stairs as well, an armful of horse models and a couple of my daughter’s old horse show trophies clutched in her hands.

The grandkids had arrived at last!

They had been in India for the better part of a year, where their father was studying music on a Fulbright Scholarship, and this was the first time we’d seen them since last May. It seemed like the girls had both grown a foot (something our Skype visits didn’t do justice to!). Their hair was longer, their vocabulary had grown exponentially, and they had become quite the little ladies.

And so, when we brought them home from the Twin Cities last week and got them settled in for a two-week stay at our house, we were obviously thrilled.

That was last Tuesday, and with a whole week under our belts since then, we’ve had lots of experiences and adventures to talk about, and our house has taken on a lively new persona.

Rawhide the Wonder Horse has taken up residence in the middle of our living room floor, and the refrigerator is filled with blueberry Go-Gurt, pink lemonade (aka “princess juice”), cheese sticks and a small dish of freshly picked wild strawberries.

The glass windows that divide our dining room from our sun porch have turned into an art gallery. Our bathtub is filled with sand pails, bubble bath and floating princess toys, and there’s a bowl of silver glitter pine cones in the middle of the kitchen counter (with enough white glue on them that they may never dry!).

We’ve given up watching the evening news in favor of a nightly episode of “Horseland.”

We’ve dined on everything from sunfish to s’mores. Every night we all turn in not long after sundown, and we’ve barely seen the cats in days!

We’ve learned the name of every one of the horses that pull carriages in Canal Park, fed popcorn to the seagulls and threw enough rocks into Lake Superior to sink a barge.

We’ve made fairy wands, held a fairy picnic and planted fairy gardens.

We’ve created pizzas from scratch, made paintings out of soap bubbles and fished pan fish with night crawlers (while the 4-year-old “fished” in the minnow bucket!).

We’ve played badminton, thrown tennis balls for the neighbor dog and discussed why woodpeckers peck on trees.

We’ve turned empty toilet paper rolls into binoculars, chased butterflies and picked daisies.

“Grandpa Kenny” taught the girls card tricks, magic tricks and how he can pull off his thumb. I explained how hummingbirds drink nectar from the wildflowers and how the loons take turns sitting on their nest.

I haven’t worked out in days, the wash is piling up, the deck needs sweeping and I really should touch up my roots. But to tell you the truth, I really don’t give a rip. Because these precious days of summer will only last a very short time, and after all — the grandkids are here!