It is 5 o’clock. Time to head home. Work day done. Full sentences not forming. Simple ideas, all I have. Pack computer. Walk. Start car. Drive. Dodge potholes. Park. Walk in door. Family.

“Daddy!” Three different little-kid voices. “Pop-off hug!!!” Somewhere along the line I’ve taught my kids to try to literally pop my head off by hugging me as tight as they can. I need to do something about that soon. They’re getting big…and strong!

Everything is right in the world. Kiss my wife. She’s tired. Of course she is. I’m brain-tired from work, but she’s emotionally-tired from demanding and crying kids. “Go take a nap until we need to put the kids to bed.” Demanding and crying kids are a wonderful break from my norm.

It’s warm outside. The garden plot still has a lot of weeds I need to take care of before we transfer the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, watermelon, and strawberry plants we have sprouting in our kitchen. It feels so good to be barefoot outside again. Just a month ago we had 14 inches of snow on this same soil. Three pairs of little feet, dirt between their toes and, oops!... in River’s mouth. The boys are finding and naming worms, “Daddy, I lost Squirmy!” “It’s okay Silas, you can have this one. His name is Squiggly-Poopy-Pants.” I can feel the beginnings of a blister forming in my palm. I’m not used to this kind of work. I’m not a carpenter anymore. I really should be wearing gloves. I finish without gloves.

The boys tire of playing with worms and switch to pouring loose dirt over each other’s shirtless bodies. How does one get three dirt-covered kids upstairs without getting dirt throughout the house? Too late, they’ve run ahead of me aiming for the shower. All the kids love showers and baths, mostly because Daddy swings you in giant arching swings in your towel when you’re done. I grab River from the dirt and follow the boys upstairs. I step over 4 kiddy-bikes to get to the stairs. Isaac has fallen in love with biking now that he has mastered the pedal bike (no training wheels).

The boys are hitting each other with wet washcloths in the shower by the time I get upstairs. Michelle didn’t even wake up as they screamed through our room to our master bath. I let her sleep. She’s planning on going to a women’s book discussion about the Enneagram. She’ll be out late. Sleep on, my lady.

Wash my feet, hands, and daughter in the bathtub. River barely dips her toes in before she says, “Aaaah-dun. Swwee.” (All done. Swing.) I give all kids their turn in the towel-swing. My fingers aren’t nearly as strong as they were when I did construction and rock-climbing. I haven’t dropped anyone yet, but I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep swinging Isaac. He’s pushing 5 ½ and planning on starting kindergarten in the fall at a Chinese immersion school. Maybe too big for daddy-towel-swings? Nah.

Michelle is awake. Diapers. Jammies. Floss. Brush. Somewhere in there was some crying, some “Do you want to lose your books?!” threats and some seriously crazy, amped-up boys screaming around the room. No blood, though. That’s good.

River picks out “The Red, Ripe Strawberry and the Big, Hungry Bear.” Silas picks out “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” from his Disney collection book. Isaac is listening through Ted Decker’s “Circle Series” after we finished the “Lord of the Rings” a few weeks ago. Isaac falls asleep in our bed as I read. I carry him into his room, a limp noodle in my arms. Silas is still wide awake and transfers to his room without too much of a fuss. River is in bed, already asleep. Peace. We did it.

Michelle leaves for her book group. I hop online and play a few rounds of PubG with a friend I met at Corner Church. Michelle comes home. Sleep.

This is my life. Beautiful. Abundant. More to come.