Dice crackled against the white trim like pop rocks in our mouths.

Squeals of "I got a 1, mama!" pelt out from little Casey face. "B" in hand, sleep wrinkles still yawning on his face from the afternoon nap, he smiles at me. His eyes twinkling with excitement.

There I sit on the hardwood floor in the foyer right in front of the front door where the light happies best and watch while popping my own speckled fireworks against the trim.

I shift my view to watch my other counterpart. This gambler, a long legged, brown butter bean with eyes so blue at times they play traitor to indigo. His hair straight up the side with points that he calls "fire hair" from his mid -afternoon slumber, he rolls with vigor.

'Mom, I got a 5 and 3." Eli professes. No need for excitement as he plays the role too well of i'mabigboy. Brows furrowed, lips protrudingly pursed, he pauses. I watch and wonder. Then, "That would be 8, mom. Eight. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. 5 and 3 make 8..." He trails off with a posturing glance at me. "That's right, huh Mommy?"

"Yes, sweet boy! It is." I resound with a rub-scratch-rub of his "fire hair". I am rewarded with a small sideways smile with lips and indigo eyes only quickly fading to brow furrows and dice shaking once again.

My late afternoon begins.

Amid the pop-cracking-counting, a man comes strolling up our front sidewalk with clipboard in hand. His walk is steady. His sunglasses tell tale of a sleekness and seriousness to his day.

Little eyes catch a glimpse of this figure and shouts begin. Clapping heeds way to jumps and banging on the glass door at this man on our front step. Sunglasses lift only to spy the silliest pair of google eyes as his militant lips turn smile into silly.

Daddy's home.

Hugs and high fives all around. Except me.

I stand back and watch this welcome parade unfold until it's my turn. This man then finds me with his eyes and comes closer.

"Hi, wife." he says through a soft smile. Then I feel his arms wrap around my waistline for a hug. I oblige. Stepping back he peers at me with his indigo hues and reaches his lips to mine almost to re-inact the pop crackling of the dice against the trim, we kiss.

With quick "How was your days?" exchanged, I listen as does he. I splatter off house dreams, teaching ideas with the boys, and the rundown of our day to him. He gazes at the computer screen in and out, and then I watch him stop.

He finds my eyes with his and they no longer play cat and mouse with the screen.

He knows what I need.

My evening begins.

With hot dogs grilling and fresh onions chopped, we hear, "Mama, Daddy, come outside!" Eli bellows from the back porch. "Casey and me are having circle time and we want you too."

I arrive first to see deck chairs in the sweetest little circle with 2 little barefooted boys awaiting our arrival. Daddy is on his way.

"Here we are. Our family is together in a circle. I like this. Look, all of our chairs are touching." so innocently with unabashed joy Eli utters through a smile.

I look over and see that same smile from my husband. And then see my wee one with "B" in hand and two fingers and a just-a-goin suckle-suck in his mouth.

And it's true. All of our chairs are touching.

Hands woven together around the table with food aplenty before us, we pray.

Daddy asks to pray tonight. The boys sigh and profess small whines for their way, but daddy resounds back that it is his turn.

With heads bowed, he thanks the Lord for our many blessings, for His will in our lives, for His work on the ones who don't know Him, and then pauses. My eyes, so curiously wanting to sneak a peak open, but I remain silent and shut knowing all too well that 2 pairs of eyes beside me have already indulged in sneak-a-peaking.

"God, thank you for my family. For my boys and my wife. Thank you for times like these that you pile on top of us. Our times of playing together, snuggling together, reading together and just being together in our home.

In Jesus name, Amen."

Bites in and thoughts out, we talk about silly somethings and big boasts of our day. Making our bed for the first time by ourselves, the toys spotted at the Dollar Tree, new k.Mac orders from the day, the last day of 2-a-day preseason practices...

2 more bites of grapes and the rest of your hot dogs later, I find myself in the studio beginning my night.

Amid the buzzing of my sewing machine, I sip my Cabernet and allow my ears to wander.

The sounds of music in just the other room giveway to the clanking of dishes against a stainless sink. Chatters of "I put my cup and plate in the sink!" back and forth to the other and then the scampering of little feet upstairs. With a quick clean of a simple hot dog dinner complete, husband makes his way up too.

The music stays in just the next room though. As if lonely, the melody lingers its way to my studio just down the hall.

Vibrant fabrics before me, I create. Stroking this design, my fingers ever-the-double checkers for my near perfectionist mind.

The Paper Doll. A handbag created in my mind long before order forms, a website, and clients knew of its name.

I sip and sew all the while listening to the splashing of 3 men in a tub with squirt guns and laughter loud.

I smile and sip some more.

Voice inflections and train sounds bellowing, it's reading time for my men. "Just 2 books" gives way to a scattering of 6 or ll. But whose counting.

Seasons of songs later, yet all what seems in the blink of an eye, it's time to punch out my time card. I settle for a brief and easy clean up and say good night to my little haven.

Freshly ground coffee makes its way in at its usual time and place, I ready for the morning before heading up to finish off my night. Shuffle stepping, my way upstairs is filled with anticipation of what will be before me.

With a toss of the dirty kitchen linens into the laundry basket, I round the corner into our bedroom. I am greeted by grins and giggles 3 all nestled under our bed's quilt.

It's late. Long past is the hour of little boy slumber.
But that's okay.

Okay because 2 boys are growing up much too fast not to pounce on the smallest opportunities for lovin' and snugglin' from one daddy bear.

I pile in. Dirty feet and all as I am serenaded with, "Get in, mama. Get in!"

And I gladly oblige.

The smell of warm snuggles and clean soapy necks all hugged up with fresh jammies is a scent that can never be re-created nor forgotten; my smile grows.

A double bed full bodied with love, happiness, contentment, and togetherness; I am home.

Time for bed finally makes her grand entrance much to my little ones dismay. Her welcome committee of yawns and eye-rubbing never is quite welcomed by the boys.

Down the hall we go, a boy for each, we split at the fork in the road to each room. Bedtime prayers and begs to be rocked crossed off the checklist in Casey face's room, he swiftly finds his peaceful slumber.

I dance a two-step partner exchange as Kenny and I trade off to say our last nite-nites to the other boy. Walking into Eli's room, I am greeted by the darkness, the flickering fan above, and his silhouette. He's little boy body propped on his side up on one elbow waiting for his mama's last kisses. He's growing big.

"I love you, sweet E-man. Have good dreams. We will play in the morning." I say as I pepper his face with sugars.

"I love you, mom." he resounds and quick as the wind, he is out. As if all he needed was my last love bits, I like to think.

Their daddy and me have plans for a movie. The comfort of the pillows and the rain outside trickling down has other plans.

Touching in whatever fashion fits us best, skin-to-skin, we close our eyes and all is well.

My evening's end.
Perhaps my everyday prayer that Eli spoke of will be answered.
Our chairs will always touch...

.mac :)