A half story.

I saw it on Pinterest. Cheap ornaments hung on a wire hanger turned into a wreath.

The instructions were simple. I took Lucas to the dollar store and we bought $6.00 worth of balls. Red. Gold. Silver.

That night I had Eli take the wire hanger and a pile of tools and go at it. It wasn't as easy as it looked. Angelina was on my bed doing her math and Eli and Lucas (who calls himself Bobbie when he is home with us, our other Lucas is Evin, with an I, when with us) were sitting with her and all the tools. The three of them have trouble being too far from the others.

And these moments are what I love. The chaos. The way they find their own place and space. The way Eli checks each problem after Angelina finishes. The way Bobbie is so jealous that he can't help her because he only knows 2nd grade math. The tools all over the bed. Evin in the kitchen with me making salad wearing Eli's old yellow apron. Chloe popping downstairs to grab crackers and be as 14 as possible.

The wire is straight and we pile around the table taking turns stringing 4 balls each. We get a few rounds in and it is clear we are going to run out half way in. Then some of them start to fall off.

"So, the instructions said to glue the tops to the balls before you string them on..."

A lesson in believing in the instructions. We keep going. We make a plan for me to get more ornaments the next morning. (Turns out it is not an inexpensive project.)

They leave on Friday mornings. Transition from school to their other homes. The wreath sits half made, all the balls falling off because we didn't glue. The gingerbread house they assembled undecorated, waiting for them to come back.

6 piles of laundry. Library books scattered on every surface of their room and beds. I take the balls off the wire and put them in a bag for the kids to glue when they come home next week. I pick up 13 pencils from the floor and all the white paper they were drawing on each night when they go to bed.

I make each of their beds so when they return it feels calm and ordered. There is still a gallon of milk in the fridge, no one to drink it.

Dave gets on a plane for the week away. I start the laundry. The fridge clear out. The dishwasher starts. I move the gingerbread to the top of the fridge with the bowl of candy to decorate next to it.

The living of half lives. Half wreaths. Half finished projects. Waiting for the chaos to assemble back in. Wondering how to set up a half advent for them. Looking for the ritual inside the quiet of the house. Making space for Christmas.

Waiting for the noise of 5 more bodies vibrating the energy of this half of the stories of our lives.