Over two years ago, I was out on one of my multiple walks of the day with Cole when we met a little blonde-haired girl and her pregnant mother playing in their front yard. We got to talking and a new friendship was born. Not just between Cole and his best friend, Ana, but between our families. And as the families have each grown larger, we've grown together.
We've exchanged birthday presents. We've exchanged muffins and cakes and cookies. We've thrown impromptu barbecues for each other. When their oven doesn't work and they make cookies forgetting it doesn't work, they know they can run over and use ours. When we needed to know someone reliable was just a phone call away in a pinch to look after Cole if I went into labour, they seemed like the most natural choice. When registering our kids for kindergarten, they went on our list of emergency contacts. And we went on theirs. When we have extra spinach and peas in our garden, we leave them on their front stoop. We walk to the park together. We walk to the ice cream store together. We play in the pool together. We sandbox together. We've transported our kids in a mish-mash pack of single strollers, double strollers, jogging strollers, wagon rides, bike rides, walks and baby bjorns. We've hobbled together as pregnant ladies and we've walked dozily as sleep-deprived parents of newborns. Sometimes on an early summer Sunday morning, they'll show up on our door step still in their pj's. It's a fantastic and fun friendship we have with the Packers.
And as our friendship grows, it has become increasingly obvious that our lifestyles are different. Mark and I have a quiet routine-driven life with the kids, punctuated by concerts or dinners out or family visits. But generally we tuck in early at night and enjoy simple pleasures like walking to the book store on a Saturday morning. The Packers are a bit more like the red race car to our mini van. Their schedule is a lot busier than ours - filled with family dinners, parties, activities for the kids, and entertaining their friends. And they love it. They celebrate every day. Work hard and play hard. That's them.
When we are making excuses about not going to the Santa Claus parade or fireworks or the movies because of the kid's nap schedules, they are packing their kids into the car anyway. They were baking Valentine's cookies long after our kids had gone to bed last night, long after we would have just thrown in the towel, so they could decorate them and package them into cute little pink boxes and give them out today.
Last night, Ryan told me about their latest adventure. He was saying how Ana is in love with Peter Pan. She's said she doesn't want to grow up and Ryan has told her all about Never Never Land and Peter Pan and she's totally swooning at the idea that he might visit her at night in her dreams. They even wrote a note for Peter Pan, put it into a balloon and had it filled with helium at the Dollar Store, so they can release it into the air and it can fly up, up, up and away to Never Never Land. They're not yet sure how Peter Pan will send his return message, but it's never a dull moment with the Packers. Any day can be a dance party. Any day can be a trip to Never Never Land.