Sunday, March 31, 2013

Petal Shower

March 31

My pear tree let loose a shower of petals today. We looked out the window this afternoon and saw the air full of soft white dots. We ran out and lifted our arms in the breeze. The petals swirled and danced, finally settling on the ground like wedding confetti. I felt like we should put on music and march down our stone path so beautifully adorned.

I love these blossoms and while we are dancing in their midst I feel a pang. Bright green leaves are sprouting high above and I know soon the petals will all be gone. Our tree will move on in the cycle. I know the blossoms will be back next year, they aren't even gone this year, but I miss them. I want to hold on. I want to be able to look out my window every morning and see branches of fluffy white dancing there.

Letting go is hard. I've had lots of practice and it is still hard. My consolation is to dance in the petal shower today. To hold my little one in my arms and twirl her around. Her head leans back and she gazes up at the sky. "Make me fly Mama!" she says. I'm trying little one. I'm trying.

Flower Potion

March 30

Today was an outside day. Egg hunt in the morning, pizza at the outside seating of our favorite restaurant and then a long slow afternoon on the deck.

While my husband napped upstairs my girls got the hose out and started to make Flower Potion. I donated the almost wilted flowers from my vase in the kitchen and they mixed and stirred at their water table. They had a whisk, a wooden spoon and a ladle between them and every few minutes one would call "trade!" I watched them exchange again and again.  How do these gentle rituals begin? How am I so fortunate to have two girls so willing to nurture and support each other. Yes, the older one gets frustrated by the little one following, copying, wanting attention. And the little one gets her feelings hurt. But they run for the Hello Kitty ice pack when there is a bump or bruise. When there are tears I see distress in the other's eyes.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Working the dirt

March 29

No school today. My girls wake up slowly. "I'm board," announces my first grader. My stomach lurches. Ugh, I think, one day off and you are board. Do you really need structure all day every day. No, let's just ride this out a bit. I make a couple of suggestions and then let her be. After a time she starts making a fort in her room. Ah, I think, yes, a fort. They say boredom is good for kids. They say we are over scheduling our kids, taking away the chance for boredom. No time to think and putter.

Later we head outside and my little one decides to make dirt soup. Water, check, soap check, wooden spoon check. Dirt? She asks her sister to get her some dirt. I grab a bucket and we head down to the garden. My first grader grabs the hoe and starts turning the soil the way she's seen her grandfather do so many times. This is his therapy, his quiet thinking time. He heads out almost every day to hoe around his plants. "Have to break the crust so the moisture can soak in at night." Who knew? But I know his ritual is more than helping his garden flourish, it is his time to think and just be outside. I'm glad my daughter is mimicking him, even if she is not meditating on her day as he does. At lease she can enjoy the feeling of working the dirt.


March 28

I watch my little one through the window of her preschool as she plays outside. I like to arrive a bit early so I can catch a glimpse of her going about her school day.

She loves for me to be the first one to pick her up. I love to see her face as she sees me. I love the feeling of her little body running into my arms. We walk to the bench at the end of the hall and stop for a moment to look at that days creations. She loves words and loves to talk. This is how we reconnect. While my older daughter wants a hug and a snack to feel close again my little one needs a conversation.

When we get home she puts on her purple wings and spends the rest of the afternoon flitting around the house and deck as a fairy. We head outside and play on the swings. She shows me how her wings can flap as she glides back and forth. She narrates our time: talking talking talking. Where do the words come from? How does she find so much to say? "I'm a water fairy, I have powers, watch," she says as she shoots her fingers forward. "But the mean fairies want to take my powers so I have to go like this," she continues crossing her arms. On the story goes. I listen, pushing the swing, marveling at this little person in front of me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reading time

March 27

Snuggled under the fuzzy purple blanket we read a story outside today. Morris the Moose is our current favorite. We have it almost memorized and find ourselves reciting long passages in the car in call and response form. Our favorite line is of course the end when Morris says, "I made a MOOSEtake!" This is now our family term for mistake and always brings a smile.

I have a box of books by the easy chair in the living room. Books hand picked by me. Books I love to read again and again. Yes, they are classics like Blueberries for Sal, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Make Way for Ducklings, and Caps for Sale. But I've come to see them as part of our family history. These were the books I listened to on my mother's lap and they are just as amusing, fanciful and sweet as they were a generation ago. Each has a reassuring narrative arc. Each brings the readers into a world they would not usually experience. Each gives us characters to relate to and love. Such is the joy and the beauty of literature.

No Brakes

March 26

Sometimes I feel like my little one has No Brakes as the back of her bike says. She is such a ball of energy and emotion. She doesn't nap. She feels everything intensely. She goes and goes and goes.

She thrives when she has time to let her energy free. I'm learning that she needs to get outside in the late afternoon and run and shriek and breath deep breaths of air. I see how much calmer and happier she is as the day winds down when she has been outside.

One of my fears about taking my kids outside every day was that they would never want to go back in. I feared I would be stuck outside with them worrying about how to get dinner cooked. But what I've come to realize is that outside time is part of our family rhythm now. It is part of the flow of our day. And because of the consistency there is less urgency. We play as much or as little as we want. Tomorrow we will be here again.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dino Bones

March 25

It snowed at bit today! Yes, flakes floating through the air. We ran outside after dinner to see and two tiny flakes drifted onto our bench for a few moments. "That's a snowflake!" shouted my little one. She was dressed in her biggest pink dress, a purple parka, and matching owl hat and gloves. After watching the snowflakes she hopped on her tricycle and peddled around the driveway. I have to say this outfit may be one of my favorites she has ever put together.

Earlier in the day we spent some time on a cold play structure at the Y. The sun was bright but the wind keep our visit brief. We found these Dino bones under one of the slides and spent quite a while analyzing each skeleton. We moved on to playing restaurant taking turns being chef'/server and customer. Wood chips serving as both food and money.

Pink Ball

March 24

The whole family is out in the backyard for a nice long time today. We kick the ball, swing, slide and chase. It feels so good to be together and to be outside.
I notice that the natural drainage path along our back fence is blocked. We get rakes and a hoe and begin making way for the water to flow. There has been lots of rain lately and our temporary brook has started to form a little lake. As soon as the way is cleared the water rushes along the fence following the gentle grade. My girls watch and help. They talk about making a beaver dam and letting the water pool in the yard. They imagine fish and other critters coming to live. Soon the water is just a trickle and our little lake is gone. They splash in the mud along the fence and I think for the hundredth time how happy I am that their sneakers are machine washable.

Scoot scoot scooting

March 23

It is wet. Not raining but the ground is wet and everything feels drippy. The morning brought showers that drenched us as we made our way to this activity and that. By afternoon we were home and ready to play outside. The scooters came out and both girls decided to sit and pull themselves along by their heels with arms stretched up as though on a chopper

This funny looking arrangement was actually great fun and had much less of a chance of inducing a fall. I became the engine for my little one and we wheeled our way around the driveway in an ever tighter curve. My first grader on the other hand discovered that with this system she could coast down the short incline of our drive way and stop herself quite quickly with her feet when she reached the hedge. The bottoms of my little ones pants drug along the pavement and I could see the moisture moving towards her knees. Around and around we went scoot scoot scooting to our hearts content.

Whats in a wreath

March 22

I love decorating my front door. It took me a while to realize that the simple ritual of putting something whimsical, beautiful or interesting on my front door makes me happy. We have a ritual of saying "bye house" each time we drive away. Having something on the front door gives a nice focus. It feels kind of like playing dress up with my house.

It is spring and eggs and chicks and bunnies are everywhere. So eggs it is. We do have our year round Peter Rabbit in the front yard. He is probably considered tacky in some worlds but I love him and so do my girls. He's tucked in a nook so you have to really look for him from the street. We can see him from the house just fine and that's perfect.

We play in the front yard and the driveway today. Not long, just enough to get red cheeks and lungs full of fresh air.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Your Tree

March 21

I am spending a lot of time looking at these white flowers this year. For the record it is a Bradford Pear tree. No pears but lots of nice flowers. The blossoms fill the windows of my little ones room. She is the last one to arrive in our family and for years her room sat empty. Well not exactly empty but lets say unfurnished and filled with the overflow of our busy lives. We didn't know if she'd arrive and when so we didn't want to decide what the room was for. But secretly it is my favorite room in the house. It is painted a soft bluish green and sits high in the front of the house looking right out at my pear tree. It is quiet in her room and it feels a little apart from the bustle of the rest of the house.

Today we jog outside for a bit to visit the garden. It is bitter cold and windy. They are predicting freezing rain for tomorrow. We walk delicately around the clumps of daffodils now blooming triumphantly We say hello to our Peter Rabbit statue checking to make sure his carrots are still safely stuffed in the pocket of his blue jacket. We look up at the house and I point to a window. "Do you know whose room that is?" I ask. My little one turns her head like a puppy and stares intently. She sees the felt flowers propped on the windowsill and I can see her thinking hard. "Do you think that's your room?" I add. She nods slowly and looks at me wide eyed. "Look at your tree, it is so full of blossoms today." She tips her head up and takes in the billows of white blossoms.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ready to plant?

March 20

Ever look at the bowl of onions on your counter and see this? I guess this one is going into the ground. First we will keep it in a little water in a jar an watch the roots sprout. Our potato experiment is going well, the one with the artificial light still not growing. The potato in the dark is sending up sci-fi looking feelers searching for light. The one in the natural light has nice roots on the bottom and little green shoots on the top. It is fun to watch things grow.

I've been trying to get some more seeds started inside and some plants in the garden but the days have been full. Today we played on the deck with clay, mixed chalk/dirt soup in the water table and had a nice long time at the playground. It may hail or even snow in a couple of days. Maybe I'll wait on planting more outside.

The white blossoms on the tree in front of my house are in their full glory. Today I saw the first green leaves appear. I remember now to enjoy the pure flower explosion for the few days it is there. The neighboring trees are unfurling dark red leaves that look like dots from a burgundy crayon.

Rock tag

March 19

We visit the park with the artistic metal work again today. This park is not new but it is new to us. There is a Clifford ride on toy so we are beginning to refer to this place as the Clifford park. Possibly my favorite feature is the collection of large granite rocks placed around the perimeter of the play area. Not rock like structures made of plastic but real rocks. They sparkle in the sun each with subtle differences. They are just high enough that my little one needs a little help to take a big step up and onto the top. They are fairly flat and easy to walk across. Someone thought about these rocks. They are far enough apart that they don't invite jumping from one to the next but close enough to feel connected. We have a slow game of chase along the chain of rocks. Up, step step, hop down, run. Up, step step, hop down, run. I stop to look at the stripes in one rock and the perfect foot sized  indentation. My girls carry on and make the circuit complete. Around and around until they are out of breath. We settle on the stripped rock, my little one fitting perfectly on the little ledge. Looking up we spot the daytime moon hovering above.

Tulip Tree

March 18

You know those corners of controlled nature around the parking lot of the mall? Everything is measured, tended, and planned. The heights are restricted and the colors coordinated. Well we pulled into the parking lot of our favorite (close enough to walk but here we are in the car again) mall. I look through my windshield and there is a row of tulip trees covered with delicate pink flowers. You may have noticed I am quite into the spring flowers right now. I particularly love tulip trees. They are one tree that bloomed in my home state that also seems to do well in my adopted home on the opposite side of the country. So part nostalgia and part just beauty. They have such exuberant flowers for a tree. Kind of like they are showing off. And the rest of the year they just blend into the background.

I get my little one out of her car seat and we head through the manicured bushes for a closer look at the trees. I'm half expecting a security guard to appear and remind us to stay on the designated walkway. Soon we have hopped over a small hedge and shuffled along a low decorative wall. We are now invisible to the parking lot. Large cypress cover us from the back. Because we are on a low wall we are face to face with the flowers on the tulip trees. Below is a busy road with plenty of shoppers rushing by. If they tried they might be able to see us through the greenery but I doubt anyone looks up here. I feel like we are in a secret hideout. I feel a little rebellious to be here and excited to be on an outside adventure in such an unlikely place.

My daughter and I examine several blossoms and she comments on the holly berries she seems to find everywhere we go. We look at the sky which is growing dark with clouds and decide to head inside. We step back through the greenery into the parking lot and I feel like we have reappeared onto the regular stage. For a moment we were hidden behind the scenery.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday ride

March 17

 This is my view on our bike ride today. My husband happily puffing along and my first grader peddling with ever greater skill. My little one is comfy in her seat behind me. "Go Mamma, go!" she chants as we get to the first big hill. "Don't stop, don't stop!" she adds. We make it to the top and turn towards the elementary school. I begin to think again about riding our bikes to school maybe one day a week. It is really so close. Everything in this neighborhood can be reached in 15 minutes by bike. So why do I drive everywhere again? Hmm, this nice weather is going to make me really think about this car thing. Maybe like Meatless Mondays I'll try "No Car Thursdays." I wish that phrase rolled off the tongue better. As we cross a little creek on a blue metal bridge my little one asks, "why is the bridge blue?" We would never have this conversation whooshing by in the car.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Double Feature

March 16

First of all let me just say WOW! I had no idea these would be bright yellow inside the creamy white outer petals. These burst open today right next to the other daffodil bud I'm waiting on. We all knelt down to flower height and took a moment to really look. We seem to be building our own Spring ritual of flower watching.

The day was warm and breezy. Sun soaked the house and we had every possible door and window wide open. We played every game we could think of in the back yard until we were sweaty and exhausted.

Later we headed down to water our newly planted potatoes. I know from grandpa we are supposed to water every other day but I couldn't resist my little one's enthusiasm. She gave them a good good soaking. I hope we have adequate drainage. Last week we set up a potato growing experiment in the kitchen. Three potatoes submerged half way in water. One in natural light, one in a box with a light bulb and one in a dark box. After a week which potato has the most roots . . . drum roll please . . . the one in the dark! Now I am imagining our potatoes sending out white root tendrils, getting their bearings and surging to life. We have several estimates for how long until we see the first green sprout. The teacher in me is thrilled that my children are doing so much science. The mother in me loves that they are learning to notice and appreciate warm breezy days and flowers.

After dinner we head to the driveway. The cozy bench becomes a snuggle spot for my little one. "Pretend I'm a baby snake and you are my Mommy," she says. She lays on her back with her head in my lap. Her eyes gaze at the evening sky. She narrates the scene: moon, airplane, birds. I look at her soft cheeks and smooth her hair again and again.

Planting Potatoes

March 15

Last year we planted potatoes in our planter boxes on the deck. We were surprised by two things: that the plants had purple flowers and that each potato plant created many new potatoes. Yes, I know that's how it works but to see and more importantly feel a large clump of new potatoes where you know only one was planted is quite exciting. We harvested our crop last fall and on grandpa the master gardener's orders put them in the refrigerator.

Miraculously the bag of our very own home grown potatoes did not get eaten or thrown out over the winter months. Today is the day we started over and planted 18 potatoes in our garden!! Last year we had four plants. Does that mean we are going to have 80 potatoes this fall? Oh, better write that prediction down somewhere. Oh, and better yet, ask my first grader what she thinks. Maybe we will do a little Potato Math for fun.

The planting went well: dig, drop, push, pat, pat, pat. The rows are not straight, I'm sure some plants will be crowded and others spread out. Some potatoes are a couple of inches down and others almost a foot. But this is process not product gardening. We just need to get our hands dirty and I really want my kids to know that potatoes grow underground. They don't just appear at the store. They are part of a plant, with flowers and leaves, and hopefully lots of new potatoes under each one come fall.

Unexpected Art

March 14

We head to the park after school. It is so beautiful out, we just revel in the air, the sun, the freedom to be outside without a coat. We visit a playground new to us and I spot a beautiful nest of concentric circles acting as the roof of the big kid play structure. The metal is punched with a leaf pattern and as I start to look I see how the light plays with the shapes. In the sun the pattern is bright and the sky is rich blue. In the shade the metal looks black and the sky is pale. The light is acting as part of the design. I crawl down under the structure and look up through the curved ladder at the circular roof. Did the designer of this structure ever get down here and look? I hope so because this is fun. My girls see me in this funny position and join me for a moment. They do not seem to be as impressed with it all as I am and quickly get back to their game of tag. I stay a bit longer looking up at the sky through the metal leaves. Thanks for a little unexpected art.

Coming Attractions

March 13

Now that I am paying attention I see how quickly the Spring flora is evolving. Next to my driveway this tightly wrapped bud appeared and I can't wait to see what is inside. I will be visiting daily I'm sure. My little one and I spend a leisurely morning with friends big and small. After the morning chill wears off we head to the front walk of their house for some chalk drawing and creative spelling. My little one is just beginning to discover the power of writing. She is trying her hand at letters and she asks for help to write a short love note to her friend. They stand on opposite sides of the walk writing, reading, and giggling.

I am so grateful for this morning to chat while watching our girls play. They put on a dance performance full of audience participation. Next they are horses then puppies and back to girls going to a dance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today is the day: blossoms!

March 12

I have never noted the exact day that the tree in front of my house bloomed. I love the tree with its downy white flowers that grace my windows for about a week each Spring. In the years I have lived in this house I've taken note in passing but  never really paid attention. This year is different. I am under the tree this morning in the bright sun. Yesterday it rained and the day before the buds were still closed tight. When we look up at our tree and see the buds burst open I know that today is the day, the first day of the blooming! Some buds are still closed but most of the tree is covered in white petals. In a few weeks these petals will float down with the breeze and if we are lucky we will be showered with them as we were one year.

But wait there is more: the blueberry bushes on my deck bloomed this morning too! I have never seen these delicate blossoms up close. I just missed them in years past. Look at the incredible beauty of these tiny little trumpets. I had no idea that blueberry flowers are pink! "Do you mean those flowers are going to turn into blue berries?" intones my first grader. I nod and we both smile. In past years we have picked a few berries before the squirrels and birds harvested most of them, but we just weren't paying attention closely enough to see the blossoms. . . on the first day! Welcome little beauties!

I need some good news since my favorite purple flower from a few days ago is not looking so good after the hard rain yesterday. I feel even more grateful to have witnessed its full glory.

We spent a long evening outside helped by the time change. I brought dinner out to the bench and our girls ate with their skates on.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Umbrella Play

March 11

Today it clouds up and begins to pour. In the car this afternoon we have a spirited discussion about the how much rain is indicated by the term "shower." I contend that the order is something like: drizzle, shower, pour. My first grader insists that a "shower" is a lot of rain and goes on the higher end of the scale. After listening to her reasoning, I think I've changed my position. Either way we got wet today. In and out of the car on our various adventures, finally home and yes, I left the garage door open.

"I'm playing in the rain!" announced my first grader. "Me too!" pipped in her sister. Out we went to the driveway umbrella's in hand. As I moseyed to the mailbox enjoying the shower, the umbrellas became shields and the game became something about superheroes. I watched with not a small amount of concern as they banged their umbrella's into each other, top to top. "Until someone looses an eye," I heard in my head. But the spiky parts appeared far from eyes so I watched for a bit before joining the fun. Soon, I, umbrella-less, was chasing them and they were defending themselves with their shields pointed toward me. Much better, I thought, staying back a couple of steps.

When Daddy pulled up we were running in a large circle shrieking and laughing. He gave me the bemused "better you than me" look and headed inside to change. After a few minutes he returned wearing sweats and cheered us on from inside the dry garage.

Spring Worms

March 10

Spring is coming for sure now. We are outside in the back yard all afternoon. There are tiny buds on all the plants and the air feels full of potential. We turn over the dirt in our garden bed and find beautiful pink worms. My first grader holds them and laughs as they tickle her hand. She is so afraid of insects but worms are no problem. We set them down in the dirt and watch them work their way back under ground. "Look look they're almost gone!" she shouts.

We are ready to plant, but what? We need grandpa's advice. We heard last weekend that he has set aside a bit of garden for the girls to work when we visit this summer. They rake and hoe, dig and water. There is never an end to the fun they have exploring his backyard vegetable garden. One year they collected snails off the lettuce and instead of killing them built them a house out of flower pots. Every day my girls would head out to check on the snails and give them a nice fat lettuce leaf. One morning they were gone. Escaped! I suspected the pet chicken.

So later we will call grandma and grandpa in Italy. We have potatoes in the refrigerator that we grew last year. We've been waiting for his green light to take them out and plant them. I have a feeling it will be soon.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Can I get a minute please

March 9

I've upgraded my new outdoor sitting spot. Not stripes, but very comfy and free! I found these cushions in the basement. It is Saturday and my husband is home. I have a push me pull me feel wanting to be with him and our girls, together at last, and, I just want a minute to myself, please.

So I sit on my new cushy bench with a snugly blanket and read a book, a real book. Just me the birds and the sound of cars passing. I hear people walking by but don't look up. I'm too jealous of my little bit of time with a book. My sitting spot is far enough from the street I don't feel like I'm in mandatory waving distance.

It feels good to be out here alone, taking a moment to myself. I know soon enough they will find me and I will welcome their company. But for now I savor these minutes under the spring sky.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Nice Place to Sit

March 8

My beautiful purple flowers, Crocus, to be precise are just as beautiful today. I moved our new sitting arrangement in between the two bunches. See them tucked on the ground left and right of the bench? After watching me watch the flowers for two days in a row my first grader got down low today to admire them. "Take a picture!" she encouraged.

So the bench is our new home base in the driveway. I finally decided that since we spend so much time out there we should have a nice place to sit. So far it has been good for putting on and taking off skates, good for reading Green Eggs and Ham, and good for having an after school snack. I'm thinking of getting cushions. Then the cat will take up residence and leave hair everywhere and it will rain and the cushions will never quite dry. I'm going to try anyway. Maybe stripes.

Little Beauty

March 7

I am now rather obsessed by this flower! Same as yesterday but look, it is open today! This little beauty has been hiding in plain sight every Spring next to my garage. How many years have I passed by only glancing to see that there was a splash of purple down there?

Isn't this the message we hear so often: appreciate the small joys in life? The moment I spent studying this open blossom has fed my soul for hours and hours after.

We hit the park after preschool today and spent an hour climbing and sliding. My little one rarely naps these days and I have to say I love the freedom to be out in the world in the early afternoon. When we got home we decided to set up a table and chairs in the driveway for snack. When my first grader got off the bus she found a little table set with her snack. We've decided to leave a little sitting area out there. A nice rest spot during our now daily skating time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Same Thought, New Day

March 6

After a night of high winds and pelting rain we woke up to a little bit of snow dusting the rooftops! After a day inside I did not want to go out into the cold and wind this afternoon. But I realized I had not been out of my house for almost 24 hours! Cabin fever was a good motivator.

So on went the coats and we moved the roller skating party outside to the driveway. And here is the thought: It is beautiful out here!!! As soon as I was out the door I realized that what looked cold and gloomy was brisk and beautiful. The sun peeked through the swirling clouds and it wasn't that cold. Getting over my inertia and taking the few steps out the door has been the hardest part of this project for me. And every single time I am outside I enjoy it. Why is this still a surprise? Not sure, but after two months it is. Maybe after a year it will sink in.

My girls are thrilled to be skating on the gentle grade of the driveway. I hold onto my little one and push her around after her sister. After a fall she decides running in tennis shoes is more fun. I am relieved.

We notice newly sprouted purple flowers that have appeared. These little jewel like beauties were not here two days ago. I marvel that they pushed them selves up during the rain and wind and cold.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Oh Dear!

March 5

There is a wind advisory today and they are not kidding! It feels like the house is going to blow away. Should we be getting ready to fly off to the land of OZ? I do my best to keep my girls distracted and calm, but I'm a little worried about the rain I see flying sideways outside. Then sun and strange warm wind and lots of it. I don't think we are going outside in this.

The trees writhe wildly outside and I decide it is time for some music and indoor skating. We turn the living room into a rink and away we roll. My job is to push my little one around and around as she chases her big sister. This is quite a taxing task I must say, but hysterically funny at the same time. Her little legs are pointed straight out in front of us and I hold her under the arms. I "run" to the best of my ability and I'm never quite sure how we navigate turns. My accomplished skater laps us and reminds us we are supposed to be chasing her. We stop for a rest break and set up an obstacle course. I leave my little one sitting by the fish tank while I check on dinner. When I turn around, she is skating! Slowly carefully, she is making her way across the room. Please don't fall, please don't fall I think. She makes it to the couch. Ah, success! Dinner is ready and they roll to the table. Outside the wind is blowing but we don't care. We've got more skating to do.

What a Goose

March 4

My little one is ready for some quality time at the park today. Finally the sun is out and we can hit the play structure. She slides and climbs and swings to her heart's content. I follow along, trying to stay in the sun. The shade is bitter cold but the sun is too hot for a coat. I'm trying to work my layers. We have an involved game of restaurant where the wood chips serve as both food and money. This ability to play and imagine astounds me sometimes. How does a three year old brain already know so clearly what is make believe and what is real? How do they understand so quickly what pretend means? It is not simple business. But yet we all love to pretend, to imagine we are somewhere else or what it would be like to be someone else. Isn't that why we watch movies and read novels as adults?

We head to the river to see the ducks and the Canadian Geese. They are in fine form today. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who appear to have just stepped out of Make Way for Ducklings come over to greet us. The Canadian Geese size us up quickly. Realizing we have no bread or crackers to offer they go back to their business of searching in the mud. We hear some wonderfully loud honks answered by many little quacks from the ducks. One goose stands looking out at the river. He preens his feathers and then cranes his neck around once more to see if we have produced any snacks. He is beautiful. I quietly thank him for standing still long enough for me to snap his photo.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ice Crushing

March 3

This morning we saw snow flakes floating outside our windows. This was all we needed to get on hats, coats, gloves, and boots and get outside. As much as they tried, my daughters couldn't seem to catch any flakes on their outstretched tongues. The flakes were small and floated by quickly in the wind. But they were there! Snow! Finally. It used to snow once or twice a year in our parts. But last year nothing. Our sleds and snow shovel sit gathering dust in the garage. I keep thinking I should get rock salt for the driveway, but I worry then it will never snow. I bought the sleds after the last really big snow we had.

This morning we take butter knives to the ice in the water table. There is a nice thick sheet and the knives push through the ice with a satisfying crunch. Soon the ice is fractured and splintered. Some falls to the deck and the stomping begins. There is something so satisfying about crunching ice.

Living Room Fort

March 2

Well after two months straight of being outside everyday we didn't make it today. Sometimes you just know something isn't right for your kids and today was not the day to go out in the very cold, very windy world. I have a husband and one child fighting colds and the other child and I are over tired. Today was the day for building a fort in the living room and for taking a long afternoon nap.

The fort came together quickly after pushing some furniture around and finding the extra sheets. Blankets and extra pillows on the ground made it especially comfy. We made a sliding door from the lid of a large plastic bin. We snuggled inside the fort reading and giggling. This is what we needed today. I looked out at the cold windy terrain and couldn't gather the strength to drag my little one outside. I didn't want her to come down with what her sister has and the fort was looking pretty inviting.

My husband cooked up a wonderful lunch and we sat at the table joking and telling stories for much longer than usual. After we cleared the table we headed for a long luxurious nap. The wind was howling outside and we burrowed deep under the covers.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bean Bags

March 1

Today I relied on a new toy to get us outside. It is great to open the door and see a package waiting just for us. Today we got rainbow bean bags. Yes, I've been meaning to make bean bags, yes we have lots of things we could use to throw already in the house, but new is fun. And these are really bright and feel good in the hand. We each line up our own set of bags in rainbow order and start throwing them one by one at . . . yes, the empty box they came in. As we all know the box can be as much fun as the toy inside. We set the box on the front steps and my little one has great success tossing in her bean bags. I stand back about eight feet to give myself a little challenge. We call out the colors before we throw them and she is very excited to get to purple before me.

We stop to get the mail and run a bit. The wind has picked up and overcast day is turning bitter. Our noses turn red but we keep setting up our bean bags and tossing them in the box. I'm hoping we will last until my first grader gets off the bus but we finally give in to the cold and head inside. Oh, it feels so cozy now. I've been chilly in the house all day but this little outing has completely change my perspective. I put on my new fuzzy slippers (yes, they came in the same box). Ahhhh!