Wednesday, January 30, 2013


The winter doldrums are upon us. With weather going from bad to worse... the wind and snow and ice conspiring to keep us confined to the indoors... It seems like the biggest, most exciting thing we have happening in this house is Ellie's stick-up hair. (Sad, I know. We're apparently easily entertained.)

I also realize that one day, Miss Ellie will be very upset that one of her bathtub pictures was posted for the world to see. So with that in mind, I will preemptively say... Ellie, I apologize, but honey, it's a slow news day.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I'd like to think that we're getting beyond the sniffles and colds in our house... but the truth is, I think things may linger like this for a bit. Ellie still doesn't seem quite herself and even though Monte is feeling better, he too isn't back to 100%.

To add insult to that injury, the weather has been frightful. The little people haven't been outside to burn off energy for such a long time. I can't recall the last time we were outside for any length of time. They need to get out and run... breathing in the fresh air, even if it's cold, would be good for them. However, in this neck of the woods, we have been blanketed in ice.

I hate to think of it as pretty... because it's been such a pain to deal with... but the consistent coating has transformed mundane things like this gate panel into something more interesting. It's also 'interesting' to try to open said gate panel. The ice has coated every exposed surface making it nearly impossible to get around, and the gals are a mess. I think we're all praying for something different... either spring or winter would be fine... just not both at once.

Since spring won't be here anytime soon, we'll be attempting to make the best of this. I'm not sure how successful w

Monday, January 21, 2013


The most recent of our number to be afflicted with this nasty flu bug is our littlest person. Poor Miss Ellie... all she wanted was an ice pack on her head and a movie on the TV. Two requests which were easy to grant.

I find myself watching Benett with an eagle eye... I'm afraid it's only a matter of time before he too succumbs to the bug... although, he's a stubborn one... the flu may have found a challenging adversary.

As of late, my days seem to be filled with laundry, hand-washing/sanitizing and wiping/re-wiping every surface with bleach. Not to mention wiping noses, dosing Tylenol and refilling water glasses. I'm more than a little ready to get back to the office tomorrow... and I think all of the little people are ready to get back into their regular routine as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


There is something about the cold winter weather evokes this kind of need... or an inspiration to bake; for me anyway. Not the lofty, adventurous kind of baking where one tackles the complex or a new recipe... I'm talking about comfort food in desert form.

As a result, we've been baking up a storm around here. Not excessive amounts, by any means, but more than usual. The fact that the gals have been keeping us stocked with a good supply of eggs has helped. I feel required to use a couple each day, even if that means only hard boiling a few to have at the ready if a salad seems lacking.

The mixer has become a mainstay on the counter, whirling away most days. We've made a few kinds of cookies... even a batch of meringues. All of which have been overseen by two little onlookers. Both hover over the bowl in anticipation of a spoon or beater to taste. I know I shouldn't let them sample the batter, with raw eggs included, but I did as a kid and so it seems like the thing to do.

The cookie jar is already nearly empty again... so I think we'll do a little baking tomorrow too. If anyone has a suggestion for a tasty treat, I'd love to hear all about it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


There is nothing quite so demoralizing as shopping for a bathing suit, in the middle of January. I knew this, yet I did it anyway.

I perused a couple of racks at the mall, finding not one... not two... but three combinations that I thought showed some promise. All of the swimwear looked so bright and cheerful, just the shot of color and inspiration of warmer weather to come that helps to push one through the winter doldrums.

With my selections in hand, I strode purposefully into the fitting room. After 15 horrifying minutes, I walked out with the least hateful of the three options and a new understanding... Bodies which reside in my climate are intended to be covered, fully and in layers, in these winter months. Those brightly colored suits should have come with warning labels. (And the contact information for several personal training options.)

Thankfully, I have some time before we jet off to a location where my new attire is a requirement... I have some time to come to grips with my winter self, which is a good thing. I have a feeling that it might take a while to be okay with my personal version of winter white.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I'm not sure where I saw it, but last week I spied a map of the US with states colored red where the flu was in full damaging force. For the last several days, my house has been colored red, as a few of us lucky residents battle the bug in some way, shape or form. Those of us with the most robust immune systems (aka: those who eat things off the floor on a regular basis, aka: Benett and Ellie) have thankfully been spared... so far... *knocking on wood.*

Poor Gavin is struggling the most. He spent most of the weekend as a much subdued version of himself... contenting himself to quiet activities, much of the time snuggled under a warm blanket. Today, he woke with a fever that has yet to break. He's taking fluids. He's resting his body. He's resting his mind. He's eating little nibbles now and then... I hope it's just a matter of time before he's back to his full and rambunctious self.

I miss the exuberant, if bleary-eyed, child pictured above. Hopefully, we'll be able to kick this bug and get back our noisy normal.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The growing patch of bare ground, down by the barn, seems to indicate that the weather has warmed a bit. (Although my fingers and toes disagree. Firmly.) The gals were enjoying this bare patch yesterday, and I couldn't help but snap a photo. They were vigorous as they scratched about, trying their very hardest to have a luxurious bath. The photo doesn't do the sight justice... if only it had animated dust and dry grass being tossed this way and that, you'd have the full experience.

Anyway, this sight got me thinking about simply pleasures. I've found that in my life, the definition of a simple pleasure has changed a great deal over the course of the last few years. It's funny how things that once seemed mundane or even tedious, have the ability to evolve into something longed for... almost a life-line, these things ground us to what's most important.

As winter turns to spring, that small patch of ground will grow and the gals will find a new pleasure... tender shoots of green springing forth from the ground... bugs and crawling things... room to roam. The same will be true for me... I too will be able to roam a bit further, with little people at my hip, looking for something new to capture our attention and give us great joy. Simply things, but things that matter nonetheless.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I have been on a quest for a better night's sleep. I've been placing my blame for poor rest squarely on my mattress. It wasn't that old; about four years, but it had become too soft. It was too soft to the point where I could hardly sleep a night through with out waking up in the wee hours with a sore back. Getting up in the morning was an interesting process of trying to roll to the side and hoisting myself into a sitting position in order to ease the kink from my back. Just thinking about it hurts... when I did manage to get out of bed, my feet even hurt.

So, my sore back and feet made a rash bedding decision that resulted in the purchase of a rock hard bed. I could sleep through the night, but only to wake in the morning with a sore shoulder. I think sleeping on the floor would have been more comfortable and had I not been so stubborn, I might have dragged my pillow from the bed to do just that.

Back to the store I went. This time looking for some advise and not just the most firm bed in stock. I was so eager for a decent night's sleep that I even took the sales person's advise and spent an exorbitant sum on two  new temporpedic pillows.

I'm starting to like the pillows, although they take some getting used to... and the new bed is great... but it's just now occurring to me that one of the biggest (or should I say smallest) reasons for my lack of sleep is the littlest of the little people.

Ellie makes her way into bed with Monte and me around 2 AM most nights. At first it was easier to just make room in the king-size bed for her... but now in addition to herself, she brings her pillow, comforter, blankie and a baby along for the ride. Then she tosses and turns until she has taken up the majority of the space in the middle, leaving Monte and I perched on our respective edges tugging on our comforter for a little bit of warmth.

I've tried taking Ellie back into her own bed, a process which is met with extreme disapproval and a great deal of vocalization on her part. Needless to say, it could wake the neighbors.... so we try to deal with it. Pleading just a little bit on some nights for her to sleep in her own bed, but many times just rolling over and hoping she settles in quickly, before the alarm goes off and it's time to start the day in earnest.

At some point in time, I must have thought this little midnight marauder was cute... cute enough to snap a picture... but today, I'm too tired to think it's cute... and I'm wondering if the mattress store has anything in stock that can solve my new little problem.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Although the holidays were wonderful, it's nice to get back to a more relaxed pace... a pace that doesn't involve back to back plans and commitments. For that reason, I was looking forward to these past few days.

Even though we're relishing our laid-back style this weekend, I've been making some mental plans. Maybe it's the newness of 2013 or the barren winter landscape, or a combination of the two... but it's got me thinking about the things I'd like to be included in the new year. Not resolutions, but more of a plan to make the year meaningful; filled with memories, new skills learned, time spent with loved ones.

The challenge is not making those plans, that seems to be the easy part. The challenge becomes keeping the vision and the plans alive. Not letting the hustle and bustle of life get in the way, and keeping the promises made to myself.

I should probably be writing down my list of things to do in 2013, but I haven't done that yet. Even though I love lists, their contents can feel like chores to be done and checked as complete one after another. I don't want this year to feel that way... so I'll record things after they've been done, or as they're underway. Maybe that's cheating?

To get things started off right, Monte and I have already been scheming some plans for March. The details aren't finalized, but we're excited and think the little people will be too. I love these secret little plans... and I hope the new year can be filled with more of the same.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Sledding yesterday was a unanimous blast. The hill we sledded at is tall and long enough for even the most veteran sledders to shout their thrilled approval. It's also such a great run that walking back up the hill doesn't seem quite so hard. I was so surprised that even Benett and Ellie willingly walked back up time and time again all on their own.

Each of the little people took turns sledding tandem and solo. I picked up a few little sled seats which were on sale last week. They are little more than a square to sit on with a plastic handle to grip, almost resembling flimsy shovels... but those little buggers are fast! Each of us had fun taking our turn... at at $2.99 they were a steal. I may have to stop by and pick up a few more.

When it grew dark, the big light at the top of the hill began to glow so that we could play on. I think Gavin was a little surprised when he asked if it was to go home and both Monte and me said no. It was too much fun to leave. Nobody was cold or tired or wet. We had the entire hill to ourselves too, which made us all feel spoiled.

I wished more than once that I had my camera with me. Watching each of my little ones race down the hill with huge grins was something I wished I could have captured. Maybe, since we're not tired of the snow yet, we'll go back today... and this time, I'll snap a few pictures.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I'm not as good as I should be about taking the little people outside in the winter months. I'm more of a hunker-down and keep busy inside kind of person... especially where the little people are concerned and doubly when the weather forecast involves snowing and blowing. 

Monte on the other hand is great about getting everyone bundled up and outside. He doesn't seem to be bothered by the long and arduous process of bundling and unbundling, the tears of frustration that inevitably accompany donning boots and mittens, or the piles of sopping wet gear that lay strewn across the entry way floor when everyone gets too cold to remain outside a second longer.

The fresh air does everyone so much good and I certainly notice a huge difference in the boys when they've had a chance to burn off some energy outside. Ellie is a trooper about being outside, even though her cheeks turn a bright shade of fuchsia after 30 seconds in the elements. (Forget about a scarf either... she has a thing about knit-wear on her neck... I think it brings back bad memories of an over-zealous brother who's hugs used to more resemble strangle holds.)

Today, however, the weather is just about perfect... perfect in a wintry-warm kind of way. So we're going sledding at a local hill. It is a surprise for the little people. Just knowing that they have a surprise later today is a thrill for them. I think we'll have fun too... but just in case things get dicey when it comes to pushing double-socked-feet into boots, I've mentally prepared myself. There will be no tears of frustration on my part.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


This sight of Gavin is not uncommon in our house. Much of the time, we find our biggest little person lost in a book. I love that about him... yet it's surprising to me that he enjoys reading as much as he does... You see, he seems to contradict himself in that he is so distractable and full of energy most of the time; that is until a book is placed in his hand. With a book in hand, he won't pay anyone attention, let alone look up, until hunger strikes.

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled and proud of his love of reading. I feel like he can do anything, if he can read. Not just 'can' read... but a real willingness and eagerness that comes from the sheer enjoyment of the act.

I used to think that he learned to love reading because he was so darn nosey. He seems to be on a constant quest for information... as a smaller child Monte and I would spell things that we didn't want him to hear in conversations we had in front of him. (How rude of us... I know.) We did that until he started sounding those spellings out and proudly telling us the word.

That nosey spelling gradually turned into our night-time ritual of reading the Paddington Bear chapter books. Gavin loved the stories about the mischievous bear. I enjoyed reading the stories too. We talked about some of the words that were different or challenging, which I really enjoyed as well.

Then last year, his teacher introduced him to Harry Potter and it was all over. Gavin poured through the first three books at which time I cut him off... feeling as though the story was a little dark for my second grader. He moved on to other books, undeterred and discovering new authors to enjoy.

Now he has a stack of books near him most of the time, mostly Rick Riordan. It drives me crazy that he has three or four books half finished... but I guess that's the contradiction coming out in him. Distracted by his distraction...

He's consumed more than two million words since the start of school. (We have an actual count because he tests on every single book that he reads.) I can honestly say that Gavin has read more in 2012 that I did. I'm not sure if I should feel proud or sad... Maybe I'll use it as motivation, motivation to put a book in my own hand and become lost, not looking up until I'm hungry... or more likely until someone else tells me that they're hungry.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This year, I had plans to savor the holiday season. I finished my work assignment just a few days before Christmas which meant that I had a time to focus on getting things wrapped up (literally). I could also spend extra time doing all of the fun things that we only get to do around the holidays. 

It's true, I baked a bit; decorated more than in years past and even hosted an extended family gathering... all at relatively minimal stress levels. A minor miracle.

We kept the Advent calendar tradition this year, which the little people enjoy. And the gifts were all wrapped in time for each of the little ones to jostle and shake and guess what might be inside for a few days... building anticipation for our Christmas morning celebration.

I'm a little bit dazed that Gavin is back to school and we're settling back into a normal routine already. I think I had unrealistic expectations, hoping to freeze time a bit more. But even though I was unable to freeze time completely, I did indeed savor the time spent with my family. My gift was the blessing of each and everyone of them. It's a gift that I am so happy to carry with me into the new year.