Friday, February 18, 2011

the warmth of the sun

The kids and I just got back from a relaxing and warm week in Arizona with my folks. A few highlights:

Swimming (indoors - it wasn't THAT warm) at the rec center, which has a zero-depth kiddie pool with slide as well as one of those rushing-river type winding channels where you kind of float around in an eternal circle? Pretty fun.

Playing with Boppa. Boppa is very creative, and can make even the most mundane things (like this rolling tray, formerly part of a janitor's cart) very exciting. Poor Boppa was pretty sore and exhausted after his mornings on kid-duty, though.

The library! I am really excited to see Miles' reading just take off the last few weeks. He's reading by himself now - Frog and Toad books and the like, and then reading some more advanced books (Nate the Great, All About Motorcycles) with help from Mom on the long words. The love of books is such a huge part of my life and my childhood memories that it brings me great joy to see him embracing reading as well! This stage of life is not QUITE as thrilling as that 18 month-3 year language acquisition stage Eleanor's in the tail end of - learning to talk is terribly gratifying - but for me, it's close.

Hiking to the "lake" (actually a dry creek bed with a few frozen-crunchy puddles left in it, but to my kids, it's a lake. Here we are, throwing rocks in and cheering for ourselves.

For my birthday, Kamma treated me to my first-ever formal English riding lesson. For those of you who don't know, I grew up with horses, and have ridden since I was tiny, but always Western and always just informally, hacking around and (in my teen years) roaming around the central Arizona wilderness. But I've always had that little-girl hankering to ride a really awesome horse through green fields, jumping over hedges or white fences - there are an awful lot of girl-loves-horse books that I was a fan of. Anyway, we didn't really have the green fields, but I did learn to jump a little bit! Yeah, yeah, I's like 8 inches off the ground, this horse could virtually just step over...but it's a start! It really makes me want to get back into the horse community, which is a very time-consuming and expensive place to be. Probably not the right direction for this stage of my life, what with small children and all.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

snow day = hair day

Let's be honest: staying cooped up inside for three days straight is not ideal for most of us. I keep thinking I will get all these projects done...and what do I do? Play with the kids, read books, bake, and play video games. I toss in a chore or two and some homework to help me not feel too sticky and useless, but I think I've had my fill of midweek vacation. And yes, I could write a whole post on my besetting sin of sloth, but...I'm too lazy. Maybe another day.

(For those of you who are wondering how this particular snowy week is any different from the normal life of a stay-at-home-mom in winter...well, humph! It is! This particular mom usually has mornings at the gym, a couple evenings a week in classesl, a few students to teach in the afternoons, and perhaps a morning playdate, not to mention the excitement of grocery shopping and running to the bank. None of that this week! I am SO grateful Scott is home, though - without his wonderful company and conversation I'd really be going stir-crazy.)

Anyway, another thing I tend to put off is spending hours upon hours styling Eleanor's hair. Hence her most frequent styles of Afro-plus-headband, or two-pigtails-with-bows. Not creative, but they get me through the gym and grocery store without anyone openly pitying her for her white-mama-hair. I think.

But today I decided to kill two birds with one stone and try a new style I saw in a book. Not sure what to call it, maybe triangle braids? Here it is:

Eleanor LOVES beads. She did a great job sitting still, too. She and Miles spent a long time just playing with all our beads (which used to be sorted neatly in their compartments...)

Action shot! Nora shows off how her beads go "clicky-clacky" when she shakes her head back and forth - a favorite sport these days.

I've also realized that we need to buy more beads. I'm not done with the back of her hair yet, but we've already hit something like 36 braids, and I don't really have enough beads and snaps (the part that clips on the end of the braid to hold the beads on) to do her whole head in anything "matching". Hence the multicolored look today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Days

As you all know, we got some snow in Chicago. Frankly, the "blizzard" just wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected. It snowed for less than 24 hours, and today was mostly sunny and not too cold. Our entire block was out chatting and laboring with their shovels - it was very friendly and small-town-ish, with lots of neighbors stepping in to shovel for those who were either absent, ill, or too lazy to do it themselves. I'm telling myself that this counts as the workout I couldn't make it to the gym for.

I don't think I've ever experienced 20 inches of snow before. As you can see, some of the drifts were up past Miles' waist and Eleanor's chest. I saw a suggestion for building a snow fort: shovel up a five-foot-high mountain of snow, hollow it out, and pour water all over it to help it freeze solid and not collapse. You can also "paint" it with squirt bottles of water and food coloring. I would kind of like to do this...and then the thought of shoveling that much snow into a pile and what, crawling on my knees to dig out the inside?...sounds really unappealing.

This is the view from inside our garage. Which I am, again, truly grateful for. But there's no way we're getting our car out anytime soon; that opening is 8 feet high, so that tells me the drifts are two, maybe three feet. I have no idea how long it'll take for our alley to be passable; it has speed bumps, so I don't think it can be plowed, and there's just nowhere to PUT the snow after you shovel it, you know?

OK, bad-mommy-moment confession: Eleanor does not have snow boots. Miles has the pair I mistakenly bought two years ago, size 10 mismarked as size 7, and which I made him wear at age 2...and age 3...and now age 4. Eleanor has galoshes, which I figured were good enough, with some thick socks. Well, they're not. First, one boot got stuck in a drift and fell off, so her sock got soaked. She didn't want to go inside, so I dumped the snow out of the boot, put the wet sock back on, and the boot on top of it. She was happy. But then her glove came off and she started complaining about her cold hand. When we went inside, I couldn't pull off her OTHER boot. I looked inside, and it was completely packed full of snow. I could not get her foot out; it was jammed and frozen in there. I finally lifted her into the kitchen sink and ran lukewarm tap water into her boot until her foot got loosened up. Yes, I am the urban mom whose children are going to get frostbite, I guess. If you can get frostbite in 15 minutes. Poor girl.

I have to say, spending most of June in Tanzania is sounding SUPER right about now!