Thursday, December 19, 2013

let it snow

the kids have experienced a first in their lives - snow days from school.

all of us, but the kids in particular, were looking forward to having actual snow without having to drive anywhere because we had moved from the west coast to the east earlier this year.  we knew it existed out here last year because steve had taken a selfie with his warm hat on and we could see the white stuff behind him.  i was elated when i woke early last sunday morning to see the flakes coming down.  when ander opened his eyes, i told him to look out the window.  his very first request was to immediately go outside to play, but i convinced him to wait until i had at least one cup of chai in me.

not so for diana.  having slept later, as is her wont during the weekend, especially when she and i stay up unreasonably late to cram watching as many doctor who episodes as we can manage, she took one look outside, saw the snow, and immediately went to change her clothes and dress for outside play.  that, of course, meant that ander wanted to go, too, so i started his elaborate list of Things That Needed To Go On The Body before stepping out of doors.  you know, the snow pants, sweater, coat, hat, mittens, scarf, and snow boots (which thankfully fit so much better this year than last).

our neighbors came outside, too, with their young daughter and we tromped around for a little while before i asked steve to get the surprises out of the shed.  a few weeks prior, i was wandering the aisles at target - all alone - and saw an endcap full of sleds.  so i got a saucer and a toboggan.  and then doubled that, because i didn't know which ones the kids would like.  smart of me after all, because that meant we had enough for all three kids and an adult to brave the treacherous bunny-slope hill behind our townhouse that starts on our porch and ends in the bramble, or the creek, depending upon where you stop.

oh, there was snow sculpture, too.  diana made her obligatory tiny snowperson, while ander started first with snow pyramids and ended with a snowman.

i think we learned on sunday night that school would be closed on monday because of the weather.  the kids were dubious or confused or something, but they took it in stride.  diana was disappointed that she would miss chorus and extra strings practice, but oh, well.  ander simply asked if he could stay in his pajamas all day, like we often do on the weekends (he likes to be comfy and also asks if i will "keep me comfy" which is his version of asking me to keep him company on the couch while he watches a favored video).  yes, my son, yes, you may.

we all understood why it was a good idea to stay indoors on monday.  the ice that made everything glisten would make it too difficult to walk or drive; even steve stayed here to work from home instead of heading to the office.

it looked magnificent to me, though.  i love seeing bits of nature encased in a clear shell, like insects captured in amber.

we stayed warm and toasty inside, decorating gingerbread houses.  in years past, both children have been frustrated by various aspects of the actual house construction, turning the experiences into ones that were memorable (but not in happy, enjoyable ways), so i tried something different.  i purchased kits from trader joe's and built the houses myself.  this worked out so very much better.  their pieces were soft and smelled yummy, the a-frame design worked really, really well with the excellent diy frosting, and the kids had plenty of calm, creative, cooperative, and collaborative moments with each other, each satisfied with their own creations.  epic success!

canned chocolate frosting (we always seem to have some in the fridge) and tic-tacs really added that je ne sais quoi element to diana's abode

monday night we heard that school would be closed again the next day.  diana had enjoyed her marathon session of minecraft, and ander had danced the entire nutcracker ballet in full at least three times, but they weren't that interested in a repeat performance.  thankfully, when tuesday morning arrived, the world was, once again, softly blanketed in white crystals.  it was going to be another good outside play day.

ander and i walked out letters in the snow in our parking area again, which steve shoveled out to make them clearer.  we persuaded our neighbor to come outside to play.  (i totally want her and steve on my team in a snowball fight.  excellent aim & power in their throws, all right.)  sledding was messy and muddy and a bit dangerous, as the heavy ice brought down large tree branches in our path, so we focused on building snow daleks and snow forts and perfecting ander's aim with a snowball.  throwing into the snow-laden branches of evergreens was fun, too, as we made snow showers upon the ground and each other.

the stunning tree right outside our door

my hard-working men

starting a snow dalek. yes, she is obsessed with them right now.

my very favorite snowman

diana & neighbor tanya. she's awesome in oh, so many ways.

i really enjoy the views from our back deck
and in our backyard
those days were just what we needed.  i especially enjoyed my time with ander, as i abandoned all my responsibilities and just played with him (diana was mostly on minecraft or with her head in a book, as per ususal).  we talked about our upcoming mommy-son date to see the nutcracker ballet, performed countless readings of all four stories in a christmas book gifted to him years ago (he likes to do all the voices while i read the background details), and sang along with the muppet christmas carol.

oh, how i long for more snow!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the longest night

it's coming up again, the longest night of the year, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

we've completed our major preparations for the winter solstice already: having selected our tree and decorated him with gold and silver sparkling ornaments, along with shiny red apples, cranberries, and snowflakes; brought out the winter solstice fairy doll to oversee the arrangements; reminded ander of the words to our song (he's working on harmonizing with it).

we named our tree 'frasier' because, well, he's a frasier fir.
as part of my personal preparation, i am thinking back to past celebrations and what they have meant to me, determining what i'd like to keep and add as part of our evolving tradition of recognizing holidays of light.  one thing in particular stood out to me as i reviewed my post from last year:

i want my children to know, to believe, to encompass, to embody the idea that we all can be lights in the darkness.  we do not need to fear the night.  our own individual brilliance can be enough to sustain us, maybe even be enough to lead the way for others to follow and find their own way to shine.

over the last twelve months, i think that has come to pass for both of them.  they are aware of their personal strengths, of their effects on those around them, of the joyful experiences that arise from shining their own lights.  when i am quiet enough to see their shine, i can reflect it and amplify it and be uplifted in its brilliance.

this is a time for rebirth, renewal, recognition, rediscovery.  if you are finding it difficult to maneuver in the darkness of this time of year, hold on to the hope that springs forth with one little light.  cherish it, nurture it, feed it, join it with others.  the sun really will come out again.