Monday, November 25, 2013

The drawbridge...

Playing with Legos together in the loft of the mountain cabin on vacation...

It's Saturday night. Baths are done, and boys are listening to the sounds of "Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All" upstairs in their bunk beds. Ben has a horrible cough, cold, and fever, so I was glad to get him to bed a bit early.

(Life happened, and I didn't finish this over the weekend. C'est la vie. :)

Anyway, I've been thinking about winter evenings. Well, winter evenings and the tired that comes with busy schedules and how they mesh together well. The fall schedule has had me running tired. We've got Bible study and kid's choir practice and park playdates and, and, and...

Winter evenings and early darkness are working for me in that. David comes home, and not long after he comes in, I lock the door and turn off the outside light. It feels a little like pulling up the drawbridge on the castle. Oh sure, its not really. But there's a little feeling of retreat from the world in early winter evenings, cozy under blankets, reading stories, lighting candles at dinner.

Summer is for flinging the doors wide open, kids running around the house, late bedtimes... But winter? Winter is for cocooning and resting and feeling the tired in your bones and embracing it a little. It's for laying down in the bed at night, your head on your husband's shoulder, and thinking, "This may just be in the best part of the day."

It's for a big tray of Legos on the kitchen table after lunch instead of chasing them all outside. It's for listening to the littlest one say, "Eggo? Eggo?", and watching him grin as he drops a piece and attempts to crawl on my lap. It's for smelling his hair while we all watch the "Charlie Brown Mayflower Voyage" before nap.

I finally figured out how to slow cook beef stew without either burning or rubberizing the meat in the process, and Seth and I came home from choir practice last night to a delicious smell and two freshly scrubbed little boys in their pj's. Ben came running for me to give me a hug, and I got dinner going.

Whenever I'm tempted to wish we had a gas fireplace because it would be so much easier, I need to remember their excitement last night at carrying in the kindling they have gathered and the logs from the wood box. I need to remember that we can't roast marshmallows over a gas fireplace. I should remember that I read a little bit of "Farmer Boy" around the fireplace after they had plenty of hot, burnt sugar in their tummies. It was the part about tapping the trees for maple syrup and collecting wintergreen berries in the snow.

We cut off the lights, and we used nothing but a few candles and the firelight for awhile. We talked about the past, about the cold and the lack of electricity and the blessings of light bulbs. It was good. It was slow and as quiet as it ever gets with little boys climbing up and over the sofas and chairs.

So I'm not feeling guilty about pulling in and not going anywhere for a few cold days before Thanksgiving. We'll paint with watercolors, play with play dough, make Goody O'Grumpity's spice cake, wait for the new dishwasher to be delivered, and make Indian headdresses.

We'll be thankful for winter. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Family in town...

This is my back yard. (Taken by Seth, my budding photographer.)

And this is my in-laws new house.

And this is the distance between the two.

1.33 miles.

As of a few weeks ago, we now have family in town. My father-in-law retired, and they moved here from the Norfolk area. I've been hesitant to say much about this, but I figured I should come clean. See, we haven't lived near family since before Seth was born. It's been 7 years of juggling babysitting with friends, making do when I'm sick and David is in trial, and making the best of it. 

Frankly, that's what most of our friends do. So I honestly feel guilty at my abundance of riches. I suspect that many of you are throwing a shoe at your computer monitors right now and gnashing your teeth in my direction. And I wouldn't blame you a bit. That's probably what I would be doing. "She has great parents only an hour and a half away and NOW she has in laws who love to babysit less than 2 miles away? A pox upon her!" 

Yesterday, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and knew that I was sick and would have to go to the doctor in the morning. I also knew that David was leaving for trial, and what that means is that he can't do a single thing for me because he'll get a contempt of court citation if he does. I remembered the time in the middle of a local trial when he came home for one evening when I was stuck in the bathroom for a couple of hours, and it was the only evening he could've possibly done anything like that during two weeks. God got us all through, but I lay on the bed that night and cried because I'd have to figure out a way to go on by myself the next day. 

But yesterday morning, I called my in laws. They dropped all their plans and came over to watch my boys so I could go to the doctor. And I was grateful because I have more backup now. 

I could say more about all the wonderful ways they've helped out in the short time they've been here, but once again, shoes at computer monitors, so I won't. So that's my story. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

One Pot Sausage, Potatoes, and Green Beans..

It's Cub Scouts night, and I'm thankful that another blogger turned me on to a great man-pleasing one pot meal.

1 Pot Sausage, Potatoes, and Green Beans

1 link andouille or smoked sausage, sliced
several red potatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 c. frozen green beans
2-3 c. water w/ chicken bouillon, enough to barely cover the other ingredients
2-3 t. cajun seasoning, etc.

Throw it all in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn it down and let simmer for 30 minutes or so. Feed it to your hungry people, with or without biscuits or cornbread. Feel Southern. The end.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday, 5 minutes post boys down for nap...

One possible ending to Seth's "video game." The superhero loses his legs. 

Ahhh, Friday. We're at the end of a hard week. I'm throwing in the towel for the dinner I was going to make. I told the boys that if they cleaned up the playroom before nap that I'd take them to the children's museum after nap, and then we'd meet Daddy for Mexican. I don't even care that I'm on my third day without a shower. Note to self: must find cute baseball cap, stat. 

Seth has had some attitude issues this week, and they've all been full of wild energy. I don't know what it is. Seth and Evan chase each other around the house, Evan dumps out a whole crate of fake food and chases Seth around with the plastic box, attempting to hit him in the head, they fall to the ground wrestling. I've been making them go outside to play rough. (The dumping of the fake food makes me want to scream because getting my 4-year-old to clean up is pure torture these days. It involves lots of punishment and very little progress. Ahem.) Ben has a sense of when I'm going to try and sit down to read with the boys, and he makes sure to take that time to get into whatever mischief he can find. Yes, he's deliberate about that these days. Baby timeout has been getting a lot of use.


- They love the little book on tadpoles that I bought from the thrift store this week. They ask to read it over and over and over again. 

-We've learned a lot about bones, and Seth has made his own bone models out of q-tips. He pulled out a book of animal skeletons and cut and taped them to replicate a turtle. And this was all completely on his own initiative. He figured out to use the q-tips without any hints from me. 

- We crafted this week, and I even put up their q-tip painted fall trees on the hall wall.

- The house may be dusty, but I pulled out my November decorations... acorn salt and pepper shakers, paper squirrels taped to blocks that I printed off Martha Stewart Living 3 years ago, plates of a fall leaf and turkey, the chalkboard platter I was given at Holidays Fit for a King (loved it!)..

- Seth created his own "video game." This involved me taking pictures of his hand drawn scenes and posting them in order on Picasa. He "plays" the game by using the arrow keys on the keyboard to scroll through. If you go too far, all the way to the last frame, you lose. Your superhero loses his legs. The game is called, "Don't Go Too Far." I couldn't figure out why until I watched him play.  

- The game is a huge hit with the preschool set. His friend, Anna, wanted to play it over and over when she came over. Evan is also intrigued. Watch out, XBox, there's a new guy in town. 

- Despite the crazy, we're getting into a school routine that works for me. Or maybe its that I've let go of having a time schedule to get things done in and have become ok with it being out of order on a lot of days. 

- I've found a Charlotte Mason reading group that I like, and I'm going to go back. Experienced moms talk about how to implement parts of her original homeschooling volume, and last meeting, we got a sample lesson or two of how to do a Bible lesson Charlotte Mason style. One of the moms brought crates of books that she has picked up at used bookstores that are "twaddle free" or specific to Ambleside for the moms to pick through. It was great! 

- Seth is marching in his first parade tomorrow with his Tiger Cub den. I hope someone takes pictures for me. (We've decided that I'll spend the morning with the little boys because they wouldn't enjoy the parade, we suspect). I think that he'll LOVE it. Since I despise downtown traffic on a parade day, it's probably best that I stay far away anyway.