Thursday, February 25, 2016

a winter-spring promise

a letter to my son. and to you.

Dear Bobby,

You've been missing me at school the past few days, and although that makes my mama heart feel warm and loved and as you know I always miss you back, I also of course want your days to be simply wonderful.

This morning you really especially wanted to stay home; you were sad and Owie and I were both hugging you and you were loving it and I just couldn't make you go. I want you to learn that it's important to show up every day-- for school, for work --of course I do. But maybe even more important than showing up for our obligations is showing up for each other-- being there for our people when they need us. Recognizing that right now in life WE TOGETHER is what we all need the most a lot of the time. And saying YES to a day of "homeschool" -- playing street hockey and whiffle ball outside before the rain, snuggling your blankie and pretending to read a book while we watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, enjoying a snack and poetry together, drawing in journals at the tiny table, maybe a trip to the library this afternoon -- well that may sometimes be just how you need me to show up for you. I want you to know the importance of school, but also the importance of FAMILY and how much you are loved. We will always be here for you when you need us.

Going to kindergarten has mostly been great for you though; normally you forget all about us for the day and have fun with your teachers and friends. And I want to remember, in case we someday forget: walking you to school is one of my most favorite things-- (Just beneath walking you HOME from school of course!) --an intentional pause in the hour's happenings, a breath of fresh air, a stretch of our legs, a chance to talk and hold hands or take pictures or check out a burrow or just be together. And most days we are quite happy but some days are sad and hard and those days are okay, too -- sometimes even better because they give us a chance to really connect and hug it out and for me to remind you that hard things and feelings happen but also they pass by and in the meantime our love is unwavering.

A walk in the woods can cure a lot, my love, and the walks through the frosted field made the first cold days feel quite magical last fall.

It's lovely when the sun still warms the earth during the day; it doesn't last long. Owen and Maisy had some nice times while you were off at kindergarten-- Owie had a chance to be the big brother, Maisy getting steady on her feet following him around.

BUT, they also miss you quite badly when you're gone, and in those early days Owie would agree to his rests so that pickup time would come more quickly and Maisy would try running off to get you hours before the afternoon.

It's been mostly a strange can't decide between frozen and muddy winter, an unsure season and I've never had much patience for February (sorry to Valentine's Day and poor Daddy's birthday)-- never mind this one. When the ground was finally covered with snow a couple (few) weeks ago you had a hard time of it on the walk to school. "But-- but-- the groundhog! The groundhog didn't see his shadow! It's supposed to be spring."

I got down on my knees in the snow and you sobbed in my arms. Because you had taken Groundhog Day as a reputable source and because you'd had a taste of spring and then the promise was snatched away, and it was bitter cold again. And I'd have sobbed too except that I've been around New England winters long enough to know that spring here always has a few false starts, and I've hardened my heart from expectation coming around too early. And also-- there's something about comforting you, my son, that makes me stronger.

We delighted in the February false-spring while we could, and little sister has grown much more steady since November.

I've been known to despair in the midwinter -- and I won't say I won't despair still because I just might, but it's been a mild year and I'm feeling optimistic! And plus... I've had a story of hope lingering in my ears and in my heart and reminding me of the promise of spring and that the promise is about so much more than warmer days.

The story is a children's book (which is good because I don't have much time for adult reading these days, sad to say).

It's called Bunny's First Spring but really it's about Bunny's first fall and winter and the first time I read it I may have teared up a little bit because that bunny was me, frolicking in the summer and getting all fretful in the fall.

And wondering whether the winter might not end, the spring might not come-- or at least not soon enough.  The winter can be long. (It can be very long.) The winters of life can sometimes be long too. 

Spring will come.
In fact it's already coming before we can see it!

And the sun will be even brighter for our missing it so! It's a promise.

So-- let the sun on your skin be a warm reminder when it's cold and a rest for your soul when it's weary: every winter will be born again into spring, my love. And I'll be close by, frolicking in the summer and fretting in the fall and hoping through the midwinter and hopping into spring.

your mama.

PS. for all my readers TODAY (since it'll be some years before Bobby reads this probably)... Bunny's First Spring, by Sally Lloyd-Jones --author of the Jesus Storybook Bible (necessary reading), How to Be a Baby, by Me the Big Sister (super amusing NYTimes Bestseller), and a new potty book Skip to the Loo, My Darling (which I am already enthusiastic about). And for the next few hours you can still enter to win four of Sally's books, here. Good luck!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

christmas eve {2015}

[Above: Reading Santa Mouse Meets Marmaduke on some other day. Below: Christmas Eve in the morning.]

It's Sunday, it's the last day of the first month of the year, I haven't finished a piece of my own writing in at least ten weeks, and those feel like some good reasons for hiding away with a keyboard today. I was looking back on a blog post from two Christmases ago and it made me remember how special it is to have the memories time capsuled by the words and photos swirled together. And then I started sorting through this year's photos and I didn't even make it past Christmas Eve.
The anticipation had been building since Thanksgiving and vacation had just begun and in all my life I'd never seen a day so warm in December. We didn't have much on the agenda other than being together and harvesting the rest of our brussels sprouts and watching a holiday movie or two. For the harvest we had two very willing little workers (who also ate a surprising number of raw sprouts).

The oldest little amigo was immersed in his play. He likes to run away from my camera; sometimes it turns into a game that's quite funny and it's a bit of a challenge but I get some great real shots that way.

And he did get the tiny garden workers to join him after a while...

And baby girl has ruined countless pairs of pants, because you never know when adventure will strike.

Pupper is very proud of his little Padawans.

Owen isn't always up for a fight or an adventure, and when he is it makes Bob really happy. Maisy gets right in there too and we all think she's amazing. Babies skilled with lightsabers: super cool or super nerdy?

Letting them run and roam outdoors, following and observing and photographing them -- it's my favorite thing. "Show me a day when the world wasn't new," especially for little ones, and with them too!

To see all three playing together, interested in the same thing and enjoying each other-- that's magic and the very best feeling in the world as a parent. The ol' "ahhhhhhhh, I'm doing it right after all." Which doesn't last long, be assured-- but here's to hoping and praying that all these little moments of connection add up to a long lifetime of sibling love.

And by now I bet you've forgotten that this post was supposed to be about Christmas Eve! When we came inside and day turned dark the excitement reached a whole new level, especially for the six year old in the house. He dressed himself up as an angel (costume based loosely on this video) and went flying around the house.

Maisy wanted to sit sleepily at the table for a while (if I'd left her alone she would have put herself to sleep); Owen quickly ditched the excitement for a long solo coloring session, in true Owie fashion.

The kids got all jammied up and the cousin party arrived just before bedtime. Maisy and Owie were smitten with Erica, and Bob was distracted watching Elf.

We read The Night Before Christmas and cozied the littles into bed (Bob had started fake yawning and asking about bedtime somewhere in the mid-afternoon; they were so cute and so ready.)

And then-- cousin Christmas Eve party! (Plus Dan this year-- honorary cousin :) We tried to play Clue but mostly we just ate and talked and laughed and there were a few rounds of Mustache Smash involved and basically it was all uproariously loud and the kids must have been deeply dreaming of sugar plums because it felt like a miracle that they slept through it all. We set up a couple self timers (because we are awesome like that and that's what we do) and with the iphone 10 photo burst that amounted to a ridiculous 30 or 40 shots, which were obviously amazing and candidly carried out and of which these are a few of my favorites...

We always have a Christmas present project to work on together for the kids... this year we didn't really have one planned but it turned out to be a little spontaneous field trip to fetch Erica's old American Girl doll to make Bob's wish come true. We said goodnight and set up the Christmas morning setup...

And I spied on my sleepers...

And I collapsed into bed. Christmas Day: coming at you hopefully sometime in February. :)

{just in the nick of time before another month ends}
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