posts tagged with 'winter'
Martin Luther King Day is very important in our household, and it did not go unobserved. But when it comes to recounting the most exciting part of our days it's hard to argue with the outside adventure. Today was the most beautiful of winter days possible, and we took full advantage of it. Our friends recently bought a house with a golf course conveniently located across the street, so this morning we invited ourselves over there to do some sledding with them. It was lovely.
We've never experienced golf course sledding before, but I can't deny the appeal: there's not just one hill to go down, you have your choice of dozens! It helped that with the icy snow you didn't really need to break a trail to have a good run. The best part was sliding across the water hazard at the bottom of one hill, as pictured above. The second best part was when we all got tired we were able to walk right across the street to a warm house and be treated to hot chocolate and a lovely lunch!
I know Harvey and Zion are wonderful sledders and fully enjoy being outdoors, but I was delightfully surprised by how well Lijah did. It was cold—probably not a whole lot above 10°F when we started—but he didn't mind it at all. He was excited for the first run down the hill, and then he managed to recover after a pretty good wipeout on the second run (he yelled alot, then when he calmed down he declared he wasn't going to use the blue sled again). He was having such a grand time that on the way home I had no qualms at all about stopping, at the boys' request, to play on the frozen Concord River.
The town very kindly plowed the dirt road to the boat launch, so we were able to spend a pleasant half-hour sliding on the ice on the river and in the woods (the river having been very high when it froze). Once again, I'm sure we'll all sleep well tonight!
Last year as part of our solstice celebrations we made wreaths, and I was pretty happy with how they came out. This year I thought I'd get a start on the process a little earlier, so we could be thinking about Advent too. And decorating the house for December is always nice too.
Our friends joined us for the making, which we did out in the yard under a beautiful sunny sky. All it took was hemlock and holly from our trees, some wire—more wire than you would have thought, but still not that much in the grand scheme of things—and some ribbon. The ribbon was the problem: we had to get some more from CVS, and while biking there was delightful their prices were less so. $1/yard is a bit steep for 3/8 inch polyester ribbon if you ask me. Still, I'm pleased enough with how all the wreaths came out, and spending four dollars on a 16-inch wreath is actually pretty reasonable in the grand scheme of things. Plus we had fun!
Of course, we didn't manage to make the Advent/solstice wreath, the one to hold candles. And Lijah didn't finish the one he was making. He got too cold. More work tomorrow!
After years of failing to get organized, we finally managed to celebrate the solstice in proper style today. Not that we have any connection to traditional observations... but we're sure that to do the thing properly you need greenery and fire.
We started out by making some wreaths using the evergreens in our yard. We ended up with two, one I made myself to try out the theory, and one that Harvey helped me on.
Don't let Harvey's outfit fool you—it was actually pretty cold out this afternoon! Our hands were numb with the mitten-less fine work required. Maybe I should have set up inside; but since I'd never done this before I wanted to be close to the supply of greenery so we could cut as needed. We used mostly hemlock, with some holly and andromeda for decoration, and held together with wire and ribbon. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out!
After studying candles pretty intensively on Monday the boys were pretty blasé about lighting our wreath, and we didn't know any songs to sing... but it was still pretty cheery looking on a winter afternoon (and it had plenty of room on our new giant kitchen table!).
Then we went back outside to light the "bonfire" with one of the candles. We had to go out just after dark, so we couldn't make it too big, and we weren't able to wait til sunset like I would have liked. But we had all the time we needed to sit around the blaze, listen to the firework sounds from fresh hemlock boughs burning, and hope the sun would come back this year. A good solstice... now on to Christmas!
The cold weather is upon us. I react by switching over to my winter outfit: long underwear, wool socks, and lots of layers on top. I love the cold, but I hate and fear being cold. So I wear the right clothes; the two things are connected. Harvey, on the other hand, doesn't need any such precautions. Today the temperature was maybe peeking into the 40s and, after a few minutes of running in the yard, he had to take his boots off because his feet were hot. At Market Basket the other day the elderly cart-retrieval man commented (positively!) on his choice to wear shorts with the windchill in the 20s. And while he has a new winter coat, he hasn't felt any need to wear it yet—just its fleece liner, over a t-shirt.
Lijah also hasn't worn his coat much, but that doesn't mean he's as cold-tolerant as his big brother. On the contrary, he complains bitterly whenever he's uncomfortable—yet still tries to go out for the morning walk in cotton pajamas. He said a blanket over him in the stroller would be enough; I convinced him to at least put on a sweatshirt and hat. (The hat is important, actually. When you're three your head is like 40% of your surface area, so...) For playing outside this afternoon I actually got his coat on him—the first time this year—as well a pair of actual pants over his PJs. No boots, though: only slippers will do for this determined boy.
Still, we all adapt in our own ways. We're getting used to this cold thing. Now all we need is snow; this morning we were placing bets on when it would show up. Do they make snow slippers?
The groundhog was right! Over the last week it finally started looking like winter around here, and we've been enjoying it to the fullest—or at least, as full as we can manage in between bouts of illness.
It started last Tuesday with a brief but intense fall of wet snow that caught us as we biked home from a mid-morning outing (to pick up some hot bar bacon from Whole Foods, if you must know). By the time we finished our lunch of bacon sandwiches the snow had changed to light rain—light enough that we didn't think twice about heading out to play in it. Even Lijah! The snow was amazingly sticky, and it was no work at all to put together a good-size snowman. He came out looking pretty cheerful despite the damp.
I told the boys about a snow chair I made last time I'd experienced such great packing snow—long before any of them were born. Of course then we had to make one for ourselves. Because Lijah was getting tired of eating snow cakes we limited ourselves to a Zion-sized model.
As I put Lijah down for his nap the other boys spent some time using the snowman as a swordfighting dummy. I was pretty grumpy with them when I noticed—that was my snowman too!—so when they took their rest I rebuilt him out in the front yard. Those balls were so big I couldn't get them on straight, and when the temperature shot up the next day I was sure he wasn't long for this world. But he managed to hold on, and it turns out his lean was just the thing to prepare him for Thursday's blizzard.
Folks talk about how summer is the best time for getting to know your neighbors, but I find snow storms are fine too. Tuesday evening Harvey helped the neighbors with their snowman, and on Thursday, with everyone home for the storm, parents and kids alike enjoyed playing together in the bitter blast. We shoveled with the neighbors on one side (then tossed a football around for longer than you'd expect given the conditions) then took a lovely adventurous walk with the family on the other. In a blizzard construction sites become magical wonderlands.
On our way back from that walk we stopped in at another neighbor's house to say hello—they were surprised and charmed to see us, and it was just too bad we were too wet and exhausted for a proper visit. Too bad too that Zion and Lijah were to sick to venture outside at all... though on the other hand, snow days are also great for cuddling on the couch and watching shows!
The next day was Friday, and all the school kids had to go back to school; so it was a perfect day for us to go sledding. The wind was whipping the fine snow all over the hill and the trails were far from broken, so we were glad of our new-to-us giant snow tube, which glided wonderfully over all the powder. It was also a great place for Zion to rest when his post-illness tiredness caught up to him.
His fatigue and the biting wind meant we didn't stay too long out on the big hill, but on the way back to Grandma's house we found that the path in the woods offered some promising terrain for the toboggan, so we spent half and hour or so there. Harvey worked hard to get the plastic sled down, but it was our five-foot wooden toboggan that was best for the job: we managed a couple runs with all three of us of a hundred feet or so, around two big sweeping turns. It was great!
Saturday Harvey and Zion got to play with the neighbor we visited Thursday—a small investment in relationship building pays off big! They had a great time until Zion bumped his head and had to be brought home, then he and Harvey had a great time. Harvey was gone from 10:00 until 4:00—now that's a playdate!
With more snow in the forecast for Sunday we were a little nervous about getting to church—and more importantly getting home. The snow in Cambridge was wet and not really accumulating so we thought we were fine when we started towards home at 2:00, but as soon as we headed up the hill away from Cambridge things took on a more dramatic aspect.
It was pretty scary, and we were glad to get home and cuddle up for the rest of the day. Monday was another snow day, but the sun was out by mid morning so despite the whipping wind we could have had yet more snow fun... but there's only so much of that you can do in a row! Instead we visited a library.
The last couple days have been warmer again. I meant to write all this Monday, but Harvey finally came down with the stomach bug that got us all in sequence: Lijah and Zion Thursday, Leah Friday and Saturday, me Sunday night, and Harvey Monday night. So now we've all had it, and it's done. Quick, let me have some time to write before the next sickness strikes us! Zion had a fever at bedtime so we might not have long to wait...
Yesterday morning everybody was up around 7:00 and we had our pancake breakfast done with before 8:00, leaving us with plenty of time for cleaning jobs before we went out to the bus stop. It's been a while since the morning has felt so spacious, but the winter's drawing on and that old sun is coming up earlier and earlier. Evenings have felt luxuriously late for a while now; yesterday the boys were out until 5:30 and it was still just dusky when they came in.
The only problem with thinking about spring now is that we've barely had a winter! It hasn't been below freezing for several days, and the boys have completely forgotten about dressing warmly when they go outside. It's nice that they can just head out the door; less so when it does cool down some and we have to listen to them complaining that they're chilly when there isn't anything we can do about it! There's a little cold in the forecast the next couple days, and maybe even some snow. I do hope we get some more: one day of sledding in a winter just isn't enough!