Saturday, February 28, 2015

My imagination is on strike.

"The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination."
-Terri Guillemets

My imagination is tired. No, it's on strike. Imagine a poster with a picture of Warm Hug Loving Olaf and his big, fat carrot nose, and then add a red slash running diagonal over it. That's my picketing sign. Winter, I'm done with you. I'm one more negative twenty degree day away from losing my sanity. I kind of hate Pinterest right now, too, and all its pins advertising fun indoor activities to get you through the brutal winter. I'm fairly certain the people who created those live in warm, sunshiny Arizona. Kids who have been cooped up inside for months don't want to play with fake snow made from cornstarch and shaving cream when the real deal is in their backyard, where the temperature threatens to eat off their skin in thirty minutes flat. They want to run. And jump. And scream their lungs out. All of this without their crazed mothers in their semi-clean yoga pants shushing them, redirecting their energy with yet another Pinterest project, or reacquainting them with all their pals on Disney Jr. 

Since you can only have so many picnic lunches on blankets in your furnace-heated house pretending you're in the grass on a warm, summery day, we decided it was time for a weekend getaway. 

Last Saturday we loaded up the van and drove. I'd like to pretend it was to a tropical destination. Or at least somewhere with temps above zero. But we stayed put in Minnesota. We stopped at the science museum first, the boys' first visit. Although Ashton may still be a bit too young to fully appreciate the experience, we still toddled from exhibit to exhibit, taking it all in. Their favorite part might have been located just outside the museum walls--the musical stairs. 

{We did learn two valuable lessons:
(1) Never, ever, under any circumstances be sucked into the activity table requiring you to assemble your very own anything. When there are 300 million kids shoulder to shoulder around a table fighting for one roll of pink duct tape to hold together a wobbly paper towel tube rocket, you should be smart enough to run. Far away. Before your kids decide they neeeeeed one and the tears come and you find yourself shoulder-deep in the fight for the pink duct tape. 
(2) Pay attention at the ticketing desk. If a special exhibit cost extra--like lots extra--don't try to walk through the exhibit door sans special ticket after hyping up the cool space exhibit to your kids.}

We spent the rest of our trip at the hotel. Mostly swimming. Pretending the dull fluorescent lights were really sun rays. And the crowded tables overflowing with pizza and cake and the whole population of Minnesota were covered with rainbow umbrellas on a beach. And it sort of worked. We forgot for a bit about hating winter and longing for spring. In its place we laughed and splashed and screamed and expended so much energy that by the end of the night it felt like a long day spent in the hot sun. 

And Spencer kept thanking us for the best 'cation ever. You almost forget how easy it is to please a child. I'm fairly certain it's my own dislike of winter tainting their perspective. They thoroughly enjoy chasing each other around the kitchen table thousands and thousands of times, each time under a different pretense. One minute they're dinosaurs on a mission to escape the mean T-Rex; the next they're race cars VROOMING to the ribbon. My imagination may be on strike, but theirs are definitely overactive, getting plenty of use this agonizingly long winter. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Is it still winter?

"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
-Cesare Pavese

Lately a lot of our conversations go something like this:

Is it still winter?
Do you like winter?
Because it's cold. I hate cold.
When will it be summer?

I'll be lying next to them in their teeny tiny toddler beds at night, our legs braided under the knot of blankets and stuffed animals, our faces inches apart, their minty toothpaste breath breathing on my cheeks. Or we'll be strapped into the van, the radio turned low, the heat blasting on high. Or we'll be sitting around the table, mumbling with mouths full of our lunches. Or we will be staring longingly out the window, visualizing a different scene before our eyes.

What are you excited most about?
The sandbox park.
Going on walks.
Bare feet.
The beach.
Playing on the driveway.
Blowing bubbles.
Open windows.
The river.

You see, it's only February, but we've been dreaming of summer for months. Pretty much since the first snowfall. To be fair, I'm mostly the one daydreaming, and then they join in. They like winter and all it has to offer. There's a giant snow mountain across the street. And when they come back inside, cheeks rosy, noses sniffling, fingers numb, they get hot cocoa and marshmallows. What more could they possibly want?

While they're faux-lamenting summer's long-awaited return, I've been playing around with my new toy. My mother-in-law so generously gifted me a new camera lens for Christmas, the kind that doesn't bode well in the auto settings on my camera, so I've taken the leap into manual. Like any new thing, it takes practice, and how do you practice taking pictures in the dead of winter in Minnesota? You bribe your kids to go outside with balloons as props. Then fiddle far too long with the settings to make the light meter happy (the testy little bugger) only to realize the boys really only love winter on their own terms, not when you dress them cute and ask them to run through a snow-packed cornfield.

So now I take any opportunity possible to practice. Oh, we're going to Godfather's for supper? Hey, why don't we stop by the levee and look at the frozen river that's right by the restaurant? You want to watch TV? I know, why not stand by that white wall I cleared of debris and smile a few (hundred) times while I snap away first?

Soon (but not soon enough) it'll be warmer and I'll be practicing with my new toy while we build sandcastles at the beach, have a picnic supper on the river, roast marshmallows at a campground, go on family walks after supper, draw chalk pictures on the driveway, chase after bubbles, and millions of other summery things. Until then I'll invent reasons, bribe, beg, plead my way into a scenario that allows me to practice. And we'll continue to have conversations about what we're most excited about for summer. Everything!