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.
Playing on the driveway.
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!