It is still cold and raw here in Boston and while we can see most of our grass, it’s still way too cold to toss the kids out the door in the morning to “explore their new yard.” But at this point in the winter (I refuse to acknowledge spring before we at least crack 50 on a regular basis), we’ve completely exhausted most feasible indoor distraction options that last long enough for one of us to finish a cup of coffee while it’s hot. We are desperate. Which explains how we ended up at the grocery store Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m.
About four years ago, we stumbled on an Easter egg hunt in our local supermarket, of all places. That first one was a bit of a train wreck. No organization, a very late bunny appearance and a rather unprepared staff in general. So our expectations were very low, still, it was new and different and we hoped would capture the girls’ attention for at least 15 minutes.
We were therefor pleasantly surprised to find that while the crowds have gotten no bigger and the bunny is still terrifying to Ce, the logistics definitely had improved. The girls had a great time stuffing their faces with free mini donuts and then careening around (rather bewildered) customers pulling eggs off the shelves. Allison was genuinely confused at first but she’s very good at doing exactly as big sister does, so she managed to to figure it out pretty quick.
We followed it up by dying some eggs of our own. Not a bad Saturday morning after all.
A garden dies once a year and as the nights are now creeping into the fifties death is in the air. The tomato vines are beginning to brown and sag. The peas are now withered and yellow. The strawberries are tucked into their bed until next year. The peppers will hold out for another week or so but are beginning to blush a deep red.
Truth be told, it wasn’t a great year for the garden. I think the soil is pretty exhausted and needs an overhaul, but the girls (and Dash) thoroughly enjoyed it. It became a ritual to check the garden everyday when we returned home from day care and pick some things to bring in for dinner. Most things rarely made it that far. Ally was quite content to graze the rows popping in little cherry tomatoes, sucking out the jelly and seeds than spitting the skins out. She became alarmingly proficient, quickly stripping a plant faster than a hornworm, but that’s sort of the point to all this, so I had to learn to shrug and move on. Luckily, she can’t fit the heirlooms in her mouth.
It almost didn’t happen this year, but two months later than usual, we did finally manage a free Saturday afternoon (the birthday party circuit was brutal this year) to get the snap peas planted, along with (too many) tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, lettuces and herbs.
Five seems to be the right age if you are really looking for help. Cecilia had the routine down pat this year and had the fine motor skills to do an entire, straight row this year all by herself.
Of course her little shadow thought this was a great game. Let’s crawl through the big sandbox and hide these tasty snacks! A great way to spend an afternoon after a long nap. Peas ended up side by side with peppers. Snug up besides the basil and sharing fertilizer with the tomatoes. A Jackson Pollock veggie garden.
My dream of arrow-straight, manicured rows of crops will have to wait another year. I don’t mind.
The last week has been a haze of Benadryl, pollen and hay fever. Cecilia even stayed home from school one day because she honestly looked so pathetic by 7 a.m., nose flowing, eyes watering, that even our two-child hardened hearts could not send her into daycare.
Don’t think we didn’t consider Saran wrapping her windows and doors to create a bubble of sanity for the poor child. The amount of antihistamines she was on was the close equivalent of a horse tranquilizer, but did it put our 5 year old down? Of course not. You’d also think that being home she would revel in watching her shows all day. What happens? She’s in my office by 9:30 wondering if I’d like to color.
So our recent relations with spring and its millions of spores and inch worms has left us re-thinking our position on winter. A month ago however when the permafrost softened and the 4 inches of ice finally melted we were happy to drop the drawbridge, unlock the doors and throw open the gates and let the little beasts run wild.
Life with one child, never mind two (and a dog), is a never ending process of revising your to-do list in order to change a diaper, find a missing My Little Pony, create your own Frozen invitations because you refuse to pay black market prices or staying up late trying to soothe an ear infection.
Our lives the last month have been a storm of spring sickness (Ally & Mom), birthday parties (Cecilia), doctors appointments (Cecilia & Ally), holiday visiting, and futile attempts to disguise amoxicillin doses in apple sauce. I’ll spare you those photos and just share the cuteness (at least post-Easter mass) of the matching dresses and the egg hunt. We were not foolish enough to attempt any Easter bonnets.
A gentle hug
Dash’s favorite activity
I can still hold both of ’em
Important to check for holes
On the hunt
At the rate I’m going, I’ll be posting middle school videos on the eve of high school graduation. Regardless of my sloth and inactivity, I hope you enjoy a quick video from back at the beginning of summer. Spring wasn’t great. Well, the cold and rain was great for the peas (a bumper crop this year), but not great for little kids eager to break the bonds of winter and get outside in shorts and upsleeves (I hope Ce never stop using that term, I love it. Upsleeves along with cup sofa (coaster) are probably my favorite Ce-isms).
It was a dark and drab spring and most of Memorial Day weekend was pretty gray as well, but Monday dawned bright and mild and we were determined to make something of it. It was off to Boston for a day of exploring. It may have taken 20 years and untold billions but I can really say the Big Dig is kind of nice. Downtown is totally transformed and much more pedestrian friendly. There are new parks, playgrounds and gardens. You should really come and visit.
[Note: if you’re a parent and are seeing this whole enterprise as a transparent ploy to drain our kids of energy on the cheap and open the wine a little earlier on our return, then you are totally correct! And it totally worked!]
It needs to be answered every day and it’s a question that strikes fear into the hearts of most parents: what am I going to do with my child today? How am I going to occupy the next fourteen hours? What can we do that will hold her attention for more than six seconds?
I’m sure this question will start to sort itself out as they get older and into more activities but right now a well-rested four year old is a vibrating, unstable atomic particle. If we don’t find a way to vent that energy we can safely declare our household a federal disaster zone before lunch.
Did I mention that we also have a puppy? A very energetic puppy?
Make that two unstable particles.
Put another way: take a honey badger, add a rattlesnake, plus a low-level tropical storm and put a roof over it and I feel like you’d have our typical weekend.
Luckily, Momma recently discovered a simple distraction that drives both of them to exhaustion.
For a solid ten minutes.
I’ll take it.