Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday. Today.

An absolutely beautiful day. Warm. Sunny. Gorgeous. Let the boys play on the school playground instead of heading straight home. A handful of other kids stayed too. I chatted with a couple moms while the kids swung, played tether ball and a rousing game of tag. Lots of fun. Okay, I'm all caught up now.


Our church has a little wooded path behind it. Almost every Sunday the minister invites people to take advantage of it and enjoy a peaceful walk. This was the first time we took him up on it. A short walk around the path and back. Another nice sunny day.


Saturday was sunny and mild and we had fresh snow. We played a bit in the yard and then took a family walk. The boys had a lot of full body contact with the snow, more than usual. They crawled and sprawled and worked on their snow angel technique. We noticed water flowing in little rivers along the curbs, into drains around the neighborhood. The boys experimented with building dams out of snow to stop or change the path of the water.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday we're outside

We purposely waited for twilight today. The boys wanted to play the same game they played on Wednesday. But then right before we went out, Simon's tummy started to hurt. He came out for his 15 minutes but didn't feel much like playing and went back in as soon as he was allowed. Theo wanted to play some more. So he and I stayed out another 15 or so, doing some ninja assassin training. It started to snow while we were out there, which was kind of magical if I'm being honest. I hope we wake up to a white blanket. I want to go sledding!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is there an instruction manual for imaginative play? Cuz I feel like we could use an instruction manual.

Today we drove back to the park in the neighboring town, the same one we went to on Tuesday.  The boys were so enamored of the space, and didn't get enough time there on Tuesday.  We had time today, nothing going on after school, so I picked them up and we headed straight there.  I put boots in the car and had them change when we got there, to avoid getting school shoes super muddy.

Our time started off great.  The boys were excited to return to the Star Wars park.  I love to see that excitement in them, and I love that I can create it simply by driving 10 minutes to a different park.  Our trouble began when the boys started to plot their game.  We often have this trouble when they are playing pretend games like this.  Theo has one idea.  Simon has another.  One boy refuses to yield to another, and they usually end up in fisticuffs.  It can be really frustrating to observe this pattern, and I'm usually at a loss when it comes to helping them work through their disagreements.  Today's argument escalated very quickly, maybe because the boys were tired from school?  I'm not sure, but the tears and fists came flying faster than normal.  The boys spent 30 minutes fighting, yelling, wailing, and crying over this Star Wars scenario disagreement.  THIRTY MINUTES.  Fifteen minutes times two.  I was disheartened to say the least. 

Finally, finally, it turned around.  I'm not sure how exactly it happened.  But eventually I was able to convince Simon to try again, to get a little looser with his playing style, and basically to not just give up because if we left now we would all return home in a grumpy mood.  He did try again, and he did a great job. We spent the next 30 minutes happily playing and wandering around the big park. 

I'm glad we were able to leave on a high note.  I wonder if this imaginative play thing will get easier for them as they get older.  They'll probably always have different ideas of what to do in a particular game, but maybe they'll get more flexible, more practiced at compromising and incorporating everyone's ideas into a big ol' ball of fun playtime.  I sure hope so.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dark and cold but still fun.

As sometimes happens, the day got away from us today. After school it was homework.  After homework we went to the gym so I could do some yoga.  When we got home, darkness was setting in.  We still went out and hung out in the yard.  The boys played some kind of assassin game and had a great time despite the cold and darkness.  Much to my shock, they wanted to stay out even past the 15 minute mark.  I went inside; I was cold.  They played at least another 10 minutes before they got cold too.  I love when they are so engaged in their play that they want to stay out longer. 

Wide open spaces…

Went to a park in a nearby town yesterday.  We were having dinner with friends over there, so I budgeted time for a stop at the park before we met them. This park has so much open space; it was pretty exciting for the boys.  They were inspired to play Star Wars, and I think they could have played for a long time.  Unfortunately we had to cut it short, to make it to our dinner, but I promised them we would come back soon. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Around the block boredom.

The boys are getting bored with going around the block.  Especially Theo.  But I'm not sure what else to do on a day when it's cold enough that we need to keep moving, but the yard is wet and muddy.  On one hand I feel like maybe I should be better at planning some activities so that when we go out, we have something to do.  On the other hand, I feel like it's good to teach the boys that taking a short walk is a perfectly fine thing to do and that we don't always have to have elaborate plans for our outside time.  I'm sure there is a balance to be struck there, I just have to find it.

Today, at least, all the snow and ice had melted from the sidewalks and we could do bikes instead of just walking.  That was a welcome change.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Sunday constitutional.

Today was overcast and drizzly. Not as cold as the last few days. Still, we got plenty bundled up before going outside. We hung out in the yard for a few minutes then walked around the block. We noticed a new kind of marking in the snow. Not from any animal. Drips from branches overhead. We also saw a dead bird on the sidewalk that had clearly been eaten by something. Simon wanted me to take a picture of it but I thought I would spare you, dear readers.

On the difficulty and benefits of stepping outside of a warm house.

Saturday we all went out together in the late afternoon. It took us a long time to get motivated to go out. This is a pattern I have noticed recently. When we are warm and cozy inside it seems really hard to get all our gear on and go out in the cold. It's hard for the kids and grown ups alike. But then once we get out there we feel good and we have a good time. I know this is true for myself and I observe it in the kids.

Case in point: as we stepped outside, Simon said to Nate, "Dad, don't you hate this project?" Then before Nate had a chance to respond, Si was calling him over to "look how this dirt mixes with this ice! That's so cool!" This is how the outdoors works on you, how it changes your mind and alters your mood. Outside there is always something new to see and discover, especially if you are seeing it through a child's eyes. I tried to talk all this through with Simon because I want him to be self aware in this situation. I want him to realize that even though we (I include myself here) might hate this project when we have to put down what we are doing and go outside, once we are out, we enjoy ourselves. He agreed that this was true. Then he ran off and put his arm around his brother as we walked around the block. I put my arm around Nate and our little family continued to walk together in the cold, happy in the knowledge that a warm house was waiting for us upon our return.


Our time yesterday consisted of a game of tag and a walk around the neighborhood. The walk was especially enjoyable for me. Some highlights:
-we clearly heard a lone bird and were able to spot him in a bush nearby… It was a male cardinal. We watched it quietly for a few minutes before it flew away. Then we were able to hear his call again and spot him in a tree across the street.
-we looked at lots of tracks in the snow and made our own.
-the boys noticed an ivy covered tree and wanted me to take a picture.
-the boys moved icy boulders away from the curb to reveal a river of gray slush. Messy but kind of cool.
-Theo picked up one of said ice boulders, named it his "ice bomb," and decided he needed to carry it home. We were still a few streets away from our house. It was heavy for him, but he didn't even think of giving up. He was giving himself a pep talk the entire time. "I can do this. I know I can do this. I'm almost there. I can do it.". I swear this five year old is the most determined person I have ever met.

On a cold and busy Friday....

It was actually nice to take a break from getting the house ready for company and go outside with the boys after school. It was another cold day, but for some reason, I felt fine, like I could have stayed out much longer. The boys were ready to go in after 15 minutes, though. So we did. And I was kind of glad because I still had some work to do.

Play on Friday was a game of wizards vs. knights. Right before we came out, Theo made himself a shield out of a clementine box.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Close enough.

I think we made it for 12 minutes today.   It's just so dang cold.  Not even as cold as yesterday but for some reason we found it harder to stay out.  

Things we did today:
-wrote names in snow
-pummeled a fallen snowman
-lifted large sticks
-played tag with Dad.  He was slower than usual due to his boots.

Maybe I need some more ideas for things to do when it's this cold?  I will go back to the book and try to find some ideas.  I could use something to help the time go by more quickly.  Brrrr.

While I complain about the cold, let me link to this Science Friday episode about enjoying winter.  At the time I found it very inspirational, especially the lady who phoned in from Anchorage.  Maybe I need to go back and listen to that again too. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grin and bear it.

Another very cold day. These days are tough for me, I'm not gonna lie. Before our 15 minutes challenge, I never would have willingly gone outside on a day like today, other than to pick up the kids or get groceries or whatever. You better believe the kids would not have gone out to play on a day like today. But today we did it. And it wasn't so bad.

I didn't have any kind of plan for today. I thought maybe we'd end up playing tag or something but the boys played some kind of spy game instead. They played together really well for most of the time. They didn't need me for their game so I just stood with my hands in my pockets and breathed in the cold fresh air. I tried to point my face toward the sun which was actually shining beautifully. At one point I did some walking lunges to warm up my legs. It's supposed to warm up this weekend. I am looking forward to that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tough one.

Today's outside time consisted of a brisk 17 minute walk around the neighborhood. Our biggest challenges were avoiding all the dog poop on the sidewalk and keeping our noses protected from the biting wind. It was cold and yucky outside today and we were all happy to come back inside. That is all.

Colored ice.

I saw this idea somewhere on Pinterest.........  fill balloons with colored water and freeze overnight.  Then you have these colorful ice jewels to play with during outside time!
What can you do with them?  Well...........
-take pictures of 'em.  They're just so pretty!
-stack 'em.
-kick 'em.
-smash 'em.
-use the pieces as a face for your snowman.

My mom and dad joined us yesterday for our outside time.  We had lots of fun.