Thursday, January 24, 2013

Warm Winter Hearts

Here in Minnesota, the temperature is below zero.  
It will stay that way for most of the week.

On Monday, in honor of MLK day, G-Bear had no school.  I love the winter school holidays, and I look forward to them with great anticipation.  So, I was determined to let neither the temperature nor cabin fever spoil our extra day together.  

I have found that when winter arrives, it pays to have a few activities saved up,
as well as the right expectations.

We started the day prepared: I had set up our play tents in the basement,
which the children greeted with shrieks of joy after breakfast.

By the time morning snack rolled around, however, we needed a new activity:
paper bag puppets!

Our paper bag puppet project taught us many things.
1.  It is important to read directions, even if you are going to choose to ignore them out of creativity.
2.  Fussing is not allowed at the art table (this is not a new rule, by the way).  If one person fusses, others have to shout to be heard above the fussing, and soon everyone is shouting and crabby.
3.  Buddy Bear loves glue sticks.  He would prefer to remove the glue stick top again and again to put glue stick glue on any and every surface, just to experiment.
4. This project works best when Buddy Bear and Mom use the glue stick together.
5.  Stickers are also lots of fun.

A few toddler tantrums and a lot of hard work later, we had three beautiful paper bag puppets.
The lion (Buddy Bear),
the frog (E-Bear)
and the elephant (G-Bear).

Now, it was time to make lunch.  The kids wanted to build a house (just like Pa Ingalls!) in the living room.  Being the creativity squelcher that I am, I pointed out that we had already built two "houses" in the basement, and plus, we didn't have enough wood and blankets for a house in the living room.

Thankfully, the kids settled for building a theater for their puppets instead.

After construction, we enjoyed lunch together, and then it was time for the puppet show.

G-Bear and E-Bear were kind enough to invite all the stuffed animals and dolls to watch.

Buddy Bear and I were also invited to join the audience.

The performance, plot and puppeteers were all wonderful.

There were many rounds of applause, bows, and encores at the end.

Which brought us to.... Buddy Bear's nap time
(can you believe we were only to nap time by this point?).

Which caused me to pause and reflect for a moment.
These days can be exhausting.  Some days I feel like I haven't "accomplished" anything.  The combination of these two feelings, one physical and one emotional, can be very discouraging.  But, as I snuggled my Buddy to read him his story, I had a moment to reflect on what a treasure this day really was.  My storytime snuggling and puppeteer watching days are numbered, folks.  When I look back on my life, these days are going to be a brief blip on the screen, overwhelmed by a sea of other days devoted to many other tasks and pursuits.  In the moment, these days can feel long. There are so many moments of discipline, behavior, and routine that are either unpleasant, mundane or require greater selflessness on my part.  But in reality, these days are short.  And, as a friend recently reminded me, our sense of worldly accomplishment is horribly skewed.   If I am watchful, there are countless other moments each day when E-Bear responds to a frustration with a practiced response, Buddy Bear performs a new skill that we have labored to teach, and G-Bear offers to help her brothers in a coached way.  In each of these moments, I could take time marvel in my children's growth, their precious personhood, and the mark I am able to make on their lives during this brief childhood.

 I returned downstairs to find G-Bear and E-Bear in the kitchen with the Playdough.
They had all our new dough and tools (remember, I said, it pays to have a few winter activities saved up) out and ready to go.   For the next two hours, while Buddy Bear napped, our kitchen counter became a pasture for countless farm animals and their babies, complete with a cardboard box barn (thanks, Mom!) and duplo farm fences.  Thank you, Lord, for playdough and the creative process.
We had a blast.

When Buddy Bear woke up, his siblings were delighted to involve him in a game of "Grocer and Customer."  The shrieks of laughter that erupted from the living room were my bonus as I finished making dinner.  Then, T brought home blondie bar mix.  Is there any wonder that he forever remains my Prince Charming?  We enjoyed the special dessert after a special dinner at the end of our special day together.

In sum, it is cold outside, but our hearts are warm.
Thank you, Lord, for the roof over our heads,
the fleeting days of childhood,
and these precious days together.

1 comment:

jurismater said...

Bets, can't tell you how much this means to read right now. It's 4:24pm on a snow day, it's been too cold for outside w/a baby the whole week, I felt like I couldn't take another second of my kids (particularly my insane toddler), then I read this post. I'm going to go set up a grocery store or playdough and try to make a few moments we can enjoy together. And then they're watching Looney Tunes : ) Bless you woman!