Where have I been? I think I've come as close as blissfully possible to "falling in." The holidays seem to have come and gone even faster than any previous year, and they wrapped up with a blast of arctic air and snow that has continued to trickle down for at least a week. I think we reached below -5 once or twice for overall temps and we've had days with highs in the single digits. I know Dear Aunt Pat won't have any sympathy because it's much colder and snowier where she's at, but for us it's cold. The subzero temps combined with 35 mph wind gusts last week took me down memory lane to a time about 30 years ago and a place in rural Iowa where I grew up. I remember the wind blowing so hard and so cold one particular day that I literally got stuck in the gate my dad built between the house and the garage. I was pinned tightly and could not go in or out, and someone else had to free me. The wind blasted like icy knives that day. I was going to check on our pregnant Spaniel who was nested in a bale of hay in the backyard in her dog house. She was to give birth any day. In farm country we didn't keep pets in the house, but that day my parents took pity on Sparky when she came out of her house with the arctic wind whipping snow around in the air, and a puppy fell out of her into a snow bank. Sparky was moved the basement to finish her delivery with a heat lamp. It was a real farm house style basement--more like a cellar, and not at all like the nice walkout basement we have in our house today. It was still very cold down there, but with the heat lamp on her, she and the puppy born in the snow drift were fine along with the other six puppies that came later.
As cold as it's been here for the past week, it's hard to remember (or believe) that on Thanksgiving we were having spring-like temps near 70 degrees and we spent the day cleaning the garage and doing yard work. We got the Christmas tree that weekend, and Dear Son enjoyed helping decorate it this year more than any other year before. He especially liked the glass ball ornaments. Both the kids love the glass ball ornaments. I never have understood what they find so neat about them. We never even owned any until a couple years ago when Dear Daughter insisted we get some because we just couldn't decorate a Christmas tree without them!
Dear Daughter was playing dress up before decorating the tree, and that's why she is dressed in a strappy sun dress. If it was as cold then as it has been lately, she wouldn't have lasted a minute in the downstairs family room in that dress before freezing her buns off.
I wanted a candid shot of the both kids decorating the tree, but they saw me with the camera and would not let up until I took a picture of their cheesy grin contest.
A few days later the weather turned cold. Not as cold as it's been lately, but nonetheless cold. I can't remember if we had highs in the teens or low twenties the day we decided to stay inside all day and bake Christmas cookies. The kids decided they wanted to stay in their fleece pj's all day long, so that's what they did. This is just one of many examples of why I love homeschooling so much. We can have days where we stay in our pj's all day and turn fun things like baking cookies into a learning experience. This activity counted as Math because we practiced measuring ingredients, Home Ec. because I taught Daughter how to read a recipe, Social Skills because I required the kids to take turns and share as they cut and decorated, and Art because we played with food coloring and mixed primary colors to make new colors.
You can see in the backyard that we didn't have snow yet. Nonetheless it was one of our coldest days of the season until recently.
The dogs were thankful for their parkas that day when they were forced to go outside to do their business. Well, to be honest, I'm not sure that Baby appreciated her parka so much, but at least it helped her control her shivering enough that she could pee.
Our dogs have it much better than my dogs did growing up. Not only do they not have to sleep outside in their own straw filled dog house in the bitter cold, but they actually get to share our bed. Baby likes to sleep UNDER the blankets at my feet (helps keep my feet warm, so I'm not complaining) and Cooper likes to share my pillow. When they are not in our bed with us, they are beached in front of the wood stove. Yeah, they've got it good. So good that when temps don't go any higher than 20 degrees and we still push them out the door to go potty, Baby stops on the step and begins shivering violently (I think she just does it for dramatic effect) and looks back at me with an expression on her face that most certainly says, "Oh HELL, no! You gotta be kidding me!"
Dear Son's birthday snuck up on us quickly. Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat made it out between their own Iowa blizzards to help us celebrate Son turning four years old. You'll notice the Transformers theme going on. Son loves him some "robots." Bumblebee is his favorite, and he has been coveting a "Bumblebee blaster" for the past six months. He waited for his birthday with high hopes that he would receive this for a gift. When he got it, I don't think he let it out of his sight for over a week. He slept with it and ate with it by his side constantly. We couldn't even drive anywhere in the family mobile without him bringing it along.
We took a trip to Silver Dollar City with Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle Ron to see the Christmas lights for Son's birthday. We thought it was cold that evening, but I think it would actually feel balmy to us right now. Unfortunately, Grandpa and Grandma didn't get to come with us. Grandpa got to come to Son's party, but not the Silver Dollar City trip the next day. He became so ill by Christmas that he wound up in the hospital for three nights. A month later he is still trying to recover from what originally was Shingles and then turned into pneumonia in both lungs and blood clots in both lungs and in one leg. This was a real bummer for all of us on Christmas as our tradition is for Grandpa and Grandma to spend the day at our house enjoying the kids opening their presents and playing with their new toys with them and playing games and doing puzzles together the whole day.
After Christmas, the arctic blast and snow moved in, and we've lived in a deep freeze for more than a week straight.
Right before the snow came, Daughter and I went ice skating. It was her first time, and for me it was the first time in 20 years--so it may as well have been my first time as well. We had lots of fun. Daughter fell a lot. I made it without falling a single time, which is good, because if I had fallen I don't think I would have ever been able to get back up. After an hour and half on the ice it began coming back to me and Daughter was able to let go of the wall almost completely. While I never spent a lot of time on ice skates, I used to be an avid inline skater, skating all over town in a certain small college town in Idaho. I would skate from one end of town to the other, across roads and traffic and all. You probably would not have known it the other day if you were watching me on the ice, though.
Then the snow came, along with the super cold temps. Work slowed down for me, and I appreciated this because I blissfully enjoyed several days of not even leaving the house. We just kept piling the wood in the stove and snuggling up in our warm pj's and blankets. We have enjoyed playing games with the kids and building with the Zoobs that Uncle Jowell and Aunt Lisa sent Dear Son for Christmas. So far I've built a Zoob-a-saur and a bicycle (with real moving wheels!).
I didn't make a gingerbread house with the kids for Christmas this year, so we made one after the New Year while it snowed outside. It was a great indoor activity, and of course the kids loved it.
And so, as I said at the beginning of this post, I have blissfully fallen in. I love winter and cold and snow so long as I don't have to go anywhere. I don't even mind shoveling snow; one day I shoveled the entire 250 foot driveway so we could see to get the cars out. I could stay holed up for months, I think, on the side of some snowy mountain with a fire roaring and fuzzy pjs and blankets, and it would be as good as Heaven.
After several days of indoor cozy activities however, I did have to go back to work. That particular day that I went back, the roads were covered with snow and the wind was howling, and it was about 5 degrees outside. As I drove the kids to Grandma's house for the day, Dear Daughter exclaimed from the middle row of the family-mobile, "Mommy! Zachy and I just saw a Puffin!" She was so excited that I almost didn't have the heart to tell her that since Puffins are Arctic birds, they don't live here in the Midwest. However, before I said anything, I considered how cold it's been, and I decided that we just might have some Puffins living among us after all.
If it's cold and snowy where you are, cozy up to the fire, pour yourself another mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy!