Last winter was the season of "Musical Footstools". I had the three brudders run around three footstools at break-neck speed, then sit as fast as they could when the music stopped. Whoever sat first would win. Anyone who passed another would be out a turn (to protect the two year old in the mix).
I was pregnant and sat at the computer to turn the volume up or down, playing music from the special Musical Footstools playlist. It was a great way to burn off winter energy. This year we haven't played it at all, which surprises me. The few times I've suggested it have left me high and dry.
Thiswinter has been the winter of Hide and Seek. We played it quite a bit earlier in the season, usually on teams. Jamie, the baby and I would hide while Diego and Truen sought. To prevent peaking and allow for last-minute scrambles, we would alternate hiding upstairs and down, with the seekers always counting downstairs if we were upstairs and vice versa.
Jamie could hardly stand hiding longer than a few seconds and would start squeaking and saying "hoo-hoo!" the second they came looking for us, so I tried to help him find his spot first so he couldn't rat me out immediately. Diego and Truen always found him right off the bat, then Jamie would join the seekers.
I also hide the baby in clever spots, which all the brudders loved. I would lay Eliah down in odd spots or tucked away in corners; he would lay there kicking and looking around while his brudders came looking.
I thought about all that this afternoon, when Diego asked if we could play Hide and Seek. I realized . . . holy smokes . . . we wouldn't even be able to play it like that anymore. Baby Eliah would just crawl off and endanger himself the second I sat him down. Things change so fast this baby year.
They loved finding him in his "hiding spot" and would lavish all kinds of baby talk on him and laugh about how cute he was, then Diego would pick him and up come looking for me. I have such fond memories of it all.
More recently the game is usually "kitty". Today Jamie was "Extra Extra Ice Cat" and hissed at anyone who talked to him. Truen was "Snuggly" and pawed at my hair playfully. Diego played himself as a dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks cat named "Hungry" who tried to eat my hair like it was grass. Eliah was my baby kitty.
The boys have also been spending 1-2 afternoons each week outside playing with our neighbor boys. The wind has blown amazing drifts in the native grass that we planted to the south of our driveway and they've been having so much fun running and rolling up and down them. A nice break for mama too.
It has been a cold, cold winter. A very "warm" day gets up to 15
degrees F. Most of the time it hovers in the range of -5 to 5 degrees.
The coldest night hit a -23 air temp (with something like a -50 degree
wind chill). We had frost on the inside of our windows the next morning and the back door was frozen shut.
This is what we woke up to this morning --
An ice storm had coated all the south-facing windows.
I continue to marvel at the way our house is situated: with large, southern-facing windows we are warmed by the sun during the day-time hours and feel down-right snug. During the summer months the house is shaded by the large basswood in our front yard, which keeps things cool and is so delightful. But this time of year . . . we are free to receive all the heat the winter sun has to offer. I am so thankful.
Another wonderful thing about our house in the winter months is the root cellar. Duh, right? But in addition to all our stored goods from last summer's garden, it doubles as a winter refrigerator. I regularly store 2-3 pots of soups or grains or beans on the gravel floor next to the window, which frees up some major space in the refrigerator. So, so thankful.
Truen finally looks like a big big brudder, doesn't he? I've been mourning his little three and four year old selves in recent months. It must happen when they hit six, because I remember experiencing the same thing with Diego. Six year olds are just so much bigger, long and lanky. Those round little faces and bellies are a thing of the past. I get a little sad about it.
Truby-ruby has been on a mega growth spurt recently. He's been amping up on his food intake during meals, eating his entire plate and then asking for more, and has increased the snack demands significantly.
With all that, Truen and Jamie are still within 5 pounds of each other. Heh. Truen weighs 42 lbs and Jamie is at 38 lbs. Diego weighs EIGHTY POUNDS. No wonder why Truen and Jamie are always getting hurt.
Baby Eliah weighs 20 lbs. The cutie. He is also 8.5 months old and has SIX teeth. I was just putting pictures into Jamie's "special notebook" this weekend and noted that I had recorded that he only had five teeth at a year old. And no top teeth at 8-ish months old. I knew something was a leeeetle different with this guy. E-yi-ya. Slow down, little sucker.
E-yi-ya has joined the ranks of his brudders and has become an official pest. He is getting into ev.ery.thing. Crawling, climbing, pulling himself up on things, walking along the furniture. He's all over the place and always wants to be where he can't be. Propping himself up on the space heater, for example. Or getting into the cupboard and wreaking havoc on the Wii controllers. He is also just wild about trying to squeeze through spaces where his head just won't fit and will cry frantically as he attempts to head-butt through.
E-yi-ya. What a guy. He melts this mama's heart like butta'.
Another thing: he's really, really into is fuzz. We apparently have a lot of fuzz in this house (mostly coming from the diapers as a I lay them flat to hang-dry), because I find wads of fuzz in his mouth multiple times a day. And he's just so happy chomping on it. The insides of his cheeks are so smooth and plump.
You know how things go quiet and then you know you're in for trouble? Yes, well: it doesn't end after the toddler years. With my guys, they usually end up tearing around the house butt-naked and hollering and laughing and colliding with each other.
The week before last Diego and Jamie came racing out of the bedroom dressed as "ladies" after ransacking my closet. Diego even went and found some lipstick, smeared it on like a clown, then asked me to put his hair in pig-tails. They paraded and pranced all around, body-slamming each other and wrestling as they went. Very lady-like. Eventually Truen joined the game and concocted a very hilarious Bedouin look, complete with scarf and veil.
These guys. As I was putting pictures into their "special notebooks" this weekend, it was hard to imagine a future where they would not be together every single day. They are just such good buddies.
I also realized that the good times far outweigh the bad. With the little guys. In spite of the burn. It sometimes hard to remember while in the thick of things, feeling the strain of trying to keep life together . . . but honestly. These are very sweet years. I have to remember that.
Why is it so easy to forget?? Pictures, blog posts, special notebooks, calendars, journal entries, picture emails, Christmas letters . . . all these things help me step back and see the big picture. To remember that the happiness far outweighs the sting. It is so helpful do get at these things regularly.
Jamie's toast "gingerbread boy"
We've been down and out with a nasty stomach bug since last Wednesday night. Jamie got it first, barfing in the pack-n-play with the baby. He had been acting totally normal, then the puke came like a faucet being turned on. He spent the next two days on the couch, totally subdued, feverish and sleeping most of the day. He couldn't even keep down juice.
Diego and Truen both woke up barfing in the night in the early AM hours on Saturday. They haven't had it quite so bad, though they spent the weekend on the couch and took small naps throughout the day. Diego had it worse than Truen. Both boys ate small amounts of yogurt, apple sauce, bland oatmeal, and/or cinnamon honey-toast on the second day.
Symptoms include vomiting, fever, fatigue, dark circles under eyes, a pale face, bloodshot eyes, and strangely enough, itchy skin. Jamie has also had funky poop, a whitish-yellow and foamy.
Diego and Truen are on the mend. I would imagine they will be moving around tomorrow. Jamie is moving around, but is still complaining of a tummy-ache, is eating very little, and still has the funky poop.
The baby and I are yet unscathed (and hoping to keep it that way!). Blaine too, though his stomach feels funny today. He hasn't puked though. We are both amazed that Eliah hasn't gotten it, as he is "all over the place and into everything". And anything he picks up is immediately shoved into his mouth.
Jamie has definitely lost weight and still looks a little pale. The gingerbread-boy-made-of-toast picture was taken yesterday. I think he looks a bit pale and drawn.
Speaking of . . . all my fellas have been big fans of the gingerbread boy story. At some point I realized that I didn't have to actually make gingerbread to get a gingerbread boy . . . all I had to do was cut him out of toast. It is perfect, because they have all been absolutely thrilled by it and I don't have to stress myself trying to go over-the-top and actually bake something.
Also: an interesting observation during this stomach bug. It has felt like a break to me. I know. What on earth!? I've missed a lot of sleep and have been tending sick kids since last Thursday (Blaine did a ton this weekend too). But it has been so quiet. There hasn't been any fighting or antagonizing and everyone is so calm. And everyone took long naps this weekend, which allowed me 4-5 solid hours of working on my own projects. Awesome.
Seasonal display with schoolwork
I bought these ancient Egyptian themed pictures frames at my MIL's thrift store for $.25 apiece. They must have put them on super-bargain pricing with the thought that no one in their right mind would ever buy them. But I did! and I gave myself a high-five when I found them. They fit into our studies so perfectly.
During the week of studying the middle kingdom of Egypt, I had the boys draw whatever they wanted for the frames. Diego's is on the left: he drew Anubis, the jackal-headed god of embalming. "I drew Anubis, Mama, " he said. I was amazed, because while I recognized Anubis, I certainly couldn't remember his name. Truen's work is on the right: he drew his name in hieroglyphs. So cute.
We are still on track with schoolwork. We are working our way through The Story of the World: Ancient Times, coupled with my extremely modified Ambleside Online schedule for the second year. Currently we are reading through The Burgess Animal Book for Children (natural science), Wind in the Willows (literature), Tree in the Trail (geography), Best Loved Songs and Ballads by James Whitcombe Riley (poetry), and Famous Children: Tchaikovsky (supplement to composer study).
Other various activities include our daily routine with the morning board, counting and sorting coins, Picture Study with the works of "Vin Van Gogh" (as Truen calls him), intermittent copywork, now-and-then kitchen cooking projects, the incorporation of cat litters into daily chores, and inspired drawing or building projects.
I love that little hand poking out
I had a whole list of reflective thoughts I have been storing up to post, but wouldn't you know it . . . I can't remember a single one of them. I evidently need to get at them as the inspiration strikes instead of waiting. They were there . . . but now they're gone.
Baby Eliah wakes me up bright and early every morning. On rare days I get to sleep until 7:00-ish, but more commonly we are up at 6:00-ish AM. Looking back at all the brudders' baby calendars, I see that early mornings were common with at this age with all of them without much exception (though I only really remember it with Jamie).
It whittles any solitude and/or down-time down to an hour (on the good days). Ramifications include the lack of any real contemplative thought, a serious down-sizing on planning time, no quiet mornings, etc. But the sweetness. Oh, the sweetness. I realize this time is fleeting and by
and large, have been able to accept it with grace and affection.
The folded cloud sheet is to block the books from the afternoon sun
Most mornings are just like this (though more frequently by lamp-light). We sit with a basket of baby toys or blocks and he plays while I stare and hand him toys or stack blocks. In more recent weeks, he likes to climb up on me and practice kneeling or standing up with all kinds of baby burblings and drool.
A few different times he has gotten up earlier than he should and has snoozed, snuggled in my arms, before anyone else even wakes up. These early morning naps are precious to me. Precious.
The udder brudders generally wake up anywhere from 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM. When Jamie is the last to rise we read our school books in the morning peace. Sometimes I have Diego sit with the baby while I take a shower (he's been the first one up in recent months - it is usually Truen).
I love the peace-filled acceptance of these early mornings. It helps me to remember to savor the time.