Snow Play.

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It snowed. A lot. The most we’ve seen since we relocated South to Tennessee. I got a text from my friend back “home” in Northern Illinois who said she was jealous. I assured her she’d get to play soon enough. But, for the past few days it has been our turn.

In between chores, Dear Husband toured the boys and the neighbor kiddos around in the jet sled. In between jet sledding, the boys and neighbor kiddos played outdoors or shed every sopping wet mitten, hat, scarf, sock, boot liner, and other layer somewhere across my tile floor in piles as they warmed indoors. In between helping Dear Husband with chores, I cleaned up said sopping items, dried and cleaned, and repeated the process. I won’t lie though, I got a run in the jet sled too. It was fabulous.

Dear Husband confessed to me this afternoon, “I miss snow.” You already know I’m a fan. Like my youngest wondered aloud to his older brother, “There is so much you can do with snow!”

Baking Soda Clay.

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I made up a baking soda clay to cut out little chicken ornaments this December. The recipe was ample and there was gobs clay left. Not to worry, the boys divided the pile in half and got to work.

Meet Doughy Joey. He’s been hanging around with us since mid-December. He’s been on car rides, asleep in a shoebox, tucked in drawers, and so on. My older son made lots of little figures that are lasting so well too. In fact, the clay was so durable the boys asked if I could make a second batch for more creations. If you are looking for a great bakeable, lasting clay, I would give this try. I think it would be fabulous for some painted pottery bowls.

Creator’s note: The thinner it is, the smoother it dries. Joey was a huge chunk and he cracked a bit when cooking. However, it’s not harmed his durability, just his appearance. We’re cool with that.

Homemade Board Game.

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The boys took over the living room floor with markers, cardboard, tape, and ideas. In a favorable moment, they were friends (as opposed to enemies, it goes back and forth all day long) and were chipping in to make a Minecraft board game. Younger fella recruited Dear Husband for cardboard detail. I was put at the computer typing cards and finding matching photos online. The boys, were sprawled across the carpet designing. And then is was complete. They did it together, happily.  And we played. And it was fun. And now Minecraft board game has a little space next to our other board games. Not all moments turn out so well, but it’s pretty darn great when they do.

Mack: Our Shelter Dog.

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Our old man can’t make it up on the bed anymore. Fortunately he has some other sweet spots to rest. Everyday, as I walk circles around my home (not aimlessly I swear), I see this fella perched and napping. Sometimes I ask him if he’d like to swap, do a little chores while I lay, but most of the time I think he is so darn cute and leave him be.

This man came to us from an animal shelter in Rockford, IL thirteen years ago. He was 5 1/2 months old, had long legs, big paws, and a good smile. I convinced Dear Husband he needed us, even though we had two dogs already. I’d never do that again, but I’m so glad we did.

We named him Mack, after the everlasting trucks. He fit right in, ready to play, ready to rest when the other dogs made him, and always good for some petting. Fences have been accidentally left open and he’s never left. Call his name and he can’t get to your side fast enough. He never ate through our trash, broke anything, or swallowed a baby chick. He has been known to wander to the neighbor dog’s house if left alone, but he’s always happy to return when you call his name. I’ve literally watched him chase rabbits to our property line and then stop. No fence, no underground fence, maybe a few name calls. He’s just an all around jolly fellow and a true good dog, the stuff of legends. Perhaps, that is why I don’t deny him his day long naps. He’s just a good dude looking for a little rest time. He’s totally earned it.

Simple.

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I came upon this abandoned scene upstairs last week. At the moment I discovered it, as evidenced by shadow, the rainbow creation was resting in the windowsill. Serendipitous, don’t you think?

The boys have had this rainbow stacker for over five years and it is still in use. It dawned on me that simple toys (and things) just last. Simple things are uncluttered, unconnected, perfect for reuse. We have many other toys in the house, but some are strictly themed. When the boys play with Minecraft figures, that’s all they are. They are so distinctly Minecraft, they can’t be knights, pirates, Star Wars, or anything else. Yet these rainbow stackers can be used all the time because knights, pirates, Minecraft characters, or Star Wars guys might need ships or hideouts or hills. And man alive, wooden blocks! I can’t count the number of ways those blocks performed. Currently they are Minecraft islands, but previously they were Angry Birds courses, and before that Hot Wheels tracks. In fact, if I tried hard enough, I think I could link wooden blocks to their play all the way back to when they were toddlers.

As Dear Husband and I search for gifts for the boys this holiday season, I definitely need to pause and check the simplicity. I think we get our money’s worth when something is durable and simple. I’m leaning towards a schoolyard ball.

Walking.

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My best friend sent me an article last week (that her husband found) about the benefits of exercising, specifically the benefits for your brain by simply walking. I recommend the quick read. I was particularly interested in the experiment that provided “mental” stimulation but no exercise vs. the exercise only group.

When my boys get stuck in a bickering mode, I like to start fresh. I try to separate them and get them interested in something new. I forgot that when they were little and we were all cranky the usual solution was to go for a walk down our very, very long gravel driveway. The cows, flowers, pond, and occasional milk truck would dissolve our annoyances. This article reminded me of that power.

Seems not only our muscles and heart want the motion, but our brain does too. Walking is a powerful mood lifter. In fact, the term hiking comes from hill walking, something encouraged in the UK after World War I, to lift the spirits of war dampened souls. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, something we’ve done since the beginning of human existence. Linking it to good feelings may have come later, but who knows?

I took the kids walking (hiking?) last week down a dry creek bed. Our walks are different now. It’s not the powerful discovery’s of a 2-year-olds chubby fingers showing me dried corn cobs from last year’s combine harvest. Now we discuss the best NASCAR drivers or share the distinct pleasure from balancing properly across the narrow log bridge. The boys grow, the chatter changes, but still, we shall walk on.

Foosball.

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At a consignment sale this weekend I kept texting photos to the boys and Dear Husband.

“Does he like this coat?”

“Do they want this bow?” (That would be the type that shoots arrows, I have boys.)

“I found a Lego movie for them!”

It was actually their text message that was the best score of the weekend. Dear Husband called,

“Did you check your texts?”

“No.”

“Check it.”

I scrolled across and saw a Star Wars Foosball table loaded up in the back of his pick up truck. Total cost, $5! I called him back.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing. It’s missing a ball…”

Wow! Turned out Dear Husband trumped my lego movie by a long shot, but it’s all good. I LOVE foosball! Adore it. My brother and I played countless hours of foosball when I was my boys’ ages. Star Wars isn’t really my thing, but as foosball, heck ya. I’m in!

Dear Husband confessed to me that night, after I played many games with the boys, “They thought you would be mad about the table.”

My tidying efforts have left an impact, no doubt. I told them, I’m all for trying new, fun things, but we have to clear out some old to make room. That’s all.

So, I cleared some space in our very nice garage, brought in some chairs, even hung some magnetic darts nearby. Because it’s over 100 heat indexes outside and I’m feeling another round of Clones vs. Droids.

Godzilla.

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I walked by this abandoned scene this week, Godzilla wreaking havoc in cardboard city where apparently most drivers prefer combines and construction equipment as daily drivers. Of course, I think it’s adorable. Little fella is fascinated with monsters and generally bizarre creatures. Last summer he used birthday funds to score this guy at a garage sale and he’s still in rotation. In fact, as I’m typing this, Godzilla is wreaking havoc once more. I hear the roaring in the other room. I’m smiling.

My best friend told me her mother recently said she misses her. But not her as an adult, her as a child. Is that why Godzilla is so sweet to me? Because his time is fleeting? Because my boy hand selected him and carries him (and abandons him) around our house. Does her mom miss her messes too? Indeed, there is nothing adorable about a vicious, fire breathing-city destroying monster. But, I see him poised for destruction and my heart just melts.

Messes, silly conversations, smeared chocolate on faces, these days are full of moments I know I will miss, like every mother. All I can do is soak it in when the moment arises, and smile. Thank you my sweet boys. Thank you fierce Godzilla.

Water Gun Fight.

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Now that the boys are older, it’s really fun to go outdoors at night, as a family, and have a water gun fight. A water blasting, hose stealing, water gun fest. You’d better believe the above photo is posed because come water gun fight time I’ll never have my camera in hand! I need to get my ammo and get stationed. These guys are ruthless!

Our house rules are:

(1) No aiming for the face or head, accidents happen, but no intentional shots

(2) No shooting at someone who is reloading

(3) No hose hoarding

(4) When someone cries “time out” give it to them

Everything else is pretty much game. Soaking someone repeatedly. Yup. Chasing. Yup. Screaming. Yup. Dear Husband is really good at soaking us with the hose, and it’s all in fun and keeps that heat at bay.

Oh, and just a side note. We’ve had fabulous luck with super soaker scatter blast guns and a pistol. We did get some jamming on one in the beginning. You can pull the inner hose out of the refill hole in the back of the gun. Then clean the screen off. Or make sure your water tub is clean and you’ll avoid the debacle.

How do you cool off these days?

Spring Hike.

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The warmer, springy weather convinced me we’d benefit from a little spring break hike, riverside. I’m not the type to plan official holidays or breaks. Rather, when it feels right, we take a break from our 36 week school schedule. So, we hiked. We picnicked. We enjoyed that sunshine.

My favorite find was the mutating daffodil with so many petals. Of course, the boys’ favorite was the snake marooned on a fallen tree in the river. We all love the tiny, winding dirt trail that goes along this little corner of the river.

Now that the boys are getting older, I really do enjoy getting out. When they were little there was a lot of crying, complaining, and unknowns. Now that they are six and nine, it’s almost like having adults with me. Their needs are much less, their tolerance, SO much more.

Is motherhood like this winding river? Beautiful, graceful, sometimes turbulent? Sometimes rushing but others meandering, yet always moving forward? I’d say that’s pretty darn close. I so loved my little snuggly babies and wild toddlers. But, awesome hikes like today make me so thankful they grow up too.