Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

Such a year. Surely we'll all admit that 2015 had its memorable twists and turns!

It used to be that a change from one year to the next mattered a lot to me. Something about new beginnings, new efforts, fresh perspectives...

Now, I barely remember that it is New Year's Eve. Is tomorrow more special just because we flip a calendar page? Oh dear, I sound like Ed.

I checked Ocean's post from a year ago, just because I wondered if I did anything special for the change to 2015. I see that our water pump had malfunctioned and we spent this Eve day replacing it in frigid weather. And despite that, I made lobster tails for dinner and baked a raspberry tart for New Year's Day.

That was before I became a grandma.

Today was less ambitious.

We ate breakfast...

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And I grocery shopped, but there wasn't a chance in hell I'd be buying something so dignified as lobster tails. I was going for the modest. Something that wouldn't have me cooking tonight. Like shrimp cocktail, where I just make the side salad. (To give me credit, I'll grate my own parmiggiano cheese to sprinkle over the lettuce.)

It's a pretty day. A really pretty day.

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And after shopping, but before Snowdrop care, I suggest a quick run (with Ed) on skis. It's crusty and slippery out there and the trails aren't groomed, but the skies are blue and the temps are brisk and we have a wonderful time of it. It's an "only in Wisconsin" moment (even though I do understand we're not the only ones with beautiful winter days).

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A hurried selfie:

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And a race back to the parking lot. I don't want to be too late for Snowdrop.

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I get to the little girl's house just in time to feed her sweet potato. With banana. Honestly, it's good!

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After, her mom and I get ready to take down the Christmas tree. Snowdrop is thrilled to be part of the activity. Any activity.

But she's not hard to distract. Here, she's practicing her fine motor skills (ah, those delicate fingers!) by flipping hard to turn pages.

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One last photo from underneath the Christmas tree...

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Then it's tidying for us and walking for her. Up and down, up and down (while Goldie the sedentary cat protests the burden of the new gate).

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It's the end of a year of Snowdrop for us all, that's for sure.

Here's what she and I have done so many times in this past year: selfies!

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Here's the lovely silly girl, rolling on the floor:

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Another selfie. In one of her new favorite poses.

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Her mom unpacked oranges. Eventually, Snowdrop had some segments for dinner. Here, she's enjoying their play function.

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Her mom flies her in the air...

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... snuggles with her on the couch...

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... and then it's time for me to go home.

...To a quiet supper with Ed, with a glass of bubbly, thoughts meandering to the girls in my life and the men that keep us smiling. That's my New Year's Eve.

It's not anywhere near midnight yet but I surely will not be awake then and so please accept my early wishes for a beautiful new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

walk through a Wednesday

We had time for only one activity this morning. We almost tossed a coin: big box store errands or skiing?

We chose big box store. We needed their chocolate for our late night indulgence.

That may be a winning option, but it does limit the photos you'll see here today. Yes, of breakfast, which was so very lovely...

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Then not much else in the morning. Curiously, I took my camera with me on the big box outing, but of course, my optimism was misplaced. Alright -- one shot of the lovely landscape we passed on our way there (made even lovelier by the wisp of blue in the skies just at the time we set out).

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That's it.

My afternoon was with Snowdrop but it was a choppy time of hustling her between one space and the next. Stuff was being installed and reconfigured in her house and so I saw my task as keeping her out of trouble as nails and tools were in high use. Not easy considering that today, the little girl only wanted to walk. Back and forth, from one end of the house to the next...

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... and back again, picking up speed as the day progressed.

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Upstairs, it was the same thing. There, the terrain is easy for her -- all carpet -- and so she adds the challenge of carrying things. If her hands are already occupied, the mouth will do.

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Snowdrop got a doll for Christmas. There's plenty of mechanics and science in her world. There's room for a doll. The little babe came with a tiny bottle and it amuses us no end that Snowdrop likes to pull the bottle out of the babe's mouth to try it out for herself.

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Walking with it, of course. But she has compassion for the babe. She goes back to give her a "will you forgive me?" hug.

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Back and forth.

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In the evening, she comes with me to the farmhouse while her parents spend some time catching up on grown up conversation.

Back and forth.

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Okay, with pauses for penguin books.

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... back and forth...

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But wait... is grandpa Ed watching a nature show about penguins? Penguins?!?

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It seems to me that Snowdrop grew a few years just these past handful of days. But I know it's just a grandma's perspective. A grandchild is always better, wiser, stronger than she was a few days back.

And faster. Just look at Snowdrop hustle across a living room... And back again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

a wintry Tuesday

Most of my (formerly) Midwest friends have relocated to the south. Oh, they were slow to leave initially. But the winter sojourns turned into year round events and poof! They're suddenly residents of places such as Florida and New Mexico.

I claim to like the seasons. I tell people near and far that snowfalls are beautiful and though cold, Wisconsin has the virtue of sunshine in the wintertime. Give me a sunny 10F (-12C) over a damp, foggy 30F (-1C) anytime! -- I say this with utter conviction.

But there's a twist: you need to get used to the cold. Cheepers need time to grow extra feathers, humans need time to grow resilient. In other words, when the first snowstorms come our way, it feels unpleasantly cold out there!

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I went out to free the cheepers.

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Brrr! I gave them extra bread, I shoveled the path to the farmhouse door, I went inside and slammed the door behind me.

Still, it is tempting to step out and reacquaint myself with winter, especially in the two minutes where the sun poked through (I caught that from the upstairs of the farmhouse).

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Ed runs the snowblower to make it easy for me to back out the car. He eats a small breakfast. Snow drips down from his jacket to the kitchen floor.

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In the late morning, I ask him if we should go cross country skiing. I would have been okay had he said no. It just felt so cold out there! But he doesn't hesitate -- let's go!

And of course, if you're moving around on skis, it takes no time to warm up.

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Ed's a late comer to skiing. He often feels unsteady at the beginning of the season. For me, skis and skates are my childhood friends. And still, he and I do well together. I sometimes take detours for an extra workout. But inevitably, we'll ski through a beautiful stretch ever so thankful to be out on this gray but beautiful winter day together.

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In the afternoon, I am with Snowdrop.

Look, grandma! A tiny book about penguins!

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Isn't that grand?

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With Christmas and a birthday celebration, and many adoring relatives delighting in this very first grandchild in our extended clan, there are a number of new toys in her home. (By contrast, I had a doc's appointment earlier today. My MD admitted to having four grandchildren. When I expressed delight, he said -- well, the oldest girl is reasonable and quiet. The three boys? It's like a tornado passing through. I had the feeling that "adoring" was not the attitude adopted by those sharing the holidays with the younger bunch.)

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The little one is, of course, delighted. And playful. In love with it all.

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But her main way of attacking the new is to try to understand what makes it tick. She has spent many intense moments trying to figure out how to flip those tightly bound pages of a cardboard book. Here, she is trying to understand the operation of a plastic pretend vehicle of sorts.

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Again and again, she wants to get it.

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All this is rather exhausting for her. She pauses, she asks to be held, she perseveres.

I'm thinking that it's tough to be an almost one year old.

I go home tired, because I know she is tired. Ah, but tomorrow - that's another day. How good is that!

Monday, December 28, 2015

sooner or later

When you live in the Upper Midwest, sooner or later you'll get a winter storm. If you're a kid, or a grownup with "winter wonderland" lust, you hope for copious amounts of delicate snow. But of course, the storms that pound through here during winter months have their own ideas.

Today, we were told we'd have a mixture of freezing rain, sleet and snow, with high winds and treacherous  conditions all day and into the wee hours of the night and the forecasters were spot on.

I hurried to let the cheepers out before all this hit us hard, but chickens have an uncanny sense of what's ahead, because neither Butter nor Scotch wanted to go more than a few paces outside the coop. Just enough to fill up on my stale bread pieces.

I returned to the farmhouse, warmed up under the quilt and watched the stuff come down.

We ate breakfast facing the slowly changing landscape outside...

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But it is Monday and if it's Monday, it must be Snowdrop at the farmhouse day.

I can only guess what goes through the head of an almost one year old who has just come off of a weekend with the most extraordinary set of events and with a room full of people watching her every move for three days in a row.

We worried that the sudden return to normal would be tough for her, but the fact is, at the farmette, things don't change much: sometimes she comes here for dinner, sometimes just to hang out and there's almost always an Ed on the couch for at least part of the visit and there are the same old toys -- oh, maybe supplemented by one or two new things, but not much. And all that sameness must be somewhat reassuring because in fact, she is today her usual friendly, calm self.

If I were to guess what she is thinking:

I like my new toy, grandma...

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But oh! Is that penguin?? Let me tell him about my extraordinary weekend!

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Let me show penguin my new toy...

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Oh, and my penguin books! I'm so happy to see them again!

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I do like the new little train, grandma.

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By the way, grandma, did you move the vinyl records I used to climb on? You did? Hmm!

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That's okay. I've got plenty to keep me happy.

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The snow, sleet, winds rage outside. We watch Ed do the short walk from the sheep shed...

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Snowdrop's delighted to see him. It's as if he erases her worry that her world has suddenly shrunk to just one.

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She retains her usual bursts of energy...

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But she needs her more quiet times too. We make sure she gets both.

Late, toward evening, I pack her into the car and we make the suddenly grueling trip to her house. A nine minute ride is nearly three times that. The roads are, as predicted -- awful, but I live in a state where people are used to this stuff and more than once I am so very grateful that the drivers in front and in back have the good instinct to use their snow and ice smarts.

I don't linger at Snowdrop's home. Just enough to watch her delve with the greatest concentration into a new toy...


... and then I am back on the road, this time with a lot less worry, as I haven't that precious child in the back seat, one who still holds on to that total trust in the adults around her.

At the farmhouse, there is no question but that I should make a pot of chili. On a day like this, you just want to eat warm, filling foods and stay so very grateful for the furnace that comes on like clockwork. There's magic for you! Warm air and warm food on a cold, cold day.

I want to end with a P.S.: many of you have written quite special comments, emails, personal messages and wishes during this holiday season. Thank you! It's always tough during busy periods to respond as promptly as I think your words deserve, but don't think for a minute that I haven't loved hearing from you.