Saturday, February 22, 2020

weekend at the farmette, continued

If your grandkids come to you for a long visit, you are much more likely to go about your business and take their ups and downs in stride. It would be like my time with Snowdrop and Sparrow after school: on some days they are tired, perhaps a little under the weather, on other days they are aglow with radiance and joy. My job is to calm them, give them space, guide them toward productive play, read to them, help them find ways to play together. But I don't see it as my role to keep them in stitches. Oh, I surely do like it when they are full of laughter, but if they're sulky (a rarity, but it happens), unless they seem in need of help, I let them be.

But if they are here for a weekend, well that's a different story. If they get weighed down by some calamity, then the whole visit can be thrown off. There may not be time to recover, especially if they feed off of each other, in the way that siblings do when they are together and away from home. And so I work harder to keep the juices flowing in a positive direction. It becomes important for them to get enough rest and to eat well. I have lists of possible distractions. I think about ways to make the days extra special. (Which is why by the end of the weekend, I am exhausted! Not because I am with them 24/7, but because I fret about each hour that they are here.)

A good night's rest helps keep things sane the next day and I have to say, we failed on that one. Sparrow is up at 5:35 -- an hour earlier than normal. Snowdrop comes down at 6:25 -- that, too, is significantly earlier than her weekend normal.

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I predict that by the afternoon, I'll be brewing a third cup of coffee!

(Much later: this is what a sunrise looks like!)

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Breakfast is somewhat irregular. Neither child eats a lot in the morning and one is ready to stop before the other one is fully awake. I bring in the tail end with my oatmeal...

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Their play is a circle of activity, repeated again and then once more. Duplos, windowsill story telling while he feeds macarons to his new love -- one of her babies, then art, books, dollhouse tales, a return to the windowsill story, etc.

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I do a very early lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches.

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And ice cream.

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For entertainment, I offer a lesson on beard trimming. (Yesterday was the "before," this is the "after.")

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And then at least the little guy gets to catch up on some sleep.

In the afternoon, I suggest outings. I suggest adventures. They resist. Even though it's drop dead gorgeous outside!

(Learning the workings of Ed's watch -- a nearly 50 year old cheap Timex.)

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More pretend: Snowdrop tells me -- I let little kids live their dreams. (That may have been the case, until Sparrow took the toy cookie that was part of her set up.)

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Evening. I do that really easy dinner. Pizza. That's how much this grandma wants to pander to the awesome duo. (They are always surprised that Ed goes out to get it. We may be the only ones who never do delivery.)

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And once more, we have a movie night. I tell Snowdrop that so long as her brother is too young to care, she can have free reign. By next "weekend at grandma's," however, she may have to hand over to him some of the decision making.

(Today she chooses Moana... yet another Disney super hit...)

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Bedtime. There is a book here that I have read to Snowdrop each of the dozens of nights she has slept over (Goodnight Numbers). She asks for it again of course. I have this feeling I'll be reading it when she sleeps over before going off to college, possibly as a math major (you know, it's all about numbers).

I'll end with a Sparrow dance: he does love a happy ending. And to dance.

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Friday, February 21, 2020

weekend at the farmette

It has been a tradition now since the first grandchild was born: twice a year, the Madison kids spend a weekend at the farmhouse while the parents either go away or just do whatever it is that parents do when the kids are gone.

This is the weekend of the kids' biannual set of farmhouse days. Snowdrop is super excited! Sparrow, on the other hand, may not fully understand why at the end of the day, no one comes to pick him up!

I've thought a lot about how best to keep them busy here (given that they have already spent so much time with us in this rather small space). A few new books, maybe a handful of new Duplo legos, a movie or two, some favorite foods and I think I'm set!

The biggest challenge is to tidy the place up without disturbing some of the setups that Snowdrop still feels are important to her ongoing story telling. You never know which ones are defunct and which are very much current and I dare not ask. I devote a good number of hours today setting things in an order I think might satisfy the need for space and a respect for what should be left alone.

But it's not a morning of mere organizational industriousness. There is, for example, breakfast.

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And, too, I have another coffee break (and it's a long one!) with my friend.

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And another coffee break at home! (Do I need this much caffeine? Hmmm... maybe I should have opted for an herbal tea instead...)

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Weather-wise, we are in for a stunning set of days and I'm glad. Your mood nearly always gets an uptick when the sunshine streams brilliantly into your living space. And of course, with temperatures hovering even a little above freezing, the bite in the air is gone. You can almost imagine it's shorts weather. (Indeed, for Ed, it is shorts weather.)

There can't be much Ocean writing this weekend. You can imagine how full the days are for me, for all of us. Still, there are the occasional photos. Here are today's:

(It starts with Duplos...)

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(It's more inclusive than the more age appropriate Legos...)

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(Sparrow finds a new chair...)

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(Gaga is cooking. Can you read this, ahah?)

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(And something Snowdrop has been so looking forward to: eating an ice cream bar and watching Frozen2 at home.)

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(Two eat ice cream, one eats a cookie)

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(The cookie eating child is shocked to see that the songs he hears all the time on car rides come with characters and voices!)

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(Movie is over. Final credits, music, happy ending dance.)

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(Later) I think both kids are asleep now. May they rest up and wake up happy! I suppose that this would be my wish for every child, everywhere, on every day...

Thursday, February 20, 2020


And again, this is what below 0F (-18C) looks like:

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Our two little wayward kittens, Calico and Cutie, spent the night on the porch, huddled in the lair with the (mildly) heated pad. This is just plain nuts in my view. They know there is a shed with a radiant heated floor. Been there, slept there. But they wont go back. They do not want to intrude on the space of the shed cats. (I have learned that "do not want to invade the space of another cat" is a guiding principle in much of feral cat behavior.) So they sleep on the porch.

(Dance, with her thick winter coat, doesn't mind escorting me to the sheep shed.)

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It would be tempting to spend another morning in the farmhouse, but I do have grocery shopping to take care of and once you're out, you may as well run other errands. This is winter thinking for you: pack as much into one outing as you can. Then stay indoors.

Of course, Thursdays can't really be indoor days. There are kids to pick up at school and cart back to the farmette...

(playing with her Polish magnet dolls)

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(playing with Duplo legos)

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And there's a little girl to take to dance class.

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(exuberance, with pig tails)

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Each time I open the door and feel the bracing air hit my face, I think -- it's likely the last Arctic air this year.

I am thankful that we don't live in an even colder climate.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Whoa! Talk about lazy! The cold got to me. I step out to feed the animals (reluctantly) and immediately after, I turn up the heat, and settle int to a day of indoor work. Of a limited nature. A vacuum, a laundry load and a breakfast prep. That's it. (At least I varied the breakfast location -- give me credit for that!)

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I have this excuse: I wanted to find a place to which my two good friends and I could escape sometime in April. For a retreat. Somewhere that would not be too difficult to get to, given that one friend lives in the south east, the other in the south west, and I, of course, am in the upper Midwest. Somewhere not expensive. Somewhere not too cold (we're talking April). So.... where??

I searched and came up with nothing that meets all criteria stated above. (It's rare that a travel idea does not percolate somewhere in my brain, but today, I honestly came up empty. Am I getting old??)

It's a very cold day. The sunshine is there, to cheer us up I suppose, but we're in one of those northern blasts that you have to tolerate and not groan about too much, because hey, it's February and to be expected.

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I hustle the kids into the farmhouse. No cheerful pictures outdoors. Only cheerful photos inside!

(Sparrow dropped a Lego character under the car. Oh dear!)

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(Rescued! All's safe!)

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Art time: super pig book production by Snowdrop...

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A Jackson Pollock-like canvas by Sparrow.

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And a wintry sunset. It will be even colder on this night. Can we make a deal? This will be the last dip below 0F (-18C) for the year. Okay?

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Another squashed-in-between-two-extremes day. Snowstorm yesterday, Arctic blast tomorrow, plenty of sunshine and moderate temps (just below freezing) today. I mean, you'd be a fool not to whisk out the skis, right?

But first, a mini breakfast.

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And for me -- a lovely morning with my friend, at Finca. When she is in town, I'll drop pretty much everything to sit down with her over coffee.

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And if I time it right, I can still dash over with Ed to the park for a run along the ungroomed trails. It's a little slow going in a layer of heavy snow, but it's beautiful!

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Phew! Made it in time to throw down the skis and go out to get the kids. It's a little tight, and I notice that my list of Mom to-do-things is getting more additions and few subtractions, but still, you just have to squeeze in the great outdoors when the weather gods throw you a beautiful set of hours.

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Oh, right, we're onto kids now. I don't bother asking if they want to play outside. Sparrow doesn't have preferences -- he wants to be wherever his sister is.

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Snowdrop has had her outdoor time at school. She wants the books, the stories, the make believe, the snacks! He's just fine with that.

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We cut it a little short today, because I have an evening date with my daughter for our weekly chat. It's the only set of minutes that she has free and I seize that chance to catch up. Just the two of us. Sort of. Sparrow comes in occasionally to steal a handful of nuts.

And then home to Ed, with take-out Taigu Noodles -- a new favorite that I grab from an eatery near the young family's home.

I know this is a short-cut post. Few thoughts, many chronological run-throughs: did this, did that. Ho hum. Oh, but what a stunning day! If winter were this beautiful all the time, I may not be so hungry for spring right about now.

Monday, February 17, 2020


Thoughts of blue skies and muddy paths with stirring root stock are pushed aside today as the snow falls -- from morning until night. Close to half a foot expected.

Ed asks if I'm up for skiing.

No I am not. I am not up at all, I'm down on the couch sipping tea and lighting candles and catching my breath after one set of busy days and before the next set of busy days.

We eat breakfast, but cheating a little: Ed brings his computer to it and explains to me the various ways you can get information about weather systems that are at play where you live. I listen, but it's what I would call frivolous information. I don't need the European model or the XYZ model to tell me what I already know: it's snowing outside.

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(Miss Calico and Cutie are hanging out on the porch again. Who knows why.)

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Winter is digging in her heels. Here to stay. Uff!

In the afternoon, I brave the rural roads and head out to pick up the kids. It's slow going, and slow returning, and slow trudging from car to house, but Snowdrop and Sparrow are used to snow and all that it brings with it, including the opportunity to stomp into drifts that are at least knee deep, indeed the deeper the better!

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Oh, the beautiful, dry warmth of the farmhouse!

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And the snow continues to fall and, truthfully, it is beautiful.

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Soup tonight. Of course. I have all this kale, I have some onions, I have some cannellini beans...