Birthdays, Snowstorms, and Superbowls

If it has to be winter here in New England, it might as well snow. Does that mean I’m becoming a New Englander with a “bring it on, winter!” attitude? Not really, but if it’s going to be cold, gray and icky anyway, we might as well have a fresh coat of white over everything every couple weeks. I’m even learning that winter is much more bearable here if you can get out and play in it: sledding at the JCC hill behind our house, skating on Redd’s Pond in old town, or just climbing the “snow mountain” at the end of our driveway.

Of course, in the days since I took that bold stand, we’ve had lots of rain and temperatures just above freezing (you know, when snow melts, but it’s still not warm enough to be fun). So our snow mountain is a bona fide mud mountain now, and the sleds have been swapped out for the bikes and little tikes fleet. Those new ice skates I bought on sale last week? Still freshly sharpened and waiting (did my Texas relatives know you have to get skates sharpened? I’m from Ohio and I didn’t even know that!).

But enough about the weather– sheesh, I AM becoming a New Englander (conversation guide if you want to be one of the old guys hanging out at Dunkin’ Donuts: first talk weather, then Red Sox, a little local politics, more weather, then Patriots). Oh yeah, how ‘bout those Patriots? What’s to say… they failed to capitalize on opportunities. Last week Bostonians were preoccupied with whether to hold the parade on Super Tuesday or if that would interfere with voting. Guess that problem is solved.

So, with the Superbowl over, we’re headed into that doldrum-prone time of year. Quinny is still walking around singing Happy Birthday– can’t quite grasp, after all the celebrations of late, that there will be no more birthdays in the family until June. It’s okay, though, he’s just content to sing it so far. Today, he was more than content, because we finally converted his crib to a toddler bed. He happily climbed up on it to try it out, but then looked up at me expectantly, “I need a pillow,” he said. So, he knows what it’s all about, I guess (and of course I gave him a pillow). Let’s just see if he stays in his bed tonight or if I wake up, as usual, with his little face an inch from my own. This morning I was woken by a baptismal sneeze from him right in my face. As I wiped it off with a corner of the sheet, I recited, “I will not get this cold, I will not get this cold…”

Claire is Little Miss Social Butterfly. She’s firmly on the birthday party circuit (despite her mother NOT having thrown a big affair for her birthday). I’m already getting nervous about the bar/bat mitzvah schedule several years down the road. I mean, she goes to preschool at the Jewish Community Center! But despite the lack of a big birthday party, I think she had a good 4th birthday. The VeggieTales movie was a big hit, and our family itself is practically a ready-made party– just the right number of party hats in a package! This year I did order a cake from a local bakery– I just wasn’t up for trying to achieve the purple frosting she wanted (see photo above)!

Chloe has also had a full social calendar of late. She went to NH with her friend Lillie’s family for a long weekend of skiing over MLK weekend. Though she told me she had a few “yard sale” wipe-outs (you know, skis and poles scattered everywhere?), the Johnstons said they were very impressed with her skiing and that she hung right with them the whole time. (She told me she usually beat Lillie to the bottom, but that was only because she couldn’t turn very well, so she had no choice but to barrel straight down! Sorry for telling that on you, Chloe! But clearly “Eggi Schneggi” ski schule would be proud). Anyway, they skied and skated and swam, and she had an absolutely wonderful time. She’s also been to a Boston Symphony concert, to district orchestra competition, to a Superbowl party, to a movie…

While his sisters were off having fun, Will was preparing for his first final exams. It was very stressful for him, but he pulled through well. I think his idea of relieving the tension that weekend was to go see the horror flick “Cloverfield”– hmmm. I fully expected him to be something like a fire-breathing dragon when we picked him up after his last exam, but he wasn’t. The littles and I had a great time just knocking around with him during his weekdays off. And we all found some time to have fun together over the weekend, even though Clay had his own avalanche of work and Chloe won’t let anyone else win a board game… world domination (Risk), property mogul (Monoply). I’m going to have to think carefully about what board game we play next: Clue? Operation?

Clay, as I mentioned, has been excruciatingly busy. I hope he is collecting frequent flyer miles for all the travel he’s done in the last month. It looks like maybe he’s coming out of the clouds pretty soon, though, with the travel slowing down a little the next couple weeks. Busy is good. No-time-to-sleep-busy is not good. Still, there are compensations: I think he’ll admit he had a pretty good dinner in NY last week. And we did get out together for a fun business dinner in Boston last weekend.

Meanwhile, I fight my battles where I find them: from killer dust bunnies under the entryway chair, to toxic clutter on the kitchen counter. I’m also trying to find some time to write, which I admit, is why these blogs have fallen off so sharply since last fall. I started the first draft of a novel in November, took off the month of December, and am now trying to keep my promise to myself to finish it. Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. Accountability, maybe. If I tell everyone what I’m doing, then maybe I really will do it?

What I’m doing right now is thinking of each of you– a brief good wish, a little flash prayer, call it what you will. But busy as life keeps us, we do miss all of you so far away from us, and we think of you often. If I had connections at a tourist shop, I’d send each of you a “someone in Massachusetts loves me” shirt (would that even fit on a t-shirt?). And if I don’t get another note out before Valentine’s Day, do consider yourselves loved. Then get out your calendars and start planning your next visit…

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