Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Neighborhood

We do not live in a fancy neighborhood. A lot of our neighbors moved out hastily during the recession, abandoning their homes and their mortgages. There are a few folks here who drive BMWs, but there are a lot more who drive aging minivans. It's a nice neighborhood, with nice big yards and natural stone on every single house. Yes, a lot of the houses are structurally identical, but most of us have gone to great lengths to make our houses in to homes that reflect our individual tastes.

Our house is directly across the street from the neighborhood park. There's a playground with some swings and other structures, a pavilion with sturdy picnic tables, and - most pertinent to this post - a very, very large and well-maintained field.

The weather has been fabulous this weekend, with temperatures near 60 and very little wind. Yesterday, Rob and Wilson headed out to the backyard to toss the baseball around. As always happens, a ball went over the fence and into the open space that affords a full view of the park. Going out there to retrieve the ball, Wilson spotted one of his classmates playing at the playground. The game of catch was hastily abandoned in favor of playing with Tyler, who is one of Wilson's best friends. He ran through the house and out the front door to join Tyler and his mom. Rob followed, and Anna wanted to go, too. Before I could get my shoes on, the whole family was over there. Alas, Tyler was only passing through the park and had to get back home after about 10 minutes. As he was leaving, Wilson spotted a couple other good friends, Damion and Rudy, on the way to the park with their dad, Jeff, and a football. Rudy saw Wilson, did the math, and ran back down the street to get a fourth kid, Nathan, so that the teams would be even. Rudy, Nathan, Damion and Wilson got heavily involved in a football game while Rob talked to Jeff and I attended to Anna at the playground. Another girl from the neighborhood, uninterested in football, came and played with us, too.

While we were at the playground, two other kids - a brother and sister - showed up. The brother always rides to school with the above-mentioned Nathan and he seems like a sports-type kid, so I pointed out the football game across the park. He said "sweet" and took off running to join the game. To my surprise, his sister went, too.

A few minutes later, some of our friends from up the path, a dad and his sons, showed up and rode their bikes around the park with Anna and Audrey. Then a few other kids showed up and joined the football game. On the field, there was tackling, laughter, and a tremendous amount of fun had as those kids rolled around and fought over the football. Back at the park, we were cheetahs and pirates, we rode the swings to the moon and sold wood chip ice cream for wood chip money.

It's January. There's still snow on the ground in places. The field is brown and there are ice chunks mixed in with the wood chips at the playground. Every one of those kids at the park has a TV at home, and most of them have some sort of video game player with a zillion different virtual reality games. But once that fresh air hit their lungs and the Colorado sun hit their pale faces, they were all caught up in a world that knows no technology and changes very little from decade to decade. It is the world of unstructured, unplanned, natural play. The fact that it can happen right in front of my house on a January afternoon proves to me that even though my neighborhood might not be fancy, it is occupied by some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Still here!

It's been less than a year since I posted!

Looking through the old photos of the two small people in my life, I have the somewhat overwhelming urge to back up the clock and do a LOT more blogging and photographing. Unfortunately, I've been busy either enjoying the moments or cleaning up after them. But one of my friends, a stay at home dad, just launched a blog, and I decided I'd give mine another go. I obviously haven't had any luck making this a habit, but people change, right?

I'll keep today's post simple and short. It was a school day for both kids, which means I have to get both kids fed, dressed, groomed and out the door by about 8 a.m. Anna requires a snack and Wilson requires two snacks and a lunch (plus library books and homework). It's fairly manageable for now, although I fear I'll regret that statement some day. We got ourselves out the door on time today. Unfortunately, I had to announce flatly that the school bus was leaving, and then I went out to the garage and started the car to drive my point home. Both kids took me seriously. They were truly panicked! Yeah, I felt bad, but a very wise woman once said that her favorite parenting trick was always leaving her kids wondering if mommy was maybe, just a little bit, just the teeniest, tiniest bit...CRAZY. Clearly, I'm succeeding at this, as both of my children stood at the back door this morning with looks of horror in their eyes. Rest assured, they put their shoes on quickly and cooperated completely from that moment forward.

I dropped Anna off at preschool and then brought Wilson back home. We've been hoofing it to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the weather is good. It's about 0.4 miles, perfectly safe, and way more fun than driving. Today he wanted to ride his bike, so I had to walk very quickly. I told him he could go ahead and if he ran in to any trouble I'd be along shortly, but my sweet boy wanted to be near me the whole time. Part of that might have been the temperature, which is much more chilling when you're on a bike, but I know he likes company in the mornings. I'm hanging on to that phenomenon for as long as I can! I'm not allowed to speak to him once we're in front of the school, but I love that I'm still wanted in front of the school.

I dropped him off and then continued my walk. I made a New Year's Goal of walking 2 miles every day in January. When January's over, I'll revisit. So far, I'm ten for ten. It's hard on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, because I have to get up before the rest of the family and brave the chilly, pre-dawn January air, but in the grand scheme of things, 30 minutes of fairly easy exercise has a tremendous payoff. That's a topic for an entirely different blog post. Note to self: write a blog about my walking.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, with a playdate at Abby, Elle and Kate's house, a visit to my doctor, and a dinner (salmon and rice casserole) that went over well with the kids but left my dear husband looking somewhat nauseated. I just tucked my sweet Anna in to bed. She is a kissy, shmoopy little thing at bedtime, all soft and pink and sweet, and she gives me sweet, gentle kisses on my nose when I close my eyes. I feel like I've been wrapped up in the world's softest, coziest, least stifling pink blanket when I snuggle up with her at bedtime, and the love I feel for her is beyond words. She is magical.

Her brother, too, is magical in his own way. He's just cool. Knows who he is, knows who he wants to be, and seems to like it all. He's smart as a whip and a natural athlete, and his green eyes are going to make the girls melt. He's also a sweetheart. I think the best example of this has to do with Anna's friend Elle. Elle has known Wilson since she was about a year old, and he represents "older boy" in her mind. He is patient with her, and he sincerely enjoys playing with her. Elle's mom Abby tells me that Elle gets very, very frustrated with other "older boys" because they, quite simply, aren't Wilson. They aren't kind or gentle or patient - they don't have those big brother skills that Wilson has in spades. And it's not just because he's a big brother - heaven knows there are big brothers who are total schmucks (not mine, of course). Wilson is like that because he is a kind, caring and considerate human being. He also likes to hit things with sticks and he thinks bodily functions are hilarious, but the innate kindness is the thing that reassures me: this kid just might turn out to be an awesome adult. I'm honored to be his mom.

Tomorrow is Wednesday. I have to get to bed so I can get back out of it at 5 a.m.