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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"to SANtu Klos I BIEV iN YOU"

I can hardly stand the cuteness.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Randomness and Creator of Many Creations

I am desperately seeking some motivation to write my annual Christmas email letter, to no avail. Instead I am finding myself distracted by completely random things like this government web site that offers cultural awareness assessments in areas of current, ahem, interest. I couldn't resist taking one of the arabic ones; and apparently, 14 years since my time at DLI really is too long. Go figure.

I really have been neglecting my Google reader for awhile, meaning I'm way behind on blogs I like to follow. So what better way to procrastinate? I swiped this you tube from "Et tu?" (see my sidebar) and I got such a kick out of thinking of my dear friend Ruth (Ruth, oh Ruth? Wherefore art thou Ruth?) who has five kids, wondering how many times she has heard each and every one of these comments.

Speaking of blessings, we finally got down to Cincinnati yesterday to the Creation museum, which focuses on Genesis and the scientific support behind God creating the world in six days some 6,000 years ago as opposed to some molecules randomly converging and evolving over millions of years. I have been wanting to get down there ever since my sister told me some eight months about this creation (ha-ha, pun intended) of Ken Hamm's which is strategically located in an area of the United States that makes it accessible by drive from the majority of the 48 States.

I knew we were taking a chance going with the little ones, but I figured at the very least we would just view the free live nativity scene and walk the grounds, which include a petting zoo. However. What with sub-freezing temperatures these activities were either canceled or moved inside, which was okay with us because we had already decided to go ahead and give the museum a try, kids or no, a decision made much easier with the incredible admission rates offered to military which got our family of five into the museum for just $24.32. (Although Sean-Peter would have been free regardless because of his age.)

And doing it over I would not take small children, unless you are okay with going through at a pace that small children require as opposed to taking your time to read and listen and view and soak it all in. And there's a lot to soak. Anyone who thinks that believing in the bible requires leaving your intellect at the door should take up the challenge this museum helps display to readily disprove that notion.

From what I was able to pause and view I could tell that I was fortunate to have already studied many of these truths through Faith Bible Institute courses I took at our church in Italy. If you haven't had an opportunity to take any of these courses, or haven't even heard of them, I would urge you to look into the curriculum and the possibility of your church offering the class, which is available on DVD. It's extremely in-depth, but accessible to the average layman. Or, you know, laywoman. No need to discriminate here.

So I am definitely encouraging John and Conner to return, sans kiddos. Not that I wouldn't want to go back myself; it's just not as high a priority. But for Conner it really is a prime age to benefit from this knowledge all laid out in a way that shows how commonsensical biblical truth is in much the same way that public schools (and books, and tv shows, even cartoons...) make evolution out to be a done deal. Since taking FBI (yes, go ahead and laugh; that's how they refer to it) I haven't been able to look at children's books the same, what with talking about dinosaurs living before people millions and millions of years ago, like it's an historical fact and not a scientific theory.

And speaking of dinosaurs, that is the big draw of the museum for the wee ones. In fact, Olivia is already asking when we can go back to the "Dinosaur Museum", as children readily refer to it: I'm not trying to say it's not appropriate and beneficial to small children; it's just that adults will personally benefit more without their distraction. Olivia and Sean-Peter did enjoy the dinosaur displays and the Flood Room (my name) in particular, with its video and sound effects and dioramas of the ark. And both of them really got into the over-sized industrial-strength puzzle of the ark, while Conner and I devoured the touch-screen computer puzzles of the ark in varying difficulty.

My only complaint about the museum is I wish they had recommended ages posted for their various videos. "The Last Adam" in particular I would not have taken in my four- and five-year-old. I felt it was too intense for both of them, and not at all engaging for a four-year-old who probably needed a nap. He wasn't being noisy, but he couldn't sit still and I know he was distracting to the couple near us; however, opening the door to leave would have distracted the entire small auditorium by bringing in the light.

And now since I have started this post I have heard back from my friend Ruth, who got my email about the you tube video above, and confirmed that she indeed has heard all of these comments in some shape or form. So tell me, honestly, are you a guilty member of the commenting party? heh-heh. I admit I do wonder how a mom of five, six, seven -- or more-- does it, and I am sure I am guilty of gawking from time to time. And I hope they will take this as an apology on all of our behalfs that it's not that we don't think it's worth it. We just don't know how they do it. And I have nothing but admiration for those who do.

And I say this as a mother of only three banshees who as I type are pummelling each other with empty wrapping paper tubes in the next room yet still the din is deafening. Sometimes I find myself gawking at a mother of multiple children because they're all so calm. That's the part I don't understand.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Guessing What He's Hoping Santa Will Bring

He calls this his "Thomas Map". I keep extras in my purse and in the car. He'll pour through it like some people (not me) might devour a new cookbook, dreaming and scheming.

Were that they stayed so easy to please.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

holiday cheer

I feel like we're going to wash away in a sea of sugar so much have we consumed just the last three days alone. How are you all doing with the holiday preparation? Never before have I baked so many yummy goods, and as I was knee deep in batter it occurred to me that people who do this kind of thing on a regular basis probably own more than one cookie sheet. I might have to look into that.

This year with so many teachers, therapists, bus drivers, bus driver aides -- and that only represents two of my kids -- I decided I needed to make a point to give as frugally as possible, besides most of the recipients not needing or wanting any more stuff to clutter their space. Better to give consumables to fill their stomachs, eh?

Oh, and a card. With a picture of the child with whom their work is currently so entwined. Because someday, as hard as it may be to believe right now, these people who are witnessing and contributing to these childhoods so intimately on a weekly, daily basis, will be but distant memories. The children? They will someday forget -- or at least not quite remember. But these wonderful, caring professionals somehow remember every child who passes through their door.

And they are all so wonderful and caring. I cannot express enough amazement at how fortunate my children have been with all the adults who are influencing their lives. Especially for Sean-Peter, when I look back on just one year ago, how many people have come into his life since then and how far he has come ... it is unfathomable. Our very own Christmas miracle.

Christmas is a time for celebration -- and celebrating we have been! Sean-Peter's class yesterday, Olivia's today ... and Conner just walked in with a pile of loot of his own from his "Secret Santa". Who wasn't so secret as she promptly told him she drew his name and asked him what he wanted then got it for him to the letter. All. of. it.Conner was telling me how many sugar pills he had already consumed and how that was nothing compared to some of the other kids, one in particular who opened up a large bag of skittles and leaned back and poured them directly into his pie hole. I hope these parents all have good dental plans.

Sean-Peter and I both went to Olivia's class party. Of course Olivia's always so excited to see me there, but she doesn't usually get her little brother, too. I've been given reports of how they will see each other in the hallway in school and run up and hug each other. I hope Olivia never gets too old and Sean-Peter never gets too macho to do that kind of thing, but they probably will.

This is the picture that Olivia likes. See that funny kid in front there? Olivia has told him on more than one occasion that when she grows up she wants to marry him, "And he says, 'Ah, you're gross!'" I know. We're in trouble.

Her teacher, however, adores her.

At the party this afternoon we were watching Sean-Peter do the limbo and she says to Olivia, "Your little brother is doing a really good job!" Olivia leans in close and cups her hand beside her mouth to say, "Well, sometimes being little comes in handy."

We decided I should make one of those little bathroom books quoting all these things that Olivia says and call it, "Olivia's Little Pearls of Wisdom".

For his part, Sean-Peter thought he was pretty hot stuff hanging out with all the kindergartners.

Oh, and he got a candy cane, too. So he was all kinds of good.

The day before he had celebrated with his fellow preschoolers. They decorated cookies...And played pin the tail on the ... snowman. Or you know, whatever. (That's my friend Erin supervising. She's not busy enough with her two children and their various therapies and her two (or more?) websites so she decided to be the preschool's PTO vice president as well. God love these women.)

Before these parties commenced we were getting ready to spread a little Christmas cheer ourselves.

As I was readying the plates and cards it dawned on me that I wasn't exactly clear on all the names of the bus drivers and aides. One aide's name, in particular, was puzzling me. I kept asking Sean-Peter and for the life of me it sounded like he was saying "Miss Tambourine," which of course always made me want to break into song, "Hey, Missus Tambourine aide..." which would only frustrate him further, "No, it's Miss! Ta! mo! reeeeeen!" Even Olivia just shrugged.

Of course I asked the transportation office for her name as well, but when they told me it was simply Jeanne I was really at a loss. I had no choice but to leave her card unaddressed but I confessed to her I couldn't for the life of me figure out what name she went by. Jeanne Marie. Ah-ha! Mystery solved. Although she found Miss Tambourine rather endearing. After 23 years of working with these children I think she thought she'd heard it all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

As Luck Would Have It

Olivia blew chunks last night and has now declared that she must be allergic to spinach. Which is very unfortunate as she actually loves spinach and is always waiting on the boys to eat their forced bites so she can finish the rest. "Oh, boy!" she will say as she digs her fork directly into the serving bowl.

By boys I am including John because he's not exactly the best role model when it comes to eating his fruits and vegetables. And it's unfortunate that she thinks she's allergic to spinach -- not that she really is. But you know when you throw up and whatever you happened to eat last you can't help but think is what made you sick? I have that with anything grape-flavored, ever since I was about Olivia's age myself and my family made homemade grape-flavored ice cream at the park and I played on the merry-go-round and got that typical dizzy feeling in the stomach only it never went away and I blew purple-colored chunks that night and was sick for two days. A coincidence, yes. But I still don't like grape and it was years before I wanted to go on a merry-go-round again.

So I hope Olivia doesn't end up with this association with spinach because how many five-year-olds have you ever known who love spinach? And to have it frittered away like that all in one blow. Pun intended.

But I was impressed that when she got sick she made it to the bathroom in time -- even if it was my sink she chose and not the toilet. Since I don't think she's been sick like this since she's been old enough to know that the toilet is the receptacle of choice on such occasions I was more than willing to let that slide. I was just so glad to not have soiled sheets or chunks on the carpet to deal with at four in the morning.

Because then I might have actually insisted on John getting up and helping instead of his, "She did what?" then immediately rolling back over and going to sleep, not even grunting to compete with the crickets following my sarcastic, "No, no, it's all right, I got it. You just go back to sleep. No, really. I insist."

We skipped Sean-Peter's speech this morning, and I kept her from school this afternoon, even though she really wasn't sick anymore. Even though she stated, as her little brother was getting ready for his bus to come, minutes before her bus would normally arrive, "I think I changed my mind and I want to go to school after all." Like she was in charge of the whole thing.

This house was mouse-quiet when I was in the middle of that last paragraph and heard a noise so loud and destructive that it wouldn't have surprised me to look up and see the body of an airplane crashing through the wall. (Didn't something like that just happen in San Diego?) As it was it sounded like the second story fell down. I went upstairs where the little ones were still inexplicably asleep (this is, I'm sure, how humans have survived wars and natural disasters throughout the millennia) and found this:

Don't focus on those squarish holes in the wall. I can't explain those. Ask yourself instead what you should be seeing there and then look down, on the floor.Yes, the mirror.

No one was hanging on it, no one was stomping on the floor, or banging on the wall -- no one was even in the bathroom when it fell. It was completely random.

When I first saw the real cause of what had sounded like an airline disaster, I couldn't help but visualize Olivia standing right there, throwing up in that sink, mere hours ago. That's healthy, right? Focusing on how it could have been worse? Focusing on how lucky that it fell when no one was around?

Because that looks like a lot of bad luck. Seven years, isn't it? And we certainly don't need any more of that around here. Lucky, that's what that is. If a broken mirror is the worst random disaster that we have to deal with, in this age of short-notice deployments and massive layoffs. I'll take it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Holiday Mail for Heroes"

I'm a little late in the game, but tomorrow is the deadline for "Holiday Mail for Heroes" which is striving to meet a goal of delivering one million holiday cards to service members and veterans and their families both in the United States and around the world.

You can go to their site to find the address and guidelines, and also to download and print a free card. But they need to be postmarked by December 10! Yea, I'm nothing if not on top of these things. We've actually gotten a few Christmas cards in our mailbox already ... who are these people?

If you're having trouble mustering up your Type A personality you can go here to gain some motivation and view some of the cards already sent. Can't you just imagine how much a little bit of color like that might make your day?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Little Ice Bunny

Have I mentioned that Dayton's Metro Parks totally rock? I recently learned that one of them has an outdoor ice skating rink and I couldn't believe the reasonable prices. Five dollars is the most you will ever pay, but lots of times -- like Sunday afternoons -- admission is free and all you have to do is pay the $3 for the skate rental.

If you even need skates, that is. Which we do, because this is the first time I've been skating since ... well, since before Olivia was born, anyway. There was a great skating rink up the mountain where we lived in Italy, but I never went myself despite sending Conner up a couple of times with friends. Skating, skiing, sledding, just 30 minutes from our house ... ah, those were the good old days. Though it's amazing how often you don't take advantage of such geography when you have two in diapers.

But we're not in Kansas anymore and there's no place like home, and right now that home is here in Ohio and this place knows how to have some winter fun, mountains or no. *sniff*

And Olivia for one couldn't be more pleased with her good fortune, her very first ice skating experience.

We were going to go as a family, but Conner was being a bump on a log so we made it a girls' afternoon out instead. It was just as well because it. was. cold. And I wasn't sure how little Sean-Peter would fare on the ice nor how long he would last off of it; this isn't the "lagoon" down the street in my Kansas hometown Back In The Day when kids were free to risk their lives testing the ice, skates or no. This rink is by the Miami River, but it's not The River (which is not even close to frozen). And it's regulated-like. We even had to all go in the same direction, just like a good old-fashioned roller rink.

Within minutes of her first foray onto the ice, Olivia stated that she wanted to do a figure eight. I was all like, hmm, sorry to break it to you babe, but you really need to work on your figure one to start.

I thought that was pretty clever. But she confided to me later that she found it confusing. Good old mom cracking herself up.

After spending most of the time clutching the side -- and clutching me (not necessarily a good idea) -- she did finally successfully venture out solo without wiping out. And her goal was to make that figure eight, but I can't tell you whether it remotely resembled one or not so much was I fumbling with my point-and-shoot with frozen fingers. She was, however, most pleased with herself.

And for her first time on the ice, I must say my daughter made me proud. I loved how she got up from a fall every time with a smile on her face.

The hot cocoa was extra, but that smile is priceless.

And I just realized I totally sounded like a mastercard commercial, but it's true.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend (and a birthday, too)

We had such a nice, quiet Thanksgiving at home. We have always spent Thanksgivings either with friends at their houses or with family at theirs. Either way, someone else has always made the turkey.

Last year, our first year in Ohio, was also our first Thanksgiving ever just us, at our home. I don't know if this is our Ohio Thang, but it has been nice. Not nice in a, "Hey, let's never spend Thanksgiving with anyone else ever again!" kind of way, but nice in a way of not worrying about your kids running around like banshees with the banshees of other people you really haven't known very long or nice in a quiet relaxing way of not packing up the car with said banshees and driving 1000 miles or so cross-country kind of way. That kind of nice.

But since John prefers ham...?

Hi, my name is Jolyn. I'm 37-years-old and I have never even attempted to cook a turkey.

My culinarily inclined mother-in-law has assured me that as soon as the opportunity arises she will show me how to prepare a "kick-ass" turkey. Although I am certain that I should care more than I do that I have never made one, I will certainly take her up on the offer as it seems like a life skill that everyone should have. Like swimming and treading water, or sensing your child is about to throw up a split second before she splats all over the carpet. Not that I would know. And that really isn't a very pleasant analogy before showing you how much the rest of my family didn't care that we didn't have turkey, brainwashing by their father notwithstanding, because I actually did prepare quite a scrumptious Thanksgiving spread, if I do say so myself. And coming from me? That's saying a lot.
Conner couldn't believe his good fortune. That right there should tell you something, too.

And that orange stuff on his plate? I was so annoyed with John when he demanded -- yes, demanded! -- that I make sweet potatoes. I don't even like sweet potatoes. So I looked up a couple of recipes, closed my eyes and picked one, then went out and bought some yams. Same thing, right? (Never mind.)

And then he had the nerve to question me! "Why aren't you cooking them on the stovetop? Isn't that how you make sweet potatoes...?" Hey, buster, how would I know. I don't even like the things. And go away, these are going to be good.

And you know what? They were! Who knew? Though it might have had something to do with all that sugar I baked them with (or that they weren't actually sweet potatoes...).
It took some time, but Olivia eventually cleared her plate as well. That girl is a good eater. Except the yams? She had to think about it, but, meh. Not so much. Hey girl, I can relate. But it cracked me up how much time she took thinking about it because the rest of us were going on and on about how good they were and she really wanted to go along for the ride. I finally told her, "You know, Olivia, it's okay if you don't like them." It was still a while later before she finally gave me the thumbs down.
As for this little guy...have I ever mentioned that he's a bit of a picky eater? Needless to say, he was done in record time, and while we were all still salivating over the sweet potatoes/yams he quietly slinked off and gee you'll never guess where I found him.
It sure made for a quieter dinner.

At one point over the course of the day, Olivia got ahold of the camera. I'll spare you the pictures she took of the cat's bum, and her little brother's bum, and her own bum...but I loved this one.
Conner actually just looked over my shoulder and said, "You're going to post that?" Hey, if Uncle Rich can handle it, you can, too.

Like the true Americans we are, we put up our decorations right after Thanksgiving day. If it were up to Conner and me they would start going up while the ham is still digesting, but John puts his foot down. Must. Wait. Until after. Thanksgiving.

I asked Conner, "Do you remember two years ago when your dad was deployed and we started putting up Christmas decorations like a month before Thanksgiving?" This is the kid who, at six years old, started confiscating Christmas decorations from around the house to take to his room and display on his dresser. This boy likes him a Christmas aesthetic. But he shook his head, he didn't remember. How long ago that deployment must seem to him now.

So our tree is decorated (with lots of little help)...
And topped off...
Then it was time to celebrate a birthday!
You just can't find this level of blond-mop cuteness wrapped up in a tidy little package with a perfect little bow on top anywhere, just let me see you try it. No matter that he's destroyed my puzzle in-progress this weekend no less than three times since I started it, I wouldn't trade this ornery little cuss for all the riches on earth. And that's a fact.
Some complete randomness below, but I couldn't resist. What you can't hear in this next photo is Olivia bawling her eyes out. While watching "Snoopy, Come Home," of all things. Yes, as in the classic cartoon film from 1972. It was the part when Charlie Brown was so sad after Snoopy left and there's a really sad music score in the background and Charlie Brown can't sleep and he can't help himself from taking Snoopy's dinner out to his doghouse even though it's empty and it goes on and on and on...
And so did Olivia, long after Snoopy came home. We're all like, "See, Olivia? It's all happy now!"
Oh, the drama. It was like the girl just needed to get it out and Snoopy just opened the door. I feel your pain, child. I'm ready for school to start again, too.

So many things to be thankful for -- even the drama. That's what makes the quiet times that much more precious. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Easy Sweet Potatoe Casserole
3 c. grated sweet potatoe
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/3 lb. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar

Mix all ingredients. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Use white sweet potatoes only.

This is the recipe I started with. Then I promptly went out and bought yams that were decidedly orange, not white. It took two large ones to make 3 c. At least they looked large to me. Maybe they were just average, who knows? I've never bought yams before. (Did I mention that?)
But they were delicious. I guess you mix anything with enough sugar and butter it's going to taste good.

When Sean-Peter is being reprimanded I prompt him to say "Yes, Ma'am" as a response to letting me know he is listening to me and ready to comply. His little cuteness has always pronounced this as, "Yes, Yam." (That is, he's pronounced it this way for almost six months. Before then, no telling. But that's another post.)

A big plus to making yams for the first time was that I had something to show him and shake in his face, "This is a yam! Do I look like a yam?" And we had a little speech therapy lesson with a visual to boot. And I got him to touch it, too, so yay for OT. Olivia and SP both giggled to beat the band.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Would Really Appreciate Your Valued Input

Last week I casually mentioned to the kids that daddy was going on a trip for work. It was coming up, and I didn't think either of us had mentioned it to them yet. I was right.

Yesterday I was in Sean-Peter's preschool class and his teacher was prepping them to be ready to come back next week and tell about any trips they went on for the holiday. I casually mentioned to her that Sean-Peter wasn't going anywhere, but his daddy was going on a trip of his own right after Thanksgiving so maybe Sean-Peter could be prompted to talk about that.

No, no. No deployment or anything (the first thought that comes over people's faces when they hear your military husband is going away). Just a three-weeker, no biggie.

There's a reason that we don't get too worked up over these things. Today, John found out that he's not going on this TDY after all. This TDY that has been in the works for well over a month.

On the other hand, he called home about a week ago and casually mentioned that he had gotten pulled for a short-notice deployment. Just as my heart was plummeting to my throat he added that some other schmuck guy had already taken it, and John was now the alternate. Since it's short-notice, the odds of the other guy breaking his leg or being diagnosed with terminal cancer in the next month are pretty slim. Um, okay.

Someone asked me today what kinds of things I like for my husband to do to help me while he's away. I was like, huh? I mean, he's away. Upon contemplation, of course, I realized that of course there are still things he can do to help -- or there are things I wish he would do to help. And it got me to thinking about the dynamics of a relationship when one of you is regularly going all over hither and yon and leaving the other one home to hold down the fort -- especially when the hithering is not actually very, you know, regular.

I do recognize that military couples are not the only ones in this situation, though we are the ones in the spotlight. My question and point to this rambling is to ask, how do you handle the separations? More specifically -- what kinds of things does your husband do to help while he's away? (Or what would you have him do in a perfect world?)

I don't usually beg for feedback but I'm asking pretty puffy-heart please to comment on your experience and thoughts. You know, all six of you that are actually reading the interest of research, K?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Home Improvement Take One: Basement - Check

I'm well overdue in showing off the fruits of my painting labor, which came to a halt rather abruptly when we found out for sure that we aren't moving again next summer. (At least, we think it's for sure.) I put away my brushes and declared a moratorium on home improvement, for the time being. I did finish the basement, though. Mostly. (If you look real, real close you'll see some edging areas that require some taping, no problem.)

I wasn't exactly on top of the whole before picture taking, thang. But this gives you an idea of where the basement began.
The ladder obviously indicates that I was already beginning the work when it occurred to me to try to document what I was dealing with, looking a little closer...Reams and reams of wallpaper border.Miles and miles...

I have decided that people who put up wall border should be fined. Kind of like the Italian Financial Police (yes, there is such a thing) who go sniffing around knocking on doors checking to see how many radios and Tv sets you own so they can tax you for them. "And how many rooms in your home have wallpaper border?"

Or maybe a little cash compensation come closing time when you buy a house that has the stuff in it -- unless the buyer is in agreement that it's in good taste, which it never is. Wallpaper will make a comeback someday, I do believe. But wall border should just slink away quietly and acknowledge that it had a good run while it lasted.

Removing the border took weeks and weeks. A mile here, a mile there. The more time I spent on that ladder, the less time I concerned myself with what was underneath it. The basement looked more and more like this...
...and I couldn't bring myself to care. I was on a mission; there was no time for parental oversight.

But all that's behind me now, I'm sure of it. Once the border was finally gone I could paint, and that is gratifying. Because I love my basement, I really do. Love love love!

And don't you? I mean look at it! The space! The opportunity! The color! (That's Sherwin William's safari for you fellow paint freaks out there.) Alles in Ordnung now, thank you very much.

We've lived in apartments with balconies a quarter the size of this basement. We've lived in "stairwell housing" with no direct outside access at all. We've had houses with yards the size of postage stamps. We've never had a basement before -- a livable one, that is.

This affects your entire life when you have small children. No "sending them outside to play", or "go downstairs if you're going to run around like that" when it's dark or rainy out. Even though I still find my little ones inexplicably under my feet whenever I'm in the kitchen making me wonder why we're paying the taxes or the size of our mortgage to have all this space if they're not going to use it ... at least I have the option to threaten them with banishment.

And really, they love the basement, too. It's their very own romper room. Perfect for rolling around and relishing the fresh just-vacuumed of it all...

Or for pretending they're animals...
Like deers butting heads (or maybe it was rhinos?)... Or just standing on those heads...
And don't forget the dancing. We mustn't forget that...
Or the bowing...
And the trains. Oh, the trains! Even though I got this great deal on a train table at the Thrift Store a few months back, Sean-Peter still prefers to spread out a big track on the floor.

His passion for them has not waned in the slightest.

Olivia's interest is a little differently motivated. "Look, I made a C!" Oh, and then there's the laundry. *sigh*
Basements may not do the laundry for you, but at least it's a place where you can put it out of your sight. Even if sorting is a foregone endeavor when the kids make like it's fodder for building a fort. At least that means they're not under my feet in the kitchen. Because now that it's cold again? They won't can't stay outside forever, catching snowflakes. Or just looking cute.

But there's always the train way station our basement, a place I will never take for granted, no matter how long we end up living here.
(Have you ever known a kid so lucky?)