valentines prep

Sometimes you take a picture of your kids and it somehow serves as a little glimpse into the future. That top picture of Elsie feels that way to me. She looks older in it. She looks like she's growing up. She still could use a hairbrush, but it's still amazing to catch these glimpses. I love that girl so much.

We're in full swing for Valentine's day around here. That mostly means the kids have been sorting and scattering their Paw Patrol and Princess valentines all over the house. And most importantly, we made heart cookies. Hot tip: give your kids ten cookies on a baking sheet with their own dish of frosting. This way, when the 3 year old licks her knife after every dip into the frosting dish, you can be sure that only she will get to eat those delicious cookies. The rest of the cookies and frosting never came into contact with all of those licks, keeping our cookies lick-free. And we could remember which cookies were Elsie's based on the amount of sprinkles on each one...

roundest snowman in minnesota

Rory and Ivar were outside for hours yesterday after church. They went on a long hike through the woods, tracked deer prints, looked for a good tree for a tree house. They wrestled and threw snowballs. And they built the most perfect snowman you ever did see. Turns out, Rory is a meticulous snowman maker. I would have taken a picture of the completed snowman, except the two of them turned on the photographer and started hitting her with snowballs. She had to run back into the house, without even a thank you for the carrot, rocks and scarf she so lovingly brought out them!

Later, while driving home from a super bowl party, Ivar said in normal conversation, "what did I ever do to you?" We were so surprised by this sort of sass and I asked him sternly where he had heard that phrase before. He said, "from you, mom. You were yelling it when you ran back into the house." 

snow days

We got so much snow and wind this week that our schools were cancelled two days in a row! Could you hear the rejoicing?!! The drifts are awesome and Ivar and I ventured out both days to play for a bit, even in the midst of the blizzard. We didn't stay out for too long that day...

Yesterday Rory got the tractor out, which is always a celebrated event. Ivar wanted to go for a ride so I took him out to get him safely on board. And then Elsie and Harriet and I watched the excitement from inside, delighted that there are "rainbows in the wintertime too!"

snow fort supper

We celebrated the end of January in epic style last night. Inspired by the snow forts of my childhood and the chili and cornbread supper we shared with our best friends and next door neighbors, The Andersons, we worked all weekend trying to build the walls of our winter picnic fort. (That's me in the purple hat pictured below.)
Rory helped on Saturday to shovel the foundation, and I rolled snowballs on Sunday to build up its height. A few things were realized right away: 1) wet snow is very, very heavy snow. And 2) I am not ten years old anymore. It was a strength and cardio workout that felt awesome. and cold. and after a while, hard on my knees. Again, I'm not ten anymore.

But Ivar and I persevered and in the end, the snow was so wet (think snow cones) that I could pull the snow up on both sides of the fort to make it taller. It felt a lot like throwing pots, when I used to use the wheel in high school to make clay pottery. But instead of pinching the pots higher, I was pulling the snow taller. It was strangely fulfilling and made for a creative afternoon. It didn't get nearly as tall as I had hoped, but my five-year-old helper was easily distracted by the cats and working hard to dig a "secret hole" most of the afternoon. I missed Jennifer and Betsy Anderson! 
I found the Ikea tea light candle holders we used at our wedding (becoming quite the wintertime accessory) and then went inside to make the chili and cornbread muffins. Harriet kindly fell asleep just as we were about to head out for our picnic, and napped in the living room while we went outside to eat. We sat on our kitchen chair cushions and ate our steamy chili and Elsie only cried about her cheese not melting properly for a little while...
After we ate, we sat there and celebrated the end of January as we watched the sun set. January flew by, even though we were sick for most of it. (All five of us got pink eye, staggered all month long...) But we are glad for a new month and hopeful for better health!

We went back inside and I cleaned up the kitchen while the rest of the family played a new board game Rory has created. As it got darker we saw the candles begin to glow in the night and Ivar wanted to go back out for hot chocolate with me. We bundled up and sat out under the stars and talked about how fun it is to make a memory. I thanked him for being my helper all afternoon and told him I saw him working hard, and hard work can lead to really special times. Special times like drinking hot chocolate by candle light right before bed, under a starry sky.

quite literally five years old

Yesterday Ivar told me, "Mom, one time Uncle Troy was driving in his car and he set his phone in the cup holder, but there was a big cup of water there and he dropped his phone in it! And when he went to get a new one, they gave him a lemon! Why would they give him a lemon, Mom? He wanted a new phone."

And today I was reading to him the instructions for the Family Farm game. Rory had told us it would be wise to set it up on the card table so we could come back to it all weekend. (It's a long game and one trip around the board equals one winter-spring-summer-fall year.) I read to Ivar, "Nominate one player to be the banker. Players then need to agree to how many years will be played before ending the game." Ivar's was aghast. "We're going to play this game for years?!! Is that why Dad said we should use the card table? Will I be eight when we're done playing?"