Blog a la Cart

Snow Days


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These photos were taken this past weekend, on a brilliantly sunny afternoon full of sledding and snow glitter.

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Currently Playing

Thanks to the urgings of my bestie from grad school, James and I hired a babysitter Saturday night and headed out to the Helado Negro concert at MASSMoCA. (During which, Kaki threw up all over her bedroom carpet. I guess we’ll call it a win for us parents who avoided puke clean up. But that sitter may avoid our house forevermore. Good news? It was because she ate dirty snow, and a boot and rally restored her gastrointestinal world. If I can claim that as good news? At least the rest of us more self-preserving humans in the Cart family were not at risk of infection? Question mark?).

ANYWAY! Helado Negro (Black Ice Cream!) now his music is on repeat chez Cart. And I’m dreaming of grooving around in one of those tinsel suits. A very inspired evening, and I was reminded that James and I need to do a better job of taking full advantage of the ridiculous talent happening around us on the regular. Just look at this line up?

Sun Beam

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A little Sunday afternoon sunbathing. I couldn’t resist that beam of light. We’re hunkered down, ready to be buried in snow and frolic accordingly!

Mastering “The Pizza”

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Who is this confident, mature, ebullient girl and where the heck is my Mohawk Baby?!

I have to confess, I expected Sunny to loathe skiing. While she’s always been a relatively easy-going kid, she can be a bit of a whiner. When frustrated, she’s apt to whimper and whine and throw up her hands in defeat. Given that clothing in particular often causes much distress, I figured that the discomfort of snow boots coupled with the cold and the difficulty of learning to navigate a slippery incline on two skinny planks would be the kiss of death for her ski career.

How very very wrong I was. And how willing and happy I am to admit that.

Sunny did not have school on Friday, so I signed her up for a day long ski lesson at our local mountain. We’ve been talking about teaching her to ski for years, and it finally felt like she was ready. I could work from the lodge while we gave her a chance to try out this winter sport. As the kids get older, I’ve had high hopes that skiing might be a fun family activity that we could do each weekend to make the cold and grey more tolerable. But first, we need to see if our children enjoy it.

We were fortunate that the weather was ideal (that 30 degrees with sun that makes my mood soar), and Sunny’s class was just her and two other kids.

Six hours of skiing is a lot for a first timer, especially a five year old, and yet when I arrived to pick her up from the lesson, she begged to put back on her skis and keep at it for the extra hour she was allowed to play solo. Full of smiles and joy, it could not have been a more successful day.

Only problem is that skiing is certainly not inexpensive, so we need to do some financial planning so we can work this into the rest of her winter. But it’s given us great ideas for next year, and we’ll definitely plan accordingly so we can get as much time on the mountain as weather will allow.

I was so proud of her resilience and positive attitude. How I underestimated her.

Skiing really is such fun.

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And a super cheesy vid of her first day skiing. Namely for the grandparental-sect of my readership.

4/52

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Sunny: Ah-Choo! The most magical sneeze I ever did see.
Kaki: Insisted on building SnowGIRLS all week.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.

Currently Reading

I’ve been in a bit of a funk this week, reading in to the actions of others more negatively than they likely intended. This post about What Babies Can Teach Us was a positive reframing of my perspective:

People are usually tired and scared; not mean

They can’t – of course – tell us what is wrong with them. We have to guess – and what’s striking is how generous we are in our interpretation of what is going on.

When they cry, we don’t accuse them of being mean or self-pitying. When they hit or kick, we assume they must just be frightened or momentarily vexed. We are constantly aware of just how much the workings of hunger, a tricky digestive tract or a lack of sleep may affect human character.

How helpful it would be if we were more often able to apply a similar method of interpretation around adults. How kind we would be if we could look beneath the surface behaviour – the unpleasantness, viciousness and desperate grumpiness – and see that what could really be going on is just confusion, fear and exhaustion.

Full post here.

The Small Things

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I awoke Tuesday morning with a painful stabbing in my left eye. Despite complaining and whining and wiping and rinsing and staring and crying, the stabbing remained. I attempted to ignore the nagging pain, knowing all too well that it was likely an infinitesimal speck lodged in my eyeball that was sure to eventually vacate said cornea, but alas the jabbing, scratching particle got the best of me.

It was at the crest of that hill on my commute to work that I admitted defeat. James came to my rescue as chauffeur and shuttled me to the nearest eye doctor. A few hours, some numbing eye drops, an everted eyelid, a Q-tip, and an itty bitty shard of clear sand later, balance and comfort was restored to my ocular world.

How maddening yet humbling it is to have one’s day thrown by such an insignificant, tiny thing. How eyeopening (har har) to be reminded of how I take comfortable eyesight for granted. And how trite yet monumental to refocus (killing it with the word play) on the value and import of The Small Things, in all elements of my life.

A cheesy albeit apt reminder to give the positive small things in my life the same energy and weight I gave that silly fleck of sand. How truly contented life could be during even the most mundane of moments. Easier said than done, but a worthy reminder nonetheless.

Snow Glitter

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The Tooth Fairy’s Inaugural Visit to Cartwheel Farm

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If you heard great shrieking and squealing late Sunday evening, that was just the Cart household responding to Sunny’s new mug.

Right before the December break, Sunny’s bottom two front teeth developed an extreme case of the wiggles.

Unsure how quickly the wiggles would then turn to gummy smiles, the Cart Tooth Fairy stocked up on One Dollar Coins. I received silver dollars from the Tooth Fairy in my youth, but apparently those are difficult and expensive items to get your hands on these days. I figured that a collection of the U.S. Dollar Coins, beginning with Sacagawea and continuing through the presidents would be a nice exchange for a mouthful of teeth.

While the teeth grew more and more wiggly, no vacancies appeared in Sunny’s smile in 2014. Santa gifted her a glow-in-the-dark tooth holder for when the time presented itself, and she practiced sleeping with it under her pillow, eagerly anticipating the day.

Sunday night, after brushing her teeth, Sunny spit into the sink and was distressed by the pink hue of her spittle. I asked her to smile, and one of the teeth was hanging on by a thread, a pool of blood around it. I couldn’t contain my excitement and exclaimed, SUNNY! It’s time for that tooth to come out! Just yank it! Or Daddy or I can do it! JAMES! JAMES! COME HERE! 

Sunny shook her head and started curling up with panic. No, Mommy. I don’t want to pull it. I’m scared!

As I dialed back my enthusiasm and aggressive approach, I reassured her that it was barely hanging on and a little tug would do the trick. She wouldn’t even feel it.

Mid-sentence, she reached in and yanked, and the resulting shrieks and screams, namely from myself and James, celebrated that itty bitty piece of bone now lying in her palm.

Like all childhood/parenting milestones, this one felt exciting and nostalgic and happy. We texted photos out to adoring grandparents and aunties, and giggled with glee as Sunny learned about salt rinses and we washed the tooth in some Hydrogen Peroxide. Courtland helped Sunny put the tooth in her Twinkle Toof, and they appeared triumphant in our bedroom Monday morning to showcase the exchange of goods.

James and I spent our Sunday evening wistfully looking at photos like this and this and this and wondering where the hell the time had gone. But mostly, we reveled in the vicarious joy of this milestone.

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And let’s not pretend like I didn’t ship that tooth off to a jewelry designer to have made into a pendant. Yes, I will be wearing a piece of my child’s bones around my neck. Yes, I am comfortable with the creep factor of that statement. My friend Maja wears her first tooth as a pendant and I’ve always thought that that was so neat, and have looked forward to creating similar pendants for my girls. Maja says she gets people on either end of the spectrum in terms of reaction, and I am definitely of the awesome camp. When Sunny loses that other bottom tooth (likely in the coming weeks), we’ll slip both another dollar coin and the tooth pendant under her pillow with a note from the Tooth Fairy explaining that Sunny gets to keep her first tooth as a pendant. The Tooth Fairy will gently suggest that perhaps her mom should hold on to it for safe keeping until she is a little older. But ultimately, it’s hers to keep and wear if she so desires (though I recognize that she may be in the creep camp of this debate).

I’ve done some research for this project, and the price and use of the original tooth from Tiny Tooth Pendants appealed most. (For those of you intrigued with this idea, a gold mold from Le Knockout (but hot dang, the price!) or a silver mold from Rock My World are other options).

What camp do you fall in? Creepy or cool?

January Weekends

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I’ve found these January weekends cold and tiresome. If I’m being honest, I’ve dreaded the onset of these unscheduled days, all of us at home and un-programmed for 48 hours. I do not thrive without a schedule. I like structure and busyness and activity. I find I slip into lethargy and laziness when I’m without events or plans, and that sends my grumpiness sky rocketing and my happiness spiraling.

Admittedly, in the summer or the warmer days of spring and fall, I welcome unplanned hours to tackle gardening, landscaping, and general outdoor maintenance. The kids can play in the sprinkler or on their swing set. We can pause for a walk with the dogs or a swim at the local pool. Our little house expands as the gardens and fields and yard become an extended living room and play yard.

In the winter, the clothing alone proves an exhausting obstacle, and that’s assuming that the temperatures are civilized enough where clothing can provide some semblance of warmth. It’s been too bitterly cold for much outdoor fun. Even the dogs stand in distress, picking at their paws and trembling from the wind.

I’ve scheduled exercise squarely into my day, the activity and resulting shower a guaranteed hour or two of respite. We’ve built fires. Read books. Watched movies. Practiced our instruments. Served Penelope hot chocolate. Done arts and crafts. Constructed puzzles. And yet, there are still moments where the kids start using the couch as a trampoline and every blanket and cushion within a 2 miles radius is loaded onto the living room floor and cymbals are clanged and screams are shouted merely for the sake of hearing the capacity of one’s lungs, and I feel like I want to yell and stomp in reply, or curl up in a ball and crawl deep inside myself and stay there until the snow thaws and I can push everyone outside and finally have room to breath once again.

It’s not their fault that they resort to these antics and revelries. They’re children. But our house is compact. My fuse short. And the lack of Vitamin D palpable. James bears the brunt of my wretchedness, and counters my dark cloud with homemade pancakes and tickle monsters and pillow forts. Right now, as I type this, I can gaze out the window and up the hill to our barn to see a snow ball taller than Courtland being rolled about by three pairs of hands while two frantic balls of black fur leap with joy.

The temperatures have elevated, and there’s no excuse not to take advantage of the wonder of the snow before it melts away. Yesterday, while the cold still hovered in the single digits, but the sun shone brilliantly, James bundled us all up and insisted that we spend some time outside, for however long our fingers and toes could stand it. Snow angels and snow glitter and magical photographs were captured in that 30 minutes. And it restored a piece of my sanity. Of myself. I laughed and smiled and felt a gratitude that was so easily lost over these weekends of cold and inactivity.

Winter can be so breathtakingly beautiful, but it is also the hardest time of year for me. I wish for snow and sunshine and 30 degree temperatures so that I can sled and ski and skate without discomfort, but January is not always so accommodating. I realize that that’s part of the magic and beauty when those days do present themselves, but it does not make my management of the interim any more graceful.

But even the process of writing through these feelings and this melancholy have cleared my head and lifted some of the oppressive fog. We’ve scheduled plans for dinner. And there’s baking to be done. And the endorphins from this morning’s run are kicking in. Assuming the weather stays warm (in winter terms), I’ll be taking Sunny for her inaugural ski lesson this week and I’ll get an afternoon to myself on the mountain. And how fortunate am I to live a life that allows for such experiences.

Thanks for listening, friends. Do any of you ever suffer from wintertime blues? How do you combat the darker days and colder temps? Especially with young children! What activities keep your children busy in the winter so that you don’t all go totally stir crazy? I’m all ears! xo Ash