Angela Amman

First snow

Michigan snow

Early in the morning — we have a lot more snow now!

November lulled me into complacency. With mild days and sunshine tempering the dropping temperatures, I happily ignored the calendar creeping toward December. Michigan weather isn’t known for its temperate nature, so logically I knew we were one wink from Mother Nature away from freezing.

She winked today.

Snow fell, less than 24 hours after Ryan finished cleaning leaves out of the gutters for the last time of the season. Fat flakes, large and wet lazily came down. I marveled at the beauty of the first snow, the beauty I appreciate every year for approximately however long it takes before I go outside and feel the bite of the air on my skin and the dampness of snow sneaking under my scarf.

We weren’t ready for it.

The kids, of course, were ready the second they spotted the first flake in the sky. We blinked tiredly when they burst into our room to tell us about it, and they thankfully retreated to play for a little while before asking about going outside.

By the time I walked downstairs, they were pulling on outside clothes, and that’s when I realized I literally wasn’t ready for the snow.

There’s not a pair of snow pants in the house for Dylan, who apparently grew sixteen feet in the last 9 months. Both kids need snow boots, and I need thicker socks to cushion my always-cold feet against the freezing tiles of the kitchen when the kids refuse to close the doors in their excitement to get outside. I sighed and reminded him he would actually survive in just his jeans, though I knew it meant extra laundry. Of course, by the time they played out there three separate times, there were enough wet socks and gloves and scarves for an entire load of laundry, so I needed have stressed about wet jeans.

They pulled out sleds, though we didn’t actually go sledding. They slid on their bellies and stood on the sleds to “snow surf,” and they ate snow from the ground even when I half-heartedly reminded them to be sure they were ingesting clean snow and now errant leaf bits.

Abbey built a snowman, though some of her details were obscured later in the evening. Snow kept falling, and from inside I thought of how perfect the big flakes looked against the trees, like something fake snow machines try so hard to replicate in movies.

I slid on the roads when I drove, just a little, and I gave a little thanks that the snowfall happened on the weekend, when our schedule allows for extra driving time and hot chocolate at 9:30 a.m. when the kids needed to warm up for the first time.

The first snow is the best snow, even when you don’t feel ready for it.

NaBloPoMo November 2015(I didn’t blog yesterday… but that’s ok, because we went out for fondue, and melted cheese and chocolate trump absolutely everything.)

Dance class distractions

Staying busy Dylan was about eight months old when Abbey started taking her first dance class. I’d hold him and read books, and I loaded my favorite diaper bag with diapers and wipes and a nursing cover he basically refused to use. I used to pack a bag for him before we left for the dance studio.

Some evenings I’d change him into cozy footed jammies before we went to class. I’d wipe his little hands after he crawled and crawled around the floors, and I’d have half conversations with other moms while he noshed on Cheerios and tangled fingers in my hair when he got sleepy and restless.

Later, I packed a bag for him: books and card games and snacks that ranged from cheese sticks in chilled bags to the quickest granola bar I could grab from the cupboard.

We moved, changed studios, and all of us grew older.

I still pack bags most days. His books nestle beside my planner and writing notebook. He laughs with siblings and runs around and peers over the shoulder of a kind older brother who lets him watch him play video games.

We’re there more than he’d like. Most days he’s fine. We read or play UNO or have a snack. Other days, he’s restless the minute we walk in the door, and my conversations with other moms seem to be a personal affront to him.

My latest strategy is having him pack his own bag of distractions.

He’s packed well — books and cars and LEGO pieces — and not-so-well — a single board book and Percy train engine he hadn’t played with in years.

This Saturday, he took his packing seriously. He removed his school binder from his backpack, and loaded it with several things he thought would keep him busy for the hour she would be practicing. When we arrived, he opened the front pocket at first, pulling out a few books we’d recently checked out of the library.

My attention shifted to an adult conversation, and he opened up his bag to get out Spartans, one of his favorite stuffed animals.

I looked over at his bag, now completely unzipped.

Ryan’s wireless keyboard was sticking out of the bag.

The responsible thing would probably be to take over bag-packing duties again, but I kind of can’t wait to see what he deems important next week.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Nine deer

Fall in Michigan Ryan and I joked around this morning about one of the most shocking statistics of the school year: I’ve only been to Target once in the last two months. Shopping habits might be silly, but my lack of Target shopping is about more than staying away from mindless aisle-wandering. When I’m overwhelmed, I curl into myself a little. We get where we need to be, and I do what I need to do, and I try to do all of it without leaving a fairly tight radius outside of my house.

When I’m overwhelmed, however, I do pretty well with goals and checklists, so when Ryan kind of challenged me to get outside a little more before the weather turns into please-hand-me-a-third-sweater, I looked at a sunny Saturday as an invitation.

The thing with checklists, though, is sometimes doing something becomes a check in a box instead of a legitimate activity. That thought throbbed in my head as I fished lip balm out of my bag at a never-ending construction delay on our way to the nature trails. Like so many of our days, another commitment loomed later in the afternoon, and I knew our time was limited.

I didn’t want to spend the afternoon checking off a box.

When they wanted to stop in the nature center before heading onto the trails, I said yes. When Abbey found a game kind of like Break the Ice, except there were bees in a tree, I pulled off my mittens and crouched next to her to play.

I helped them search the observation hive for the queen bee, though I had a feeling I wouldn’t recognize her even if we saw her. I put my ear next to the glass to hear the buzzing and tried not to faint while imagining the glass disintegrating into nothingness and leaving nothing but air between our heads and hundreds of crawling, busy bees.

We looked at the distances marked for the three trails and took the longest one, and I tried incredibly hard not to peer at my watch and hurry them along more quickly than they’d like.

Plastic binoculars and an Animal Planet telescope accompanied us on our walk, and they paused to look at squirrels and a duck before we spotted deer for the first time.

Three of them munched plants on the side of the path, their large eyes staring at us, used to people on their path. Dylan wanted to move on before she did, feet moving like the little chipmunks scurrying nearby, skipping over the logs lining the path to clamor atop stumps.

Sun dazzled my eyes, lower in the sky than when we’d arrived, and I knew we were running short on time. I bit back against the anxiety that threatened to cut our walk short, to take a quicker loop back to the parking lot.

We stopped again to watch deer.

And again.

Each time, the kids counted them, ticked off the number of deer we’d seen. As we looped around on the path, leaves began to obstruct the boundaries between where we were supposed to walk and where we weren’t. Abbey’s voice echoed in my ears, wishing to spot a tenth deer, wanting to even out the number we’d seen, to add something else to the list for the day.

I looked into the sun dappled clearing, unsure as to what I wanted to see there. Her shoulders were a little bowed, counting to nine again. Time pressed against us, but I paused, pushing hair out of her face.

“Nine is good, right? Earlier we didn’t know if we’d see any,” I reminded her.

“I wish we could see another one, though,” she pushed back.

“Aren’t they beautiful, though? Nine is amazing.”

She slid her hand into mine, though it didn’t last for long when she saw a duck swimming in the water. Her shoulders were square, though, content with the duck and the squirrels and the nine deer.

Mine were, too, and I didn’t think about the time — too much — as they climbed the faux rocks in front of the and stood tall against the sky.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Thoughts of sand

Michigan beaches I started a different post today, one that required a little more connecting the dots than my tired brain feels equipped to do tonight. My eyes feel like they’re filled with sand, which isn’t something I’m used to, especially so early in the evening.

We went to Mackinaw City this summer, staying in a hotel on the beach and taking the ferry to Mackinac Island, where the kids adored the fort and kicked our butts on the bike ride around the island and chose LEGO sets as souvenirs.

One day it rained a little, and we wandered between shops in the little downtown, where I let them pick different flavors of saltwater taffy. A few of those brightly colored candies are still in a cupboard in the kitchen, because I can’t bear to toss away the last wrappers from summer.

I miss that beach, not that it was anything extravagant, but there’s something about sitting in a chaise with your feet in the sand that relaxes every muscle in your body. Right now, my feet are encased in pink socks with bananas all over them, which isn’t nearly as fun as choosing a pedicure color. I don’t remember the color I painted my nails before going to Mackinaw City, but I remember the kids talking us into walking down to the beach at dusk to check to see if there was a treasure map in a bottle they’d spotted from the balcony.

(It wasn’t, and Ryan and I could have told them it was an empty beer bottle before we’d left the room, but sometimes believing in a treasure map is almost as magical as finding one.)

Tonight, the sky was black before we pulled into the garage just a little after 6:00 p.m. Wind blustered outside — a large grid just north of our neighborhood might have lost power — and I found myself just a little more tired than I expected to be on a Thursday night.

I’ll likely stay up a little longer than I should, but hopefully in the morning the sand will have shaken itself from my eyes, until I can bury my feet in it again next summer.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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