Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Remembering Summer on a Snow Day

I realize it's heresy to recycle when this is just my third blog, but I'm home with the kids on this gift of a snow day and remembering the fun we had one day last summer...

Read on if you want to share in the great summer day we had today or if you want to live vicariously through the great summer day we had today or if you're in the mood to procrastinate on a great summer day! Read on if you like sprinklers, hammocks, toads, peeing outside, lemonade stands, tree houses, Curious George, and/or if you like a wireless service that can reach all the way to the Adirondack chair in the back yard. Read on if you can appreciate the anticipation that builds in the hours before a barbecue of chicken and squash marinated in Stubb's.

Our week was a bit hectic. Alicia had to work crazy hours and that coupled with the rain, coupled with it being the fourth week of summer vacation together made for a bad mix for Noelle, David, and me. The capper was Noelle ramming David into a shelf at the grocery store so hard that his finger nail was ripped off. When we got home I removed the bloody Stop n Shop band-aids and then patched him up again while putting groceries away while trying to not kill Noelle, which is what I would do to a stranger if s/he hurt David that way. That was Tuesday.

Finally, we made it to Friday. I told the kids on the way home from swim lessons that we were going to turn the backyard into the greatest playground ever and they bought into it. You cannot put a price on the innocence and optimism of a child.

We cleared out the garage for bike riding as the gravel driveway is still too hard for them. We put out all of the soccer, wiffle ball, basketball, and baggo gear. I'd filled up the kiddie pool earlier in the day, so the temperature was just right when we descended upon said playground following a classic spaghetti and meatball lunch. I brought out the hammock and much to my surprise, enjoyed a peaceful half an hour rocking back and forth with both of them. Noelle made me her mattress and David curled up against my side, using my arm as his daddy pillow. I think that everyone was tired from the week. I also think that I could have stayed with them there, that way, for the rest of my life.

After the hammock, we busted out the lemonade stand stuff. We're on a busy road, so suddenly I was the head of a not-for-profit, decorating the back deck with signs advertising prices no one would ever pay, the only beneficiaries being our taste buds and tummies. It was pink lemonade with lots of ice and lemon chunks floating around inside a sweating glass pitcher. Cheez-Its and mini-Oreos played the role of hors d'ouvers and I told them we'd climbed the food pyramid for the day because, on Fridays in July, lemons count as both fruit AND vegetable.

After snack, we hit the sprinkler: round and round and round we went. Serendipity struck as the iPod shuffle gave us Sinatra singing "Young at Heart" while we ran and giggled and giggled and ran. Someone spotted something in the grass and the earth stood still.

It was a baby toad, tiny as could be. I actually thought it was a beetle, at first. All around this particular baby toad were its siblings. Baby toads hopping everywhere! We quickly got the bug jars and began to capture at will. "My finest bottle of bourbon to he or she that captures the most!" I cried. (They each captured four, so I said they could share the bottle.) Much like there was a simple recipe to follow with the lemonade, we quickly gathered the necessary ingredients for the jars: leaves, grass, clover, dirt, and a couple of drops of water. As the afternoon wore on, we returned to the jars to pour water on the lid where it would sit until we gently pressed down, sending virtual rain through the air holes and into the jar to refresh our captives. While peeing in the bushes, David found yet another toad and was so excited he picked it up without pulling up his bathing suit. I will never forget seeing him walk towards me, suit down around the knees and hands cupped around another toad; band-aided fingers raised up to show me what he'd found. The image was the final clue to me that this afternoon was something special. We put the toad in with his brothers and sisters and David pulled up his suit. He's such a good kid, I know he'll share the bourbon with Noelle anyway.

As the sun dropped down below the tree line, we pulled out every junky towel we own and clipped them around the tree house that crowns our swing set Playscape-a-ma-jiggy. We lay down a couple of blankets for comfortable seating and put "Curious George" on the portable DVD player. The toads are up there, watching, too.

Alicia is home now and just in time for Noelle's ice cream sundaes, the pinnacle of any kid's summer vacation food pyramid. (And just for clarification's sake, the dessert-before-dinner ritual is one we practice all year round.) We'll barbecue in an hour or so and the kids will sleep well tonight. I don't know if we created the greatest playground ever, but I'm pretty sure that, for years to come, Noelle and David will smile as much over recollections of this afternoon as they will about the day David lost his fingernail at the Stop n Shop.

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