If you are the kind of person who keeps score, or perhaps you're the kind who does not like it that I've stopped posting here in favor of lazily adding Facebook status updates (hi dad!), then I think its safe to say that 2010 was my worst year for blogging diligence. On the days that I'm feeling optimistic, I post here with a renewed sense of purpose and good intentions up to my eyeballs. Its hard to say whether 2011 will be the same or different. Today I'm posting, which of course means I'm optimistic, so it seems like the least likely day in which to stake my claim either way.
Around here, we've been talking a lot about things that are the same or different. Sophie's gotten very into patterns this year, and points out every A-B-A, A-B-B, A-A-B pattern she sees. This has led to a lot of discussion about how things are the same and different. Its gotten into my head, apparently, because today the differences between and sameness of things are stacking up in my head like a running scoreboard.
For example, when comparing this year to last:
Same - they both still enjoy skating.
Different - they now have less teeth.
Comparing how they react to having a muffin for breakfast:
Me: Here's your banana muffin.
Sophie: But there's nothing in here.
Me: What were you expecting?
Me: But its a banana muffin.
Sophie: Right. Where are the blueberries?
Me: Here's your banana muffin.
Martin: That's awesome. I'd like ten more.
Me: How about if you finish that one and I'll give you another after that.
Martin: Okay, but get ten more ready.
This year we'll probably have more muffins and less teeth. There will probably be plenty in 2011 that will be the same for us. I'm sure we'll also have some new differences. Again. Or, maybe that's still.
Over Thanksgiving weekend we went to the farm for the annual tree cutting party. Many years we've had snowy, icy, blustery, freeze-your-face-off and slide-on-the-road kind of weather. This year it was warm and sunny; the kind of day where you take off your coat in the sun, and put it back on when you're in the shade.
The kids wandered around the Rooster Condo as we waited for more guests to arrive.
"Let's get a picture of the three of us" I said. One said fine, the other said no thanks. We got them both in here anyway, even if one is busy tending the fire you cannot see.
Dad was happy to have everyone at the farm - seeing everyone together, enjoying the farm, finding Christmas trees that he planted just for this purpose.
This year, because the weather was so cooperative, dad took us out on a hayride. The kids filled their pockets with corn they found in the field and prepared to throw it like they were on a parade in a float.
The kids held tight while my cousin Angie and I bounced around the back end.
After scoping out dozens of trees, we went to the part of the farm where they were a bit taller. After ruling out a few trees that were too tall or too fat, we selected the perfect one. Dad and Martin cut it down and we loaded it on the trailer.
It was a beautiful drive back to the Rooster Condo; such a relief not to have ice forming on our faces and coating our mittens.
Once in the house, the tree was a bit larger than I'd originally thought. It was so big, that I had to cut some branches so that we could sit at the kitchen counter without getting poked. It touches the ceiling and fills the entire room.
The tree is so tall and wide we were not able to decorate the top half. We threw lights at the top and chucked lightweight ornaments and hoped they would find purchase. Just look how much the kids enjoy the tree.
We enjoyed it further when we heard it crash in the middle of the night. Miraculously, it didn't break a thing. Martin thought it was amazing. Sophie just wanted me to know that she didn't do it.
Dad came over and helped me to get it upright. We placed it on a board and dad nailed and wired it straight into the floor. Decorating it a second time lost its luster, so it has less ornaments and placement is hit or miss. No one minds.
There's an extraordinary difference in the amount of paperwork that the kids bring home each day in their backpacks. Martin sometimes has a single slip of paper, sometimes just an empty folder. In contrast, Sophie's bag is filled to the brim with papers every single day - some tucked into a folder, others smashed into wadded up bunches at the bottom of her bag. In Kindergarten, they are PRODUCERS. Dozens of worksheets and cutting projects and glued together shapes and sight words and story boards are produced - and all of that in the first half hour of each day.
A few weeks ago I noticed a drawing in her bag. The drawings always catch my eye because it tells me a bit more about what she's thinking and how she looks at things.
So I asked her about it. "Sophie, I like that drawing. Is it a chicken?"
"No," she told me, "It's my art teacher."