Monday, December 8, 2008

3 months, 21 days and counting...

At the beginning of snow season four boys = 8 boots, 4 hats, 8 mittens or gloves, 4 pairs of snow pants - all neat and new and clean. The first snowfall changes a bleak, muddy backyard into a endless field of snowy white goodness. The excitement builds. Sleds are hauled down from the garage rafters. Ice hockey skates are readied. Plans are made with all the neighborhood buddies to snowboard, sled, skate and snowball fight. And then, they're out the door.

One month into snow season I give one boy my own pair of snowpants, he managed to blow the knee out of his own sledding down a hill into a rock.

One boy has one glove and one mitten in two different colors rescued from the miscellaneous winter item bin I've been collecting for 13 years.

Hats are seemingly either too small or much too large, from what I guess is the pushing, pulling and grabbing of some sort of snow tackle football.

The rug by my front door is a slushy, muddy mess.

My backyard is no longer a beautiful, pristine expanse of snowy white snow. It's covered with boot tracks, sled tracks, dog tracks, a wayward sled and piles of ice-balls.

And all this in the first solid month of winter. I have 3 months and 21 days until the first chance of spring thaw. However...

It's 7:50 p.m. My boys are exhausted, one is already asleep and the others are actually quietly watching a movie and getting along with each other. Even the dogs are too tired to beg for treats. I guess I'll make it through another winter, even if I have to buy another pair of snowpants.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Magic Numbers

I always have "magic" numbers rolling around in my brain... A 5 minute shower, the 17 minutes it takes to drive to the office, 65 Christmas cards to send out, 12 treats for my preschooler "star of the week", 2.5 pounds of meatloaf to prepare, 4 parent teacher conferences to attend, 1 clarinet recital and so on.

These magic numbers aren't always met. I'm often late to work, I stand in the shower too long on cold winter mornings, I still haven't sent out my Christmas cards and as for the upcoming parent teacher conferences? Let's just say I have a sticky note on the steering wheel of my van so I don't forget...

However there are a few magic numbers that I don't even think about anymore. I used to count how many paper towels I used in a day, trying to shrink my usage. Today I realized I bought a six pack of paper towels back in the hot and humid summer months and haven't bought a new package since.

I used to count juice boxes, bottled juices and cans, making sure I had enough for all my boys. Today, as long as I see each boy's SIGG, easily identifiable by the unique designs they each chose, sitting in the fridge, there is no need to count. I can make more tea, more lemonade or just fill them with tap water.

Each trip to the store used to make me count plastic bags I took because I forgot a tote bag in the van or just plain forgot to tell the clerk to use my own bag. I got into the routine, carrying bags in every store, even the mall, and haven't taken a plastic bag in so long... well, I just can't count how long.

The moral of story? I might not hit all my magic numbers that I intend to when I start out my day, but taking some time to stop and count the ones I have hit time and time again is rewarding. And, it will make me feel a little better about something I'm sure to forget tomorrow. Now, how many treats do I need for the preschool this week? Lemme count...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

croque monsieur si vou plait

That, and a few other phrases, were picked up pretty quickly by my youngest son. Bonjour, merci, si vou plait, croque Monsieur sandwiches, crepes with nutella, the Eiffel Tower, the metro, the Seine and the road where all the cars go round and round are memories that will last a lifetime, even for a four year old.

So, does this mean carbon footprint be damned? Oh, pardon madame, it does not. Yes, we flew to Paris and I know, I know that's a lot of fossil fuel. However, after six days in Paris, do you want to know how many times we road in a car? One taxi, only one - for under 10 minutes as we were caught in the pouring rain. On arrival we road the RER B train straight from Charles de Gaulle into Paris where we caught a series of Metro lines direct to our hotel. From there we traversed the entire city by metro, by foot and even by Batobus on the river Seine. This is a four year-old boy's dream. Buses, trains, planes and boats... Who knew public transportation could be so fun?!?

We taught our son about leisurely lunches in cafes, the treasures of the Louvre, how the Eiffel Tower was constructed and even how good a hot crepe wrapped in wax paper tastes on a cold, wet and windy afternoon standing in front of Notre Dame.

Will I continue to trade a little carbon footprint damage on an airplane for the chance to teach my children that it's really a small world - and not because Disney tells us so? You bet. Will I schelp my luggage, stroller, a stuffed dalmatian, a backpack and a briefcase up and down countless escalators, staircases and one or two really smelly elevators in the Metro because public transportation is part of the experience and is good for the environment? Right again. That's something else I can teach my children while we're abroad, because I can't do it in Detroit.
Teaching my children how to be gracious in French, how to respect another culture and keep some of our green practices in check is all about balance. There's got to be a little give and take in this world and I'm happy to be able to do some of both. Merci!