Congratulations, Winter, We Now Have an Indoor Sand Table

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Sometimes we are so busy doing what is best for us that we forget to just *be* us. I should have been putting them to bed at a decent hour, but indoor sand table led to castle building let to 3-year-old jumping on the sofa while I bicycled the baby's legs to Alice Cooper led to we'll-just-have-sushi night led to how-did-it-get-to-be-so-late. And then C wanted a massage, so how could I say no on his last Wednesday night to be 3? Just Be sometimes. It runs a high risk of having to do more housework later, but it's better that way. And when I finally sat down and had a piece of Dove chocolate at the end of the day, it said, "A gentle touch speaks volumes."

I think my son was the one with the gentle touch. He couldn't get his sand to stick together to make a castle, so he transferred a large portion, tiny scoop by tiny scoop, to the kitchen table and gathered it all up and gave it a big hug, which smooshed it into a mighty lump fortress. I almost melted when he said, "Hugging makes fings tronger."

Spring is on its way, a distant train bleating in the distance, and each day the engine chugs louder as snowmelt gushes and cleans.

Sunny and 29 today, snow had crusted over from an attempted melt of yesterday just before dusk. Robins have arrived and today I heard them for the first time. So now two types of birds are back, and they pepper our outdoor experience like a song adding an instrument with each bar. Before this week, I hadn't realized how silent it was around here. Maybe I couldn't hear over the roar of the wood stove blowers. And buds! Dusty mint green, pale hard buds have appeared, and G noticed them first. We took turns feeling them. With confidence and sunshine, we left school and headed for the park.

After a brief outdoor attempt there, the toddlers were tired from their short legs navigating the treacherous broken-up icy snow chunks that transformed the park into a lunar-like surface. So on our way back to the car, I had to hold her and hold his hand. Maybe it was the light, which seemed precisely the same angle and brightness as an Arizona December afternoon, but in a flash, I was traversing another inhospitable landscape still holding her and holding his hand and walking around a giant meteor crater in Arizona. I'm certain I wasn't holding her or holding his hand during this visit, but I can't recall if he was in a wrap, in a stroller, or walking. Or maybe she was already born. I'm getting buried in my own memories.

A party at my friend's house last year involved small toys wrapped in tin foil and buried in the deep homemade sandbox, a birthday party game where everyone gets a prize when you look for one. Despite my constant image capturing through photo and film, remembering my life is like this game. But about the crater--writing this now, I remember--he was in my womb. It was on our last baby-free escape to the Grand Canyon, a romantic Thanksgiving weekend getaway riding the train back in 2009. C would have loved this if he'd known what was going on. He loves "Thomas train."

So after a long, hard winter, where temperatures were below average nearly every day, I finally caved. These kids need sensory experiences beyond play-doh and crayons and snow through gloves. I pulled out our sand table and filled it with Moon Dough purchased from Amazon and tucked away in the event of desperation. I figured after about 5 minutes, I'd decide this was the worst idea since the Homemade Play-Dough-splosion of 2012. And usually, this is an activity that would require wine.

But I just gave in to the mess (indoor sand is not for control freaks to begin with). I sat in the floor and smooshed and poured and molded and helped nagotiate sharing of tiny cups. The sterling double jiggar saw the most action since graduate school, courtesy of my daughter's smooshing sand into one end, then turning it over and smooshing sand into it, then looking confused and sad when she turned it back over and discovered her sand was gone. Over and over. *snickers* Yep, she's mine.