You'd better believe that when we finally get a reprieve from our long cold winter we milk it for all its worth.
After work, I decided I'd take the boys to the park down the street.
I donned the kids in sweatshirts and rain boots and decided Will was too big to need a stroller for a two block trip.
I let them each take one toy - they each decided on a small basketball. Of course there were several negotiations as to which ball belonged to whom.
Over and over and over again.
We got to the park where I quickly discovered that in Wisconsin, 60°F in February doesn't feel like 60°F in May. There's quite a bit of "cold" thrown off by those piles of melting snow.
We had only been playing for a few minutes when I saw Will's rosy red cheeks and felt his ice cold hands. I cursed myself for being a Bad Mommy and decided we should head back home.
But getting two boys and their toys rounded up when they're at the park for the first time in months is like getting snails to march in a parade. You might as well not even try.
After ten minutes of balls flying THIS way and boys meandering THAT, I scooped up the little one, deciding that mud on my jeans from his boots was far easier to handle than being in the park after dark as the temperature dove back down to winter norms. The sun was setting.
We finally got out of the park and were on our way down the street. Nick was happily jumping in every puddle he saw, and Will was twisting around in my arms to watch him. Now that we were on our way and the sidewalk provided a straight path, I tried several times to put him down.
"Noooo - UP Mama!"I was trying to shift him in my arms to distribute his weight better when the Earth may have just as well stopped turning.
While running and jumping, Nick fell -- HARD.
There was no blood, just slightly scraped and dirty hands, but it didn't matter. Huge tears...much screaming and crying..."Mama, I can't walk!!!"
"Oh, hon, you're OK," I said, squatting down and balancing him on my knee. I kissed his muddy palms and transferred a kiss to his knees with my own. "Let's go home and get an ice pack, 'kay?"
"NOOOOO....I SAID I CAN'T WAAAAAAALK!!!"
Oh Lord in Heaven. We stood on that sidewalk for several minutes, me trying to convince him we could practically see our house and him, proving he was un-ambulatory by slinking down to sit and then lay on the dirty wet sidewalk.
I sighed. "FINE. Stand up."
I gathered up Will and his basketball, which he was trying to retrieve from under a bush. Nick stood (MIRACLE!) and I handed him his ball, which had rolled into the street and come to a rest in a puddle, next to a cigarette butt and an empty plastic soda bottle.
"You guys hold onto your basketballs, OK?" I pulled the strap of my camera case over my head so it sat across my body diagonally. Taking a deep breath, I squatted and thanked my stars for palates. "If you let go of them, I'm leavin' 'em behind."
With a grunt, I picked them both up, straining under the extra 70 lbs. I mentally kicked myself for being so stupid as to think we could go anywhere without a stroller.
Then, while in my arms, gripping their muddy basketballs, my boys hugged each other.
I just had to laugh. There we were, trudging down a dreary sidewalk, the sun setting, wind whipping up. My hair was flying around my face and the mud from their boots was running down the front of my jeans.
It was utterly ridiculous.
But at the same time, utterly delicious.
My arms were full of sweet little boys - complete with mud and bruises and scrapes and basketballs - and we were all hugging each other.