We started this week in Portsmouth, which I wrote about here. A weekend at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, creating beautiful memories for these boys of ours and providing hands-on history lessons.
I miss it already. The weather was ferocious – Mother Nature giving a mere glimpse of how cruel and savage she can be. Walking along the beach before the sun has risen, the sleet is like icy needles dancing on my face as I turn into the wind. The waves rise and crash, swallowing the beach as the tide comes in. It’s harsh, unforgiving, cold – but beautiful nonetheless and I miss the sea when I’m home.
Back home, we miss swimming and forest school due to illness, but we make it to the park for our nature club. They make wreaths, and are visited by Santa. The snow remains, now iced over in translucent sheets along the roads. I drive cautiously, sweeping gently around corners and gripping the steering wheel slightly harder than necessary.
Sheltering indoors as illnesses work their way through little bodies, we catch up on things we’ve been meaning to do for a while. The boys make bark owls with some bark we collected a few weeks ago. They finish their photo frames and hang them in their bedrooms.
The boys have been getting to grips with the bread maker this week. They make the dough and then shape the rolls before placing them in the oven. The house smells amazing and my boys are reading recipes on their own.
Wedged on the sofa, the boys and I read the new issue of Whizz Pop Bang together.We continue with our nature curriculum, looking at Christmas plants and birds. We read about the Winter Solstice and the boys remember our sunset picnic at Stoney Wood last year.
The boys sit to finish their Christmas maths books, interspersed with a Christmas Where’s Wally? activity book and building Lego Christmas trees.
We cook together, stirring thick risotto and slicing garlic bread. My eldest is in charge of the oven, turning sausages and potatoes or baking samosas for our picnics. My middle boy and I stand side by side in quiet contemplation as we peel potatoes.
The year is winding down, ticking softly to a gentle peak as 2017 tumbles into new digits, bringing with it promises of better days and less heartache.
The boys scramble to make sense of the passage of time, searching for meaning in all these traditions we foster. They reel them off, the things we do every year without fail, that brings them a sense of belonging and security as the days keep passing. These are the things they will remember when they have their own children, telling their families about their childhood, the way I tell my boys now.
They play in the lingering snow with endless enthusiasm. I watch from the window as the miniature snowmen grow and then grow again. They are dotted around the garden as the sun creates a rosy glow around the edges of the day. 8.27 in the morning and already the boys have been outside for well over an hour.
Friends rally round to help with a dismal end to the year in regards to money. We’ll manage, with massive thanks to those who have helped with food and Christmas and who expect no payment in return. These are the people that restore my faith in humanity.
December is passing far too quickly and I have 2 days left of my twenties. Yet as I look around me at my family and friends and the life that I get to call my own, it’s not such a bad reality.
Adding to our UK map of places we’ve visited, Mathseeds, Reading Eggs, working our way through a huge stack of library books, making homemade bird feeders and popcorn garlands, nature curriculum, Christmas crafts, making willow wands, the boys finding and wrapping presents for each other, belatedly planting bulbs in their patch of garden, making shell mobiles and garlands, making salt dough Christmas decorations, discussing how birds keep warm in winter and why it’s important for them to be able to find food, making Christmas cake, writing letters to Grandad.