Monday, January 26, 2015

Gloomy January

I'm in the process of quilting this mosaic quilt. I should be done in another ten, fifteen years.

It only takes two or three gray days tied together before you start thinking that this is the gloomiest winter we've had in years. But the fact is, a blue sky winter is the exception to the rule in these parts. Last winter was gray, and so was the one before that (or at least that's how I remember it now).

Really, the only way to get through this time of year is by the judicious yet generous sprinkling of treats throughout the day and week. Peppermint tea when you're feeling dull and listless is always uplifting. Buying used, out-of-print books online for two dollars is nice because you get the thrill of buying something without a huge expense, and you get the fun of anticipating mail. I also recommend interlibrary loans for putting a little pep into your step, especially of expensive art books.

I try to have lunch with friends at least once a week and spend an afternoon over at the fun nonprofit where I volunteer. And unless it's pouring down rain, I get outside with Travis once a day. Together, we survey the neighborhood. Lots of things are beautiful in winter, especially red mailboxes. Who looks at a red mailbox in summer? Nobody except the postman. But in winter, a red mailbox is the belle of the ball.


I'm pleased to report that Jack seems to be 30% less cranky these days. He'll be sixteen in a couple of months, and a friend of mine with older children told me that hers came out of their adolescent funks toward the end of their sophomore years in high school (come to think of it, so did I). I'm sure it helps that Jack is swimming three times a week--nothing like a burst of endorphins to boost your mood. But I also think he's just getting older and a little bit happier.

You know what that means, right? Will is a pill. Yep, sweet Will is a thing of the past. Oh, he resurfaces now and again, mostly on weekends, but Will 2.0 pretty much resents and resists any parental interference in his life. Great. I think I'd almost convinced myself that since Jack's was cranky even before puberty set in, we'd get a pass with Will. Illusion shattered. Lord, help get me through the next three and a half years.


Both boys just got their report cards. Jack got straight A's (yay!), and Will got all A's and B's. I asked Will last week if he thought he could get straight A's if he tried, because I certainly thought he could. He said, "Yeah, but the kids I know who get straight A's study for two hours a night, and I don't want to study that hard."

It's hard to argue with that, and I didn't. Will is one of the most well-rounded people I know. He's bright and creative and a good athlete. He has lots of friends and can talk to anyone (though like the rest of this tribe, he's an introvert and gets out of sorts if he has to socialize too much). While I'd love for him to get straight A's one quarter just so he knows that he can, I can't bring myself to insist on it. He's a good kid. If he stays out of trouble, he'll do fine whatever his path ends up being.

The Man and I did have an interesting talk about internally v. externally motivated people, and how Jack is one and Will is the other. If I told Will we'd get him a smart phone if he got all A's, you can bet he'd have a perfect report card next quarter. But when Jack brought home spottier grades in middle school, no amount of bribery could get him to work harder. Once he was in high school though, he decided he wanted to be a straight A student, and he is. The Man and I have absolutely nothing to do with it.


As I write this, I'm looking out over my backyard garden, which is covered in black plastic. Although the winter has been gloomy and rainy, it hasn't been too terribly cold, which means the sturdier grasses and weeds just keep growing. Covering up the ground is a good way to save yourself a lot of work come spring. But while I'm glad I won't have to spend two weeks in March redigging all my garden beds, a black plastic-covered yard doesn't actually make you want to break out in song.

However, thinking about gardens does, and it's almost time to get planning. I'm sticking to tomatoes and basil this year, I think, plus flowers. What else does a girl need?


Tracy said...

I'm a winter-loving girl, but even I need a little burst of sunshiny-ness at some point in the season. And I say that, as I sit in bed on a very grey, gloomy summer's day. So much for "hottest summer ever" records!

All of my children have had 14 to be whatever on earth is they are at that age. The girls got over themselves by the time they got into being 15. I think Mr Busy is going to be a little more challenging. He's just more moody and sensitive than either of the girls put together. But I keep telling him 15 is coming and then we're done with whatever this is. The other thing I'm telling him is that I'm now spending more than $1500 a year on his education and he needs to do a few thousand dollars more worth of work this year. He keeps looking at Miss Sunshine like he wishes she would come back to school and he could settle back into the $1500 realm of effort (we have a family cap on our school fees, which we reached and surpassed with three in school, and don't quite reach with two).

Leslie said...

I wish you could drop by for a visit today. It is a sunny 75 and I am just about (fixin' as we Texans like to say) to go walking in it. I love your blue and white quilt. I could just stare at that all day.

Jo said...

With four children I think I can reliably say that we parents don't influence their personalities much at all that I can see. We provide love and cookies. I mean, how much more can kids realistically expect?

Sandy H said...

Amen to the internal vs external motivations. My son would cave the minute we removed electronics from his life. My daughter, when she was about 9, ended up on complete lock-down in a nearly stripped-bare bedroom and still wouldn't budge. I learned that she needed a completely different motivational nudge--some might call it bribery. I discovered she'd do just about anything for books (girl after my own heart!). She's definitely internally motivated--if she wants to do something, she'll do it, but no amount of cajoling or punishment would get her to do something she didn't want to do. My kids are young adults now and I still see those same forces at work in their lives.

Gumbo Lily said...

What a pretty blue & white quilt!

We've had a mostly mild winter so far, and I'm glad for it. Just today we had blue skies and 55*. We're gearing up for lambs.

I like your list of winter day brighteners. I'm not sure I've seen a red mailbox around these parts.

Ali said...

My boy is 14 - I needed to hear there is light at the end of the teenage tunnel!! Thank you.

Lucky I have Mr-still-only-10 to keep me sane. Though I have no doubt his time will come.