It's been an overcast day, dark and cloudy. Unseasonably warm weather has melted part of the big snow ramp my kids have built out in front of the house, but thankfully the temperatures are beginning to drop. And it's snowing. Within a few hours, the snow ramp will be ready for use again, but right now, we are all in by a crackling fire.
From my spot on the couch, I can keep an eye on the whole household. With-a-Why and Suburban Nephew are settled at the table, putting together a big lego castle, both concentrating intensely. Blonde Niece and Drama Niece, who have been trying on each other's Christmas gifts, are giggling together at the other end of the couch. Boy in Black and Skater Boy are sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the Christmas tree, playing their guitars. Older Neighbor Boy and Philosophical Boy are clustered around the comfy chair, looking to see what Shaggy Hair Boy is doing on Daughter's computer.
Red-haired Sister just left with Dandelion Niece and Little Russian Girl, heading back to my mother's house. First Extra just returned from the hardware store, where he bought new light bulbs for the floodlights that the kids put in the trees out front when they want to work on their snow ramp in the middle of the night. My Smart Beautiful Wonderful Daughter just called to say she is at the mall with Sailor Boy. Spouse is taking a trip to the grocery store to replenish our food supply. (Three gallons of chocolate milk will be gone by morning.)
From where I am sitting, I can hear bits of conversation. Blonde Niece is talking about her new boyfriend, the younger brother of Sailor Boy. With-a-Why and Suburban Nephew are making all kinds of sound effects as they move lego figures around a castle. The older boys have shifted from playing their guitars to playing with yoyos. And Boy in Black is explaining to the other kids what he intends to make from the pile of PVC pipe he got for Christmas. "Bo staffs." Of course.