Thursday, December 18, 2008

The internet is up and running again, and I am back to work online reading journal articles and ethics statements.

Yesterday we were stranded up here on the hill. The kids stood outside for 45-50 minutes waiting for the bus. Then they headed up the hill, cold, wet, and very upset thinking they had somehow missed the bus. As they rounded the top curve heading up the hill, the bus ploughed by without even slowing down. They came home and in the door at 5 to 9, five minutes before they were supposed to be in school.

We'd had ice and snow during the big "ice storm", but mostly snow, last Friday. Then is warmed up on Saturday, melting and creating ice where there had been none. Burt has been plowing, which is great, but we don't have any sand or salt, and as of Tuesday, we were looking at glare ice in large patches on the driveway.... with the worst part being that last curve and small hill leading to the joint entrance from Route 14. I had been playing the "go-down-in-first-gear, foot-off-brake, aim-for-snowbank-on-opposite-side-of-sawmill-parking-lot" game. But just after I got everyone re-dressed in warm, dry clothes, and clothed the baby, and had almost gotten myself ready to run the kids to school (dread of driveway building in my stomach), when the phone rang. Colin said, "DO NOT ATTEMPT THE DRIVEWAY." Very firmly. I had already called the school to say the kids were going to be late. What now?

I called the school again. The response? "Even if you got down your driveway, the roads are terrible." Um... so I guess I am keeping them home?? Yeup. That's what we did. An unofficial snow day. We danced and played piano and cleaned and picked out the kids' "little trees" (a tradition I began at Madison dorm at Sterling for Aidan). I shoveled the deck and the kids put the plastic deck chairs in the garage for the winter. And we did chores (BOY hard not to fall on your arse in this slippery snow on glare ice!!). We watched an episode and a half of Fame. Even Aidan... who has dropped his pretense of not liking it ("Ms. Sherwood is my favorite teacher because she is funny and sarcastic, and she is still tough. "). And Nadia came running as soon as she heard the opening music yelling "YEAY! FAME!" Then she started dancing and said "trying. dancing." I asked her if she liked dancing and she said, "yep. Dancing. Fame." So maybe she shouldn't be watching too much tv... but when we're all dancing, playing the piano, watching at the same time, does it count? As Nadia says, "Fun."

As for the piano, it is getting lots of attention, and it hasn't waned at all. We are all playing quite a bit. One morning, when Nadia and I had been up nursing at 5 am on the couch, I let her fall back asleep on the couch. When Colin went to work, she still didn't wake up, so I got to sleep in a bit. I was awoken by the sound of a very tiny finger very gingerly hitting a note in the middle of the piano. Awake and happy. Great! And Aidan has been asking lots of questions about how to read music. We wrote the notes on the staff for him, and on one octave on the piano. Now he is picking out melodies from the music books and showing Sage how. Sage is memorizing and practicing the same pieces over and over, then memorizing the next piece. Colin has been very patient with them, and has been very insistant on the "right" practice (fingering, which things to learn first, etc). And I get to play! And I play much better than I thought I did.

Well... off to tackle the next load of laundry, the readings (riiiiiight... like there will be time for all of that!), dinner, and the multiplying dust bunnies in the corner.

Love love!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The kids get home a little later each week, it seems. Yesterday it was nearly ten after 4 when they walked in the door from the bus and walking up the hill.

But I was ready for them, and Sage and I made a batch of cookies and finally found the cookie cutters. The recipe was a very tasty dough, but as is usually the case, I am not real excited about the cooked cookies. I really wish cookies could just stay doughy! They are the most beautiful color, though, because our eggs are so orangey yellow! We set the dough to chill, and ate dinner, then headed off to Aidan's first basketball practice.

Aidan did well, not fooling around too much, and really putting his best into it. The coach said something like "The best 5 players will be who are on the court the last 3 minutes of every game, and you want to be in that group." Now, I would never say something like that. Especially on a team of about 9 kids. But then he said, "It takes hard work and lots of practice to be in the best 5. You can't fool around at practice and be in that group."

So Aidan worked really hard (don't worry, I brought the inhaler for pneumonia-lungs-boy). And he blocked the kid he was guarding, always staying in front. He played excellent defense! And he even got a few shots off. During drills, he did them with precision and skill, and a lot of hard work. I was really impressed.

Sage is excited to start basketball. We couldn't get her on the 2nd grade team because they only meet on Saturdays. But she will be a "manager" for the 3rd and 4th grade girls, practice and scrimmage with them, and maybe get a few minutes here and there to play in a real game, but probably not many. She said she was ok with that, she just wanted to practice and be ready for next year.

Basketball went well, and we got home, and cut out cookies, decorated them, and baked them. Everyone got a cookie before bed, and some to take for snack today. Today Nadia and I will cut out the rest, then bake and cool them, so after school we can frost them. We also have comic book club today.

I start tutoring a 7 year old this Thursday night, and it looks like I will have 2 kids here to care for in January if all works out.

We miss you all, and hope everyone is well... the snow fell all morning, and yet it is supposed to start raining this afternoon. Yuck... but I guess the snow will be back by the weekend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

December glog

Sorry it has been so long... but I did just holiday-host ya'lls...

We have survive round 2 of pneumonia, and both Nadia and Aidan sound a bit better 4 days into their antibiotics. Sage is now sounding awful, but is at school because she doesn't have the temp... I am calling the doctor today to try and figure out if we can just go ahead and put her on antibiotics anyway.

We found a problem with the furnace last week. Colin and I had headed out to do chores, cut the Christmas tree, and generally tinker around outside after being stuck inside with sick people all week. We turned around in the driveway to find blacker-than-black smoke pouring out of the chimney. I ran in and unplugged the furnace (a really great feeling when you have two kids with with pneumonia, and one with the cough). After 24 hours off, and heating the house with the little electric radiator, and Colin fixing vaious little things on the boiler, we called another dude in from Irving and found out that A) the chimney has a hole in it, and was never lined completely so we had to wrap the pipe with insulation in the meantime. B) the Chimney needs a thorough cleaning; Colin and his service tech friend did their best. Turns out Mark's nephew was supposed to have done it the week of Thanksgiving. He didn't. Mark is in Florida selling Christmas trees with Jesse and the kids. His cell phone doesn't work down there and he has been calling his brother from a pay phone. We can't get ahold of him to find out who to call to clean the chimney. Or to let him know there came a notice that the cable company is about to turn off the internet/tv, and I need the internet for school. URGH. He should be home in a week, I guess. AND C) the boiler has been sucking dryer lint in it and burning it, hence the black smoke. Cause guess where our vent led to? A VERY LONG hose in the basement, that ended behind Janess's pile of crap in the basement with a sock on it. Her dryer wasn't vented at all. So, Colin bought all the necessary materials, and the dryers are now vented out of the back of the house.

This has been on top of the discovery of mold in each and every window on the sill in the entire house. Where it condenses, it molds. This appears to be the first time, probably because the air has always been very dry in here previously... he always had a wood stove going.

I can't imagine why no one can breathe.

SOOOoooooo, we have been bleaching windows like mad people and trying to figure out what to seal the windows again. And of course, Mark isn't here, so we can't ask. Crazy times.

On the nice side of things, we got the tree in and decorated and it is tall, about 8 feet. We didn't go for HUGE because we don't have the right tree stand. But it is beautiful, and the kids love it and helped decorated it, and Nadia ran around it yelling "TREE! TREE!!!" and the dog has been scratching her back on its lower branches, and drinking the water because it has ginger ale in it. We lost quite a few of the kids' old decorations to mice a few years ago, so I am hoping to do a project with them to make new ones they can look forward to saying "I made that when..." in the future. Outside, Colin covered the Cherry Tree in blue lights, and it is really pretty.

We are still trying to figure out about the piano; she sent us pictures. It has a low back, is off-white, and in great shape. But she has a weird schedule, and she and Colin are working out the details. The space is empty and waiting for it.

Nadia is pretty consistently using the potty, even for poop. This weekend, she was usually only in a diaper at night. Although we did head out to Craftsbury to say goodbye to our old neighbor who is heading off to New Zealand for a few months, and she wore a diaper then. She enjoyed shaking that little diaper butt to the music for a night of Farmhouse Fun! Everyone loved it!

Last night the big kids and I finished the Golden Compass. I think I am going to head off to get the Subtle Knife to read with Aidan for now, Sagey later. I heard it gets more adult as you go through the books, and the ending of the Golden Compass was quite sophisticated. But such a great read!

What else is new? Ah yes, Colin and I went into the brewing store in Plainfield. We checked out the cost of supplies, and talked to the guy about methods. We have decided that in January or February we will begin amassing supplies, and then will begin brewing straight to keg. All our friend bottle, but it takes an extra 3 weeks to carbinate that way. If you keg, you can carbinate in 3 days. Jeremy Randall says he's got some great "beginner" recipes for us, which is good. We've tasted most of our friends first few batches. Uck. So we're hoping that kegging will allow us to move on quickly to decent beer. The supply store has those small, cylinderical kegs the soda companies used to use. They're solid, in good shape, and sell for $45. Not too shabby! An WAY easier than bottling. We're also going to bottle a bit in "growlers" (those things that look like glass moonshine jugs. Usually 64 ounces.) That way we have some that is portable. (What does everybody want? Porter? Stout? IPA? German White? Irish Red??). I am hoping to make some herbal/ancient grain brews next year. That way we can grow herbs and plants that we want to flavor it. And yes, I am planning on growing some heather for some heather brew. I am hoping to go up to Wolcott to Stever Young's ericaceous nursey (I am totally not kidding... he grows all sorts of ericaceous plants, in particular heathers), to get some of the species he brought back from Shetland and Orkney.

We got a bit of snow last night... and it was wet and slippery and icy and horrid out. The kids and I crawled home from the pick up spot at 20 mph and watched an ambulance PLOW into someone. Awful. I was shaking like crazy by the time we got home. But today the snow tires are on, and the Rav is ready for winter action. (I was in the truck last night). I have to say, I am a STELLAR winter driver... despite having been scared half to death!

Well, I am off to read my last few textbooks (the attachment book is um, more than meaty.... taking forever!) and do some work. We love you all!