Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Stay-cation is Over

Monday night our street still looked like this:
Everyone had lots more fun sledding and cross-country skiing.  More hot chocolate was consumed, as well as lemon bars that Anna made.  We had cinnamon rolls Saturday morning AND Monday morning, thanks to our frozen food co-op.  I bought 60 frozen ones (in sheets of 12) that you just thaw for 24 hours and bake.  Perfect!

I also taught my usual Latin class on Monday, but that didn't lend itself to pictures.  We're using "zoom" this year ( instead of skype, but it's the same idea, just with a few more bells and whistles.  It was nice to have that option so we didn't have to cancel class--only 5 more meetings until the National Latin exam!

The inside of the house looked like a blizzard of outerwear had gone through.  Ay yi yi!  Such a mess!
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, a small plow came through the neighborhood and plowed a small track down the streets (accompanied by a ton of beeping and scraping noises).  The government was still closed, which was good since there was no way Bob was getting to work early in the morning!  The project for the day was shoveling out the cars.
Success!    I *think* the mailman can even get in.  We'll see when delivery starts back up again.  Haha about that whole "Neither rain nor snow" will stop the mail from getting through thing.
We had some fun with Bruno Tuesday too.  We made a circular path on the deck for him to hop around in.  He was initially pretty confused by the walls of white, but he ended up really enjoying it out there.  The kids also (gently) shoveled off the trampoline.  We didn't want the heavy melting snow to totally make the springs all saggy!
Tuesday afternoon a huge front loader came down our street.  Wow, that thing can move the snow!  Micah and Drew stood on the front porch and just watched the show for awhile.  It was very exciting for the male under-5 crowd.  After he got done, we were definitely no longer snowed in.  And now we have a huge pile of snow at the end of our street!  I wonder how long it will stay.
And now we're hoping for at least one more good snow . . . because we now have snowshoes!  They were delivered today.  I've wanted a pair since we lived in Colorado, but we never got around to getting any.  We'd think about it when it would snow, but then we never ordered because, well, the snow was over, and who knew when we'd get more.  But now we're ready!  We got 2 adjustable pairs, so there are lots of combinations of who could go out with them.  Luke and I tried them out in the still-deep snow of our back yard.  They were so fun!  We definitely needed them this weekend.  But now we're ready for next time--probably guaranteeing we won't get any more snow at least this year, LOL.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowed In

(and loving it!)  I think having snow days on the weekends are the absolute best--all our basketball games were canceled, as was church, so we had two days where no one had to do anything, AND I felt no obligation to do any school whatsoever!  Plus, I had already typed up my Latin extra practice worksheets because I was afraid the power might go out.  So it was really a break for me, unlike the Great Wolf Lodge vomit-fest!

The blizzard took awhile to get going.  Friday we moved up biology lab because we were worried about snow, and Bob came home right after lunch, because everyone was saying, "Get off the streets!", but there were only a few inches by the evening, not that a small amount stopped any of the kids from going out and playing in it and having a grand time.

Drew woke up crying around 5:30 because he was cold, so I went in and covered him up.  On my way back to bed, I glanced downstairs out the patio door and was disappointed because I could still see the legs of our patio table.  I went back to sleep thinking this was another storm that had underperformed.

When I got up, however, I realized that all around the patio table was completely snowed in, and the only reason I could still see the legs of the table from the angle I had upstairs was because all the snow on top of the table had prevented more snow from coming directly under the table!  In fact, we had over 15 inches of snow, and it was still coming down quite steadily!
 This was the view down our street when Bob and I went out--a big winter wonderland, with snow up to the mailboxes!
 A year or 2 ago we bought this nifty electric snowblower, and amazingly it did a good job of clearing a little trail for the kids to walk up the driveway after they sledded down the front yard.  Bob and I attempted to cross-country ski, but the snow was just too deep.  I made it up the street a couple of driveways before I totally gave up and went inside to help all the younger kids get suited up.  This took forever because even though we have a veritable store of winter gear, not everything fit everyone *absolutely* perfectly, so there were some dramatic tears from certain parties (not Faith, surprisingly).  But eventually all made it outside, blizzard conditions notwithstanding.  
 The boys immediately began a big snow fort, and then the girls started a smaller one against the other tree in our yard.
 Even Verity made it outside, but she hated the snow, and her cute little sled, with a passion.
 "Please rescue me, Mom!  Anyone?  . . ."
 The older kids abandoned the snow fort to go sledding down the hill at the end of the cul-de-sac.  Luke especially worked down there, making 3 trails to sled down and even a ramp at the bottom of one to make the ride more exciting.
 Who needs a snow board?  Jonathan demonstrates his sled-boarding abilities.

The kids stayed out literally the whole afternoon (well, not Verity or Drew).  Bob and I took turns going out and otherwise enjoying the quiet, peaceful house.  It was heavenly-except for having to help a parade of people in and out who needed to go potty, get snow out of a glove, etc.  I loved just sitting by the window and watching the snow fall.  So peaceful!

I also was able to make good use of our family Christmas gift this year--a new HUGE hot chocolate maker!  It held 72 ounces, a big step-up from our previous ones that only held 32 ounces.  I love it!  It was so nice not to have to make 3 pots, like I did for the old one.  In the late afternoon we took a break from hot chocolate and made hot apple cider using a recipe Anna found.  It was very yummy!
 By 9:00 the snow finally started taper off.  There were 29 inches of snow on our deck, although that's not an official uncompacted measurement.  And by then you could no longer even see the legs of our patio table, since the snow was up to the tabletop!  The grill, off to the left, looked like a towering peak, especially from the kitchen window.
 This morning we all went outside again, even Verity.  She liked it all much better, now that it wasn't blowing snow in her face.  Even with her improved outlook, however, she still only stayed out about 5 minutes.  All that work getting her suited up for just 5 minutes . . . sigh . . .
Here's Micah in front of the snow fort.  Caleb was the main builder, and he hollowed out a large space as well as a tunnel around the tree, with another entrance on the other side of the tree.  Pretty awesome!

We're still snowed in, though.  No plow has come through, so our road is completely unpassable.  Unfortunately, school must go on for us.  There are only a few weeks left (7 weeks from tomorrow!) until the National Latin Exam, so I'll have Latin class tomorrow (online through zoom, though, which is like skype, but we have a paid account).  Tomorrow I'm hoping to dig out of the mess that is inside the house as well from this weekend--it looks like a tornado struck.  And then Tuesday we'll still have Rivendell, although again, over zoom.  I am longing for the days when we could just take as many snow days as we wanted to!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Catching Up--A Break and a Goodbye

We're all holed up, waiting for the great "Snowzilla" blizzard to strike, and I'm so glad it is happening this weekend, rather than last!  A week ago Thursday we picked up Jonathan from his math class and headed down to Great Wolf Lodge with Rivendell.  The trip began with a bad omen:  Verity had broken out in a terrible rash from head to toe that made it seem like we were bringing measles to GWL.
This was quite a coincidence.  Both Drew and Grace have also broken out in hives that look the same as Verity's 7-8 days into a course of amoxicillin.  Both my dad and I are allergic to penicillin.  In fact, at Verity's appointment, I asked about this very possibility, but the doctor assured me that it was actually "very rare" for people to be allergic to amoxicillin.  If she did break out in hives, it would just be from "the virus"--which would be odd, since she was on antibiotics for an ear infection, not a virus.  You should not *get* antibiotics for viruses.  Weird.

Anyhow, we made our way down to GWL, eating a Costco pizza I had cooked beforehand and some chocolate chip cookies in the van for lunch.  When we pulled into the parking place, we got our second bad omen--Faith hopped out of the van and promptly threw up on the curb.  Well!  We all figured she had just eaten too much in the van, so we weren't too concerned.  We got settled in, everyone changed, and we headed to the waterpark.  It took me longer to get down there with Verity, but when I got down there, I saw Kelly leading Faith down the steps of the big tower.  She had slipped, and thrown up a little more when she fell.  So . . . this must be something bigger.  Sigh.  She sat in a chair  while Verity splashed around in the wave pool a little bit more.  Verity LOVED the wave pool.  She would get all excited when she heard the howling that signifies the start of the wave period.  I just hoped people would focus on her smiling face, and not on all her dots all over, LOL.
Eventually I took both Verity and Faith upstairs for a nap.  They fell right asleep and slept for a good long while.  I sat quietly and read, so that was probably the highlight of the trip for me--3 hours to myself of peace and quiet!

We left Faith and Luke back at the hotel (Luke hadn't been feeling great either, so he also took a nap all afternoon in the other room), and the rest of us went out to eat at Golden Corral, as is our tradition--a party of over 40!  It was really fun, and everyone ate a ton . . . as is our tradition, LOL.  But as we drove back to GWL, Anna and Grace both said they ate too much.  Back in the room, Grace threw up, and eventually so did Anna.  And they both did again.  And again.  I decided to have them sleep on the pull-out sofa so they wouldn't bother Faith, Micah, and Drew.  That turned out to be a good decision, as the girls just basically threw up all night, even though there was just nothing left in there.  Worst night in a hotel ever, sigh.  They stopped throwing up around 5:00.  Around 6:00 I heard a commotion in the other room--and Micah threw up all over his bed, which fortunately he wasn't sharing with anyone.  Ahhh . . . I was so hoping for a nice break!  Alas.  Jonathan and Caleb went down to the waterpark while the rest of us packed up.  Eventually Bob took Drew and Verity down too, but as soon as we had everything in the van, we beat a hasty retreat.  Kelly very kindly volunteered to drive Caleb and Jonathan back with her family, and we took her up on that, since they were having such a great time--even Caleb, who normally doesn't even really like waterparks!  He went down a ton of water slides, which was a first for him!

We were so incredibly thankful that this tummy bug didn't spread like wildfire through Rivendell.  One more kid from another family got sick, but that was pretty much it.  Whew!  I was especially thankful Nathan didn't get sick, since he had to go back to school.  Sunday night one of his old roommates flew in, and on Monday, I drove them as well as 2 other cadets back down to school.  It was a quiet drive down--freezing cold, but nice and sunny, so a beautiful day for driving.  After getting everyone's stuff unloaded and up to their rooms, Nathan and I ate lunch at Subway and hit Kroger for some groceries before saying goodbye.  He was ready to go back--well, maybe not to go back to classes, but to not be surrounded by so many loud, needy little people all the time!  It was a really nice break, though.  We all thoroughly enjoyed our time with him, and it was lovely that it was so long, too!

The drive back was really nice for me.  I've always enjoyed driving (especially in the Sienna, and not the big van!), and this time I brought CDs of one of my absolute favorite books:  All Creatures Great and Small. Listening to that, read by someone who could actually do all the Yorkshire accents, made the miles fly by!  I cancelled Latin class so I would be free that day, and it was a good decision.  It was a very nice break for me, and now I'm glad I wasn't driving in a ton of snow!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Verity's 15 Month Well-Baby Appointment

I tried to get a picture of her, but clearly she had some building to take care of, and she did not have time to play around with looking at the camera.  She's pretty serious about her Duplo projects.  

Verity had her well-baby appointment yesterday.  I took her in the end of August, when she was 11 months, and I told the doctor we wouldn't be back until after Christmas because of my schedule, as well as Luke's (who needed the minivan for his classes, and there is *no way* I am driving the big van to the Bethesda parking garage unless there is potential death involved . . . but I digress . . .).  They still wouldn't consider it a "12 month well-baby" appointment, so I continued to get calls about scheduling that darn 12 month appointment.  Ah well.  I ignored them.

I was actually glad she had an appointment scheduled yesterday.  Verity has been snotty for pretty much month now.  It turns out that a lot of that time, she was working on her 1 year molars, all 4 of which are through now, and she did have a bonafide cold while we were in Ohio, complete with raspy cough and thick yucky snot.  But even after the cold went away, her nose was still a faucet, and she has been fussier than usual.  But she's such a happy baby, so she really hasn't been that fussy.  She's been sleeping fine, playing happily, etc., so I wasn't concerned enough to make an appointment just for that.

She did turn out to have an ear infection in one ear though.  The intern (?  whoever I saw first, who has to check in with the higher doctor for everything) didn't think it was, but the actual doc decided it was red as well as dull, so she should have some antibiotics.  Verity hasn't had any antibiotics yet, so I'm not worried about her having too much of them or whatever.  I'm sure the infection would have gone away on its own, but a course of antibiotics will make it go away faster.  

The big news is that she has plumped up to 23 pounds, which is the 49th percentile!  This is an increase from 11 months, where she was at the 20th percentile.  She likes that table food, I'm telling you!  So I guess we can safely say she does NOT have a metabolic disorder.  Ha!  Not that I'm bitter or anything.  

She doesn't say many words (although all day today Anna has been pointing ones out to me, so I guess she does say more than I was thinking she did).  She babbles a lot, and clearly SHE thinks she is saying whole paragraphs.  I'm not concerned because all of my kids have not said much until around 2, at which point they just start talking in sentences.  We're not an early verbal family, although we are very physically coordinated and advanced.  But the doctor said I should make sure to come in at 18 months so they can keep up with that.  Well, we'll see how that fits in my schedule, LOL.  In the meantime, I'll just keep on like I usually do. 

Verity's other big news is that she has finally made the switch out of the pack-n-play in Bob and my walk-in closet, and into the crib in Micah and Drew's room!  We figured after we got home from Ohio was as good a time as any, since she had been sleeping in  different place for a week. She cried for awhile the first night, but she's been okay since then.  She enjoys waking up and seeing the boys.  Micah wakes up when she starts talking, but Drew sleeps like a rock, LOL.  

After the appointment, Verity had to go get her shots.  She was not a fan, but I think she has forgiven me now.  The immunization clinic was super slow, so the whole appointment took several hours.  I scheduled the actual appointment at 1:45, which is a crazy time for a 15 month old, who would normally be napping!  I wanted to get school done with the younger kids, though, and that was all I was thinking about when I made the appointment.  Fortunately the kids peeled all the potatoes so they were ready to go when I got home to make sausage and potato soup.  I love having older kids!

Friday, January 01, 2016

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

We just got back from a wonderful visit in Ohio!  The kids and I left 2 Saturdays ago, and we got in early enough to go to Amy's son Zach's basketball game.  Except for the one ref making bad calls from half court about plays happening under the basket, we had a really fun time!
We had great seats too.  The little boys were enthralled until halftime, and after that, they ran around and played with some other kids behind our bleachers.  It was a perfect set-up!  Amy and I got to visit a little bit, which was fun.
The next day we went to Amy's church, and then the boys and I worked on a 1000 piece puzzle while we waited for Uncle Dan, Aunt Melinda, and the girls to come in from TX.  It was a tough puzzle, with lots of different shades of blue, so we were busy.  We actually almost finished it that night, and we did finish it the next day!  We were so happy to see Dan and Melinda around 11:30--that's a long day's drive, and they did it all in one day!

The next few days I was busy running various people around at separate times to buy presents for each other.  Usually Bob does all the running around, but we just had no extra time before we left this year.  I am more appreciative of what he does now, though, because that was exhausting!  It's fun to see what the kids pick out for each other.  There were several dollar stores and regular stores with dollar bins that were different from what we have around us here in VA, so that was different and fun too.

The girls were able to go to a children's museum in Columbus, which was tons of fun (no one was brave enough to ride the highwire unicycle, though), and I was able to go out to lunch with Amy, as well as spend an afternoon over at her house with the older boys.  And we all went to Youngs one night for dinner and ice cream, of course!  Then Wednesday night Bob flew in to join the fun.  In August, he had driven out with us for a weekend so he could visit with Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, and then he flew back to go to work.  But because Bob was thinking ahead, he bought a round-trip ticket, with the second leg being to come back to Ohio Dec. 23.  Pretty smart!
Christmas Eve we went to the candlelight service, where at the end the chaplain slowed down Silent Night to an absolute dirge-like pace, and we all worried that one of the younger kids was going to set someone's hair on fire with their candle.  Fortunately, the only casualty was Faith getting some wax dripped on her hand.  Whew!  We got a nice picture of all of us at the end, though.

Christmas was a beautiful day, weather-wise. We couldn't believe Ohio could be so downright pleasant in December!  I really wished I had packed short-sleeved shirts for the visit.  After cinnamon rolls and egg casseroles, we opened presents (took forever!), and then we left Grandma and Grandpa at home for a little peace and quiet while we took everyone else to the park.  Poor Drew was dealing with a cold that others had as well, and he had a rougher time at the park.  As soon as we got there, he ran to a swing, climbed up on his knees--and promptly face-planted down in the mud on the other side.  After we got him cleaned up, he played for a bit--until he slipped on one of the yellow climbing things in the picture below, cutting his lip, which bled for a while.  
On our way home, he tripped, and after that, Nathan came to the rescue and carried him.  Poor guy!  He actually ran a fever that night, so I had to run to Walgreens, the only store open on Christmas, to get him some children's motrin, since someone I didn't have any in my bag.  Fortunately, he was better the next day, although the cold did travel through a lot of the other kids.  Verity, especially, was a big snot bucket pretty much the entire time.  It turns out that was not just because of her cold--she also had been busy teething in all 4 of her one year molars.  The 4th one just cut through, so she is now being a less crabby than she was in Ohio.
We certainly filled up the table all week long!  Grandma and Grandpa had to put this auxilliary table in their entry way, plus a little folding kids table over to the left of the main table.  It was so fun to all be together!
After Christmas, Bob, Dan, and the older boys played a lot of Axis and Allies, which was Nathan' gift to his brothers.  The girls got to go to another children's museum as well with Dan and Melinda, and I got to meet another friend, Marie, at Chick-Fil-A one afternoon, where we talked and Micah and Drew got to play with her little boy in the play area.  Bob, Grandpa, and Dan took the kids bowling too!
We also made and decorated sugar cookies.  It was much less stressful to do it after Christmas was technically over!  This is a really fun tradition, although I am sure Grandma and Grandpa will be vacuuming up stray sprinkles for months to come.
Then on Monday, all the girls, including Grandma, Melinda, and me, went to Mimi's for a special breakfast, and then we headed over to Claire's to get ears pierced!  Anna, Emily, and Grace had been talking about taking the big step since the summer.  Anna volunteered to be first, and she did great, as did Emily who went next.  Grace was very apprehensive, and I was secretly wondering if she wouldn't chicken out, which I told her was perfectly fine to do, since no one cares one whit whether or not you have your ears pierced.  But the girl was really good with her.  She let Grace pick out her sticker first (which said, "I got my ears pierced today at Claire's"), and the Grace put it on, so the girl said, "Well, you have to do it now!"  And then she just did it!  Grace held her face in her hands and cried silent tears for the second ear, and afterward for a few minutes, but she recovered to take this picture.  All 3 girls have been so responsible about cleaning their piercings, and I think it was such a neat thing to do together!  Memories!
All too soon it was time to go.  After cramming all the presents into the van along with all our other junk, we made it back home Wednesday.  Thursday we attempted to get the house back in order, or at least find places for everything new, and then we headed over to the L's house for the annual party.  There was a good turnout, with lots of good food, and we were so happy to see Tim and Amy again, back in town to spend New Year's Eve with family (our Bible study!).
2015 was a good year, and we look forward to what the Lord will do in 2016!  As we watch our country turn farther and farther from Him, it will be more and more challenging to keep our eyes focused on Him.  Hopefully it will be a year where we all grow closer to the Lord, and more like Him.  May we shine the light of Christ in this dark world!  Happy New Year!