Saturday, December 22, 2007
I like this year's version a lot. Maddie make the buttermint chimney almost all by herself. Will made the pretzel and lifesaver fence with Rob, and Sebastian was responsible for the mint chips on the ice cream cone trees. I did the roof with red and green gummy shingles which looked successful, but there are now three missing. Important part of a child's Christmas to filch candy off the gingerbread house, don't you think? We always waited until New Year's to eat it at my house, but I wonder if we should do it sooner here where everything dries out? I'm also curious about trying some different patterns of house, but I don't know where to find them. Any ideas?
Maddie Lou is a busy woman this year. She's dancing twice a week, learning to step-ball-change and cha, cha, cha for her performance next February. She goes to show choir at 8:00am twice a week, and often has 8- or 9-hour days by the time she gets home. She's doing her homework almost entirely on her own (yay!) and gets stellar reports back from her teacher. And she's still a reader. On Thursday she received Elizabeth, one of the American Girl dolls, as a prize for having passed off her multiplication tables. When I walked past her room 5 minutes later, Maddie was reading the book on Elizabeth and the doll was on the bed. I love it.
You can see the reader in Maddie's vocabulary. She uses words we didn't teach her, and uses them correctly in a sentence. But she's not always sure of the pronunciation since she's never heard them. During the storm on Thursday night, Maddie wrote a poem we wanted to share:
Hail and Snow
First there was hail,
falling in cubes.
"There will be snow"
Mom said, but I said
"It cannot be so."
I was dumbfounded
as I looked out the
window. "This cannot
be! It's starting to
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Here was the basement bathroom as it stood at Christmas. I got my dad that Black and Decker housekeeping tool with the rotating parts, and each day he'd go down and scrub a section of the shower. By the end of their stay, grandpa pronounced it merely "really dirty" which was a vast improvement.
But the cabinet was peeling apart in one corner, the linoleum was coming up, the sink was a strange shallow contraption made mostly for shooting water all over the room inadvertently, and the toilet scared small children. So in spite of dad's heroic cleaning efforts, we decided to try our hand at remodeling.
On St. Patrick's Day we tore it apart with some help from Rob's brother Rick, who is far more competent at these things. Then we poisoned Rick with carbon dioxide when he graciously came to help us cut a hole in the foundation to convert from a shower to a tub. It was the literal and figurative low point of the ordeal. Rick spent four hours in the ER breathing pure oxygen so he wouldn't lose brain cells. We didn't bother with that sort of treatment -- Rob held a salon for his students upstairs to discuss Parzifal and had a flourless chocolate torte to finish it off (perhaps the antioxidants in the chocolate ameliorated the carbon dioxide, no?)
Here is Kathy (Rick's wife) without whom we would still have a hole in the basement with a cement floor. Even after we tried to kill her husband, the whole family came over one evening after we'd been staring at our navels for about a week not daring to try anything. Within an hour they had prepped the floor and started laying tiles. I was reduced to gopher, and Rob's best help was as dead weight to even out the floor. After watching them, Rob and I figured out what to do next, and we were able to do the tub on our own.
the vanity. two people told us we'd like the best of the top of the line at Home Depot (by Master Bath), but we are really disappointed with the quality of the hardware, the poor construction, and the pain in the neck they are to deal with. They didn't send us the toe kick or the trim pieces we'd ordered and their stupidity held up the project for months while we tried to get them to do something.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Every time I talked to Rob he told me what he'd been eating. "I had a grilled eggplant pizza!" "I had creme brulee gelato!" "I had prosciutto and cantalope!" Well, back here we had Grandpa's 7-lb ham boiled in Coke. Top that, Italia!
Will's teacher is a tough cookie and she assigns a lot of homework. It is hard on Will, but he's risen to the occasion. He's one of the best readers, and he has honed his spelling skills beautifully (he was crushed this week because he missed one word; Rob said "That's great, Will!" but there is no convincing a perfectionist). He still loathes writing, and I need to put him on some math facts circuit training -- I have a feeling he'd do a lot better in math with a little more confidence.
Sebastian loves preschool. He's loves the teacher, his best friend, the toys, the snacks, the whole shabang. And I hear that he has two admirers in the class too. I wasn't expecting to deal with this quite so young. He seems oblivious, but Susannah and Caitlyn talk about him quite a lot and always want to sit by him at school. OK with Sebi so long as he can sit with Tomas.
It has been a really good experience. Margaret is wonderful with the kids. They've learned a ton. My ability to withstand ugly noises has increased threefold. And after watching many painful soccer games at the park near our house, it is so lovely to see them start something which goes with the grain of their talents instead of against it. They've just finished their Book One in a program called Rainbow Tones.
I love to watch them play. Maddie looks like a violin player. And Will is so expressive about the music. He really emotes into the instrument. And he looks like a wizened old wood gnome when he plays.
After watching both kids climb up about 12 feet and then peter out and come down, I put Abigail in charge of counting how many times they reached the top of a course. I bribed them with a dollar each time they hit the top, and that was enough encouragement to get them to work at it a little harder. After four hours, they came home wiped out. I wish that they were still sleeping that well!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
We were prepared to stay longer in California, especially because it was Piedmont's centennial Fourth of July and great weather that week, but the kids insisted that we go right home to see their cousins Hazel and Charlie Shumway, out from Boston. So we piled into the car and flew screaming back across the desert.
In their defense, the kids made it both ways in only one very long day. I go to the dollar store before we leave and pass out periodic treats, and we watch videos during the strait patches. And it was all easier than the trip to Sea Ranch which we tried two different ways and both of which scared me half to death. I was certain I was going to drive us all off the edge of a cliff in to the ocean, thousands of feet below. My palms are sweating now, just thinking about it! No one got carsick at any point on the trip, which is another great success to celebrate.
By Elko everyone was tired of the driving, so we used a suggestion from one of Kath Newman's friends: we stopped at a public pool there. The girl behind the counter said "But we're closing in 20 minutes!" and we replied "So much the better!" and changed and jumped in the pool until they closed. It was a great rest stop and everyone got to wiggle and cool off, then we changed back and hopped into the car again. In the future we could time it better so that they can have an hour, but if not, it was still better than trying to run around a dog run at a gas station!
Rob and I also made the kids wait until we reached an In-n-Out Burger for lunch, and then we just didn't get any more food. We usually end up arguing for and against fast food for the kids and we go to some awful Burger King in Elko or McDonald's in Battle Mountain (In-n-Out doesn't count as fast food, if you've read Fast Food Nation). This time we just said "NO" and we were happy about it.