moments from the week

Zion on the slushy ice in shorts and sandals

out on the not-quite-ice

Moments from the past week.

Leah and Zion painting the playroom walls orange

home improvements

Rascal lying on a grassy patch on the lawn, surrounded by snow

he found a good spot

Harvey, Zion, Lijah, and Nathan posing crossing a stream in the snowy woods

summer hike in winter

Zion and Nathan playing shirtless in the yard

a little warm for February

Harvey and Zion toasting marshmallows over a fire

warm winter fire

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February vacation

The boys have had some good play times this week, with friends freed from school by the February break. Just the thing when parents aren't providing any fun. On Monday, when I was stuck on the couch holding Lijah and letting him drip snot all over me, they ventured around the corner to Jack's house—"because we already tried everybody else and they're not home". That's several houses down and across the "big street" (speed limit 25, actual speeds, oh, 40...). And I didn't even have Jack's mom's number to check if they were home. So I gave Harvey a card with my number on it, and off they scootered. Not only did they make it safely, they stayed for four hours or so playing happily. Lijah got to rest and recover, and he was raring to go when we finally walked to pick them up.

Then yesterday we returned the favor by hosting the party at our house, for Jack and also for Nathan and Liam, whose dad also needed to get some work done despite the school vacation. So four big boys played inside and out, two toddlers took long naps, and two dads got to be productive.

My favorite part of the afternoon was when the two older boys invaded the kindergartners' game. After a little bit of yelling and whining, Zion explained capably and eloquently why he didn't like Harvey and Jack trying to take over; after a second, the big kids asked what they needed to do to join in the right way. Then they played superheros together.

Harvey and Zion and friends standing in the snow

vacation buddies

My least favorite part of the afternoon was just before dinner—of course everyone stayed for dinner—when all six kids were running around the house shouting at the top of their lungs, but what do I expect... it is winter, after all.

Let's see if we can keep the fun going the second half of the vacation week.

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how long have you had your couch?

There's a piece making the rounds lately about a terrible couch from West Elm. The notion of the article is, here's this hip $1,200 couch—the "Peggy"—that folks are buying in their late 20s when they want to move up from Craigslist finds or Ikea offerings, but really it's terrible and breaks right away; and that lots of people have had this experience. So I don't really care about that, but there was one thing in the article that really got my attention:

I went into two different West Elm stores and asked patient employees what they thought of the Peggy and if they would recommend it to somebody. ... In both cases, I asked what the expected lifespan is for a West Elm couch like the Peggy. Both store employees told me that between one and three years was normal for a couch with light use.

What?!

We're thinking a lot about our own couches here. The couch and big chair that we bought when we moved into this house are ten years old, and the dog has loved being on them for nine and a half of those years; not to mention the three kids when they came along, the two of us, and countless visitors. There have been many pillow forts. And yet I'm dismayed and disappointed that the covers are getting threadbare and are suffering lots of little holes (and a couple gigantic ones). And our other couch? My parents got that one when I was a baby. Sure, it's been reupholstered once and has a slipcover on it now, but it's still hanging on.

Talking to some other folks about my reaction to the West Elm article, I was gratified to hear that they too thought one to three years was unreasonable—but I think the majority view even among sensible people of my acquaintance is that you shouldn't expect much more than five. I just don't know what to do with that. I was thinking about furniture a while ago (just after we started our epic, house-wide furniture-moving project—still in its middle stages today) and it occurred to me that couches are a pretty new invention, relatively speaking. At least for the common folks, a couple chairs around the stove would be all you could look for by way of relaxing seating. Maybe a rocker. Wooden chairs last longer than five years, I believe.

Generally, I admit I'm too ready to believe that, since I obtained a thing once, I should be free from having to do so again. Shoes, for example, need to be replaced with some regularity, it turns out. Jeans. Socks. But I don't think it's unreasonable of me to expect twenty years out of my couches. The money is bad enough—even worse is the trouble and effort of actually managing the replacement! And what happens to the old couches? Landfill? They're not getting sold on Craigslist, if they're breaking down after one to three years!

Clearly, many people are still making solid, reputable couches, so I shouldn't overreact to this one failure of common sense. But West Elm also sold a lot of Peggys, so. Modern culture is weird.

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moments from the week

Zion with his snowsuit half off resting on the toboggan

warm-weather sledding break

Moments and images from the past week.

the snowy path to the chicken coop

path to the coop

Valentine cards and snowflakes on our back door

signs of the season

Harvey and Zion posing holding giant icicles

ice blades

the boys on snow tubes on top of the sledding hill

our big sledding hill

the boys painting at the kitchen table

painting time

Lijah blowing on a steaming biscuit

hot biscuit, first thing in the morning

Harvey throwing a snowball at the remains of the snow chair

target: the remains of the snow chair

Harvey and Zion playing a math game

school, occasionally

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striking out

Yesterday was meant to be the first national strike. It was kind of a letdown. I failed, personally. Well, not entirely; I didn't work (though I almost never work Fridays) and I didn't buy anything (never hard for me). But I failed to get down to the protest planned in Boston, or even to mark the day at all around here. What did I do instead? Yelled at the kids, made food, hung out with friends in the evening.

Since making a big deal about protesting a couple weeks ago I haven't taken a single concrete step. We've been pretty sick and snowed in—and the bizarre news comes so fast and furious it's hard to know how to focus my outrage anyway. Oh well.. I suppose there'll be plenty more opportunities!