<< December 2017 :: January 2018

new year's musings

the moon over some trees

New Years Eve moon

It's a new year! As always, we begin it full of hopes and aspirations, and also exhausted and ill from partying the old year away. Today the boys and I tried to pause and take stock, and set some goals for the week (it's good to start at a reasonable scale; years are intimidating). The older two want to work on building better Pokemon decks, which is reasonable considering the amount of time and mental space Pokemon has occupied for us over the past week. I want to do better at scheduling working time and playing time, so we can all play—including Pokemon—without me feeling stressed and guilty and yelling at everyone for not working.

It's hard, as the holiday season hangs on to the bitter end. Today we spent all afternoon playing at at our friends' New Years Day party. But before then I managed to get some important work done, installing a heater for the chickens' water. See, it's been really cold here—never above freezing since Christmas Eve, and well below most of the time. In the past I've just brought the waterer inside overnight when it's cold, and then let the hens drink in the morning until it froze up again for the day... but that happens in less than an hour lately. And when it freezes solid, after three hours or so, it takes like half an hour under the hot water in the sink to thaw out. So, the heater. Which we've actually had for while; Leah bought it a few years ago, when she was the primary chicken caretaker. But we never used it since I was nervous about water and electricity and hot surfaces around the hens. We'll see how it goes, but right now those seem like lesser problems compared to them dying of thirst in this bitter cold desert.

Another result of the bitter cold desert air is that it's keeping us inside. The boys, anyways: Zion's and Lijah's little bodies cool down so fast, and when Lijah wears all the clothes he needs to stay warm he can't even move. But we're staving off cabin fever so far; there's so much to do in the house. So far, at least. Take a look at this seven day forecast!

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too warm today

I was back on the bicycle this morning, and ready to brave the arctic vortex. Yesterday it was -14°F when I got up, so I was mentally preparing for some intense riding; and physically preparing too, with my best cold-weather outfit yet. Wool socks, fleece boot socks, winter boots; long underwear, jeans, and rain pants; t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, flannel button-down, fleece shirt, spring jacket with hood (I don't like riding in real winter coats for some reason). Then I had my muffler and my extra big hat—Drumlin Farm sheep's wool and a fleece ear band—and my two layers of fleece mittens with ski mitten covers to go over them. I was so warm and cozy... disappointed to see the temperature was all the way up to 7°F.

Of course, I could still wear all that stuff; the only thing I left out was the ski mittens, since they make it hard to operate the shifter. But I didn't absolutely need them—my trip into work wasn't a desperate trek across frozen tundra, against all the odds. It was nice, though. I stopped on the way to do some sliding on the ice of Spy Pond, which is about perfect; unlike all the smaller ponds its ice wasn't so compromised with snow on Christmas day. I wished the boys were there to enjoy it with me, because it won't be perfect anymore after tomorrow's forecast blizzard! Oh well, snow is fun to play in too.

And as for cold, it'll be back too: Saturday is supposed to be the coldest day yet. So maybe my outfit will get another chance.

ice on Spoy Pond

the gleaming expanse

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Christmas report

a present for Leah under the tree

Christmas

We celebrated the 12th Day of Christmas with friends yesterday, and today we observed the end of the season with the ceremonial Taking Down of the Tree and the ceremonial Eating of the Gingerbread Houses For Dessert. Well, the start of the eating, anyway; those houses are big enough they'll satisfy dessert cravings, lunch and dinner, for a couple days at least. With Christmas wrapping up it's time for a quick report so I remember next year what it was like.

the boys opening presents in the semidarkness

opening the opening

We started with our family Christmas pretty late: the darkness from the howling blizzard outside kept the kids in bed longer than we might have expected. Zion was the last up. But by eight everyone was alert and enthusiastic, and we had a delightful time opening gifts. Everyone was excited by something, be it a bow and arrows, a lego dragon, or a new faucet (though Lijah doesn't recognize that the number of his presents is finite, which is a cause of distress to him). This was the first year that Harvey was able to buy presents with his own money—as well as making things—so he was especially interested in seeing how they were received.

It was fine that we got a late start to the morning, because the snow made us pretty uncertain about heading out on the road to my parents' house: we were happy to linger warm and dry. But with a delicious brunch awaiting us we couldn't stay away forever, so at 10:30 we piled into the car for a treacherous 5-mile trip to Lexington. Or maybe a little more than five miles, because on our first try up the big hill at the end of the trip we only made it about 15 feet before slipping backwards, so we had to take an alternate route. Which also involved a lot of slipping and spinning tires... but we made it. And as we came out of the car the snow stopped and the sun came out. So.

The rest of our Christmas day was super relaxed and filled with food and sloth—oh, and some more presents too. More giant lego sets for the bigger boys, and giant stuffed lego figures for Lijah. They were delighted.

Harvey and a donut

what Christmas is all about

It was a little too bad that my brother and his family couldn't be there with us for Christmas day, but not even—because it meant we got to do another Christmas with them a few days later. Lots of food again, and more presents for the kids. But this time we couldn't be entirely relaxed: you can't eat non-stop every other day without getting some exercise! So despite the cold we forced the kids out onto the sledding hill.

Zion and Nisia climbing back up the sledding hill

companionable

As it turns out running up and down the hill kept us plenty warm (OK, only Zion ran down very often... up was enough for the rest of us) and we stayed out all the way til sunset. Then there was hot chocolate and the fire to warm us up... and more food, of course.

Harvey in front of Grandpa's fireplace

Christmas coziness

It was all delightful. Let's do it again next year.

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moments from the week

our house with Chrismas lights

winter lights

Moments from a quiet week.

turkey drumsticks and other food on the table

some of the New Years Eve feast

snow on the shed

after the blizzard

the boys starting to eat their gingerbread houses

they've been waiting so long

Lijah with a rubber band in his hair pointing a sword like a gun

our warrior

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oh $#!*

Zion's new favorite word is "shit". Really! Harvey told him to stop saying it yesterday, and he answered, "but it's my favorite word!" Places where he's busted it out over the past few days: at the dinner table with Grandma and Grandpa; in front of his friend's parents; at church. In fact, at church yesterday he was walking along chanting "shit shit shitty shit..."

I don't know where it comes from, and I don't know what to think about it. On the one hand, what do I care?—I don't mind people swearing in general, and when Zion does it it's actually pretty cute. On the other, I don't want him to offend anyone, especially since when he does the blame will fall on me. I suppose it's... just a phase?

freedom!

Lijah in the cargo bike in the snow

out and about!

After two solid weeks of below freezing (often below zero!) temperatures, and a couple of blizzards (well, almost blizzards) it was nice to feel a little warmth again the past couple days. Monday it almost hit freezing, and yesterday it blew past the freezing mark to reach the high 30s for a few hours. Positively tropical. We celebrated by getting the bikes out for the first time in quite a while.

Past time, too: our destination was the library, where we had many overdue books to return. But never mind the fines, it was lovely to be out and about under our own power again. It would have been lovely had the sidewalks been better cleared; going uphill we needed to be in the roadway or we wouldn't have been able to make any progress at all in the slush (at least the sidewalks are now plowed at all, five days after the storm). Even in our sleepy little town some drivers didn't appreciate sharing the road in the middle of the afternoon, which made me a little grumpy. I don't like being honked at. But we made it, and returned our books and got new ones, and I got to take a little nap in the children's room while the kids looked at books. Fresh air is tiring!

Harvey's bike in a snowy bike rack

a capable machine

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moments from the week

Zion atop a giant snow mountain

king of the mountain

Moments from the past week of dramatic weather shifts.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana playing a board game

winter sport

Lijah and Kamilah in the snow, making silly faces

selfie faces for a non-selfie

Lijah pikachu crawling out of a snow fort

pikachu in the snow

the boys smiling in the half-built playhouse

builders resting

Harvey and Zion playing pokemon cards on the porch

I guess it got warmer

Harvey, shoeless in shorts, batting a snowball with a shovel

snow ball

Harvey and Zion's snow boots completely encased in mud

thaw: the aftermath

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<< December 2017 :: January 2018