Thursday, February 25, 2010

There Were Four In The Bed, And The Little One Said....

The twins have ending up in my bed every night for the past eternity several days, and as much as I love snuggling with them, it's getting old. Even if they don't begin the night in our room, you can count on usually one, probably both of them thundering up the stairs in the wee hours, howling vociferously. It's come to the point where bedtime is so painful for me that I just let them begin the night in my bed and save us all a lot of trouble, especially when the other half is on night shift and it's just me, dealing with all of them.

But tonight I just didn't feel like it, so I sent them to their beds. They stumped to my room once to tell me they had to go pee, and were indignant when I told them they had to go back to their own room! But ousted they were, and I didn't hear another peep.

Naturally I assumed they had fallen asleep, but when I checked in later on, their beds were empty. And in the next room, this is what I found:

This is a single bed, by the way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Hmmm, in my memory we were the worst of, an only child, and her, an only girl in a family with 4 brothers, separated by 2 years and 2000 miles. During our semi-annual visits, I mainly remember jealousies and rivalries, but apparently it wasn't ALL bad!

Love you, Jen!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow Day

Seven inches of snow down on Saturday. Another seven expected on Tuesday night. Oh least I don't live in D.C.

Headlines read: Washington shuts down, buried in record snowfall - Flights are grounded and power outages are widespread as the capital slumbers under more than 32 inches of snow.

Here, the roads were passable. The evening skies were breathtaking. And at least we had a little fun.

The kids did, anyway.

Backyard Visitors - Revised

Since most of my life is spent doing dishes, I might as well tie it in with something I enjoy! During these last few bitterly cold weeks, I placed two feeders in the tree just outside the window over my kitchen sink, a seed feeder and a suet cage. Then I set my camera up on the windowsill, and just . . . waited.

On sunny days, there is nonstop traffic at the feeders. In addition to the raucous blue jays, swarms of starlings, and flocks of grackles, there have been several delightful visitors. The Downy Woodpecker has been the rarest sighting so far.
The chicken is still hanging around. She loves cheerios.

The squirrels have been relentless in their attempts to empty the seed feeder. Sometimes I put out a pile of sunflower seeds, or mixed nuts (in shell), just to throw the pitiful losers a bone. I can't stand squirrels. Long story.

These are some of the best shots I've gotten so far. The picture should enlarge if you click on it.

Addendum: February 8, 2010

A GREAT day for backyard birdwatching! Three never-before-seen varieties made an appearance today: a female Downy Woodpecker, a Nuthatch, and an American Goldfinch! I thought the Goldfinches always migrated south for the winter! Anyway, I have no idea if this was a male or female, since their coloring is very similar in winter. The Nuthatch was a nice treat, as well. The picture in the center, without any notation, is of European Starlings who decided to maraud the feeders that day. And we've had several male house finches with their mating plumage.

The new pictures are a bit fuzzier than I'd like, but that's because my camera is on the missing list (Kids. Ruin. Everything.) and the one I used doesn't have the zoom capacity. Frownie face.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Difference in Our Twins

Anybody with twins knows that there are a hundred little differences in appearance, personality, mannerisms, or temperament that allow you to tell your twins apart. I won't bother to list all of them here, but tonight, one of the differences became glaringly apparent.

I let the twins get into the magnetic alphabet letters, lucky kids. They usually aren't allowed to touch them, because then I spend the next week gathering them up from every corner of the house. They can learn their darn alphabet some other way, thank you very much.

Anyway, today I was glad that we have a double-sided magnetic easel and lots of letters. They really enjoyed themselves. Natalie carefully selected each letter and placed it, with precision, in neat rows. Alright, so her rows weren't very even. But she worked slowly and precisely and tried to keep them all facing in the right direction.

Now, go around to take a peek at Noelle's side.

WHAM! An explosion of alphabet soup! She beamed as she rearranged things to fit every last letter in there as tightly as she could. The entire board was filled with letters, facing every which way.

What does it MEAN?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hearth and Home, Revisited.

Monday, June 30, 2008: Andy and Michele sign the papers and spend the first night in their new home. One of the major selling points of the new place is a cast iron wood stove.

Wednesday, October 18, 2008: Andy lights the inaugural fire in the cast iron wood stove.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008: Michele stuffs cardboard and Christmas wrap into the wood stove, which ignite, whisk up the flue, and cause a minor chimney fire. Michele stands alone, barefoot, in the icy street, watching flames spurt from the top of her chimney, thanking God that it was a rainy night.

Summer, 2009: Chimney is cleaned and repaired.

Friday, December 18, 2009

10:30 p.m.: Michele goes to bed early, but can't sleep because something smells weird. Michele goes downstairs. Apart from the smell, everything seems okay, so Michele polishes off the end of a fat novel.

1:00 a.m.: Novel finished, Michele goes upstairs. The smell is stronger, and the upper floors are hazy with smoke. Michele opens a window to install a fan to draw out some of the smoke, and sees smoke billowing up from below. Racing downstairs, Michele runs outside and around the corner of the house, where she finds a flaming hole in the siding directly behind the woodstove. Michele frantically calls 911 and begins to wake the household.

1:05 a.m.: Brian bounds out of bed, wakes Conor, and begins to evacuate his little sisters. Michele heads to the third floor to wake Andy and Scott. Michele and Scott evacuate children. Andy comes downstairs, evaluates the fire, and fills a bucket to douse the fire.

1:10 a.m.: Emergency crews are beginning to arrive. We are sending all the children down the back staircase into the waiting van. We think we have everybody, so Michele goes out to the van. Somebody asks, "Where's Natalie?" We have forgotten Natalie. Scott races in, and retrieves Natalie from the master bedroom, where she has been left alone. Everybody assumed that somebody else carried her out.

1:12 a.m.: Back in the van, somebody asks, "Where's Theresa?" Theresa, awakened by Brian and told very plainly by Mom to "go down the back steps and into the van," is still very sleepy, and angry at being awakened. While we think she obeys and goes out to the van, in reality she goes back downstairs. Scott goes back in, and after several tense minutes he finds her - under the one of the twins' beds. At last the head count in the van is complete.

1:15 - 3:30 a.m.: We have grabbed enough blankets, coats and shoes to make everybody comfortable on this frigid night, so Michele drives everybody away in shell-shocked, anxious silence. We have nowhere to go at this hour, so we just drive slowly through the streets until we find ourselves parked outside a nearby chapel. There we sit, talking, speculating, praying, and yes, even joking about what might happen next, until we get the call from Scott that it is okay to come back.

4:00 a.m. The firefighters extinguished the blaze within 15 minutes of arriving, but several other walls had to be opened to ensure that it was not spreading. We are allowed to re-enter the house and sleep there that same night, although most of us are too scared to sleep easily. Andy stays downstairs in the living room as a sentry, and the rest of us are on the third floor, as far away from the fire as possible. Michele's king-sized bed that night accommodates Clare, Theresa, Natalie, Noelle & Michele, all sleeping sardine-style, with Brian stretching out across the bottom of the bed. Conor and Scott sleep in the rear part of the third floor, close to the rear entrance, and Sarah falls asleep at a friend's house since she couldn't get back to the house with all the streets blocked by emergency crews.
The outside, where the fire burned through the siding. If you click on the picture and look closely, you can see the crack in the pipe in the wall that started the fire.

Wednesday, December 29, 2009: It is the coldest week of the winter so far, and our house has been decidedly chilly between the absence of our wood fire and the large sections of exposed wall. A repair crew begins the weeks of repairing the interior damage and replacing the siding, putting insulation board up behind it as well.

The wall that was torn out in the room above the fire.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010: The chimney specialist finally comes to make the repairs and upgrades necessary for us to safely install a new wood stove.

Friday, January 29, 2010: The chimney work is nearly complete and the new wood stove Andy selected is delivered. Brian, Andy, & Michele assemble the stove and put it in place, awaiting complete installation.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

6:30 a.m.: Andy returns home from working night shift, and Michele wakes the six youngest children to go to a swim meet.

2:30 p.m.: The family returns home to find a neat, cozy living room with a small fire burning in the newly installed wood stove!

5:00 p.m.: Andy leaves for his next night shift.

10:30 p.m.: After burning two small test fires, Michele loads up the woodbox for the first big fire. Once the stove heats up to nearly 500 degrees, it begins to emit fumes. This is normal for a new stove - the paint and caulk are still curing - but to Michele it smells exactly like the weird smell that started this whole thing. Panic attack ensues. Michele spends the next 5 hours obsessively monitoring the temperature of the wood stove, feeling the walls for any signs of heat, and checking all the windows for any signs of unexpected smoke.

3:30 a.m.: Michele reluctantly falls asleep from sheer mental and emotional exhaustion.

Sunday, January 31, 2010, 9:30 a.m.: Michele wakes up. The house is still standing. Michele spends the next two days reading the manual, fiddling with the air controls, and calling Andy at work every ten minutes while learning how to control this fiery beast that Andy first selected without consulting her, then abandoned her with while he was on the night shift. Thoughtless jerk.

Monday, February 2, 2010, 11:30 p.m.: Michele types this blog entry while basking in the glow of this awesome wood stove. Monday's spaghetti and sauce were prepared on the wood stove, and Tuesday's beef stew will be slowly simmering overnight. No electricity required. How cool is that?

Now if it would only snow, we'd be ready for a blizzard and a blackout.

It really is beastly big. The markings on the side of the stove are just shadows from the lamp in the corner. I love how much wood the wood hoop holds, and how neatly, compared to the rubbermaid tub method we used to use.

It is a step-top with a fireview window.

Daddy and Natalie soaking up the warmth and the glow.