Ugh, Winter!

Saturday, February 15, 2014 No comments
Remember how I said back in a post in January that the snow didn't bother me yet?

Times up. It bothers me.

In fact, it's really starting to p#%* me off.

Snow is fine IF the weather warms above freezing and it recedes/disappears. But, we haven't had any temps above freezing and we've had lots of snow fall which means the white stuff has stuck around in mass quantity.

And now there is more. Lots more falling.

Emma Claire sums it up best in this photo.

She's tired of the cold and snow and apparently of Mom trying to take a photo of her in the cold and snow.

Yes, we've reached that point--we're done with winter but winter is not done with us.

View of the backyard before we headed out. You can see the snow is up to the window sill on the barn and the patio table is just hanging on but the chairs didn't make it.
Today Oliver was off from school and we made plans with a neighbor to sled in the snow after the snow stopped. I geared the kids up and we headed out across our yard to the neighbors. Snow to my thigh. Like we decided to walk across Siberia.

Seriously, they look cute but cuteness doesn't keep you warm when you get snow in your pants. And, yes, Oliver is wearing Chloe's gloves which he insisted on wearing despite my protest in telling him they would get wet and cold--that's foreshadowing, BTW.

 After a workout, we made it to the neighbors for some sledding. Oliver doesn't like the sled. He prefers sliding down on his bottom. Do you see where this is going? Snow in every crevice and crack. After about 40 minutes (which was way longer than I thought he and his pal would last) we headed back to our house.

This is where the entire day went downhill fast.

The walk back home is not long, if there wasn't waist-deep snow. Take a young boy who is cold and snow-covered and we have a temper-tantrum brewing when he continually loses his balance in the deep snow and keeps falling. We made it back home--Oliver was covered in tears and vomit and I was sweating profusely from carrying two kids in what felt like a superior cardio-vascular workout.

Emma Claire, a little happier this time around in the snow.
Once we were back home Oliver retreated to his room to change into dry clothes and to calm down and then fall asleep for a three-hour nap. Emma Claire had a snack and then a nap. I went to tackle the snow on the beloved John Deere. But, alas, the snowfall was too much for the little tractor. I had to shovel it out every two feet. I did manage to cut a path straight down the driveway from the barn to the road only to find we were blockaded by a four foot wall of snow built by the snow plows clearing the street. Our mailbox was buried and I proceeded to uncover it to discover our electricity and gas bill inside. What joy it was to see that heating bill which had 4 numbers in front of the decimal!

I shoveled as much as I could making only a slight dent. I drove the tractor back up the driveway where it threw off one of its snow chains and would go no further. I tried to pry the chain lose and to get it back on to no avail. I decided to take a break and head back inside the house. As soon as I walked inside, Lizzie, our aging English Setter began to howl and bark at the commotion of the door opening and woke Emma Claire up. I got Emma Claire from her crib, carried her downstairs and held her and turned on the local news.

I nearly began to cry as the weatherman said this was only the first part of the storm. The second half would follow later in the evening. It seems the Nor'easter wasn't happy with the 12 inches of snow it just dumped on us and was circling back to give us 3-6 inches of snow, or maybe even 10 inches. We would have to wait and see in the morning. Just as I began to think I might lose it, the weatherman sent me over the edge with the news that another snow storm was coming Saturday morning and would bring only another 1-3 inches.

Matt and Chloe were in Florida and I was at home with a 1 and 4 year old being buried in snow. The tractor wouldn't budge and I couldn't figure out how to untangle the snow chains to get them back on the tire so it would move again. Even if I did, the best the tractor would do was head back to the barn because it wasn't handling the amount of snow on the ground.

I spoke to Matt on the phone. We discussed Chloe's racing (she's doing really well) and that we would like to take the plunge and purchase a Class A motorhome Matt had looked at in Florida the day before. I decided to call the sales rep. at the dealership in Florida to get the deal in motion. At least this was something exciting and something to look forward to---heading south to Florida to pick up our RV! I called the rep. told him we wanted to purchase the motorhome and he told me, "Sorry, it just sold." So, I am spending this winter's night buried in snow and looking at RVs online. Again.

Except now sleet is coming down and the light's are flickering. Maybe if we lose power it will cut our electric/gas bill? I mean, its not like I have anywhere to go or anywhere I can go - at least until I can flag down a plow to dig us out.

Looking forward to that balmy 50 degrees on Wednesday!!

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 14, 2014 No comments
Happy Valentine's Day! I think I get to spend most of the day shoveling out of 18 inches of snow! The kids were out of school two days this week for a pre-scheduled holiday (pretty good planning on the school district's part I might add because we are buried in snow and it would have been canceled).

I ordered/gathered all the supplies for the Oliver and Chloe's Valentine treats at school last month and then did my usual, forgot all about the supplies until Monday of this week when I realized that a)they wouldn't be in school on Valentine's Day and b) Chloe wouldn't be in Florida for any Valentine's party. With that knowledge I seemed to tuck away I packed a 24-pack of Pop Rocks in Chloe's suitcase for Florida (enjoy!) and that Oliver's pre-school class would be having their Valentine's celebration on Wednesday. That last tidbit was tucked safely away until I laid my head on the pillow at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night--10 hours before the party.

Thanks to my 6 a.m. wake-up call from Emma Claire, I was up and at the Valentine's making on Wednesday morning.

The Valentine's Day treats from Oliver for his class.

The finished product--a shovel and M&M's. And, yes, I know Valentine's Day cards are a great opportunity for kids to practice their handwriting by writing their name and the name of each student in class but, I was short on time and the computer had to do it.

Soccer & Karate

Thursday, February 13, 2014 No comments
Each Sunday Oliver has a soccer class. He loves it. The coach really engages the kids and Oliver is having a blast. It's his favorite activity. It makes me look forward to spring soccer. We switched Oliver's team as three of his pals in pre-school play for another team/soccer group. I hope Oliver keeps loving soccer and won't get too distracted being on the team with his favorite friends.

Oliver at soccer camp.

We also signed Oliver up for karate. His first class was this week. He looked so cute in his Gi. I was worried the first 5 minutes of class when the instructor started with having the kids do push-ups and mountain climbers and Oliver was standing there like,  "Say What?!". I instantly went into former teacher/classroom teacher evaluator mode and knocked on the window to tell the teacher/sensei,  "He's four, he doesn't know what those exercises are. You have to show him".

His class is supposed to be for 4-6 year olds. Those are some big six year olds.

As I sat there questioning the level of instruction at the school and "Googling" the nearest Kung Fu school (unfortunately it's over an hour away) my fears were calmed as a second instructor came in and the kids got more individualized and personalized attention and better explanations of what to do. Oliver did really well listening and you could see that he was beaming with pride that he was getting to do this "big boy" activity.

Before we had gone to class, he told me he didn't want to break a block of wood on his first class. I told him, they wouldn't make him do that on his first day. Color me surprised when towards the end of the class they pulled out the practice blocks. Oliver gave it his best shot (hey, it's only the first class) and he's adorable doing it.

At Home

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 No comments
While Matt and Chloe have been in Florida, Oliver, Emma Claire and I have been at home. Oliver isn't thrilled that Dad and Chloe are in Florida and he's "stuck with Mom and Emma" as he puts it. I've made a conscious effort to let Oliver pick some fun things to do while they are out of town. Of course, he picked my least favorite place on the planet, Chunky Cheese.

I find this place gross. I took the kids once last year, found the food inedible and the place a breeding ground for all sorts of viruses. So, when Oliver suggested we go, I was not thrilled but agreed. Armed with anti-bacterial hand wipes and a gallon of hand sanitizer we headed out to the local Chunky Cheese about 20 minutes away.

I was surprised. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good either. It was tolerable and the pizza was actually edible. Apparently all Chunky Cheese's are not alike. The one we went to last year was in NJ and this one was in NY. The NY establishment had it together. The place was clean, tables were cleared off and they even had people to assist and find you a table. Night and day.

We ended up staying for three hours. Oliver had a blast. I spent way too much money trying to get the kid enough tickets to buy something other than Fun Dip and Emma Claire even got in on the action by riding on some of the toddler rides.

The point was, Oliver had a good time and forgot he was in cold NY and not sunny Florida.

This is the way Oliver "drove" this game. Odd form, I know.

Emma Claire chillin' on the Barney train ride.

One of Oliver's favorites. I have to warn people not to play the skee ball machines on either side of him. He's a bit of a wild man with his throwing arm.

Brother and sister playing together.

Winter Tour & Race Season Planning

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 No comments
Chloe is racing this winter in the FWT which is a very competitive race series that draws racers from all over the Americas and even farther afield. She and Matt have been traveling to Florida to practice on the track in preparation for the fierce competition.
Chloe, with Chris, her tuner and driving coach, at Orlando last week.

She has missed some school, though it has worked out that their winter break coincides with this week's race. Chloe's teacher is very supportive and thinks it is awesome that Chloe races karts. I also think it helps that Chloe is a good student. Her lowest test grade this year has been a 97.

Oliver, Emma Claire and I have stayed at home. We do plan on going to Florida for the race in Orlando and making a visit to "the mouse" (which will be another post(s) because I seriously have never had a desire to visit and am trying to psych myself into it for my children).

We are hoping Chloe gets some good race experience at the FWT and enjoys the competition. This race season will have us traveling farther away from home as the plan as it stand right now will have Chloe racing in mostly regional and national events and less in the club race series.

Matt and I are still working out the schedule for Chloe's race season. We are waiting to see her reaction to the FWT and if she REALLY does want to compete in the tougher regional and national-level races. And since karting is really a family event - Oliver loves to go to the track as much as Chloe (though he doesn't want to get in a kart yet), we are making other plans so that we can all travel to these races together. Considering we are a family of five, have two dogs and that we also have to get Chloe's karts and karting gear to the regional and national races, we've began looking at Class A diesel pusher motor homes. We already have a travel trailer with a garage, but it isn't very comfortable loading the karts in the garage and loading everyone in the car and towing the trailer. We did this last spring when we went to Pittsburgh and it wasn't enjoyable. It was a lot of packing and unpacking and rearranging. And cramped. We feel a diesel pusher will give us the most comfort and towing capacity. We could use it to camp at a lake and tow the boat (something we can't do with the travel trailer without taking two vehicles-one to tow the trailer and one to tow the boat). So, we've spent many weekends looking at RV's and narrowing down our choices to find the floor plan that will work for our family. After this weekend's FWT race, we will determine if we will take the plunge and move up to the diesel pusher. It's no secret that I love a road trip, so the idea of having a motor home is the ultimate road trippers dream! The kids seem excited about it too, but we will see if it lasts when they realize that they will be in an RV from NY to Utah this summer and we won't be stopping at the golden arches because we have a refrigerator and can make food on the go.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face...

Saturday, February 01, 2014 2 comments
One year ago today, we saw the face of Sui Shi Wen. I documented our referral day here and here.

I can hardly believe it has been a year and its also been exactly six months since we returned home.

The first photo we saw and a photo from today.

And one of Mommy & Emma Claire.