Monday, February 8, 2010

The Snow May Have Won...But the Spiders Did Not

The snow blew us a knock-out this weekend. (And I didn't even have time to post pictures from last weekend's snowstorm.) This was the third major snowstorm this winter. The next one is tomorrow...wish us luck! I know this is no big deal to our friends out West, but this is an unusually moist (aka record-setting) winter for those of us on the East coast...especially for Central Virginia. It started Friday afternoon. And it was a wet snow. So it stuck to all of the trees. And if any of you have been to Virginia, you know how many trees there are. Around 11PM, Karen and I heard chainsaws. We peeked outside to see our HOA dollars hard at work. Apparently, a few trees had fallen down across the street and they were clearing the road. We thought little of it and went to bed.
On Saturday, Mark, Anya, and James enjoyed several hours in the snow. I was tired of watching the snow pile up on the driveway, so I went out for my first round of shoveling...knowing that I would have to shovel again once the snow stopped. I think Anya was trying the karate kid crane kick in the background.
Mark found a good pile of snow to sit on as he enjoyed a homemade snow treat.
Then Anya and James had to one-up him and grab a bigger chunk of snow. To appreciate the "chunk of snow" comment, you need to realize that we still had about 8-10 inches of snow left on the ground from last weekend. Then we added about 6 more inches of snow before getting to a real slushy/sleety kind of wintry mix for a few inches before turning back to snow for the last 4-6 inches. So there was snow, slush, and more snow. It was all so wet that you could easily pick up chunks of snow. On one hand, it made it easier to shovel because you could remove larger sections at one time. On the other hand, the shovel contained 15-20 pounds of snow with each back-breaking heave. :)
After a little snow snack, James thought it would be a good idea to lie down and roll around. Mark and Anya were quick to follow his lead.
I think the blob in the center is James. I'm not sure what caught his interest there. Anya and Mark are the other blob just a little further down near the end of our driveway. Are there any sympathetic readers out there who realize how incredibly long this driveway is...especially when there is a foot or more of snow...and considering that I've already done this twice before this winter? Anyone?
In all the times our kids played in snow while we lived in Illinois, we never had to caution them to watch for falling trees. But I heard a loud crack and then looked to my left and saw this:
Yep, I literally watched this pine tree fall. Fortunately, it fell towards the road and was two houses down. But I warned the kids that if they heard a loud crack, to run straight for the house. We heard several more trees fall during the day. This picture below is of the street almost directly in front of our house. You wouldn't be able to tell it was a street were it not for the clearing between all the trees. There were at least 3 large trees that fell on this street.
And trees falling during a winter storm in Virginia means no power. We've been fortunate in the past with any kind of storm while we've lived here. But our luck ran out. Saturday morning our power went out. We toughed it out Saturday night. Here's a picture of Eliza bundled up for bed. By the time we woke up Sunday morning, the house was a chilly 48 degrees.
Sunday mid-morning, we packed up a suitcase and piled in the van to go for a drive and get warm. We drove around the neighborhood and enjoyed some picturesque views. After several phone calls, we finally found a hotel that had rooms still available and spent the night away from home. If it were just Karen and I, we could have managed. But little hands don't know how to stay warm and we couldn't bare to see Luke and Peter with rosy cheeks and red hands in our house anymore.
We came back to the house Monday morning only to find the power was still out. It was now 42 degrees in the house and I was worried about pipes freezing. So the snow may have won, but the spiders didn't! Anyone who knows me, knows my sincere and intense fear of spiders. Our water shut-off valve is in our crawl space...which we have not gone in since we moved here two years ago. I removed the door to the crawl space and let out a little gasp. was a shrill...ok, was a blood-curdling shrill almost to the point of fainting. Behind the door to the crawl space were thousands of interwoven webs. And on those webs were little spiders with the fat abdomens (I don't know which is worse - fat abdomens on spiders or hairy's a toss up in my book). It's enough to make any grown man weak in the knees. But Karen was brave. :) She took the broom and cleared an opening. And yes, I was braver. I took that broom and cleared it a second, third, and fourth time. :) Then, with much encouragement from Karen, I crawled into the dark to save my family. Don't mock me. I had to imagine my family was dying in order to muster up enough courage to go into that crawl space. Too bad I don't have the pictures to prove it. Karen gave me a hard enough time just to go grab the camera for this photo-op. At the time, I don't think she was amused. But I assured her it would make for a great story.
So...the snow may have won by knocking out our power and helping us realize how unprepared we were for such an emergency, but the spiders did not. I showed them who would laugh last. I rose to the occasion and the spiders didn't stand a chance. And you know what? All of the stress and frustration this weekend caused was totally worth it. Because I was able to prove to myself that I can push through the fear of spiders when I really need to...and because we've been able to wake up to this:

So we're ready for one more storm tomorrow. But hopefully we can avoid the crawl space this time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Dreaded Question

I cannot even recall how many times I have been asked this

"So, How's home schooling going? What are you guys learning?"

Yeah, um, lately especially all we have been able to do is stutter through something about taking a lot of breaks. Life happens. Most of the time I deal pretty well with that, but sometimes I get to feeling really guilty because I think of everything my kids don't know. As luck would have it the next thought to follow the guilty feeling one is a reminder that they are in fact learning all the time, and are making great leaps and bounds very much without my interference. Besides, who's to say what each of them actually needs to know?

Anyway, here is a bit of what we HAVE done lately. I figured one childhood rite of passage is making a shoebox diorama. I let them pick anything they wanted and they came up with some good stuff. Here is Mark's, surprise-it's Star Wars related:) Anya is a true girly girl, horse loving and all. I think they are grouped by family, not sure where she got such a vital need for family units, but it's a great perspective to have.
James, my James. If ever there were a child who thinks outside the box (yes, I SO meant that pun) it would be him. He did a 3d model of our house, complete with all the snow on the ground outside right now. I think the cowboy and marshall by the house are David and I, while the cowboy and Daniel Boone looking fellow are Mark and Anya playing in the snow. Apparently we need more lincoln log figures, as the rest of the family had to be proclaimed "inside the house."

To All Knuttis: Some things are genetic, don't know why or how, but clearly they are. For those outside our random little gene pool, this is a picnic, inside the house, and yes my kids are nerds, isn't it great?!

Last, but only because she's a princess is my dress up doll. Really half or at least a quarter of the fun of having a baby girl is dressing her up in ridiculously cute outfits. It's hard to see in this picture, but she is actually wearing little baby leggings, and they are super cute with her little pink cord mary janes.