Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 13: A Good Day to Be Indoors

About 9:30 last night, I suddenly thought, "I am really coming down with something." I wondered about mastitis, because I was having a bit of that painful-breast feeling, but Phil had been sick on Monday: we assumed it was residual chemical poisoning from his time painting, but maybe it was something else. I took the mastitis remedy Hepar Sulph, but, after five minutes, that felt like it did nothing, so I took Aconite and went to bed immediately.

I also had the baby start to eat in a new way. He has not been very good about latching: if there is any distractions, including if I happen to make eye contact, he breaks off. And in a house of four older boys plus a dad coming and going, sometimes that means he breaks off every seven seconds. So I tried lying on my back and having him eat while draped over me. I wouldn't have thought that would work very well, but it was a great improvement.

I was functional again in the morning. Not fully well, but probably 80%.

While I slept off my sickness, Phil had sat up late, tending the fire, wanting to ensure that, if the power did go out, we would be warm enough. He was concerned for the cows, too, and headed out with headlamp, apparently, to check on them. They had moved en masse out of view. He found them under protection by the trees, with icicles hanging from their sides.

We had no power outage, but Phil's day was spent in unusual ways: clearing off the roof of the calf pen, so it didn't collapse on mother and baby; bringing a hay bale to the cows through almost a foot of snow. That wasn't easy, but he managed. It took a long, long time. Thawing the water line with a blow torch.

He also watched a free movie online, Back to Eden, about gardening with wood chips. We talked about what it would take to get us from our quartet of buildings (two storage trailers, RV, and white barn) to just a duet (one trailer and the RV). We have a good amount of clean up, and we'd need space cleared in the blue barn for the five small deep-freezes, but once those are moved out of the white barn, whatever is left could be shuffled between trailer and blue barn. Imagine: the industrial-looking compound might start to revert back to nature, at least a bit!

The boys headed out to play in the snow. We'd had perhaps a foot, but it wasn't terribly wet snow. It was dry enough that the gentle wind had kept the tree branches clear.

We haven't had a good, deep snow since the first winter we were here. After four years, I have no idea where the snow pants might be, or even if we still have them. So the boys played just in pants. Those got wet.

Abraham made a snowman, with little twig arms and cool dude sunglasses.

Isaiah worked on ever larger snowballs.

Jadon worked on a large snowman.

I think he got carried away and the two enormous snowballs he made would have been impossible to lift without a forklift.

Ah, well. Good effort.

After perhaps an hour, they were soaked and cold and ready to come in. And what a wonderful treat awaited them.

For years I have been looking forward to sharing Linda Sue Parks's marvelous book A Single Shard with the boys. Finally it is time. We read all day, and as I read, I wiped off Playmobil pieces. Back when the condensation made boxes and boxes of toys mold, I moved the Playmobil up to the trailer. I couldn't handle looking at the green fuzz and dirty spots covering island and people.

Abraham has been asking for the Playmobil, though. His astounding logging set was unharmed, and he has used that multiple times to create elaborate tableau. (The bunny sits on the truck, standing guard, while other bunnies and a badger steal sausages, while the logger sips coffee unaware. That sort of thing.) He longs for a larger scope for storytelling.

I had considered dumping them all in the tub and letting the boys deal with the myriad small pieces. Instead, I took a vinegar-soaked washcloth and wiped them down, piece by piece.

This ended up being more fun than I expected. After four years in a dusty trailer, in an open box, played with on a dirty carpet, the Playmobil had turned dingy. A good wipe down made many of them shiny and nice again. It allowed me to appreciate how few pieces actually broke. And the slow, piece by piece re-introduction allowed the boys to have pleasure continually all day. Each horse was added to the corral in turn. The island gradually was re-populated with pirates, soldiers, and lush greens.

I am only perhaps half done, but that is more progress than I would have expected.

In other news, I finally decided that a computer for the boys to share is unlikely to be forthcoming in the near future, so I loaded a typing program a few days ago. I resisted teaching the boys to type while they were young (some concern about the ergonomics of using an adult keyboard with little fingers), but I think the older two are ready.

They are loving Typing Instructor so much that there is a constant vie for my computer. If I'm not working or watching homeopathy lectures, and Phil isn't researching something farm-related, the brothers ask hopefully if they can practice typing. They aren't always thrilled about alternating, and I've tried to make sure that they do not compete with one another (a threat to pull permission for a month for any offender proved quite effective), but my computer is getting a good workout these days.

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