30 October 2008

Short on time

Sorry I haven't been able to keep up lately. We've been busy with the new house and we only received our furniture on Wednesday so I've had one day to begin unpacking boxes. My house is like a maze of cardboard boxes, which is made worse by the fact that we completed Behr's two-part epoxy system on our basement floors where the guest and Savannah's bedrooms are so nothing can be moved into those rooms until another two days. All that remains to be done in those rooms (besides drying time!) are the baseboards (and I want to redo Savannah's closet eventually).

Before that two cord of wood was delivered in the rain...so I spent a morning getting one cord in the barn then Kevin got 3/4 of a cord in that afternoon. The rest has been rained on twice and snowed on once.

The good news is that the stars are brilliant here at night. I can see Orion, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Cepheus, etc. And when we wake up, we look down on the pond which is inhabited by a family of great blue herons. I told Savannah they are big special birds, like blue flamingos, so we are lucky to have them.

No big day for an Eastler is without its fair share of trials and mistrials. Our moving day was no exception, the usual comedy of errors. The day before moving day it snowed - a hard icy, snow. We discovered that our walkway is sunk 2-3 inches below the ground so when it rains and snows, the walkway transforms into a giant pond. When we arrived at the house from the hotel, the tree in the front of the house had broken in half. No one was hurt and it didn't crash into the house, thank goodness, but it did cover the entrance and walkway to our house. Our saw was packed on the truck so we had to borrow a small handsaw from the neighbor to remove the branches so the movers could enter our house. Plus, they didn't want to drive the moving truck down the driveway so they got a smaller U-Haul to move things from the road to the second truck then into the house...an exhausting process. Plus, our mover had swiss cheese for brains and I strained to understand half of what came out of his mouth, which seemed generally irrelevant.

Currently we have the guest bed set up in the basement surrounded on three side by stacks of boxes. Savannah is sleeping on the floor of our bedroom on an air mattress in a sleeping bag, the cat is living in the greenhouse at night and prowls around the house during the day and I feel like the princess and the pea as I climb atop our deep mattress and box spring on top of the built-in platform bed that we have yet to knock out. Our house is zoned by livable areas and demolition areas, most of which are the latter.

23 October 2008

Renovations under way

The very first thing we did when we arrived in NY was to get a library card at the local library. I realized I always get my library card first - months before I get a drivers license, days before I meet my neighbors, even before I start painting. I just never feel part of a community until I can check out books. Little is more important to me than intimate knowledge and access to intimate knowledge.

The previous owner of our new house is an elderly gentleman who is sweeter than a blue ribbon winning apple pie and he has a memory that's as sharp as can be. Technically, he's still the owner because our closing has been pushed back until Monday, but since he's already moved to his new place, he's permitting us to start some of the early renovations before the actual closing. So, today I started slowly by painting Savannah's future bedroom, which she may share with the future little William or Sophia after a year or so.

None of the walls had been painted for 31 years, which is also the age of the shag carpeting you'll see in the pictures, a beastly thing I can't wait to rip out. It was therapeutic to paint Savannah's room and I found a way for the rascal to help me! I did all the trim work and painted with the large roller and made "squares" of white space for her to use her little 2.5" roller to paint inside of. Overall she did a great job and it didn't take me that much longer to let her help, which is a bonus whenever a little one is involved. Savannah's room color is Lemon Chiffon. Since I had such bad experiences with Behr paint in our last house, I vowed to use contractor-quality paint this time and am purchasing our paints from Sherwin-Williams. They have two lines of paints that I'm using, one is the Durability line, which is a low-VOC paint that can be easily cleaned, the other is called Harmony, which is a no-VOC line. I opted for the Durability line for Savannah's room since we're not moving in until Tuesday. I like the cheerfulness of the color and think it will look good with her wooden furniture and pinks and whites and greens.

Before pictures - plain flat white that needed a washing.

After - Lemon Chiffon yumminess.

More Lemon Chiffon yumminess. I chose not to paint the vertical side of the finished duct because to me, that is very distracting visually. Eventually, I'll need to paint all the ceilings as well, but I'll leave that for later when I can paint a bunch at a time.

My little helper! We both wore paint and dust masks because even with the windows open and low-VOCs, she's little and I'm four months pregnant - so no chances to be taken here!

The evil shag rug that is as old as I am - no wonder I don't like it! This beast will be removed after I paint the next bedroom on the walkout basement level.

07 October 2008

Homeschooling ideas for Halloween

Today Savannah and I listened to "Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat" by Sue Schnitzer (the lyrics for the songs on the album are here and the album can be purchased on iTunes). She has some really good songs for kids for October including counting songs, songs with coordinating hand movements, and about pumpkins and bones, etc. and these songs aren't annoying like many of the Halloween songs for kids. I've decided to use these songs in our homeschooling so we're doing a small unit on bones, which Savannah loves. Today she cut out and used brass tacks to make this dancing skeleton from "the toy maker," a great site for toys to make at home and cut out, including math toys, airplanes, boxes and bookmarks.

Tomorrow we'll sing some more songs together (Savannah dances too) and practice learning some of the bone names that she doesn't already know and use the Kids Health website to talk about why bones are important and what they are made of. She's also excited to cut out these jack-o-lantern bookmarks, even though we don't use bookmarks that often right now. She can use them in her Science is Simple book by Peggy Ashbrook and in her reading lessons book.

We are really enjoying this science book that has activities for preschoolers through 2nd grade. The activities are easy to do at home with few additional supplies, if any, although it is presented as a book for preschool teachers. She presents each unit as a whole, by season including relevant stories to read with each topic and songs to sing. I sometimes extend the activities by adding a short writing component since Savannah can write or a math activity for counting or matching. I was really pleased with the unit we tried on wind earlier this week. We checked out books related to wind from the library, spent an afternoon on a picnic blanket watching the things that the wind moves, made a wind sock and bird to hang in the tree to monitor wind.

I'm all tired out again this week with preparations for moving. Savannah is sick of all this cleaning and organizing business and I just hope I have the energy to unpack once we're in Altamont.

Savannah's dancing skeleton that she's very proud of. She knows about a dozen bone names including humerus, femur, patella, cranium, ribs, vertebrae, pelvis and sternum.

03 October 2008

Autumn pleasures

October is my favorite month and Halloween is the holiday we spend the most effort and time preparing for. This year will be a smaller effort though since we are moving a few days before the big event but, Savannah will still enjoy scaring people's pants off and the haunted house and hay rides at the local apple orchard in Altamont. She's also gotten smarter about "Daddy's cut" of her Halloween candy. She told me this year, she's going to count her pieces and only let Daddy take the candy she doesn't like! She's also learned how to hold spit in her mouth like a rabid fox to make scarier Halloween sounds...

Anyway, here are the preliminary pictures of her Halloween costume BEFORE the scary parts are added. This year I added a zipper in the back but if I had to make it again, I'd make it 2 inches longer. Savannah stuffed it and adores her enormous pumpkin belly, but I think she over stuffed it, which hiked the hem up a few inches. You'll notice I made it in safety orange and there is reflective tape on the back for safety as well. This year I made her treat bag slightly larger than the one from last year so it will hold about 6 oz more of candy...what a lucky pumpkin!

Here I am!

Rar! I'm the scariest pumpkin ever!

In other news, it seems I've turned a corner this week as far as energy is concerned. I haven't crashed or needed a nap during the day, I nearly completed Savannah's costume, and I started reupholstering the dining room chairs, something I've been meaning to do for a long time. Rather than staple new fabric on, I decided to make removable, washable slipcovers in zebra stripe, because let's face it, I've got two mess makers in my house with one more on the way. Kevin nearly had a heart attack when he heard about my fabric choice. I love it! The dark brown in the zebra stripe really matches the dark stain of our Italian chairs perfectly and because they stay pushed in under the table for most the day, they really are a subdued accent. I've completed two so far and have four more to make. It's taking a long time because for once I'm doing everything the right way - top stitching and measuring each one properly.

Savannah enjoys her bagel on the new zebra print fabric.

Puff also got a new hairdo this week, thanks to Dearest, and Savannah promises not to rip out his magical hair this time... She also requested that his hair be slightly longer so now she's got a dragon with a fro.

And Savannah loves her new crayons. Here's a leaf rubbing I helped her do with leaves from around the neighborhood. I think the crayons add depth to the drawings and eventually teach kids about mixing blue and yellow to get a fabulous green instead of just reaching for a plain green crayon.