Friday, March 27, 2009

Not again

Just when we thought we were safe. We had the upper respiratory kind of long flu in February. We had the gastro-intestinal kind of flu in March. I thought we were done.

And then came an awful cold from out of nowhere. A few days before it hit, we were hiking in the Indiana Dunes and saw actual wildflowers popping out of the ground! This cold came with complete exhaustion. No fever, but for two days Medium and Small didn't leave the bed or couch. For two days they ate nothing, drank little and slept 'round the clock.

Now they are better, a bit congested perhaps, but up and dressed for the first time in a couple of days. Large is acting cranky and has those tell-take circles under his eyes. Mostly, though, he's working hard at being in denial. Almost as hard as he pretends not to like math.

Monday, March 23, 2009

We're Throwing the Switch

Last year my family participated in Earth Hour by shutting off the main electrical switch into the house. I'm sure there's a more technical term for that grey box where the fuses and such are. Everything went off and for one hour we played games by candle and camping light. Yhatzee, Medium remembers. This year we have a lot of new games to choose from.

This Saturday, March 28th. 8:30 p.m. Take a stand against climate change.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Dream Come True

We went to see the Aztec exhibit at the Field Museum on Monday. Monday is our museum day, and now that we have a commitment to facilitate a science lab in the afternoon, we push ourselves to get out of the house early and explore our chosen topic. We love the Field Museum, it's vast, interesting, wonderful. Actually, we love all the museums we belong to and our sense of a favorite changes to the one we have most recently visited.

we chose the Aztec show partly because it is leaving on April 12th and partly because we had just finished our car audio book, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, which had funny references to the study of Aztecs. The exhibit was really great, full of artifacts and interesting descriptions of daily life and warfare.

As for the dream part, it happened like this: Small is only five and can't read all the descriptions. It was all a bit above his head and he tends to wander off on his own, disengaged from the family. The rest of us were engrossed with the exhibit and I needed to be mindful of where he was. This happens sometimes at museums. At one point, noticing Small had wandered to a corner and was playing an imaginary game by himself, Medium pulled him in and said "Oh look, Small! This is a vessel used to hold a potent drink and it's formed in the shape of a drunken rabbit..." going on to explain all about the drink and what drunkenness is and why it was such a funny, intriguing thing. It was a touching, family, homeschooling moment I've got stored in my memory.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Conference Recovery

Before my boys fell to the gastro-intestinal virus at the InHome conference, we all had a fabulous time. My two may be the only ones who look right in this picture, but they are part of a kid-chain holding an enormous, 85 pound snake. This was one of several entertaining and informative wildlife sessions at the conference this year. At one point, while I was on the treadmill during a sprint, Mark sent me a the text "here comes the hedgehog!"

Despite screams from Large "This is the WORST conference EVER!" while lying in bed watching the Disney Channel all day (we don't get cable, so this was unusual in itself), the conference really was as good as ever. Even Large went to four fabulous sessions - lego robotics, roller coaster making, foam sword making and the reptilian wildlife session - before falling ill. Medium made it to all her sessions, striding off confidently on her own, calling or texting us when she was finished. Her favorite was the session with the resort chef, touring the kitchen, seeing how professionals prepare food. Small petered out early, at five it's a stretch for him to be in a "class" for an hour. And then he was hit the hardest with the illness. I took to calling our room the vomitorium.

My favorite part is volunteering at the Information Table as the conference opens. I love to be able to help people find their sessions in the sprawling Pheasant Run Resort. And I love seeing everyone I know, chatting with friends, catching up with acquaintances. It's stressful as the opening sessions approach - hence the treadmill - but worth the effort. Mark and I worked our schedule smartly this year so that one of us would be available each time slot just in case someone got sick. And two did. Even that wasn't so bad from my perspective - someone else had to wash all the sheets and towels!

It was a long sick, though. We were housebound from the time we returned on Sunday until Friday morning.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Toilets

Yes, I'm really writing about toilets. "But Mommy! That's so private!" Ah, well, yes. What goes on with the toilet and the body functions is private, but the toilets themselves are not.

With our bonus money this year, after funding our emergency savings (about four months of living expenses), we decided to finish our bathroom projects from a few years ago. When we started the project, we had no idea how to manage our money, funding it with a combination of credit cards, cash and home equity. And then we ran out of cash, our air conditioning broke down and we were frightened by our HELOC. So, we put it off until we had cash to compete it. Now we are ready for shower doors, a coat of paint, fixing the loose tiles, replacing the fan and replacing two aging toilets.

The toilets were my job and they came first. We wanted to go green, using as little water as possible for each flush. After much research, we settled on two Toto Aquia toilets, and purchased them from the Green Home Experts in Oak Park. Fabulous store, great customer service, wonderful products - I highly recommend it.

It's hard to imagine waxing euphoric over a toilet, isn't it? These toilets give one something to wax over. The are new and clean and shiny, which is undoubtedly part of it. But the fact that they use .9 gallons for liquid waste and 1.6 for solid is a great green boost to our consciousness. Flushing that little water is quiet! No performance problems, either.

But the best, thing and what made me fork over twice the money over a conventional toilet was this:

I live in a house of toilet slammers. Not angry toilet slammers, just unthinking slammers. This has cured them of that habit - there is no way to slam this lid. Smooth, quiet, beyond belief.

I'm easily amused.