Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A New Cousin

Well, sweet little Olivia finally decided to join us early this morning, much to her Mommy's relief... :)
In spite of the snow, the kids and I ventured to see her this afternoon. Here are the pictures of the very eager cousins. They were all very excited to hold her and kiss her head.
Julia was especially cute. When she first got a glimpse of her, she gasped and said, "Is that Owivia?"
And then she proudly told the nurse, "She's my cousin!"
She also told me, "Owivia is pretty."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I Much Prefer the Title of Cook

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT tell this story so you will feel sorry for me, but so that you can laugh along with me...
Friday morning brought sleet/freezing rain to most of Northeastern PA. John, thankfully, takes care of the grounds aspect of camp. I occasionally help with things such as planting and weeding, but very rarely with things like snow removal.
Friday was different, however, since he was stuck in Tampa, Florida (I know, too bad, huh?!) We had a retreat group coming around 5:30pm. As the day went on, it became clear to me that I was going to have to do something about the driveway, parking lot, and sidewalks (most of my readers have been here and know what that entails). Early in the day I took the iniative to shovel the portion of the sidewalk that the guests would need to use to get from their rooms to the dining hall. I was tired and my muscles were feeling the burn of an activity I don't usually participate in. I was proud of myself for taking care of it. It's no small length of sidewalk. I shoveled and salted and hoped the rest of the areas would be okay. The sleet was supposed to turn to rain as the day went on and the temperature rose above freezing.
Well, a few hours went by. I had dried out and warmed up, although my head still ached a little from the cold wind in my ears.
Around 3pm I checked outside again, and it became clear to me that what I had hoped would "take care of itself" was NOT going to. I was concerned that once the sun went down, the whole slushy thing was going to be solid ice (which by the way I was right...it would have been bad).
Hmmm...where is the snowblower kept???? Well, I found it (and it is, by the way, a beast of a snow-blower). I pulled to get it out of the shed...and fell over, landing on the ground. Well, that can't be a good sign. I tried again and succeeded that time. Now, how do I turn this thing on. I don't see a key. Oh...I was hoping there would just be a key. So, I called our friend Tyler who often helps John with projects around camp. He told me to put the choke down low to which I said, "I know this a very girl question, but is that the thing with the turtle and the bunny?"
And then to push the primer button 5 or 6 times and then to pull the pull-cord Yeah, that's not going to go well. Girls were not meant to use those things. When I hung up the phone, I literally said out loud, "God, You know what needs to happen." And I tried with all my might. (If I were telling you this in person, I'd use the hand motion to mimick my attempt to pull the cord, and I'd still be able to feel the soreness of my muscles.) The snowblower, to my delight, rumbled, and then to my dismay, stalled. I tried again. And again. And then I called Tyler back. "Is there something I can do other than stamping my feet on the ground, to prevent the snowblower from stalling when I try to start it?"
"Yes, when it starts, put the choke lever up and it should stay running."
"Okay, thanks!"
So, I tried again and it worked!! I was thrilled at my mini-accomplishment! Okay, now...how do I work this thing? I figured it out and was taken for a walk by the snowblower. Initially it reminded me of walking a large dog that was eager to run. I soon go the hang of it and began to walk around the one-fifth of a mile circle driveway. I figured I would need to go around 4 times in order to make a decent path for cars to drive on. That part was easy and I accomplished it with minimal difficulty. I walked, it blowed snow...all was well.
When, I was about done with the circle part of the driveway, I knew I then needed to tackle the entrance/parking area. This was going to be more difficult. On top of the trickiness of that area, it had now started to rain big mean cold drops.
At first it wasn't too bad. Then I realized that if I kept going in circles around the area, I was going to be in trouble because I'd run out of uncleared places to "throw the snow." I had figured out how to turn the chute and change where it would land, but needed to figure out the right path to take so that I wouldn't be throwing snow where I had already cleared it. The real difficulty in this is that it is extremely hard to turn the snowblower. If it is moving, you can't turn it all that quickly. If it isn't moving it is very heavy to drag in attempts to turn it around.
Well, I wound up redoing some of the already cleared area. There was just no way around it. Some areas were already too frozen for me to clear and some were about four inches of pure slush (add-lemon-lime-flavoring, scoop-into-a-cup, stick-in-a-straw-and-enjoy-slush).
I was rather proud of my accomplishment in spite of being soaking wet.
I was now done. I walked the snow blower back to the shed.
Now, how do I turn this thing off? I turned the choke lever down to stop, and it turned off. Well, I guess that takes care of that. I then tried to push the snow blower back into the shed. I couldn't get it to budge, not even and inch. Uh-oh. I tried again using every last bit of energy I had. I got it to the shed door, but couldn't get it over the lip of the edge of the door. I pushed and tipped the snow blower and pushed some more till I finally got it in.
"Good-bye new friend. Thanks for the help." And I locked the shed door and proceeded to spread salt on the sidewalks.
I was now completely soaked. I went inside and got clean and dry and looked at the clock...it was time to go to the dining hall to make dinner for the group...

Well, John got home and was impressed with my efforts. I'm glad he is back, mainly because I missed him, but also because I am VERY glad that my job is cooking and not clearing snow.

So, today's (Saturday) forecast was for partially sunny and 40 degrees. If the sun could just shine for a little while, it would melt and evaporate the little bit of water still on the driveway and all would be well, and my struggle would truly pay off. The sun failed me. There's ice everywhere.

So, today I feel proud of my accomplishment...and extremely sore. :)

Cute Stuff

My husband has been gone all week. He finally got home around midnight last night. The kids were all soooo excited to see him (he was supposed to get home Friday afternoon, but the flights had to be changed) that I let them stay up until he got home. They all cutely laid on my bed for about 2.5 hours calmly watching tv waiting for Daddy. When he walked into the bedroom, the room erupted. All four kids were scrambling to get to him and were all talking at once. Julia wanted to show him her newly painted fingernails. She held up her two little hands and declared as loudly as she could (in attempts to actually be heard over the din of the 3 older ones), "Yook, Daddy, yook!!! Yook at my finders! They have....they have....they have....Mom, what's this called?"
"Nail polish."
"Yook, Daddy, I have nail polish!!!"