Wednesday, February 24, 2016

News boring and not so boring, but mostly boring

Somewhere in January, our washing machine busted. The door wouldn't close (so thus would not wash). The striker had broken off and the latch was chipped, so I ordered new parts and tried to fix it myself. I fixed those problems enough for the door to close, but it made a loud buzzing noise the whole time and smelled like an electrical fire (always a good sign!). I finally called in a pro, who checked my work and said that looked good then dug deeper and found two tiny plastic tabs that broke off the door joint. Because these fingernail sized pieces of plastic broke, I would have to order a whole new door (another $200), so instead we got a new washing machine. This time, a top-loading one that won't have door issues! This is super lame news, but it was about three weeks without laundry, so it was big news when I caught up on the pile.
One day I found Phoebe hanging this sign on the bathroom door. She said her plan was to tie her tooth to the bathroom door and close it. I told her that never worked well (how exactly does all that tiny tying happen?) and to just give it time. She still kept tugging at it and a few days later wrestled the tooth out of her mouth. All. By. Herself. She did not want help this time around.
Oliver continues to be my shadow most days. While Bruce and Phoebe are at school, we do all kinds of domestic tasks (above, baking an apple pie for Bruce's best friend's birthday)...
...and we have a lot of fun too. Oliver loves his pajamas and loves it when I pull the snowsuit over them and he can wear them to school. 
This winter has been fairly mild, but we have had a couple wintry days. We've had normal snowfall and only a few days of extreme cold - nothing like last February.
We went to a birthday party for Miss J's little brother. Miss J now goes to the same school as Phoebe; although J is a year younger, they have lunch together and still see lots of each other. So we celebrated J's brother's birthday with them. While all the older kids played and the adults chattered, Phoebe sidled up to him and read him a book. For all her craziness, she has a few brilliant moments.
Valentine's Day was pretty exciting this year. A few weeks ago we made valentines for veterans as part of a community service project. That got me thinking about people who could use valentines and a little extra love. I was walking through my neighborhood a week or so later and it had just snowed. I was pushing Oliver in the stroller and someone offered to help me pick up the stroller to go over a couple snowy stairs. A few minutes later we walked down the street and saw a homeless man pushing a shopping cart across the street. The crosswalk was snowy and the small wheels on the cart were stuck in the snow. It was rush hour and dozens of people had just exited a nearby train station and were streaming past him. No one stopped to help him. No one seemed to look at him. It was sad. So i decided I was going to make valentines for the homeless in my neighborhood. I contacted the Salvation Army the next day and offered to put small valentines packages together for them to distribute (they offer a free lunch every day so it is a major gathering place for the homeless). They said they'd never done anything like that before, but would love to. I asked how many packages I should prepare and they said 100. I had two weeks to get everything together and I was a little worried! I gathered donations of valentines candies, warm socks, gloves and hats and scarves, hand warmers, chapsticks, and granola bars and puddings and snacks from church members, Facebook friends, family, school friends, and neighbors. 
I had a bunch of kids (and a few other people too) make valentines at church. This was one of Phoebe's. They were all hand-written, which I'm pretty proud of. I wanted each of the 100 bags to have a personal touch, something the homeless rarely get.
I originally thought the packages would be in lunch sacks, but I collected so much stuff that I had to get bigger bags! A grocery store kindly donated the bags, I recruited a crew of Relief Society members to fill them, and we delivered them to the Salvation Army. Valentine's Day was the coldest day of the year so far in Boston - below zero for part of the day and through the night - but I'm hoping the homeless enjoyed some warmth that day.

The day after dropping all those off, I ran the Martha's Vineyard 20-miler. Except this time it was 15.4 miles. The day before the race, the directors moved the course because of bad weather (very cold, extreme wind chills, some snow). Instead of running 10 miles along the shore of an island in -10 degrees and windchill, we ran inland. It turned into one of those survival races - where no one is racing the pace they want, and everyone just wants to finish and doesn't care much about anything else. The last five miles were uphill and into a headwind, so it was miserable. I finished second place, changed into dry clothes, and headed home (which involved a shuttle bus to a ferry to another shuttle bus to my parked car and then a 1.5-hour drive home). I love Martha's Vineyard, but there's a reason tourism isn't booming in February.
This week is February vacation. Scott is working and we don't have any amazing plans, so we are making plans. Yesterday we hung out with friends and the kids painted fingernails and toenails (and just about everywhere else). 
Last night we had a potluck and music jam with neighbors. Our downstairs neighbors are cello prodigies; we love hearing them practice through the floor, but it was even nicer to see it in person.
Today we went to the Boston Common to go ice skating. I held Oliver's hands and we slowly made our way around the ice. Bruce refused to go and read a book on the sidelines instead. Phoebe held onto the side for half a lap, then zoomed in circles until it was time to go.

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