Saturday, July 6, 2013


When it rains, it seriously pours here in Vermont!  I guess this is a weird year here in the Green Mountains with almost constant thunderstorms, but seeing as we're new and have no reference for whether this is abnormal or not, we're attempting to adjust, both literally and figuratively, to the torrential downpours and resulting flooding!

In hopes of keeping this place standing another 160 years, we had a structural engineer out to check out the house and give us a to-do list of what is absolutely necessary for stability.  Fortunately the buildings are in pretty good shape - note: this does not mean project free - and, with that good news under our belts, we were able to learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the historical construction, for example: many of the vertical support beams in our barn are original hand planed posts that were likely salvaged from another barn and brought in to construct this one before the main house in 1865; the flooring we discovered in the living room (and now the downstairs bedroom as well) is the original random plank wood flooring and it's in great condition; and the rubble foundation is unique for it's time because the rock size is markedly larger than most in the area due to the large field rocks used.

The dark patches around the rocks are
historic AND current water marks...
As happy as I am to learn these neat details and to have such historic charm oozing from every corner, this last bit of info about the foundation is actually structurally relevant rather than simply aesthetically pleasing... So old cellars in farm houses like this were purposefully designed to be porous so that the temperature would be lower and humidity higher to create a safe, natural food storage environment.  Some places, apparently, even cut running streams through their basement floors to get the moisture necessary to accomplish this aim.  Well, this place doesn't need that stream, not only because we have a magical thing called a refrigerator, but because the walls seep water with every rain shower - which, as you can imagine, is great for old school cellars, but not so awesome for modern storage or utility.

So after days and days of non-stop storms and a conspicuous absence of HB with a bucket (the previous owner took the sump pump and we're having basement work done later this fall), my Mom and I discovered about 4 inches of standing water on top of the half concrete, half dirt basement floor (thank goodness for wellies!).  Grandmama did some bailing with her "spare" energy and got quite a bit of the water out, but making an executive decision that we cannot care about everything, I've decided to ignore the literal flooding in the basement and worry about the figurative flooding elsewhere...

With my first paper due later this week, I've been trying to focus my non-running, non-playing, non-projecting time on an in depth, analytical reading of Gertrude Coleman's 1911 book Suffragette Sally.  Finding it hard to focus with so much activity about, I've tried to hole up near the one grounded outlet in the house (which of course is in the kitchen) to knock out several well written, highly cerebral (aka non-JVBC-personal narrative) pages while the other two- and four-legged house inhabitants entertain themselves elsewhere.

But, alas, concentration is for the birds as we're in full swing of several (because why would they come one at a time?) exciting firsts.  And since being a positive parent is - big picture wise - far more important than this one measly paper, the needs and accomplishments of GW and GV drown out the never-ending, water-logged to do list:

GW proudly showing off his first school
Summer 2014
1st first: Attempting to get GW ready to officially begin school this fall, we enrolled him part time in the day care program associated with my grad school.  Having never been in such an environment before, he's all sorts of atwitter about the toys, the games, the big kids, and (Heaven help me) THE GIRLS.  OMG.

Unfortunately he is the only 3.5 year old there and he's at that in-between stage where he's too big for the little guy-group and too young for the big kids group, but apparently he is happy to float between the groups as necessary and explore, interact and play with whomever is around.  Giving all of the credit for his success to his incredibly extroverted, confident personality, my first-timer parent worries are subsiding and this all seems pretty darn cool.

2nd first:  The big down side to GW's school experience, however, is that after a morning full of all out romping, he's getting home and refusing to nap.  With some degree of dread I have to acknowledge that we have finally reached that point where, even with extra physical activity and stimulus, he (note: not me) no longer requires an afternoon respite.  Of course he turns into a gremlin just in time for dinner and becomes thoroughly impossible until tucked into bed, but my stubbornness and HB's pigheadedness have genetically transferred to the little man and there is no convincing him that maybe, just maybe a nap is still a good idea.

First tooth, front and center!
3rd first:  GV is getting her first tooth.  With sopping wet onsies and a ear-piercing scream that seems to only be off-set with constant nursing, we're attempting to get her through this painful time with some degree of remaining sanity.  She's incredibly satisfied with her new found talent of biting and, Lord help me, I'm still planning to breast feed her until 12 months for auto-immune purposes... fortunately she prefers to chew on my shoulder than elsewhere, but seriously, ouch.   It's an excellent thing she's cute!!

4th first: until recently, GV has been a relatively quiet child.  She does NOT like talking to strangers and, even with just us around, she reserves most of her squeals, coos and goos for particularly enjoyable moments.  But, as of last week, she has turned a new leaf and said her first word. While lying in bed with us and basking in the morning sunlight, GV roles over, sits up and look at HB's chest hair with an expression of deep contemplation.  She then reaches out and, in a 7 month old kind of way, begins to grope at his chest saying - I kid you not - "tickle tickle!"  Needless to say, when we reported this new development to GW, the resident tickle monster, he was beyond pleased with his protege's progress.

Granted, these firsts aren't negative things and therefore cannot be claimed against some universal karmic insurance policy for parents, but it is a lot of new all at one time and each change on its own is worthy of individual response, care and encouragement.  I think some day I'll look back on this and nostalgically ponder how amazing it was and how I managed to keep things a float (ha), but short of getting a few of those in-pool lounge chairs for the basement and perhaps a paper drink umbrella or two, it might not be as pretty in execution as will be in memory.  Water pails, tantrums, blood and homework... what a great combination!

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