We’re All Back!

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Firstly, I just want to start off by mentioning a correction to the previous post. Room613.net is also geared towards teenagers, it was just my impression that it was not (not sure how I came to that impression.) That said, we are still continuing on with our Judaics for the coming year that we have mapped out.¬†Secondly, when you start tea time, expect to continue the tradition. ūüôā Cucumbers, watermelon and small bite sized pieces of brownies are all good, along with tea (or hot lemon water in our case.)¬†ūüôā We have not been able to do it the last two weeks, but today boys were complaining, “We did not have tea time today!”

The last two weeks have been almost entirely away from home. We went to the same cabin on the 350+ acres that we went to last year. Other than the 90+ degree weather with no A/C, it was pretty good, but I do not think we will be going there next year20130719_142349. (And the best thing to do on a really hot Tisha B’Av with no A/C is to drive in the car that has AC all the way back home for an hour to drop off camp stuff!) If nothing else, I found out today, after I had to take my van into the shop to get fixed, that the porcupines that live by the cabin not only eat away at the balcony and the support beams underneath it, they like to eat away at wires under cars… The mechanic asked if I keep my car in the garage, no, outside. In the back? No, in the front. Apparently, rodents like to chew on wires under vehicles, but not usually when the vehicle is kept outside, in the front, on the driveway. I asked about porcupines; we not only heard them on the porch, but actually saw one underneath eating away at the support beams. Yes, porcupines + vehicles in fields = lots of damage and money to fix the damage. He could not give me even a rough estimate when he called for he was not finished taking everything apart to see the entire damage. He will be putting some cover over my wires to help prevent this from happening again. Since we only have one vehicle, I am carless for a while.¬†The bonus to all of this is that we get to walk to the store or any other place we need to go and that means good exercise for all of us! There is a silver lining in everything. ūüėČ

The first Shabbos at the cabin was rather quiet Рjust one little boy to entertain. Sunday morning we all got up to drive 4 hours to fetch the really missed 20130718_114244brothers from camp. It was good to have everyone back home. I really missed them. I think the lone brother missed them the most. It is not easy to want to play with someone and only Mommy is around and Mommy sometimes cannot play. Boy, it sure is good to have brothers!

Aside from that, the train, Corning Museum of Glass, blueberry picking¬†and horseback riding were some of the main activities with horseback riding coming in tops for everyone (and blueberry picking a close second)! The youngest was too small to ride a regular horse so he got to have a pony ride around the farm. He then was lucky enough to be able to brush down and wash the pony. Both the pony and the little boy really enjoyed it. Oh, and I cannot forget about the birthday party #2 – afterall, it is not everyday that Grandpa comes down to visit! He was one lucky boy – a visit with Saba one day, and Grandpa the next, two birthday parties (and presents to match from each grandfather), and not to mention that this weekend there will, IY”H, be a THIRD party (for the same boy) for he was insistent that his friend comes over for a party, and since neither of the previous parties were at home, I promised him we will have one with his friend. Baruch Hashem my boys are very happy with simple things – a simple cake and a card and a small present is all that is needed to make someone happy, oh, and the occasional friend.

The Corning Museum of Glass was very interesting to go see. We have not been there before. The first section with glass art was not my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed going into the history section. They had the history of glass making, from the early times until the present, with all sorts of interesting facts and artifacts. We even got to see some glass making demonstrations such as the hot glass show and the flameworking.

Well, we got to pick up our sefarim yesterday! 3 sets of Rambam’s Mishneh Torah (English and Hebrew.) I spent several hours on Monday trying to clean out a small book case that we had, figuring it had 3 shelves and each set would fit on 2. I would just need to get one more book20130717_161519 case. I was almost correct. Yes, each set fits on 2 shelves, however, the bottom shelf is too short to put any books on. Never fear, I have ideas! In the meantime, the living room is a mess. Boys have taken all the books out of the boxes and have been labeling all of their 93 books. Wow. I did not realize how many books we really were getting until just now. I was just of thinking it as 31*3 and those in themselves are not that big, but to do the actual math problem, wow, multiplication is powerful! We were good and even started our learning today! One video from Rabbi Gordon from Chabad.org was listened too.

I cannot forget that we finally brought the organ inside! It was not as hard as I thought it would be. We used our Radio wagon, put some plywood on top, and used two 2×4’s and slid them under the organ with the other end of the boards on the wagon to make a ramp. We then pushed the organ up the ramp. We all held on while one boy very, VERY carefully and slowly pulled the wagon all away around from the garage to the front door. The tricky part came when we had to transfer the organ from the wagon up the 2 steps into the house. With some creative thinking and cooperation, we got it into the house. Since it is mine, only I was allowed to clean it all up. Boys wanted to help but I refused. I told them to vacuum the carpet. ūüėČ Everyone anxiously awaited the moment when they could touch and then play the new instrument. I have not played the organ in almost 17 years – it is amazing how even though I play the piano a little here and there, my organ playing is terrible! It was hard reading all those staves again! I had to go way, way back to the really early days and the very easy music to get back in the swing of reading everything again. “Mommy, how can your feet play all the right notes and you are not even looking?” I smiled and proudly told my son, “I started on the organ!” That was one thing I was pleasantly surprised about; my feet still knew where to go after all these years. They were even more surprised to find out that their Dad used to play the organ as well.

I have also spent the last two days finding the books I need for my oldest. With Ambleside Online, almost everything is non-consumable, so since I have books from my oldest, the younger children have their books as well. Finally, I put all the books in the Amazon shopping card, as well as two printer inks, and 20130723_160843pressed the order button. Among the books ordered were organ books (it is not easy to find beginning organ books now!). All four boys are so excited and want me to give them organ lessons. I told them I do not have time to teach them both the piano AND the organ. 4 for the organ it is. Though they are not happy that I am not teaching them yet. I appeased them when they saw I was ordering music books first. Unfortunately, unlike the electronic piano that I have, you cannot put headphones into the organ! At least there is the volume control, it helps. A little. ūüėČ

Anyways, I am saying sweet dreams to everyone and I am off to bed to dream about the fact that I am now officially also an organ teacher. ūüôā

Vacationing in the Boonies

For one whole week we spent a wonderful time up in a cabin, on the top of a mountain, on 350 acres.  It was one of the best weeks we have ever had.  Grandpa came with us as well.  It was a nice cabin, with several acres of mowed grass around it, many more acres of unmowed grass  Рthe size of a landing strip for a plane, which, on occasion does land there, and hundreds of acres of just forest.  I think the only thing we would try to do different is to take more opportunity to explore the gorgeous forest and not wait until the second last day.

Since the cabin was a long ways away from any electric lines, the owners decided it would be to their economic advantage to install solar panels and have a backup generator instead of having to pay for the electric line ($40,000 vs. $80,000!)  That was to our advantage for several times we got to fly our new kite.  Unfortunately, only one new kite was able to be flown for there was not enough wind for the other two, but we had a lot of fun sharing.  When you get the kite up several hundred feet, you just need to sit there holding the string, the kite flies by itself for there is a lot of wind up there.

Monday we went exploring in the van. ¬†We found out this week that one cannot always trust a map. ¬†We had two different (both detailed with contour lines, etc.) maps, and they both showed a road going into a state forest. ¬†However, when we arrived at the state forest, no road! ¬†The GPS on the phone said there was no road, and the road sign said it was a dead end. ¬†We know from experience that GPS’s are not always reliable either, and normally we just use them to see where we are. ¬†We decided to take the only other possible road, which turned to the side. ¬†We thought that might be the state forest for there was gate there and sometimes state forests and parks have gates. ¬†We opened the gate and drove on. ¬†Well, the road was not¬†conducive¬†to vans, but we drove on. ¬†At one point we decided to turn around for it did not really look like a state forest road and then got stuck! ¬†After walking around we noticed a house not too far in front of us and figured we were not on a state road, but how to get out? ¬†Lots of man power, and B”H we had as many people as we did for even one less person and I don’t think we would have made it. ¬†Lesson learned: ¬†Trust road signs.

As we were making our way back home, trying hard to stay on the real road, we come across signs that state it was a real road, but that the bridge was closed 1000 feet ahead. Grandpa wanted us to stop, for the bridge was closed – read the sign! ¬†So, we did, and most of us got out and walked the 1000 or so feet…… only to come to another sign, for cars coming the opposite direction that said….. bridge closed 1000 feet…. Uh, well, we just walked right on through and there was nothing wrong with the road. ¬†Lesson learned: Can’t always trust the road signs!

Tuesday we went touring the Amish region.  It was interesting to see that people really do live a life almost identical to life 100 years ago.  We saw the horse and buggies (though that is nothing new for us where we live, but still neat to see it anyways,) wheat that was cut and stacked in the fields Р7 bundles to a stack, men plowing, men cutting up wood into boards and all the wood craft and quilt shops.  We stopped in a wooden toy shop and a couple of boys bought something there.

Wednesday was a trip on a steam engine! ¬†TOOT TOOT! ¬†Look at all that black smoke coming out of the top! ¬†It was a nice, relaxing time for me. ¬†3 boys wanted to sit with Grandpa, and that left me with just 1 and it was the perfect time of day for on the way back that 1 boy just wanted to lay there almost falling asleep. ūüôā

Thursday we did some geocaching. ¬†We found most of them. ¬†We actually did a bit of geocaching the entire week, but this afternoon was dedicated mostly to it. ¬†We also learned that not all state forest roads are maintained. ¬†We came across one that had a fallen tree in the middle of it. ¬†All 5 big boys went out to try to move it. ¬†Unfortunately it was just too long, however, DH being adventurous as he was, decided we took enough of the top away that he could drive around it, over the mud hole, and that is just what he did. ¬†However, he was smart enough to know that we had to find a different route out of the park ūüôā

Friday it rained, and the boys ate popcorn and watched a few National Geographic DVD’s about pirates! ¬†Challah and cinnamon buns filled the air Erev Shabbos, as well as the lack of electricity (B”H the oven was gas and still worked!) ¬†To their credit, the owner showed up within minutes and got the generator started (it was supposed to start automatically when the solar energy ran out but didn’t.) ¬†DH spent time doing orienteering work with the boys. ¬†They learned how to read the map, and the contour lines on a map, along with other compassing work.

The rain was a nice welcome, for Shabbos was nice and cool. ¬†We had all the windows open (like we had all week), but we did not need to ¬†have any fans going, so Shabbos morning we woke up to the sounds of birds…and quiet. ¬†It was so peaceful! ¬†We made our first trek into the 300+ acres of forest and saw butterflies and moths and bumblebees and even a snake! ¬†DH and I walked around the whole grassed area. ¬†It was pretty cool to be at one end and look back at the cabin – yellow flowers all over the grass, I just about ran right through pretending to be Laura Ingalls in the show from Little House on the Prairie. ¬†ūüôā

Sunday morning, the sun got up early, and so did I. ¬†I spent most of the morning packing up. ¬†We decided to walk down a path to a road and since Grandpa did not want to walk with us, he got to pick us up. ¬†Such a beautiful trek – about half of the walk was done solely on property we rented, and most of the rest was in what seemed an “alley” between properties. ¬†GPS was great this time!

On the way out, we stopped off at a Scandinavian festival outside of Jamestown, NY and got pictures of a life size replica of a Viking ship (a small one, more of a fishing boat – not the size of one crossing an ocean). ¬†We ending up in Niagra Falls for pizza for supper and finally made our way back home. ¬†All in all, we had a good time, and have lots of nice memories! ¬†We even got to finish off Grandpa’s visit with a birthday supper for my now 3 year old. ¬†Happy Birthday MA!