Saturday, February 19, 2011

2/19/2011 A rainy Saturday at home

I'd thought seriously about another one-day ski trip with the boys this weekend. It'd be the last chance we have until our trip in March, but logistics were too daunting. To start, school's out and it's the busiest ski weekend of the year. Nearby lodging is full, ski lessons sold out, traffic and crowds will be horrible.

This is all complicated by the WONDERFUL bad weather we're finally having. The storms mean lots of rain down here in the flatlands, but lots of beautiful new snow up in my beloved mountains (and actually even some here as well; Mount Hamilton has snow right now). Great if we were already up there, but getting there will be hampered by power outages, blocked roads, chain controls, and more crowds and traffic. It just isn't the time for us to do an impromptu unplanned trip. If we'd planned one, I'd be ecstatic -- this is perfect for it -- and those who have lodging secured next week will be in snow heaven! I'm so happy for my friends who do have planned snow/ski trips.

Besides, there are no shortage of home projects to catch up on, especially with my mother coming next week and the cleaners coming Monday. So with great regrets, common sense, usually a stranger to me, took over, and we didn't go.

So, a rainy Saturday at home. Our issues aren't about bored children per se -- if there's one thing the Doudna kids are great at, it's self-entertainment -- but it's more about the boys tearing each other to pieces and pestering Katrina nonstop.

Gabriel's March book report is on describing a how-to project. Naturally, he picked something related to electricity, and wrote about how to make a battery from a lemon. I insisted he work on this report a little bit each day, and he's done now. Done! It's due March 2, and no book report hanging over his head during "winter recess" (aka 'ski week', sniff) next week -- Yayyy!

So based on his report, today he wanted to actually try making a battery out of a lemon. He picked some lemons from our one productive lemon tree, we found zinc-coated nails in the garage, he found some pennies, and whaddya know -- he made battery cells out of lemons. He put them in series to produce more power, measured 3 volts, then attached them to his Electronics Playground to light up an LED.

Now that's what I call a great rainy-day activity!!

But indirectly thanks to skiing, we do have another thing to keep kids busy: Rats!

We're rat-sitting for friends who had a ski trip planned this week (lucky ducks, and with the best snow!). It's only fitting that we be responsible to take care of these two, since I'd encouraged the idea of rats as pets.

We're having a grand time with Scabbers and Spot, both females. It is impressive how different rats are from other rodents. I had gerbils and guinea pigs and even hamsters as a kid, but I never remember them being so distinctly different from each other. The unique rat personalities are evident within a few minutes of holding them. They also seem to recognize and get to know individual people really quickly.

No one is more excited about our visiting pets than Gabriel. He absolutely loves watching them and playing with them, while I marvel at his remarkable tender side. He speaks softly and affectionately to them, laughs at the littlest things they do, and generally just lights up around them. Yet this morning, he had no compunction about decking Julian for insulting him.

Spot is the calmer more cuddly rat, who likes to hide in pockets and hang on you, and is generally shyer.

Katrina finally let her guard down when she saw Spot in Gabriel's pocket and wanted a turn with Spot. I think since I'd spent a fair amount of time with Spot yesterday, Spot always wanted to stay on me, so I had to put her on Katrina and vacate. Worked fine.

Scabbers is a busy little girl, always twitching her whiskers inquisitively and looking for new places to climb. Julian was nervous about the rats at first, but got used to the idea quickly.

Gabriel can't get enough of either one, though Scabbers is more likely to join the party.

The kids all put sweatshirts to hold the rats on so that the hood would protect their necks from sharp claws, and so they have pockets for the little critters to hide in. Gabriel has designated his sweatshirt "the rat sweatshirt" and insists on keeping it somewhere that he can get to it quickly in case an opportunity to play with the rats comes up.

Tonight he asked again and again about playing with the rats, and with each passing time I could see he could handle them fine, so have gotten more liberal about letting him play without me hawking over him, as we get to know how to handle these very agile creatures.

These poor deprived children are so overdue for a pet.

As much as I like these animals, I'm thinking of a pet that isn't caged and that can hang with us all the time. A dog is out of the question as long as I'm working full-time. But a cat? This depends on Dave's allergies, which he thinks have improved enough that he can tolerate a cat. He's even said recently he thinks he can live with a cat, and I'm liking the idea more and more.

But now the kids are completely opposed to a cat -- they want rats!!

Cat, rat, pets....I'm just trying hard not to think about the magical fresh snow and how very very far off March 12 is (our Sugarbowl trip) -- and how very very little left there is of ski season after that.



MommaWriter said...

*sigh* Magical snow. And here I sit, cabin reservations in hand, next to my growing pile of Kleenex, wheezing and sniffling. Of course, it's not like I was dying to get up there and go skiing, but the kids are and I don't feel like hanging out at home alone. But gosh, I feel like such a loser hanging out reading books while my family skis...and I'm more than a little concerned that I'll give myself pneumonia for exerting myself in the freezing cold for days! Ugh. I think I preferred going skiing with a sick Smunch last year.

mommieN. said...

I'm no fan of being cold either, but maybe it's because I do like to ski that it doesn't seem so cold. In fact, so far for us it hasn't been cold *enough*! Or maybe it's because CA snow-cold seems so different than the East-Coast toe-numbing cold I grew up with.

A cold is no fun, but you can't go wrong having a place to yourself and reading by the fireplace!!