There's a zen thing that settles on the house when the TV is off. I got up about 8:30, the TV went off (hey, I'll let them have it if it means more sleep for me in the morning), and it was off the rest of the day but for about 15 minutes when the boys snuck up to watch Phineas and Ferb. I'll admit I was tempted to leave it on, a new Phineas and Ferb is hard to resist. But off it went, without much grumbling.
So what did we do today?
A little bit of schoolwork. Jonathon finished off a science workbook and did some mathfactcafe.com pages; Nicholas had 4 pages of reading comprehension; Rebecca completed some multiplication and division practice; Katherine read up on Thomas Edison and dug up some of his inventions and their patent dates. Katherine commented on how much of the American History book she still didn't know, and I know that next summer we'll have to spend some serious time in the newly renovated American History Museum in DC, as well as take some trips for local history. I was thinking Philly and Charleston? NYC would be nice too.
We made lunch together. Pasta, that ended up as pasta with veggies, chicken and sauce for the kids and a chilled pasta salad for me. Nicholas made toasted bagels in our new toaster oven (which the kids think is pretty darn cool).
Katherine played the piano quite a bit. She's learning some Christmas carols, and can play Carol of the Bells, kind of. It's getting better. I got in a bit of playing today too, which is always relaxing.
I think at one point the younger three turned the walk-in closet into a club house of sorts. I'm not sure how that's possible as it's packed with rubbermaids and suitcases, but I know the light was on and there was a lot of talking going on.
I read a book. A whole book. It's a kids' book, Coraline, and I give it two thumbs up if you like a quick spooky story that's quite creative. There's a movie (by the creators of The Nightmare Before Christmas) coming out February 6th. I've told Rebecca she has to read the book before she can see the movie. Check out the movie website if your connection is fact enough, it's quite clever.
Out came the Art Attack books. Jonathon just wanted to paint, but Rebecca put together her own mini imaginary island. To be continued tomorrow as we had to go out for a bit and it was getting dark when we returned. The outdoor creative bug kept them busy for a good chunk of the afternoon.
At 3:30 Rebecca, Jonathon and I departed to the Consulate for a Town Hall meeting on our lowered differential (more on that in a different post). I'd slipped Katherine Rs100 to take Nicholas to Amma Naana. He'd been asking to go repeatedly, so I figured that would brighten up his day, and keep the two of them busy while we were gone. Ian came home early with us, loaded with packages. Yay to both. Because Ian was home, the driver was set to leave. But before the driver left for the day we had an interesting conversation, one where I learned that our gardener had hired a sweeper. Here's our gardener saga... our first gardener, Paneer, basically walked off the job, then insisted he didn't, but we'd already hired someone new once he left. Our second gardener, Venkatesh, was pretty good but he fell sick repeatedly and after missing about 3 months out of one 6 month period, we let him go so he could get better. The job just wasn't working for him. So we hired Ravi, who previously had been a dog-watcher for another Consulate family, but sold himself as a gardener. He wasn't good, and in fact the driver and our house-keeper didn't like him at all. They called him lazy and crass. He actually argued with Ian about his duties. Then one day, Venkatesh reappeared at the gate. I wasn't going to hire him back, but after learning his family had moved to Chennai (from somewhere in Andhra Pradesh), and the house-keeper and the neighbor's driver were talking highly of him (so said our driver) we called Venkatesh back. The staff has ways. We fired Ravi and Venkatesh has been working hard to trim, prune, weed, and basically get the yard back up to snuff. He'll be working split time with the neighbors' yard, just like Ravi did, and with that he'll make a very decent salary. Now, the neighbors have always had a sweeper lady come each morning to sweep the hard surfaces... the pathways, the driveway, etc. I don't really know why as that's part of a gardener's job and pretty much all Ravi did with his time. But Venkatesh has taken matters into his own hands. With two jobs each day he's decided he will save himself the sweeping time, and hire the sweeper lady himself to do our hard surfaces, so he can focus on the gardening. More than that, he's paying her out of his salary as he didn't ask us to hire her.
Our staff now has staff. It's a little boggling.
After passing the gardener update to Ian, I wrapped some presents when we returned (presents not actually for my own family!), opened up our mail boxes, tucked gifts under the tree, and we all put together quesadillas for dinner. Again the toaster oven came into play and turned our quesadillas into crispy yet gooey cheesy goodness. Did I mention we like the toaster oven? While dinner was amakin', Katherine asked if the they, the kids, had been less annoying today. Blunt, so I was blunt right back. It had been a much better day, if solely for the fact that if everyone was bored at least I didn't hear about it every minute. In fact, aside from a few instances of telling Nicholas to quit walking in circles, I didn't hear "bored" at all. What did Katherine say? "Well, actually, I wasn't bored at all today."
Bedtime for the boys meant diving into book 3 of the Andrew Lost series. Andrew is now stuck, miniaturized, in a kitchen. The books are a mix of adventure and science. The first book explained how we all have little mites living in oil wells at the base of our eyelashes. Honestly, sometimes the stuff I read kind of makes me wish I didn't know. Like that book by Mary Roach, Stiff I recently finished, about the curious lives of human cadavers. Ever wanted to know just enough details about human decomposition to not get the image out of your head? That's the book for you. Now I'm reading Spook, where science tackles the afterlife. It starts in India with the idea of reincarnation. I've also picked up The Year of Living Biblically which is proving to be a fun and fabulous read about a guy who took a year to live the Bible as literally as possible without going to jail (after all, stoning adulterers just isn't acceptable anymore).
The girls stayed up for a bit to watch some Monk, then slouched off to their room to read. All in all, a much better day than yesterday. Now if we could just get all the cats to get along.