Day 1: Snow Day


We know “our” house as soon as we see it: the monthly rent is actually less than The Scientist’s monthly paycheck. A steal! It is old, though it is not one of the magnificent 18th century estates with a manicured lawn and a noble fir Christmas wreath four or five feet high hanging from the hand-carved wood doors.

This is a typical single-family home around here:

Here’s another variety:

Insides are, you know, not bad, if you’re into that whole Gone with the Wind thing with the dual staircase:

Or if you really need to look at the world on your ceiling because you are too lazy to pick up an atlas or even open google maps

Or if you feel cramped without a 2000 square foot bathroom–

This town is for you!

Not to feel left out, we actually did go, when we were house-hunting, to look at a place that was almost estate-like . . . And it was grand–in its own special, mouse-droppings-laden, chinks-in-the-mortar way (free pets! our own American Kotel)! Each room featured a magnificent walk-in fireplace in lieu of a walk-in closet, and there was a 4-acre forest out back to chop down for firewood. And if we were so inclined, we could hire a woodcutter-guy to go live in the quaint servant cottage in the back (The Scientist is multi-talented, but he’s also Jewish. His idea of doing any kind of work for the house is picking up the phone and calling the handyman):

The servants’ quarters. Do you think they rent it separately? It’s probably more in our budget than the main house.

In the end . . . we decided to get something a bit cozier. So here we are in a little house probably meant for 2 or 3, with our close-knit family of 5 (in this space, how could we be anything else?) gathered round. The big boys share a bunk bed, and Baby MoFo’s room doubles as the guest bedroom. There are two cracked window panes that seem to draw out all the hot air I can’t imagine how much I am paying for, a basement that floods, and one tiny pinkish bathroom. For the moment, each of the 900 or so square feet of the house is pretty well covered in boxes. To be honest, the house could not feel smaller, as I look at my children, all of whom are home. And on me.

Welcome to the first of the many Snow Days of  2011.

The Scientist digging out our car (“See,” he will say when he reads this post. “I do housework all the time!”)

I try to convince the kids to go outside and build a snowman. But mostly, they want to stay in the house and trip over boxes. Apparently Jewish boys are as big on playing in the snow as Jewish men are on doing house repairs. Or so it would seem–we were chastised by LL’s teachers for sending him to school with snowpants (“If it’s so cold or snowy that we would need snowpants–we would stay inside!”). Of course, usually when it snows, the school just closes, as we soon discovered.

Unluckily for LL, Cool J, and Baby MoFo, this is not me:

But wouldn’t it be cool if I were? Because if you like Take 5, you might also like Take 12:

I wonder how many other takes there might be . . .

It is late in the day before everyone is occupied—the baby sleeping and the big boys playing with their Lego. I am walking into my bedroom, a knife in hand, ready to start cutting open the boxes, when a string hits me right in the eye. I look up. Above me is a door, an attic door. I wonder if the attic is stuffed with insulation or has room for me to put my boxes in. The job is not only not lucrative, it is also short-term. Sadly, I have to save my boxes for the not-so-distant future.

Little did I know what I would find there. A world. A fairy tale world. A place created by a woman who once lived as I do now, in this old house, with her small children, her greatest resource her imagination. This woman I immediately name Noëlle, after the many French Christmas stories left behind in the treasure trove that would be waiting for me, waiting until our next snow day (which was not too far off).

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