It turned out to be a mild winter in the Hudson Valley, which the kids really enjoyed. I might have known this would be the case, since we went to the trouble of installing the snow plough on our tractor. (I’ll have to remember to do the same thing next winter!) There was very little snow to speak of, although the kids managed to get some sledding a couple of times over the winter. They liked the mild weather, and were out in short sleeves playing in the park in February.

Unfortunately, because of the warm weather, the cold and flu season was particular bad over the last few weeks, and it seems as if every bug that was going around managed to find its way into our house. Poor Conall was even sick on his 5th birthday. His birthday wish was to be “unsick”, as well as for a list of trains which he got from Grandma, and which she and Jenn helped him set up on a big train table in our great room. When I came home from work that day he took me by the hand into the room and, waving to it, pronounced “Voila!” He was very impressed with the set up, and showed it off to everyone who stopped by.

Conall is becoming quite the conversationalist. The other day he overheard us talking about mad cow disease, and he piped up
Mad cow disease is a real puzzle. They’re still trying to figure it out.
Sometimes, unfortunately, he’s not very diplomatic. At a play date recently his seven-year old friend had a nerf gun that Conall wanted to play with. When his friend John refused to let him play with it, Conall yelled at him “Idiot!” Poor John was upset, and ran to the kitchen where his Mom and Jenn were talking. When Jenn heard what had happened, she said to Conall, “Now Conall, what do we say?” Conall paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and yelled “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!”

As he gets older Conall is becoming more and more the extrovert, and a bit of a show off. Jenn, of course, claims that he’s taking more and more after his father. (Wait until I tell him how we’re descended from the Gods in Ireland!). His expressions – both verbal and facial – are hilarious and keep us laughing a lot. When Jenn told him, for example, that he needed to get a birthday haircut, he responded, “So I can look fabulous?”
He’s really gotten into music lately (a new obsession from trains), especially rock music, and particularly groups like Bon Jovi and Stiff Little Fingers. He tells us all that he is going to be a “rocker”, and whenever I come home from work he asks me to put on some rock music for him so that he can do his air guitar and air drums. Unfortunately he’s already hinting that he wants a real set of drums for Christmas…. we better stock up on ear plugs.
Orla enjoys rocking with her little brother, although in real life the playing that she does is on the violin that she took up recently. Meanwhile, Eoghan plays around on the acoustic guitar that Santa brought him…so we continue to have our own little family jam sessions now and again. (Jenn is convinced that he’ll really appreciate it when he discovers girls…)

As far as “country life” goes, our first massacre happened when we experienced our first fox attack recently. Five of the kids’ favorite chickens fell victim to the family of foxes that live in the field next to our barn. I now understand the appeal of fox-hunting, with Orla wanting to take up hunting and shooting when she’s old enough. She dreams of ridding the world of foxes. Fortunately, given the carnage, we added some new chicks to the house and they are just out of the brooder, out to the coop to join the dozen or so survivors. Just two days ago we lost three quail to some small predator that managed to get at them through the small chicken wire in their pen; we’re not sure if it was a mink or some member of the cat family…So the kids are learning pretty quickly about the circle of life! We’ve also added a couple of rabbits to the housefold, and Orla is working with these for her 4H projects. These new additions should help take her mind off of the losses.

Eoghan, more a of computer fan than an animal fan at the moment, has found a group of buddies – including one of his cousins in Ireland – to play Minecraft online with. Jenn was impressed to see that he has even figured out how to install his own “mods”, and with these extensions he is able to apply some of his artistic ability to building impressive architecture and sculptures in some of his “worlds”. Like Orla, he still enjoys his art lessons, and he submitted an art poster on the subject of The Titanic to a US Coast Guard competition. Winners get to have their work framed and displayed in the national headquarters, in Washington D.C. If he wins, I promised to take him to the capital to see it!


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