Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Long, toxic day

I had hoped to blog a pile of backlogged stuff today. I had also hoped to teach today. None of those things came to fruition. Today we woke to the banging of pipes before our house filled up with smoke and I had to load the kids, rats, and birds into the car and leave. We didn't actually go anywhere, just down the road a bit. Where can you go with a car full of caged pets? Nowhere, really... well, maybe Petsmart. But no, not in Switzerland.

My house was pretty toxic for hours. The workers claimed to be cleaning the boiler or something to that effect in an apologetic broken mixture of English, French, and German. All I know is that it was awful, and so we sat around in the car reading and knitting. It was cold and overcast, so when the sun finally came out the kids ran around and visited the horses. I made trips back to the house to open windows and turn on fans and forage quickly for snacks. I ended up with an insane headache in the process, but by three o'clock the air and smell had cleared enough for us to bring the pets back inside and have lunch. And by then I was too exhausted to do anything.

I had such fun lessons planned for the day... but this is the kind of curve ball that life throws sometimes. Homeschooling is never separate from life. Imagine the kinds of things kids can learn from strange situations like this. Had they been in school, they would have missed the whole thing.

Instead, they learned about the dangers of smoke inhalation, engaged in a discussion about carbon monoxide, and while we've never talked about fire drills, they got to experience one without all the bells and whistles. (Note to self: check batteries in smoke alarms.) And what a surprise that my children can actually put their shoes on and get outside quickly. Some days have left me wondering about that, but now I really know it's possible.

While we were parked down the road the kids watched a horse being trained. They deepened their friendship with the woman who works with horses. Now that their German has improved she appears to be friendlier with them (and me, too). She met the rats and gave us a free outdoor cage for them, and then invited the kids to help groom the horses. Finally befriending this woman, after trying for one year, was a very big deal.

Our local homeschooling friend showed up around 2pm (there is only one other homeschooling family in our state), and she brought me an essential oil mix that I could drink for my fierce headache. I have never actually imbibed essential oils before, so that was pretty strange but also wonderful. I'm looking forward to buying some at the store next time I go to town.

We also learned the German word for parakeet - Wellensittich - and the German word for carbon monoxide detector - Kohlenmonoxid Detektor. We made a cursory search for one awhile back, but we've never been able to find them in the stores here like you can in the US. Now that I know what it's called... maybe that will help, because I think we really shouldn't go another day without one, especially since the oil boiler lives under our daughter's bedroom. And today we learned just how paper thin our floors and walls really are.

Long, toxic day. Thank goodness for unschooling. We learned so much.


  1. Anonymous3:02 AM

    Oh my gosh, how scary!! I am so glad you guys are ok though! I can't believe a progressive country (or at least they think they are) don't equip all houses with them.

  2. Oh my! I've never heard anything like it!! I don't know what to say. Poor you! I was amazed to read how you managed to turned everything into a learning situation...I couldn't do the same! WOOOW! I hope yo're all doing OK by now!

  3. Oh no Sara, well I'm glad your house didn't stay toxic for too long. Isn't it great how we can survive these little challenges even during our very first weeks of the school year. Off to a good start I would say! But hopefully next week can be a little less thrilling.
    Happy weekend, and happy September!
    xo Renee


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