spring cycling for Harvey

March 31 and there's still over a foot of snow across the street on our neighbor's lawn. This evening as I read to Harvey I had a sudden memory of once, some distant moment in the misty past, sleeping with the windows open as gentle spring breezes wafted the curtains and scented the air with their perfume. There are no gentle spring breezes yet; winter still has us pretty much in its grip.

That said, there was definitely some sun today, and some warm weather—and we took full advantage! We spent most of the day outside, playing in the yard, and in the street, and roaming further afield. A considerable distance of roaming, actually; counting it up afterwards I figure that Harvey rode his bike a little over six miles on outings today, not counting the innumerable times up and down our street.

Ever since got his training wheels off, a couple weeks ago, he's been pretty serious about his cycling. There was a little setback a couple days after his two-wheeler breakthrough, when a friend backed over his bike with her car and rendered it unrideable; but on the upside that led us to dig through the shed to find a replacement that ended up being a better fit for an increasingly confident rider. (His confidence also extends to not caring a bit that it's pink and Barbie-branded.) Consistent riding means his balance gets better and better, and his turns are now as nimble as mine—more so, even, with his shorter wheelbase. No more, playing bike chase, can I out-turn him to turn the hunted into the hunter.

As much as we enjoy games like that on our dead-end street, he sees me modeling cycling distances for transportation and wants to get in on the action. Sure, he wasn't enthusiastic about joining us on our family walk to Whole Foods this morning (once we got going, Leah said, "Isn't life nice when none of the adults have to work!"), but he did great once we got going. Then we joined our neighbors on a ride up to the library—but we didn't have time to go in, since we had to get home and take over the Lijah care when Leah went to do an errand. Well, that wouldn't do for my pair of library lovers, so we hooked up the trailer for Lijah and headed right back up the hill. So yeah, a little over six miles without a complaint.

Even though we're riding in mittens, getting out in the fresh air makes spring feel a little more real. And with all that good outdoor exercise, we fall asleep so quick we have less time to mind the closed windows!

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the hens these days

Our yard is about 25% clear of snow at this point, so the hens were able to enjoy their first full day out of their coop in, oh, a couple months. They enjoyed it to the fullest, pecking and scratching the visible grass to within an inch of its life—and probably beyond in a few spots. That's why we waited until there was as much showing as there is, since a couple days ago they would have dug a foot-deep mud puddle in the one little open spot they could find! They show their appreciation for the warmer weather and more varied diet by laying more eggs. While playing outside yesterday, the boys checked in the laying boxes and brought out a half dozen—which they then put in their pockets while they climbed over the fence to come inside. Amazingly, there were no smashes!

Our flock's laying trails off to nothing in the winter because we don't light their henhouse. As I understand it, hens need 14 hours of light a day to lay at their fullest rate. Not only did we not want to bother running electricity and hanging lights, we also aren't interested in speeding up our birds' laying life... since we're not sure what we're going to do with them when they don't have any more eggs to give. But another good reason occurred to me for the first time this morning, as I listened to them squawking and arguing first thing in the morning: it's bad enough worrying about them waking the neighbors at 5:30. I can't imagine them making that racket at, what, 4:00! No, we'll stick with things as they are!

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this moment

Harvey and Zion playing in a snowless patch in the neighbors' yard

far away play

A moment from the week.

Where I've been.... mostly in the laundry room

I have been off the blog for a month now... it's not for lack of things to say it's just that I've been WORKING. By working I don't mean exchanging my time for money, haha. More like exchanging my time for meals and reasonably happy children and laundry-not-soaked-in-vomit. I sometimes fantasize about working elsewhere, somewhere quieter perhaps, but then I'd have to exchange money for meals and happy children and sheets and I don't think it would come out even in the end. Anyway, here are a few things I've started this past month while being completely underwater, and by underwater I mean under vomit. Can I say vomit one more time in a paragraph? No, that would be declasse. I'll say puke.

Threaded the loom, and wove a few rows because I have an undying sense of optimism even in the face of parenthood.

the loom looms

We did some literal garage banding at a friend's party. They just moved into a new house so there basement is unfinished and unabashedly loud.

"music"

I made a muslin for Harvey's Easter coat. One more week until I need to get the real things finished, not only coat but vests and ties.

debonaire

Meanwhile, he hasn't taken the tester off since I gave it to him. He just keeps changing the pants to go from sailor to king to pirate. I love this boy so much, and next time I make a muslin I'm going to fully line the collar so it sticks up straight.

Okay, enough wasting time on the internet! Back to work!

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homeschool parent nerves

When you homeschool, people are naturally interested in what you're doing with the kids. Only I always feel a little sheepish when they ask me, because my answer tends to be "not much." Or maybe that's not quite fair: it's just that most of the learning we do tends to be pretty much randomly scattered around the day, unconnected to anything we could ever hope to label as "curriculum". There's not much in the way of assessment, either. Sometimes this makes me a little nervous; as I mentioned last year, I tend to be a little competitive when it comes to the achievements of my offspring, so there are definitely days when I think that I should sit Harvey down and put a test in front of him or something. Actually, when I'm in those moods it's mostly the sitting down that feels important to me—I think of all those millions of kids learning to hold still and follow directions and wonder if Harvey needs to be doing that too.

Which of course is ridiculous. He absolutely can sit still when he wants to, and in lots of ways is basically a model student. Check out this video of him at age two to see what kind of a baseline we're working from (really, check it out: it's pretty much the best video ever made). If someone is ready with interesting content, or even a compelling reason why boring content is worthwhile, he'll be totally willing to endure the presentation. And in my more rational moments I know that what he needs isn't more sitting, it's more running around playing imaginative games.

So mostly I let him run (or build with legos or listen to music or whatever). But every once and while we throw formal schooling a bone. Here's the last formative assessment he did, back in January (formative assessment means "test" in teacher language).

a scanned math paper

the sticker is how they do it at school

Today Harvey, Zion, and I sat and drew pictures for each letter of the alphabet. That is, Harvey and I drew, and Zion looked on and told us what letter should be next. Harvey easily thought of something to draw for almost every letter (I was particularly impressed by his quick choice of "quilt" for Q) and he drew everything confidently in his own, admittedly non-standard, style. That seems like pretty fair for kindergarten if you ask me. So tomorrow if all we do is play legos, ride bikes, and read stories, I won't feel like that's any kind of a problem at all; and maybe I'll even be able to own it proudly when someone asks what we've been up to.

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