<< November 2019 :: December 2019

moments from the week

Zion, Lijah, and Nisia running down a hill

Thanksgiving walk run

A few moments from the past week.

Lijah looking at a gigantic puddle blocking the trail in the woods

path blocked

the boys at Thanksgiving dinner

Thanks!

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first snow

It snowed last night, which felt right for the beginning of December. It started late afternoon, leaving Harvey and me with a pretty slippery drive home from Pokemon League, and kept on through the night; in the morning we were greeted with about 10 inches of heavy wet snow. The boys were excited to get out in it—especially Lijah, who hopped right into his new-to-him snowsuit and was first out the door by quite a while.

Lijah posing in his new snowsuit

snow!

Not that everything was joy. While there was enough snow to cancel school here in town, it was mostly rain closer to the ocean so I had to go to work. The boys were torn between going to my parents' house, as they usually do on Mondays, and staying home to play with friends (with Mama, who was working from home for the morning). I ended up deciding for them, and nobody was happy. Yes, Harvey got to play with Jack; but he ended up in a neighborhood snowball fight and as I understand it both gave and received some unkind blows. And Zion was bitterly angry to see, as we drove towards Lexington, the snow changing to rain, and he showed his displeasure with some unkind blows on the back of my seat with his feet. Actually, I shouldn't say nobody was happy; Lijah was completely content.

When Harvey arrived Grandma took the boys sledding. She says their impressions were mixed, but judging by their level of tiredness this evening they must have had a least a couple good runs. The only exercise I got was shoveling—the snow better stick around long enough for me to have some fun in it!

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dinner days

Not counting leftovers, we had two solid Thanksgiving dinners this year. And best of all they were on different days! On Thanksgiving proper we went to my parents' house; they won the honor because my brother and his family were there too. They live far away, so we tend to see them just once a year at most. They're planning to come up at Christmas time too this year, so Thanksgiving was an exciting bonus! Since the Archibalds are old-fashioned folks we ate our dinner at 1:00. There was all the food you'd expect, and each of us boys had a different thing we liked the best. The early dinner time was great because it let us digest for a little bit and then head out for a walk while there was still plenty of light. A short walk—we weren't really up for much exertion. And there was dessert waiting at home. I made an apple pie.

cousins mid-walk

On Friday we reprised the holiday with Leah's parents and brother. I was meant to bring corn bread, which was unfortunate because I'm not good at making corn bread and also because our oven stopped working briefly in the middle of the cooking. The delay meant I missed some playing and socializing time, but at least I wasn't late for dinner! I even got there in time to watch Leah's brother carve the turkey in the optimal scientific way, which was amazing. I should take lessons: I've never actually carved a turkey, but every time I try to cut up a chicken it's a disaster. This turkey, barbecued, was as tasty as it was well-carved. We got some of the leftovers too, and they were wonderful in sandwiches Saturday. I call this Thanksgiving a success.

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breakfast standards

I like to think we do pretty well for breakfasts around here. I've heard friends say that even cereal is too much trouble for them in the morning, so they limit themselves to a breakfast bar on the way out the door. None of that for us! Still, I come to understand that I still have improvements to make.

In our book club we're reading the fantastic Gone-Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright. I've read it lots of times before but I'm always glad for another go. Her sequel, Return to Gone-Away, isn't quite as good, but it's still plenty compelling enough for me to give it another run-through this weekend. And on page 29 I read the the following words:

Aunt Hilda's breakfasts were famous: varied and original, not just the ordinary plodding through of cereal and eggs and toast.

Eggs and toast ordinary?! Here I thought I was doing pretty well to get a hot breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs on the table four or five mornings a week. I do agree with her on the cereal though—at least so far as cereal by itself is concerned. So what would she have extraordinary cooks prepare? Here's Aunt Hilda's breakfast that day: "fresh orange juice, hot buckwheat cakes with butter and apple jelly, and bacon." Sounds good to me. Does anyone have a good recipe for buckwheat cakes? How about a suggestion for getting the kids to try them?

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unschooling children know no schedule

After a very busy day at our house, in which we hosted a segment of our new co-op for wreath making (11 kids in all), I was ready to go to sleep right after supper. To be honest, I was ready to go to sleep not to long after lunch, but it didn't seem appropriate to just abandon guests and children and retire to the bedroom, so I kept myself going. And then I kept myself going some more after supper, because the younger boys finally started writing.

Now, when I say writing I don't mean they were actually putting letters on paper themselves. Lijah can't really, yet—or at least you don't want him to, since it's tiring to not only tell him how to spell a word, very slowly, but also draw each letter in the air so he knows how to make it. And Zion's writing genius was stifled by my early attempts to make him write down his own stories. That was a mistake.

Happily, Lijah is unendingly creative; and having learned better, I now just do my best to capture his stories as they emerge and get them down on paper for him. It turns out that when I do it creates a positive feedback loop: he's tickled to hear his own stories and wants to make more of them. Mostly so far he's just done one page and moved on, but this evening he was inspired by Harvey's working on a comic strip (at the dinner table, but whatever) to string together eight pages of material featuring Thor, the devil, Wiley Coyote, Nuliujuk, and more. Not to be outdone, Zion created his own eight-page book. More coherent, if less wildly original, it's a story about a meteor crashing to earth and releasing a cloud of battling Pokemon.

All this creativity took place between 6:30 and 7:45, which may be early evening for some people but is definitely the center of the bedtime hour for us. So that was delayed. Worse, writing time also kept anyone from doing their kitchen chores, so after I got everyone tucked in bed at around 8:30—Leah is out for the evening—I had to come down and start the dishes. But I think it was worth it. Stories are important. I can't wait to see what they think of next.

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our home learning community this week

Our homeschool co-op wrapped up a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, but we're not letting that slow our community gatherings down one bit. We're participating in one book group and leading another; plus, out of the ashes of our former co-op, which had been organized by AHEM (Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts; don't you just love that acronym?!), a new group is rising like a phoenix, bigger and better than before. So the last couple days we've spent lots of time engaged in some relatively organized activities, and it's been delightful (if exhausting).

Today, for example, we made butter. It was part of our Gone-Away Lake book club; we also made two kinds of jam and popcorn, did some art, and played outside. Oh, and finished reading the book together! I say "we", but in this context I'm mostly an onlooker—an assistant at best. Our friend Angel organized the proceedings and the kids did most of the work, though they did let me take a hand in the butter making. I've always wanted to paddle butter! It came out very nicely.

homemade jam and butter on the counter

homework

As I mentioned, we had our turn at hosting at yesterday's wreath-making event. I was out early in the morning shoveling off the new back deck (it doesn't matter that it's not quite finished, because I just left the snow on the unfinished part!) and clearing out the fireplace. It was lovely being out there in the sunshine with the fire crackling away (and smoking, but that can't be helped), and the wreaths came out great. It was super fun to see how different they were—big and small, neat and wild—depending on the patience and temperament of the creator. And all were well be-ribboned, thanks to a 70% off deal at Joanne Fabrics.

kids and adults making wreathes on our back deck

also homework

I made one on contract for Lijah, but I was running around too much to finish my own, the one I want to put on on the front of the house. Maybe next week will be calm enough for me to get back to it. I just need to get a little sleep first.

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<< November 2019 :: December 2019