how do you organize your life?

Up above these words is our tagline: "living our values, as soon as we figure out what they are." We came up with it in a moment of inspiration and it's kind of a joke, but it's also kind of absolutely true. Like most people, I assume, we want to live in accordance with some higher principles. The hard part is doing that when ignoring principles would be easier—like, with cold rain in the forecast for the rest of the week I was kind of wishing we had two cars so I could drive to work. Good thing we could never afford another car anyway!

Lately I've been thinking about living values on another level: whether I actually spend my time doing the things I claim to want to do. That comes down to organization.

Modern life and media makes it easy to use up a lot of time on things we might not care that much about, objectively considered. I sit down at my computer and impulsively check out Google News... why?! I don't care, particularly, about what's happening in the world—at least not at that arbitrary moment. And beyond the news there's an endless galaxy of writing on all kinds of topics—fantastic writing, about things which would expand my understanding of the world! (also, for the record, lots of bad writing about stupid things). But when I have concrete tasks to work on—tasks I want to work on!—reading for enjoyment and vague self-improvement isn't the best use of my time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no sort of Puritan. Reading is awesome, and just about any reading is self-improving. Watching TV shows too, if you're into that. The question is one of time management. And I'm trying to think more explicitly about it this week. To that end, I've set myself some goals for the week—high-level ones, rather than to-do list items. My theory is that, with them in mind, I can look at what I'm doing at any moment and see if it lines up with any of those goals. If it doesn't, do I have a good reason for doing it?

It's Wednesday morning; so far, so good. It does mean that this blog post, which I started Monday, is only getting finished now. Every other point when I though about sitting down at the computer I prioritized something else—sleeping, largely. But this morning it's too wet to work in the garden and the rest of the family isn't up yet, so it's prime writing time. So here you go!

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moments from the week

Harvey and Zion with Easter baskets on their heads

Easter sillies

Moments from the past vacation week.

naked Lijah spraying the hose

warm watering

Zion sliding into the wading pool in the backyard

swimming in the yard

Lijah sitting on the Easter picnic table

convenient to the food

Lijah and Zion sitting on the curb enjoying slushes

slush buddies

Harvey with boots on his hands in the house (and Lijah holding a sword)

just a typical morning at our house

Harvey and Lucy being horses, Zion and Clara riding them on a green field

off to the races

Zion smiling (sort of) with his magnatiles construction on the new rug

building on the new rug

Zion and Nathan running on the street, seen from the porch

outside and active

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our tiny Patriots Day celebrity

The Bedford parade and pole capping feels like months ago now: we've been through like two seasons since then. But it was really only a couple weeks, so I'm not too late in posting this collection of images that the Bedford Citizen collected. Or only a little bit too late: I had the link open in a tab for a couple days before I managed to actually look at it this evening, mainly to see if the boys and I made it into any photos. Sure enough, there we are on page 8, top right-hand corner. There are lots of very pretty photos to see in that document; ours, sadly, is not one of them. But at least it shows we were there!

As it happens, so were a great many other people, many of them kids. Why did they pick us to single out—with a not-technically-accomplished photograph, no less?! Is it just because we're locally famous for getting around town on a ridiculous bicycle? Was it Lijah's tiger pajamas? Realistically, it was probably Zion's musket that did it; nobody else thought to bring their guns to town this year. On the next page the only kid in attendance wearing ear protection also gets a photo, so it could be they were looking for uniqueness rather than beauty. And there's no denying we're unique! Sometimes even more than I'd like... but mostly I'm just proud. There are worse things than having people pay attention to you as a result of your strange life choices.

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April makes Patriots of us all

Hot on the heels of Easter, Monday was Patriots Day. We hardly had time to recover—didn't have time, in fact, but we couldn't stop and rest: there was a parade to go to! Unlike last year we didn't make a big thing of inviting lots of folks to join us in biking and picnicking and watching, but we did mention it in passing; and such was the success of last years event that we had plenty of company again this year. Including Lijah, enjoying his first Patriots Day parade since his first one!

Lijah waving a flag along the parade route

Patriot boy

Our ride up was almost a perfect success, with the children 7 and up leading out at a blistering pace and two new riders—kindergarten and pre-K—making their longest effort to date. Unfortunately one of them (it was Julen) wrecked mere yards from our destination and busted his lip, but his enthusiasm was only dimmed for half an hour or so. It did kind of spoil his appreciation of our picnic lunch though! There was lots of food to delight the rest of us, and he did manage a popsicle.

Harvey, Zion, Lucy, and Clara picnicing on the green

plentiful pre-parade picnic

After some energetic freeze tag—why do I always have to be it?!—we headed over to our traditional viewing spot. I don't think we were ever all there at the same time, but if you total us all up there were 23 people associated with our party, spanning three generations (six of the kids had grandparents present!). Never mind the giant picnic, we needed slush to ease our wait (Nathan needed fried dough).

our big crowd sitting on (and behind) the curb

we all love a parade

Then we watched the parade. It's a big one. I've long realized that all my parade photos over the years look pretty much the same, so I eased up considerably on the photography. Still, there are some sights I just had to capture.

Lexington minutemen marching

marching

Last year's parade friends were more peripherally interested in the proceedings—this year I was sitting next to friends who enjoy parades as much as I do (and who were attending in Lexington for the first time) so we watched and commented with keen attention. It was lovely. And long... we were all sated with excitement and ready to head home when the last tank finally rolled past.

The ride home went just as well as the ride up. Julen, recovered in body but not in spirit, chose to join Zion and Lijah in the blue bike; it made a heavy load, but I could manage it downhill. More serious was the heavy crowd of walkers on the bike path through Lexington Center, but our kids only hit one elderly pedestrian hard enough for anyone to notice. Then the crowds thinned out and we were rolling free.

the gang, including me on the blue bike. heading home on the bike path

satisfied parade-goers

Leah, who had stayed home working, was ready to greet us on our arrival with veggie straws and ice water. Just the thing—the kids were hungry despite eating constantly for the past four hours, and we were all hot and tired. The weather wasn't actually that warm, but shepherding—not to mention carrying—all those kids is hot and thirsty work!

Then some of the crowd headed home, one additional child joined us for a sleep over with Harvey, and we all had dinner together.

lots of kids and a few adults eating at our picnic tables

outside again? why not

It was a tiring day, on top of another tiring day, capping off a tiring week. No wonder Lijah fell asleep before he could finish his dinner.

Lijah asleep in my lap

all worn out and done up

I was pretty wiped out too—yesterday I couldn't hold my head up to type by evening, so this story went unwritten. But I couldn't leave it too long. I'm sure there's lots more adventure coming this vacation week, and I don't want to get backlogged!

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our Easter day

suited and barefoot Zion on the steps with a basket full of eggs

the egg hunter

Yesterday was Easter, and it was full and celebratory. The weather was beautiful all day, and we enjoyed sharing the day with lots of friends. But first—before breakfast or even Easter baskets—with the photoshoot:

the boys in their Easter finery

celebratory clothing

Unfortunately, the rising sun was in the subjects' eyes, but you get the idea. At least they weren't dirty. This is the first year since Harvey was born that Leah didn't make new clothes for the boys the holiday—she's a little busy—which meant that they had to make due with hand-me-downs, or, in Harvey's case, awesome African duds from Auntie Nelly. They still looked sharp.

At church we all got right to work either setting up an awesome, welcoming service, or freaking out at all the rush and business—as appropriate for the age or general coping skills of each of us. When it was apparent that there was going to be enough food, and enough eggs hidden, and enough greeters, I could relax. Leah couldn't quite as much, since Lijah's freak-out was only magnified by the above-normal crowds. So he had some quiet time. Then there was the egg hunt. Sadly, due to its early start I missed seeing Harvey and Zion hunt, but I did make it in time to see Lijah at work (he was drawn out of seclusion by the prospect of candy).

Lijah holding up an egg on the church playground

green egg and bunny

And, of course, I caught up with Zion afterwards to get a load of his haul, as pictured above (he made a mockery of the eight-egg limit, but he was their early to help hide them so maybe it's ok..).

There was another service after that but everyone was exhausted, so Leah and the boys headed home to set up for our egg hunt and party. I was on the clock so I had to stay. And I enjoyed the second service; then enjoyed the hot bike ride home, an hour when I didn't have to talk to a single person. The boys had a more conventional rest, so they were raring to go when 4:00 rolled around and our egg hunt opened for business.

Harvey saluting with his basket on his head

pre-hunt high spirits

It went well; I think there's not more than a dozen unfound eggs littering our yard today.

Kamilah reaching for an egg

like you do

We didn't have many kids join us this year—just six hunters counting our three, and three babies—but there were lots of us old folks, plus one special guest.

Harvey making friends with a puppy

making friends

The second-graders there were glad to share their obsessive sorting and categorization of prizes; I think they made some trades too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana sorting eggs on the stage

checking the loot

Zion is in that picture too, but he also played; the other two sorted for like, an hour. Maybe more. They love sorting. In their defense, there were lots of cool things in the eggs this year: dinosaurs, Peanuts dog tags, Squinkies (if you don't know, don't ask). Not so much candy, but that was fine—we had plenty of treats available.

lots of desserts on the table outside

just desserts (and drinks)

The party ran on cheerfully until darkness, light rain, and too-far-past-bedtime drove our guests away, and we went to bed dreaming of the next adventures. Today was just as full and exciting; maybe I'll manage to write about it tomorrow.

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