family time

With all the other kids at our house Mondays and Thursdays for day camp, life can feel kind of squeezed and stressful for our own boys. So we try and make sure they have quiet time to decompress, and also that we have time to do fun things together just as a family. On Monday evenings, that often means Springs Brook Park.

Lijah playing with the little fountains in the spray park

the shallow end of the spray park

We're members there now (and without Leah even having to sell an organ!) so we feel like we can stop by whenever. Leah swam laps while the boys and I played in the pond and the spray park; only the latter is pictured since I was having too much fun with them in the pond for photography.

Harvey running under a heavy spray of water

more serious flow

We brought a picnic supper to have on the grass, but no desert—so we were forced to treat ourselves to popsicles from the concession stand. Happy summer everyone!

Lijah working on a popsicle

the good stuff

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this moment

naked Lijah smiling bihind a chickenwire gate

lots of nudie time these days

A moment from the week.

morning with Lijah

looking north along the Concord River, early morning

dawn on the Concord

Tuesday I took Lijah out of the house early so Leah could have some quiet time after a rough night. We biked down to the river.

Lijah standing on the dock at the boat launch

in? wawa?

It was a beautiful morning, and the mist was still rising. Of course Lijah only cared about one thing.

Lijah's bare feet in the shallow water

satisfaction

I enjoy sharing moments with that little boy. As nice as it was experiencing the scene in that first picture, it was even better with him.

Lijah playing in the river, with morning mist

worth waking up early for

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elderflowers

As I mentioned the other day, two years ago we planted two little elderberry bushes. They were just little things their first year, in real danger of being destroyed by kids playing ball, but the next year they shot up wonderfully, and produced lots of flowers and then berries; only I didn't know what to do with them. This year the yield looks to be double what it was a year ago, and even though I still don't know what I'm doing I went ahead and cut the latecomers among the blossoms for elderflower syrup.

an almost-full quart of elderflower syrup

finished product

We followed (roughly) the recipe on this page. The first step was pulling all the flowers off their stems, and Harvey and Lijah set to the task with a will.

Harvey and Elijah stripping elderflower clusters

one more helpful than the other

(OK, so Lijah was more interested in eating the flowers, but he was still totally part of the process.)

I'm not clear what I'm going to do with the syrup, besides give it away (two half-pints already gone!), but I tried some in some soda water and it was pleasantly refreshing. We'll make more next year.

Naturally, the flowers we picked means that many fewer berries from the plants. But there's no shortage, so in a month or so there will also be elderberry syrup and jelly available for interested parties.

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a tale of two outings

On Friday the boys and I took a walk in the woods and marshes across the street.

Zion walking through tall brush

pushing his way through

The cranberry bogs we slid on last winter are all dried out now—for the summer or forever remains to be seen—so we thought we'd have an easy time of it, and maybe even be able to cross the brook for the first time ever. There were certainly some pretty sights along the way.

a pink flower

I should know what it's called

But there was also hot sun and bugs and, worst of all, vast stands of grass with tiny barbs all over its leaves. It's growing everywhere that in another summer would be wet, and pushing through it with the day camp group on Thursday we ended up with cuts all over our legs. Friday we had long pants, but Zion and sometimes even Harvey had to watch out for wounds to the arms. So when we reached the brook we called a halt for a snack and headed back, defeated.

the boys standing on the meadowy bank of Hartwell brook

as far as we could get

Still, it was a beautiful hike and we all enjoyed most of it.

Saturday we ventured into downtown Boston, against Leah's much better judgement, to take in a little bit of very loud music at the Copley Arts Festival.

Harvey eating an apple in front of the Copley Arts Festival stage

with snacks of course

Despite the crowds we were able to meet up with some friends who, settling in for the long haul towards the start of the day-long proceedings, had texted us where they were hanging out (sadly, we missed a different group of friends who were there at the same time). Being country mice, we didn't spend much time in front of the stage, instead seeking out some slightly quieter spaces with a little more room to play.

Leah and Lijah sitting on the steps of the empty fountain

not so crowded there

And of course, we also took in the sights of the big city.

Harvey standing on a pedestal, with Trinity Church and the Prudential Tower behind him

he's almost as tall as it

Half of the reason I wanted to go was to give the boys another trip on the train, the first since our adventure back in November. They were appropriately appreciative, even when tired out at the end of the day.

Harvey and Zion on the Red Line platform

the way home

Lijah turns out to be a big fan as well: he was shining with excitement and delight all the way there. That the same excitement kept him from falling asleep on the way home—despite a great and obvious need—until just before our last stop was unfortunate but maybe predictable. We'll give him another chance in a couple months.

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