I guess we can do this tree thing

We get our Christmas trees at Chip-In Farm, where we also get our supplementary eggs and other assorted grocery items. It's on the way back from Concord, so after our outing on Thursday we stopped by to look at Christmas trees. It's still early, if you ask me, but I was under some pressure from other members of the family; don't say I never listen to their needs!

Harvey face in the be-a-tree cutout, Zion smiling just in front

the best at Chip-In Farm

Trees at Chip-In might be a little more expensive than, say, Home Depot, but I'm happy to support the neighborhood farmers. And they do get good trees. Look at these delightful specimens:

three boys pretending to be Christmas trees

the cutest trees there

That was Tuesday; Leah and I got the tree up Wednesday night, and I told the boys Thursday morning that we could decorate it that evening if they were good. They were, or good enough, but then we couldn't find the lights. I think I used them all decorating the porch—all the ones that still work, that is. So this morning we went out and got some more, and before and after lunch we finally got the job done.

the boys decorating the tree

happy elfing

Harvey and Zion are both real helpers this year; aside from the lights, I barely did any of the decorating. Even Lijah wasn't any more destructive than constructive: he only broke one ornament, and was about even in how many he put on the tree versus the number he removed. I think it looks fine!

the decorated tree

here it is


Concord River, early December

Despite the snow on the ground the air was mild and almost springlike Tuesday, when we took a trip to the Concord River at the Old North Bridge.

the boys walking down the snowy bank to the Concord River

still wet

The boys were disappointed not to see more ice, but they did manage to find a little bit over on the marshy side of the river. It wouldn't bear their weight, but that made it all the more fun to stomp on and fall through, dropping a couple inches (exact number delightfully variable) with each step. They were wearing their rain boots; Lijah and I weren't, so we stayed far away.

Harvey and Zion across the meadow by the river

it's exciting over there

Then of course there was the bridge to explore. We played Minutemen and Redcoats (Lijah and I were the Redcoats, and we lost), and the boys made it snow by kicking almost all the snow down off the bridge deck. And not one of them fell in!

them up on the North Bridge kicking snow down

look out below

Despite the beautiful weather we had the place to ourselves almost the entire time. Just the way we like it.

Harvey and Zion standing on a dock looking at the bridge



missing: blog subscription

When I messed up updating my computer I lost, as well as two years of email, two years of RSS data. (I'm one of the fifteen people who still use RSS; I don't know how the rest of you survive without it.) Luckily I haven't had time in the past two years to discover many new blogs; and the content of any post is of course recoverable. But there's one blog I subscribed to in the lost years that I can't, for the life of me, remember in any detail. It's a left-wing Christian site (or "Jesus-following", to be fair and accurate) that posts pieces from a variety of authors—sometimes full articles, often poems or snippets—every day. Sound familiar to anyone? Um... the site has a dark background? If you come across it, please let me know. I didn't always read the post every day, but I appreciated knowing I could if I wanted to.

the primacy of reading

Harvey is really reading now, and as I predicted it's taking him away from other activities—like doing his chores. I totally understand how other parents wish they had this problem, just like when he was younger I wished I had a child who would wander off rather than just clinging to me or looking to play with me all the time. I suppose now he's wandering off in books. He read a whole chapter book in one sitting the other day, 150 pages (with pictures). In his defense it was a pretty good book, and I recommended it highly.

cover image of Dory Dory Black Sheep

It's called Dory Dory Black Sheep, by Abby Hanlon and it's apparently the third book in a series about Dory, a six-year-old with a tremendous imagination. In this book she's feeling bad because she doesn't know how to read. While I loved the book—and yes, almost all my reading comes from the kids section of the library these days—I'm a little troubled by the implicit assumption that it's a good thing for imaginative, well-adjusted (by some measures) six-year-olds to be reading. In the story she's exposed to reasonable first-grade teaching methods, but it's peer pressure that makes her want to read: her new best friend is reading chapter books, and Dory is afraid the friend won't like her if she can't read.

So it's a pretty sensitive treatment, and probably true to a lot of kids' experience in first grade. That means I don't fault the author—and I'm looking forward to reading the other two books, and reading them to Zion—but wish the culture were such that Dory could be telling stories to her friends in school and being valued for that skill. Because, once she can read, will she stop living half in an imaginative world of her own creation? Few authors can compete with real kids' imagination. But when you can read, books are tempting, tempting!

Still and all, I'm pretty proud of Harvey. And imagination-wise he's long been someone who looks for official sources for his imaginative worlds—he's an oldest child, and needs to make sure he has things correct—so probably the more books the better. Just as long as he keeps feeding those hens too!


a little snow day

After a busy day yesterday we were ready for some downtime today, and the weather very kindly obliged.

some hens in the snow

coping alright

Unlike last time the boys weren't particularly excited—understandable given the demands on their energy yesterday. But there's still plenty to enjoy on a snowy day without going outside: it's awful pretty, for one!

holly berries with snow on them

the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red

I've noticed that not everyone appreciates snow. On a rainy day last week I heard a someone remark how glad she was it wasn't snow, and folks in the grocery store this evening were talking about how they weren't ready for snow and cold yet. And, sure, it can complicate things: it kept us from seeing our friends today, which was a bit of drag. But we'll survive.

It seems to me that by December we should be ready for snow—emotionally and materially. Or at least incrementally more ready as we see the forecast temperature dropping. Our neighbors across the street weren't ready, lawn-wise—or rather their landscaping company wasn't. It was really something to watch ten men with leaf blowers trying to clear a quarter-acre lawn of wet leaves as snow fell pretty heavily. They did it, but it took a couple hours! I don't feel particularly superior; never mind the unraked leaves (deliberate, but still), I still have hoses out. However! With an eye on the forecast, I spent some time over the weekend finally getting some kind of waterproof material to cover the plywood roof of the shed. I don't get very much accomplished, so that was satisfying.

the shed and fence with snow falling

the tools are warm and dry

It only took a year after the shed went up for me to get to it! Luckily it didn't snow that much last winter. Well, we're ready now!