this moment

the table outside with food, tablecloth, Luke, Bridget, Mama, and Lijah

first picnic supper of 2015

A moment from the week.

Elijah's first bike trip as cargo

I took a break from bike transportation for the better part of over a year, in order to raise a third child. There are some stupid rules in our state about babies under one not going on bicycles. This is not a blog post about that, because that would be an angry anarchist rant. Instead, this is a blog post about hope. The first bike trip with me and three kids altogether.

setting off!

From a test drive in our home street yesterday we learned that Elijah likes riding in the blue bike. I thought I'd start with a sort ride up to the bagel store to see if he'd stay buckled in. It's not a 5-point harnas, but he stayed still with the lap belt.

Young biker happily eating a bagel. You can see our bike through the store window, a totally unintentional but beautiful selfie staging.

After fueling up with bagels and milk, the boys decided they could take on a ride further afield, down the bike path towards Billerica.

look at him go!

We went about half a mile to a playground we remembered from two years ago, at the abandoned Coast Guard housing.

grass growing around the play structure is eerie yet kind of nice

The 20 small single family homes have stood empty for years, since the Coast Guard cleared out. It's a colossal waste of infrastructure in a town that desperately needs more affordable housing, but this is not an anarchist rant.

empty neighborhood

On the ride home Elijah had some things to rant about. He was desperate to fall asleep, and couldn't find a comfortable position. Poor thing. The trip was proof of concept that he can stay in the bucket, but not that he can sleep comfortably in it.

Lijah sleeping slumped forward in the blue bike

not the most comfortable sleeping position. The lap belt around his waist is holding him in.

Hopefully this is just the start of a very freeing summer. Here's my happy face selfie. It smiles at the future.

biking selfie. No helmet, i know i know.


don't curse the kids

A while ago the boys and I were up by the playground and we passed a mom picking up her kids from the after-school program. In the maybe thirty seconds we could overhear them, as we went by in the opposite direction, the mom told the kids not to do three things, framing all of them in terms of the dire outcome she feared. "Don't walk on the curb, you'll fall." "Don't run!" "Watch out in the parking lot, you'll get hit by a car!"

Now these were big girls—middle and upper elementary school—and they didn't need correction like that anyway (and I noticed that they didn't much listen either). But even if they were little, I think there might have been a better way for the mom to frame her suggestions.

There's a strand of thought in Christian circles, which may or may not derive from the writing of Derek Prince, that suggests the existence in our lives of blessings and curses. I don't know a tremendous lot about the matter, but as I understand it the theory is that our words have power. If, for example, you announce that you get lost every time you try and drive downtown, it might increase your chances of poor navigational results in the future. Or, more seriously (and maybe more realistically) if you tell your kids in a moment of frustration that "nobody in this family ever amounts to anything" you might really prejudice their chances of future success. A blessing, obviously, would have the reverse effect: "You're going to do great on the test today, honey!" will, in most cases, be useful encouragement to the little test-taker.

Whether or not you buy all that, I think it's worthwhile for parents to consider just why they're including these predictions of doom in their directions to their kids. Do they think kids won't obey without a reason? I suppose it's possible. But even then, it's possible to give justification without wishing bad results on your offspring—or at the very least denying them agency for their own feelings ("You need to wear your jacket. You're going to be cold!"). I have been known to say to my own kids, in that very same parking lot, "be careful as you walk here, the drivers aren't always paying attention." Which is true, and probably explains the mom in the first paragraph's fear. But I try to leave open the possibility of rational consideration, and try not to make ridiculously improbable predictions.

Because that's maybe the worst of it: the girls were wicked not going to fall off the curb, and I don't think anyone's ever been hit by a car in that lot (praise be). So the mom wasn't just negative, she was flat-out wrong. And if one of her kids did fall off the curb, what would her response have been: "I told you so?!" I can't imagine.

So put yourself on the same team as your kids—as anyone you talk to—and don't predict that bad things will happen to them if they don't follow your advice. Tell them your thinking, sure: "that wall is very high and the ground at the bottom of it is hard and sharp; if you fall it will probably hurt." But maybe hold back on the curses.


20 hours of sewing and I can't be bothered to blog about it

In the past I've taken the week after easter to write some self-congratulatory blog post about the adorable suits I sewed for the boys. Either I'm becoming more mature in my old age or I'm just too tired now to self-congratulate. I sit down in the evening and think: I should write a blog post something. Then I do the dishes.

This is half blogging procrastination and half because there are now a lot of dishes to do. Our dishwasher is broken, and washing dishes by hand is the way of the past that is now the way of the future.

Also, I've had a negative attitude after Easter, and not just because we threw a BIG party with A LOT of dishes. I let Harvey take my camera the morning after Easter and he shattered every shred of self-congratulation I had left with pictures such as this one:

skipping the easter chocolate was apparently not enough

On Easter itself I wore a white sweater that was equally unflattering..

a friend totally snapped this with her iphone and emailed it to me as if it wouldn't completely break my self-concept

Maybe if I'd been doing Pilates for an hour a day in March instead of wasting all that time sewing, it would look like I have a jelly-roll or some similar glutinous substance hanging over the waistband of my pants. Instead, I have ugly photos of myself and lovely photos of three very well-dressed children.

well dressed gentlemen

For those who want to sew along with me, I used the same pants and vest patterns I used in previous years, modified for size. The new sewing challenges this year were a morning coat for Harvey and ascot ties all around. The morning coat took the most time out of any piece of sewing but it was the most well received. With Dan's help I modified a jacket pattern to make it longer and more fitted, and I lengthened the colar. I added welt pockets, turned up tails in the back, and a boutonniere hole that Harvey didn't want to use in the end.

Harvey in his Easter suit leaning against the wall of the house

what a good looking guy

As for the ascot ties, they were much easier to make than the traditional elastic-necked ties I made in the past, but much less confortable. Indeed, Zion was the only one who stayed in his tie the whole day. Harvey had a minor melt-down before church regarding his neckware, because he wanted to please us and complete the suit, but he didn't like the feel of the tie around his neck. The two competing pressures broke his chocolate-bunny-for-breakfast brain. So he chose not to wear the tie, but whenever someone complemented him on his outfit he said, "There's a tie that goes with it."

Poor boy. He also struggles with perceived judgement around his appearance.

Previous Easter suitings, if you want to look back are: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

Next year, maybe they'll all have morning coats...


practice adventure

Harvey and Zion running in the grass beyond the parked bicycle

running free

A week from today is Patriots Day, and we plan to bike up to the parade. Today we took a practice run to make sure Harvey could do it on his own bike (it's around an 8-mile round-trip), and to check how long it would take. Of course, just like we plan to on Patriots Day we had to bring some food!

the boys eating a picnic lunch by the bikes

practice picnic

After the running and lunching we visited the Lexington library for a while—far more rich and rare than our own local library—and then climbed to the top of the belfry hill to read some of our books. On the way home we stopped, as is so often the case, to see some water.

the boys looking at a pond

the call of the waves...

I wanted to get more work done in the garden this beautiful summery day, but I confess it's awful hard to resist a bike ride, stories, and a pond.

Harvey's pink bike and my gray one leaning against a stone bench in the meadow

at rest

The Patriots Day ride and picnic is on for the morning of Monday the 20th... let us know if you want to join us!