moments from the week

Harvey, Zion, and Havana clambering on rocks on the edge of the Merrimack River in Lowell

on the Merrimack

A few moments from the past week.

the three boys, in backpacks, headed into church

off to (church) school

baskets of bagels and cookies in a buffet

New York funeral food

the three boys' feet, with blue-painted toenails

little boys blue

Grandma Judy, Cindy, and Bill relaxing before the party

old friends

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lights, food, music, and friends

the illuminated tree and the buffet table

party night

We threw our party last night—never mind the rain and thunderstorms promised by the forecast and the morning's red sky. And it was great!

In a departure from our usual practice, we were just about ready as the last half-hour before the 5:00 start ticked by. Parents and friends who came early to help set up were able to relax and chat as the other guests arrived; the kids hanging around were able to join in the piano sound-check and warmup. The flowers on the table were picked and arranged by Harvey at 4:35.

the party lawn

dining area and dance floor

It was an all-grandpa musical performance this year. After last year's bravura effort Ira and Leah have their act down pat, and barely needed any rehearsal this time. They put on an early set for one friend who could only stop by for a minute at the beginning of the affair.

Leah and Grandpa Ira performing on stage, with Lijah alongside

seasoned performers

Then it was the turn of Grandpa David and the Disney Movie Singalong. He did a great job fending off the eager hands that wanted to touch the piano, and the kids sang along with spirit to tunes from our three most recent animated favorites: Frozen, Aladdin, and Lion King. What a kind grandfather our boys have, willing to subject himself to that sort of experience, and on his birthday too! I have all the songs pretty well memorized to I did my bit to keep the vocalists roughly together.

Grandpa Dave playing piano, accompanying a crowd of kids on some Disney movie songs

cast of thousands

Harvey and Zion actually practiced their parts quite a bit this year. Zion was too shy to stand up at the mic, but Harvey had no such resistance and sang up loud and proud. Megan is always happy to see a microphone.

Harvey and Megan singing with the mics

star turn

Of course, it wasn't all music. We didn't manage a bounce-house this year, but the boys and I set up the badminton net and the kids had great fun with our seven rackets and three birdies (at least until a darkness-related accident made it seem more prudent to take down the net). The hammock was also very popular, as was the ride-on tractor. And of course there was lots to eat.

lots of food on the table, lit in the darkness thanks to lamps above

enough to go around

The lights are always a key ingredient of this party, and this year I was very proud of myself for including two clip-on desk lamps in the setup: one to light the food, and the other behind the stage so the musicians could see their papers. Because of course the music went on long into the night.

Ira and guitar, from behind on the lighted stage

the evening's headliner

Despite some initial demurrals, Ira put on a great show. Besides several songs with Leah (and Lijah), he also treated us to some Beatles numbers (and other hits of the 60s and 70s), and even played backup for Jack's spirited rendition of the alphabet song.

Just before 9:00 the rain finally came on, just in time to encourage the guests to help clean up and then hit the road.. perfect timing! It was great seeing so many friends and neighbors; I feel grateful for each person who came to spend time with us. And none more so than my parents, especially my dad on his birthday.

my mom and dad sharing a cuddle listening to the music

happy birthday Grandpa David!

Maybe we'll do it again next year.

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back to fall

We celebrated the fall equinox today in quiet style with a day at home. The bigger boys and I took in the sunset outside, enjoying the beautiful crisp fall air (Leah was inside trying to put Lijah to sleep—the first attempt of several for a boy who took a two-hour-plus nap this afternoon). The reason we didn't much leave home is that we're having a big party tomorrow evening.

the invitation for our 2016 fall party

yes, you're invited too!

Pretty much the same as last time, but we're not so organized this year, so things are a little more haphazard than in years past. It doesn't look like we'll get a bounce house. But the lawn is (mostly) mowed, the lights are (mostly) up, and we've sort of planned with some people to have some music. Plus we've made and obtained lots of food: pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cake, veggies, chips, 56 hot dogs, and some other things I can't remember. Pretty good for an event that's supposed to be a potluck...

Our organizational failures may also have led us to forget to invite you. Sorry! If you're free tomorrow evening—that may be today, it depends when you get around to reading this!—do stop by between 5:00 and 9:00. You don't even have to bring a dish to share.. we've got plenty!

Fall's looking pretty good so far.

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hey, we're doing school!

Zion looking energetic holding his kindergarten sign

school energy

So I guess we've started the "school" year; call it a soft launch. We did have an official first day a couple weeks ago and took pictures, so that's something!

Harvey made his own sign, and Zion decorated his. Unfortunately the colored-pencil details don't show up so well, but you can be assured Harvey took at least ten minutes on his work!

Harvey smiling holding his second grade sign

calm and confident

We're getting into our schedules and routines—mainly trying to find time to learn along with working, playing, cleaning, gardening, and keeping the house from falling down—and at habituating the boys to maybe just a little bit of coerced schoolwork. Happily we found someone else willing to do farm-school with us, and we've had a couple good days of learning together already. And there are plans afoot for stories and sword-making and math games, so I think we'll do alright this year!

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camping 2016: heading home, eventually

Finishing this story. We wrapped up our 2016 camping experience with breakfast at the Cafe followed by a quick trip to Compass Harbor, a hidden Acadia gem right outside of town. It has everything you want in a Maine coastal location: rocks, trees, a little bit of sand, and cold cold water. Of course that didn't stop Leah from going for a serious swim; can you see her in the picture?

the peaceful waters of Compass Harbor; Leah swimming in the distance

last Maine ocean time

Like I said, we might be getting good at this camping business—and by day five we were settled in and comfortable. I think any of us Archibalds would have been happy to stay another couple days, if circumstances had allowed. (And having decided to leave we made a great job of packing up: Harvey did a great job entertaining the little ones, and our carefully stowed load took up even less room in the car than it had on the trip up.)

Certainly all the hiking and exploring left the boys feeling independent and adventurous, and as soon as we reached the shore—just a few minutes' easy hiking from the cars—they changed into swimsuits and headed out to explore.

Zion in the distance up on a headland

expanding their horizons

Certain mothers were a little nervous, so I tried to relieve minds: what could possibly happen?! Besides deadly falls, drowning, and seagull attacks, that is... Everyone was happy that some children at least were content to stay close by.

swmsuited Lijah playing in the sand

content with this patch

Of course, as awesome as we are at camping, it takes a lot out of us—between the exercise and the fresh air and the not really sleeping our four days of adventure left us all a little tired.

Harvey and Zion lying down on the rocks

all you sleepy campers

So there wasn't too much protest when we turned our backs on the ocean and headed back to civilization. The first sign of civilization was pillows in the car.

the boys asleep in the car

a little more comfortable

But vacation doesn't end when the drive home begins, and we made sure to time our trip so that we could stop for supper in Wiscasset. It was a special request of the boys, who so enjoyed our emergency stop there last year. Just like on the drive up we had some rain going home, but it stopped in time for an outdoor meal; and with the car packed so well I knew just where to find towels to dry off the seats.

eating on the wharf in Wiscasset

Maine picnic

Wiscasset is the prettiest little village in Maine, officially, but I confess that by the time we got there I was too tired to do more than get a few snaps with my terrible phone camera; but it's good enough for documentary purposes. And we still had hours to go, hours of driving into more and more traffic and hotter and steamier weather. On the other hand, our dog, chickens, and beds awaited us at home, and we were happy to get there and go to bed, ready to wake up and start the next adventure!

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