posts tagged with 'family'

food security

As I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday we drove an hour away to pick up some flour (and go to the beach, of course). That's kind of crazy, I know. But here's how it happened.

First of all, we're not hoarding. The boys and I went to Costco back in the first week of March, and I deliberately didn't buy toilet paper. We had plenty! But the reason I was there was to buy flour—we usually buy our all-purpose flour at Costco, at a rate of 25lbs every month and a half or so. Maybe more frequently. Well, on that trip they were out. And a few days later Leah made it to Market Basket to find they only had one 5lb bag of King Arthur AP flour left. The pandemic hadn't even really started yet and our supplies were running low!

And that's just the all-purpose flour: there was a separate crisis in whole wheat flour stocks at Market Basket that predated the pandemic, so I was already feeling nervous about that. My one Market Basket trip of the pandemic time—alone! So strange going without the kids!—netted us 15 pounds of AP flour and 10 of bread flour, but once again no whole wheat. Last week's bread used up the last couple cups and was still whiter than we'd like, and the pancakes with all white flour were definitely not as good as we're used to. It was ever on my mind, which is why Leah mentioned it to her cousin (her mom's cousin, really) on the phone last week. Well, people in Leah's family get things done, which is why on Saturday we found ourselves driving down to the South Shore to pick up 30 pounds of whole wheat flour (plus some brown sugar for good measure).

So baking here continues apace. There's bread! There's cookies! Good pancakes! Of course, now the next worry is the AP flour again. It's really stressful not being able to run out to the store, and not being able to trust the store will have what you need. And we're down to four rolls of toilet paper left in the basement...

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first vacation of the (not-quite) summer

Harvey and Zion dipping their toes in the Atlantic

greeting the big ocean

We had a tough week last week, so it was wonderful to be able to get away to the outer Cape, courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein and their new house in Truro.

They bought it in early spring, and as summer neared they'd been working ever-harder at bringing it up to their standards and getting it ready to rent out come the high season in July and August. They invited us up for a trial run. It's a great place—plenty large but still cozy, with three separate clusters of bedrooms to make space for multiple families, and a wonderful series of decks and patios on all sides.

Zion and Lijah eating appetizers at the deck table

snacks with a view

Of course, as much as we loved spending time in and around the house the real draw was the beach. The closest one was on the bay side, about a four-minute walk away. We all headed down there pretty soon after arrival, and spent a delightful couple hours running on the beach, playing in the sand, and very occasionally dipping into the water (it's still kind of wintery, even in the bay). The sand there is too coarse for building up, so instead I dug holes. I got pretty deep!

Zion buried up to his waist in sand, Lijah looking on

he could get himself out

Grandma and Grandpa have a new puppy, as seen earlier, and we had fun playing with him and watching him romp and run (and lie in the shade of anyone sitting still). Rascal came along, and spent more time in the water than anyone else—and most of the rest of the time lying comfortably in the sand.

Rascal on the beach

he still loves a beach

He did give into the puppy's entreaties to play with him for maybe 45 seconds over the course of the afternoon, but that was it.

The air was turning chilly as we ate our hamburgers and hotdogs on the deck so we went inside for desert, but we couldn't resist heading out through the big sliding doors one more time in the fading light. The boys played chase with the dogs up and down the sandy dirt roads around the house before we all settled down to watch the sunset.

the sunset as seen from the house

day is done

We're not so good at sleeping when we're not in our house—and I guess not so much even when we are!—but we made it through the night and were restored to full energy with a pancake breakfast courtesy of chef Grandpa (with no baking powder in the house he just beat the egg whites extra hard). Breakfast was over by 7:30, but nobody had any trouble finding something to do as the morning inched on.

Zion and Harvey reading on the couch

content

Of course, we can read at home! So even though the boys would have been happy to sit around until the mini-golf place opened at 10:00 I galvanized (forced) them into taking off early for a look at Atlantic Ocean over on the other side of the Cape. We stopped first at Marconi beach, where the stairs down to the water were closed. But we could still see and hear the power of the waves down below the bluff, and the boys were energized by seeing them as we explored the site of the first trans-oceanic wireless transmission.

Harvey and Zion running down a path through the dunes

energetic explorers

Once we exhausted the possibilities there we headed a mile down the road to a town beach, where we experienced the waves directly (that's the picture at the top of this post). Harvey, Zion, and I were beside ourselves with excitement. But because of our golf date we couldn't stay more than a couple minutes, so we managed to drag ourselves away—not before making plans to come back soon! When we got to the golf place we found that, despite the published material, they actually opened at 11:00; never mind, the National Seashore visitor center was just down the street, and easily good for 45 minutes of entertainment. We visited the history museum, learned about shells, used the bathrooms, and generally enjoyed being tourists among other tourists. A pair of Asian tourists taking pictures with a selfie stick paused to watch me tell the boys to pose for a photo, and they fully approved of how the young Americans responded.

the boys showing off their silly poses in front of a salt pond

yes they're silly

Then we went and played golf. I took a turn to wrangle the kids so Leah could devote her attention to the game, and I got them through 18 holes in record time (I was worried we'd hold up other groups, but I shouldn't have—we even managed to play some of the holes twice through!). They all had fun, even though Harvey was a little frustrated with his level of play and Lijah only hit the ball maybe three times. The appeal for him is apparently carrying it and the club around as he climbed on rocks and waded in the streams; well worth the $8 we paid for him to "play".

We went home for lunch—so nice to have a fully appointed house as a convenient home base!—before the bigger boys and I got into swimsuits for a second attempt at the real ocean. Never mind the hazy overcast moving in as the wind picked up: we were going to do this! And so we did.

Harvey and Zion looking small wading in front of big waves

the Atlantic at its finest

We went to a beach in Truro this time, to save on travel time and avoid traffic, and the waves were even better there. Almost overwhelming, in fact! We did a lot of squealing. The cold was kind of overwhelming too, though the fun and delight carried us through for a while. There's something wonderful about splashing in the waves while the scant few other beach-goers huddle in winter coats with hoods drawn tight around their faces. It was very windy. Zion was the first to run out of internal warmth, and even two towels around him couldn't do much to bring his core temperature back up!

the boys sheltering in towels in the lee of a branch

some slight protection

But it was worth it, we all felt. As we got in the car and turned the heat up full blast, Zion announced: "that was the best ever!" It sure was.

As I write these words on Monday evening it's crazy to think that was all just yesterday and the day before. After all that excitement—and there's lots I didn't write about, like playing ball, putting together a hammock chair, playing eight games of Uno, more reading (Harvey and I each finished two books)—and a full day with friends here at home today, it feels like about a week's worth of activities in the last two days. We're all tired. We left Truro after dinner Sunday so the boys could sleep in the car. They did, but none quicker than Lijah: he was out within a minute of getting into his seat, before we could even buckle him up.

Lijah sleeping in his car seat with the doors open

like a light

And he slept the whole way home, and then all the way through the night (well, with one easy tuck-in around midnight). That's what a great vacation will do to you!

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more moments

Besides Lijah hanging out in the wheelbarrow, this week saw a few more moments worthy of note. Harvey's been very aware of his teeth.

Harvey grimacing to show his bloody tooth and new gap

you should see the other guy

He had two that were a little bit loose, and when he fell on a rock he knocked one out and loosened the other a whole lot more. He's praying every night that it doesn't fall out when he's asleep.

On Tuesday we celebrated cousin Nisia's birthday. The boys have a great time whenever they see her... about once a year. We took a picture of all the Archibalds together to commemorate this year's meeting, and demonstrate that we're all equally awkward in posed photographs.

ten Archibalds collected in front of our corn garden

family reunion

Camp continues apace.

camp friends sitting on the hammock weaving baskets

happy basket-makers

It's all great fun but a lot of work, and we're not at our best all the time. We're working on getting what rest we can, where ever we can find it.

I held the camera out facing me to show Zion lying in my lap

worn out boy

Yay for summer.

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many thanks

We're enjoying lots of chances to eat Thanksgiving dinners this year: after two over the weekend, with friends and at Leah's parents, we made our own this evening. We invited a few friends over to share it with us, but a winter storm—all the scarier for being the first of the season—kept them away. That was alright, though, because we had a fine meal with just the five of us: tablecloth and centerpiece and all! And because it was just us, we were free to power through the meal from start to finish in not much more than ten minutes!

No, that's not quite fair. The boys, especially Harvey, did an atypically great job of waiting until everyone was served to start eating, and that was after we all shared something we were thankful for. And Leah only rushed off because Elijah, who got into the spirit of things by keeping himself awake for the feast, needed to go to sleep immediately after finishing his mashed potatoes. And Harvey and I lingered for a reasonable time over our seconds and desert.

And any rushing wasn't due to a lack of interest in the meal: on the contrary, excitement was high! We've been studying the Pilgrims, so Harvey was enough in touch with the original feast to ask for corn and apples to be part of our meal—five minutes before we sat down to eat. Happily canned corn is quick enough to heat up, though hardly authentic. I'll see what I can do about making some samp for next year. And Zion got into the celebratory spirit by calling for toast after toast, which in practice meant clinking glasses a lot. Cheers!

I'm always thankful for my family, but it's nice to stop and notice it officially over Thanksgiving dinner. Grumpy or cheerful—and we had some of each today—I love being with them, and am grateful for how much time I get to spend hanging out. Each of them is wonderful, and none more than Leah who did all the cleaning up after our feast! She's also much more eloquent than I on the subject of giving thanks; here's what she had to say on Facebook earlier:

Because the snow kept our dinner guests away tonight, I am particularly thankful for my family of five who makes every meal feel like a party. I am thankful for Harvey who said, "My favorite part of thanksgiving is corn because the settlers had corn!" and for Dan who immediately rushed some canned corn onto the stove at my whispered request. I am thankful for Zion who owns his pilgrim name so much that he now refuses to be called "ZiZi." I am thankful for Elijah who rubbed a full serving of mashed potatoes all over his face, and then freaked out that there was mashed potato on his face. I am thankful that every year they are a little bit more themselves and a little bit more my own. So happy thanksgiving, Archibalds, I'd settle with you guys any day.

One more Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow... let the thankfulness continue!

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Eight years

Today is our anniversary. Dan and I have been married eight years now.

look how young we look!

We celebrated this morning in true Archibald fashion. I walked into Dan's office and said, "I think it's our anniversary."
"Is it?" he asked, checking the date on his computer. "Oh, I guess it is. Sorry, I didn't do anything for it."
"I didn't either," I said. "I thought I might make you a card last night but then I fell asleep with a headache."
"Well, happy anniversary!"
"It's an easy anniversary — just the way I like it!"

Feel free to accuse me of being unromantic.

Da and I have gone out for our anniversary two times that I can ever remember. On our first anniversary we went to the MFA in Boston. We grumbled over the prices in the cafe and got woefully lost on our way home, and all the while I was fretting over getting to my grad-school class on time. A few years later we went to Water Country for our anniversary. We grumbled over the prices of EVERYTHING and I spent half the time shivering in a towel because (unbeknownst to me) I was pregnant. After that we didn't go out anymore.

Over time I've discovered that the less I try to make things "special," the less I stress out over occasions and the more special our day-to-day life feels to me.

Which is to say I can note the passing of our anniversary with fond awareness that neither of us has to DO anything more than we're already doing. Which today means going to work, fixing the vacuum, plunging the sink, and making dinner (for Dan) and doing laundry, watching the kids, making deodorant, picking up toys and vacuuming (hopefully) (for me).

When we were doing the pre-marriage counseling that proceeded our wedding, the priest asked each of us why we wanted to get married. Dan answered first. "I dunno," he said, "to have someone to do stuff with?"

The longer we've been married, the more I think this must be the most beautiful answer in all the history of pre-Canna. Because our daily life feels so special to me, and all we do is do regular stuff together. When I clean the kitchen after Dan makes dinner, when Dan brings in 9 lbs of tomatoes for me to freeze, when we play with our kids in shifts and stifle our giggles at Zion's mega tantrums, all these times when we just "do stuff" I feel like we are sharing something magical, something beautiful, something that is both special and ordinary and spectacular.

The truth is, if I think about it, that everything in my life is lovely and enjoyable precisely because of Dan's involvement in it. He is encouraging and inspiring. He bears half the load for the things that are hard. He makes us smile when things are boring and he makes us laugh when things get tense. He is 100% wonderful, and I have no idea how I landed him as a husband.

So happy anniversary Dan. I don't need any present today but you. I mean, and I also really need the vacuum fixed.

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bonus travel

Grandma Judy with her sisters

three grandmas

We took a short trip to Ithaca this past weekend for a Greig family reunion, which gathered all the children and grandchildren of Grandma Judy and her sisters: the three daughters of Betty and Douglas Greig.

Zion and Mama on the riverside

drawn to water

It was a long trip on Friday, but the boys were great in the car. We only made one significant stop, in Greene, NY, where we visited two of our favorite things: a library and a riverbank.

When we finally got there we made ourselves at home with the Ithaca Archibalds and did our best to adapt ourselves to their wild college schedule. Staying up past 10:00 wasn't too hard for the boys thanks to the long nap they both took in the car.

Harvey, Zion, and Nisia on the footbridge looking down at the river

ooh, more water

The next day we headed out to the reunion, which was at a state park. The centerpiece of the park was a creek, which was naturally fascinating to the boys and cousin Nisia—and even more than usual because this creek had cars driving through it at frequent intervals.

a car driving through the creek at the ford

a car in the water!

There was also a swimming area, but it was closed due to recent heavy rains. We did check it out, though, and made several trips to the restrooms located in the changing area. Harvey told me, "it's a bathroom but it looks like a castle."

the changing rooms at the state park, built imposingly of stone

castle bathroom

Of course, there was also lots of good food there. Grandma Judy organized and saw to it that there'd be lots of cold cuts, but everyone who came brought something delicious. I did my best to try some of everything.

some of the food at the reunion

a fraction of the spread

The day also saw a brief celebration of a couple birthdays: Uncle Tom and my cousin Doug each got to pretend to blow out the candles on a fair-sized carrot cake (we all brought food; nobody brought matches).

Uncle Tom holding cousin Nisia

birthday boy and almost birthday girl

The party might well have been over then, but nobody could resist the allure of the open field and playground adjacent to the wooded picnic area.

a view of the playground accross the parking lot

paradise in the distance

The young kids enjoyed the impressive play structure while athletic young adults (aged 12 to 50) played some ultimate frisbee, observed by those with more sense and dignity.

Zion snuggling in Mama's arms

running out of steam

The very young were pretty worn out by this point, but anyone who wanted to leave had a tough argument to make when there was still so much fun going on.

Harvey and Grandpa Dave on the swingset

still going strong

Of course, all good things must come to an end and eventually we headed home—for another oh-so-late night, this one enhanced by a game of Scrabble and sports on the big-screen TV.

Sunday we enjoyed a terrific morning at the Ithaca Vineyard church—any service that concludes with a pot-luck brunch is fine by me! But after a few more precious minutes playing with Nisia in the kids church room we had to hit the road and bring our tired boys home to a place where they'd be able to sleep. Of course, they got a head start in the car—in Zion's case within five minutes of our leaving and continuing for the next four hours or so.

low visibility on the Castleton-on-Hudson bridge

with the wipers at full speed

The drive was a little more eventful than we might have hoped thanks to a fierce thunderstorm just past Albany. The downpour was so bad that we actually pulled over for a couple minutes, until we got bored of standing still and ventured back out into the maelstrom.

The boys were a little more discontented going home than they were on the way out, but were mollified somewhat when we stopped at a rest stop on the Turnpike; when Leah and I, also pretty worn out, suggested that McDonalds fries might be a possibility Zion perked right up with an, "and chicken?!". So we did that. He liked it.

Zion smiling

better now

Of course that wasn't the end of the whining, but we did make it home eventually. It was still light so the boys jumped right on their bikes and took a few laps around the street before even going inside. Travel is great, but it sure is nice to be home.

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