posts tagged with 'friends'

I married someone

the cross on Church Island

it's an island, and it's a church!

Since I'm technically a minister, it was only natural when one of the few unmarried couples among our friends asked if I could be the celebrant at their wedding. And since they asked more than a year ago, I said yes. The wedding was this past weekend.

The bride's family has a lavish farm estate in New Hampshire, so conveniently they didn't have to rent a place to hold the festivities.

the house and the lake

The Big House

The ceremony itself was on an island, one which is also an Episcopal Church. What a fine idea that is! There was plenty of room for the wedding party to stand around while we waited for things to get started.

groom and mother amongst the greenery

not hiding, just waiting

Of course, the best part of an island wedding is the boat trip. There were pontoon boats to get us all out there the day of the ceremony, but for the rehearsal the day before I got to ride on one of the family's two Chris-Craft runabouts. Naturally for the wedding they were reserved for more important passengers!

a Chriscraft runabout decorated with flowers at the dock

classy

The weather was beautiful throughout, but as the sun dipped behind the mountains temperatures at the cutting garden cocktail party dipped into the 40s, and we were glad to head into the barn for dinner. Sadly I had imbibed a little too much to give a truly memorable grace, but they let me eat anyways.

the reception barn decked with lights

barn party

Besides the amazing food and interesting company at the rehearsal dinner (and its cocktails and appetizers) and the reception, I also enjoyed an early morning swim—including one trip down the wooden water slide running from the peak of the boathouse—and a delightful four-mile hike on the property. Oh, and a smores party on Friday evening! Of course, being a minister I had to work Sunday, so I missed dessert and dancing Saturday night—to say nothing of the farewell brunch on Sunday. Also, as lovely as it all was I would have enjoyed it ever so much more if my family could have been there with me. We'll have to get ourselves invited up there again one day.

There was only one unalloyed negative: the shoes I needed to buy Thursday evening when I remembered that I don't even own any sneakers without holes, to say nothing of respectable wedding shoes, were supremely uncomfortable. I was bleeding from one heel after just a quarter mile of walking. Thankfully, at a summer farmhouse wedding no one can complain about bare feet!

Congratulations Kyle and Margaret; here's to many years of wedded bliss! I don't know if I'll ever do another marriage, so I hope you enjoy this one.

more

when every party is a pot-luck

We celebrated Labor Day with a cookout this evening, like you do. We ended up inviting all our friends who moved to Bedford after long pre-existing friendships—which is, surprisingly, three families. It was kind of an impromptu affair, with just what food we could scrounge from the freezer or grab on a quick trip by the store, but everyone contributed and we ended up with a regular feast! I'm still recovering from over-consumption of both food and drink as I finish up the tasks of the evening. There are other areas in my life—running events at church, for instance—where even with official notice it's hard to get folks to bring something to share for a pot-luck, so it's so refreshing to be part of a community of friends where sharing food and work just comes automatically. Thanks guys, and happy Labor Day!

The party didn't go long—with the first day of school looming tomorrow everyone wanted to make sure to get home to bed at a reasonable hour—and it's just as well! We're planning on kicking off our own school year too, and despite all good intentions I find I still have a lot of planning and prep work to do. With that plus the dishes and bedtime stories and all I've currently blown past my hard make-homeschooling-successful bedtime by an hour and ten minutes and counting. Oh well, the school year is long; I'll have more chances.

more

PMC kids ride 2017

Summer means lots of adventures, and lots of adventures means no time and energy to write about them. So I have a bit of a backlog. Way back last Saturday all the Archibalds rode (or ran) the 2017 iteration of the Bedford PMC kids ride. This year we got the Stevenses to join us—well, four of them; Luke was off on a significantly more substantial ride of his own. Ollie thought five miles was about his speed, so Harvey was happy to take a third straight turn at the five-mile course alongside him. It was totally a breeze for both of them.

Harvey and Ollie riding along comfortably

comfortable group ride

Back at the festival later I heard from a couple people about how hilly the course was. And as a volunteer I was a little nervous about some of the riders in our group who didn't seem to be very confident on their fancy geared bicycles. The Archibald-Stevens gang was plenty confident: even 6-year-old Eliot, who joined us at the last minute, only had to run up one hill. Just like Harvey when he did the ride for the first time as a kindergartener. The rising third-graders ended the morning making plans to do ten miles next year.

Zion wasn't quite so confident. He's not feeling like he's ready to ride without training wheels, but he hadn't been riding much with them on either. Why would he, when I carry him everywhere in the cargo bike! But come the morning of the ride the day's excitement gave him plenty of energy to get himself to the start line under his own power. After that the half-mile course wasn't as much of a challenge!

Zion smiling in PMC shirt and bike helmet

feeling alright

On today's adventure he was back in the blue bike, along with his friend Nicholas—the two of them making plans for their own ten-mile PMC ride next year. I told them maybe three miles first, but you have to admire the enthusiasm.

We raised some money for cancer research too, which is cool. Yay for charity rides!

more

glad to be of service

Our South African friends Jo and Eugene are in town for a few weeks. They're staying in Cambridge without a car, so Saturday afternoon they came out our way to borrow sufficient bicycles to transport two adults and three smallish children. Came out by bus—the dreaded Saturday 62/76 route that takes an hour to get here from Alewife. They're much more adventurous than us clearly; never mind the 40-hour trip from Cape Town, we wouldn't even be able to handle the bus! The kids spent a wild couple hours playing in the yard while we grown-ups caught up with each other. (The kids didn't need to catch up, since not even the oldest of them remembered each other. So they could just get right into playing together.)

It was interesting spending time with the kids. Over five years adults don't change so you'd notice, most of the time, but two-year-olds turn into seven-year-olds, which is pretty dramatic. And never mind Eli and Hana, who we'd never actually met! But since I follow their blog I've seen pictures of all of them at least monthly, and heard about their adventures—so it felt just like picking up with any other kids I know and see every once and a while. Strange.

Jo wrote a post about the early stages of her travels, and our bikes feature at the very end. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that our cargo bike longs for more than the regular run to the library or Whole Foods, so I'm glad it'll see some action from a family that really knows how to adventure! Look for that in the June update—Jo, I expect to see it in a timely fashion!

more

April makes Patriots of us all

Hot on the heels of Easter, Monday was Patriots Day. We hardly had time to recover—didn't have time, in fact, but we couldn't stop and rest: there was a parade to go to! Unlike last year we didn't make a big thing of inviting lots of folks to join us in biking and picnicking and watching, but we did mention it in passing; and such was the success of last years event that we had plenty of company again this year. Including Lijah, enjoying his first Patriots Day parade since his first one!

Lijah waving a flag along the parade route

Patriot boy

Our ride up was almost a perfect success, with the children 7 and up leading out at a blistering pace and two new riders—kindergarten and pre-K—making their longest effort to date. Unfortunately one of them (it was Julen) wrecked mere yards from our destination and busted his lip, but his enthusiasm was only dimmed for half an hour or so. It did kind of spoil his appreciation of our picnic lunch though! There was lots of food to delight the rest of us, and he did manage a popsicle.

Harvey, Zion, Lucy, and Clara picnicing on the green

plentiful pre-parade picnic

After some energetic freeze tag—why do I always have to be it?!—we headed over to our traditional viewing spot. I don't think we were ever all there at the same time, but if you total us all up there were 23 people associated with our party, spanning three generations (six of the kids had grandparents present!). Never mind the giant picnic, we needed slush to ease our wait (Nathan needed fried dough).

our big crowd sitting on (and behind) the curb

we all love a parade

Then we watched the parade. It's a big one. I've long realized that all my parade photos over the years look pretty much the same, so I eased up considerably on the photography. Still, there are some sights I just had to capture.

Lexington minutemen marching

marching

Last year's parade friends were more peripherally interested in the proceedings—this year I was sitting next to friends who enjoy parades as much as I do (and who were attending in Lexington for the first time) so we watched and commented with keen attention. It was lovely. And long... we were all sated with excitement and ready to head home when the last tank finally rolled past.

The ride home went just as well as the ride up. Julen, recovered in body but not in spirit, chose to join Zion and Lijah in the blue bike; it made a heavy load, but I could manage it downhill. More serious was the heavy crowd of walkers on the bike path through Lexington Center, but our kids only hit one elderly pedestrian hard enough for anyone to notice. Then the crowds thinned out and we were rolling free.

the gang, including me on the blue bike. heading home on the bike path

satisfied parade-goers

Leah, who had stayed home working, was ready to greet us on our arrival with veggie straws and ice water. Just the thing—the kids were hungry despite eating constantly for the past four hours, and we were all hot and tired. The weather wasn't actually that warm, but shepherding—not to mention carrying—all those kids is hot and thirsty work!

Then some of the crowd headed home, one additional child joined us for a sleep over with Harvey, and we all had dinner together.

lots of kids and a few adults eating at our picnic tables

outside again? why not

It was a tiring day, on top of another tiring day, capping off a tiring week. No wonder Lijah fell asleep before he could finish his dinner.

Lijah asleep in my lap

all worn out and done up

I was pretty wiped out too—yesterday I couldn't hold my head up to type by evening, so this story went unwritten. But I couldn't leave it too long. I'm sure there's lots more adventure coming this vacation week, and I don't want to get backlogged!

more

our Easter day

suited and barefoot Zion on the steps with a basket full of eggs

the egg hunter

Yesterday was Easter, and it was full and celebratory. The weather was beautiful all day, and we enjoyed sharing the day with lots of friends. But first—before breakfast or even Easter baskets—with the photoshoot:

the boys in their Easter finery

celebratory clothing

Unfortunately, the rising sun was in the subjects' eyes, but you get the idea. At least they weren't dirty. This is the first year since Harvey was born that Leah didn't make new clothes for the boys the holiday—she's a little busy—which meant that they had to make due with hand-me-downs, or, in Harvey's case, awesome African duds from Auntie Nelly. They still looked sharp.

At church we all got right to work either setting up an awesome, welcoming service, or freaking out at all the rush and business—as appropriate for the age or general coping skills of each of us. When it was apparent that there was going to be enough food, and enough eggs hidden, and enough greeters, I could relax. Leah couldn't quite as much, since Lijah's freak-out was only magnified by the above-normal crowds. So he had some quiet time. Then there was the egg hunt. Sadly, due to its early start I missed seeing Harvey and Zion hunt, but I did make it in time to see Lijah at work (he was drawn out of seclusion by the prospect of candy).

Lijah holding up an egg on the church playground

green egg and bunny

And, of course, I caught up with Zion afterwards to get a load of his haul, as pictured above (he made a mockery of the eight-egg limit, but he was their early to help hide them so maybe it's ok..).

There was another service after that but everyone was exhausted, so Leah and the boys headed home to set up for our egg hunt and party. I was on the clock so I had to stay. And I enjoyed the second service; then enjoyed the hot bike ride home, an hour when I didn't have to talk to a single person. The boys had a more conventional rest, so they were raring to go when 4:00 rolled around and our egg hunt opened for business.

Harvey saluting with his basket on his head

pre-hunt high spirits

It went well; I think there's not more than a dozen unfound eggs littering our yard today.

Kamilah reaching for an egg

like you do

We didn't have many kids join us this year—just six hunters counting our three, and three babies—but there were lots of us old folks, plus one special guest.

Harvey making friends with a puppy

making friends

The second-graders there were glad to share their obsessive sorting and categorization of prizes; I think they made some trades too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana sorting eggs on the stage

checking the loot

Zion is in that picture too, but he also played; the other two sorted for like, an hour. Maybe more. They love sorting. In their defense, there were lots of cool things in the eggs this year: dinosaurs, Peanuts dog tags, Squinkies (if you don't know, don't ask). Not so much candy, but that was fine—we had plenty of treats available.

lots of desserts on the table outside

just desserts (and drinks)

The party ran on cheerfully until darkness, light rain, and too-far-past-bedtime drove our guests away, and we went to bed dreaming of the next adventures. Today was just as full and exciting; maybe I'll manage to write about it tomorrow.

more

not-so-high tea

I made scones yesterday morning with the idea of passing them out at the bus stop and showing the other parents that I cared about them and was glad to have them as neighbors. I don't know how they feel about me as a neighbor, but none of them wanted any scones. Never mind, the boys sure wanted some—though since they'd just been treated to a big breakfast of fried eggs, toast, bacon, and oranges, I told them to hold off. Because it was scones, I told them we could have them for tea later. So we did.

Zion and Nathan sitting at the table for tea, looking serious

tea is serious business

We had friends over by then so they got to join in too. It was lovely, and the boys were totally ready to enter into the spirit of "tea" as a meal: "Take tiny nibbles," Harvey said, recalling instructions from some book or other. Then he kind of spoiled the effect by knocking over his teacup reaching for the tin of scones after the little boys didn't pass them quick enough. Luckily the cup only chipped rather than shattering—I was letting them use our finest Crate-and-Barrel wedding china—but the puddle of milky tea was mess enough. The little boys—Lijah and his friend Liam—didn't spill a drop, and so would have been within their rights to complain that I only trusted them with plastic cups, but they're more polite than that. They weren't huge fans of the tea, either, come to that, and much preferred the sliced mango to the scones.

Which I don't understand, because they were some tasty scones. I brought the rest of them to work this morning, where they were again properly appreciated. This batch was with orange zest and chocolate chips; the original recipe is from Joy of Cooking and is for raisin scones with cinnamon, like this:

raisin scones cooling on a rack

cinnamon raisin version

In a large bowl, whisk together:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:

6 Tbsp butter

Stir in:

1/2 cup raisins (or orange zest and 3/4 cup chocolate chips, or lemon zest and 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger, or...)

Add and mix until combined (you'll have to knead it against the side of the bowl with your hands to get all the flour up):

1/2 cup cream
1 egg, beaten

Shape the dough into a disk maybe 3/4 inch thick, cut it into 12 wedges, and put them on a baking sheet. Brush them with cream or milk and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar (for the raisin ones; or plain sprinkling sugar for the others).

Bake at 425°F for 12-15 minutes or until they're golden brown.

And if you want to replicate our experience, serve with decaf Earl Gray tea with cream and sugar, milk, and mango slices.

more

happy spring

Harvey walking in the snow in shorts and sandals

the spring look

There was some debate in the neighborhood as to when spring officially begins, but it's got to be around here somewhere. Yesterday was a lovely early springish day: bitter cold at sunrise and barefoot-worthy by mid afternoon. So we spent some time outside.

Lijah on his new birthday scooter

lookin like he knows what he's doing

We did some running and some scootering—Lijah working on his new birthday scooter for the first time!—and some wagon hay-rides, all together with a great crowd of friends. And then when the kids all got tired of running they brought ten thousand legos out onto the front porch to play with them in the sunshine. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy talking about great picture books and home improvements with other homeschooling parents who Know What It's Like.

You know, it's funny. Lijah didn't get nearly as much exercise as the bigger guys—he can't keep up the scootering for long, and he was in the stroller for our walk rather than running back and forth like a spring-mad puppy—but he was the only one to actually fall asleep outside. I guess growing up so fast is hard work!

Lijah sleeping leaning forward in the stroller

zzz

Happy Spring, everyone.

more

February vacation

The boys have had some good play times this week, with friends freed from school by the February break. Just the thing when parents aren't providing any fun. On Monday, when I was stuck on the couch holding Lijah and letting him drip snot all over me, they ventured around the corner to Jack's house—"because we already tried everybody else and they're not home". That's several houses down and across the "big street" (speed limit 25, actual speeds, oh, 40...). And I didn't even have Jack's mom's number to check if they were home. So I gave Harvey a card with my number on it, and off they scootered. Not only did they make it safely, they stayed for four hours or so playing happily. Lijah got to rest and recover, and he was raring to go when we finally walked to pick them up.

Then yesterday we returned the favor by hosting the party at our house, for Jack and also for Nathan and Liam, whose dad also needed to get some work done despite the school vacation. So four big boys played inside and out, two toddlers took long naps, and two dads got to be productive.

My favorite part of the afternoon was when the two older boys invaded the kindergartners' game. After a little bit of yelling and whining, Zion explained capably and eloquently why he didn't like Harvey and Jack trying to take over; after a second, the big kids asked what they needed to do to join in the right way. Then they played superheros together.

Harvey and Zion and friends standing in the snow

vacation buddies

My least favorite part of the afternoon was just before dinner—of course everyone stayed for dinner—when all six kids were running around the house shouting at the top of their lungs, but what do I expect... it is winter, after all.

Let's see if we can keep the fun going the second half of the vacation week.

more

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.

more