posts tagged with 'holiday'

pink holiday spirit

We don't typically do much for Valentines Day here at our house, but I was feeling it this week. Maybe because we marked it on the calendar back at the beginning of the month. So did the thing almost like they do at school: on Tuesday Zion, Lijah, and I painted some hearts and made a hanging decoration, and yesterday we made cards for Mama. I'm very proud of the fine watercolor work I did on mine, so even though in our conversation last night she told me she doesn't care about cards this morning I gave it to her anyways. She gave me one too. Then I thought it would be nice to do something special for breakfast; heart-shaped pancakes would be the obvious choice, but our pancake day is Friday and it wouldn't do to have pancakes two days in a row. So instead I made heart-shaped toads-in-the-hole (toad-in-the-holes? I'm not sure). Zion was delighted, and arranged the plates for a photo shoot.

heart-shaped toast and eggs

elegant and festive

And... I guess that's all we did. But that's lots more than usual! A good time was had by all. Happy Valentines Day!

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Martin Luther King Jr. and home education

We don't really do "curriculum" here at the squibix home education shop, but when there are seasonal events that I care about you can bet that the kids are going to hear about them. Like the solstice, election day, and, most of all, Martin Luther King Day. We spent four days concentrating, to the extent that we ever concentrate on anything at all, on Dr. King's life and legacy, and on the broader struggle for integration and equality from the '50s to today. Then we made posters.

Harvey's

note the subtle use of color..

The unit got off to a bad start on Thursday when we arrived at the library, blank non-fiction book record sheets in hand, to find that all the biographies of Dr. King had already been checked out from the children's section. Oh well, I suppose that's a good thing overall. We actually ended up with the more interesting books related to the topic—on the Birmingham children's marches, integration in Selma, and the cart that carried Dr. King's coffin at his funeral—but weren't able to find much in the way of biographical information. Then when we got home I thought of checking the Levar Burton's Skybrary ap on the iPad, and lo and behold it had two fantastic biographies (and one bad one). The littler boys listened to all of them a couple times.

The poster project had two goals. We're talking about posters generally, as an example of information design and organizing our thoughts to share knowledge, so it was good to practice that. Plus, I wanted to have a tangible goal to our studies to concentrate minds a little bit. Harvey's poster, above, contains images from the famous "I Have a Dream" speech; see how many you can identify. Of course, I'm not really strict about content: Zion's been very taken with the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC, so his poster contains only a large blue rectangle. And Lijah illustrated a dispute he'd had with his friends the week before.

Never mind; the important work of the week was our conversation around what we read and what we thought. That's most of our learning, actually: conversation over lunch or in the car or sitting on the couch after we finish a book. Conversation about whatever takes someone's interest. This morning we talked about the space program and watched Youtube videos of rockets exploding. It may not be organized, but these children are learning many things. Including, especially, the importance of active anti-racism. Happy Martin Luther King Day; let's make it a Martin Luther King Year.

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Christmas and New Years report

The recent holiday season was not our finest. All of us were sick off and on, with varying degrees of seriousness; for my part, I was pretty much knocked out with illness two separate times over the ten day span. And leading up to Christmas I did a bad job focusing on what Leah wanted, so my presents for her were not what she was hoping for. The boys had plenty to unwrap. Harvey made some sweet gifts for his brothers, including the stuffed blue triangle with eyes and a smiley face that Lijah desperately wanted (plus a house for it to live in!). I made Zion his bow and arrow. And there were lots of legos. We opened some here at home, then headed for my parents' house for the rest, and for the assembly phase.

the boys building new legos in their grandparents' living room

all they need

There was also a fire to sit by and plenty of delicious food, starting with brunch and going continuously from there through supper. We sang some songs to work off the calories.

My brother and his family came up on the 27th, so on Friday we had a second Christmas celebration with them: more of the same, only even more relaxed. Thankfully there weren't too many more presents to open, since Harvey and Zion at least felt by the afternoon of the 25th that they'd gotten more than they ever wanted. It can be a little overwhelming. All they really wanted was to play with their cousin Nisia—and meet their baby cousin Esther! We did those things.

I had thought of having a New Years Day brunch, but then we got an invitation to spend the day with my cousins, who we barely ever see. So I figured we could do a New Years Eve brunch instead. There was plenty of food and plenty of board games.

lots of food on our table

all the food for the year

When everyone got tired of our house we all moved on to the next event, a pot-luck supper at our friends' house. There was more food and more board games, plus Super Smash Bros for the kids. All was perfect except that I was too worried my fever would come back to be able to have a drink. Never mind, that meant I was sharp enough to completely dominate a game of Stone Age. The competition was all-consuming, so I was pretty surprised when we finished up and I noticed it was already 9:30. Yikes! More than late enough for us, so we went home and went to bed.

New Years Day the cousins cancelled on us, after hearing about the plagues we were suffering (Nisia came down with a fever New Years Eve). Since she already had all the food, my mom invited us to come anyways; since I had already made two quiches, I said sure. At least this time we took a walk. The kids had fun, even if they chose not to show it in pictures.

Harvey and Zion sitting on a bench with Nisia and Grandma

the light of the new year

All in all we had a pretty good time, but we're also glad to see the tree come down and the schedule go back up on the chalkboard. All that eating and relaxing is hard work!

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new years apples

Many of our apple trees did well this past fall. Last time I wrote about them I was celebrating 2017's successful harvest, one that we dramatically surpassed this year. There were so many fruits, especially on the Macintosh and Northern Spy trees, that I'm kind of worried that I did something wrong and there'll be none next year (what that says about about my mental state than or my knowledge of apple cultivation I will leave to the reader). We've long since eaten all the Honeycrisps and Golden Russets, and baked into apple crisp all the Macs we couldn't eat. But as we approached the turning of the year there were still at least a dozen Northern Spies holding on to near-perfection in the fridge.

True, they did take up a little more room over the last 2-3 months than they deserved, but we find that our cellar doesn't have the consistent temperature and humidity that you'd look for to preserve apples. So Leah was kind enough to suffer their presence so I could like my dream of making a pie for New Years Eve. Which I did, and it was delicious. (I may have boasted about the apples' provenance to two or seven people, I'm not sure.)

There are still enough apples for one more pie. Leah says they don't take up an objectionable amount of space any more. When do you think I should make the last pie?

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happy Hanukkah

Yesterday evening we traveled to Lexington to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with Leah's parents. It was a delightful evening. We did all the things: played dreidel, ate latkes and noodle kugel, and enjoyed a fire and the light of three menorahs (Zion didn't burn anything down when he knocked one over). The boys hunted enthusiastically for gelt, and were successful in proportion to their ages—and to the effort they put into actually hunting, rather than chasing their elders and whining. Suffice it to say that everyone got enough chocolate.

They also all got plenty of presents. Legos, stuffed Pokemon dolls, Pokemon cards for Harvey, and matching dragon onesie pajamas. No pictures of all three boys wearing them though, because Harvey's were mistakenly Adult XXL. He put them on anyways, but I told him he wasn't allowed to wear any garment where the crotch came down to his ankles. Oh! And they all also got coonskin caps!

I totally failed at being any part of the gift preparation myself, so I really shouldn't have gotten any presents myself. But I did! A book, some Pokemon cards, and a new food processor to replace my almost-broken-but-I'm-still-using-it old model. The only problem with that is I don't like change: I wish I could have the same one as before, but working! Why did they have to make the bowl release turn in the opposite direction? Why is the whole thing close to two inches taller? (I told Leah that when we replace this one in ten years we'll need to buy a new house, because the 2028 model won't fit under our kitchen cabinets). That said, I'm sure that the first time I use it to make bread crumbs and the blade doesn't immediately jump off the shaft I'll be completely converted. New is good!

Our Hanukkah is basically done for the year, but there are still seven more nights for folks who are really doing it right. Happy Hanukkah!

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fair on the fourth

Last Wednesday was Fourth of July, and we went to Concord for the Picnic in the Park. Like we do. It was super hot, which kept lots of people away; the crowd was noticeably smaller than usual. But we weren't bothered at all, because we have tents!

a pair of shade shelters in the grass

portable shade

The little one there is ours.. the big one belongs to our friends. They also brought along a hammock. Luxury! There was a bit of a breeze so sitting in the shade we were totally comfortable as we ate lunch and listened to music.

Of course, with so much going on around us we couldn't sit still forever. When we heard the announcement that the field games were starting we headed right over to compete in the sack race, three-legged race, and sponge toss. None of us won anything, but we had fun trying!

Zion and Lijah finishing the sack race, Harvey watching

made it!

All that competition was hard work, so we were glad that the fire department was their with their hoses to cool us down. After we all got wet enough Lijah and Zion took their turn at the spraying.

Zion spraying the firehose, with firefighter assistance

hosing down the kids

There was lots more fun after that: listening to music, riding the train around the field, jumping in the bounce house, playing on the playground, and just relaxing in the shade. There were also balloons to collect and play with.

Lijah with a balloon hat, sword-belt, and pet

balloon warrior

It took us five hours to start to feel done—just as well, because that's when things started to wrap up. So we rolled up our tents and hopped on bikes for the ride home. When you do things every year you notice how the kids are growing up: Zion able to ride the whole way himself and, unlike last year, Lijah even wore shorts for the occasion!

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Happy Patriots

Today is Patriots Day, which means that people in Massachusetts (and Maine!) get one extra day to do their taxes. And... that's about it, since torrential rain means all today's festivities have been cancelled. Never mind; we had a good dose of historical pageantry Saturday afternoon, when we took in the big reenactment at Tower Park.

reenactors wreathed in gunsmoke in the woods

the fog of battle

After a beautiful sunny morning Saturday the weather turned overcast and wintery cold by afternoon. We were well-bundled in preparation for the late-afternoon event—hats, coats, even blankets—so we didn't mind the cold too much, but the gloomy sky made the photography trickier. I did get the one good shot that I put at the end of yesterday's post, but that was about it—if you want to see what it would have looked like in better weather, there are some photos from last time we went.

There were horses then; I was disappointed that nobody brought theirs this time. But there were plenty of guns and fine outfits, and a couple of cannons that made lots of noise. Too much for some: Leah was made to keep her hands over Lijah's ears the whole time (doesn't he have his own hands?!). We saw lots of friends, some that we planned to meet and others that we hadn't seen in years (or ever for some of us). It isn't actually clear what happened in the battle, but that doesn't matter for our purposes. There were historical details to observe! And a chance to get out all together as a family, something that's rare these days. Yay holidays! Happy Patriots Day

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Passover and Easter report

It's the holiday season! On Saturday we celebrated Passover with the Bernsteins, and then enjoyed a fun-filled Easter Sunday yesterday. Passover was lovely, if a bit stressful: a seder feels very long to our children, who usually stay at the dinner table for a maximum of twelve minutes. Leah doesn't think that Lijah was as horribly disrespectful as I do... and there may be something to her assessment. After all, he didn't break the wineglass any of the times he tipped it over while fooling around. Harvey, on the other hand, was very respectful and attentive, and he's the one who broke the water pitcher when he dropped the grape juice bottle on it. On the positive side, he earned $5 finding the afikoman. I didn't take pictures of any of that, but Leah got a beautiful one.

For Easter the boys got a little dressed up.

the boys in their pink Easter jackets

Easter pink

With Leah working these days she didn't have time to make bespoke suits for them, but that's fine: their activity level doesn't match up well with fine tailoring. Zion was overwhelmed and clingy during the Easter service at church, but he came alive for the egg hunt and was willing to sacrifice both body and light-colored fabric in the pursuit of the egg.

Zion crawling under a bush in search of eggs

dedication to the hunt

Of course, the hunt at church was but a prelude to the main event at our house. We had nine kids hunting, but Harvey and Zion were quickest off the mark.

kids running into the yard to start our egg hunt

go!

I did a good job hiding the 200 eggs this year; it took the kids about half an hour to feel done, and they had a fine sense of accomplishment after figuring out some of my trickier hiding spots. Harvey found the golden egg to bring his take for the weekend to six dollars—it's no fair being the biggest.

After the intensity of the egg hunt, everybody was happy to relax for the next few hours. The kids traded plastic pokemons in the play house, and the adults sat around the fire and tried to stay warm without getting too smokey. Hot dogs are perhaps not the most traditional of Easter foods, but I'm not sure why not.

food on the table

the Easter spread

I hope your holidays were as enjoyable!

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Bedford with friends

Saturday was Bedford Day, and we celebrated it with more friends than ever before! The allure of our wonderful town is hard to resist; people we already know and love keep moving here. So naturally we got together to celebrate all Bedford has to offer.

the boys and friends waiting on the curb before the parade

almost parade time!

Which turns out to be mostly lots of candy and kids desperate to get their hands on it. Last year I recall being a little calmer, but on Saturday everyone was full of energy and ready to charge into the scrum.

the boys scrambling for candy--along with lots of other kids

candy chaos

It was a little overwhelming, actually; there were some tears. I'm afraid it didn't show the town in its best light: no one could see the little ball players for all the chaos around them. At least no one got run over, though there were nervous moments in front of us. And with all the competition our candy haul was disappointing to at least two members of the family (I'm inclined to see that as one small silver lining).

Of course, the parade wasn't all bad. The trucks were as loud as ever you could want, and Lijah's friend Henry seemed to be completely satisfied. For his part, Lijah endured the little bit of gunfire from the Bedford Minutemen with greater-than-usual stoicism (though he didn't like it). And the Party Band was there to give us a few moments of good music.

Then after the parade we spent a delightful three or four hours at the fair. We watched the karate demonstrations—Zion is ready to sign up right now, especially after he broke three boards at the recruitment booth—and the fitness dancing. We bought books at the book sale and got balloons and bubbles for free. We ate our lunch from home, then supplemented it with brownies and cupcakes from the Episcopal bake sale. And the boys got to go in the fire truck. Zion enjoyed one special reward of fair-going with friends: another dad took pity on the middle-sized children's desperate need to play mini golf at $2/person, and funded them one round. Now that's generous!

Zion, Nathan, and Julen playing mini golf

worth every penny

We all had a great time. Even the great heat didn't deter us a bit (most of us; Lijah may have been slightly deterred in his fleece pajamas). We were so content that it wasn't even very upsetting to lose Harvey on the way out and spend ten minutes looking for him, only to hear from Leah that he made his way home on his own. All's well that ends well!

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fourth day of July

Like we do, we celebrated Independence Day at Concord's "Picnic in the Park". Our descriptions of it over the years are so glowing that we enticed several other families out to experience it themselves, and it was nice hanging out with them a bit—but we also had some lovely family time.

the boys watching a band

musical picnic

Once again we biked in, all together this time, and once again we brought our tent. It's so nice both as a source of shade in the big baking field and as a home base to dump all our stuff. When we're hanging out at a picnic for five hours we need to really set up camp!

our bike, tent, and rug

the place to chill

None of our experience was particularly patriotic, in any explicit way (which is fine by me!). But it was, as always, wonderfully small-town American. We did a sack race and a three-legged race.

Harvey and me getting ready for the start of the three-legged race

you can't see our legs, but they're tied together

We listened to music, enjoyed boughten popcorn and Italian ice, and jumped in the bouncy house (well, Zion and Harvey jumped; Lijah wasn't feeling it and they wouldn't let me in). Harvey decorated a little wooden train with paint and stickers. Zion and Lijah played with Julen on the playground. But the most fun of all was the fire truck and its hose. Last year I think the kids just ran in the spray; this year they were much more intimately involved.

Zion spraying the firehose, with Lijah's assistance

the power!!

We approached the firemen as they came back after a break, so there weren't many kids around. That meant Zion, Julen, and Lijah each got to take maybe a dozen turns with the hose; Harvey got five or six when he showed up too. They had a great time. Getting sprayed was plenty fun too.

the kids playing in the spray from the firehose

refreshing

As we were cycling home it occurred to me that we hadn't talked at all with the boys about the meaning of the 4th of July. Did they even notice that this fair was connected to a particular holiday? Maybe not—definitely not, in Lijah's case. But how much could he understand about the Declaration of Independence, anyway? I don't think it matters. The important thing is, we're free to have a good party. Happy summer, and happy fourth day of July!

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