posts tagged with 'holiday'

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

Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years

a present for Leah under the tree

sample present

We're still not back to our regular schedule—snow delayed Nelly and Nisia's flight out for a couple days, so we abandoned school work to go sledding with them. But the holidays are undeniably over, so it's past time to say a few words about how they went. For future reference.

We were a little distracted and scattered around the present preparation this year—most of us, anyways. After we got home from church at 10:00—from cleaning up and locking up, at a service where we also opened the doors and set up—I got to work on presents, as seems to be my tradition. New this year, Harvey joined me! The ship he was making for Zion wasn't done, so he wanted to put in some time to show he really does care.

a present with a big card Harvey made for Zion

present explanation

Never mind how many things were unfinished, Christmas morning saw delight all around.

Zion smiling over a big present

Christmas excitement

Of course, no one could be as delighted as Lijah after he got a gun and a giant candy cane in his stocking.

Lijah smiling with his gun and candy cane

yet more Christmas excitement!

There were also lots of legos, the first batch of which had to be put together before breakfast.

the three boys working on legos at the kitchen table

getting right to work

After we ran out of presents for Lijah to open we packed up what we had left and headed over to Lexington. They had a few more there.

the tree at grandma and grandpa's house

presents for all ten of us

We spent a lovely relaxing day leisurely opening presents—the kids needed to pause and play with each new one extensively—and eating constantly. (We did take a little walk in the middle to keep from dying.) It was nice to get to spend Christmas with the Africa Archibalds for the first time in a few years.

The day after Christmas we celebrated Hanukah with the Bernsteins. It was also charmingly relaxed, as pictured previously. There were more legos, and more weapons for Lijah, so it was a success. Harvey handled the dreidel work with aplomb.

We hadn't planned anything for New Years Eve, but when friends asked us about it we told them they should just come over. Then we said the same thing to more friends, and some relatives. So we ended up with quite a few people and had a very festive evening—one which ended before 10:00, which was great. And some of the guests even helped to clean up, which meant we started the new year well-rested in a clean house. Expect great things from us in 2017!

Clean as it was on 1/1, we (which is to say Leah) put in some more serious cleaning time in advance of 1/2, when we threw a brunch party for relatives who had never visited us before—and one of whom cleans other people's houses as a hobby. There was some tension leading up to the event, but in the event it was fun and easy, and seeing nine Archibald cousins (well, second cousins... and some of them are DiBellas) running around was a great way to spend the bonus federal holiday day.

Then we just had a week of hanging out with Nisia and Nelly, which was super fun. And now it's now!

more

wintertime and the eating is easy

There's a lot of food in our house. Between the leftovers we brought home from Christmas dinner and the bounty from pot-luck parties yesterday and New Years Eve our range of options is wide. Maybe not quite as bountiful as the week after Lijah's birth, but not so far off from that! The difference is that this time we made at least some of the cornucopia, but with the work of cooking long done that doesn't make any difference now: we can still open the fridge and choose between turkey, ham, two kinds of mac-and-cheese, and tortellini, to saynothing of a variety of appetizers and the sides that go with all those main dishes. Also pancakes, waffles, muffins, sausages, and donuts, one of the pot-lucks having been a brunch. There are some cookies too.

The bounty seems like just another marker of vacation. We haven't needed to plan meals for the past several days, just like we've been off the rest of our regular schedule. But it'll soon all be gone—we'll either eat it or it will go bad!—and we'll be shopping and cooking again. Just as well; today marks the end of vacation in all the other ways (though we're still enjoying one more week with cousin Nisia!). The great thing about vacations is how great they are both coming and going!

more

Thanksgiving report

We survived an epic Thanksgiving week. Who knew sitting and eating could be so tiring?! After a warm-up dinner with friends on Tuesday we celebrated the real day as part of a party of 21 at my aunt and uncle's place. The boys were delighted to see their second cousins and their second cousins' second cousins, and were delightfully well behaved the whole time.

Harvey, Zion, and Lijah sitting at the Thanksgiving board

big kids table

They did lots of running around together inside and out, miraculously without any damage to the house. Harvey and Zion were huge fans of the other boys at the party; they're sad to hear my feelings about the likelihood of reconnecting with second cousins' second cousins, especially ones who live in New Jersey. Lijah impressed in how much he was able to keep up with the rough play, and when he got tired out there was always the football to watch.

Lijah watching an enormous television

what Thanksgiving is all about

Yesterday we went to Leah's parents' house, where we had a delightful time hanging out with them and her brother, recently moved away to California. It was so nice we didn't realize how late it was getting and didn't leave until after 9:00. So this morning was slow, but by lunch time we were galvanized and ready for our last party, with the Archibald grandparents and friends. It was another bigish gathering, but a very relaxed one.

Zion and Lijah eating at the kitchen table at Grandma and Grandpa Archibald's

a relaxed feast

With all that fine dining, the only thing we made ourselves was a loaf of bread and a couple of pies. True, without a dinner here at home we miss out on the best of the leftovers (though both grandmas were kind enough to send home doggie bags), but we have plenty of desert to go around!

lots of pies in various stages of consumption on our kitchen table

pie factory

I took pictures of each of my four turkey-dinner plates this week. Here they are, presented without comment (those are just the first helpings—in all cases I had at least seconds).

food on my plate

dinner zero, with friends

food on my plate

dinner one, the real thing

food on my plate

dinner two, with Leah's family

food on my plate

dinner three, with my parents and friends

Now I don't need to eat for a week.

more

Happy Thanksgiving

me and the boys holding up our Thankful posters (and a squash)

thankful and joyful

We're packing up to head down to a giant gathering of relatives for the day, but we took a moment to pause and be thankful as a family. Luckily, given the chaos, we'd done lots of the thankfulness prep earlier this week when the boys and I made posters showing some things we're thankful for. Well, the bigger boys; Lijah made a squash friend like in Sophie's Squash.

Whatever you have going on today I hope it's delightful. May all the travel be safe and easy, all the food delicious and easily digestible, and all the interactions with relatives joyful and life-giving! Happy Thanksgiving!

as attempt at the photo above, with everybody moving

thankful for this crazy family

more

Halloween retrospective

We observed Halloween last night. The boys were very excited about their costumes, made as per tradition by Mama.

Snoopy and a pair of ninjas

Snoopy and a pair of ninjas

Also about the prospect of lots of candy—especially Lijah. He got into the stash early, and after some considerable negotiation agreed to a dinner of chocolate cake as his "healthy food" before his candy blowout. A few other notes:

1. Candy is terrible. I hate having it in the house. Read a little from Marion Nestle on the subject. We made a batch of cookies to give out, but we also had lots of candy—and we only gave out a little bit of it while the kids brought lots more home.

2. In a blog post about their awesome trick-or-treat experience, Eric and Kelly of Root Simple point out a valuable truth: "the fun that Halloween provides really helps get to know neighbors. We need more festivals in our lives like this, where we take a break from day to day concerns and work together, on the neighborhood level, to create space for joy and unity." I've heard folks talk about lovely Halloween community experiences in Somerville and Cambridge and even Arlington; we have a little of that here in Bedford but not enough to balance out the individualistic pursuit of ever-more candy.

3. In the aftermath today the boys found and collected a plastic diamond, a spider ring, and an adult-sized hot-dog costume. One of those might come in handy one day...

more

another midsummer

The solstice is a grand thing, and we did it right this year, but it's hard to really celebrate properly when most everyone else is going about their everyday business. But no worries, because we have a big national celebration of summer to share just a couple weeks later. We tend to head over to Concord for their charming festival—it has lots to recommend it, not least the fact that it's in the middle of the day. This year the bigger boys and I biked there; good thing we have a bicycle that can carry plenty of supplies.

Zion in the back of the blue bike with lots of gear around him

all packed up

And, just as important, a seven-year-old who can confidently ride the five-and-a-half miles there and another back, with plenty of energy left over for enjoying the entertainment on offer.

Harvey riding down a country road

Harvey's independence

Like the bounce house, which the boys jumped right into as soon as we arrived. I worked on setting up our tent, which I brought along to liberate us from the narrow band of shade at the side of the field, where most folks listening to the bands have to squeeze together. We really appreciated it on a warm day with blazingly hot sun; we also appreciated our packed food, including peas and raspberries fresh from the garden.

picnic in the tent: Zion with our nice array of food

our picnic in the park

I was a little worried about the tent being in people's way, and made sure to set it up at the far back of the field, but it turns out concern wasn't necessary: about twenty minutes after we arrived a large group showed up and put up this considerable edifice right in front of us.

tents set up in front of us

rival encampment

But that was fine because there was plenty to do all over the place. We played in the spray from a fire hose.

the boys ducking the stream from a fire hose

spray park

And explored a ladder truck.

the boys in the crowded cab of a ladder truck

how many firefighters go in there?

The boys rode a "train" all around the field—all by themselves, without making me squish into one of those little seats to go with them (like lots of other parents had to do—or maybe they really enjoy it..).

Harvey and Zion waiting for the

they don't need me

I was impressed by that, but even more when they decided they wanted to go through the interactive theater / obstacle course experience by themselves. They learned what it was like to be an early immigrant to Massachusetts.

Harvey entering the

entering into the experience

The immigrants had all kinds of adventures, including having to carry swine out of the maize fields.

Zion carrying a pink pig ball

pig portage

And of course we listened to music!

boys lying on the ground in the shade, right up near the band

Southern Rail, as tradition dictates

Lijah napped and lunched at home, then he and Mama joined us in time for some of the fun—and all of the italian ice!

three boys, with mama, enjoying italian ice

note how they picked red, white, and blue

Then we went back home, where we totally meant to lie down in the dark house for the rest of the evening—but then our neighbors invited us over to play and eat pie, so we did that instead. They had red-white-and-blue glow bracelets to share too, which was perfect: we didn't get to see any fireworks this year, but staying up until after dark to throw the glow things around was a fine substitute, and a great end to a fine celebratory day.

more

happy Independence Day

three helpings of strawberry shortcake on the picnic table

three for the fourth

We've been very celebratory over the last couple days, and as I sit here listening to the grand finale of someone's fireworks display somewhere I wanted to wish you all a very happy Independence Day. I hope yours was fully as fun and delightful as ours, but with less dangerous sun exposure!

the flag flying over Concord's Picnic in the Park

traditional patriotism

We had a great time at Concord's "Picnic at the Park", and I took lots of pictures. I hope to be able to find time to put them in a post soon, but given that I still don't think I've managed to put up anything about Harvey's birthday two weeks ago I'm not making any promises. Suffice it to say that the two bigger boys at least did great, and demonstrated their own independence it lots of exciting ways! (Lijah was fine too. He's a two-year-old.)

more

and the parade

It's been two years since we got to attend a Patriots Day parade, so we were determined to enjoy this one to the fullest—those of us who didn't have more important concerns to take care of, at least. In Leah and Lijah's absence we made sure to invite lots of friends along.

eight or so kids sitting on the curb waiting for the parade

not pictured: parents

I came up with the idea of inviting friends to park at our house and bike up to Lexington for the festivities last year, but in the event rain forced a change of plans. This year the scheme was back bigger and better than even, so we had five families all together at the parade route—six if you count Grandma and Grandpa as distinct from us Bedford Archibalds. Having so many friends to talk to was interesting, since it served to abstract me a little from the direct experience of the parade... in the best of all possible ways. Harvey and Zion were insulated by their friends too, and additionally their focus on ingesting as much parade-grade sugar as possible.

Harvey and Zion slurping up the last of their shared blue raspberry slush

sharing the sugar

The biking part of the trip—with the best part of three families—was lovely; the four kids on their own bikes did a fantastic job, and I had fun hauling a couple more in the blue bike. Having it makes packing for an outing a lot easier. Bring a soccer ball? Why not?!

Zion and a friend in the back of the full blue bike, Zion making a face

filled to capacity with supplies and silliness

We managed the 4.5 mile trip up in about 40 minutes, plenty of time for a relaxing lunch—and a little soccer!—before the parade.

all the bikes, many of the picnicers

Other folks joined us by auto and foot, including some little guys, who weren't sure what to make of all the excitement. But parents knew how to enter into the spirit of it all!

look at their patriotic outfits!

For their part Harvey and Zion are parade pros, and even distracted by friends and food they enjoyed it all to the fullest.

Zion and Harvey waving little US flags

happy Patriots

So that was that—then those of us with bikes went back to our house and kept the party going with beer and Indian food—and mac and cheese for the kids—for another three hours, but that's another story. Let's do it again next year!

more

Patriots Day weekend

a volley from the militia

After being disappointed in our Patriots Day celebrations last year, Harvey, Zion, and I very much enjoyed the reenactment at Tower Park yesterday: a full hour of non-stop volley firing and maneuvering! And we're very much looking forward to the parade tomorrow. Patriots Day is great!

I hadn't been to Tower Park for the show since back in 2003—my photo library proves it, even if we weren't blogging back then. It's a great event: much more involved than the more famous Monday morning affair on Lexington Green, it has marching and counter-marching, skirmishing and outflanking, galloping horses, and even cannons! And it's nowhere near as crowded, so we were able to find a good spot near where the action began (and even save places for our friends), then move to another spot with great visibility for the ending part of the battle. Plus, it was at 4:00 pm rather than 5:00 am! A win all around, and the kids getting to collect spent paper cartridges afterwards was just a bonus.

Here are some more pictures of the affair:

a line of militiamen just by us firing down the hill

Regulars kneeling, reloading after a volley

closeup: three members of the 4th light infantry

looking up at a regular officer on a brown horse, just by us

the regulars firing a final volley, after the battle was really over

a long line of victorious militiamen shouldering arms

more