posts tagged with 'holiday'

Easter report

dyed Easter eggs in an egg carton

remember Easter?

A month ago today the boys were very excited about Easter, mostly because they were looking forward to wearing new suits, and Leah was quite stressed for the same reason. Needless to say, she made it happen, and everyone was thrilled with the results!

the boys posing on the porch in their Easter suits

finery

Besides the outfits, Leah also saw to the Easter baskets, which were low-key but still delightful.

Zion and Lijah on the couch with Easter baskets

cozy and happy

I don't have any good pictures from church because, for the first time, we ran kids programming on Easter. That's what I saw to. It went well and felt properly celebratory, but it was also a lot of work. After the service there was an egg hunt. Being small Lijah got to go in with one of the earlier groups, so he got his ten eggs without any trouble. The bigger boys had a tougher time with more competition!

Zion with a crowd of kids waiting for the church egg hunt to start

ready to rush

Never mind, we had another hunt at our house with plenty of eggs for everyone—filled not just with candy but with little plastic Pokemon too.
Many of the eggs were easy to find, but a few were very hard, so there was some hard searching time for the older kids. Some children, traumatized by hunts in years past, didn't want to try; but anyone who did try got all they wanted.

Lijah opening plastic eggs at the picnic table, surrounded by hundreds of empties

they found some

There was plenty of food too—pot-luck style so we didn't have to work to hard—so even though they didn't get 25 eggs filled with candy the adults didn't go hungry either.

Looking back, I feel lucky we got to experience such a lovely Easter: wonderful friends willing to hang out with us and a fun, laid-back church even with 80 kids to look after. Good times. I'm glad I could finally write about it.

more

Patriots days

In the first half of April we celebrated nine days of Patriots Day festivities in Bedford and Lexington. Things kicked off here in Bedford with the pole capping parade; I've written before how cool it is that we get all the minute companies to start the season, and this year was no exception.

minuteman firing a volley in the Pole Capping parade

Patriots Day starts with a bang!

It wasn't all guns and aggression; there was lots of lovely fife and drum music too, and a handful of colonial women and children.

colonial women and girls walking in the parade

rounding out the picture of Colonial life

The weather was beautiful—clear and mild—so for the first time ever we actually stayed for the pole capping itself. We were there with friends, and all the kids endured the politicians' speeches without complaint (it helped that we gave them snacks). Our friend Andrew, who moved to town a couple years ago, said it was the most Bedford thing he'd ever experienced. It was especially fun cheering for our neighbor Samantha, who won an award as the most notable high school senior and had to sit up front looking respectable through all the speechifying. Then they put the hat on the pole.

the lucky minuteman atop the pole waving his liberty cap

made it!

The following Saturday was again warm and beautiful, perfect weather for cycling to Lexington to watch the big reenactment at Tower Park. I take pictures of it every year and they're all about the same, but it's such an experience I couldn't resist yet another round.

redcoats forming up in a haze of gun smoke

the fog of war

One difference this year is that, having biked, we were in position to watch the proceedings from the back side. That was great for the first part of the battle, but less optimal as the fighting moved east with a swamp between us and the action. I followed some other people into the woods to see what we could see, but the minutemen yelled at us so we had to go back. Unlike the more famous reenactment in Lexington Center, though, this one is big enough that there's always something to see.

minutemen in the woods

like watching from backstage

The weather was looking iffy for Monday's parade, the highlight of the week's festivities. It was cancelled last year due to rain, so we were really hoping not to miss it again. Morning rain led us to cancel our own plans for a pre-parade picnic in Lexington, but things looked fine for the parade itself at 2:00 so at quarter to one we gathered up our three-family group of cyclists and headed out. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until my mom called me ten minutes into the ride to let us know that, due to more rain in the forecast, the parade start had been moved up to 1:15. Yikes!

So we hurried. Zion was feeling week (he had skipped Saturday's ride because of sickness) so I carried him and his bike, but all the other kids (and adults) did great, and we made it the five miles up the hill in just 28 minutes—in plenty of time to find a good spot along the strangely empty parade route, and fortify ourselves after all our hard work with fried dough and Italian ice. We're always glad to be out for a parade.

Lijah smiling waiting for the parade

happy to be there!

Besides the reenactors and bands—and there were some fine bands this year—the parade highlights Lexington's increasingly diverse cultural makeup. We all liked getting up close and personal with this dragon.

a chinese dragon surprising the boys at the parade

roar

We were talking smack about the Shriners as their first units rolled by, but then we had to take it all back when the mini-big rigs—pretty great themselves—were followed up by a trio of motorized tricycles—basically powered big wheels. Two of them could drift and the third could turn on two wheels. Very exciting.

After the parade was exciting too. The decision to start the parade early was an inspired one, because just as the last unit went by our spot the sky turned dark, and within five minutes the first drops were falling (the parade still had close to a mile to go past us, so sorry to those folks!). We were prepared, and got everything packed up and everyone into raincoats in record time.

Lijah bundeled up in the cargo bike, Harvey on his bike in a raincoat

good thing we're tough!

Then the ride home featured weather that ranged from drizzle to torrential downpour. It was actually pretty great. I consider Patriots Day to have been celebrated.

more

springingly

We celebrated the equinox in the best of all possible ways today, by getting out into the newly springlike world on bicycles. The plan was to picnic by Fawn Lake, but the clayey mud on the path and Zion's flu-related shortness of breath stopped us before we made it that far. Never mind, we found a nice soccer field for our lunch, and running around (for short periods of time, interspersed with rests) suited our energy level better than hiking would have anyways. It was lovely to be outside.

Harvey and Zion picnicing by a small boulder in a mown field

first picnic of the spring

Besides the outing, we also observed the day by taking down the paper snowflakes and baking equinox cookies, activities which are now traditional. We didn't make flowers to replace the snowflakes, though, unlike last year; instead our art time was taken up with illustrating adjectives. Not seasonal, but just as fun. Since friends came over in the afternoon and stayed for dinner we also didn't manage to follow through on my plan of building a bonfire and burning the snowflakes... maybe we can do that tomorrow.

more

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!

more

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.

more

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!

more

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?

more

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!

more

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!

more

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

more