moments from the week

Zion at the picnic table in front of his cake

birthday boy

Moments from Zion's birthday week.

Zion resting on his bike in between jumps

ten is grown up!

the boys and friends riding on the dirt bike path

candy run

Zion blowing out a candle stuck in a donut hole

you can't get ten candles in that..

Harvey and Elijah resting in the sun by their bikes on the halfpipe

training hard

the boys and a friend sitting on the edge of a bridge over a stream

pausing on a hike with friends

Elijah putting a bike up on a table above a trampoline on the lawn

this can't possibly go badly...

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cock-a-doodle

Lots of people, including us, got chickens at the beginning of the pandemic. For us the experience was old hat, but I heard that for some of the new chicken owners it was a bit of a challenge. I wonder how many of them are thinking of adding to their flock this spring? The subject comes to mind because this morning I was awakened by a strange yet familiar sound... which after a few repetitions I finally realized was a rooster! Actually, to be fair I don't think it was the rooster that work me up but rather the way the dogs were reacting to it; there was so much barking after each crow that it was clear the sound was new and alarming to them, unlike, say, the cry of the male turkey which we hear a lot more often.

So where did this rooster come from, and why haven't we heard it before? My first thought was that someone got chicks early this spring and one of them has now revealed itself as male—but I feel like they'd have to be really early to be outside overnight already. Could the sound have carried from a proper farm thanks to some unique atmospheric conditions? The closest farm is Chip-In, but they don't have roosters either—they're just about in the same neighborhood as we are and it's kind of a dense one, and I bet their neighbors wouldn't appreciate it. Personally, though, I don't know why not: I think they're a delightful addition to the ambience of a community! I wish I could wake to roosters every morning... especially since that means the dogs would have to get used to them.

home-made dirt

I don't count myself as being any good at making compost. When I read gardening books that talk about how to do it properly, I'm totally intimidated. Combine equal parts high-nitrogen and high-carbon material? Chop to one-inch chunks? Keep wet, but not too wet ("like a wrung-out sponge," we're told)? Turn weekly? I don't do any of those things. But I do pile up all the weeds and leaves and garden waste, with a little extra helping of food scraps, and let it sit for four to six months... and it turns out that's good enough, at least for our purposes! Twice a year we dig into the pile and pull out the dirt at the bottom of it; dirt that looks like a clumpy, straw-filled mess until we put it through a sieve made out of hardware cloth and sift out all the uncomposted bits. Then all of a sudden we've got the softest, blackest soil you could ever want! It's so gratifying to me, because that's how I want everything to work: don't worry about the details, just wait and it'll all come out fine!

Anyways, we've just prepped a couple beds in the garden so far: it's cool enough that I don't think the summer plants will grow at all if we plant them out now, even if there's no more frosts to threaten them (I count mid-May for our last frost date, so we're getting close!). But they're getting big in their cell packs, so yesterday I transplanted some of the tomatoes into individual three inch pots. I buy seed starting medium, but for potting soil it's just our compost mixed with some perlite from the store, and it looks just like the real thing. Since the one of the purposes of this whole operation is to save money, I appreciate not having to pay big bucks for dirt when we can just make it at home! Of course, watching the potting soil production Harvey was asking about the perlite: where does it come from, he wanted to know, and is there any chance we could make it or mine it or whatever ourselves? Ah yes, the self-sufficiency dream! We may be some ways off, but at least we've got home-made dirt.

morning workout

On Sunday afternoon I went out to Russell Mill Pond for a ride. I was looking forward to getting some time on the trails by myself—and I did, seven miles worth!—but the reason I drove out that way rather than stay closer to home was that I saw on a friends' Strava that the pump track was open. The pump track is what draws the kids to Russell Mill, but when we went earlier this spring our expectations were cruelly dashed: it was closed for the winter. But that red line snaking through it on a Strava map on Saturday let me know that it was maybe open again—and indeed it proved to be! I was excited to tell the boys and they were excited to hear about it, so when Leah suggested we go Monday morning we were enthusiastic. Of course, if we want to ride somewhere 20 minutes away and get back in time for breakfast we have to get up pretty early! So I made hot chocolate and brought it along in a thermos. I always wanted to tailgate at a trailhead!

the boys drinking hot chocolate in the parking lot at Russell Mill Pond

warmth and energy

The waking up process completed, we got right over to the track to start doing laps. Harvey was a little tentative at first, having not ridden jumps all winter; Elijah was not tentative at all on his new bike and almost did a forward somersault on his second go around. Everybody soon settled in to an appropriate level, and we rode around and around for over an hour. We all got better, and then we got tired and got worse, but I think overall we all pushed our skills forward. And the best part is we were back home for breakfast not much after 7:30! Now to get some friends to come out riding with us...

Harvey jumping his bike on the pump track

jump!

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happy birthday Zion

Having three kids is hard. When you have four or five nobody could fault you for forgetting a birthday or two; there are so many! With three kids there's maybe no excuse, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. That's not to say that I forgot that Zion's birthday was today... only that, in the weeks leading up to May 4th, the importance of the day wasn't always at the forefront of my mind. Can I still blame pandemic brain? With all that said, though, I don't think we did all that badly in showing him a good day today. Good thing: turning ten is a big deal!

the boys at the birthday breakfast table

giant box of honey bunches? looks like a party!

Leah managed to get out last night to pick up some presents, and I stayed up late to wrap them, make a card, and hang up the birthday banners (the most important part of the whole celebration). He asked for cereal for his birthday breakfast, and since you can't put a candle in cereal Leah also brought home some donut holes (you can stick a candle in a donut hole about as well as you can in a pancake, our most common birthday choice). Then in the middle of the day the boys went to my parents' house for a celebratory lunch; this evening we're sharing socially-distanced cake with the group of friends who gather every Tuesday evening for what we're still calling Bible study. Then on Thursday he's going out for ice cream with the other grandparents. Not too bad! Parties with friends—online and in-person—will be along in good time.

Happy Birthday Zion!

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