posts tagged with 'art'

Halloween report

In a lot of ways, Halloween yesterday was pretty relaxed. The boys all took responsibility for their own costumes and all we had to do was order requested parts (Leah's job) and help Elijah realize his vision for a sword with a handle made out of a bone (my job). They made their own jack-o-lanterns too, while I was on a work meeting. But there was a lot of partying we had to do, and lots of treats to digest! Unlike most years, we didn't invite folks to trick-or-treat with us and party afterwards; we accepted an invitation to a wonderful trick-or-treating neighborhood in Chelmsford. And also with other friends on the other side of Bedford. So there was a little bit of stress getting both of those in, especially since we didn't get back from the Halloween party at Backyard Farm Club in Lowell until after 4:30! Good thing we didn't need much supper, so the caroler and a couple of ninjas were ready to head out before it got dark.

the boys in front of the house in their costumes

quick, pose for a second before it's too dark

The Farm Club party was probably my favorite part of the day. All the more so for being unexpected: I thought we were just going to do get in there with some garden clean-up, but besides that we were treated to an amazing Halloween party complete with pigs in blankets and ants on logs and, most important, doughnuts on strings so we could race to see who could eat them fastest! I didn't win.

Zion and Elijah trying to eat donuts hanging from strings

harder than it looks

Then of course there was lots of candy to gather from a few doors in Bedford and lots more in Chelmsford. It was fun seeing the Bedford crew for a minute but we really enjoyed getting to visit a destination trick-or-treating location in Chelmsford. Lots of the homeowners were out in front of their houses with their candy—combined with all the families out in the streets it felt like a real festival. All our kids got more candy than they needed for sure. Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, but as far as it goes this one was pretty good!

the boys at a door trick-or-treating

I guess the dark is part of the appeal

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celebrating Harvey

Harvey's birthday was a long time ago. But somehow it never seemed the moment to have a party for him all through July, August, and September. Partly the problem was one of responsibility: who is in charge of inviting teenagers to a teenager's birthday party? And of planning the food and activities? In the end Harvey and I worked out a collaboration (I would do the food and he would do the activities; he'd invite his friends, I would confirm with the parents). And then after one further week of delay—one of his friends was away—we finally had the party on Saturday. It was a delightful affair.

a yellow-frosted cake with flowers on top of it

with elegant food and drink

It was a costume party, but a relaxed one where the guests were in no way obligated to keep their costumes on or act in character. Or even have a real costume; one of Harvey's friend just wore a t-shirt reading "404: costume not found". Harvey ordered an awesome feathered mask and wore his cloak from Halloween a few years ago; he said his costume was "someone at a costume party". Elijah was a white ninja with a face-paint scar. Zion's ninja costume was in the wash so he went as himself. It was all fine.

The kids all played outside for a while, first running around and hitting each other with things (enough of them were warriors of some kind as to make it inevitable) and then they sat down around the picnic table and played Mafia. Harvey had planned a water-balloon activity, with candy prizes, but his friend who was going to bring the balloons thought the party was Sunday so he wasn't there (so much for all the delay to make sure everyone could come!). So they just ate the candy. Then there was the taco lunch, with beef, two kinds of beans, and soy crumbles, plus homemade flour tortillas. And lots of chips.

the food being served up

taco party

After lunch they all went and played Smash Bros for a while—not my favorite but definitely something 11-15 year olds can get together on (Elijah and his friend played outside some more). Then there was cake—a yellow cake with lemon buttercream frosting was what Harvey asked for, and he liked the fall-hued zinnias I decorated it with—plus ice cream and also apple pie. The kids had eaten a whole bag of peanut-butter cups at that point, along with a fair number of twix bars and smarties, so I have to say they didn't do the real dessert justice... but on the plus side nobody threw up and we've been enjoying the leftovers since.

It was a good party, to be sure. But maybe not enough to make it up for Harvey for being so late. We should have another one!

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midsummer delights

While we do like to celebrate the solstice, we've never managed to throw a bash as big as the summer solstice deserves. There's always too much else going on. So this year I was delighted to be invited to a party hosted by a friend from Latvia, where they know how do do solstices right!

a child in a solstice crown of flowers, and me playing guitar

now that's a party

We met these friends in the fall—they're part of our park day group—but we've never been to their house. Mainly because it's a million miles away, all the way out west in Dunstable. But that means they have plenty of yard to run and play in, and also that they live near a beautiful meadow where we started the party picking flowers to make into solstice crowns.

Zion holding a big bouquet of wildflowers in front of a waterlily pond

midsummer child

Once we all had several armfuls we went to their house, where we sat around a fire and ate for the next six hours or so. Well, I guess we didn't sit the whole time. They have a trampoline and there was a bounce house, so the kids got lots of exercise (I may have taken a bounce or two myself). We helped a stray duck get back into her run. We played some music. I got a little less horrible walking on a slackline. Some of the kids made a seesaw. It was a fun time! Oh, and I jumped over the fire.

me blurily jumping over a fire

somebody has to do it

In Latvia, we hear, sunset on the solstice is at around 11:30. That's why they need strong solstice traditions, like the crowns and the solstice cheese pictured below. We didn't last that long, but it was still starting to get dark as we finally pulled ourselves away at quarter to nine. Good party! I hope they'll invite us again next year.

a cutting board beautifully laid with cheese, crackers, flowers, and oak leaves

solstice board

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a joyful occasion

Today is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Seems like a big deal! The boys calculated that means she's been married for two-thirds of her life; for my dad it's even a bit longer, since he married young. We got the celebrations off to a good start this evening with a cookout at our house for the honored couple and my brother and his family (the main attraction for the boys was playing with their cousins, who they haven't seen since last summer). Then the real party comes tomorrow afternoon: my mom's been planning it for months, and it's going to be the most elegant affair of the season. Fun too, because I'm in charge of games for all the kids. I'm already tired.

celebrating Zion

On Saturday we hosted Zion's birthday party for his friends, which, as tradition dictates, was a pretty big affair with some friends for the rest of us too. In birthday season Zion's fancy turns to thoughts of baseball, so once again his party had a baseball theme. Which in this case meant we played an hour or two of whiffleball. Never mind that it was the hottest day of the year so far: kids and adults alike were committed!

Zion up at bat in our yard with a crowd of kids on deck behind him

hey, batta batta

The kids started up with batting practice as folks began to arrive, and then chose captains for a game with real sides. Then after a break for drinks and chips—despite my concerns, Leah put the chips out before dinner thinking that kids needed to keep their electrolyte levels up—we reorganized into kids vs adults. Not everyone played, but it was still a good-sized game, and fiercely fought. There were home runs, aggressive—not to say foolhardy—base-running and a triple play that was called back because of a general lack of understanding of the rules of "tagging up". I had to bow out before the end to start to get supper ready, but not before I hit a towering home run into the woods over the shed. Very satisfying! Still, the adult side ended up losing something like 24-12. Those kids were just too good.

For supper we had hamburgers and hot dogs on the fire (plus garden asparagus), along with salad, veggies, and lots and lots of chips (electrolytes!). Adults ate under a tent that Leah bought in the morning, thinking we'd die otherwise under the baking sun. It's the best thing ever, and even though the day cooled slightly as the party got going it was delightful to be gathered under its shade.

As the party entered its fourth hour the kids abandoned organize sports for a more typical game of battling and domination—and, apparently, courtroom trials? I'm not quite sure. The adults were having civilized conversation elsewhere. There was also some bike riding and rollerblading, and Zion built some of his new legos (most of his presents from his friends were legos, which is good because he didn't get any from his family; only sports equipment). The party started at three, and I think everyone was gone by 7:30, but I'm not sure... it was kind of hazy by that point. A good party!

kids and adults around the table under the tent as Zion waits to blow out his candles

pure delight

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lots of Easter

I didn't take that many pictures of Easter yesterday. Like I anticipated, it was a crazy morning and a full day overall. But full of joyful celebration too!

kids sitting on the lawn trading easter egg treats

the day's treasures

We started off bright and early by heading into church to set up to welcome kids and families with kids to the service. It's been a long time since we did a big service in person, and it showed—but never mind, everybody had so much fun that they didn't mind the occasional issue. There were some new families, and some folks I hadn't seen for a while. And lots of them were dressed up for the occasion... including Elijah!

Elijah in church holding his big Easter bunny

his bunny matches, but it also covers up his tie

There was also an egg hunt after church, but I was too busy running it to take any pictures or even pay attention to the kids finding the eggs. But that was alright because after church we went home to a big party with our own egg hunt. Also a fire, a whole bunch of friends, and plenty of food for all of them.

lots of food, mostly desserts, on our kitchen table

how many calories in total?

Maybe the balance was a little heavy towards the sweet treats side, but that's ok for a holiday. Everybody seemed pretty happy to be hanging out together, and when a few snowflakes started to fall the kids were especially happy to be able to play inside. There was plenty of outside time too, and at least the cold weather the last few days meant that all the flowers were still hanging on to make a fine show for the holiday. Happy Easter!

Zion picking up an easter egg in front of flowering bushes

plenty of eggs for all

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a birthday like old times

Do you remember March 2020, when Elijah's birthday was the last party we had where we were able to invite people into our house? Well, I don't know if the pandemic is really over, but the weather the last two weeks seemed determined to force us into a symbolic statement about where we stand now virus-wise, two years later. The poor boy had his actual birthday a couple weeks ago, and his party was scheduled for the 12th—outdoors, like things have been lately. But the forecast was terrible, so we postponed it a week. Then, after a week of beautiful clear days, the next Saturday was wet too. But Elijah was determined to wait no longer, and with the extra week to think about it all our friends were fine with coming indoors to celebrate with us. And what a party it was!

Elijah blowing out the candles on his cake with a friend looking on

he still remembers how to do it

Of course, it wasn't all inside. Elijah's biggest hopes and plans were a game of freeze tag at Fawn Lake and a piñata, and neither one of those were really possible to do in our house. The Fawn Lake part was first, and while it felt kind of bad to be leaving our house in downpour by the time we reached the pond—all of seven minutes away—the rain had faded to falling mist. So all the kids were able to have a great time playing tag, and all the grown-ups were able to stand around like grown-ups do, mostly without even needing their umbrellas.

kids in the field at Fawn Lake

I couldn't ever get them all in one photo

After about an hour Lijah called a halt and we headed home (through another rain squall—good timing!). The birthday boy was so excited about presents that he opened them before lunch. Lunch itself was amazing: all those kids around our table for the first time in two years! Amazingly loud, too. The adults stayed in the other room. Besides the pizza the highlight of the at-home part of the party was smashing the piñata, which we did on the front porch—not because it was particularly wet, but because the thing was so big and heavy I didn't think anything but the ring bolt for the porch swing would be able to hold it up! It survived two rounds of kids whacking it with a plastic bat (though it was looking definitely battered and leaking a fair bit) before Elijah dispatched it with the wooden one.

Zion hitting the pinata

Zion showning good form

Then we had cake. At that point it was 1:00, the official end of the party (which had begun at 10:30). We weren't kicking anyone out, though, and I was very gratified that everybody who didn't have somewhere else to go stuck around til almost 3:00. Just like that last birthday, back in 2020! I guess we still know how to throw a party.

Elijah's cake, decortated with sunglasses

the theme was "cool kids"

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what did we do with the old one?

When the younger two boys got vaccinated the thing they were most looking forward to was the annual New Years Eve party at our friends' house. Which of course we missed last year. Then when the omicron surge got going and there was a chance it might not happen, they were prepared to be crushed. Happily, limiting the party to a core group of friends and having everyone take a rapid test beforehand meant that, never mind the pandemic, we were all able to celebrate the New Year the way it's meant to be celebrated!

Or the way some people mean it to be celebrated anyway... the boys were strongly in favor of staying up until midnight, which I didn't think sounded like a good idea at all. I felt sick and woozy just contemplating it! But with a party that got going at 6:00 I figured we'd have plenty of time for fun and then still get to bed at a reasonable hour. I guess I didn't anticipate how much fun it was going to be!

Fun and food. There were only three families there, including the hosts, but we all felt like creating a festive atmosphere required plenty of food and drink. I made coleslaw, rolls, and a pecan pie, and also brought crackers and dip. Then there was chili, cornbread, chips with a green enchilada dip, caramel popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, oreos, and candy. Oh, and a bowl of baby carrots. Luckily there was an appropriate amount of alchohol to counter some of the sugar flooding my blood and keep me from exploding; I'm not sure how the kids survived.

Actually, I'm not 100% sure how they spent most of the party. The hosts kept them off screens until 6:30, so they got to participate in a couple card games, but then they vanished into the other room to play on a couple Switches and watch some of the old Avatar show. There was also an air hockey table in there so I guess they had the option to move a little bit if they wanted. Me, I didn't move much unless it was too and from the buffet. I just sat at the table and played games: Pit, Dungeon Mayhem, Spit, Pokemon cards, Root, and Regicide. I lost most of them but that doesn't matter; I was still having a great time!

I knew it was getting late, but I was still surprised when I finally checked the time and saw it was just past 11. Awareness of the hour sent my body into shutdown mode, and I barely managed to collect the boys and say a polite goodbye before stumbling out the door. All three boys had been advocating that we stay up til midnight, so when we got home at 11:30 they felt that we were so close we might as well wait up that last half hour! Plus they wanted to hear stories. I knew, though, that if I didn't get myself into bed instantly I might die, so I declined. Of course, I told them they could stay up as long as they wanted! Tucked in their beds Harvey and Elijah fell instantly to sleep—as did I—but Zion, our king of willpower, held on til the bitter end. Though, as he reported in the morning, he was a little disappointed to miss the precise turning of the year: he looked at his watch at 11:57, then blinked and it was 12:03.

All that excitement was pretty hard on us! We took a walk in the afternoon on New Years Day and Elijah, who began it full of joy and energy, was in a grumpy sulk before we got back to the car. Back at home he unspeakingly ran himself a bath and soaked for a while, then came downstairs in his bathrobe and promptly fell asleep on the couch for two hours. Yes, it was hard work but worthy work: this New Year was properly celebrated.

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solstice with friends

We had a party yesterday! It felt like the first in a long time; we've had people over to the back porch lots in this pandemic time, including last winter solstice, but those were all more like relaxed hang-out get-togethers. Last night we know it was a party because I bought beer and chips, made multiple desserts, and had not one but two steaming pots of hot drink available—mulled cider and hot chocolate. And of course a bonfire.

a big fire burning in our firepit

as big a one as the firepit allows

Which was good because we really appreciated the chance to get warm inside and out. It wasn't super cold—and the ground wasn't covered in a foot of snow like last year—but there was a damp chill in the air and it wasn't weather that would typically encourage people to linger outside. But on this night, linger we did!

friends gathered on our back deck under lights

partying the long night away

At least for a little bit. It was still a school night, after all, for those kids who have to go to school; the solstice isn't as important in the public school curriculum as it is among homeschoolers of our vaguely Waldorf-influenced set. But that was ok, because after everyone left and we finished all the cleanup—which took some time!—the fire had died down enough for us to be able to jump over it. Which three of us did! True, it wasn't really a bonfire any longer, but I think it should still count. Now the sun can come back!

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Halloween

Halloween this year was wonderfully celebratory: just like a real holiday! It's because it fell on a Sunday so we were able to devote the whole day to a series of varied observations. We started at church. Last year in the pandemic we did a church thing on Halloween (on a Saturday) because it was a chance to gather together outdoors. This year lots of us are meeting indoors but not all, so we thought we'd do it again! The kids all had the opportunity to wear their costumes to Kids Church, then we did trick-or-treating and photo-ops out in the parking lots.

me and the boys posing in our halloween costumes

church halloween photo op

As you can see, we were a warlike bunch! (well, I was actually a peaceful farmer—as Elijah pointed out I picked that costume so I could just wear my regular clothes!—but I couldn't help but get into the spirit for the photo). Zion was a ninja for the fourth year in a row and Elijah joined him in that brotherhood of the night; though as you can see Elijah had a little more liberal interpretation of the canon. Harvey was a ranger again, this time with a bow instead of a sword. As you can see he's in middle school which means he likes to make his costumes exclusively from things he already has (his high-school friend went as a wizard dressed as a muggle, which if you know Harry Potter you can see took even LESS effort!). The younger boys made new swords and masks for the event at least.

Then we had some time for resting—and for Zion to renew his hair dye—before the main event that evening. For trick-or-treating we were joined by four more kids, three of whom were ninjas. The fourth was a katana, which was significantly more original while not departing at all from the theme. The trick-or-treating was a joy, with excitement high on the streets after a gap of two years. Everybody got lots of candy.

the boys and friends posing in the street before trick-or-treating

mostly ninjas

Then we went home to gather around the fire with a few more folks who had trick-or-treated in their own neighborhood. I made hot cider, and the kids ran traded candy and ran around. We didn't stay up super late: it was school night, so by eight everyone was about ready to head home. But even with that prompt finish, the day was well celebrated.

the boys and friends sorting their candy at the picnic table

the reason for the season

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