all those moments

Every Friday in 2015 Leah or I posted a picture under the heading "this moment" (alright, there was one week when I messed up the date and posted on Thursday by accident). We got the idea from the blog Soulemama, and I was drawn to it for two reasons. First, it's great to look back over the year in a series of weekly pictures. There are other ways to relive it—I'm partial to the weather view, myself—but pictures are one good choice. Second, Soulemama invited readers to link to their own moments from her weekly Friday posts, which was a good way to get people looking at our things (at least occasionally). Only then she ended her series.

We actually started posting moments in March 2014, a couple weeks after Lijah was born, but it wasn't til 2015 that I got the rhythm of weekly posting. And I kept up with that rhythm even after half my reason for doing so was gone, because... that's what I'm like. But as I think about our own schedule and what I hope to do with this blog, it seems to me that a single picture on Friday doesn't sum up our week in the way I'd like to sum it up. So in 2016 I'm going to try something new. Stay tuned, and see what you think!


"yion? yion?"

Leah sometimes feels that she has to go about her daily work with Lijah permanently attached to her—probably because often she does. That's why they call it attachment parenting, I suppose? But as he approaches two years old, he appreciates his brothers more and more. This evening he was delighted when Zion came home from watching video games at a friend's house full of energy and ready to run and wrestle with his little brother; but disappointed when Zion moved on to other things, like eating dinner, looking at a book, and using the bathroom.

"Yion? Yion?!" he asked, with increasing urgency. Zion was happy enough to bolt his food and leave the table—he does it enough on his own anyways—but a little more frustrated when Lijah tried to pull him off the couch as he looked at a book (ok, the new American Girl doll catalog). I'm not sure how he felt about his little brother yelling and banging on the door of the bathroom, but I bet that Leah was thrilled to see someone other than her getting that treatment! Especially as she sat at the dinner table enjoying a civilized conversation with her husband and charming eldest son.

They're all three of them changing all the time. I wonder what next week will bring?


moments from the week

the chicken coop and house through the icy morning mist

peaceful winter farm

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all!

Harvey and Zion's gingerbread houses on the coffee table alongside leftover crackers

after the Christmas party

Lijah's booted feet in the snow

first time standing in snow

the boys' three coats hanging in the bathroom after the wet snow

wet aftermath

Zion in his new snowsuit sliding down the porch steps on his butt

slippery steps

closeup of ice around a little branch of the wisteria

ice ornament

the boys painting at the kitchen table; lots of papers covered already

industrious with the Christmas paint sets

Lijah in winter gear and silly leg warmers in the bike seat

New Year's Day ride


a long run

When Leah and I moved into our first ever home together—well, the first one where it was just our names on the lease—a friend gave us a pair of dish towels. They were wonderful examples of the genre: colorfully striped in durable cotton. They served us well for that year in Arlington as I slowly learned to cook, then made the move to this house the following year and continued to do noble duty. None more than the last year when we've been getting by without a dishwasher, for no reason other than a bizarre intersection of ideology and laziness that I can't figure my way around. But alas, after 11 years of hard service their race is nearly run and, rent in numerous places, they're destined for the scrap bin or even the trash can. It's a little sad—they were great dish towels—but no towel lives forever.

The colander we got in the same gift, on the other hand, is still going strong—and we got a pair of new towels from my mother for Christmas. So that's ok.

entertaining visitors

After our big Christmas party a few weekends ago was a bust (in numerical terms—we had a great time with friends and family who did come!) we decided to focus our entertaining energy a little less on giant open-invitation events and a little more on asking specific folks to come over. That's why today, when we had a total of 15 people over we had them in two batches. Farm-school coop and lunch saw two visiting adults and six kids (not counting ours; and one of the visitors didn't wake up the whole time so I don't know that I should really count him). Then another three adults and three kids for dinner. The best part was that we served some of the same food both meals!

No wait, that's not true; the best part was that we got to hang out with a lot of awesome people. And since many of them helped clean up, it wasn't even that much work! Let's do it again next Tuesday.

three moms and lots of kids in our living room

the preschool side of farm-school coop


job satisfaction?

Working in the public schools has a lot to say for it. I really enjoy getting to spend time with a diverse population of kids, and even though I'm often not a fan of the big-picture pedagogical model—and lots of the implementation too—it's nevertheless always a thrill to do the actual teaching and see the kids making progress. But still: it's kind of a struggle. Very rarely while teaching have I felt... let's say "comfortable". Not lazy and complacent, but relaxed and energized and excited about doing real work. I always would have rather been at home.

But due to various changes in our schedule, both Leah and I find ourselves working in jobs that are, so far at least, actually that kind of rewarding. And it leaves us spending some serious time out of the house.

Serious time for us, at least; I suppose normal folks consider nine-hour work days—that's nine hours counting commuting time—to be pretty commonplace. But finding myself engrossed in a delightful, meaningful task this afternoon I stuck around in Cambridge until almost 4:30 to finish it up. And Leah didn't leave work until after 5:00 yesterday (good thing I had it all under control).

Lijah still isn't sleeping, but with the holiday craziness out of the way we're starting to find a reasonable schedule and the sanity that comes with it. The house is getting cleaned regularly, the kids are getting fun outings, and Leah and even have some time to talk with each other (ok, so that's only when we're doing the dishes—but it's something!). And there's time for work, too... who would have thought?!


latest discoveries

Yesterday the boys and I spent an afternoon at the Discovery Museum in Acton. It wasn't only that we needed more chicken supplies from the feed store down the street; I really want to expand their brains with the power of well-designed play!

Lijah and Harvey working in the life-sized play kitchen

play work

Last time I went was just with the two younger boys, who could spend all day in the "Children's" part of the museum. Harvey has other interests, and with him leading the charge we soon headed over to the other building for some Science Discovery. Happily, even Lijah likes science too: he was entranced by the heat camera, and watched his own rainbow form on the screen with delight.

Lijah looking at himself in the heat camera screen

"movie? movie?"

While I couldn't interest the older boys in a truly scientific investigation of what the camera revealed—like the fact that Harvey's hair is vastly more insulative than Zion's—they were amused to notice that their skin is in fact hot all over, and their clothes keep the heat in.

Harvey on the heat camera screen lifting his shirt to show his red belly

hot belly

There were also opportunities for personal growth. Harvey was brave enough to approach the woman running the pendulum-table spirograph to ask for a turn (and he wanted to make one as a present for Mama!). Zion got lost a whole level away from us and didn't scream or cry. And Lijah overcame a new-found fear of humidifier steam ("no smoke! no smoke!") to be able to spend a good half-hour in a room with a seven-foot-high water vapor tornado. Good times all around!

Plus, we picked up the chicken feed on the way home.


moments from the week

Lijah and Harvey on rocking chairs, a comic book each

library buddies

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all! They don't even have to be good ones.

a picture of me in the mirror, with Lijah sleeping in the front-pack

self-portrait with sleeper

Harvey and Lijah on the couch in the dark, looking at the iPad

Saturday-morning cartoons

the boys walking on the sidewalk by a fallow field

coming from the first winter market

Zion holding a plasic slice of pizza aloft on one hand

serious waiter


formal "T"

Zion's language is vastly more conventional than it was when he was two—as you'd expect! Except when he's using his cutesy baby voice (which isn't more than half the time) his speech pretty much follows the normal patterns of American English (since we're in Boston he doesn't lose points for dropping his Rs). As he adapts to conventional language, it's interesting to notice examples of hypercorrection he makes—most notably his use of /t/ to replace /d/ when he wants to sound official. "Here comes Spiterman!", as he pronounced very distinctly in his announcer voice this morning.

It makes perfect sense as a replacement. Clearly, he's noticed that our dialect effectively has a /d/ /t/ merger in many cases: in an intervocalic position the two sound exactly the same. He knows when we say "butter" it sounds like there's a D in the middle of the word, but also that it's really a T: a T that one might pronounce when one was being particularly formal. His "Spiterman" T replaces an identical sound—one that just happens to be spelled with a D.

If I were to draw a larger point from his little mix-up, its that we sometimes give kids too little credit: we point out all the things they do "wrong" without very often noticing why they're making a particular mistake—or realizing the tremendous amount of processing and development they're doing in order to come up with a way to systematize the craziness around them.

But never mind that, the real point is that Zion is awesome and I wish I could record everything he says to enjoy later. The things he says when he's not whining, that is.


Concord in the cold

Lijah leading the other boys over the Old North Bridge

over the bridge

Yesterday morning we took an outing to Concord. I wanted to do some walking around outside, but given the sudden drop in temperature—after a warm rainy day that melted what snow we had the cold was a shock—I wasn't sure we could make it. But when I suggested the river there was a clamor of approval, so we gave it a shot.

Lijah's face in profile, bundled in the hood of his down coat

braving the wind

It was quite cold. The water and the exposure makes that bridge particularly chilly in winter, and yesterday was no exception. For at least 15 minutes, though, Lijah was good for it, enjoying the sight of the geese and a swan and charging over the bridge to see the "knight? knight? knight?" (actually the Minuteman statue).

a fledgeling swan in the shallows by the opposite bank

also enjoying the day

We saw one other person there the whole time. With the place to themselves Harvey and Zion played and played; I think they would have been happy to stay out lots longer.

Harvey and Zion playing a little way down the bank

boys at play

It's fun to watch what they get up to. Here they asked me if they could roll down the hill—of course I told them to go right ahead!

Zion and Harvey rolling down a short steep hill above the river

just not too far!

When Lijah reached his freezing point he let us know it, so we hurriedly decamped to the car (where he was mollified and refreshed with apple slices) and then to the Concord library, where we spent a pleasant hour or so playing with their legos and looking at books.

It was a good time all around, though all the cold and excitement took a lot out of the littlest one: it's not a long drive home but it was enough for him to drop off to sleep—and the car wasn't exactly quiet!—and he didn't stir at all when I brought him inside and tossed him onto the bed.

Lijah sleeping on his back in the bed, still wearing boots and coat

tuckered out for a winter nap

That's how every outing should end!


take it apart

Leah gets up before me these days, and lately I've been acutely aware of when she's making her coffee because the kitchen sink hasn't been working quite perfectly: turning it on or off produces a noticeable "thunk" that pretty much shakes the whole house. Which is livable, but after it started dripping both from the end and the base of the faucet stem I figured I should do something about it (like, a week after... you know how it is). Happily, all I had to do to fix it was take the faucet apart and put it back together again, which I did the other day. Not only did the dripping stop, but now the faucet is a smoothly-function joy to use. I should have done that last month!

I wouldn't mention it here except just a couple days earlier I fixed the furnace the same way. The first really cold day this winter we were out all day, and when we came back the house just wouldn't warm up; when I went down to look at the furnace I knew why. Well, I sort of knew why: the proximate cause was the furnace's failure to light, but I had no idea of the reason for that. But I didn't let lack of knowledge stop me, and with headlamp and screwdriver got to work taking apart the little panel with the igniter and flame sensor. Not very much apart, since it was late, but enough to notice that maybe the connection between the igniter and its wire was a little loose. Who knows if that was the problem, but when I put everything back together it lit right up.

Our lives today are filled with things we don't understand, and it can be a little paralyzing. That's what attracts me to "sustainability" as a goal—not that I'm afraid society will collapse and I'll need to be able to grow my own food and maintain my own primitive machinery, just that I appreciate a little bit of comprehension about the workings around me. For me at least, it makes life less stressful.

Of course, I'm nowhere near complete independence in those terms, nor do I really hope to be. But at least now I have a first step for dealing with broken things that I'm not really sure how to fix: take em apart and take a look! It's kind of liberating.


we make bread too

Our friend Angel recently sent us a link to a "Waldorf-inspired family resource center" a few towns away. Basically, it's a home-school group just like ours, but these folks are clever enough to ask for money. There's so much I want to know about the enterprise, but the website is not particularly forthcoming with details; the one thing that's totally clear is that they make bread.

Well so do we!

Harvey and Zion shaping their loaves at the kitchen table

intent bakers

Our friends were sick so our weekly farm-school co-op date was just us, but we didn't let that stop us from getting our hands into some dough. I was recently gifted a sourdough started (perfectly timed: I was ready to try again after some years off) and I'm working on figuring out how to make good bread with it. This particular batch was perfect for the boys: sticky enough to be interesting, but still easy to squish and shape. They both chose to make baguettes—or "long bread", as they're known in our household.

As nice as it was, the dough was still too sticky for Lijah, and he stuck to manipulating the raw ingredients.

Lijah in the high chair making a mess with flour

looking pleased with himself

The loaves came out good (though Zion doesn't really like the crustiness of a sourdough bread), but somehow I failed to take a picture of the finished product. We'll just have to do it again next week!


almost ice skating

Harvey and Zion running on the outdoor ice rink

on the ice

Lexington is making a laudable commitment to improving public spaces—following up on the giant street-side checker game over the summer (beloved by the boys even if not blogged by me) they put in a free, open-to-the-public ice rink on the piece of land that hosts the Farmers Market in more temperate weather. The infrastructure was in place some time ago, but with the weather lately more temperate than you expect this time of year the ice took longer than expected to develop; and the boys, knowing that the rink was there, asked almost daily when we could go visit it. Yesterday was the day!

In order to make sure to get enough exercise if they wouldn't let us on the ice without skates, we parked a ways away and walked over on the bike path. The bigger boys ran ahead while I took things at a relaxed pace with Lijah. He was very excited to be walking, except when he wasn't.

Lijah sitting down in the middle of the bike path

"I can't!"

It's not like I was forcing him to walk: I had the stroller, and would have been delighted to plop him in it and catch up with his brothers, who were about a quarter mile ahead of us. But he was having none of it; when I walked back towards him to make the offer he hopped right up, calling, "I did it!"

As laborious and earth-bound as the walk may have been, all three boys were transported with delight to be on the ice, where just walking seemed like flying.

Lijah walking on the ice, looking like he's in the sky

like floating above clouds

There were no restrictions we knew about so the boys ran wildly around the ice surface, racing and spinning to their heart's content. The running was possible because the temperature—just above freezing—and the light snow that had fallen the day before combined to make the ice a little sticky. It was kind of disappointing, given that we had come all that way for ice—but on the other hand it was nice that none of the kids slipped and broke their heads open.

Not to say there were no falls. Harvey cut his face doing a comedic face-plant over the low rail, and then there was a moment when the bigger boys were taking a quiet sit down in between races.

Harvey and Zion sitting on the edge of the rink

a breather

Lijah came along, but instead of just finding his own spot to sit, he gave Zion a shove.

the boys as before, with Lijah pushing Zion

his role in the family

Turns out Zion's perch was somewhat precarious.

Harvey still sitting, Zion's feet poking over the rink edge where Lijah pushed him off


No injury resulted though, and when Zion grudgingly forgave us for laughing everyone was alright again.

After a good long time on the ice surface proper we explored a little further and found that the frozen overflow from the rink was much slipperier than the rink itself. So we played there for a while.

Harvey and Zion sliding on the overflow off to the side of the rink

the real slippery stuff

And then some more on the rink (the boys had to get across it to get to the gate...), then a trip to the toy store, and the Lexington library... it was a full day. But Zion confirms, the (almost) skating was the undeniable highlight. Now to find some real ice skates for us all before we run out of winter...


moments from the week

Harvey and Zion on the front porch, lying in a box sharing a comic book

at 18 degrees farenheit

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all! They don't even have to be good ones.

the boys climbing a tree on the Concord Riverbank

Concord River

Zion (in his winter coat) and Harvey (not) keeping warm by a fire in the grill

beating the cold

the yard after an overnight fall of snow

wintery morning

Harvey, Zion, and Rascal on the frozen tundra by the edge of the airport

homeschool coop explorers 1

Harvey, Zion, Hendrick, and Eliza climbing a fallen tree above a frozen stream

homeschool coop explorers 2

Zion by the tree in the middle of the yard, with extra climbing limb and swinging rope

our winter playground

the three boys on the road bridge looking down on the rain-swollen brook

watching the brook

at a restaurant, Harvey and Zion with eyes on the TV

watching the football


self-deprecating bragging

With everything we're trying to do it's sometimes—often—hard to think about dinner before, oh, 4:30 on any given day. Combined with the somewhat limited palates of our boys, that means that the dinners we put on the table are not always inspired. Today, for example, I served spaghetti with sauce from a jar. But it's ok, because everything else on the table was totally representative of our awesome hippy credibility. Fresh sourdough bread; kale salad with homemade dressing (with local honey and homemade—though not by us—vinegar); and for desert a peach crisp made with home-canned peaches. See, we're still cool.

busy with bread

I'd love to be writing more here lately, but I've been so busy with bread! See, I've got this sourdough starter, and I'm trying to figure out how to make fantastic bread with it; so far I've figured out that in order to preserve the possibility of fantastic bread you have to make more and more starter, all the time. Which means making a lot of bread. I suppose the side effect is to give me lots of practice, not to mention opportunities to play around with various variables—but it all takes time. Today I even brought some dough in to work and baked a loaf in the oven there to share for lunch.

Right now there are four containers taking up space in the kitchen: the regular sourdough starter, a whole wheat offspring, a whole wheat bread on its first rise, and some experimental sourdough pizza dough (though really it's all experimental). Results so far have been pretty good—better than last time (though that's a pretty bread)—but not yet entirely up to specifications. So I keep trying!

Incidentally, feel free to stop by to try some bread.


moments from the week

Harvey lying in the snow, eating some

a little real snow

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all!

Zion in snowsuit shoveling the front walk

4-year-old helper

Harvey sliding down a plastic slide on the steps, Zion watching

in lieu of sledding

me and the boys watching the I Have A Dream speech on the iPad

MLK Day observances

shirtless Lijah playing quietly with plastic animals on the trampoline in the livingroom

a quiet moment

Lijah asleep, clutching his chopstick

comfort item

Harvey, Zion, and friends climbing on rocks above an icy pond

homeschool coop explorers: rocks and ice edition

Lijah smiling on the seesaw

say "playground"!

Lijah listening to Snowy Day on the audiobook iPad at the library, with a blizzard through the window behind him

Snowy Day at the library



OK, so it wasn't only bread that took so much of my time last week. Work and hospitality also played a big role in keeping me away from the writing desk. But I can assure you that getting any extra sleep had no role in my lack of blogging time: I haven't made it to bed before 10:30 in close to a week. And before you scoff, if you're a young person who keeps more fashionable hours: I regularly get woken up in the night for tuck-in service, and then I'm up at 6:00. That's not enough sleeping. Yet I keep not going to bed. There's so much to do around here!

Lijah talk

Lijah likes to sing. One of his favorite tunes is the following: "Dah dih, dah day... dah dih, dah day dah dah yoh nah may!" I'm sure those syllables are so recognizable they need no explanation, but for those of you not familiar with the song I'll tell you that it's a Christian classic beloved of young people, "This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made" (I should note for the record that his pitch and rhythm are rather better than his pronunciation).

Besides the singing, he's also talking up a storm. For the past couple months people who haven't seen him for a while have been remarking on how much more he says now—not that they can understand him at all. He isn't at all clear when he speaks, to the point that "Whole Foods" and "boots off!" sound enough the same that the rest of us had a difference of opinion about what he meant earlier today (admittedly we were in the car so it was hard to hear). Altering—"personalizing"—so many sounds isn't a huge problem when you're just saying a handful of words, but when you're trying to express complex thoughts like our little almost-two-year-old, things get tricky.

Still, we love to hear him talk. Now that he's capable of advanced communication I can sometimes talk him out of his toddler frustration fury; and even when I can't, his voice and speaking mannerisms are awful cute. I just wish I could end this post with a video of him saying "no no no..." in his smiling, head-shaking fashion—but the third kid just doesn't get the video time he deserves. I guess I'll just have to remember it.


moments from the week

Lijah following a chicken towards the camera

bok walk

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all!

Lijah and Zion playing with dinosaurs at Jam Time

indoor play space

the boys watching a movie in the messy office/sewing room

family movie

Harvey ready to swing on a rope across a puddle on the muddy lawn, Zion watching

early mud season

Harvey running towards the play-structure on the snow-free playground

snow-free play

Zion and Rascal sleeping on the couch

after a busy day

Lijah in his knitted cap smiling at the camera

littlest farmer