bonus travel

Grandma Judy with her sisters

three grandmas

We took a short trip to Ithaca this past weekend for a Greig family reunion, which gathered all the children and grandchildren of Grandma Judy and her sisters: the three daughters of Betty and Douglas Greig.

Zion and Mama on the riverside

drawn to water

It was a long trip on Friday, but the boys were great in the car. We only made one significant stop, in Greene, NY, where we visited two of our favorite things: a library and a riverbank.

When we finally got there we made ourselves at home with the Ithaca Archibalds and did our best to adapt ourselves to their wild college schedule. Staying up past 10:00 wasn't too hard for the boys thanks to the long nap they both took in the car.

Harvey, Zion, and Nisia on the footbridge looking down at the river

ooh, more water

The next day we headed out to the reunion, which was at a state park. The centerpiece of the park was a creek, which was naturally fascinating to the boys and cousin Nisia—and even more than usual because this creek had cars driving through it at frequent intervals.

a car driving through the creek at the ford

a car in the water!

There was also a swimming area, but it was closed due to recent heavy rains. We did check it out, though, and made several trips to the restrooms located in the changing area. Harvey told me, "it's a bathroom but it looks like a castle."

the changing rooms at the state park, built imposingly of stone

castle bathroom

Of course, there was also lots of good food there. Grandma Judy organized and saw to it that there'd be lots of cold cuts, but everyone who came brought something delicious. I did my best to try some of everything.

some of the food at the reunion

a fraction of the spread

The day also saw a brief celebration of a couple birthdays: Uncle Tom and my cousin Doug each got to pretend to blow out the candles on a fair-sized carrot cake (we all brought food; nobody brought matches).

Uncle Tom holding cousin Nisia

birthday boy and almost birthday girl

The party might well have been over then, but nobody could resist the allure of the open field and playground adjacent to the wooded picnic area.

a view of the playground accross the parking lot

paradise in the distance

The young kids enjoyed the impressive play structure while athletic young adults (aged 12 to 50) played some ultimate frisbee, observed by those with more sense and dignity.

Zion snuggling in Mama's arms

running out of steam

The very young were pretty worn out by this point, but anyone who wanted to leave had a tough argument to make when there was still so much fun going on.

Harvey and Grandpa Dave on the swingset

still going strong

Of course, all good things must come to an end and eventually we headed home—for another oh-so-late night, this one enhanced by a game of Scrabble and sports on the big-screen TV.

Sunday we enjoyed a terrific morning at the Ithaca Vineyard church—any service that concludes with a pot-luck brunch is fine by me! But after a few more precious minutes playing with Nisia in the kids church room we had to hit the road and bring our tired boys home to a place where they'd be able to sleep. Of course, they got a head start in the car—in Zion's case within five minutes of our leaving and continuing for the next four hours or so.

low visibility on the Castleton-on-Hudson bridge

with the wipers at full speed

The drive was a little more eventful than we might have hoped thanks to a fierce thunderstorm just past Albany. The downpour was so bad that we actually pulled over for a couple minutes, until we got bored of standing still and ventured back out into the maelstrom.

The boys were a little more discontented going home than they were on the way out, but were mollified somewhat when we stopped at a rest stop on the Turnpike; when Leah and I, also pretty worn out, suggested that McDonalds fries might be a possibility Zion perked right up with an, "and chicken?!". So we did that. He liked it.

Zion smiling

better now

Of course that wasn't the end of the whining, but we did make it home eventually. It was still light so the boys jumped right on their bikes and took a few laps around the street before even going inside. Travel is great, but it sure is nice to be home.


"I can't!"

Zion is a very capable child. He can do many things, and he tries gamely to do many things for himself that he can't actually manage. Despite that, one of the phrases we hear most often from him is "I can't!". I wish I had audio to give you the full effect; it's kind of a whine, in that the vowel sound is drawn out, but given the context it's generally not annoying, because mostly it's true. He is very small, after all. It's often rather endearing, actually.

Even better than the plain version are some recent extensions. Food he prefers not to eat? "I can't like it!" Would rather not have sunblock on? "I can't want it!" I'm not sure if he's aware of any semantic distinction between his speech patterns and a more traditional formulation—using "don't", probably—but it does make me wonder if there's any psychological insight to be gained from analysis of his unique syntax.

Fourth of July

our picnic spread and grandparents

fun, food, and family

Like we do, we celebrated the 4th of July this afternoon by attending Concord's Picnic in the Park. This time some grandparents met us there, so it was extra special. They brought chips!

the Concord hook and ladded truck parked on the field

that's where we were

We rode our bikes there; I think this is the first time we've been able to get there under our own power in consecutive years. What happened to our baby-production schedule?! Leah had the boys in the big bike, and I hooked up the trailer to bring our considerable pile of possessions. Chairs? Sure, why not!

It was very hot—it still is very hot as I compose this post—but the boys had a great time and didn't complain at all. Helped by a tantrum-induced nap an hour before we left (really! he two-year-olded himself to sleep!), Zion was able to keep going strong the whole time.

Zion's sweaty face

sweet and sweaty

Harvey, of course, is always a trooper; at least when he's out of the house, that is. They enjoyed the music and watching a very entertaining juggler (who performed in air-condition comfort) but I their favorite part was playing with the sand toys at the playground

Harvey and Zion pushing sand toys at the Emerson Park playground

this activity was in the shade

Although an all you can eat buffet enjoyed while sitting on Mama's lap isn't anything to be sneezed at!

Zion on Leah's lap, enjoying his picnic

everything he ever wanted

Happy Independence Day, everyone!


late nights

This time last year we were totally in tune with nature's rhythms, going to bed with sun and feeling very wholesome. Not so much lately. Partly because it's been so hot the last few days, the later part of the evening—when it finally cools down—feels too nice to waste on sleeping. After putting the boys to bed this evening (at around 9:00) I made scones and Leah made a batch of cookies, as well as finishing up her latest basket. It's so wonderful to have it cool enough that we feel like we can light the oven without dying!—77°F at 10:15 as I type these words.

We also have a house-guest staying with us, which contributes to our disinclination to be done with any particular day. Got to stay up and be social! It's all very nice, as long as my body holds out—too many 6-hour nights in a row is not good for us. But so far so good.


unplanned beauty

a close-up of a pink hollyhock blossom

who wouldn't want this in their garden?!

Among the many plants in our gardens this year we have a pair of beautiful pink hollyhocks. Aside from enjoying them because they're quite pretty on their own terms, I also appreciate their old-fashioned look. The only problem is, they both self-seeded and they're perhaps not in the most convenient locations. The one next to the driveway is fine, but the other one...

the whole hollyhock plant in amongst the tomatoes

maybe not the best spot

It's right on the edge of the bed where I put many of the tomato plants, and the only positive is that it's alongside the determinate varieties—the ones I'm growing in cages and mostly leaving alone, from a pruning point of view. But still, it'll be in the way soon, if it isn't already. I may have to take it out some time soon, but what a shame that would be!

Oh well, at least it isn't as bad as the year I left one to grow out of a crack in the walkway right in the middle of back steps.


our hive

No, not the bees, though they're doing well. I'm thinking about our house, which, while often a haven a rest and repose, has been somewhat otherwise lately. It's just what we get for starting that Bible study, all those years ago. Not that I'm complaining: it's really wonderful to be at the center of so many exciting social whirls. But also tiring.

What have we been up to lately? I can only think back as far as Wednesday; everything before then is obscured by the fog of time. On Wednesday we continued to have a houseguest, as we've had (almost) every day since we came back from Ithaca at the end of June. So he's hanging out, and sometimes his baby and less frequently his wife are here. His dog too. Also Wednesday saw Grandma Judy visit for a couple hours in the afternoon, then we hosted the Bible study crew in the evening. Thursday Bridget and her kids stopped by for a few hours at the house and then one or two more at the playground and library. Friday we had Nathan over much of the day, then hung out with his Mama when she came to get him, then hosted Small Group for three other adults and five other kids. Then there's the conversations we have with neighbors as the pack of kids ride their bikes up and down the street. It's all a lot for a couple of introverts.

As I say, though, I don't mind it at all, though I would be happier if I were getting more sleep (a mostly unrelated problem). It's kind of fun to have the house buzzing with so much activity—appropriate to the summer, somehow. Especially since I know that our life won't always be this crazy.