<< April 2021 :: May 2021

moments from the week

the boys playing in the wind-whipped water of the Concord

a windy day at the river

Moments from the past week.

Zion and Elijah sliding head-first down a halfpipe

skate park penguins

the sun shining through new maple leaves

the shade is growing

Harvey and Zion toasting marshmallows over the fire

cookout days are here again

Zion and Elijah playing in the sandbox

the sandbox hasn't fallen apart yet..

Harvey drawing a stop-motion animation in a box setup we built for the purpose

stop motion animating

more

Waldorf phone

Are you a crunchy-granola parent disappointed with your child's obsession with technology, because you want them to be building stick forts and playing in the dirt like the books say? Do you wish that phones and tablets had never been invented (except for yours, when you're in the bathroom or really tired because everyone keeps talking to you)? Well I have the answer for you! Introducing: the Waldorf phone!

a wooden phone on the picnic table

wPhone

Lovingly crafted from reclaimed lumber, the Waldorf phone offers a blank canvas for your child to play out all their technology-related imaginative games without compromising your carefully cultivated hippy homeschooling persona. Available today!

I was motivated to make this delightful object last Thursday when Zion and Elijah were playing a game that involved each of them having an old dead phone. I budgeted ten minutes for its creation—that's how long there was until our morning meeting time when I started—and, while it actually took twelve, I think it was still worth it! When Leah saw it on the table a little later she knew right away what it was, based on the model of Waldorf dolls. Natural materials, "intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to develop the imagination and creative play"... it ticks all the boxes. Now I need to make one for myself to try and curb my online checkers addiction...

Elijah watching something on his wooden phone

see how he loves it

more

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!

more

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!

more

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.

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.

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...

more

being traffic

I don't love leaving the house in the car, but occasionally I have to—like this afternoon, when I ventured out to Costco to get more flour. There were moments on the trip, both there and back, when I felt like the whole idea of automotive transportation might be a mistake. Like on the way home when I contributed to filling the highway and causing a traffic jam. Traffic is back in Massachusetts the last couple weeks; I guess people are all vaccinated or trust the folks around them are. What's strange is that the stores don't seem to be any more full... I wonder where everyone is going? I did have a thought that maybe the volume of cars wasn't really what it was during rush hour pre-pandemic, but people just have forgotten how to drive on full roads; that came to mind when we returned to highway speed after five miles of traffic without any reason for the slowdown to be seen.

And I did see some specific moments of concerning behavior. On the highway on the way to the store I was in the right lane, as I tend to be, and there was a driver in the next lane over who was so slow one moment that I found myself passing on the right, and then zipped past me the next moment. When this happened a second time I looked over and saw them texting—or anyways doing something very absorbing on their phone. Yikes! Then a couple minutes later I stopped at a red light and was startled to hear screeching brakes as the driver following barely stopped in time to avoid rear-ending me. Maybe they expected me to run the light? All in all, it wasn't super fun, and I'm glad I don't have to leave our little local roads for another week or so!

more

little adventures

As I was thinking about plans for the week back on Sunday I was reflecting on how much easier outings used to be when the boys were little. How many times did we just walk down to the stream a quarter mile away and watch the water for an hour or so? And then of course there were all the hours we spent at the playground, or just walking and scootering to the center of town and back with the dog (remember when we just had one dog? the picture on the masthead does!). Now I feel like we've got to do something epic every time we leave the house, something befitting my crew of intrepid hikers and cyclists: visit somewhere we've never been before, or at least some woods that feel big enough to do some real exploring. All that time in the car! Well, maybe I actually don't really need to lead grand adventures; even for eleven-, ten-, and seven-year-olds small adventures can be pretty fun too. That's what I learned when I tried it today and got them all up and out for a picnic at the playground.

the boys eating lunch at a picnic table at the playground

just like old times

We headed up after they finished up their weekly book group at 11. Our first stop was the skate park, where Harvey and Zion rode the obstacles in a relaxed manner and Lijah and I pushed ourselves (only I got badly hurt). Then we ate lunch, luxuriating in the beautiful cool late-spring air (or in one case being cold). Then we played tag in the field and tag on the playground, and when Zion tagged Lijah into a fence stanchion we took a break from that and Harvey and Zion timed each other doing climbing challenges. Then we went home. We could have stayed longer, too, but there was another Zoom class to attend. That's something that's different from four years ago, and sometimes I wish it wasn't. Another difference is that the boys are all much better cyclists (or cyclists at all!) so we only needed to budget ten minutes for the trip home, and I don't think it even took that. It would have been 25 in the old days. Maybe these days are the best of all worlds!

more

our reading lately

As I think I've mentioned, we managed to get through a year-plus of pandemic without any interruption to our chapter-book readaloud practice, even if it did lead us to read some selections that I might not have tried if we had all the variety of the library available to us. Most recently it was A Wizard of Earthsea, but Ursula LeGuin. It's a great story but the telling of it isn't straightforward; Harvey actually tried to read it himself six months ago or so and couldn't get into it. But as a readaloud it was a hit, for whatever reason, and with two reading sessions most days we got through it pretty quickly. I'm not sure how much of the exact progression of the story that Elijah was able to grasp, but he liked as much as anyone—enough that he's now doing a lot of playing wizards.

Now, though, the library is once again an option, and just in time for finishing Earthsea we took delivery of our first shipment of chapter books. So today we started The Moffats, by Eleanor Estes—different in every way from Ursula LeGuin but also very good. And more at Lijah's comprehension level. And when that's done, I've got other holds in at the library. Thank goodness!

we had a party!

All through the pandemic we've kept up with all our friend groups over Zoom. And of course we have our bubble friends over every week or so. But all that is nothing to the amount of entertaining we did before the plague hit. Well, now that it's maybe drawing to an end—or we're pretending it is, at least—we figured it was time to have a party!

several marshmallows toasting over our fire

what you do when you have a party

Well, it actually wasn't much of a party. Just our church community group, and only half of the families were able to make it. Still, that means there were ten people on our back deck not counting us (and really not counting Leah, who was in bed with a migraine). That's a big deal! It was delightful seeing folks in our space, more delightful even than I imagined it would be. The only problem was everyone had such a great time they stuck around past 8:30, and then there the cleaning up to do. When we met over Zoom I never had to put away chairs!

more

moments from the week

Elijah swining on a rope swing over a pond

hold on tight!

Moments from the past week.

Zion splashing his bike through a little stream

we went back and forth several times

Elijah and a friend sitting on the porch steps wearing robes

playing wizards

Harvey resting on his bike by Fawn Lake

Fawn Lake in the morning

a stylist cutting a friends' hair in our kitchen

our home has become a salon

Harvey with black hands and face

the kids found some burnt sticks

Zion, Elijah, and a friend playing with toys on the front porch

someday they'll be able play with friends inside again...

Elijah wearing a newspaper hat

instructions courtesy of Curious George

more

<< April 2021 :: May 2021