moments from the week

Grandpa blowing out birthday candles, the boys looking on

happy birthday Grandpa!

Moments from the past week.

Elijah walking Scout

dog and boy

Harvey playing Pokemon at a picnic table at Freeman Lake

cards at the beach

Elijah shivering waist-deep in the pond

fall swimming is chilly!

Elijah up in an apple tree reaching for a good one

trying to pick them before they fall

Zion, Elijah, and friends atop a playhouse roof at Friendship Park

Friendship Park

Zion taking a picture at the zoo

how Zion captured the animals at the zoo



This morning I was still upstairs when I heard Leah open the door to the porch and the dogs rush out. A few moments later there was one short sharp bark, and then immediately after it an immediately identifiable smell started drifting thought the open window. Yes, for the first time in a good while the dogs had been sprayed by a skunk. Luckily for everyone involved it wasn't too bad: they must have been spared a direct hit. They smelled bad when they came back in (right away!) but not unbearably horrid; we didn't even bathe them, Leah just got some supposed odor-neutralizing spray and doused them with it. We don't know how much it actually did, but we were able to survive the day in the house with the pups, and that's what counts. It's just as well we didn't have to get them in the tub, since getting sprayed was traumatic enough! They didn't even want breakfast; each of them just found a spot to curl up and they pretty much didn't move until mid afternoon. By this evening they were back to their regular selves—but, I hope, a little bit wiser!

reading practice in math

Elijah mostly enjoys practicing math and mostly doesn't enjoy practicing reading. He can read, but he doesn't love pushing through books at the slow pace he can currently manage, so it's hard for him to put in the practice he needs to get better. That's the curse of a kid who's just naturally good at things, I suppose! Because he's not confident with reading I initially didn't get him started on Khan Academy math, which the other boys have been using since the last half of last year (when I decided I was completely overwhelmed with teaching 7th grade math). It has lots of instructions and things that I was afraid he would struggle with.

Well, as much as I wish we didn't have to use computers I also really appreciate the consistency that Khan Academy lets the boys have in their math learning. They don't have to rely on me to make lessons and check their work! And that applies to Lijah too, so this week I made him an account and sat down with him to try it out. So far he's loving it! He mostly already knows how to do the things he's working on—practice around understanding multiplication—so getting everything right so far has felt pretty rewarding. Which leads to another upside: I already notice him getting more confident about reading the directions! I have absolutely no fears that he'll be able to read as much and as well as he wants, when he wants to... but in the meantime I appreciate him getting some practice in when he doesn't even notice he's doing it!

Harvey's scary Sunday

On Sunday I had a meeting after church. There was childcare available, but I didn't sign up for it for the boys; they're all easily big enough to hang out around the church for an hour and a half without anything bad happening. That's what all the other parents thought too. Sure, they had a bit of a water fight in the parking lot but on a fine sunny day there wasn't anything wrong with that... until one of the kids got some hot water from the dispenser and poured it on Harvey's back. We'll never know what she was thinking, but she knew it was a mistake right away because of how he screamed! One of the other kids put cold water on the burn right away and then we got ice on him which brought the pain down pretty well. But it still looked bad: super red, with a fair amount of peeling skin. That's a second-degree burn! I brought the boys home and without even coming inside Harvey transferred to Leah's car for a trip to the emergency room. They gave him better ice and he had his gaming device so he didn't mind the wait, and eventually they saw him and sent him home with cream and some big bandages. He's recovering well, and hopes to not need daily bandage changing by this weekend when he's supposed to be going away on a trip with the church Youth Group. I imagine the supervision there will be a little better than at Sunday's meeting!

beach school day

We had so much fun at the beach the Friday before last that I decided to make it a thing, and we went back again this past Friday. By ourselves this time; everyone else was either busy or resting. Which was maybe just as well, because when we got there it didn't really feel like a typical beach day.

the beach under gray clouds; Zion standing in the waves, Elijah drawing in the sand

chilling at the beach

It was even colder than we expected, but that was fine, because we had lots of non-swimming activities to do. Like schoolwork! I made the boys bring their journals and stuff to draw with, just in case. It turns out Wingaersheek is popular with homeschoolers. Last time we met some kids who must have been (they were collecting invasive species crabs and feeding them to seagulls), and Friday we arrived at the same time as another family of school-aged kids who I actually asked if they were doing a beach school day too. And they were!

But it couldn't be school right away. Our first order of business was to walk out onto the sandbar, the one that almost drowned Harvey last time. This time we arrived just about at low tide, so were able to wade out to the bar without even getting our shorts wet, and then walk way out into the ocean on (relatively) dry land. (That's where the picture up top was taken.) It was super fun, even if we were a little worried about getting cut off. As it happened, we survived.

Elijah standing at the end of a sand spit among waves

the end of the land

By the time we headed back the clouds were beginning to disperse. It still wasn't swimming hot, though, so after some lunch we took advantage of the expanse of low tide beach to walk around the corner, inland along the Annisquam River. We enjoyed the different consistencies of sand, the light on the channel, and the space to run around.

Elijah running, waving his shirt, along the beach

joy in the sunshine

With memories of too much sun the week before I also brought our little beach tent. As cool as it was the sun didn't feel like a threat even once it emerged, but it was also a great place to rest in out of the wind! And it let us organize our piles of spare clothes, food, and school materials. The boys did some journal writing, drawing, and reading.

Elijah reading in our beach tent, his brothers lying on a rock outside drawing

beach school room

To that point they would have been fine limiting themselves to a little wading, but I wasn't having that. As the tide began to creep up over the rocks I tried out the water myself, then invited—forced?—them to come and give it a try with me. It was too chilly for Elijah, but once the older boys got in they had to agree that it actually wasn't that bad. And as the tide flowed around the rocks there were lots of opportunities for fun!

Harvey in the water among rocks, Zion on one getting ready to slide

the best rock for sliding

Wingaersheek is a fairly sheltered spot, so it's not generally a place you'd go to for waves. But the wind was so high it was actually kind of choppy, and as we let the tide push us up the beach as it rose we found some spots where the waves were certainly big enough to be fun.

all three boys playing in the smallish waves

even Elijah got back in for a bit

As delightful as it was, though, a couple hours in the water left me, at least, feeling increasingly cold. And Elijah was getting bored, running out of things to do by himself up on the beach. Plus everybody wanted to go into town! So even though it was 25 minutes in the wrong direction for home we packed up and headed to downtown Rockport where we walked around, took in the sights, and bought candy and food for dinner. Among other stores we visited the Bearskin Neck Country Store, which I'd somehow never been in before. We admired the wide range of gummy candy items available—and the player piano!—but all we bought was a jar of spicy pickled beans.

Zion and Elijah looking at the player piano

more than just a piano!

Even in town, though, we couldn't escape the fact that the true lure of Cape Ann is the ocean! And I feel so lucky to be able to visit it regularly.

Harvey walking out on the breakwater in Rockport