posts tagged with 'art'

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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is this the pandemic?

We had a busy day yesterday. Indoor in-person Kids Church started up again—for the first time since March 2020!—and the boys and I left the house at 8:00 so I could be sure to be ready for the 9:15 start time. It went wonderfully, and it was so lovely to be there with the kids doing fuze beads again, but it was a little more involved schedule-wise than turning on the computer for a 45-minute like I was used to for the last year and a half. Then straight from church we headed to a mini-golf course for a birthday party—well, the first part of a birthday party, because after a mostly successful 17 holes (one of them was closed) we headed to the birthday boy's house for a couple hours of backyard socializing. By the time we got home at 5:30 I was wiped out!

I guess we've been doing plenty all summer, so it's not a total departure. But being inside again for church, and the fact that the party was with friends who we've seen much less over the past year and a half than we always used to, made the day feel like one from before the pandemic times. Of course, we were wearing masks all the time we were inside, and there weren't many people at either Kids Church or the party. So maybe we're just getting used to this life?

family party

We did in-person Kids Church for the first time yesterday, but as exciting as that was it wasn't even the headline story of the day: it was completely outmatched by the baby shower we went to in the afternoon. Now, I know that baby showers aren't usually considered to be non-stop fountains of fun and delight—certainly when I told people we were going to one they were inclined to apologize. But they didn't need to! Because it was a fantastic party. There was a pool!

the boys playing in a pool with their cousin

shower? pool party!

The mama being showered was my sister-in-law, who along with my brother and their two already-born kids are visiting from Virginia. We haven't seen them since before the pandemic—fairly long before—so it's been a joyful visit. Joyful, and just full! Our cousin who lives about an hour away wanted to get in on the family reunion fun, so the shower was really just an excuse to get us all together. The heart of the party was the ten kids: our three boys, their two first cousins, three of their second cousins (the hosts), and two of the second cousins' friends from down the street. As you can see from the photo above, they had lots of fun together.

The party started at 2:00, and besides the pool featured plenty of food, a Disney singalong (sorry, covid restrictions; we forgot!), and lots of relaxed hanging out. When we finally left a little after 8—facing an hour drive home!—we had to drag ourselves away, against the wishes of everyone else there, who all have later bedtimes than we do. We're tired this morning, but it was well worth it. Easily the party of the year so far!

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marking the day when time has no meaning

New Years feels kind of strange this year; Thanksgiving and Christmas were both so low-key, and we very well may have let New Years Eve pass by entirely unremarked. Sure, we're glad to see the back of 2020, but as Leah remarked this morning when we were talking about resolutions, "why bother trying to do anything different these days?" Tomorrow will be much like today, I imagine. But one of our friends asked yesterday if we wanted to do something like a hike, and another friend said they weren't around until the evening and suggested a fire. So in the event, we had a pretty good party! I made pizza, friends brought cookies and hot cider, and for a couple hours we sat around the fire (at an appropriate distance, of course) and chatted about New Years hopes and movies and water heaters. Some of the time the kids played laser tag. It actually compared pretty favorably to some other New Years observations I've taken part in: there's no mess inside the house to deal with, and I didn't drink so my upset stomach is due only to overconsumption of pizza and cookies plus s'mores, eggnog, and maybe a bit too much cider. So now I'm ready for a new year. Here's hoping it's a better one!

party in person

Bubble school has been great, but only this week was the best part of bubbling up revealed: we can go to each other's birthday parties! We did that today. It was a shared party for the sisters who make up two sevenths of our school-age kids; their birthdays are just a week apart and since homeschoolers are kind, loving, and non-jealous as a group they're happy to have one party between the two of them. Not that they missed out on any party fun: we were there for five and a half hours of nonstop delight!

the kids waiting to batter a pinata hanging on a line

they still remember how to party!

There were no organized activities for all that time: the kids just like playing together that much. Even more so since usually when we're together we keep dragging them away from their games to do schoolwork! Today was all social time, and they really appreciated it. We grownups did our share of talking, but we also got in on the active fun a little bit, with some jump rope and some tug-of-war (surprisingly, the 3rd-through-6th graders beat the team of the six-year-olds and me in the tugging... those big kids are strong!). And there was food—tons and tons of food. It occurs to me that I hadn't done anything you might call "social eating" for a real long time now; today I ate many chips. On top of Thanksgiving, it left me feeling a little bit heavy this evening. I'll have to make sure to do some more jump rope!

We're so grateful to have this group; it would be looking like a long winter without them. Here's to everybody staying healthy and lots more fun to come!

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a pandemic halloween

Halloween was obviously a little different than usual this year. We had talked about putting together some sort of trick-or-treating plan with neighbors, but then didn't do anything about it; since nobody among the group we usually go with was enthusiastic, we decided to just skip it. And we didn't have an awesome family celebration planned like some people (nor could we watch a movie, which I hear lots of folks did). Still, we made some things happen! Mainly the costumes.

Lijah with green face paint, goblin ears, black cloak, and knife

assassin goblin

Zion as a ninja (with yellow boots)

ninja (plus practical boots)

Harvey with cloak, straps, and dagger

ranger

The boys had firm ideas of what they wanted to be a couple weeks ago, if not before, but nobody started any real work on getting the pieces together until a couple days ago. Mama got them some new clothes—a green shirt for Harvey, black sweatpants for Zion—and Harvey and Elijah used cloaks from previous costumes. Leah did a little sewing to make Harvey belts for his potions and knife. I worked on the weapons.

Candy-eating got started early, when Grandma came over with a bag for each boy. They went through enough that lunch was pretty small. Mid afternoon we headed to church for a costume parade, photo-op, and candy pick-up. It was a delightful, lively event; I only wish it hadn't been limited to 40 people, because there were more people who would have come if they could have; it could have been even more lively! The boys were disappointed none of their friends were there, but they still participated with enough enthusiasm to earn their next hit of candy.

Just after that event we headed to a friend's house for a social-distanced backyard celebration with a couple other families. The kids played, we all had pizza (one pizza per family, over 12 feet apart), then we set up trick-or-treating stations around the yard and rationed out the candy. It was actually super fun; I'd almost rather do that than regular trick-or-treating, especially if we could lose the social-distancing part.

the boys bundled up celebrating with friends, orange leaves in the background

celebrate!

The only problem was the cold—the very cold—which cut the proceedings a little short (grim precedent for social-distanced gatherings this winter!). We needed a fire! So on the way home we stopped by another friends' house, where there was one. And one more chance to trick-or-treat!

Lijah warming his hands at a fire in a metal fireplace

the goblin got the coldest

It was good. And best of all (from an ancient parent's perspective) it was all over by 6:30! So were able to get to bed early and both maximize our extra time-change sleep and get ourselves well-adapted to the new time. I was glad for the extra sleep because the morning's sugar crash was hard enough as it was... but that's another story!

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