posts tagged with 'cousins'

a joyful occasion

Today is my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Seems like a big deal! The boys calculated that means she's been married for two-thirds of her life; for my dad it's even a bit longer, since he married young. We got the celebrations off to a good start this evening with a cookout at our house for the honored couple and my brother and his family (the main attraction for the boys was playing with their cousins, who they haven't seen since last summer). Then the real party comes tomorrow afternoon: my mom's been planning it for months, and it's going to be the most elegant affair of the season. Fun too, because I'm in charge of games for all the kids. I'm already tired.

a Friday

Summer life is full. Today we had our maybe last chance to play with Nisia, we had a homeschool park day to attend, we had an invitation from friends in the afternoon, and we had our church community group in the evening. And we made it all fit! The day kicked off with a trip to the playground in Billerica where the homeschool gathering was supposed to be. We were late because we had to wait for Grandma to bring Nisia—but that didn't matter since it turns out nobody else showed up. That's homeschoolers for you. No wonder a lot of new groups can't get off the ground. We had fun playing, anyways, and the kids even drew in a couple of others because they were having such an obviously great time. Then we went home and had lunch together, before the rest of Nisia's family showed up to hang out for a while before taking her out on her next adventure.

Not too long though, because we needed to be in Chelmsford to do some trail work at our friends' house. They've got a little MTB track they're working on, and nothing is more delightful to me than digging and then riding! Our community group was meeting in Chelmsford too, at someone else's house, so I kind of thought we'd go straight from one to the other—but I didn't think so much that I brought any food. So when the fun of digging kept me at it until 6:00 it was a scramble to get to McDonalds for something to sustain us! (and our hosts kindly donated a veggie burger for Harvey to go with his fries). We were late for community group, but that was fine since almost everyone else was later. I guess summer is full for everybody!

cousins on the water

The cousin adventures continued yesterday. Nisia came over in the morning to join us for a trip to Walden Pond with the boats. Of course, going to the pond on a nice day is always a chancy proposition; even though I checked just before we left, while we were on the road it reached capacity and closed. Never mind, we could find some different water!

Nisia paddling the canoe with Zion as a passenger, Harvey in the kayak far ahead

giving Nisia a turn

The last time we paddled on the Sudbury River the water was low. It's much higher now, thanks to the constant rain, but the channel from the launch was still plenty gross with algae. Out in the river itself the water was clean and beautiful, but the smell of decaying vegetation coming off the recently-flooded banks was not. So any thought of river swimming soon left us. Still, Fairhaven Bay is a pretty cool place to be regardless!

Thinking of a lunch picnic, we headed across towards the boathouse. Last fall the water was too low; now it's so high that the concrete pier around the boathouse is well underwater. So is a good bit of the building itself. We managed to land (coming ashore on the stairs that lead down from the hill above the boathouse) and found a dry spot for lunch and some tag. On the way out, we of course had to try to get the boats into the boathouse. It was a tight squeeze, but they fit! That's one life goal achieved.

Harvey bringing he kayak out the boathouse door

just fits!

On the shores of Fairhaven Bay I realized that we were only a little over a mile from the shore of Walden Pond—the shore by the railroad tracks where you can just walk down to and jump in regardless of how crowded the place is. So I asked the kids if they wanted to head over that way. They declined: a mile and a bit seemed like a little far to walk *after they swam, plus the paddling that would have to follow. And we hadn't brought the towels out of the car. So never mind, we headed for home.

But then, joy of joys! As we got to the car I checked my phone and learned that the pond had just opened again. So we made another stop and had another whole adventure: a couple hours of swimming! For the kids. Me, I just napped on the beach. Adventuring is tiring!

the cousins swimming in the pond

they still have lots of energy


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!


the beach for New Years

My parents traditionally observe New Years Day with a a visit to the beach at Plum Island. We've never gone with them before, but this year it was one of not so many chances for the boys to see their cousins, so we made it happen. It's not like it's ever too much of a hardship to visit a beach!

Zion standing on a sandbar on the beach at Plum Island

the sea

Because we can get out of the house quicker than some other people we made it up to Newburyport with over half an hour to spare, so we stopped at the Audobon visitor center at Joppa Flats. I'd never been in before—it's fantastic! We got to look through telescopes, play with shells and learn about birds, plus Lijah and I did some arts and crafts together. And there was a gift shop!

Lijah watercoloring a bird picture

just like John James Audobon!

Then after a quick lunch in the back of the car it was off to the beach! It was pretty mild when we were leaving home, but with the breeze the beach wasn't mild at all—in fact it felt downright arctic. So I was dismayed to see that Lijah hadn't actually brought a coat, and we had a little lesson on the difference between coats and sweatshirts. Luckily, running with cousins is a warming activity so he survived. We took a nice long walk on the beach and admired the moderate waves. As cold as it was, many of us stayed comfortably away from the water.

Lijah drawing in the sand with a stick

beach artist

But not everyone.

Harvey barefoot in winter coat running from the waves

look out!

Harvey and Zion each got pretty damp, actually. But the wind dried them off very nicely as the walk went on! After they were done teasing the water the cousins enjoyed collecting driftwood and just hanging out together. It was a lovely time.

Harvey, Zion, and Nisia walking and talking on the beach

beach cousins

Then we finished up the afternoon by driving to Cambridge to go out to eat at a fish restaurant. Maybe we could have found one in Newburyport, but Grandpa had stayed back home in Middlesex County—he was nursing a cold—and he's the one with the money, so we had to find him before we could have dinner. All in all, New Years Day felt very well celebrated, and I'm glad we got to be part of the fun.



Before we said goodbye to Nisia and before all the snow melted (both today) we went sledding.

Zion and Nisia going down the hill in snowtubes

it doesn't look like much, but it was fast

The light and fluffy snow of Saturday evening was much-stomped by Sunday sledders, so when he saw the hill Harvey was so discouraged he was about ready to head home. But I knew that some grass and leaves sticking up wouldn't slow us down any, because packed, sun-melted snow at 15 American degrees is about the fastest surface you could hope for. And so it proved.

Lijah stayed home with Grandma (and Cindy—thanks for the entertainment!) so I was able to concentrate on encouraging the bigger kids. And they all did great! Zion and Nisia stuck to the snow tubes (and the plastic toboggan with me), and took dozens of delighted runs down the big hill. They complained some about the walk up, but kept at it nevertheless. Harvey was fearless on both the plastic toboggan and the real one, which he got back on even after a ferocious crash into the stone wall at the bottom of the hill that left him with a scrape on his chin and a couple of sore teeth. If only we had been out after lunch instead of before it, we might have been there three hours instead of just one and a half.

Of course, I did some sledding too, and made it through the gap in the stone wall into the lower portion of the field by myself on the toboggan and with Zion on the plastic sled. I was pretty impressed with myself... I've still got it! Even Nelly took one run down, on a snowtube—she has video evidence if you don't believe it.

Nisia won't be back again til summer, but we hope the snow puts in another appearance—we had such a good time we'd hate for that to be our only sledding of the season!


Christmas, Hanukah, and New Years

a present for Leah under the tree

sample present

We're still not back to our regular schedule—snow delayed Nelly and Nisia's flight out for a couple days, so we abandoned school work to go sledding with them. But the holidays are undeniably over, so it's past time to say a few words about how they went. For future reference.

We were a little distracted and scattered around the present preparation this year—most of us, anyways. After we got home from church at 10:00—from cleaning up and locking up, at a service where we also opened the doors and set up—I got to work on presents, as seems to be my tradition. New this year, Harvey joined me! The ship he was making for Zion wasn't done, so he wanted to put in some time to show he really does care.

a present with a big card Harvey made for Zion

present explanation

Never mind how many things were unfinished, Christmas morning saw delight all around.

Zion smiling over a big present

Christmas excitement

Of course, no one could be as delighted as Lijah after he got a gun and a giant candy cane in his stocking.

Lijah smiling with his gun and candy cane

yet more Christmas excitement!

There were also lots of legos, the first batch of which had to be put together before breakfast.

the three boys working on legos at the kitchen table

getting right to work

After we ran out of presents for Lijah to open we packed up what we had left and headed over to Lexington. They had a few more there.

the tree at grandma and grandpa's house

presents for all ten of us

We spent a lovely relaxing day leisurely opening presents—the kids needed to pause and play with each new one extensively—and eating constantly. (We did take a little walk in the middle to keep from dying.) It was nice to get to spend Christmas with the Africa Archibalds for the first time in a few years.

The day after Christmas we celebrated Hanukah with the Bernsteins. It was also charmingly relaxed, as pictured previously. There were more legos, and more weapons for Lijah, so it was a success. Harvey handled the dreidel work with aplomb.

We hadn't planned anything for New Years Eve, but when friends asked us about it we told them they should just come over. Then we said the same thing to more friends, and some relatives. So we ended up with quite a few people and had a very festive evening—one which ended before 10:00, which was great. And some of the guests even helped to clean up, which meant we started the new year well-rested in a clean house. Expect great things from us in 2017!

Clean as it was on 1/1, we (which is to say Leah) put in some more serious cleaning time in advance of 1/2, when we threw a brunch party for relatives who had never visited us before—and one of whom cleans other people's houses as a hobby. There was some tension leading up to the event, but in the event it was fun and easy, and seeing nine Archibald cousins (well, second cousins... and some of them are DiBellas) running around was a great way to spend the bonus federal holiday day.

Then we just had a week of hanging out with Nisia and Nelly, which was super fun. And now it's now!


moments from the week

Grandpa reading to Nisia and the boys on his couch

reading with Grandpa

Moments from the past week.

lots of bready food on our table

post New-Years carb feast

our boys, Nisia, and some second cousins portrait-sitting on the couch

first and second cousins

Nisia, Zion, and Lijah bundled up in the blue bike; Harvey on his bike with light

cold evening outing

Harvey, Zion, and Nisia in the snow in their PJs

homeschoolers at the bus stop

Harvey in PJs reading on the couch, Rascal cuddled on his feet

sleepy reading


extended vacation

the boys and Nisia getting ready to share a gingerbread house

cousins getting ready to share in the destruction

We had thoughts at the beginning of this week of getting back to routine, but it didn't entirely happen. See, Nisia—the boys' only first cousin—was still in town. Her Christmas visit this year marked the first time we saw her in a year and a half, and there's no way we could go about our regular school schedule with her around. And around she was! When someone comes to visit all the way from Africa you need to spend all the time with them you can. She capped off the visit with a sleepover here last night. Tomorrow she's headed back home to Dakar, but we have assurances it won't be quite so long before we see her—and her parents, naturally!—again.

To mark her departure we took down our Christmas tree this afternoon. A day ahead of liturgical schedule, sure, but it seemed appropriate. We also wanted to get it out of the way before we had folks over this evening. Harvey and Zion were ok with it going away, but Lijah found that he missed it when he came downstairs and saw the empty space (and all the needles swept up). Sure, he knew the cleanup was happening—even took down a couple ornaments himself—but the sight of the empty corner still made him a little upset.

To be honest, that wasn't the only thing that made him upset this evening. Maybe he's missing his cousin already. He's certainly missing the sleep and quiet time that he didn't get when he and his brothers were playing with her every day! Good thing it's the weekend—quiet day tomorrow, with no vacation to worry about. Maybe we can even do some school on Monday.


Thanksgiving report

We survived an epic Thanksgiving week. Who knew sitting and eating could be so tiring?! After a warm-up dinner with friends on Tuesday we celebrated the real day as part of a party of 21 at my aunt and uncle's place. The boys were delighted to see their second cousins and their second cousins' second cousins, and were delightfully well behaved the whole time.

Harvey, Zion, and Lijah sitting at the Thanksgiving board

big kids table

They did lots of running around together inside and out, miraculously without any damage to the house. Harvey and Zion were huge fans of the other boys at the party; they're sad to hear my feelings about the likelihood of reconnecting with second cousins' second cousins, especially ones who live in New Jersey. Lijah impressed in how much he was able to keep up with the rough play, and when he got tired out there was always the football to watch.

Lijah watching an enormous television

what Thanksgiving is all about

Yesterday we went to Leah's parents' house, where we had a delightful time hanging out with them and her brother, recently moved away to California. It was so nice we didn't realize how late it was getting and didn't leave until after 9:00. So this morning was slow, but by lunch time we were galvanized and ready for our last party, with the Archibald grandparents and friends. It was another bigish gathering, but a very relaxed one.

Zion and Lijah eating at the kitchen table at Grandma and Grandpa Archibald's

a relaxed feast

With all that fine dining, the only thing we made ourselves was a loaf of bread and a couple of pies. True, without a dinner here at home we miss out on the best of the leftovers (though both grandmas were kind enough to send home doggie bags), but we have plenty of desert to go around!

lots of pies in various stages of consumption on our kitchen table

pie factory

I took pictures of each of my four turkey-dinner plates this week. Here they are, presented without comment (those are just the first helpings—in all cases I had at least seconds).

food on my plate

dinner zero, with friends

food on my plate

dinner one, the real thing

food on my plate

dinner two, with Leah's family

food on my plate

dinner three, with my parents and friends

Now I don't need to eat for a week.