posts tagged with 'friends'

intensity

Today we spent just about 11 straight hours with people from a little after nine in the morning until a little after eight at night. Alright, so there almost an hour in the middle there to make and eat dinner without anyone else around, but still, it was a busy day. We started with a "school day" with our homeschool friends all morning and into the afternoon (more gardening and playing that what you might call school, but you know, it all counts). Then we left at the same time they did to spend some time with our public-school-attending friends, because we couldn't let the vacation week go by without a weekday playdate. In the evening we entertained half of our church community group by the fire. It was all delightful and exhausting. And just think: I used to be an introvert! Well actually I guess I still am, because now I need some rest...

like in the before times

We have this weekly gathering with friends that we call "Bible Study" which has been going on since the late 2000s without much change of personnel (we last talked about the Bible sometime early in the last decade but the name has stuck). Since March 10, 2020 we've mostly been gathering over Zoom, with a few months of delightful outdoor get-together last summer. But now that most folks believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, our friends felt ready to invite us over to meet in person indoors again. For dinner, even! It was only a coincidence that the resumption came exactly two years after the start of the pandemic, but it felt pretty meaningful.

Of course, life isn't completely back to normal yet. We all took antigen tests before got together, mainly because there are two young people under vaccination age in the group. And the boys had some questions beforehand about what, exactly, they were going to do with their friends indoors. Of course, it turns out that wasn't a problem at all. They ran around and yelled inside the house, and then we told them they had to go outside so they ran around and yelled outside just like they have for the past two years. But then they got to come back in and we all sat around one table (ok, two tables pushed together) and shared a wonderful meal mostly made by the hosts (we contributed some warm fresh bread). It was a good time. We need to get some more tests in so we can do it again next Tuesday.

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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time for friends

Vacation week is kind of awesome. On Sunday afternoon we took a fun short walk with some friends, and as we were all getting into our cars we wondered if we could get together another time during the week. Sure! So yesterday we had one family over to play board games and video games—carefully masked and socially distanced inside our house. While we were happily engaged I got texts from two other families who wanted to play outside, so I invited them over too. We ended up with nine kids running around battling with light sabers and laser tag pistols for an hour and a half, plus a handful of adults coming in and out. It was so fun! If only people didn't have to work and go to school all the time, we could do it all more often!

this life

In something of a turnaround from our usual practice over the past year, we've had a full in-person social calendar the last couple of days. We hung out with three different groups over yesterday and today—and even more amazing, I enjoyed three mixed drinks over those two days! Yesterday we closed the day with a delightful driveway picnic at our "Bible study", which is atypical of Bible studies in many ways and most notably yesterday in that the host offered us his signature cocktail of the summer, a beautifully colored concoction of mango juice and rum. How could I refuse?! Then today we took a hike with friends and then went to their house to play—indoors in that case, because while we're now somewhat dispersed they're still technically members of our bubble. No drinks there, though.

In the evening we were at my parents' house to celebrate the birthday of the boys' cousin Nisia, who they hadn't seen for something like two years. The visit was a last-minute surprise—I don't know if the boys were even more excited at the short-notice party than they would have been with more advance notice. I will say that, denied the opportunity to count down the days, Elijah did his best to count down hours. "I can't wait!" he told me at something like 11:00 in the morning. And my dad was ready for us all with free refills on the gin and tonics. I stopped after just two: even more than the socializing, I'm just not used to drinking any more!

big kids in the neighborhood

Leah said the other day that one good thing about this pandemic is, when the kids are out of the house playing with neighborhood friends, at least you know they're not actually in someone else's house playing video games. It's true, the forced outside time is leading to lots of energetic and imaginative play—and lots of sitting around on the porch together telling jokes and stories, which is good too. But the most exciting development is that the kids are now starting to go places together! A couple days ago Zion and Elijah went up to the library and playground with their friend from across the street (I went too as a chaperone, but I stayed decently far away the whole time). Then yesterday all the boys plus three friends biked to Chip-In to get candy. Neither of those were first-time happenings, but it does seem like outings like that are getting easier and more frequent. Seems good!

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!

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what a day!

I've heard from people that they're just easing into in-person meetups with friends—both because of ongoing virus fears, and because being with people is hard sometimes! I haven't really thought about it, but certainly to judge by the fruits this week we're not going that route. This morning we went over to our bubble friends' house and did some work together, then went on a bike ride. From there we headed directly to a hike with some other friends, and walked and played in the woods with them for a couple hours. When we got home there was just time for dinner before we started up the Zoom meeting for our weekly church community group meeting. Ok, that one's not an in-person meeting, but if you count it anyways the boys and I were with other people for nine hours today!

And that's on top of another 2+ hour hike with different friends yesterday, and a dinnertime fire-pit gathering on Tuesday. It's like it's not even a pandemic here!

can you miss people you see three times a week?

One thing that helped us survive a week without our bubble school friends was a chance to hang out with different friends for the first time in over a year. While we see lots of them over Zoom—the kids do things together online three or four times a week!—they have an immunocompromised family member so they've been quarantining hard since February 2020. But now the vaccine has opened their horizons a little bit and we were able to take an expedition with them on Thursday afternoon. We drove to their house and then biked all together to Great Brook Farm: a short ride for the sake of the youngest cyclist, new to her own two wheels, but one that gave us a new sort of challenge as we navigated the high speed auto traffic of Concord Road in Chelmsford. We survived! And then we were glad to take to the trails at Great Brook.

It wasn't all cycling though. We spent lots of time watching and chasing the bullfrog tadpoles in the pond and comparing notes with another aspiring zoologist, a boy who approached the kids looking to play—and who turned out to be a long-ago member of our church community group. That was like six or seven years ago and he's only eight, so it didn't really matter to their interaction, but it was still a fun coincidence. We also jumped onto and over some horse jumps for a surprisingly long time; and, most importantly, the nine-year-olds had time to wrestle a little bit. You can't do that over Zoom! We were masked up of course, but it was still a wonderful opportunity for connection that we were missing. The only problem was that it was so much fun I didn't take any pictures of the kids playing together! Oh well, we'll have to do it again soon.

back to school

I don't know how the school kids felt about going back this January, whether to their classrooms or their remote terminals. Given what Christmas looked like this year, maybe they were fine with it; even excited. But there's no way they were as happy as we were, because our return to "school" this week has been absolutely delightful. We started off on Monday with a joyful reunion with our bubble group, who came over for the day. Certain of the children were looking forward to doing some math work, but that didn't happen; instead, we talked (and wrote and drew) about what we're looking forward to in 2021, listened to some stories, ate lots of dessert together, then took a long walk in the woods. After school time ended, the kids who got to stick around a little longer did woodworking in the basement and made some swords, which they of course proceeded to battle with.

kids on a rock ledge overlooking the airport

school friends together

On Tuesday Harvey's online classes started back up. He enjoyed playing his banjo with his grandpa and cousin in his music class, and had an even better time hanging out with the boys of the ancient history class. The younger boys did Zoom yoga with Grandma, which activity has replaced their read-aloud now that they've finished Tuck Everlasting (and received yoga mats and blocks for Hanukah!). And Wednesday was the online book group party celebrating the completion of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Elijah was super excited to wear his monkey costume and bring a peach, and the other boys were interested enough to come up with costumes of their own. In the event peaches were not available, it being not at all the season, but Lijah was contented with a jar of canned peaches from the basement. The best part of the party, though—the best part of this whole book group—was the tea: herbal tea has a fairly important part in the story, so one of the things all the kids enjoy is having some as they listen. I'm working during book group time so the boys have to make theirs themselves... which I think makes it even more fun.

I thought today might be a bit of a letdown, with nothing on the schedule, but that was actually perfect for Harvey. He's been after me for a couple weeks to teach him programing, and today we finally had time to get started. Not that I know too much about the subject, but more than him—and certainly enough to pique his interest. Today we wrote some pseudo-code to talk about functions and loops and things, and then did some actual programing in Apple Basic (which, delightfully, is implemented in Javascript here). And we also took a good exploring walk. All in all, I think our first week back is going pretty well.

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