Kids Deciphering “Swan Lake”

Some rabbit trail or other led to me watching most of the ballet of “Swan Lake” with the kids.  Hey, it’s Friday afternoon and 90 degrees outside, so we’re hiding out from the heat. Hilarity ensues:

 

“Where’s Odette?” [as they watch the entire swan corps dance]

“I don’t know.  They all look the same. . . . but they usually put her in the middle eventually.”

* * *

“See, guys, the swans have now been turned back into women.  The curse is over.”  [they graceful kneel]

“It looks like they’re dying.”

* * *

Nathaniel really didn’t like the sorcerer dancing with the visiting princesses.  He tsk-tsked through the entire set.  And he had to be reassured several times that, no, the prince couldn’t just hurt him and get rid of him.  I enjoyed pointing out, “No, Odette’s smart to intervene.  Love can help, but not violence, or the curse will last forever.”  He eventually looked convinced.  Overall, both kids were surprisingly compelled.  They don’t like cartoons (too scary, apparently), but ballet interests them.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

11 Years of Marriage

“A big part of the reason I married you was so that you could make my phone calls.”

- Sydney, lamenting my growing dislike for calling businesses on his behalf.  Well, at least we finally know now where we stand.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Katherine deciding our household roles

“I can be the painter.” (as she does watercolors)

“Nathaniel can be the one who makes everybody smile.”

“You and Dadda can both be the cooks.  He can be the gardener.  You can be . . . oh, you can be the laundry do-er.”

“I can help with cooking and do the sweeping.  There.”

 

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seeing books anew

We’re used to doing books in this house.  Whether it’s working in libraries or compiling libraries of our own or assigning piles of them to our students, I thought we knew books.  But the kids are putting their own spin on things.  Katherine asked me to take her to the public library because she’d run out of history books to read, and, wow, there’s no way I could afford to keep her in books on my own.  I worried that Nathaniel would not have the same enthusiasm, since he can’t yet read on his own, I don’t sit down with him as much as I should, and Katherine, though willing, can’t always read to him.  But after I let him wander around for a bit, he found a book on machines in space, one on Thomas the Tank Engine, and several on spiders, science, and puppies.  He’s now just as enthusiastic as she is.  The reading time they do in his kindergarten class is helping to reinforce the message.

The public library staff make things easy.  When we arrived this afternoon, they encouraged us to join a book group: read at home to your kid, enjoy knowing that hundreds of other families are reading that same book, and get together for a party at the end.  They even gave us a copy of the book, Peter Pan, which I haven’t read with the kids.  Score!  They also had an “I spy” game with bugs and bird nests in one part of the library, and the kids got to bring home Dr. Seuss notebooks after they finished the game.  Now I’ve sentenced the kids to two hours of “quiet time” as we transition out of nap time in our house, and both ran off to settle in with books as soon as lunch was over.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

First Day at School

Katherine, 2nd grade:

Katherine abandoning the photo session to point out a hummingbird in the front yard:

Nathaniel, kindergarten:

Nathaniel forgetting all about the school bus (even though he got up at 6, excited to ride it) because of a friendly neighborhood cat:

Erin

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Farming

Our neighbor said she hadn’t seen us outside much in the past couple of weeks.  I think she’s gotten used to us working out front at all hours.  I explained that we were off plowing up a three-acre plot of land that Sydney is using to start a farm operation, and she looked surprised.  So, this is what we’ve been doing:

Sydney plows, occasionally has me spell him, and has me digging out rocks.  Meanwhile, the kids have a nice shady spot and a picnic blanket on which they color, read, and play with magnetic sand.

Katherine is headed into second grade halfway between baby teeth and adult teeth:

And Nathaniel, who giggled deliriously when I asked him to look into the sun, has lost his first tooth just before kindergarten:

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Two Years Later

Two years after moving in, our house is starting to look and feel more like us.  Sydney ripped out the yews that covered the windows and put in garden beds early on.  I’ve painted the inside walls inside green, blue, and purple, as schedules allowed.  This spring, Sydney did something with the flat square of lawn in the middle of our front yard, and throughout July we’ve been tackling the front porch.  He’s built, and I’ve painted.  It’s feeling much more like us.  I’m sure our neighbors are a bit confused by our seemingly random bursts of energy, but they may not be used to people who live by the academic calendar.  We have two weeks until school starts, when everything will slow way down.

The house when we bought it:

The front of the house now:

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ready for School

Although I’d been sailing along pretty happily with our home life–some reading, some writing, much painting and playing and cleaning–the kids have been nudging me toward school this past week.  When we got Katherine’s teacher information and supply list in the mail a couple of days ago, the questions about “When can we get supplies” started.  We now have supplies for both kids labeled, bagged, and ready for open house in two weeks.  Kentucky schools start in early August, and we’re likely to see a good six weeks of heat before things cool off, so there’s really no point in trying to think of “new school clothes.”  All of the kids will be in summer sandals and shorts well into September.

Nathaniel is doing everything possible to show me he’s ready for kindergarten.  When he pointed out that his old sneakers had several holes (they’ve been great for mud and hiking and yard play this summer), we dug out his new ones.  And then I remembered that I foolishly bought shoes with laces.  I wouldn’t have, except that he’s now in a size where that’s normal; apparently they don’t realize that some five-year-olds just have big feet.  But Nathaniel surprised me.  I quickly tied his shoes once, a bit distracted, and he said, “That was too fast.  Do it again.”  When I’d done it a second time, more slowly, he tried it himself and got nearly all the way to the end.  In less than a day, he was tying his shoes perfectly, with much celebrating by Katherine and me (we’re both still scarred from her efforts to learn that skill).  This morning, Nathaniel also showed me a wiggly front tooth.  He really needs to slow down with the business of growing up!

Sydney’s lined up to teach several classes at Asbury this year, so we have, for the next several months anyway, a game plan that involves dual employment in the same location.  Two weeks from Wednesday, we’ll be putting Nathaniel on the bus, and then Katherine half an hour later (two different schools), and then Sydney and I will walk in to work together.  We’re teaching two sections of the “welcome to college” class for freshmen.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a day I’ve been looking forward to for almost seven years, when all four members of our house will go to school!  I love the easy cuddles and drawn-out breakfasts of summer, but I love even more when my kids have lives that extend beyond mine, with interests, friends, and activities of their own.

I do, though, really enjoy having my husband work at the same place.  We went to college together, one week after marrying we started graduate school together (on the same floor of the same building of the same university), we once had graduate teaching offices across the hall from one another (that was a bit much for Sydney), and last spring I proctored one of Sydney’s exams at Asbury.  I think our students are split between horror and giggles at the prospect of having both of us during their college careers.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What we’ve been up to

In case you’ve been getting radio silence from us over the past few weeks, we’ve been spending most of our time tackling house projects.  The day I got back from England, Sydney started planning out how to build porch columns to replace the old ones that had rotted.  I thought that sounded like a great reason to repaint the house trim, which was four kinds of dirty beige.  Now at least a quarter of it is bright white.  Along the way, we’ve been replacing and redoing: Sydney discovered some rotted wood as soon as he took out the first column, so he rebuilt part of the porch frame and redirected water flow from the roof.  We replaced the porch lights and house numbers and will be painting shutters, gutters, tables, and anything else that happens by at the wrong time. I’ve learned that I really don’t like being up on the roof, and I think I deserve a major prize for painting around a wasp nest at the peak of our roof.  Sydney, however, scoffs, and practically did a jig on the roof to tease me.  I’ve learned that I have almost no practical skill to contribute to my carpenter/gardener/repairman husband, so I’m doing painting.  I’m not good at that, either, but you can’t say I’m not dedicated!

We are also providing entertainment for the neighborhood; Sydney’s muttered more than once that we ought to put out a bucket to collect viewing fees.  Most of the neighbors have come by to inspect Sydney’s construction up close, and at least a dozen cars slow to a crawl, stop in the middle of the road, or pull over so the driver can holler out encouragement or ask for the names of plants in the front yard.  Yes, things are slow during summer in a small town, but people are also just trying to see what all of this activity is going to yield.  Sydney’s construction work will be over, we hope, this week, so that he can get on to preparations for the school year, but I’m sure I’ll be dragging him back into my painting troubles on a daily basis until I’m done (perhaps by the end of the month?).  I am, however, just finishing up my preparations for my fourth course for the fall, so I should be in good shape for the semester.  Of course, I say that now . . .

My perch from near the roof gave me a good view of the backyard.  There are benefits to painting there: I had to put up with being higher than I liked, but each time I came back down I could swipe a blackberry from the vines directly under the ladder:

This picture makes the house look a lot more “done” than it is, but, still, you can see the contrast between old and new under the roof line on the upper left.  Part of me wonders why I’m bothering with the paint, however.  The vine on the wall on the left is a wisteria that will, we hope, soon cover the entire side with beautiful flowers and leaves.  And the little tree in the box front and center is a magnolia that will eventually get quite large.  Soon nobody will even be able to see the outside of our house.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The West Coast of Ireland

I didn’t fancy trying to drive in Ireland, so we took a coach tour that got us out of the city limits.  It also gave us front-row seats to Ireland’s wonderfully changeable weather, which is why the sky gets as much attention from me as the castle in the first picture:

My favorite part of the trip was our two-hour stop at the Cliffs of Moher.  I love walking, I love seeing natural beauty that is distinct about a place I’m visiting, and I loved the stiff breeze coming off the ocean. I kept a close eye on my watch as I walked, since we were warned that the bus would not wait, but every curve I passed revealed another curve . . . I’m glad I turned back, though, since our guide told me that the path along the cliff goes on for 15 or so miles, and I wouldn’t have seen any reason to stop for a long time!

It’s hard to tell that the cliffs rise 700 feet above the water, but the presence of a tower lends some sense of scale:

Mom surprised me by loving the wind along the coast.  She and I had clearly had enough of the stultifying heat and humidity back home.

Erin

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment