It was oddly quiet in the house this morning

So I went looking, and this is what I found:

Domino, famously picky about people, is a sucker for a good throw, and he’s learning that Nathaniel is now finally able to sit still.


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Farm Hands

Sydney is unbelievably busy this month, trying to make up for lost time in getting things ready for his first farmer’s market–in two weeks!

The kids have taken the big changes in our lifestyle in stride, seeming to recognize that they’d better claim the farm as their own, since they’re clearly going to be spending a lot of time there.  It also seems to have helped that Sydney bought a small wagon, which makes trudging all over the farm more fun.

Both kids have been helpful with tasks like finding and hauling small rocks and even weeding!  This seems like a great time to start a farm.  We’ll see how they do at spending every Saturday morning standing on hot concrete at the market . . . well, at least it’s right next to the train tracks that run through the center of town, so our train-loving boy will be thrilled.


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Easter Adventures

Although I love marking the full season of Lent and often make grand plans for the entirety of Holy Week, the reality is that Easter often fall during the busiest time of year for us.  This year is different only in the extent to which that is true: Sydney’s farm launch and the final few weeks of the school year coincided this year, and our family was a bit too tired and worn out to get into a more disciplined celebration.  So we took opportunities where we could.

The kids and I did Easter egg hunts with the neighborhood at our town’s park and their Sunday School classes at church. Once the first egg hunt was over, I lent the kids (only temporarily!) for a tent shade the heavy quilt made by my grandmother, and they remained holed up in the playground turret, sorting candy and playing with new toys while I mowed the lawn.  Since they only eat a few pieces, the selection process is very extensive.  I gave them a few ground rules, and then said that I was starting the mower and would leave the rest up to them.  That bought me a couple of hours of quiet time!

Katherine also took part in an Easter reading at church.  She complained about not liking to read in public, but she did a great job.  The reading also led to some really interesting discussions between our kids on the way home from church, as they asked about the Easter story, baptism, and a host of other things that won’t be settled in one car-ride conversation.


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I realize that the word ‘random’ technically is misused at least half the time people utter it, but this takes the cake:

United Airlines said on Monday that after nobody agreed to voluntarily give up their seats, airline representatives chose four passengers to leave the plane at random based on ticket class, frequent flier status and check-in time.

Yeah, just like the US chooses who to kill with a drone strike perfectly at random based on connections to known terrorists, extremist rhetoric on social media, and so on.

Still, I suppose assaulting a passenger on your aircraft is considerably worse than such linguistic barbarism.

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Katherine Turns Eight

No, in case you were wondering, Katherine hasn’t lost the reading habit.  I imagine that it helps that Dexter seeks out her lap (and overflows it) when we have nap/reading time in our house.

Nathaniel got really excited about the possibility of helping make Katherine’s birthday special, so much so that he forgot how to spell her name–but got all of the curlicues in there somehow.

When I realized that Katherine’s birthday would mean we could ditch one of the carseats in our Prius, I checked the height and weight requirements for kids outgrowing the carseats.  Sydney asked, “Do we even know how tall they are?”  Well, no.  When I was in elementary school, there was an annual height and weight measurement, but I haven’t seen anything like that here.  So, we did that today, which gave me the info I needed to fill out the “height predictor” models I remember seeing at the doctor’s office.

It didn’t surprise me that Katherine will likely be an inch or two taller than me, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that Nathaniel may well be more than half a foot taller than me.  Not only will I likely be the shortest person in our family, but Sydney may not even hold onto tallest.  Forget badminton: we clearly need to get a volleyball net!

The weight checks were helpful, too, since they remind me that we need to make sure that the kids become more aware of other people and objects around them.  They are no longer little things that will bounce off adults; they are quite likely to take the adult out if they’re not careful.  So, grandparents beware!

The kids got a game of bird bingo, which we played as a family before leaving it to the kids so we could work outside.  It was really funny and sweet to hear them reading “Splendid Fairywren” and “Pied Wagtail” out loud to each other.

As per usual in our house, our main gift to the birthday child is that he or she gets to pick the birthday menu.  I probably need to set some limits on that.  Both Katherine and Nathaniel made lists that, while not long, would have made for a Thanksgiving feast.  We’ve ended up spreading things out over three or four days.  So we’re going to enjoy having some food in the house as Sydney and I prepare for some end-of-semester hunkering down.


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“April is the cruellest month”

So said T. S. Eliot in 1922.  Every time we get to April in the academic year, I have to agree with him.  So many delightful things (weather! walks! flowers! planting seeds!), but so little time to appreciate them.  Lots of major papers to grade and so few weeks before the semester ends–but not so few that you can just barrel through.  I am clearly a bit overly tired this week.  Today, after watching me go in circles in our conversation, Sydney finally laid it out there for me:

“You are barking up a red herring.”

Nothing like mixing metaphors to slap an English major back into wakefulness.


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Nathaniel the reader

Nathaniel’s gotten into reading in recent weeks.  He’d been working his way through picture books all through the fall, but he’s now starting to settle in on his own with a book.  Since many of his up-early-and-busy activities involve either a lot of noise (pouring out the Legos at 6:30am on Saturday) or a sizable mess (an entire table covered in colored paper scraps and glue), this is a really nice addition.  The other day I joined him in the living room and just marveled that he was sitting on the couch, reading, and I was sitting in the chair, reading.  And there was peace and quiet and happiness.

He’s also picked up some of Katherine’s list-making habits:


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Thoughts from ‘thaniel

Sydney suggested yesterday that we record a short clip of the sound of three of us coughing: Katherine, Sydney, and me.  That would explain the silence of the last couple of weeks.  But though that sounds pretty dire, it’s just moderately annoying–and taking up the energy we like to use for more interesting things.

Nathaniel has, however, sailed through without any illness thus far.  And though he’s learning that sick people don’t have much patience for nonsense, I have taken him out for evening walks several times recently, where he’s been able to claim my attention for more wide-ranging discussions.  We both really like those: he can spin an idea out over several miles, I can offer only occasional responses, and we both get exercise and fresh air.  One of his musings went something like this (spread out over a 2-to-3-mile walk around town):

N: “Mom, do you know about those shoes that have those light-up parts at the back?”

Me: as little of a “yes” as I could get away with, so as not to encourage him to think I’ll buy him new shoes any time soon

N: “Well, do they take electricity?  Batteries?  I know we don’t want to do things that take up energy, so I was wondering if I could stick candles to my shoes instead.  We like candles, and they make for a really pretty light–and they wouldn’t cost us electricity or batteries”

[can you tell we’ve had the “turn off the light when you leave the room” talk recently?]

Me: what about shoes lighting on fire??

N: “Well, maybe I can make a special holder for the candle, since it’s still the best thing for not wasting energy.”

Me: Not wanting to discourage him from saving energy, but not wanting him to get the idea that only particular kinds of energy matter, pointed out that candles use energy, too, and reminded him that the whales he’s been learning about in school recently were hunted for material with which people used to make candles [clearly a bad idea to have a mom who teaches Moby-Dick]

N: “Hmm.  It’s a good thing candles aren’t made from that anymore.  Well, I guess we don’t really need flashlights on our flashlight walk around town, do we?  I can just use the streetlights to see, and the stars and moon to see.  So maybe I don’t need lights on my shoes, either.  We’ll go fast in the dark.”



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Fresh Air

Sydney’s brother, Nelson, and Nelson’s wife, Kira, are in town for the week.  Most of that has been spent around home, as we all enjoy a slower pace, with a few mad dashes to various grocery stores by the men-folk so they can do some experimental cooking.  The result has been a lovely slow pace and full tummies.

This morning, though, the last in our long weekend together before work resumes, we drove out to Daniel Boone for two nice hikes.  It was great to enjoy sixty-degree weather in January, and soak in the scale of the peaks in the park.  To orient you, there’s a woman in white shirt and pink sneakers across the gorge in the bottom of the picture below; can you find her?


Nathaniel was feeling pretty perky, granola bar in hand, about 1.5 miles into our hike.  Thankfully, although he got clumsier as he tired later on, he was just as perky at mile 4 and 5.  We were all grateful, though, for great veggie sandwiches after the walk; I saw several avocados meet their demise, and there doesn’t seem to be anything left of the caramel popcorn Kira made yesterday.  I may or may not have seen three adults lingering in the garage after we got home, polishing off the last bits.



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Snow Day Homework Help

The kids were scheduled to start back to school four week-days before classes started up for the adults,  giving us some time to go in to get things ready for the semester.  That was such a lovely thought.  Instead, though, snow days (maximum 3 inches) took up Thursday and Friday, and I got the pleasure of nudging the kids through their snow-day homework packets.  Domino helped, as you can see.



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