Winter Hike at Shaker Village

Yesterday we took a long hike at Shaker Village, on the Tanyard Trail (6 miles).  The end of the semester has us feeling a bit of cabin fever (so much grading and writing time . . .), so it was lovely to get out.  We started out needing most of our winter gear, but by the afternoon we were wearing our coats around our waists, with hats and mittens in my bag.  I’d packed granola bars and trail mix, and we definitely needed it before we were done, but we were kept reasonably entertained by the change in scenery: lots of rolling hills, some fields, some forests, and, to Sydney’s delight, lots of birds.  He had also brought along a bingo sheet for each kid, so they spent a lot of time asking “Where would I find an acorn?” and “Is that a song sparrow?”  We saw deer several times, which was nice.  And we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Erin

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Harry Potter Fans

Katherine and Nathaniel have finally gotten into Harry Potter.  That’s good in many ways: they’re reading, they’re asking interesting questions, and they’re sharing something fun with each other.  On the other hand, it also means we’re having to set rules about how much to read and when to stop, so that they get their other chores done and participate in family life.  But there are only seven books, so we’ll enjoy this run while it lasts.

Erin

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A Thanksgiving Hike

On our first day of Thanksgiving Break, we drove about an hour west, to Vernon-Douglas State Nature Preserve.  If our destinations seem a bit random, know that they’re often motivated by Sydney’s attention to bird alerts from around the state.  He thought we might be interested in joining him for this trip because the preserve has a hiking trail of a bit over four miles, with a lot of elevation change.  We packed plenty of trail mix to keep the kids fueled, and gloves and heavy coats, and we all enjoyed the lovely open beech and oak forest.  We’re learning that tramping on leaves can get a bit slippery for downhill sections, obscure the trail, and mask tree roots, but having the leaves down let us look through the trees for miles around.

We’ll be having a pretty low-key Thanksgiving, for which we’re all grateful.  We’re not traveling (though we’ll be flying to see family for Christmas), and for one Canadian and four vegetarians, a turkey-themed holiday right before Christmas is a bit less alluring than to some.  I also have just four weeks until my book manuscript is due, so I’m keen to take advantage of any sizable chunks of time that are free from school obligations.  But we’re all off from school for a few days, we love to eat, and Sydney kicked off the week with four cushaw pies.  Yum.  Thankfully, we had help eating them, but it’s still a nice start to lots of good cooking this week, some of it with Sydney’s remaining farm veggies.  I think of this time of year as the beginning of “orange-veggie season”: sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, and carrots.  I know we eat other things, but we use all of these pretty much interchangeably, and we love that they can be used for pies, cookies, stews, soups, lasagnas, and oven-baked fries.  With sweet potatoes in the basement, carrots still in the ground at the farm, and large winter squash sitting around our house, we should be set for a while.

Erin

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Two Nathaniel Stories

A few nights ago, Nathaniel emerged from his room at 10pm.  As he shuffled toward me, blinking in the lamplight, he said quite distinctly, “Mommy, I would like you to move the Harry Potter books to the high shelf.”

“Did you finally realize that they can be scary to read?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember that I told you you might find them a bit scary, and that there’s no reason not to wait until you’re a bit older to read them?”

“Yes.  And now I want them moved up high.”

The next day, however, Nathaniel was back at them, diving into the third of the seven books in the series.  We’ll see how things go.  I want to encourage him to listen to advice from adults, but also to make his own decisions and grapple with the consequences.  At least, with this particular form of daring, he’ll have Katherine and me to lean on.  And when I’ve checked on him in recent nights, he has been sleeping soundly.

* * *

This morning, I had Nathaniel and Katherine ready and waiting for the bus on the front porch.  As I sat down to eat breakfast, I heard a commotion at the front door.  He had apparently forgotten something, and was tearing down the whole house in his efforts to find it.  As I grabbed his bag, I shooed him out to the front porch, so that we could keep an eye on the bus.  Our bus driver will not wait.  As Nathaniel and Katherine started up the steps of the bus, I turned back to realize that he had, on leaving the house, closed the door behind him—and it was locked.

30 degrees Fahrenheit, and 30 minutes until I needed to be in my classroom, a ten-minute brisk walk away.

Katherine had a key, but she was already on the bus, which was headed down the street.  Sydney was sound asleep, and I knew from previous experience that it’s hard to get someone in the bedroom to hear you if you try to rouse them.  Not to mention that I would be much more likely to disturb our elderly neighbor, who always watches the comings and goings at our house (we’re apparently very entertaining).  So I sprinted around to the backyard in my socks, dug out our spare key from the dirt pile in which I’d tucked it, went back to the front door (wet socks, muddy hands), and found myself thoroughly awake, since my toes had had plenty of contact with the frozen ground.

Erin

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Halloween and the end of the farmer’s market season

Last night the kids enjoyed a Halloween-themed party at one of the dorms at the university, where they got to play games, paint balloons, decorate cookies, and see half of Wilmore.  There is a city-wide bash on Tuesday, when all of the neighborhood kids, rather than go door-to-door, head to Main Street for a street party with lots of booths.  I’ll see half the people I work with ushering miniature dinosaurs, robots, ladybugs, etc., around in the dark.  Thankfully, the kids are given glow-bracelets each year, and they do pretty well at staying close or finding friends.

Meet The Cat in the Hat and Mary Poppins:

As you might have guessed, this is one of the activities I attend without Sydney, who apparently wouldn’t enjoy squiring his kids around a women’s dorm and participating in many rounds of make-believe as part of a holiday he thinks is silly–at best.  I’m just glad our kids have a way to play without having to buy into the frightening aspects of Halloween.  Nathaniel has been terrified by a Care Bears movie, and we don’t need anything that will induce nightmares.  But we are glad to get out as the weather gets colder, and to see other people out and about.

Today was the last farmer’s market of the year.  It never rose to 40 degrees, so it made for some miserably cold conditions (did I mention that it was also rainy and also a bit windy?), but we were glad to see some regular customers come out for one last round of fresh veggies before the winter season has us all hibernating.  We’ll be glad for quieter Saturday mornings for a while, but we’ll miss the interaction with friends.

Erin

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Katherine

Erin

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I Spy . . . Farmer Sydney. Can you?

(our car is the small white rectangle in the bottom right corner, if that helps you with scale)

Sydney discovered that the Google drones apparently caught him at work in the field earlier this spring.  It looks peaceful from so high up, but I can tell you that all of those long, narrow beds are pretty big up close.

Best,

Erin

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Singing Together

Earlier this week we joined a crowd at Asbury for a hymn sing.  Katherine has really gotten into music, both piano and voice, but this demanded more sight-reading than she’s had to do before.  Thankfully, a sizable portion of the women’s choir sat right behind us to help her find her way.  She showed a lot more ability to go-with-the-flow than has been her wont, and she really enjoyed it!

I was thrilled to be able to sing with my family.  Nathaniel, though not interested in singing, was happy as a clam sitting at our feet and writing word lists (all the words that end in an “-ot” sound, everybody?  Gotta love how little kids play school when they’re not in it) or reading the book he brought (Roald Dahl to the rescue).

I am tentatively hopeful that we’ll be able to do things like this again.  A new return to public life with kids in tow!

Erin

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Odd tastes

I slip Katherine a new book during Nathaniel’s nap time, and she reports back:

“I like this one.  A lot.  She likes a lot of the same things I do.  Goats.”

After I give her an astonished look, she adds:

“And mountains.”

She’s reading Heidi.

 

Erin

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Waiting for the Bus

Erin

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