We’re here.

Well, with the kids out of school for the foreseeable future and Sydney and Erin juggling teaching from home (students were sent home, and faculty are not allowed back on campus for the next several weeks), we’re spending a lot of time at our house.  And the cats are thrilled.

We are fortunate to have built-in socialization with a four-person family (in terms of getting work done, far more socialization than we need . . .), two cats, a big yard and a farm to work, and six chicks arriving in mid-April for the chicken coop Sydney is building right now.

Best,

Erin

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Nathaniel in the morning

“Not eating anything from the sea really would be hard.  We eat salt, and that comes from the sea.”

First thing out of his mouth, just after 6 in the morning.  I’m glad someone’s awake!

Erin

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Penners in the Kitchen

Sydney suggested we each pick a different kind of hummus to make over the weekend.  That started up a discussion in our house!  After much sorting and debating, we made a list of our top 6 and decided to break things up into two rounds.  And then we made our first three:

1) lemon-and-coriander hummus

2) olive hummus

3) apricot-and-chili hummus

I made olive flatbread to go with them.  As you can see, everyone’s hard at work!

Yes, they were all successful.  And yes, they made for some great lunches this week.

Erin

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Christmas in Nova Scotia

In the first week of December, Katherine found herself juggling a piano recital and two separate school presentations: one on the life of Joan of Arc, and the other on the health benefits of bananas.  Sydney and I, deep in our end-of-semester grading, could commiserate with her feeling of being overwhelmed.  Nathaniel just tried to avoid bumping into our stress.

Once end-of-semester projects were wrapped up, we headed to Nova Scotia to visit family.  There, we got to watch our kids play with their two young cousins (Allister, 2.5, and Everett, 7 months) and have food and games with extended family.  Katherine and Nathaniel were thrilled to discover that some of their quiet second cousins are also lightning-fast Dutch Blitz players.

Despite the windy winter weather, we got out for a quick visit to the North Shore, where we looked out on the Bay of Fundy.  Gorgeous scenery.  Despite the intense cold and wind, the kids still say that was the best part of our trip.  They really want to go back, but in the summer.

The kids have been showing increasing interest in the kitchen in the past few months.  Nathaniel often prefers cookbooks or seed catalogs to fiction during reading time, and he and Katherine earned enough good-behavior points over the school break to pick out dishes to make (nearly) on their own.  After her success over Thanksgiving, when she made cornbread using Sydney’s first batch of home-ground cornmeal, Katherine opted for a crust-less lemon meringue pie, in individual serving cups, for a January treat.  Nathaniel made an herb-and-mushroom pasta, as well as a big batch of granola.  I am definitely enjoying the company in the kitchen, particularly since Katherine has also started lending a hand with dishwashing.

Erin

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Fall Hikes and Harvest

The kids have grown a bit camera-shy, but I managed to get a few shots of them over the course of the fall.

Sydney’s brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet) prompted a number of questions from people who passed by the front yard.  Those flowers are seriously fragrant!

The persimmon trees Sydney planted behind our garage have shot up past the edge of our roof and have begun to produce many, many pounds of persimmons.

Nathaniel is holding one of Sydney’s Lincoln cushaw squash, of the variety that Abraham Lincoln’s father grew when their family lived in Kentucky.  We mostly see cushaws used as porch decorations, but we’ve learned they also make seriously smooth pumpkin-like pies!

And, in the midst of everything else, we did get out for a few hikes at Shaker Village.

Erin

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Back to School!

Katherine and Nathaniel were up early for the first day of school, where she’s starting fifth grade and he’s starting third.  This is their last year sharing a bus ride and a school, since next year Katherine will switch to middle school in the neighboring town.  Although she likes the familiarity and fun of the elementary school, our night owl is already looking forward to the later start time of middle school.

Erin

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Mississippi with Mom and Katherine

In July, Katherine and I met up with Mom to drive down to the annual Faulkner conference in Oxford, Mississippi.  I had a great time at the conference and enjoyed celebrating my book’s publication with fellow Faulknerians.  Mom and Katherine walked all over the campus and town, and together we made sure to hit up our favorite restaurants and bookstores.  We also took advantage of some decent weather to walk through Bailey Woods, the grounds that surround Faulkner’s home.

Erin

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Fruit and Flowers

There are piles of veggies coming out of the garden and farm (particularly since Sydney recently built a small greenhouse), but this year we’ve also seen an increase in fruit from what Sydney’s planted in the yard.  We had a short burst of strawberries in May/June, but we’ve been harvesting blueberries for several weeks now.  Thankfully, both kids help me with picking.  This is what Nathaniel and I harvested one morning recently, as blueberries were slowing down and blackberries were revving up.

Flowers, though, have really taken off.  As Kentucky heads into the hot and dry half of the summer, we know they will fade, but they currently look great!

Erin

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Book

When I returned from Iowa, I found on my desk a copy of my book, which I promptly sent to my parents.  I figure that if my mom carved out a spot for it in her living room, taking the place of yet one more picture of her grandchildren, I’m doing pretty well.

Erin

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Nathaniel on a Bicycle

While we were in Iowa, Nathaniel also mastered the art of bicycling.  He’s not slow to learn; we just tended to prefer scooters, given how useful they were in England.  And scooters are a bit more compact!

Nathaniel was thrilled to find in his grandfather a patient soul who was willing to fix up an old bike from when Adam and I were kids.  In the last week of our stay, Nathaniel went out for a four-mile ride at least once a day–any time he could convince someone to walk or ride with him.  There is a lovely long bike path just down the street from my parents’ house, and it runs all throughout their area.  One of my favorite sounds has become the sweet chirp from my son, “On your left!” as he passes me.  Since I walk and he rides, he has to double back a lot, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  I can, if nothing else, give him practice avoiding obstacles.

Erin

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