The kids insisted on dyeing eggs this year, and they liked the idea so much they wanted to try two different methods. We love deviled eggs, egg salad, etc., so we should make it through a second batch later this week without any trouble.
Sydney will be away for a conference for a week, so the kids and I are going to try to find creative ways to get by without him. Oh, and did I mention that the kids have spring break this week–and I don’t? We have several things going for us: the kids have become fun companions on walks around town and in parks. They’re learning that a walking mommy is a happy mommy. Katherine will also be celebrating her birthday tomorrow, and for her birthday feast she’s chosen a variety of dishes that will pretty much fill up our week with good food. And I will have a pile of papers to grade soon, so I’ll be glad for some kid distraction to help me break up the grading sessions.
Both kids got some new clothes from Grandma Birdsong, and were eager to pick out their own Easter outfits.
We have very few opportunities for dressing up, so both kids seem to prefer sneakers and bare feet to all other footwear, and play clothes to formal ones. But they loved Katherine’s Easter dress (which she promptly paired with leggings, since she wanted to be able to play in it). I thought it was the color or the bird pattern, but they soon showed me what was really great about it:
Nathaniel’s words last night, as Katherine spun around and around: “When she was spinning around, she looked like a cylinder on top of a sphere.” Um, if you say so, kiddo. At any rate, he was delighted.
Katherine had a different response: “I like to spin, and I love that the dress reminds me of the dresses of Grandma Penner. This dress makes me think of her.”
Our kids have gotten to ages that make it possible to reassert the art of adult conversation around and through dinner and homework help. Also, we’re desperate, and time is limited. And as the kids listen to us, they swell with questions.
Recently Nathaniel asked, “Is Dada an immigrant?” “Yes.” “Is he an American citizen?” “No.” “Am I an immigrant?” It took me a minute to think of an appropriate response: “Yes, but without most of the difficulties that go along with moving from one country to another.” I can only imagine what my foreign-born son thinks and feels as he hears that word used by adults around him, or catches the news headlines over my shoulder.
This morning, I called the kids back from their wait for the bus to explain that we wouldn’t be having school today. Across the state, teachers had walked out after the Kentucky legislature had hurried through a bill that will cut into teacher pensions. I can’t, in good conscience, encourage my university students to major in education when the pay is low and the government seems inclined to pillage one of the few benefits promised to teachers. Although Katherine and Nathaniel were inclined to be sad that school was cancelled (Katherine’s class was having a pizza party to celebrate passing multiplication tests), they were surprised to see me staring at my computer and shaking my head as I caught up on the middle-of-the-night legislative move.
Our kids have already listened to me explain that our “non-traditional instruction days” (worksheet packets that replace school in the event of snow days, of which we’ve had 10 this spring) will ensure that the kids who have support at home will do just fine–but that classmates who rely on the structured classroom to keep from falling behind will simply be short two weeks of schooling. As a teacher, I can’t imagine being replaced with a worksheet that may need to be completed while a student babysits a younger sibling, tags along with parents to work, or helps with snow removal.
So it’s been an interesting spring around here! Our kids are aware of national politics in the usual vague way, but I’m amazed at how many pieces of the adult world are intruding on the basic elements of their lives. If there’s much more of this, I’m going to enroll my kids at Asbury so they can take history classes from David and sociology from Lisa, so that they have the tools with which to understand these sudden arrivals in their world.
This past week was our spring break. As in, a week when neither Sydney nor I had teaching responsibilities, and the kids were in school. We were running hard in February, so we’ve been looking forward to this time!
Well, on Monday we got a hefty dose of wet, heavy snow. Those of you who get real snow just have to bear with me, because Kentucky does not get this kind of thing very often. The kids were out of school for two days, cutting out a big chunk of our quiet time. Although they had to do snow-day worksheets, we did still get out for some lovely walks in the snow.
The snow was heavy enough to bring down branches and even whole trees all over town. When I did get to the office, I heard chainsaws most of the rest of the week. Our cats, however, loved having us home for more days than usual.
Nathaniel doesn’t take to time changes, since he’s an early riser who struggles to get to sleep if it’s still light outside (yeah, summer with him is fun). So I wasn’t surprised that he showed a fraying temper this evening, but Sydney and I were both dismayed that he seemed determined to fight us all the way down.
As I insisted Nathaniel clean up and get to bed, he turned on me with all the sauciness at his disposal. He used the word “ruddy” twice, and not to describe rosy cheeks. Clearly his Harry Potter reading is giving him some new epithets. It was all I could do not to laugh. We have a little British rebel, right in the middle of Kentucky!
A couple of years ago, I headed to a spring visit event for prospective students. Campus was deserted. We were in the midst of a snowstorm, classes had been canceled, and only the prospective students and their parents were up and about.
This morning, I headed to the same event, on almost the same date in the calendar, but the scene was quite different. It was a humid 70 degrees, students were sprawled on the warm stone benches, and the honeysuckle flowers were already adding a heavy dose of spring fragrance.
Many trees, shrubs, and lawns are still pretty bare, but our crocuses opened this morning, our hydrangea and roses are budding, and our kids only came inside once it was dark.
On Wednesday, my parents will celebrate 48 years of marriage, if I’ve got my dates right. That is seriously impressive to me, who has only been married a quarter as long. Congratulations!!
It’s been four years since we’ve been to see Sydney’s family in Nova Scotia, so a visit was long overdue. We also had to come meet our only nephew, who was born earlier this year (during the peak of farming season, so no visit then). We’ve had a really nice Christmas. The kids’ aunt has showered attention on them (puzzles, knitting, you name it) and let us sneak in some cuddles with the baby, who just happens to be at Sydney’s favorite age for children. We’ve also gotten in some time with extended family, as our kids slowly adjust to the fact that they have hundreds of cousins on Sydney’s side.
Nathaniel knew we would have a good time: “Mommy, Uncle Nelson’s a chef, and I know you the three of you also cook. We’re going to have fun!” A boy who leads with his stomach. It’s been too cold for the kids to get out much (they immediately start coughing: the lingering effects of their recent cold), but I’ve gotten in some nice long walks along a former rail line that’s been converted into a walking path through the woods. Cold as it is, it’s still hard to turn back for home, since the path goes for miles and miles . . .
I have no pretty pictures to show you (trust me: there’s nothing pretty about this), but today I emailed my revised book manuscript to my editor and walked a hard copy down to the post office. After a year of staring down my revision deadline, I’m excited about having it in, so that I can tackle some smaller projects (which will seem very doable now) and take a much-needed break. I’m glad to see a decade of small discoveries turn into something more, and I’m glad to see that I can put a few hundred pages in Word without it crashing, but I’m now ready for something that doesn’t feel quite so much like a dissertation–or childbirth.
Just in time, too. Today was the kids’ last day of school, so we have a day at home together before we fly to Nova Scotia to visit Sydney’s family. We’re excited, and now I can finally get my head into packing!
A colleague recently teased me that I probably didn’t really understand Thanksgiving, since no one in our house was going to be carving a turkey. Well, it’s no longer Thanksgiving, and this is no turkey, but Sydney can certainly carve up a meal.
Before we head out for Christmas travel, he’s been roasting, pureeing, and freezing piles of squash, including this one, a roughly thirty-pound beast that I think is a Musquee de Provence. The halves only just fit in our oven. In real life, it’s so deep orange it’s almost red. And the flesh more than filled my largest mixing bowl. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin crescent rolls, pumpkin pie . . .
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.