Kids trade school for online lessons, and then for summer play

Katherine and Nathaniel currently share their parents’ distaste for computers (particularly video) and for car rides.  We like both our education and our socializing in person and on foot.  So our biggest struggle with staying at home these past few months has been with the substitutes that are being offered for school and for socializing.  When I told Katherine there was a drive-through celebration for fifth-grade graduates this week, she looked appalled at the thought that we might go; neither kid can be convinced to Zoom with family members.

So, what have they been doing?  Well, some schooling, though their teachers pulled back pretty quickly after initial lessons proved difficult to manage online.  As Sydney and I hunkered down for the final grading push this week, the kids knew they were on their own, so they played with the chicks (peekaboo in the spinach in the greenhouse), dug out all the Legos, helped on the farm (Sydney’s first radishes have arrived), and organized their books.

Nathaniel, only ever having known life with Katherine, may not yet realize that it’s not normal to have color-sorted Legos and alphabetized and labeled books, but she set the tone before he arrived on the scene.  Yes, we know bookcases are usually used vertically, but since those bookcases are ceiling-height, we aren’t setting them up unless Sydney secures them to the wall studs, in case they come crashing down!


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Spring Hiking

Since this is the first May I can remember when temperatures are not already in the nineties, we’ve been getting out for a lot more hiking than we manage most springs.  Some parks are closed because of crowding, but we’ve enjoyed several hikes at Camp Nelson, the recently expanded trails at Tom Dorman, and today we wound our way through Veterans Park in Lexington.  Erin

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Exactly one month ago, I collected from our post office a small box that emitted soft, but incessant, cheeping sounds.  The box contained 6 day-old chicks, whom we kept in the basement until they grew adventurous and could be moved to the outside coop.  We then, of course, promptly endured some of the coldest Kentucky spring nights on record.

Thankfully, Chickpea, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Paprika, Poblano, and Pepper are all alive and well, and served as lovely distraction for us over the past month.  Knowing that they would only be fluff balls for a few days, we took pictures incessantly (probably more than we did when our children were newborns . . .), and enjoyed playing with them in the greenhouse.  Whenever we could escape screen time, you’d probably find us in something like the posture of the last picture, just watching them discover the world.


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Home Projects

Surprising no one, Sydney has been ambitious in his yard projects.  A very wet couple of weeks has put work at the farm on hold, so he has built a large new bed in the front yard, created a rock path (suddenly we all have arm muscles after our winter sloth), and is hard at work on a chicken coop.

Although the kids remain distinctly unimpressed by our computer work, they have come up with projects of their own around the yard, including lots of jump roping.  The school jump rope team, of which they were both members, had several spring performances scheduled–and then canceled–so the kids are making do with our sidewalk and driveway.


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Blooming Kentucky

It is currently 77 degrees in Kentucky . . . at 7pm, at the end of March.  Although I think normal temperatures will resume, this heat is a reminder of the hot summer to come.  But it’s also a signal for plants and animals to get on with growing and blooming.  Here are a few pictures from our yard.

Redbud Trees:

Our new English Hornbeams:

The very first flower on our magnolia tree:

Fig trees:

Peach and plum trees:

Our resident mourning dove, who is not thrilled about our being home to watch her nest:Erin

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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.



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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!


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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.


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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.


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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.


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