The full retrospective of ten years of Grey is going to be next Monday’s post, but I feel as though it’s wrong to let his birthday pass without note.
Grey, my son, is 10 years old today. I have only one child left in single digits.
The full retrospective of ten years of Grey is going to be next Monday’s post, but I feel as though it’s wrong to let his birthday pass without note.
Grey, my son, is 10 years old today. I have only one child left in single digits.
In my imagined version of what it would be like to raise children, those children picked up where I had left off with music. They loved to sing before they could even talk. When I introduced early piano lessons, they spent hours dedicated to wringing skill out of their fingers. They practiced guitar until their fingers were red.
Those were not the children I got. They sing – but only when no one can hear. Practicing was a huge struggle when we tried it. They just weren’t ready.
Now with music, there are different entry points. The world class violinists start at 3 or 4. The pianists 5 or 6. Even Thane is probably too old to be world class in some instruments. But… a child is physically too small to play a brass or wind instrument until they’re around 10, which is perfect since that’s much closer to the age at which a (normal) kid is more ready to spend long term focus working on a remote goal. (Well, at least my kids.) So although I’ve watched that particular parental daydream disappear – along with any girl-daydream and my quiet dark-haired poet daydream – I prefer my actual real children over my daydreams.
But my parents thought I was not very musical after years of piano lessons in which I didn’t really focus or practice or excel. And then I hit trumpet and the world was a new and beautiful place and music took a central place in my life. So, there is hope.
And then, last Tuesday, a huge moment came. Instrument rental night. My last best hope for a child to follow in my musical footsteps.
Now, I tried really, really, really hard not to make this too big a deal for Grey. I casually asked if he wanted to do band. (Please note: band is at 4 pm on Monday afternoons. School gets out at 2:20. So I had to switch Grey’s afterschool to school afterschool instead of Y afterschool on Mondays to make this work. SO MANY LOGISTICS. What a terrible time for a working parent!) Then I lightly inquired if he’d thought about what instrument he wanted to play.
“I want to play trumpet!” – words every parent wants to hear.
When asked why, there were many answers. “It only has three buttons! It’s the easiest!” “I love how it sounds.” Then in a quiet, vulnerable moment… “Because I want you to be proud of me.”
Ah. How clearly our children see us. It breaks my heart a little that my son is searching for ways to win my approval, as though it is some elusive and difficult substance. But yet… he is right. I cannot stop my heart from glowing that he picked my instrument. He’s asked me to teach him, and begged me for lessons every night since. I am not sure I have ever seen him more excited than he was the night we went to get his instrument. “I’m not actually sure I’ve been more excited myself, mom.”
I hear him working his way through to “Hot Cross Buns”. I remember a little girl on her front porch, some 27 years ago, doing the same. And I can only hope that he has as much joy of his instrument as I had and still have of mine.
Welcome to brass, my son.
Many of you know that I spent four delightful years at Connecticut College, a stone-built NESCAC school that is almost (but not quite) an ivy league school. I got a double major (cum laude, with honors and distinction in my major fields). I started off thinking I’d be a music history major having particularly loved that aspect of my high school symphonic experience. Then I had to take music theory at 8:30 in the morning, and I quickly became an English major along with everyone else at the elite institution who liked to read and didn’t know what they wanted to do.
My senior year, I proposed an honor’s thesis that my English advisor had trouble seeing as an English Honor’s Thesis. (It was about “The Power of Music in Medieval Literature” which I’m astonished someone took the time to steal before I took my website down. The real thesis was “Brenda reads fun books about medieval music yay!”) So I fixed the problem by going through my list of classes and realizing with a few minor additions to my class load I could double major in Medieval Studies and write the thesis I wanted to write.
In retrospect, I’m amazed how sanguine my parents were about my employability. I’ve had to answer the question of how a degree in medieval studies led to a successful career in software in Every. Single. Interview I’ve ever had. (The answer is there’s a direct relationship between my degree and my employment, thankyouverymuch. You’d be amazed how often Chaucer comes in handy!)
Anyway, I hated it when people, upon hearing my degree, would say “So you must go to a lot of Renaissance fairs, eh?” Pfft. Those a-historical mishmash of era and location! You say Renaissance, you mean medieval and you dress up sexy fairie! I was, sad to report, a bit of a self-righteous git as a young person. This is surprising, I realize, but true.
Well, last year we went to King Richard’s Faire in Carver. It was a mismash of Halloween costumes, period-perfect Elizabethan recreations, corsets, fairies and Games of Throne characters. The minstrel’s music bled into the colonial era. There were Vikings with every hand-hewn rivet perfect and a wide variety of add-on ears for the perfect elvish look.
And we had an absolute blast.
We went back again this year, near my birthday so I could claim extra loot. (I didn’t actually get extra loot but I swear this is the year I get a dress made from my tartan.) We watched the magician and the acrobat and the silk dancers. We ate faux medieval food. We sang songs and watched the joust. (The horsemanship is really quite exciting! Also, it’s really hard to fall from a moving horse in armor and not hurt yourself. They make me nervous every time!) We had a blast. (And it turns out Grey knows the words to far more of our favorite songs than I realized.)
And then there is right now. I’m perched outside Thane’s door, watching the last sliver of the moon through the already bare tree branches as it is eaten by the dragon. I am here so that Thane is not too fearful to sleep, but from the back yard come lifting voices of my husband, brother and son. They are singing and reciting. So far tonight we have had Shel Silverstein and Virgil, The Moon Song and songs of the moon. It was one of those precious moments in parenting when you realize that some small part of your loves has been passed on to your children, when Grey bounded up the stairs to go fetch the small poetry book that had been his grandmother’s and his father’s – to read aloud to us all. “Zoon zoon, cuddle and croon…”
My days are sometimes weary, filled with the busyness of life. There is much of laundry and groceries and soccer and home improvements and church committees. But yet, there are rare moments when voices I love are lifted in song in the fading light of an eclipsing moon. (My husband is reciting Byron now.) That those moments exist is a grace and blessing beyond counting.
Did you see the eclipse? How did you spend your time, while the dragon ate the moon?
Today is the day I always wished was my birthday. Given my appallingly behind-ness on blogging this week, I figured I’d reshare my birthday wishes to the Misters Baggins!
It’s also worth noting – Grey just finished reading the Hobbit!
Originally posted on My Truant Pen:
Today is the day that ought to have been my birthday, by all rights. Today is the first day of fall. More importantly, to my young self, today is Frodo and Bilbo Baggin’s collective birthday. Do you have any idea how much it would’ve mattered to me to be the SAME as those two notable halflings in such an important event? I used to try to work out with the time zones and Zaire (my place of birth) whether I had REALLY been born on the 22nd and this incontrovertible FACT was masked by my impossibly-distant place of birth. Or maybe bad record keeping. Or SOMETHING.
Of course now, thinking about it, I’m pretty sure my mom wouldn’t have minded. I was three weeks later than expected. My due date was Labor Day. I used to think this just meant my mom was bad at counting, until I myself went…
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Every year around this time I take a deep breath and figuratively buckle my seat belt. This is always high time for me. In a six week period, every person in my household has a birthday. Two weeks later there’s Mocksgiving. Then Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We also kicked off our soccer season this Sunday, with losses for both the U8 Netherlands team and U10 Brazil team. Perhaps the extra coaching session (called clinic) both our boys are doing this fall will help transform some losses to wins.
I only caught the Netherlands game, since I needed to get to church to kick off the Sunday School year. I’m teaching 2nd through 5th graders this year. I’m particularly lousy at traditional Sunday School arts and crafts curriculum, but am hopeful I make up for it by attempting to teach actual Biblical information. (I had two kids who memorized the books of the Bible last year – one OT and one NT!) But we’ll see if my planned curriculum works for 2nd graders.
After church, I chaired a meeting of the Mission Taskforce, which will be in full swing through the end of the year. We have some interesting work to do, trying to figure out what the next generation of church holds for our congregation.
Saturday was no less busy than Sunday. I had dueling playdates for the boys (I hosted one, and shipped Grey off to one). Somehow Thane managed to fall, fully clothed into a swimming pool. We found a new bike path, and went for a cool ride along the Mystic River.
I don’t have a thesis statement. This is all just a very long excuse for not posting yesterday! It’s also foreboding. Several of these things are things that will not improve in 2015. They’re seasonal, and the season just kicked off. This is one of my favorite times of year, but it comes with a price tag. Hopefully I’ll find some moments to walk in the quiet forests of fall, with the only sound the shuffling of leaves at my feet and the laughing of my children. Hopefully I’ll find a quiet moment to soak in the essence of New England – only available this time of year. There will be apple picking and trick-or-treating. But there will not be much down time between here and January. So buckle up.
We mark the beginning and ending of summer the same way: with a camping trip. Although with the same cast of characters, and often in the same location, the two trips feel radically different. The one opens and discovers – checking to see where we are in this stage of our lifes. The other closes and revels – sure-footed patterns and a long lingering last kiss of summer.
I dallied this year when it came to booking the last trip of the year. I wanted to go back to Covered Bridge, which we’d enjoyed last year. Last year I hadn’t been early to book, but there had been many good sites available. But by the time I went to book this year, there were none. Hardly any spots were open in the entire White Mountains. Thus we are forced into innovation. We find ourselves at Campton Camground this time. It is much, much nicer than the execrable Wolfe Point campground in New Brunswick was, but not so nice as Covered Bridge. It’s scenically located between a major road – the noises of which never cease – and a power line clearing. But the sites themselves are quite nice. (The firewood is overpriced, scanty and wet. The bathrooms are ok.)
We found, setting up the tent, that New Brunswick had left quite an impression. Mildew was growing where none had ever grown before, on things that had not ostensibly gotten wet (like our air mattress). It’s a good thing that was not the last camping trip of the year, or some of our gear might have become entirely unusable!
Of note so far:
Grey is reading The Hobbit. He is nine, and in fourth grade, and he is reading the author with whom I fell life-changingly in love when I was nine and in fourth grade. I can’t tell you how my heart thrills to watch my son follow the adventures of Bilbo and the dwarves. Tolkien is not so action packed, nor is he always easy. But Grey has embarked on the journey anyway.
Thane is also reading constantly. He’s currently on Book 51 of The Magic Treehouse. He’s read every single one, in order, starting from the first one on our vacation in Cozumel this April. If my math stands, that’s an average of two Magic Treehouse books a week (although he usually goes on binges). The big question, with the end of the series looming, is what to give him next. He’s a good reader, but he’s only going into first grade so probably isn’t ready for, well, Tolkien.
I’m attempting to read the Silmarillion for about the sixth time. I’ve gotten farther than usual, which is a scanty accomplishment. I swear the intro is dryer than the Old Testament, or anything by Chaucer. Adam is reading and thoroughly enjoying Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Two of our air mattresses went flat last night. We have three – two twins and a queen. Without probable cause, the queen and one twin went phllmph last night. There’s nothing quite like waking in a divot with your spouse falling into the gravitational black hole with you, and your hip on the cold, cold ground to interrupt a night’s sleep. I threw the long-serving air mattresses away. They have done yeomen duty on many a camping trip, but their work was done.
Yesterday’s big adventure was a 4.8 mile hike of Dickey and Welch Mountains. The first twenty minutes were full of complaining, and I was afraid we might not make it this time. We hit a rocky slope with signs that pointed out that we were surrounded by rare and precious plants whick had started their growth as the first colonists landed on Plymouth Rock – and to tread carefully accordingly. About that time, the going got really rocky (ha ha! New Hampshire joke there!) as we scrambled up cliff faces and through precipices. The worse the footing, the more cheerful and enthusiastic the kids were. As we were about to summit Welch Mountain, I was really struggling and the kids were powering on. Thane practically ran down Dickey Mountain – held back only by his parents. Could this perhaps be the last year the hiking will be easier for me than for my young sons?
Today (after a quick detour to Walmart to buy new air mattresses) we lounged in the Mad River. Last year the boys and I had built castles in the river rocks and searched for buried treasure in the mica and quartz that richly line the precious waterways of the Whites. They longed to repeat the adventure, and Adam (who had chosen to take an epic nap instead last year) I think felt a little left out of the fun. So we found a good place to park and a section of the Mad River in full sun to counteract the chill of the running waters, and we built a castle in the creek, destined to last for eternity – or until the spring floods. Injuries being the price you must pay for such adventures, I waited to see who would bear the burden on their flesh. Smart money was on Thane, who can’t walk across a room without tripping. Tragically, it was I who fell before Neptune and paid the toll. I suspect it will be quite a lurid bruise.
If I had to say what I love most about camping, I think it is that it is about the only time in my life when I shouldn’t be doing something else. Right now, at this moment I write, there is nothing more pressing I should be doing than what I am doing: writing to you. There are moments when I can be quiet and look at this glorious nature that finds its way in the small spaces between the road and the electric lines in which to be lovely. I can deeply contemplate the glint of mica in a river rock as I chill my bruised shin in the fast currents of the river. I can stop on my way to the bathrooms at night and look up at the stars as long as my screen-crimped neck will tolerate. I can gaze into the mesmeric flames of the evening campfire and find in it remnants of my wild ancestors’ visions, and pause. And I can give one last deep thought to summer.
For this is high summer for me. It’s not just the meteorological summer of 2015, or the astrological summer. It is the summer of my life. I have grown to full growth. I have planted my own seeds, and am watching them germinate in the lazy warmth of my 30s. In the calendar of my life this is July, not September. But already the days shorten. It requires less imagination to picture dropping Grey off at college, say. I look in the mirror and the effulgence of youth is missing (or requires very flattering lighting).
It is the memory of these days that will warm my winter, when Adam and I have safely brought home the harvest to which we have been entrusted. I will see these moments most clearly, I suspect, when the present day grows dimmer and I begin to live more in memory than in hope. And so I linger in these sun-flocked forests, in the quiet of a warm Sunday afternoon, and drink deeply of the woodsmoke and freely-given snuggles. I take pictures, both on my camera in the camera of my memory. I write the story of those moments here, engraving them in my heart by sharing them. And I savor the sense of warmth, love and joy that sinks into my skin in this September sunset.
You can find pictures of our White Mountain adventures here!
I’ve tended autobiographical over philosophical lately – my apologies if you prefer the deep posts. I’m still having deep thoughts, but a lot of them are about work. Many others are about church, and are still… unformed and not ready for sharing. That leaves us with summer, kids and home renovation.
The big news of the week was that we have absolutely 0 insulation in our dining room. One of the first things we did when we bought this house was to hire some people to come in and blow in insulation in our hundred year old walls. They carefully peeled up the aluminum siding (you can still see where – it’s like crumpling paper in that you can never quite make it look like it did), drilled holes in the wood and blew in some insulation. They talked about how we must’ve had nothing in our walls, because they put in way more insulation than they expected.
Welp. I don’t know whether somehow they overlooked the dining room – which has been one of the coldest rooms in our house despite its interior position – or if they were complete fraudy fraudsters, but Adam peeled back one of the lathes in the exterior wall to fix something on a window, and noticed a complete lack of insulation.
We debated what to do next: literally plaster over the problem, or do a full demo of the exterior walls. I was all for being an ostrich, but Adam knew this would haunt him forever and so proceeded to demo the walls so we could reinsulate. Or, you know, insulate for the first time.
It set us back a week and about $200, but now that room had better be the coziest in the entire house. It’s been caulked and insulated and vapor barriered and dry walled. About an hour ago, Adam and I moved all the leftover drywall, off cuts and insulation to the attic – which is the location of our likely next project. (It was a lot. Also, heavy.)
Now we’re on to the next phase of the project: taping & mudding. (Followed by sanding, sanding and sanding. Also sanding. There are quite a few flaws that have to be addressed.)
While Adam was doing all that, I sometimes helped him when he needed an extra body, but mostly have been doing everything in the house that is not wall-related. On Saturday, I took our two boys plus two boys from the home across the street that is also undergoing extensive renovations (honestly, it’s because our neighborhood is such an amazing place to live that we’d all rather pour money and effort into the houses we have than upgrade to new ones) to Boston to play in a great park. I was thinking how even a year ago, I wouldn’t have dared to go solo with four kids on the T. But these ages – two 6 year olds and two 9 year olds – are so awesome! We had a blast.
It was such a perfect and glorious late August day. The temperature was perfect. The humidity was perfect. The kids were perfect. And the college students had not quite yet descended on the city. We dined that night – outside in the perfect weather – with a good friend who had taken pity on the dining-roomless in the neighborhood.
Other things that happened this weekend included a massive farm share. (I forgot all the melons – and my Farmer Dave bag! – at the pickup. I’m kind of wondering if it was Freudian because what do you do with that many melons?) A bajillion loads of dishes. Most of the laundry. I went shopping for foundationals and ended up with a really cool wizard bathrobe in that super soft material they make things out of this day that feels so great it must cause cancer. A tour of my office (my kids wanted to show off for their friends). Another good friend taking the boys to help prevent video-game related brain-rot. We wrapped it all up with a trip to the beach, where the waves were absolutely amazing and the temperature of both water and air were perfect and they took down the parking cost sign just as we pulled up. I forgot my camera and took no pictures I can share, but here’s one I hope I can engrave in my heart.
Thane is still a little wee for enjoying boogie boarding as much as the rest of us, so he worked for a while on a sand castle, but then got entranced by looking for shells. Good Harbor beach has very few, but what few there were he found. I watched him search, my feet digging into the sandy shore. Just off in the breakers, Adam and Grey were catching wave after wave together, and sharing delighted grins as they fought the waters to get back into position to ride once more. But Thane. He does not walk, that child. He does not run. He dances. He prances. He skips and hops. I watched him move along the shore, eyes sharp for the glint of a buried treasure. He’s stoop to pick it up and then swirl around. He’d sway back and forth as he wandered up the strand. Once his hands were full enough, he’d run back to me. He’d just hit full stride, a satisfied smile on his face from his discovery, when he’d come to a full stop – having spotted something. He’d bend carefully down to pick it up. (Then bend down again to pick up what he dropped the first time he bent down to pick up item A.) Then, treasures obtained, he’d skip across the sand to me, until the next treasure caught his eye in a few paces.
It was so joyful – every movement of his body expressing delight and satisfaction. It was so very Thane. Someday he’ll learn to walk instead of hop, and that day will be a sad one for me.
I added more pictures to the renovation album!.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m not allowed to take vacations anymore because when I’m rested I come up with new things to do. We are now in the heart of the dining room adventure. Also known as “dust phase”.
My dining room started like this:
I like to fancy that it was a good dining room. I’ve served fine meals there – prime rib and pancakes, turkey dinners served with silver, pounds of pie and experimental Indian recipes. After nearly every one of those meals, I’ve cleared that table to have it reset with board games. We have spent hundreds of hours there, together with our friends and family. I cannot fail to be fond of that space.
But as we look a little closer, we begin to see the limitations:
Our house was a good deal when we bought it almost 8 years ago, partially because the entire house was in the ’70s style. The bones of the house – built in 1898 – are excellent, the layout is ideal and I really, really love my house. But the list of things that need to be done to improve it is massive. They fall into two main categories – effort and capital. (And then there’s capital under $1000 and over $1000…) While we have plans for some big capital projects (windows, attic renovation, furnace) somehow we had the brilliant idea that a 12 week hiatus in gaming (due to one of our friends doing something cool) was the perfect time for a largely effort, under $1k project.
The room echoed when we moved out the furniture. It felt like we were moving out, with that hollow feeling.
Then we (and by the way, when I say we I generally mean “Adam”) removed the patina of the ’80s to uncover the remnants of the ’40s.
Clearly they’d had wainscotting. The plaster ceiling was in quite good condition, although the electrical was questionable. The wallpaper was, well, ugly. We found a door that used to connect our dining room to the mud room. In an inexcusable lapse of judgement, the faux paneling and drop ceiling had been put in in 1988 – a decade after the fuel crisis which is the only excuse for such an ugly solution. There was a spraypainted date and initials. One wall carried scribbled names. Several walls had dimensions penciled in. There’s duct tape, plaster and lathe, plywood and gaps around the windows big enough to see daylight through. (This last one explains a lot.)
This weekend was a huge one in our plans. Adam took Friday off to work on it. He put in the ceiling strips (acoustically isolating ones, so we hear reduced thumping). Saturday, Adam and I spent the full day working together. The kids played video games from 7 to 7, quite literally. (They loved every minute of it!) We got the ceiling panels up. Today, while I went to church, friends came over and helped Adam get the biggest wall boards in place. We have finished the destruction and entered the (very dusty) construction phase. We still have SO MUCH to do: all the smaller drywall surfaces, tape & mud, sand, prime, paint, trim (trim is so huge). And then the million finishing details… I’d like a nicer light fixture. (Do I go for a chandelier trusting that I’ll actually get AC next year, or stick with the ceiling fan? And can I get a nicer ceiling fan/light fixture?) I’d like to paint one of the walls an accent blue. We’ve gone back and forth considerably on crown molding. We still have many nights and weekends ahead before we move our beloved table back where it belongs, to set a meal in front of friends.
Anyway, you can see all our progress so far in this gallery. I’m looking forward to a triumphal post when the labors are complete. Until then, if I’m less available for social plans than usual… well, this is why.
Parents tend to have very mixed feelings about this time of year. I was talking to a fellow mom at church on Sunday. “This is my favorite time of year. I look forward to this time of year for months. So I hate to admit it… but I’m looking forward to the start of school.” The situation is less pronounced for those of us who send our children to summer camp for the summer, but still present.
Several days the last week, I’ve gotten a call around 3:30. This call has become so reliable that when I see an unknown phone number on caller ID, I know who it is. That eldest son of mine who has the remarkable ability to convince grownups to do what he wants.
“Mom, can I go out to ice cream with Andrew and his mom?”
“Mom, should I meet you at the Farmer’s market tonight?” (he’s only this summer gotten the right to walk home by himself after summer camp)
But most often, “Mom, I’m sooooo bored. Can I bring my DS to camp tomorrow? ALL the other kids are playing Pokemon and every single fun thing there is to do has a huuuuuuge line and I’m the only child who’s bored waiting, so I can’t get anyone else to plaaaaay with me!”
It’s the end of summer blues.
I told him to talk to his counselors. I talked to his counselors. I offered to send him with books. “It’s too loud to read.” Games. “No one will play with me!” Role-playing games “I tried, but it wasn’t fun.” Art supplies. “Lame!” His camera (to take videos). “We’re not allowed to have cameras!” A million options, but the only acceptable solution is his DS. And you know, I understand. That’s what he wants to do. I’ve had things I wanted, and nothing else was acceptable. (See also: pregnancy cravings when I was knocked up with this kid. Started early.) But he gets SO MANY screens already. With a pair o’ programming parents, there are tons of screens, all the time. I want running around and imagination and things he’ll form memories with.
He wants screens.
For his birthday, he’s asked for a video game recording rig. I reminded him he can’t have a YouTube account until he’s 13. “I’ll have three years to practice and get really good!” Adam and I are wrestling with the request. On the one hand, his beloved PewDiePie apparently earned $7 million playing video games for YouTube last year. (I banned PewDiePie after hearing a few too many expletives, but he still gets to watch Stampy Longnose who has a cute British accent and a slightly cleaner mouth.) So on the one hand, I support his artistic endeavors. On the other hand, I really want him to have a rich internet life AND a rich life without any screens of any sort. I’m doing better on one of these than the other.
“The kid needs a hobby!” I announced.
Adam sent me a list of 24 hobbies a 10 year old boy might enjoy:
Stuff he’s done in the past:
Biking was working well (but requires parents and weather cooperation)
Legos are fine (but he is less interested than he used to be)
Drawing/Art is great (but he’s only sometimes excited)
Reading is great
RPGs/Boardgames are good (but require other participants)
Programming / HTML / Blogging (but screen related)
Video / Photography / Stop-Motion animation (somewhat screen related)
Writing (he’s talented, but unmotivated – maybe NanoWriMo?)
Cooking (needs parents part of the time)
Electronics Kit (tried but didn’t love it)
Metal Detecting (tried but didn’t love it)
Martial Arts (no local aikido dojo)
Musical Instrument (tried twice, but maybe try again)
Other thoughts from my hobbies:
– RPG/Boardgame Design
– Soccer / Sports / Outdoor play (weather and possibly other people required)
– Woodworking / Whittling (required parental supervision)
– Learn / Create a New Language
– Suduko / Crosswords
– Codes / Cryptograms (he seemed to like the one Grandma created)
– Geology (the kids like rocks, but maybe start a nice collection?)
I nodded my head and bought him a Yo-yo. This is the perfect time of life for perfecting obscure skills to entertain people with in college. I wish hackeysack was still a thing, because that’s what he needs. His cousin rides a unicycle, but that’s hard to do at the Y. I honed in on the portable hobbies, and got Grey a learn to Yo-yo kit. Thane got a harmonica kit. Pro tip: harmonica is better than most other instruments you can give a six year old due to it’s harmoniousness.
So tomorrow I’m not sending Grey to the Y with his DS, much to his disappointment. I am, however, sending him with a Yo-yo and a how-to book. May he learn to walk the dog.
So what are some good hobbies we haven’t thought of? What’s a skill you picked up at the bored stage early in life that you’re grateful for now? What do your kids like doing that don’t involve screens?
You know, it’s hard to find a time that is a good time to write a post. By definition, times that I’m free and don’t have something else I should be doing are times that I’m completely exhausted by the living of life. Case in point: now.
But the weekends have been lovely lately, and this one was no exception. Friday we demolished our living room. I surprised some people on Facebook by demolishing the living room without announcing ahead of time what we planned. It’s a simple project on paper: take down the drop ceiling and cheap wooden paneling. Drywall the walls and ceiling. Replace trim and paint. For a pair of softwarey types doing the work themselves, this is no easy task. (And let’s be clear – Adam is doing 99.5% of the work. I’m “project managing”.) I anticipate it should be done before Mocksgiving.
This weekend we managed to turn our lovely dining room:
Into a disaster area:
What is it about improving things that so often makes them worse before they get better? We’ve completely finished the demo, and are ready to order drywall. Adam got the furring strips (firring strips?) for the ceiling today. Then he twisted his ankle bringing the heavy stuff in. This may slow things down somewhat. While he was doing that, I was visiting a friend after surgery. It seems like half the church is emerging from the surgeon’s knives, but all of them successfully so far!
The weather this weekend has been outrageously glorious. It’s a bit too cool to drive a person to the beach (the Atlantic remains quite cool even in August). But yesterday we FINALLY after YEARS of thinking we should probably do that some day, went boating on Spot Pond. It was ludicrously easy for us to obtain three boats: two single kayaks and a double. We spent a glorious hour or so lounging around a place I’ve driven past a thousand times, but feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere. The boys particularly enjoyed looking for buried treasure on some of the islands.
Today started with church, as Sundays so often do. Church is taking up a lot of extra thought-cycles with me right now. I’m chairing the Mission Study Taskforce, and feeling very much pulled to ask some really big questions about what it means to be a church, and where The Church (not just my little congregation) will be in 50 years. It’s clear that we won’t be doing what we’re doing now (which is more or less what we were doing 50 years ago, and very reminiscent of what we were doing 200 years ago). I’m feeling really excited about rethinking how we can serve the core needs of God and people (I’ve narrowed it down to three: sacraments, worship/teaching and community – and none of these require a big fancy building).
When I got home, I was oppressed by the number of things I have to do. I swear, the dirty dishes breed when my back is turned. I dealt with this oppression by wandering the neighborhood. You see, I have a long-neglected project to drum up support (by which I mean money) for a historical marker for the Nobility Hill Historic District (which my house abuts). So I figured I’d go take pictures of the coolest houses. At the very first one, I met the brand new owner and spent half an hour chit chatting about the house and the neighborhood. She seems very cool. Then at the next house I stopped to chat with the owner for a while as well. I couldn’t help but think what a neat neighborhood it is I live in.
I was on call this weekend, and will be next as well. That makes it hard to do a big adventure, since I need to be in cell range and within 1/2 hour of an internet connected computer. But these small, glorious adventures in the fractally-rich spaces around my home and community, well…. I was just called upstairs to comfort a disconsolate child who tearfully opined that he didn’t want to grow up and leave this home. (See also: massively overtired) I comforted, but I feel the pang too. This stage is so sweet, this life so golden, that I wish I could slow down the falling sands of time. I told him what I do in the face of such urgent sweetness. I take pictures, and I write down the stories of those times, and store them up against whatever may come next.