Category Archives: Holidays

at the beach (the other week)

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We decided to go camping at Hunting Island State Park for the kid’s fall break because I wanted (needed?) to get to the beach again before summer and the warm weather ended.  Also, I wanted to try camping as a family since I keep seeing our friends with children go camping and they seem to be having a great time.  We have not camped together since being a family of 6 – though going to Tuckaseegee is almost like camping.

Hunting Island State Park is a barrier island in South Carolina – the whole island is a state park and only campers stay there.

We packed up and drove 5 hours to the campground.  It rained for the first 4 hours of the drive (and at home it had been raining for 3 days straight), but it cleared up in the last hour of the drive and was sunny and warm when we arrived!  We unpacked, set up the tent, and went to the beach, where we hung out for the next few days.   We so enjoyed the sun, sand, and warmth – and mostly enjoyed the camping together part, too!

Highlights

  1.  Biking – We brought all our bikes and that enabled the kids to ride their bikes around the campground while we were cooking, unpacking/packing, or just sitting and relaxing.  We all took a long bike ride through a beautiful maritime forest to the island lighthouse.  And, we rode our bikes across the beach at low tide to the same lighthouse.  Everyone loved the lighthouse.  It was a fascinating to the kids especially.  We biked to it first thing, then found out you had to pay $2 each to climb up the lighthouse (and no toddlers allowed).  So, we came back at low tide later in the afternoon via the beach.  Since we didn’t bring the baby seat for my bike, Steven rode with William, riding on his back, holding onto his neck.  He fell asleep on the ride over the beach to the lighthouse, but did not fall off.  It was a funny site.
  2. Our camping neighbors (not the ones who brought a dog that barked loudly every 10 minutes until they left with him at 1 a.m.  . . . the other ones) – They were kind and generous and met us with smiles and jokes when we pulled in.  The first night we were there after Hythe finished supper he asked if he could go “hang out with them”.  We said yes and he picked up his camp stool, walked over to the neighbors camp fire and sat down with them, joining their conversation.  It was precious.  We saw May on the beach the next day at low tide with a pair of kitchen tongs catching blue crabs from around a rock groin.  Hythe and I watched her and Hythe started finding crabs for her to catch.  When we got back to the camp site, May had cooked the crabs and brought a bunch over to us to eat.  Hythe and I enjoyed  them thoroughly (no one else did much, though Evva and William did eat a little).  May caught crabs the next day as well and Hythe was right there beside her, helping – and we (May, Hythe, and me) feasted on crabs again that night.
  3. The beach – sun, sand, ocean.  It was wonderful.  We went to sleep listening to the waves crash just over the small dune from our tent.  We could wake early enough to watch the sun rise over that vast ocean.  We played, we swam, I read, kids found hermit crabs (lots of tiny ones).  There was plenty of splashing and running.  The children and I could have stayed all day on the beach.  It was bliss.
  4. Fishing pier – Hunting Island has a small Nature Center (which our children loved) attached to a fishing pier.  After looking at all the turtles, terrapins, snakes, and lizards, we borrowed the free fishing tackle from the Center, bought some bait, and went out on the pier.  As we set up, an older man next to us said he loved coming there to camp and fish, but also said he had not had a single bite that day.  I settled down in a tiny bit of shade to read while the kids and William fished. I was sure that we would stay out in the hot sun for 30 minutes or so until everyone was bored, then go back to the campsite.  But, within a few minutes, Anne caught a baby shark.  Ten minutes later, Hythe caught a small croaker (I think that’s what it was).  Then, Steven had a bite that bent his pole over and scared him (but the fish got off),  Then, Hythe caught two more croaker.  We released everything, but it was fun and exciting.  After an hour or so, the tide turned (literally), we had no more bites and soon everyone was hungry and bored, and we went back to camp.

All in all (and despite the sweltering nights and loud dog which meant I did not sleep well – how everyone else slept through it all, I don’t know), we had a great time.  I hope we’ll do it again.

summer vacation

Since the children are now in “year round” school, our summer break is quite a bit shorter than usual.  We only had 6 weeks of break, which seemed like a fair amount of time, but which also flew by quickly.  Summer always does seem full, no matter how long or short it is – of work, play, gardening, adventuring, vacations.  It can feel too packed, too full – can-you- really-relax full.  Sometimes I want to have everyone stay at home and just be.  But, I also feel the urge to get out and do – while we can and the weather is good! Three (!) children start school on Monday and we’ve filled this last week with those perfect summer activities (tubing on the river, hiking, waterfalls, friends) and balanced it with days and home and quiet evenings.

Summer is one of my favorite seasons, and summer break is a special time.  I get slightly anxious thinking of all the things I want to accomplish each summer, all the places I want to visit, all the activities I want to do or have the children do.  It can be overwhelming.  But, this summer, though we did not travel much, we made it to some special places.  First, the three oldest went to Elizabeth City with my mother for a week of YMCA day camp.  Anne was supposed to have surfing camp but it was canceled due to the shark attacks (fyi, you are more likely to be killed driving to the beach than by a shark at the beach).  They had a great time at camp, though, and playing in the river each afternoon.

Then, the girls went to manners camp again this year, or ,as the incredible 85 year old director calls it, “House Parties for Young Ladies and Gentlemen”.  Their cousins (my cousin’s children) go to manners camp with them each year, and it is a special time.  Manners camp was delightful, as always, and I know the girls enjoyed it.  It is certainly a Southern Experience.

We left from manners camp to drive right to the Chesapeake Bay where my cousin and her husband have a house.  We spent nearly 4 days there and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We played in the water and on the beach everyday, walked, biked, paddled, and ate great food.  I think this was the most relaxed I’d ever seen William on a vacation.  We’ll need to do it again!

That weekend capped a great summer, not too exciting, but pretty perfect.

In pictures:

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Figs at my mom’s were just getting ripe.  We ate some everyday – just perfect.

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William and the boys fished on my aunt and uncle’s bass pond in Elizabeth City.  They caught 4 good sized bass and had a great time.  The little spiderman rod has pretty good action!  I sat and watched them and realized we were sitting, on a summer afternoon, in the shade of a trailer, fishing for bass in a pond, drinking cold beer from a can – it was a perfect Southern moment – and was just wonderful.  Fiona, a cousin who is visiting from France enjoyed it (not the beer, though).

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We did not see the girls for nearly 2 weeks, since we arrived in Elizabeth City after manners camp started, which may have been a bit much for them.  When we arrived at camp for the graduation tea, Anne burst into tears when she saw us, hugging us and sobbing (while smiling, I may add).  These girls are so sweet and I love the pastels and bright florals on everyone at this camp-closing ceremony.  The house and setting are beautiful and I’m glad they’ve had their time there.

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White sandy beaches, on the edge of a Nature Conservancy property, with mild shallow ocean – had to beat.  We ate great food (including steamed fresh crabs, cleaned further than “Yankee” clean – thanks Will), had great (and plentiful) drinks.  Lots of family fun time on the beach, on walks, bike and golf cart rides, and paddling.  And, a salt marsh at sunset.  It was a wonderful time.

 

 

birthday party round up

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We had a joint birthday party for the two girls on Sunday afternoon at the Big House.  It was outside old-fashioned fun on a glorious warm spring day.  About 30 children showed up, as well as a few parents.  William and I (and one other awesome parent – seriously she was so good I thought she ought to hire herself out to organize kid games at birthday parties) organized easy games for the kids.  They played perpetual tag first, then we had a series of races/games: egg toss (those farm eggs are hard – eggs were literally bouncing across the yard multiple times without breaking), egg and spoon race, hula hoop relay, and sack race.  Then we had snacks and cake and ice cream.  I made two cakes, one for each of the girls.

Finally, we did pinatas – 2 of them – one for 9 and up and one for 8 and under.  The girls made their pinatas from paper grocery bags and decorated them with tissue paper and glue.  I doubled up the paper bags which made them surprisingly strong – everyone got at least two turns whacking the pinata.  I did not put a lot of candy in them (put in more stickers, tatoos, and a few simple toys), so the kids were disappointed and the parents were grateful.  By the second pinata, though, the candy had melted (note: don’t use chocolate in a pinata on a warm day) and was mushy – those kids basically did not get any candy (again: kids disappointed, parents grateful).  But, the pinata was fun and exciting and a favorite part of the party.

I consulted with the girls before the party and we decided that it would be better to ask friends not to bring presents.  For a number of reasons: we have plenty already, it would be too much (there were so many friends coming), and parents would feel obliged to buy two gifts.  That was perfect because all the focus was on having fun and playing with friends.  A few really close friends brought some very small gifts, and the girls got quite a few handmade cards that were really sweet.  So, it was very nice.

After the party, the children had a great time running down to see the chickens and horses, jumping on the trampoline and playing.  William and I cleaned up.  My biggest fear for the party was that I would lose someone’s child (which is highly likely at the Big House).  And it did happen.  About an hour after the party was officially over, I got a text from a dad asking me to bring his children to the farm store.  I had not seen those children for at least 45 minutes and had assumed their parents had picked them up.  Sure enough, I came across them a few minutes later, finding them under a boxwood bush building fairy houses.  Then, another dad showed up.  I had not seen his child in about an hour.  But, pretty quickly she came running around a corner with Evva.  They had been playing and running all over the grounds.

Kids got dirty, laughed, played hard – a good time was had by all.  We will probably do this again!

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week behind

 

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This past week flew by (or crept by as the situation went).  I did actually finish the Kids Clothes Week on day 6 with a cute pom-pom cowl for Anne.  Green being her favorite color and loving trim, she adored this cowl and has worn it everyday since.  Then, I came down with a nasty cold and tonsillitis (and no day 7 of KCW), and William left the same day to be out of town for three days.  I couldn’t stay in bed and nurse the illness since all the children had to be fed, clothed, and transported to school, etc. Not to mention, I had to work.  But, I did high myself to bed as soon as they were tucked in and the dishes done.  No other house work, crafting, or writing took place.  I was finally starting to feel better when I had to leave for a work conference for two days.  I got back to enjoy one warmish day, to admire the small lenten roses starting to bloom and the snow drops growing larger everyday.  Then this afternoon turned chilly, wind picked up, clouds blew in, and the forecast looks dire for spring.   I will have to look for the beauty of winter (maybe some snow!?) a little while longer.  And, Valentine’s Day!  Whew!  It can be very full with 3 children who not only have classes full of other children to give Valentine’s to, but who also come home with bags full of Valentine’s from their classmates.  Only one child came home with lots of junky candy to send him on sugar highs and lows for a full day (thank goodness the girls’ school asked for no-candy V-day treats!) – and a sweet Valentine from his teacher.

All this to say, I feel a week behind.   With the soap business, with my sewing projects (for me, now – a skirt and a pair of jeans!), and definitely with housekeeping.  So, I’ll take a deep breath, fold the laundry, ignore the mess in the living room, vacuum, ignore the train tracks scattered across the boys room – spend the evening sewing, go to work tomorrow afternoon (still ignoring messes).  Eventually it will get done, or picked up, I’ll find a chance to sit and sew, and there will be another mess to clean up.  It is a cycle for now, one that I do have to try and stay on top of – to balance, but that is never perfect.  But, since we don’t do perfection in this house, I’m ok with it!

days of christmas

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Someone got a hold of my phone during the happy chaos!

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I thought I would write down some of our Christmas traditions, or what we do that makes it feel like Christmas.  Some of these have been passed down through our families, some are new.

1.  Christmas Spode plates, like these.  All the women in our family have these dishes.  My grandmother gifted them to me at Christmas for a few years when I was in college (not exactly what a college-girl gets excited about, but I love them now).  I think I may have a few from my grandmother’s collection as well when she started to downsize many years ago.  I don’t have very many, but enough that they are used everyday in December through early January.  We all feel like they are a special treat.  Also, poisetta glasses.  These were also passed down to me from my grandmother.  They don’t do well in the dishwasher (it removes the paint), and I’ve lost a few to the concrete floor (Steven smashed one yesterday).

2.  Christmas tree – right after Thanksgiving.  We’ve gotten our tree from the family property and from a local tree lot.  Either way, I like getting our tree fairly early and keeping it as long as possible.  I love how excited the children are to decorate the tree, and how awed they are by the beauty of the tree lit up at night.  Hythe insisted that we keep the tree lit all the time, even in the day – and he wanted us to keep all the house lights off as soon as it got dark so that we could admire the tree.  But, I had to point out that I could not cook supper without lights, but we would keep it as dark as possible.  This year, I took the tree down early – yesterday, actually.  I usually keep it up until January 5 or 6, but this year, the tree looked dry (despite having water) slightly brown, and droopy, as if the weight of the ornaments was too much.  It wanted to come down.

3.  Crafting.  I love making gifts for our family, friends, and neighbors.  I do some sewing of gifts, but I love to have the children help out with creating also.  We’ve made lots of things from hats to granola to cookies – some crafts I suggest, others they come up with on their own.  This year our big projects were soap (the girls helped out with a few batches of soap) and rolled beeswax candles.  The candles were fun and easy enough for the older children, and I personally love the candles.  We also had a day this year when cousins came over to do some crafting with us.  One of the cousins said, “you’re a family that makes things.”  I felt greatly complimented.

4.  Baking – cookies and Christmas cake.  Unfortunately, I did not get around to the cake this year and I have missed it.  And, I only made a few batches of cookies, but, they were good!

5.  Advent calender.  This calender was made for me by my maternal grandmother (Mom-mom) when I was born.  It is sweet, simple, and lovingly crafted.  The children love it – and they never argue over who puts up the ornament for the day (unlike my brother and I when we were young).

6. Church.  Singing hymns, listening to the choir, remembering the magnificent gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love that were offered through a baby.  Remembering that we can offer these gifts to the world ourselves.

7.  Advent wreath. This tradition is new to our family, but I really like having the reminder at our table of what this season really stands for.  It is not perfect or symbolically correct, but each of the 4 candles stand for hope, peace, joy, and love – one is lighted on each Sunday of Advent.  A daily reminder of what’s been brought to the world and what we can do in the world.

8.  Snowflakes.  I often help the children cut snowflakes, but this year I hung them above the table.  They loved the display.

9.  Stockings.  I love watching the children open their stockings and exclaim over the little presents Santa leaves in them.  Santa is very modest at our house, but the stockings are such fun.  Even toothpaste becomes exciting!

10.  Christmas Eve Santa visit.  Santa comes to the Big House (William’s grandparents’ house) on Christmas Eve afternoon.  I think originally he came to amuse and give the help (house keeper, nanny, farm hands) their Christmas presents.  After many years, there were so many children and grandchildren that he started bringing presents to them too.  Often Santa comes in some strange way (on a motorcycle, in a large box, in an old car).  He brings one present to each child.  The child is called forward, and is supposed to sit on Santa’s knee.  Santa asks if they have been good that year and traditionally everyone in the “audience” (siblings, parents, cousins, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents) can yell out “yes” and “no” and the good or bad behavior of the child.  It is all in fun and there is lots of laughter.  Then, the child gets a wrapped present.  It is a fun tradition, full of excitement, treats, and laughing.

11.  Big House Christmas supper.  The Big House is always decorated with ivy and boxwood garlands from the gardens, candles (for light, too), and large white table clothes.  The large family exchanges gifts (from a draw), and happy chaos ensues.  We have close to 50 family members for a seated supper, lots of wonderful food, lots of talking and laughing, and finally we end the night with a carol sing.  William’s aunt plays the piano and everyone (who makes it to the music room) sings one of the 40+ carols from the old family carol book.  This gathering is one of my favorite things on Christmas day.

These days after Christmas (and leading up to Christmas) have been gray, misty, and chilly, making me think of Scottish highlands or northern Irish weather.  I often feel better about gloomy weather if I can imagine I am somewhere more exotic.  These days after Christmas also bring a conflicting time of excitement-passed (slight feeling of disappointment that it is over) and the fun of winter break with “nothing” to do.  The mess of Christmas (wrapping paper, packaging, cookie crumbs, tree needles) and the supposed quietness of winter.  Slowing down, yet the time seems to rush by.

I am trying to enjoy all our moments – pause to savor them.  Let the children get to play with friends and visit with grandparents and have time at home to be with each other.  It is a beautiful time of year.

preparations and celebrations

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We’ve been preparing for and enjoying this Christmas season – and only one more day till Christmas!  It has been busy and joyful.  Cookies have been baked.  But . . . this year, I only got around to making two batches of cookies.  I am not sure what happened, except that I found myself one night at 9:30, by myself (everyone else was in bed), incredibly tired, in the kitchen searching for eggs – no eggs.  So I drove over to my in-laws and borrowed 5 eggs only to come back and not be able to find the coconut and then couldn’t find the pecans.  I was feeling very un-holiday-ish and I realized I really did not have to bake more cookies.  The only person who would had that expectation was me!  So, to bed I went.  The only cookies I made were ones you see above which was a recipe from my great-grandmother’s collection, an unusual but delicious sesame seed-cinnamon cookie, and (my favorite) what we call St. Nick Cookies but everyone else calls Mexican Wedding Cookies.

I bought a gorgeous wreath that my sister-in-law made at their farm and used it as an advent wreath for the table.  I did not have candles so i made roll-up beeswax candles every week – and after teaching myself, I taught the girls how to make the candles.  Though, we were a little slow getting some weeks’ candles in the wreath, they are all there now.

Kids made gingerbread houses at church and they were cute for a couple of days until I noticed teeth marks on them and candy that had been gnawed off.  So, we said they had 10 minutes after dinner to eat as much as they could off their house – then the desecrated houses went in the trash can.  They had fun!

Crafting is happening everyday in our house now, too.  I am trying to get some sewing projects done for Christmas (originally for Solstice, but that letting go of expectations thing was great).  Snowflakes cut and hung. The girls and Hythe are making presents and decorating gift bags.  It has been fun.

I am looking forward to spending time with family and taking some hikes in the next few days as we celebrate a beautiful holiday.  Blessings to you!

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Sesame Seed Cookies
½ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cups sifted flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon (I accidentally used 1 tsp, which was fine)
Toast seeds in heavy fry pan, stirring constantly so seeds won’t burn.
Cream butter and brown sugar till fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time with vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in sesame seed. Add to creamed mixture, mix. Line cooky sheet with waxed paper. Drop by tsp. onto waxed paper. Allow room for cookies to spread. Bake in 325 oven for 20 to 25 min. or till cookies are done and slightly brown.
For a change, replace cinnamon with ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice or ¼ tsp. cardamom.
Makes 6 doz.

These come out crisp and delicious!  Make sure you only drop tsp sized cookies and give them plenty of room to spread.  Next time I want to try them with the cardamom – and maybe a little cocoa powder!

 

this season

This month always goes by so quickly.  With all the events, programs, parties, gift making, and visiting that goes on, the fullness of the season makes this month full and fast.  I try to be intentional about my, and my children’s time, what we do and with whom – and sometimes I fail. And, that’s ok.

This year, our children are attending a school that has a long winter break, from Thanksgiving to after New Year.  I (and of course, they) have been very excited to have December off.  Early last week was a rocky start because I had to figure out when and how to get my work done with all the children at home, but I think I have it fairly under control now.  We did some fun holiday activities, including decorating the tree and arranging nativity scenes.  My paternal grandmother gave me a set of corn husk doll ornaments for our tree about 10 years ago.  There was a baker, a mother with a boy clinging to her skirts, a boy with a fishing pole, a milkmaid, a woman with a broom, and so on.  I enjoyed them, but my girls have enjoyed them more.  They are a source of play everyday when they take them off the tree to have concerts, play house, and do all kinds of imaginative play.  The baker has lost her loaf of bread, the boy now crawls on his own (not clinging to his mother’s skirt), the milkmaid lost her bonnet, and all of them have lost the string that kept them hanging on the tree branches.  They now lye on the branches or lean against a twig to stay upright when they are not being played with.  They are loved.

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I set out some greenery to resemble an advent wreath with candles on our table, surrounding a bowl of persimmons that were gifted to us from a friend in Elizabeth City.  The persimmons are so beautiful, but I will need to cook them soon.  Persimmon butter, perhaps . . .   I realized we did not have any candles when I wanted to light one of the first Sunday of advent (when we were eating this wonderful turkey pot pie made with leftovers).  Luckily, I had just received a package from Brushy Mountain Bees with some wax and a wick and Anne helped me roll our first candle.  And, it worked!

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Hythe’s birthday was on Friday and he was in so much anticipation!  Hythe got to open his presents, wrapped in Christmas paper as requested, in the morning.  We had a fun day out, going for doughnuts at Vortex, doing a few errands and ending with haircuts for all (children, that is).  These were Hythe’s and Steven’s first non-home haircuts.

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I’ve been trying to focus on some of the little things that need to be done daily, weekly, and seasonally – and having the children help as they can since their days are freed up by the absence of official school.  I am trying to have some fun chores, as well as the “daily drudgery” of dish and clothes washing, such as filing the bird feeders and cooking meals.  I am also trying to schedule fun (and holiday) activities every day (bike rides, cookie making, friends over to play, etc.).

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Evva played at her piano recital on Sunday.  I was impressed with all the children who practice and work hard to play such beautiful music.  This year, the children were assigned parts of the Christmas story and had to write original music for the character they had to play during the reading of the story – much like Peter and the Wolf.  Anne was assigned Baby Jesus and King Harod.  Quite opposite characters in musical feeling.  Anyway, it was moving and beautiful – the children did a great job.

Sunday was also the sunniest day we’ve had nearly all week.  It was beautiful and Evva, and all the children, spent most of the time before the recital playing outside.  It made me long for a good hike in the woods.  Something else I need to make sure I get in this month at least once!

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thanksgiving weekend

This time of year is so busy.  But, I love it.  Once the splendor of fall is behind us, I start looking forward to the “holidays”.  It starts with Halloween (which I don’t really like though I do love watching my children get excited about it) and All Saints Day or Dia de los Muertos, which we celebrate at our house. Then, its on to Thanksgiving, quickly followed by Advent and the Christmas season.

I love the good feelings these holidays conote: family, good food, friends, love, sharing, graciousness, giving.  I love the family time (even though it can be stressful), cooking baking, present making.  I love decorating with nature as well as with the old ornaments and the semi-junky ones my children make (they are precious to me).

This time of year is always very busy for my soap business and this year seems extra busy – a good problem to have.  Craft shows, farmers markets, on-line orders – it has been a little crazy.  I’ve been working at night after the children are in bed, some nights at the business, some nights crafting gifts for my family.  And, I still try to through in those nights were I go to bed early!  I’ve not had much time to write here, but I think about it.

We spent Thanksgiving in Elizabeth City at my mother’s house and with my side of the family.  Lots of little cousins brought a sweet and slightly chaotic feel to the celebration.  It was fun to visit with so many little ones and a blessing to see them all playing together happily.  I was glad that the generations in my family stay in touch as the family gets more extended.

A break between bike rides (7 of the 11 cousins 9 years old and younger)
A break between bike rides.  7 of the 11 (9 years old and younger) cousins  – and one special grandmother!

And, the girls set the Thanksgiving table using their knowledge gained from two years at Manners Camp.

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We biked everyday on our mini-vacation.  This is a special activity that we love in Elizabeth City because the landscape is so flat (as compared to our very hilly, somewhat steep land around our house).  The kids LOVE it!   William also took the little ones out to fly a kite on one windy, cold, brilliant day.  The wind was so strong that near the end of the kite-flying session, William tied the kite around Hythe’s waist because otherwise the kite nearly blew out of his grip.  I was slightly worried the kite might lift Hythe off the ground.  But, he stayed put.

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We also had many games of classic pinball – thanks to my mom getting the old pinball machine fixed.  One night, we went to the small downtown lighting ceremony, then visited with Santa in one of shops, had hot chocolate and took a sleigh ride [Note: “sleigh” was a wagon pulled by a tractor].  Very sweet and easy – quite different from what you have to maneuver through to do something similar in Asheville.

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On our last morning, William and I ran a 5K race, and my very first race ever.  My mother brought over our children after we finished, and then the three older ones ran a 1 mile race.  I was impressed with our children’s determination and speed, and I was happy that I got to run with my husband and finish in the top 50.  I was also impressed that almost everyone could eat multiple doughnuts and drink coffee (at least William for the coffee) right after running a race.  Evva and I only made it through 3 bites before we felt sick.

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It was a beautiful weekend – very busy – and I was quite exhausted by the end of it.  I always find it a little sad to leave that place I was born.  Not necessarily the house or neighborhood, but the landscape of sky and water, of flat fields and pine forests, of old farmhouses and backroads.  There is something in me that longs for that place.  There is a beauty there that speaks to me and calls to something deep in my soul.

But, I also love the home I am in now – and most especially the family that is there.

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Each visit, I never get to see everyone I hoped to see or visit all the old haunts or beautiful spots, but we’ll be back.

weekend excitement

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This past weekend began with the excitement of Halloween.  All the children were anticipating dressing up and deciding what exactly they were going to wear.  Since the weather was turning cold, we also had the challenge of what to wear with the costumes to stay warm.  Anne was still debating what she was going to be on Friday and even changed clothes/costumes halfway through trick-or-treating.  She started as a German bar maiden, but after she got a very puzzled expression from the first person who asked her what she was, she changed her story to “Laura Ingalls” and got rid of the beer stein.  Halfway through the night (after the horseback ride), she changed into regular clothes and said she was a teenager, hippy, or spy, depending on who asked her.  Evva, was of course, Pippi Longstocking – her current favorite book character.  Hythe went as a race car driver, and Steven as a bee (costume courtesy of a friend and neighbor).

Evva asked a few weeks ago if they could go trick-or-treating on horseback.  Anne and Hythe were enthusiastic and I got it arranged with William’s aunt to borrow a few of her horses.  It was a fun little ride (William and I actually walked–good exercise!) and they made it to 6 houses and the farm store.  Since we left early enough to not be riding in the dark, we ate supper after putting the horse back at the barn, and had time to caravan with a group of friends to the rest of the neighbors who were just a little too far to ride horses to.  Lots of candy was got by all!

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We woke up the next day to this:

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Nearly 3.5″ of snow – and it snowed all day, though the temps were above freezing so the snow on the ground melted as more floated down.  It was a beautiful overcast day and the children had lots of fun playing in the snow.  I stayed inside much of the day, cooking and cleaning – but, I did get out for a few walks to enjoy the fall/winter scenery.

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We had a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Saturday night with lots of friends making it over despite the cold.  Everyone brought a dish to honor a dead loved one.  It was fun and special and made me remember how much I enjoy being with friends – and how it takes effort to make those gatherings with friends happen in our full busy lives.  I want to do it more often.

My favorite view from inside the house is this sink.  Nearly always surrounded by dishes to be washed or put away – typical in this household of many eaters.  But that view makes it much more enjoyable to complete those tedious tasks.  (we need to get some bird seed!)

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weekend review

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The weather this weekend was metaphorically perfect for Easter. Friday dawned cloudy and cool, finally turning into a drizzle which morphed into a true rain which then lasted through half the night of Saturday, rarely letting up. It was such dreary weather that it got to be depressing, sending us all to bed extra early on Saturday night. I was so cold that we built a fire and I added another blanket to my side of the bed. But, Sunday dawned “rosy-fingered” and beautiful, the world washed clean. A sunshiny, warm day proceeded with lots of Easter egg hunting (3 in all) and visits with family at church and over Sunday dinner.

playing in the rain

We also planted potatoes on Friday and attended a fiddle contest on Saturday. Lots of young, wonderful fiddlers–Anne played really well but did not place. Easter egg dying and hunting also happened all weekend. The children dyed 2 dozen eggs on Thursday and Friday, and immediately set up a game of hiding eggs for each other. This game has continued even this morning, with Hythe hiding the few eggs that are left for Steven to find.

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On Sunday afternoon, I woke up from a luxurious nap to see William tending a fire in the field by our house. He said he was just going to burn a little brush, but the light wind pushed the fire into the dry grass and the field started to burn, so William, with Hythe’s help, did a controlled burn for the quarter acre that he had bush-hogged the other week. I am sure other women feel this way too, but sometimes I look out at William doing something like this and think, “Why is he doing that? We have so many other chores to do that are more important than that one.” However, usually whatever task he does which I deem “silly”, turns out to be important or fortuitous in the long run. Likely, there will be some great benefit from this burning. William did not burn any more brush piles that afternoon–he loaded the rest in wheelbarrows and carted them away.

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