Butterfly field trip

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Somewhere in last week’s haze of appointments and rehearsals, I took Phoebe to the Butterfly Pavilion. (I had been boycotting it for several years because the exit used to run right through the gift shop, and I’m categorically opposed to that.)  The Pavilion, being the only museum near Moriah’s rehearsal, got my business, and we worked our way through it amid a plethora of school children ignoring their parent chaperones.
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Initially Phoebe wanted nothing to do with the arachnids. She wouldn’t even walk up the steps to view the scorpions better. But then she noticed the dung beetle’s fantastic colors, and she became a little more bold. Bold enough to “hold” Rosie the tarantula. Twice.

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It was so much better than spending two hours at Target… and even though $18 seemed like a lot to spend for 2 hours, it was certainly less than we would have spent at Target.

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Have you found or made a surprising treasure in your week?

Daybook: somewhere in April (but I’m pretty sure it’s not Paris)

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Out my window: the maple tree is unfurling its leaves. They are as red as the crabapple leaves today.  Last week’s snow froze the blooms on the pear and peach, so I doubt there will be fruit this fall, but the peas and lettuce didn’t mind the snow at all.

In the kitchen: our monthly eating plan is working, especially in terms of the children’s cooking.  If it’s on the calendar, I’m much less likely to say “no” when they say they want to cook.  Last week Phoebe made Dijon chicken, rice, a vegetable platter, a fruit salad and popsicles.  Tomorrow Jonah’s making shepherd’s pie (I’m sure his version will have fewer vegetables than mine) and Owen is determined to master the grill.

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On the calendar: from here to the end of May is non-stop relay from recitals to volleyball games to dress rehearsals to soccer games to swim meets.  And while it sounds like we’re getting lots of exercise, I’ve realized that organized team sports mean lots of exercise at practice, a little bit at games/meets and none for the spectators.  We are a family who shows up for each other’s games and performances and meets, but I need to figure out how not to let spectating turn the rest of us into bleacher potatoes.

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This Thursday, the cast comes off.  (And there was great rejoicing!)  Can you see the bubble wrap and rainbow duck tape on the cast at soccer?

In my shoes: My BRF and I are running the Colfax Urban 10-miler next month.  I wrote myself a running plan that has some flexibility in terms of rest days and the realities of our schedule.  If I can make it through without injuring myself (as I look up at the tree tops to figure out what bird that is) I should be good.

On my nightstand: I’m reading King Lear and Cry the Beloved Country for Jonah’s English class.  I just reread Connie Willis’ Blackout and All Clear (reviews here and here) and enjoyed them even more than I did the first time.

In the school room: it’s hard to finish the year well.  We’re doing our best, but we’d really rather be outside.  Last week we took a day at the art museum with some friends and had a lovely time.  This week we’re doing a lot of writing.
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Grateful for: a time of prayer last night.  The youth volunteers who help with the children at church.  Amy’s transplant. Good books. Dawn’s new job. That Sam’s back is doing better.  Opportunities to minister in unexpected ways over the past two weeks.

Praying for: Mandy. Clare. Lisa. Jerusha & Wes. Amy & Jeremy. David. Kristin. Lois. Jen. Heather.

Quick Lit: April 2015

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Product Details Bomb: The Race of Build-and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Steve Sheinkin): This is a fantastic YA non-fiction book that held everyone’s interest.  It handled The Manhattan Project and all the spying that went with it in fascinating detail.  We listened to it on CD.

Busman’s Honeymoon (Dorothy Sayers): This mystery follows Gaudy Night (one of my all-time favorite books) and completes the train of thought developed begun there.  What does marriage look like?  How do we blend two lives without one person disappearing under the other?

Product DetailsThe Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis): I’ve been listening to the recording by Joss Ackland, whose chuckle perfectly fits “your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”  Lewis’s keen observation of human nature is only matched by his ability to prescribe the antidote.  I’ve been listening to it as I make dinner each night, and then I go to dinner chastened by my own sin and amazed by Lewis’s insight.

Product DetailsNumber the Stars (Lois Lowry) is such a beautiful picture of human courage.  This time through, I’ve been struck by the idea of how it’s easier to be brave when we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle before us (thank you, Uncle Henrik).  My kids wanted to read it again as soon as we finished– that’s a recommendation for you!

Product Details The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig).  Obviously we’re on a WWII jag around here.  I read Hautzig’s book of Siberian exile as a child, and it stuck with me.  Reading it today, Esther’s story is just as vivid and universal as it was to me thirty years ago. Hautzig doesn’t minimizes the horror of war or exile and still manages to write a story full of hope.

Most of this is school reading, which seems odd to me given that we had Spring Break a few weeks ago. I had a kindle full of books (and a few in my bag, too) and managed to touch none of it. But that’s how things are right now: everything that has to get done right now is getting done, but that’s all I can manage.

What are you reading?

Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Lit!

Running: by the birds

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Goodness, I love spring.  I love the tulip bulbs blooming and the trees budding.  Most of all, I love that the birds are back.

I had a lapse in my running.  You know: illness and darkness and vacation… it added up to a few weeks with no miles on my feet.  As I age, I lose fitness so much faster (and regain it so much more slowly), and these last few runs have been hard.  The ease I felt in my long January runs was absent.  I am slowly clawing my way back to running.  To function.

But the birds are back, and each time I see one, I am inspired to go a little further.

  • a house finch singing from the peak of my neighbor’s roof.
  •  the pair of robins flirting in a budding apple tree.
  • a flock of redwing blackbirds in the reeds and cattails.
  • a hawk, sitting completely still on a stone wall.  Over my music, I could hear a frantic, repetitive keening that I thought was from him, but it was from the terrified prairie dogs he was watching.
  •  a flicker, so pretty I tried to snap a photo, but he was long gone by the time I had untangled my phone from my pocket.

Hope” is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops- at all-

And sweetest – in the Gale- is heard/And sore must be the storm/That could abash the little Bird/That kept so many warm-

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land/And on the strangest Sea/Yet- never- in Extremity/It asked a crumb- of me.  –Emily Dickinson

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: April

Pretty: Spring cleaning this week! After so many years of feeling like the kids’ cleaning didn’t help me much, we’ve reached the point where 30-45 minutes of our working together really can accomplish a lot!
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Of course my photo of that is not a sparkling kitchen, but the cleaning rags and the bathroom rug drying. Hmmm…

Happy: We have a tradition of going out for pizza our last night of spring break. The paper-covered tables and crayons work well for the whole family, from 7 to 77. We play “guess what I’m drawing” to “lightening-draw” to “hangman.”

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Funny: While Moriah and I skied, Phoebe and Sam (or Phoebe and her grandparents) toodled around town looking at all the sculptures. Being the sculptures.

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It was an extra bonus that all the bears were dressed up in pink for the town’s American Cancer Society fundraiser.

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Real: We arrived early at dance class. Probably they should have been practicing their dance, but… but no. Apparently it was time to fence with sticks.

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All right, friends– a blessed Triduum to you all, and may your Easter be full of joy!
For more [p,h,f,r] go check out Like Mother Like Daughter!

Daybook: End of March

Out my window: the sky is changing from purple to white, like an ombre-dyed shirt. We returned from vacation to find Spring everywhere.

not my tulips:
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In the garden: Consequently, we spent a good part of yesterday uncovering the garden.  Even with all our little baby plants, we had a pile of stems, thorns, and leaves which the kids dragged to the alley on the sled.  Most of my rose bushes have red and green new growth on them.  The iris are all up, and the clematis is greening up.  Our crabapple trees are leafing out, and the peach tree has a few blooms.  None of my tulip bulbs came up, though- well, they came up in December and then were frozen by a snap cold front.  I wonder if they’ll try again next year, or if they just gave up and moved south.

In the school room: I’m excited about Jonah’s English unit on Revenge and Mercy.  I just framed some questions for him to ask, and he’ll choose the books today.  Alas, The Princess Bride isn’t on the list.  We’re plan to work on some study skills: active listening, note taking, and organizing notes.  Dartmouth College has some great resources on these topics, and I plan to have the kids practice while watching some Ted-Ed lectures, which are short and focused.  SweetP plans to read me a Frances book today.  (She may have to read a few: they’re ALL my favorite.)

Around the house: I spent the weekend washing winter clothes; Sam spent the weekend putting them away. Now the kids and I can do some “spring cleaning.”  I’ve budgeted it into our schedule, and I’m hoping that will mean we actually do it.  In reality, we’ll probably do some today, and then I’ll say, “Let’s all be outside instead!”  At the end of every winter, I’m always too spent to clean, and then spring hits and I just want to be outside.

after the trip:
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On my book pile: How to Read a Book (Adler), The Monument Men (Edsel & Witter), The Screwtape Letters (Lewis).  I’ll be adding whatever Jonah picks for his six books on Revenge and Mercy. (I’m hoping he chooses The Count of Monte Cristo.)

In my shoes: I didn’t run at all last week.  I’m hoping this week holds some runs, but between covering the hospital tonight and 3 extra services at church, it may not happen.  Are you running?

Grateful: that Mandy is home, for a good vacation, church yesterday, for popsicle and porch-swing weather, Sonia’s safe return from Liberia, and after-dinner walks.

popsicle weather:
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Praying for: the energy to finish the school year well. New jobs for B and L. So many friends & family with health issues right now (both acute and chronic). Heather & family. The Neals and Simons. Tillie. A holy Holy Week.