Hot! No, cold!

Eliza headed off to her first day of full-time pre-k this week. We, of course, accompanied her. She rode her bike, with all her brothers in tow, and while it was not fast, nobody was technically late for school. We dropped her off, she smiled, said bye, and that was it. No tears of sadness or joy were shed on either side, and that’s just fine.  Asher crashed his bike once or twice, but didn’t cry, and he only crashed because he was teaching himself to ride one-handed. The heat continued this week, and the boys had half-days Tuesday and Wednesday both. So I still haven’t experienced the full week of all my kids being in school. This week the boys have off for Rosh Hashannah, so I’ll be home with them tomorrow.

On Friday I volunteered at the wholesale produce warehouse with Philabundance, who works to end food insecurity in the Delaware valley. I went and did my shopping at the warehouse beforehand, then stuck around to help them sort out four pallets of peaches, two pallets of eggplants, two of broccoli, and two of poblano peppers, separating the good from the rotten and loading the good stuff on a truck to Philabundance’s warehouse, from where it gets distributed to food pantries all over the place. I enjoyed it- we saved a few thousand pounds of stuff from being trashed for sure. I also got some free marginal produce out of it, which was bittersweet, since I had already purchased six cases of food beforehand.

Today in a burst of optimism I decided to finally re-seat the toilet in our second floor bathroom. When you give a mouse a muffin. I ended up having to mix some mortar, do some priming, cleaning some copper pipes to re-paint them. The toilet is laying on its side in the bathroom still, as I ruminate on whether to upgrade it to a twentieth century toilet.  The household has been put on-notice that we’re a two toilet househole for at least a few days. First world problems.

And today the heat wave finally broke, thank goodness. It’s been raining since yesterday, but this morning it was down in the mid fifties and I had to dig around in my dresser to find a hoodie for breakfast. This is the life.


It lives!

The blog still lives- that is…

I fell off the blog wagon, and it’s probably going to happen again. As you can see from the pictures there has been a lot going down. Nothing dramatic, but just constant. Our Chinese students Rachael and Yvonne went back home, and about an hour later we welcomed a new student from Kazakhstan, who is delightful and we’re very glad to have her. We had a celebration or two for Silas’s 9th birthday, a week or two late, but all the same Molly made some Pokemon cupcakes and we had a bunch of Silas’s friends over. Grandpa John even made a quick trip to congratulate Silas, even though he was under the weather and fresh off a plane from China.  We organized a Kindergarten play-date for students who are entering Kindergarten with Asher. Asher has since started Kindergarten and everything there is honky dory (except they keep shortening the school days because it’s so dang hot.) We visited a hipster bowling alley up in Northern Liberties along with the residential program that Molly leads at Penn. Taking kids bowling is always stressful (second only to taking kids archery shooting.) But it went well, nobody broke any body parts, and we got to play a fun game of table-hockey, which was a pleasant blast from the past.   We saw The Wiz live at Malcolm X Park, and made one last end of summer trip to the zoo. The baby giraffe is adorable, I highly recommend you check it out. Summer camps wrapped up (now I’m going out of order but oh well…) the boys finishing their UCAL art camp and Eliza graduating from her little four-day Movement and Spanish camp (I know that sounds incongruous but it was neat.) We reconnected with my sister and brother’s families up at my parents- caught a few fish and wore the kids out. My brother and his family came down to Philly for a margarita-fajita themed sleep-over, which was totally unnecessary seeing they don’t live that far away, but it allowed us to catch up late into the early morning like we couldn’t do any other way. After a block party afternoon that gets us up to date, more or less. Eliza starts pre-school tomorrow, which might blow my mind. I’m going to feel really weird in about twelve hours. I hope it’s good-weird. Last week a heat-wave crushed us with mid-90’s temps and the district closed schools early both Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday had already been scheduled as a half day. So last week was hard… the kids came home all jacked up having missed recess and there wasn’t any adequate outlet at home. This week another heatwave is settling over us and rumors are rife that schools might close early again. Pray for me. That is all.


Up the mountains

This post has been at least two weeks coming… apparently I’m running out of steam for the Sunday evening blog posts, but that was inevitable.  This past week we spent up at the cabin, same as every August for the past few years. It was pretty awesome. The weather was hot but not horrible. The mosquitoes where tolerable. The fish bit most of the time The food was great. We made a fire every night and stayed up waaaay too late. No kids were injured in the making of this vacation. We built a deck-dock and installed a gazebo on it. Every year we can trust the kids a little bit more and relax a little more ourselves. And our favorite 8-year-old is now our favorite 9-year-old! Happy Birthday Silas!

The kids are off to a few last “camps” this week and next, and then are back to school. It’s going to be strange having them all at school every day.  Hopefully that frees me up to get busy and start fixing and gussying up the house.  The list of things to gussy gets longer each day. Molly starts up with the two classes she’s teaching in the next few weeks also, so things are starting to get serious. “For Serious,” as Eliza’s been saying.


Busy City

The past two weeks Silas has been ripping it up at basketball camp in the basement gym of the church around the corner. He’s wearing himself out, which is great, except he when he gets home he’s tired and it doesn’t take much to trigger a meltdown. Eliza’s also on a cycle where she’s worn out by mid-afternoon too, so a person has to walk on eggshells around here after about 3 p.m right up past bedtime. From 9-10:30 pm though, it’s really pleasant around these parts.  We’ve had some good outings this week, visiting the zoo with the whole family on Sunday. It threatened rain the whole time, so there wasn’t a crowd and we stayed cool.  We also visited Cedar Park Jazz, which is a summer weekend concert series just a few blocks up the road. We run into all sorts of friends there and it’s been great this year. We can cautiously take our eyes of our kids for a few seconds here and there, which makes a big difference in our ability to socially connect with other adults. Today I dragged out the two youngest kids to a protest at the Dept. of Homeland Security- ICE office, for a protest play-date against family separation. It wasn’t huge, but enough people showed up to bring out the news teams- I should poke around and see if we made the cut this evening. Silas would have appreciated the message more than the younger kids, but still, I was pleasantly surprised when Asher spontaneously broke out this evening with “Love, not hate…that’s what makes America great!”


Last week I decided to take the kids fishing down at the Schuylkill. It was hot as Hades and we only lasted ten minutes, but the point was to find our fishing gear and untangle it all, so we’d be ready to go up at Mimi and Pop’s, and down at the Schuylkill again one of these days (not at noon on a 90 degree day.)  Fishing at Mimi and Pop’s this weekend was great. All the kids caught plenty of sunfish, and Silas caught a respectable bass. Nothing was hooked that shouldn’t have been hooked.

We welcomed a new exchange student- Alanoud from Saudi Arabia- and she has been a lovely guest. We may have another pair of students coming at the end of the month, so that might be madness, but when is our house not mad?

We hit the local public pool quite a few times last week, and it’s starting to pay off. Eliza is happy to be dunked underwater for a second or two. Asher is basically teaching himself the breast stroke and freestyle, and Silas made it all the way across the pool, albeit not with the grace of a swan, but we’ll work on that. Silas and Asher can take care of themselves in the shallow end, and Eliza is happy to paddle herself around wearing her water wings, so all in all it’s not as stressful as I feared- it’s pleasant, dare I say.

And a non sequitur… a reminder that I need to keep my language in check a bit more carefully… Asher was frustrated looking for the tv remote the other day, and he clenched his fists and snapped, yelling  “Why can’t we just turn on the freaking bloody tv?!!!”  It could have been a lot worse.


Up the mountains

Our plan to camp up at HIckory Run was almost derailed this weekend when we realized that Silas had to perform (and us, watch) a concert on Friday evening. It was the culmination performance of the two-week music camp he attended. It was at West Catholic High- a beautiful venue, and the concert was charming. The timeline meant that we couldn’t leave Philly until about 8, and so drove in to the campsite late at night, which always stinks. Fortunately for us our friends had set our tent up for us, so it was easy as pie. The weather was killer- such a relief from the last two weeks. It touched the fifties at night. Lovely. We brought along my niece, because we figured she’d love it, and she gets along so will with our kids. She was delightful and everyone enjoyed it. We did our trip to the boulder field (no injuries!) and went to the beach-lake twice. My pictures are rubbish. I only have one photo of Silas facing the camera during the concert (and a frightful face it is.)  Next is to go finish unloading the car- I think we unloaded the stinky moist and edible things last night, but you can never be too sure.


The week started out with Molly’s birthday- it was a low-key affair, as birthday celebrations for adults generally are in this household. The kids made some adorable cards, and per Molly’s request I wrote her a gift voucher redeemable for four jogs with me, to be redeemed at any hour, which really means I have to go jogging with her at six in the morning, without complaining. Sigh.

Silas has been busy with music camp this week, focusing on cello, although they’re also singing and playing some games- details are scarce but Silas is enjoying it. We’re transporting two of his friends to and fro as well, so we’ve felt a bit like taxi drivers, but they’re cool kids so we don’t mind.

The first heat wave of the summer parked itself on top of us this week. Yesterday pushed one hundred degrees, and the humidity is way up there. Nonetheless we chose to attend a protest rally against immigrant separation and detention downtown on Saturday afternoon. Taking the kids seemed to me a terrible idea, but we met up with some friends downtown at Dillworth Plaza, which features a big spray-play-area in the shadow of City Hall. The kids had a great time, and it was just a few minutes walk down the parkway to the Art Museum, where the protest was set up. It was difficult to gauge the size of the crowd, but it was in the thousands for sure. We lingered near the back for long enough to feel like we’d participated, then crossed back over the road to Logan Circle fountain, where the kids splashed around for another half an hour, before we high-tailed it home. The kids didn’t complain a bit- Molly proved me very wrong in my pessimism.

Silas had a choice quote yesterday… “Dad’s favorite curse word is the “d” word, and mom’s favorite curse word is the “f” word.” He didn’t elaborate, but Molly had just said “freakin’” so let’s breath a small sigh of relief.  I damn things all too often, so it’s no surprise he picked up on that.

When we weren’t protesting, we were cleaning up and rearranging this weekend, as we have a new exchange student arriving later today. It was a bit of a surprise, so we were scrambling. But I think we’re all set now, and our house looks like it’s inhabited by real grown-ups, not just a gang of toy-breaking street urchins.