Avondvierdaagse: the Redemption

Avondvierdaagse: the Redemption

On Wednesday it was Tony’s turn to walk the Avondvierdaagse with the kids while I went to a writers’ meet up in the city. And of course the weather was perfect for him: sunny until after nine o’clock, as it is here when it isn’t pouring rain. 

Last night I had a second chance myself. I thought about holing up in a café while the kids walked, but in the end I decided to give  it another try. And I’m glad I did. This time the weather was much better; it was even a little too warm at first, which I didn’t mind at all. I rolled up the sleeves of my cotton shirt and set off at a run after the kids, since I’d been left behind because of a last minute bathroom break. 

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The March of Death (aka Avondvierdaagse)

The March of Death (aka Avondvierdaagse)

There are quite a few Dutch customs that would seem, frankly, crazy in the U.S. Some of them involve the impressively wide range of stuff Dutch kids are permitted, nay, encouraged to do (cycle several kilometres to school by themselves, take public transport all over the city, etc.) Others involve acts of defiance against the weather (the impossibly long ice skating race, Elfstedentocht, which happens only when the ice is thick enough on waterways between eleven northern cities, or the wildly popular leap into the frigid North Sea on New Year’s Day). 

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Stomach Flu and Manatees

The awful thing about a blogging gap is that the longer it persists, the more earth-shattering I think my next post needs to be to break the gap. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of earth-shattering stuff going on in my world lately, so the gap keeps getting longer and longer as I wait and hope that I’ll come up with something blog-worthy to write about. It’s a vicious circle. I justified my laziness about posting for awhile by telling myself it was just as well to leave up my Obamapost until nearer to the election. But the election has now come and gone, and I haven’t posted on my blog for the past month and a half. How long does it take for a blog to go dead?

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Announcing: the two newest members of our family!

Yesterday found me furiously nesting. I sewed until my sewing machine broke (actually, my sweet daughter broke it, but we won’t go into that). I swept and mopped the entire house. As I finished up the last of the dishes, I found myself scrubbing the outside of my frying pan with a stainless steel pot scrubber. Even as I scrubbed, I reflected bemusedly that whether my frying pan was sparkling would really make no difference whatsoever. Still, I scrubbed.

Finally, at 10:15 p.m., Tony brought home my new little babies. And so, without further ado, meet Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. (Merry and Pippin for short, of course.)

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My inner artist

Like most other children, I really liked to draw when I was young.

At the age of nine, my mom enrolled me in a YMCA art class, where I learned about various artistic styles and did the requisite imitations. For example, here’s my Mondrian,

The Seurat,

and the Kandinsky.

Later, as a teenager, I traded piano lessons for art lessons from a friend, and along with drawing and painting, I tried my hand at such varied artistic activities as Ukranian Easter eggs (several of which still hang on our tree each Christmas), wood-burning, and printing.

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Hiking Lyonia Preserve

I’ve been practicing my nature photography, so get ready for a lot of pictures. Right next to our library (about ten minutes from our house) is the lovely Lyonia Preserve. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve visited the Preserve several times. Every time we go we see something new.

Florida foliage is pretty interesting to me. It reminds me of a cross between San Diego and Washington State, in that you feel like you’re walking in a desert one moment, and the next moment you’ve stepped into a dense jungle. The Lyonia Preserve has more of the desert, or “scrub” side.

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Car-schooling

Since we are at present a one-car family (as opposed to being a zer0-car family during a good portion of the last couple of years abroad), sometimes we have to get creative about getting all our transportation worked out. Today the children and I took Tony in to work so we could grocery shop.  He works from home in the afternoons, so we picked him up after spending some time lunching in the park.

It worked perfectly. Our only problem was how to fit in the homeschooling we normally do between 10:00 and 11:30. Fortunately, most of our schoolbooks are available as audiobooks on librivox, so we can take them along in the car. If I had a working mp3 player, I would use that, but at least our car cd player does play mp3’s, so I was able to burn all of the books (and our music by Hildegard of Bingen, our term composer) onto two cd’s. We also brushed up on our Italian with a half-hour of Pimsleur that the children would never have sat still for had they not been buckled in carseats.All we have left to do for today is math, copywork, and picture study, which should take a combined total of perhaps 25 minutes. So I’d say our first day of car-schooling was a great success.

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More Florida Wildlife (Not for the Squeamish)

Like Axa, I’m O.K. with snakes. Lizards don’t bother me, even if they’re crawling on me. I can pick up snails, and I have even petted a slug at (Axa’s request, of course). But arthropods. Oh, arthropods. I do not do arthropods.

Due to nature study, and my commitment to helping my children say “ohhhh!” not “ewwww!” when they see an insect, I can now get on tolerably well with ants, ladybugs, crabs, praying mantises, and even beetles (and by “getting on” I mean literally letting them get on me and not freaking out). This has been a long and painful process, and I’m still working on the occasional flare up of internal anti-insect sentiment.

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Our First Brush With Florida Reptiles

Nope, it wasn’t alligators; just snakes. And they weren’t in our backyard. We actually had to go looking for them. The Lyonia Environmental Center next to the library sponsored a 1  1/2 hour talk on local reptiles. Axa and Raj sat raptly through the whole presentation, which was very well done, I thought, by the seventeen-year-old daughter of the president of the Lake Region Audobon Society.

At the end of the presentation, they let everyone (everyone who wanted to, that is) come up and hold the snakes. Raj consented to touch a snake with one finger only, but Axa was in poikilothermic heaven.

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Nature Study in Bakersfield

One of Charlotte Mason’s nature study ideas is to “adopt” a tree and observe closely how it changes throughout the year. We’ve never lived somewhere for a whole year, so we haven’t been able to observe a long-term continuous seasonal change. But we’ve seen a lot of variety in the natural world. It comes naturally to me to visit museums and archaelogical sites, but without Charlotte Mason I wouldn’t have thought to closely observe the differences in the plants and animals around the world.

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