Saturday, August 30, 2008

Busy Bees

I've not had a chance to write lately because now that classes have started, so have all other activities and social engagements. While ^J^ has been in school, we've had something everyday and every evening this week with Matriculation/Dean's Dinner on Thursday being the highlight.
The laundry is overflowing and I'm starting to realize we're going to have to pick and choose what we want to participate in.

Here's what a typical week will look like:

Monday: Walk, grocery shopping/errands, lunch, naps, daddy home for dinner, a rare free evening (unless I sign up for this Art and Spirituality class).

Tuesday: Parent's Morning Out, lunch with Daddy in the refectory, naps, choir practice, dinner, spouse night. Tuesday nights are "reserved" for spouse events, the seminary doesn't plan any other events these nights. There will either be an outing, or a meeting, or spiritual direction every week.

Wednesday: Walk, Women's Bible Study, lunch, naps, Choir rehearsal, Community Noon Eucharist, Community Lunch, naps, daddy home, dinner, maybe another free night (there is a family Bible Study every other Weds., but this might be one of those things we need to say "no" to).

Thursday: Parent's Morning Out, lunch with daddy in the refectory, naps, *A*'s dance class, Family Evening Eucharist, Community Dinner.

Friday: Walk. Other than this, Friday seems to be our Catch up/Family day. ^J^ only has one hour and fifteen minute class and we have no other obligations during the day.

Of course, that was the case this Friday, but I ended up taking the kids to the park and playing and chatting for 2.5 hours instead of doing laundry. The first Friday of the month the Spouses of the Seminary group sponsors a Date Night and provides free childcare, so we're looking forward to that!
Last night we wanted to go to a local Contra Dance but we couldn't find a baby-sitter because the seminary was sponsoring a lock-in for the older seminary kids. So we had movie night instead which is a recent family Friday night tradition. We try and get a movie we will all enjoy (free from the school's extensive DVD collection of course), last night it was The Water Horse. It was good, very E.T.esque. Then after the kids went to bed, we watched a "Mommy/Daddy movie" as Ava says. We saw The Squid and the Whale. Great movie.
Today we have a picnic for the whole seminary community so I need to go wake everyone up from naps. Tomorrow we're going to try church at All Saint's Chapel, the big beautiful chapel on campus.

It's not a long weekend for us, but if it is for you, enjoy it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rainy Monday

Some afternoon tea, a good book and knitting project...a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon while the kiddos nap. We're getting the effects of Fay here today and tomorrow and it's nice to see rain again. We've had no rain for about 3 weeks so we really needed it.
Today ^J^'s orientation continues with a CREDO workshop for seminarians. CREDO is typically something the church pension fund sponsors for priests, a holistic wellness program, but they are doing a pilot program for seminarians and Sewanee is one of the 4 seminaries they chose to participate. Spouses are encouraged to attend and they are providing childcare. Today's session is all day, until 8:30 p.m., so I opted to attend the morning session and then get the kids for naps and be home the rest of the evening.
We're going to go meet Daddy for dinner at the hogwarts-ish dining hall for dinner. I'll go to the final part of the workshop tomorrow morning too. After tomorrow, he registers and classes begin Wednesday! Our school-year schedule is busy but good. We have lots of events to keep us busy and we'll probably get to see ^J^ more once he's in a regular class schedule. O.k., I'm off to enjoy the rain and a few free moments.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Invasion of the Undergrads

So they've slowly been trickling in; a big group on the lawn here, a bunch of matching t-shirts there, more cars, more noise. Ah, Orientation, such fond memories. I loved freshman Orientation as an undergrad, so much so that I decided it would be a good idea to do it 3 more times as an Orientation Assistant. The silly games, the sharing, the free food and t-shirts, the hypnotist. It was all so fun and carefree.

It's a little different looking at this event now, as I walk by pushing my double stroller trying to keep my 1.5 year old from biting his sister who's shoving her arm in his face pointing and shouting "Here come the green shirts Mommy!". I walk by these students envious of their freedom and their chance to get to go to school here, but mostly I'm sizing them up for who might be a responsible babysitter...maybe I should become an Orientation Assistant here just so I can grill them on their childcare skills. I've still got some of the t-shirts, I'll fit right in!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sundays are nice...

Today feels like a Sunday, it is a Sunday, but it really feels like one.

It's been kind of a lazy day: cleaning, cooking, crafting and walking. The air is warm but not humid...fall is coming. I can feel it.

Nana (my mom) was here to visit and she and I went shopping Saturday. It was nice to go exploring in the local shops and we were surprised to find a really cute clothes store. They had all these trendy name brand things and luckily there was a sale so we found some really good deals on nice, but super-soft, comfy clothes(thanks mom!).

We saw 4 deer in our compost today, they weren't bothered by *A*'s loud feet or (H)'s tapping on the window, they just wanted our leftovers.

The kids have missed ^J^ this week, so it's been nice to have him here this weekend. (H) has missed him most, they're buddies. Actually (H) is everyone's buddy unless you work in the nursery at church, he hates them. Apparently after we dropped him off (after much dabating and trying him in the service) he stood at the door with his back to the rest of the group with his arms crossed across his chest waiting for us to return.

We're starting to become part of this community. We see people we know everywhere! Tonight on the way home from dinner with friends (who we ran into at the playground) we saw 5-6 cars of people, or people walking, that we knew. Plus, while we were at the local campus eatery, we saw 4 sets of people we knew AND our a t-shirt and jeans on vacation here for a few weeks. So we're starting to get an idea for how small this place is. We've only been here a month and we're already feeling like locals: people wave as they pass on the street or look out for our children on the playground. It's nice, real nice. It's also really cool that we live in a place where people come to vacation or visit. We met a couple in their late 60's Saturday at the farmer's market who come up here to their cabin about 10 days a month. He went to seminary here and then got his doctorate and now they own a cabin up here. That's just how this place is. Come see us and you'll feel it too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Domestic Life

Now that "real life" schedules have started and we're starting to see what ^J^'s schedule will be like during school, I'm getting used to this home-maker/house-wife/stay-at-home-mom thing and liking it. I've been working part-time and going to school for the past few years and although it seems I would have had time to become "domestic", I really haven't. Plus, a change of scenery has really helped. As much as I loved our old house, I always thought it was too small for us and I love being able to spread out and take care of things properly (even if that means (H) is still surrounded by boxes as he sleeps). Today the kids and I just took it easy and organized their toys. We took everything out of where it's lived in chaos and put it all back (except for the 20 or so dolls/animals in *A*'s bed right now while she's napping) in organized baskets, bins, etc. ^J^ does not see the value of this, but I try and appeal to his Montessori-trained mind. When he cleans up toys, he puts(throws) them where ever there is space which means the books and markers and legos and doll clothes may all go into the same basket. This is how I found everything today because approaching our move we really didn't care how things were organized as long as the house was showable. The toy box (which I do not like on principle because it becomes a bottomless pit) was overflowing with toys of all types so we took it all out, and now it's the home of all stuffed animals which seems much more manageable.
All this to say that I had a really good day working and playing with the children. Admittedly, some days at home are a chore and you have to find excuses to leave the house, but today we all played nice and I was able to do laundry and straighten in between organizing toys. After all that, *A* helped me load the dishwasher. It was classic Montessori practical life, except it was just life. She scrubbed and rinsed the dishes and then set them on the counter for me to put in. Her new favorite "practical life" activity is "Doing the Ice". We don't have a water line hooked up for our ice maker so we have trays and she loves cracking the tray, dumping the ice and then refilling the trays. She would do this all morning but we only have 4 trays so it's a short activity. I am feeling more confident about homeschooling them while we are here. If we can just stay civil and sane towards each other during the morning hours, we can do lessons and learn just from what needs to be done around the house everyday.

Like feeding the pets, helping prepare meals, setting the table, etc. (H)'s favorite domestic activity is putting wet clothes into the dryer. Then I have to lift him up to push the start button (or "poosh butt, butt!" as he says). And, because we're all hippie-fied and domestic, we've started hanging a lot of our clothes outside. We've had our AC off for about 2 weeks now and there is always a pleasant breeze. We plan to have a bigger clothes line outside eventually, but that would mean driving 30 minutes to the nearest hardware store, so for now we'll use our makeshift porch version. I need to get the kids in on this and have them start hanging them, this is a classic Montessori activity.

Being "domestic" has negative connotations for some, but I disagree. I think I am enjoying it so much because #1 it is so new for me to be home all day with no papers to write, j.o.b. to worry about, etc, and #2, because I chose it. This is what I want to be doing, and in the process I'm creating little Miss Suzie and Mr. Sam homemakers who are learning to love life at home too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Typical Walk

To the library and back...

And home to feed the birds.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Morgan's Steep, real steep

We went for a long hike yesterday on one of the many campus trails. There is a main trail running all around the "domain" (the 10,000 acres of the campus) called Perimeter Trail and there are various points to access it, usually these points are at a vista. They all have names like Green's View, Morgan's Steep etc. since we live at the top of a mountain and they look out at the towns below. Anyway, we had heard that Morgan's Steep was part of the Perimeter Trail but that it branched off onto a secondary trail called Bridal Veil Falls Trail and at the end there is a nice waterfall. We packed up water and the kid backpacks and we were prepared to do a "real" hike. We looked at the trail map and decided it might be a mile one-way trip and we thought we could handle that so we headed out.

The scenery was amazing! The first part is at a cliff edge looking into this rocky valley area, you hike around all that and, if it had rained recently, there would probably be a nice creek running along side you the whole time. Then you come to these huge rock faces and cave areas, The vegetation is much thicker down here and very high on both sides which makes the trail a little less than single-file. J&A hiked up to the cave area, but I was afraid we'd disturb some coyote den or something so (H) and I stayed below. It was SO wild and undisturbed that I was afraid a couple of times about what we might run into when we turned the next corner. It's the same feeling I get when I'm way out in the ocean, like I'm trespassing into another world and I'm not really supposed to be there. I love it, but it's scary too sometimes.
Some parts of the trail we're so dense you couldn't see very far ahead of you, but some areas were more open forests with tall trees and less undergrowth. It's strange how much the landscape changed as we changed elevation.
We finally got to this split in the trail and didn't know which way to the waterfall so we went right. After a few hundred feet we found our path blocked by a huge fallen tree. Josh hopped over it, and of course the kids wanted to too.
He discovered the trail was pretty much completely covered by the tree so we stopped and took a water break. We'd been hiking for over an hour and (H) was getting tired, so we decided to go back down the other side of the trail and see if we could get to the waterfall quickly. Once we got to the fork in the trail, we went a little bit further but couldn't see any area that looked like there might be a waterfall nearby. Our bodies were already a little tired and we knew most of the way back was VERY steep uphill climbs, so we headed back. (H) fell asleep on the way back up which was slightly uncomfortable
(his head was resting on my neck and not allowing me to look all the way up) and we started to hear thunder, so I think it was good thing we headed back when we did, although I am disappointed we didn't get to see the falls. When we got to the top, huffing and puffing, I looked at the map again and I think if we'd just have gone a little further down we would have been there. Apparently there are a lot of caves there too. It started raining so we hopped in the car and went home (but first we stopped by the library for free movie rentals). It was a lot of fun, and now that we know the trail and kind of what to expect, I know we could do it again and make it easily to the waterfall. Coming back up is a real challenge though and our muscles are a little sore today.
The rain yesterday cooled things off considerably. It's in the 70's today, we have all the windows open and tonight it's supposed to be in the 50's! Yay! It's that little taste of Fall that makes you want to make soup and curl up under a blanket. Next week life will be pretty different for us, not as much playing and freetime since ^J^ will be starting orientation. It'll be good for us to get into a routine, but I know we'll miss seeing him all the time like we've gotten used to.
We'll just have to live it up this weekend...the unpacked boxes can wait.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nature with visual aids!

O.k., our mail is being delivered and our dsl is up and running so no more angst (at least for today). Oh, and hero husband found the camera battery charger so you can finally enjoy some of what we experience everyday.
We are living in such an amazing wilderness! I've always loved most-things in nature (not so much ticks or spiders) and I do have a dad who my pal Kelley dubbed "Nature Man" (this was after he taught her how to wear a lizard as an earring), but even ^J^ , Mr. "I hate Science", has caught the nature-bug (ha! I'm punny!). We went to the library and got field guides for mushrooms (^J^'s idea of course), trees, birds, wildflowers, and insects. We've seen so many beautiful and strange looking new bugs that we never saw in Georgia. There was a huge Katydid on our porch last weekend, a stick bug that was on our car and drove with us about a mile, a luna moth on our bathroom window, shiny large green beetles in our yard, butterflies galore, and not so fun things too like big flying ants in our kitchen and a too big red centipede in the yard. *A*'s been collecting cicada shells she finds and the bug sounds at night are deafening, and that's with the windows closed!
The birds are wonderful too, our most recent finds have been these pileated woodpeckers. I think there must be a family of them up in our trees, they make this crazy "chuc, chuc" sound and I followed the sound one day and saw three of them hanging on the side of a tree. They're really big, crow-sized and they have that distinctive woody-woodpecker red tuft and beak. As I'm typing this, I can look out the window to the treeline of the woods and make one out on the base of a tree. We also have a consistent hummingbird population. I know of at least one pair that chases each other around the feeder and they make this cute squeaking noise. We've seen bunnies and deer all over the place, in broad daylight even. One night I went out to the porch to feed Gracie(dog) and Ella(cat) and this wave of skunk spray smell came in. It must of happened pretty far out in the woods and travelled to our house, but that is a new thing to think about when we go out for hikes or let the animals run around in the backyard! This morning Ella brought us a present...a bird. When ^J^ went to take it outside, warning *A* it might die soon, it flew off. I guess Ella just played with it and then got bored. As he was coming back in I saw a field mouse running around in the grass, or it could have been a vole...I don't really know what that is, I guess I need to get a mammal guide book too.

Anyway, we're all so into all this wildlife. *A* gets so excited when she discovers something and she's usually the one who points something out to us. She's the one who found the stick bug and she comes running inside in a panic screaming "a tick bug, a tick bug!" I didn't even know she knew what one was. Yesterday she took a walk with ^J^ and our next door neighbors who are 6 and 7, and she told them in her stage whisper "Shhh, we have to be quiet so we can see the deers and bears.". The seven year old informed her that she had been living here almost 3 years and she had never seen a bear. Well, that's good news but I'm not convinced they don't live somewhere on these 10,000 acres.
I'm reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver and it's so perfect. It takes place on a mountain in Southern Appalachia (I think it's supposed to be Virginia, but it's so similar; the county they live in is even Franklin, which is where we live) and it talks about all the creatures that live in the woods and about life in the country. People who live in the country are a whole different can of worms, I'll just stick with the animals for now...they're much more interesting.