Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Drum roll please...

The total snowfall for Sunday night through Tuesday is .................................9-10 inches (depending on where you measure)! Even though it was a bitter and windy 16 degrees at 2:30 pm , we bundled up the kids, made snow angels

and did a little impromptu sledding with a garbage can lid for about 15 minutes.

It took us a half an hour to get ready to go outside. But the kids enjoyed it and so did I, except that my hands were freezing because I gave Tristan my gloves because I couldn't find his gloves (which I later found in my purse, of course that is where they would be) and the kids couldn't wait another second to play.

Walking in a winter wonderland....

And our mini-van got stuck in the driveway. I am getting used to driving the camp's 3 ton pick up. Except that I suck at towing. And I guess we might want to get winter tires put on the van. With studs. :-)


Sunday, December 2, 2007

NYC #3

So as Matt and I are anxiously awaiting our first winter storm on the mountain (we have literally been checking outside every half an hour to see if it has begun yet, and sadly not to this point. PLUS the forecast has changed for our area from a foot of snow to 4 - 6 inches with up to a 1/3 an inch of ice. Not as fun. Glad we went grocery shopping yesterday because I don't think we will be going anywhere for a day or so), I think it is time to do a drive-by update of our time in NYC!

We were busy during our time in the Big Apple! Part of the reason why I didn't blog much.
The night before we left we attempted to go the Rockefeller Center for the lighting of the famous Christmas tree having no idea what a big production it was. We got within two blocks of the tree and couldn't even move on the sidewalk. People were tripping over us, pushing our strollers, and Abigail fell asleep so we decided to give it up and walk back to our apartment to watch it on TV like the rest of the sane world!

We did make it to see the Christmas displays in Macy's windows, which were really cool and Tristan loved. He did not want to leave, the look on his face was precious. We then went inside Macy's visited Santa at one of the coolest North Pole's ever. I am usually not into the cheesy Santa setup but this was really well done with a walk through a "train" to get to the north pole and talking trees and all kinds of animals busy working and a great train set up. Santa even looked pretty believable. Abigail, however, didn't want to have anything to do with sitting even near Santa and Tristan wasn't too thrilled by him either. Therefore we have no pictures but it was fun anyway. Abigail decided to write him a letter the next day to say that she was shy but enjoyed her visit.

Went to the cemetery in Queen's where Matt maternal grandparents are buried.

Spent an amazingly refreshing afternoon at Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn, which I later found was a favorite beach of Matt's mom growing up. It was chilly but quiet and calm. And they had a really cool playground on the beach that the kids devoured.

We also visited the Manhattan Children's museum. We never made it to the children's museum in Pittsburgh so I can't compare but this place was so much fun. All hands-on, interactive, child proof and exactly what our kids needed. Experiential play and learning plus climbing and running.

Central Park was our safe haven! I could usually spot that "I need to run and be free!" look in their eyes and off to the park we went. Only 3 stops up on the subway and we were among trees, rocks, grass, birds, and squirrels. We went the playground the most. There I actually got to speak to other adults! We also walked around the Jackie Onassis resivour one evening with Matt and rode the carousel another day. I don't think we could have survived without the park. I can see why it is such an important part of the city life.

For Thanksgiving we, of course, went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Matt and I were so proud that we actually made it through the whole parade. We were expecting a melt down for sure. We woke up late so we didn't the spot we wanted but we had a great time anyway. After growing up watching the parade, it was quite a delight to see it in person. It is just unbelievable to see how much work (and money!) must go into those couple of hours. I then spent the afternoon cooking a yummy meal. I love the colors on the plate!

The first Saturday Matt and Abigail woke up early and went to the Empire State Building when in opened. Later that day we headed to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan and walked past ground zero on the way. It was overwhelming to be there and remember the horror of what happened that day. Walking through the streets there, I just kept thinking about what chaos must have ensued. The confusion, the heart-wrenching powerlessness, and fear. I went from watching an event on TV to standing in the past-presence of the event. It was quite powerful and humbling.

Our plan that day was to eat lunch at Battery Park and then take the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty. The wait for the ferry was too long for our kids so we opted for the Staten Island ferry which was free and went by the statue. Perfect! Both kids enjoyed the ride but especially Tristan. He is just absolutely obsessed with anything mechanical that moves; trucks ("gunks"), buses ("bees"), and boats are his life blood. And the walk along the Staten Island boardwalk with so timely. It was the first time since we were there that life was quiet and still except for the sound of water.

We also visited Matt's great aunt and family in Queen's. She is quite the spunky lady and it was a lot of fun to see the kids with here.

We also got a behind-the-scenes tour of the New York Botanical Gardens and train show by an employee.

So that was our November in a nut shell! We had a lot of fun and experienced a significant amount of the city a short time. It was, however, a very challenging 3 weeks. Abigail had a difficult time with the complete lifestyle change which resulted in a lot of behavior problems. I am glad for our time in the city but it never felt so good to come home! We left Thursday night at 10 pm which put us in the Berkshires at 2:30 am. The kids slept the whole way but were so excited to be home when we got that they didn't fall back to sleep uintil4:30! We are settling in here nicely enjoying a slower rural life as well as a slower work season for Matt. I am really looking forward to lots of family time and time to craft and cook and play. The idea of eating in season has been working on me for about a year now. Now I am beginning to love the idea of living seasonally. Being snowed in is a wonderful force of hand for slowing down, reflecting on life, and snuggling with loved ones. I pray for a long winter of snow! (Remind me of that in February when I am freezing and sick of the snow!!)


It snowed last night!

Some how this post got lost and it has pictures of our first snow so I wanted to post it even though it is 3 weeks late!

"Not a lot but enough to make the morning seem magical. Abigail woke up and came up to our room. I recently made curtains for their room to cut down on draft and keep the night time fears at bay. So when she jumped on our bed and looked out the window she was surprised to see that "winter came!" She was so excited to go outside that she ran downstairs to show Tristan and inform him that "it snowed and we can't go out until we eat breakfast!" Needless to say it was a quick breakfast and change into warm coats and a lovely morning hike (even if I still had my pajamas on).

Off to NYC tomorrow morning. I hope to send more photos and stories after we arrive!


Note: We came home from NYC (55 degrees when we left there at 10 pm) to less than an inch of snow with some ice and 20 degree weather. It snowed again Friday night, maybe an inch, but it was a freezing 12 degrees at 11 am and only a high of 20 on the mountain. Tonight we are supposed to 7-12 inches overnight with ice and sleet possible. So considering that our road is already icy, we may be snowed/iced in for a day or two.

More posts on our NYC adventures to come!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Post #2 from NYC

Today we visited the NYC Medical Center ER! What is a visit to the city without a trip to the emergency room? Ah, Tristan, how much you take after your Papa! He is ok but we had a bit of a scare. Abigail, Tristan and I took the subway to the New York Public Library on 53rd right near Matt's office hoping to spend a while at the library maybe check out some books, visit daddy around lunch then go home for naps. Well, instead Tristan trips and falls not long after we get there, bangs his face/lip off of a chair and bleeds all over the place, throughly freaking out the children's librarian. I called Matt to tell him what was going on and get his opinion on Tristan's lip. He thought I was at the 42nd street library so he caught a cab to that library and then had to have the cabbie turn around for 5 blocks until we could get together to decide that we should have Tristan looked at and have a doctor decide on stitches. His bleeding did stop but we were afraid of scaring. In the end, however, the doctor said he would be fine and didn't need stitches, although he has two cuts, one on his lip and one on his gum both of which are pretty swollen. He, however, is not slowed down a bit which I am glad.

Let's pray for no rain and no trips to the ER!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


As I type, I am listening to the sounds and smelling the smells of Manhattan: frequent loud honking, car exhaust and cigarette smoke. :-) We are located in a central location. Lots of grocery stores, restaurants, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, 3 blocks from 42nd street, 10 minute walk from Times Square, 3 subway stops from Central Park. And also 1 block away from the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel. Needless, to say rush hour is chaotic not only for the driver's on the street but for us as well. We couldn't get any more opposite than our home in Mass! Which is a little uprooting and thrilling at the same time.

We are doing pretty well. The kids and I conquered the subway today and went Central Park. It was so good for them to run and play and climb and have some freedom. The restrictions of the back pack or holding mommy's hand everywhere we go has been hard for them. It has been fun (although a bit exhausting).

We are subletting a man's apartment so we have a really nice place to stay and great views from the rooms. There is some some major construction going on next door. A HUGE pneumatic jack hammer and excavator which I thought was going to drive me crazy all day. It has, however, been a great source of entertainment for the kids, especially Tristan who is obsessed with trucks ("gunks").

They will literally sit in the window sill for an hour watching the construction and traffic. They are definitely country kids now!

We have some plans for Empire State Building and maybe a museum this weekend. More stories and pics to come! Please pray for my sanity as Matt is working long days and the kids are having a little bit of struggles with the transition of lifestyle.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Halloween and the first snow...

Not on the same day but here in the same post!

Here are the kids in their Halloween costumes.

Tristan was a pirate (inspired from our boat ride this summer, Jaclyn!). He looked very dashing in his seaman garb. I made the pants (a bit tight) and red sash and he is (shhh) wearing one of Abigail's dress shirts with the rose embroidered collars tucked in. He kind of looked like a waiter until the head scarf and sword were added! He had a great time trick or treating. Besides one of neighbors here on the mountain, we just went to a handful of houses near Matt's parents' place. Tristan loved it. I don't think he really understood what we were doing but he throughly enjoyed knocking on people's door and receiving a hardy hello.

Abigail was a fire fighter (not a fireman and she will correct if you say it wrong :). Great goodwill find! We made the axe and she was ready to go. She loved the candy, of course. But she would not say trick or treat or thank you this year!

Also, this Monday was our first snow. Nothing sticking to the ground...yet. Mt Greylock, the highest peak in Mass, has snow on it and today I noticed from town so do a few peaks of our mountain. We leave for NYC on Sunday until the end of the month. It will be interesting to see what the place looks like when we come back.

We will be staying in Manhattan. Hopefully I can post from there. Pray for good weather and safe travels!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

The perfect New England fall day

Today was one of those infamous New England days. The sky was an amazingly vibrant blue, the air crisp but the sun warm, some colors still on the trees. Perfect. We went for a refreshing hike around our neighbors' property through peaceful hemlock and pine groves (as peaceful as a 1 and 3 year old will let you be). Then we came home to be greeted by some of the staff bringing us butternut squash soup and homemade pumpkin pie. Yummy!

What could be a better close to the perfect autumn day than carving pumpkins, eating warm, crunchy pumpkin seeds with friends?

This pumpkin was carved by a friend of ours. Abigail has been obsessed with the Bearenstain Bear books lately. And this is a "Space Grizzly" character from the book Bad Dream. Awesome work!

Matt and I are leaving for NYC tomorrow for an overnight. Post some stories and pictures when we get back.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cures for a case of the breakfast time blues

Anyone with small children can relate to the struggles that often arise around meal time. Breakfast is one of the hardest for me and the kids. Well, not Tristan so much, he is ready to eat anytime. But Abigail is often too excited to start her day to stop and eat a meal. So I have been experimenting in ways to make breakfast, if not fun (I am not a morning person:), at least enticing.

One that, I am sure many parents have tried, is playing restaurant. We do this all the time for all kinds of meals! I am often the waitress and Abigail (again Tristan doesn't need any prompting to eat!) gets to choose her food and drink from a verbal menu and her place at the table. She also likes to be a waitress herself and deliver food to her brother.

Lately, however, I think she is catching on to this playtime and is realizing that is it actually a parenting methos getting her to eat. So, we have also started eating breakfast with her tea set. I put juice in her tea pot and she pours it into her cup herself. She chooses which plates hold what, etc. I think having control over her meal helps her want to eat well.

Also, I often allow her to eat non-breakfast type foods if she requests them. Does it really matter if she eats mac-n-cheese or PBJ sandwich for breakfast? Not in my mind. She is eating!

Finally, our latest breakfast has been the stuffed apple. Great for preschoolers. Here are the instructions:
1 Take 1 apple and slice it in half.
2 Core it but do not quarter it.
3 Leave skin on or cut off, depending on child's perference.
4 Fill the whole left by the core with peanut butter or jelly (I know it sounds a little gross but they like it!). Nuttella may also be good although I have never tried it myself.
5 Put the two halves together (Peanut butter helps them stay together the best) and viola, a fun new breakfast with a surprise in the middle.

If you have any meal time secrets, please share them.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pictures of the homefront

Finally, as promised, here are some pictures of our new home. Welcome to the Birches!

The front of our house that faces the driveway.

Two views of the back of the house and deck, which is a great spot for entertaining.

Our kitchen is through the front door. A good amount of cabinet space and a dishwasher!

Our woodstove which is on the opposite side of the kitchen from the cabinets. You can also see into the kids room from here and the door to the bathroom where our washer and dryer is located.

The living room/dining room area looking from the living room to the dining room, kitchen around the corner, office and stairs to loft bedroom at your back.

Love the fireplace and stonework.

Our bedroom on the second floor. Is a loft (excuse the unmade bed but that's the way it always looks!)

Now for some outside shots. An amazing solid stone bench. The stones are just stacked on top of one another, no mortar and let me tell you this thing does not move.

View of back yard from deck.

A firepit complete with benches. Matt's handiwork with a chain saw, of course.

Named as our guest cottage. There is a room inside the building that takes up most of the space. That is where we are attempting to clean out and put a bed as well as some wall and shelf storage. We are also looking into options of heating it with a wood stove. The other space is used for a small woodshop, a chest freezer and animal proof trash storage.

The back of the cottage overlooks a small brook. There is also a narrow covered balcony in the back known by the previous owner as the gentleman's deck.

For a more detailed description of the house and property, see previous post.
We are so blessed to live in this beautiful place. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Watch out world!

It has finally happened...our satellite internet was installed today!! My world is changing! I just had a web chat with a friend, a web chat! I couldn't even download a picture and now I am chatting. Crazy. So expect pictures, videos, madness.

For example, we are storing up like squirrels here. We ordered 5 cords of wood for the winter which is being delivered 1/2 a cord at a time. I don't even really now how much a cord of wood is but I am learning. Here is a picture of one row of our wood stock which is 1/2 a cord. There is another row behind it and several stacks of wood in the back that are waiting to be split.

Here is Tristan taking after his daddy hefting logs bigger than himself.

We also picked up a bushel of pears yesterday. The orchard was in a beautiful spot right at the base of Greylock Mt which is the highest mountain in Mass. Here a a picture of 3/4 of the bushel stashed our oven to ripen for canning. I have to keep reminding myself not to turn on the oven or we will have a lot of baked pears instead of canned pears. More pictures to come of the canning process itself later this week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cool sewing patterns, anyone?

I am on a search for a company that makes easy to moderate level of difficulty sewing patterns that are somewhat hip and not something that my grandma would wear. A bonus would also be if they had small petite sizes (like 4 or smaller). Anyone have any company suggestions? I look forward to the brainstorming!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Long trip home and still no satellite

Sigh, just an update and the reason why I haven't blogged in a bit. Still, no satellite internet. Sigh. Long story short, we canceled service with the company because of promising something they couldn't deliver and not showing up several times when they said they would.

We went with a new company and they were supposed to install today. They called while we were in PA to say they don't have the equipment yet. 2-3 weeks. I am not getting my hopes up but I will keep blogging in the meantime. And delight in the day when I can post pictures and download my email in a reasonable time.

We returned yesterday from our first trip back to PA since we moved in April. It was a good all around good trip but bittersweet. It was so uplifting to see family and friends and spend time laughing and hugging and visiting. But also disheartening knowing that these people are not a part of our daily life anymore. I can't just call them and get together for dinner or stop by their house on my way home from wherever. We have lots of friends with kids and it was hard to think that they won't grow up playing together. And that our godson won't grow up really knowing us.

I have not once questioned whether we made the right decision to move here. This is where we are meant to be, I am sure of that. God has good work here for all of us. But what we have left behind is significant and will never be able to be replaced. I am not always very good at keeping in touch but there are too many important relationships for me in PA to be lazy.

It did feel , however, so right to come back to the peace and quiet of our home, our woods. I love the city but this land, this house, this mountain feeds and soothes in a way concrete, buildings, and busy-ness cannot. Still settling in, still transitioning to this new place and new life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A faster speed in less than 24 hours...

Oh the possibilities! We are getting satellite internet in less than 24 hours!! Imagine posts more often than every 10 days because that's all I have patience for, pictures (!), and now that blogger has video unloading, who knows what I might subject you to - (boring) videos of my kids doing oh-so-cute (yet still boring because they are not your kids and you don't necessarily think they are the cutest, smartest, wittiest, most creative being ever to live, unless you are their grandparents of course) everyday things like eating breakfast or sleeping. But I know you will humor me and tell me how wonderful they are anyway. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

August or Autumn

Last Thursday as the kids and I drove to playgroup, I noticed a tree whose leaves were turning yellow and orange. I thought to myself, "That's odd, that tree must have some disease to cause its leaves to turn colors already" because it is, after all, only August. Then on the way home from playgroup I saw another tree, a different kind of tree in a completely different place, with its leaves beginning to change colors! I began to worry because, after all, it is only August, people, August! Maybe a fluke? I thought. Not so much luck. Over the last week, I have noticed over 2 dozen trees whose leaves are changing! Granted, it has been colder than usual, mid to upper 50's during the day, lower 40's at night. This is crazy! I should be sweating and wearing sundresses and eating peaches. Not wearing 3 shirts, socks and shoes, and making fires in the fireplace because it is so cold at night. (I almost hate to make this joke because taking care of the environment is so important to me but...) I thought we were supposed to be having global warming, not cooling! Good things we already ordered our wood for the woodstove. Looks like we may need more than we thought!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Harvest season

I am loving this season of harvest. Living most of my life in the suburbs, I never really lived my eating life in tune with the seasons. Whatever I wanted to eat was always available in the grocery store. Over the last 7 years, I have realized the importance (and health!) of trying to live in the rhythm with, not in opposition to, nature's cycles of seasons, day and night, etc. This became especially clear to me on a 6 week backpacking course Matt and I participated in in college. You sleep when its dark and wake when its light. You eat because you are hungry and rest because your body demands it. It seems like such a simple concept but in our modern life filled with conveniences and 24-hour drive thrus it can be a profound worldview.

Anyway, this year God's rhythms are calling me to harvest. Living in a rural area where they are many farms is giving lots of opportunities and reminders to harvest now and store away for later. I love the idea of taking fruit and vegetables when they are locally in season, fresh, at the peak of ripening and freezing or canning them to enjoy in the winter. There is nothing better than eating fresh tasting sweet (and I mean summer sweet not freeze-section sweet) corn. Especially on the mountain where we have the potential to get snowed in several times in the winter.

Today I froze 3 dozen ears of corn. Not nearly enough, need about 5 dozen more. And 7 quarts of summer squash, I will probably do about 7 more. All locally grown and oh so tasty. Matt's parents (the canning and freezing gurus in my life), the kids and I will pick blueberries on Thursday to freeze as well. We do have 4 blueberry bushes in our backyard but since they need some pruning, fertilizing, and TLC, they are only producing enough for our snacking pleasure. But I am LOVING having blueberries right in our back yard. I am dedicated (Matt's says obsessed but I think that is a bit extreme :-) to picking them every day to win the battle over the birds and the bears. (We actually did have a mama bear and 3 cubs in our yard a few weeks ago! It was amazing. I will post some pics some time!)

Anyway, I praise God for this season of harvest that will provide and sustain us in a slower (and colder!) time.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Little known (to me anyway:-) New Hampshire fact

Did you know that New Hampshire has 13 (or is it 14, Jaclyn?) miles of coastline? I, for one, was unaware of this fact until I moved to MA. One of my dear friends from college is a New Hampshire resident in the beach town of Portsmouth which is how I came upon this information.

Well, the kids and I went to visit her this week and had a most wonderful vacation! We played in the park, picked blueberries, hugged, went for walks, took a slightly disastrous boat ride (I, not the kids, got sea sick :-), went to the beach, giggled, had small talk, played "restaurant" with the kids at every meal (my new trick to get Abigail to eat!), drank a beer in a bar without the kids!!, shared deep thoughts, and spent more time together than we had in years. It was lovely to be in such caring, uplifting, fun company. I have been deeply missing friends that know me well and this trip was a refreshing drink for this dry soul.

I was going to post some great pictures from our trip but after 3 failed attempts, I don't think that my "hi speed" (their sense of humor is so twisted) dial-up is not going to cooperate. Ah, maybe someday we will get real internet...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Snail's Pace

So, when the internet first came into main stream use, was dial up as slow then as it is now? I don't seem to remember waiting so long for pages to load when I was in high school. Have I just gotten used to a faster internet speed or is dial up not effective for the astronomical software changes that have occurred since I was a student at MASD? Computer friends (Kenny...), any thoughts?

Well, after a 2 month absence I am back up and blogging! We recently got internet again and I am attempting to see if the "hi speed" (HA!) dial up will be compatible with my frequent desire to blog. (Note: outlook so far - gloomy. I wrote about three-fourths of this blog on paper while I waited for the new post form page to load.)

For a brief update, we have been in our new house, the Birches, since June1st! We are fully settled in by now and enjoying it. We are on 3 acres of beautifully shaded, mostly wooded land that is bordered by the 83 acre camp, a state forest, and our nearest neighbors, who are awesome Christodora supporters and previous owners of this house, a mile up the road.
Needless to say, we are remote! We are the last house on this part of the road, which is dirt and gravel. Our true neighbors are the song birds, owls, squirrels, black bears, bobcats, deer and beavers.

The house is amazing. Two bedrooms, the kids is on the first floor, ours in the second floor loft. A floor to ceiling whole wall rough stone fireplace with raised hearth in the living/dining room, a galley kitchen not at all made for short people with a dishwasher (Woo-hoo!), all hardwood and stone tile floors, a brand new washer and dryer in the bathroom and a small 7-windowed office. Not a huge house but a lovely just-enough-house with peaceful views of the surrounding birches and maples. No basement but a small outbuilding we have the termed the cottage since we had some guests sleep in it. This house was once a ramshackle hunting type cabin that was gutted (except the fireplace) and completely redone. There is a huge deck on the back and a trail in the back yard leading to Matt's 5 minute wooded commute to work. I will send pictures once I have more time (and patience) to wait for them to load.

It is home and we feel blessed to be here. The kids love it as well. We hike almost daily and they are becoming quite rugged tykes. They can take some pretty rough falls anymore and get up like its nothing, future Everest climbers? Or Fear Factor participants (Tristan has been sampling some caterpillars lately but that's another post :-)?

Manice is going well. We are almost halfway through the summer (crazy!). Matt has had his share of crisis and problems but he is learning, directing, and developing a very good understanding of what it takes to run this program well.

As I type I realize I am exhausted. The 5:30 am wake up is catching up with me and although I have much more to say, I think I will say it better with some more sleep. Good night!

Monday, May 21, 2007

For Kenny and Liz

Friends of ours in Pittsburgh are planning a deck project and were asking to see pictures of what others have done.

Here are some pics of a deck Matt did last summer for someone else:

I only have one picture of our deck in TC with me. The rest are packed!
Can't wait to see what you guys come up with...I definetly vote for the hot tub...