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Birthday party at the local climbing facility today. That's fun for all ages—for the kids, who are climbing with all the energy of childhood and none of the fears of adulthood, and for the adults, who are watching from the sidelines, knowing their children will be tired that evening. Calvin has always been a cautious child, so I expected him to stay relatively low to the ground, and he did, but he was tireless, keeping at long after the others had retired to the bouncy room. And in the free climb area he totally killed it, eventually conquering his anxieties and the wall itself to make it to the very top.

Now he wants a climbing membership.


Camp concert

All week I've been sans child during the day. I'd say I didn't know what to do with myself, but that would be a clichéd lie. Actually, there were so many things I wanted to do that the question was more, what should I get done next? 

It was Boychoir camp week, so while my days were filled with projects needing to be done (and a lot of reading of Ulysses), Calvin's were half filled with singing, half filled with field trip events. This is his second year of participating in the camp, and I continue to be surprised by the fantastic afternoons that this small, family-like group offers. Following lunch the group jumps on a city bus, sometimes even doing transfers, and visits a local fun place. They putt putt golfing, they swam, they went to an indoor activity center, and, the highlight of the week for most of the boys, I think, they visited a real plastics lab at the University of Michigan. Calvin loves these activities. I love that he does so well with this group of kids, and that all day camp offers him the chance to be pretty responsible for himself, and that this camp allows him to utilize public transportation. Sometimes it's the small things (or the very big and anxiety-inducing things, if I were the person in charge of all those boys for the afternoon).

The week is over now. It ended with a fun concert that was surprisingly full of interesting music for such a short practice time (and I won't say that the short practice time kind of shows, but, I guess I said it). It was fun to compare this year to last year, when I remember Calvin being a little uncertain during the concert. Now most of that uncertainty is gone, replaced by a visible confidence. In fact, this year he was selected for the small group that worked on a couple of more intense, complicated songs. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at the end-of-the-year choir ceremony, he was asked by the director and manager of the choir if he would join the Performing Choir in singing at a wedding a couple of weeks, so he has been singing with the big boys this month, and that's very exciting.


Apple Daze, small town fall fun

The fall color is here, and with it arrived the crisp fall temperatures and our annual Apple Daze festival in town. Sadly there were no local apples to be had this year, but that didn't stop the festival from happening. Also somewhat sadly, the festival always falls on the same day as the book sale at the library. I made it to into town for brats, cider, and donuts with the boys at lunch time, and we walked through the old cars, but the rest of the day I spent inside hawking tomes to fellow bibliophiles.

Jon and Calvin, though, got the full Apple Daze experience. They took the hay ride to the cider mill and had their goodies by the river, they played the carnival style games and won tokens and prizes, they played putt putt, Calvin bounced in the bounce house, and, because we happen to know the right someone, he even got to sit in a pretty sweet old Rolls-Royce.


It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en

Halloween is cropping up all over our house. It has long been one of my favorite holidays so our halls are decked with pumpkin and bat lights that have journeyed with me since college, the front window is stuck with spooky clings, the bushes are decked in faux webs, the wreath is up, the box of costumes is out, the pumpkin cookies have been baked, the candy has been bought. Ahhh.

Tomorrow night will be pumpkin carving, after a day of partying in town and with our homeschooling group. We celebrate Hallowe'en via its historical and cultural roots, going all the way back to Celtic traditions and the festival of Samhain, so tomorrow night we'll read Halloween (for only the third time this week) and have Irish boiled dinner before we carve the pumpkins. This weekend we'll attend the annual Halloween Concert on campus (in costume, of course) and read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (for only the fourth time this week). Calvin has been cuddling stuffed pumpkins and ghosts and designing jack-o-lanterns like crazy. He's in love with anything bat right now, and any spooky story we can come up with (amazing what old folk tales will do for you). Yes, this is definitely a favorite holiday.

Some silly Halloween stuff (a portion of which is interesting):
Halloween printable activities
Coloring sheets
Activity suggestions (mostly arts and crafts)


Pioneer Days

In a tiny township not far away, a well organized group of history lovers gathers every fall to present the surrounding communities with Pioneer Days. The event is put on by seasoned reenactors as well as local volunteers and even a few families who live today in the manner of yesterday.

Fall seems to me like a great time to discover history, and one of the neatest things about an event like this is being surrounded by people who really care about our past and its preservation. The reenactors are there to spend the weekend living in the world of over 100 years ago, and it is fascinating to watch them do it. Sure they're putting on a show, but it's not a start, stop, rewind, replay show like in a museum, it's a whole weekend long show, and if you stop by and see them cooking in the morning that's because they are already starting the meal they will actually eat later that night. Most reenactors are plenty happy to share information about their activities and the world in which they (are pretending to) live, while a few would rather be left alone to the living itself, teaching onlookers merely by doing.

These local, historical society organized events can be a great place to really touch, smell, hear, and believe history.

From watching the shearing of sheep, to the carding of the wool, to the spinning, and then to the booth where you can by the yarn.

Churn the butter, and taste some that was finished earlier while you're at it, then go inside and see how that butter is being used to start dinner.

Help shred cabbage for the making of sauerkraut...

help collect, clean, and press apples, then taste the cider...

Then go for a hay ride—and not just any hay ride, but a ride through the still active farm fields that belonged to the family that lived in the house you've been visiting. This is the ride the workers would have made to look over the crops, and to bring stores from the barn.

Then go around the corner to the one room school house that the children from the farm would have attended.

That's living history.