Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tennessee Trip

We spent six days in Tennessee visiting my parents. They went by quickly, and we spent a lot of time at my parents' house, because it's such a lovely place to just hang out and play games, do pottery, cook, bake, and just walk around the property. But we made a trip into Franklin to check out the local skate park and for some frozen yogurt. We also spent a day on the river, kayaking and canoeing. It was a lovely visit.

We arrived just in time for birthday cake and candles.

A little Lilli love from Otto.

Grandpa and Cady (Lilli's little sister).

We spent a good part of three of our days down in the studio, working with Grandma on some pottery. We threw some things, and then Otto hand built a TARDIS.

Max decided to make one too.

Preparations for the ice bucket challenge.

On Thursday, we went kayaking along the Duck River. We had a guide, and it was a four hour trip along the river, flowing with the fairly strong current for much of it.

It was great, because there were several spots to stop and swim (to cool off in the warm day), and it also gave us a chance to switch our kayaks/canoes, so that everyone could try all the different options. Both kids really liked the single kayak.

But even the canoe was really fun.

Grandma and Grandpa in sync.

Max tried to catch some small fish.

Otto and Grandpa canoed the last leg.

Cady waited patiently for us outside the studio (and was probably also telling Lilli to stay back). She is a good guard dog, just like her sister.

Checking on some of the things we fired.

Grandpa and Grandma made a glazing guide to demonstrate all the different glaze combinations.

Grandpa made another one for the red clay.

Grandpa and the boys picked some vegetables from the garden for us to take with us.

Playing around before we had to hit the road.

Max took this photo as we drove down the driveway. It's sort of a bittersweet one.


August was a very full month for us, and it flew by without much time to document it here, but I'll try to recap it a bit.

The last days of July and first days of August were consumed with the departure of our previous (and much adored) tenants and the arrival of our new tenants (who are friends of the former tenants, which means they are extremely likable and that the transition went without a hitch). First to leave was Hannah. It was the most dramatic of the departures, since she was moving to Montana. We sort of lingered around the entire day as she and her dad (and David) packed up all her possessions into a Uhaul truck. And then we said our goodbyes.

And then, just a couple of days later, we had to say our official farewells to Brianna and David too. There were far too many goodbyes in such a short span of time. Luckily, these two are staying local, and David will continue to teach banjo lessons, so we'll be sure to see them.

August was also consumed with learning to skateboard (as previously noted). We are so lucky that the new park near our house has a nice paved path, perfect for skateboarding. It also has some ramps and some low planters which will be interesting when they get a bit more experienced. We've been out riding almost every day in the last month, as the boys have gotten more and more comfortable on their boards.

We took a quick weekend trip to the cabin.

We spent one sunny day at the beach.

We toured Granor Farm.

We hiked through Fernwood Botanic Gardens.

We went blueberry picking at a nearby blueberry farm. (And once home, we made jam with our bounty).

In between all of this, we had our regular weekly meet ups with Ruben, and usually went out to some delicious lunch spot.

Ethiopian Diamond.

Jeni's Ice Cream.

Cino Latino.

Smoke Daddy.

And one night, we all cooked a delicious meal together at our house.

They also had another lovely afternoon of busking. They had a very enthusiastic fan who wanted to play all the instruments.

We spent a couple of days with Truman and his family. One of the days was mostly spent with the boys gaming and with Kelly and I catching up. Another day was a spontaneous get together when we were attending the practice session for the air and water show at the beach (very near their house). 

Kelly and Millie and I walked to get bagels and lucked into an impromptu tour of this very cool apartment building. It was a project which began in 1927 with Edgar Miller and Sol Kogen. It was a community of artists who all contributed different things (tile work, sculptures, woodwork). It's really cool, and apparently Millie has been wanting to have a peek inside since she was five. So it was a stroke of luck that one of its residents rode up on her bike while we were peeking through the viewing windows into the courtyard.

I would still love to do a tile project like this one in our back yard.

At the air and water show practice:

They brought this stick home from the park near the beach. I think it's pretty cool that they are still excited enough about a big stick that they would carry it all that way. We got several admiring comments an curious questions on our way back to Truman's house.

Our friends Eamon and Pierce (and their siblings Helene and Arthur) were in town visiting from England, where they moved three years ago. Eamon and Pierce are Max and Otto's oldest friends, and it is always a delight to spend time with them and reconnect. We drove out to their house in Sterling Illinois, which is also the town where both sets of their grandparents live, and over the years, we have gotten to know the entire extended family as well as their immediate (and wonderful) one. We took a tour of Naschua Nature Preserve.

They had another family out to the house at the same time, and all the boys really hit it off. They spent one night camping out in the back yard together, all staying up late playing Truth or Dare.

They got a ride in Patrick's Porsche, just back from the shop.

It was not actually Jodie's 40th birthday, but it's coming up this September, and it was a good excuse to have a big party and invite all her friends to visit while they were in town. Plus, there were funny hats and big buckets of rum drinks.

Back at the house, we played about 20 rounds (not even exaggerating) of Werewolf. And then there were a few music concerts.

We went to Jodie's parents farm on Sunday and picked lots of vegetables. Even Otto got in on the action.

Actually, Helene and I spent most of the time walking around, playing a game where she pretended Lilli was her dog and she and to take her on various errands, like a visit to the vet, or to the pharmacy. It was so fun to have pretend play again with such a sweet little girl. And I was really happy to have a way to connect with her.

The boys, meanwhile, walked around in their own formation, taking over the farm, and apparently taking time to shoot an ad for Brisk Iced Tea.

Helene brought her toddler (aka her little brother) along on the last errand, which was a trip to the drive-through at McDonald's, where she ordered meals for everyone, even Lilli.

And speaking of that sweet dog of ours, we had another rough patch with Lilli this month. We had planned to go to the Renaissance Faire one day and arranged dog care with a sitter (since spending the day in Bristol is usually about 12 hours). We go every year, and we even go so far as to buy our tickets at the early bird rate in December, because we know we'll always use them. But Lilli had a bout of seizures (10 in all) that morning, and we ended up just hanging out at home all day (and taking her to the vet for some new medications for the seizures). Also, the boys and I took her for a bath at a do it yourself dog wash at Soggy Paws. We had been meaning to try it for years, and it turns out, having a dog covered in pee from an inordinate amount of seizures is a pretty good reason to take her for a bath. 

It wasn't so bad being forced to stay in the neighborhood all weekend, especially with all the amazing food options we and, all available al fresco, which meant Lilli could be by our side. Saturday Breakfast at Bang Bang Pie Shop, sitting in the garden.

Sunday Breakfast at Longman and Eagle.

We did pottery on Mondays most of the summer. The last week, we did some handbuildling (and got to pick up a lot of our finished work from earlier weeks). We made Dalek mugs. We can't wait to see how they turn out.

And yes, that means we've also bee watching lots of Dr. Who this summer, trying to catch up and prepare ourselves for the new doctor this fall. Alas, we are woefully behind, but still enjoying it immensely.

Three of our pitchers.

Other stuff.

In the third week of August, the boys attended a cooking camp at Whole Foods. That was actually an amazing week for all of us. It was the first time they've ever done something so intense in terms of time. It was Monday through Friday, from 11-3. I dropped them off in the morning, and they immediately got to work with the class, checking out what they would make each day, then doing all the shopping for ingredients (convenient since the class is in the upstairs part of the grocery store). They then prepared ingredients, made the recipes and ate together. And then cleaned up. I would arrive each afternoon to hear them excitedly recount what they made each day (and they would even have leftovers enough for dinner for all of us each night). It was pretty much the perfect set up. 

While they were in class, I could hang out in the comfy lounge area with free wi-fi, or I could shop at Whole Foods, or I could eat lunch from there or any of the other great neighborhood restaurants. I could meet Martin for lunch (his office is just down the street from there). I could go shopping at any of the other area stores (REI, Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, to name only a few favorites). But mostly I chose to just relax in the lounge, where I wrote some letters in longhand and read a couple of books, two things which felt like rare indulgences. The week flew by for all of us, and everyone was so thrilled with it that we can't wait to do more classes there and in fact have set up a homeschool cooking class that will meet once a month this fall.

I got a quick sneaky shot of them through the glass door of the classroom. I didn't want to stare at them like they were animals in the zoo, although it was hard not to, as they were so darn adorable.

Mostly we ate leftovers from class all week, but one night we met up with Martin for a yummy dinner at Parson's Chicken and Fish.

And the last week of August, we went to visit my parents in Tennessee. There are enough photos from that that I think I need to make a separate post. It was a very full month, and I'm glad I got a chance to sit and think about all we did, and now we can all revisit it whenever we want. If we have time for reminiscing, of course. Because now it's September, and all sorts of other fun things are underway...

Almost Always Hungry