Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Oh, Nothing Special

In an effort to catch up on my weeks of neglect, this is my second post today.  So if you haven't read anything about Team Skaggs in three weeks, scroll down to the first post about our spring break before reading this one.  Not that it makes much difference.  Now that I think about it, read it in any order you want.  Our life is happily, predictably unpredictable.


Life since spring break has been filled with lots of academic and personal achievements for Ella.  First, she was notified that she made the honor roll for a second time in a row.  She is rocking this school thing.  Then we found out that she is once again being honored with a small group of students who were "caught being good."  Apparently that means that they are proudly representing their school's values: creativity, wonder, compassion, and resilience.  How cool are those values??

And finally, Ella kicked some middle school butt at the debate tournament last weekend.


You may remember that at her first debate tournament last fall the principal had to comfort Ella when she started crying.  Fast forward seven months and she won all four of her debates last Saturday and the topics, as usual, weren't easy: "Gentrification does more harm than good", "Pluto should regain its planetary status", "The Supreme Court should significantly increase its number of justices", and "New York should remain a sanctuary city."  This was against dozens of top schools in the greater New York City area (I believe hers is the only public school in the league) and teams with 8th graders (Ella's school doesn't go through 8th grade yet).  Our little eleven-year-old came home with a trophy and enough self-confidence to burst her enormous head.

We celebrated with Holden's BFF over ramen

I've been able to chaperone a few field trips at Ella's school.  In the last couple weeks we've hit the Jewish Museum (field work for their comparative religions paper), a puppet show about the watershed in New York and where the city gets its drinking water from, and a one-woman show about a book that Ella read called The Children of Willesden Lane, about an Austrian Jewish girl in WWII which was amazing.  I know how to volunteer for her school!

Ella also got to take a Crew bonding trip to the campus of Outward Bound NYC for an afternoon of rock climbing.

 Holden hasn't suffered the last couple weeks either.

He has enjoyed a play in Spanish with his best friend Simon, not one but TWO slumber parties, a going away party for a good friend, and an amazing day out on an island in the New York Harbor for Earth Day.

We joined a group of homeschoolers for a day of working on a teaching farm on Governors Island, a small, former military island in between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The city is now fixing up the island for public use and it is also home to a public high school where kids can learn to captain a boat, scuba dive, and anything having to do with marine biology.  Pretty amazing.

We worked mostly in the composting learning center and really did learn more than I ever thought I wanted to know about compost.  The island is where all of the compost that is dropped off at any of the dozens of farmers markets across the city end up.  Holden and I spent three hours shoveling rotten food into bins to be fed to the chickens on site.  We also planted pansies and herbs in the garden, searched for eggs in the hen house, and got dirtier than I would have liked considering we then had to take the subway home during rush hour.

Last weekend Kevin and I got a treat.  Our good friends from the old neighborhood, Lori and Angus, were in town.  Angus produced a short animated film that is beautiful. It was chosen by Whoopi Goldberg to be included in the TriBeCa Film Festival.  It was so fun to celebrate with those guys out on the town and to bring our kids to see the show and hear Angus speak on a panel the next day.

You know, just another boring week for Team Skaggs.

Spring in the Woods

Do you know that feeling when you have a pile of laundry and you keep ignoring it and it just grows and grows and grows until you actually go out and buy new underwear rather than tackle that now unmanageable mountain of dirty clothes?

Well, that's how I feel about this blog right now.

Three weeks is unacceptable.  Blogging every 3-4 days works.  I can whip out a few pictures and a quick few sentences letting you all know how we spent our time in just a few minutes when it's only been a handful of days.  But as it gets to be weeks I know it's going to take me an hour or two to collect photos and try to even remember the highlights.  And so I ignore it.

I'll do a quick summary now of our spring break in Woodstock three weeks ago and then if I can get myself back to the computer today, I'll try to catch you up on the last two weeks.

The garden is starting its spring bloom and the weather was gorgeous almost all week.  Kevin joined us on the bookend weekends of spring break in Woodstock and the kids and I ate ice cream daily, took a couple hikes, and did a lot of spring cleaning while he was working in the city.

Fairy houses are popping up in the garden
Discovered a new hike in Phoenicia

The kids and I spent most of the week emptying out the back house that we had been using for storage for the last year, and painting it.  The plan is that it will be the new Kids Cabin.  What would have taken me two days by myself took me five days with the kids' "help".

Before shots

We also hiked a trail we've hiked in snow several times but really enjoyed in the warm sunshine.  More fairy houses were built along the way.

Holden was the only Skaggs brave enough to jump in the swimming hole we frequent all summer.  The running water was snow just hours before...

When Kevin returned the next weekend we did more spring cleaning.  This time we stained a deck for the first time.  Back-breaking work.

The kids did some staining as well.  They took a couple of dull and peeling benches and brightened them up.

Can't miss them now

It was Easter, so the kids did the obligatory egg coloring and hunting.  And because Ella was writing a comparative religion paper over spring break (and only because she was writing the paper), we attended Easter Sunday services at a sweet little church in Woodstock.

Uncle Jack saw that we had recently hiked to Kaaterskill Falls (a favorite hike of ours in the area) so he kindly sent us a print of a painting he did of the very same falls.  It now hangs proudly in our cabin.

Our groundhog/woodchuck that lives under our house is now so unafraid of us that we've given him a name: Woody.  He visited us many times.  Makes me a little sad that I'll be calling animal control soon to get him a new home.


Not that sad though.