A Day at the Farm

Boggy Creek Farm

Today we took a trip to Boggy Creek Farm where they were hosting the Green Corn Project’s “Grow Locally, Cook Globally” annual fall festival. The Green Corn Project is a volunteer-run organization that helps Central Texans grow their own organic vegetables by installing gardens for elderly, low-income and disabled community members, as well as elementary schools, community centers and shelters in underserved areas of Austin.

Today’s festival featured some of our favorite Austin eateries, including Olamaie and Odd Duck, plus some new must-try spots like Vox Table and Delicious. Olamaie served up blue corn cornbread topped with creamed collards — yum! And Vox Table had me with their chickpea fritters topped with pickled pumpkin, which I was told takes days to pickle. My libation of choice was a honeysuckle lemonade which went down way too easily.

Nora, of course, was partial to Dolce Neve’s gelato. She was told she had to finish her slice from Bola Pizza first. Such a rough life this girl leads; you have to eat your pizza before you get gelato.

Ice-cream eatin'

After she got her fill of pizza and gelato, she wanted to see the animals. I think she had pigs and cows in mind, since I was really talking up our visit to the farm, but luckily they had some chickens.

Chickens

It was a good day. A little hot for almost Halloween, but the sun was shining so I can’t complain. Our bellies were full and satisfied and we got to help a good cause, to boot!

Bike at Boggy Creek Farm

 

The Silent Journey

Nora says, "Shhh!"
Nora says, “Shhh!”

Last week we were invited to The Silent Journey at Nora’s Montessori school, by way of the adorable invitation pictured above.

She’s been at the school for about a month and a half, and while KP and I hear snippets of her day — when she feels like sharing — we don’t have the intel that we were accustomed to at her old school. That’s because we don’t go into the classroom to drop her off or pick her up. There’s no daily chit chat with the teachers, no observation of her and her classmates. They operate that way for a variety of reasons, but mainly the classroom is the children’s space and it’s easier for parents to say their goodbyes outside or better yet, in the car line. (Side note: I was a combination of shocked, pleasantly surprised and mildly saddened at how quickly Nora opted for us to drop her off and pick her up via car line, versus walk her up the path to her class’s “cottage.”)

So an opportunity to explore the classrooms and learn more about what goes on day in and day out for our little Montessorian was a welcome one. And they were serving wine! No-brainer.

The evening was split into two parts: the journey through the environments and the discovery of the materials. The journey was the silent part. The school’s guides (aka teachers) led the silent tour of primary through upper elementary classrooms, the silence intended to keep us free from distractions. I had been in Nora’s classroom twice before, but it was eye-opening to get up close and personal with the works it includes. Some things were expected, like the letters and the scissors and paper (because every Friday she comes home with teeny, tiny scraps she’s cut throughout the week), but there were other works that I had no idea they did — like polishing metal!

Week 1 Friday bag contents
Week 1 Friday bag contents

Coming from a traditional public school background, the lower elementary and upper elementary classrooms were even more intriguing to me — no desks, no textbooks, nothing traditional about it. But it was easy to see why kids take to the environment and excel.

Lower elementary

Our welcome to the upper elementary classroom was a math puzzle. KP’s night was made while my anxiety set in. It left a lot of folks (me, included!) scratching our heads. Those kids, as we said in Boston, are wicked smaht!

Math

After the journey, the parents and guides reconvened for a brief discussion and Q and A before moving into the “discovery” portion of the evening. Discovery was hands-on; parents could choose which classroom(s) to revisit and choose from select work(s) or “ask for a lesson,” meaning, asking a guide for help with the work.

KP and I made our way through all three levels — primary, lower elementary and upper elementary. Each environment was so different from what I’m used to in a classroom, but in a way that made me feel like I wish I had gone to a Montessori school. Sitting comfortably on a rug on a floor and feeling shapes of triangles to learn a math lesson? Yes, please! It seems like a simpler, more obvious way to learn. In upper elementary, we had a lesson on how to calculate the surface area of a triangle (did I just type that?) and I actually got it!

Getting a glimpse of what Nora experiences every morning of the week was awesome. We’re lucky to have found such a great little place for her to learn.

First-timers at Austin City Limits Festival

ACL Fest

KP and I went to the second weekend of the Austin City Limits — or ACL — Festival this past weekend. I absolutely hate crowds, so ordinarily I’d run as far and fast in the opposite direction as I could, but ACL feels like a rite of passage if I’m going to call myself an Austinite. And I love music, and Mumford and Sons was in the line-up and both KP and I have wanted to see them for some time. Plus, this type of thing used to be the scene for the cool girl hidden deep inside of me. So I bought us one-day passes before they sold out.

My young, hip niece and nephew went the weekend before us — it spans two weekends — so luckily we had their pointers to lead us in the right direction. We knew where to park (and how far we’d have to walk from said parking) and to set up cashless payment on the app and all that good stuff. We were ready.

We could not have had more perfect weather for our day at the festival. The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it wasn’t too hot (ah, “fall” in Texas…). It wasn’t even terribly crowded when we arrived early afternoon. Before we got into the festival gates, though, we had to pay a quick visit to the ticket help desk… because we are old and don’t even know how to put on music festival wristbands without ruining them. Seriously.

ACL Fest

Like I said, it wasn’t too crowded when we got there and even the line for one of the many bars — our first stop, naturally — was non-existent. Food lines were fast, too, and you could choose from just about every type of food imaginable. I opted for nachos, my personal vice.

While Mumford and Sons was the draw for us, there were some other solo artsists and bands I was interested in seeing. Pete Yorn has been a favorite of mine for a long time and he did not disappoint.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were good fun. They have such a soulful sound; it’s impossible to not want to clap your feet or tap your toes when you listen to them — especially live. And, fun fact: they’re from Hermann, Missouri.

Willie Nelson was, sadly, disappointing. The best part of his set for me was when Matthew McConaughey introduced him. By no means am I a huge Willie Nelson fan, but I felt obligated to listen; he’s a legend! He’s also 83 years old. It was difficult to hear him, so we bailed. Those kimchi fries were calling my name!

The show stealers for me were HAIM. I had been listening to them a bit before ACL so I was excited to see them, and they did not disappoint. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re these three badass sisters and they have a fun pop/rock sound to them. KP says they’re like a throwback to the 80s, which is kind of accurate. I like them because I think their sound is unique. And again, they are just badass! I would not at all be upset if my guitar-loving daughter went in that direction…

By time Mumford and Sons took the stage, I felt as if I had spent the afternoon smoking countless bowls of weed. I know it’s Austin and we like to keep it weird, and I know there’s always an abundance of pot at these types of festivals, but wow. I was blown away — almost literally. It was so prevalent, so strong. Just too much. Is that why so many people had bandanas covering their noses and mouths? So, we watched a good chunk of Mumford but left before they were finished. They were good, but we were tired, and did I mention, old?

Good times were had by all, for sure. I’m already thinking about ACL 2017, but maybe I’ll be one of the folks wearing the makeshift medical mask next time!

Harvard, it’s me, Nora

Yesterday Nora wrote her name. By herself. As a reminder, she’s three-years-old.

Last week I was giddy because she wrote part of the word “Halloween” by herself on a card she made for her friends. In that case, I gave her a little direction and she copied some of the letters I wrote for “Happy.”

Happy Halloween

Yesterday, though, she was innocently chalking on the deck while I was playing on my phone instead of paying attention to her like the doting mother that I am. Then she said, “I made an N!” She did, in fact, make an “N.” And then she kept chalking. And before I knew it, she had spelled N-O-R-A. I couldn’t believe it. Now, I’m not submitting it to the Palmer Method, but it’s definitely obvious that the letters spell her name.

N-O-R-A

Clearly, the child is a genius and we should get crackin’ on her Harvard application ASAP. Proud mama right here.

In the spirit of keeping it real, I should also share that just after writing her name, she cut a piece of chalk’s “hair” with a shovel.