September 27, 2010 | Comments Off

As Fall approaches we are enjoying the spectacular display of colors here in the Hudson Valley. Unlike in Ireland, where leaves just turn brown and fall off the trees at the end of summer, here in the U.S. North East the effect of the cold weather on their sugars is to cause the leaves to turn magnificent shades of orange, yellow, red and blue. It is a beautiful time of the year here, and one that draws in countless tourists to the “Fall Foliage Trail”.

The kids have always liked being outdoors. They enjoyed the summer just past, taking swimming and tennis lessons at our local pool club, but they’re also glad to see the change in the weather, and have fun on windy days, when they have taken to running around the garden trying to catch the leaves as they blow down. Indeed, we’re delighted that, since we decided to cancel our cable TV subscriptions, the older ones have started spending more time outside. We have set up Netflix accounts, which provide for streaming shows and movies over the internet, so that they can still enjoy some movies and shows, but they’re no longer spending hours of mindless viewing in front of the accursed tube. Now, riding their bikes, sitting out with their two rescue rabbits (they were destined for stew before joining our menagerie !), horse riding at the local stable, and going on lots of walks to the local State parks has become an enjoyable way for the kids to welcome the change of season.

The changes have not all being confined to the outdoors; things have been moving along inside, as well. Conall has really become quite the conversationalist. Although he was a bit slower to take to talking than his two older siblings, he is certainly making up for it now. He always lets us know what’s on his mind and in his dreams. When he wakes up in the morning he tells us all about the trains he dreamt of – he is obsessed with trains! Amtrak’s ling-distance trains run only a mile or so from our house, so Jenn has been known to spend at least an hour on the village corner by the level crossing so that, as the lights flash and the barriers drop, Conall can say “Hello” as he watches “Thomas” pass by.

The Conallator is obsessed not only with trains, but with his Grandma, too. He walked into a crowded room recently with Grandma, holding her by the hand, and announced to everyone, “This is my friend! She’s my Grandma. She babysits me.” Jenn chuckled that the friend title came before Grandma. He has started telling us stories, too. A typical example might be: “Once upon a time there was a little Conall. And a big train. And a little train. The end.” He’s very protective of us, as well. For example, if he’s out in the breezeway of our house when it’s raining and I step out as well he’ll say “No dad, don’t go out. You need to stay inside“. At least he no longer calls me a “stupid loser“. (We have no idea where he picked that one up !)

The end of summer also marks the end of the summer holliers, and the kids have been settling down well to the new school year. They’ve started doing some online courses using Currclick, which feature video chats between a teacher and a dozen or so students. Those sessions work out particularly well for reading clubs and history classes, and gives Jenn time to take care of Conall and grab some down time.

Living in Dutchess County we’re lucky that there are so many parks and venues in our locality, and as a result the kids have had the chance to go to many events that coincide with the busy tourist season up here: Celtic Day, the Rock and Gem show, Science on the River Day, etc. Eoghan is obsessed with gems and minerals – although we’re not sure if it’s on account of a burgeoning love of geology, or simply the fact that he’s hoping to discover gold and diamonds that he can sell for vast sums of money ! Meanwhile, the “Pigeon Show” is, unfortunately, coming to town in two weeks. I say unfortunately, because Jenn has decided it would be a great idea to get the kids their own homing pigeons. So it looks as if our zoo will now be expanding to include birds. I like animals, especially when served with garlic, but am not a huge fan of yet more pets, so Orla wrote me a note last night making her case for the new additions :
Why Mom and Dad should get me a pair of racing pigeons.

  1. Because you guys love me.
  2. Because I am more mature.
  3. Because they would have a good owner and home.
  4. Conall would LOVE them.
  5. They would help me with math like Mom said before.
  6. Kayla and my other friends would think they are cool.
  7. The babies are kind of cute.
  8. We could send letters.
  9. They would be cool.
  10. We could put the feathers into dreamcatchers and sell them.

Against Jenn and the kids, I simply don’t have a chance…


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