Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Hartwell Monastery

My Opa and Oma live on a beautiful lake and have a lovely and relaxing home which has been dubbed the "Hartwell Monastery", and while we were vacationing in the Sunny South the kids and I went to visit them for an afternoon.

It gave me a bit of nostalgia to see Oma and Opa's Christmas tree in the foyer. My Opa and Oma are Dutch and pride themselves on being frugal as well as criminal, and take great delight in "finding" the perfect local tree for their house.

Opa and Oma used to have an orchid business, and the large greenhouse that's attached to the house occasionally receives visitors of an unusual sort.
Whoops, that's not a visitor, that's my Oma! (Although the case could be made for her "unusual-ness").

The visitor was a small screech owl that has taken up residence in the greenhouse. Peter had lots of fun watching the owl sleep. I think the owl was suspicious of Peter's good intentions. They say owls are wise . . .

The lake was much higher this year than last year, so we had a bit of a woodland trek before we could find any "beach" for the kids to play.

I just love moss. When I was a kid I was fascinated with the color and texture, and I had so much fun imagining it as fairy beds or gnome hovels.
(I'm easily amused).

The weather was 50 degrees, which felt like a balmy summer's day to us folks newly arrived from the Frigid North. I think Neighbor Joe was a bit appalled at me, but I let the kids take off their shoes and socks and dip their toes in the water.
One thing that I don't miss about the South is the uncanny ability of red clay to stain every article of clothing on a child's body.
(Hmmm, I should save this photo for blackmail when she's a teenager . . . )

The water was very clear but also quite chilly, but the kids didn't really seem to mind. I had to keep reminding them that "if they got their pants wet I'd kill them".
Gabe was especially eager to run headlong into the lake. Thankfully his mittens were still attached to his coat, so I used them as an impromptu leash. (Click here to see the pattern for the mittens leash).
When we got back to Opa and Oma's house after a long afternoon spent outdoors, I chucked all three kids into the bathtub.
(This picture really captures the essence of my kids' personality. Peter is moving too fast to be photographed and is most likely mid-snarl in his dinosaur impersonation. Gabe is hamming it up for the camera, and Miss Boo is thinking about tattling on her brothers for some infraction real or imaginary.)