New York City

The chronology of my summer posts is a little backwards.  Before our pastor moved, before Thomas was confirmed, and while I was still throwing rocks, Thomas, Jack, and David went to New York City.  They had a great time so I want to give their summer “field trip” a little mention on this space before the calendar and the weather officially turn to autumn.


Tom’s favorite picture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We had a few reasons for sending just the two older boys with David on a trip like this.  First, I am at a stage in my life where I really do not like to travel.  Perhaps this is just a temporary stage.  I don’t know.  I do know that I am currently a homebody. That does not mean, however, that I want our children to grow up to be homebodies too.  David and I thought it would be good for Thomas and Jack to see and experience something outside of western New York.  What better way to do this than to hop a train with Dad and travel across our Empire State to New York City?

Our second line of reasoning was that Walter is just too young for a trip like this.  He would neither appreciate it nor remember it; and even if I did like to travel, the logistics of taking a toddler on an eight hour trip to New York City are complicated at best.  Clearly the older boys would be less encumbered and would have more fun without their anxious mother and their little brother in tow.

Finally, with just bit of homeschool math, one can figure out that a trip for three people will cost less than a trip for five people.  Our limited travel budget was able to stretch a little further with Walter and me staying home.

After we thought through all this quite logically, David bought tickets for the train and booked an Airbnb for two nights in Times Square.  I helped the boys pack their bags, and they were off!

In Times Square.

In Times Square

The trip was a huge success!  My three travelers are already planning a return trip next summer.  Upon their return, I asked the boys to write blog posts about their experiences, which they did gladly.  Thomas is the photographer of the pair.  You can see his post at Thomas Duke 2003.  Jack is our young writer in residence.  If New York City from a ten-year-old’s perspective sounds interesting, you can read about it on his site, EpicJetMan 1780.

What about Walter and me, you might ask?  We enjoyed the quiet.  We enjoyed the not cooking for five people.  We enjoyed walking at the river in the morning and napping in the afternoon.  We enjoyed playing the piano and getting some house projects done.  It was wonderful.  I’m looking forward to next summer’s return trip too!

Not New York City

Not New York City




Thanksgiving Report 3: Pilgrims

It is December 11.  Theoretically, this is a time of preparation for Christmas, not a time for writing about Thanksgiving.  Rest assured, we are preparing for Christmas, and a “White Christmas” at that.  In fact, Western New York weather is so intent on creating a “Winter Wonderland” effect, that the boys were unable to get the Christmas tree today as planned.  They braved the lake effect snow, headed south to East Aurora, and found the driveway to the tree farm under two feet of snow, with conditions deteriorating steadily.

photo by Thomas

photo by Thomas

photo by Thomas

photo by Thomas

They decided to come home.

With no tree to decorate this evening, I decided to finish my Thanksgiving series.  This last post is actually a showcase of Jack’s work.  He read about the Pilgrims this fall, and wrote a report about them.  Concurrently, he worked on an imaginative story.  He calls it “The Yellow Pod and The Green Pod.”  I like to call it “The Pilgrims Go to Mexico.”  It is interesting to me because I can see that he is working with certain concepts, and yet he doesn’t quite understand them fully.  For example, he knows that ships carried people across the ocean, and that smaller sailing sloops were used for trading up and down the coast.  (I just learned that myself after reading The Winthrop Woman.)  He also knows that fresh water is important.  Instead of including a “spoiler alert,” I’ll let you read on for yourself to see how these concepts play out.  By the way, the “pods” are the ships.  I don’t know why he calls them “pods.”

“The Pilgrims”

by Jack Duke


A Pilgrim is someone who goes on a long, long journey.  The Pilgrims could not worship God in their own way.  They tried to get to Virginia, but they got to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Before winter there were 102 Pilgrims.  After the winter there were 50 Pilgrims.  By the end of the summer, they had eight houses. 

Native Americans helped the Pilgrims in the summer.  In October the Pilgrims and the Indians had a big feast!  They had deer, berries, grapes, dried plums, nuts, and turkeys!  The feast was to be thankful for their food.  They had pumpkins, squash and beans too.

“The Yellow Pod and the Green Pod”

This book is in 1852.

by Jack Duke


One fine day, the Yellow Pod and the Green Pod were going to north Mexico.  The people on the ships were going to live there.  It was a smooth ride.  They got to north Mexico safe and sound.

They gave some people who needed ships their ships for two sailboats.  They were going to need sailboats to go places to trade things.  They made ten little wooden houses.  The kids played tag, and run around the house, and hide and seek.  One day they got a great trade: a log for a gun.  Then one day they went to Florida in their sailboats to get some more water.  When they were home, everyone had lots of water.

It was summer at last.  Crops were growing.  Everyone was happy that it was summer.  They had sailed for that long, long time for a better life.  The place was not so full because they had made their own town.  They made lots of friends there.  They had a way better life in north Mexico than in England.


P.S.  For my non-local readers, let me explain lake effect snow.  East Aurora is south of Buffalo, and the City of Tonawanda, where we live, is north of Buffalo.  If you look on a map, you will see that Tonawanda is actually north of Lake Erie.  Alas, this means we do not always get the lake effect snow.  This is frustrating for the children, the young at heart, and anyone who doesn’t have to drive regularly.  You saw the pictures from East Aurora.  Here in Tonawanda, we have about an inch.  We’re hoping for more, and I think it’s on it’s way…



Ealier this month, the boys and I traveled to Frankenmuth, Michigan, for my mom’s retirement dinner.  She is a teacher at St. Lorenz Lutheran School and will be retiring at the end of the year.  St. Lorenz gave her a wonderful dinner, and we were glad to be present for that.  Of course, the dinner was not the boys’ favorite part of the visit.  I thought we’d do a couple posts from their perspective.  Today you get to hear from Jack.  Stay tuned for Tom’s post coming tomorrow.

Grandma and Grandpa’s House

by Jack Duke

On May 5th and 6th we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  I had lots of fun. My favorite thing was miniature golf.  I got four holes in one!  Lots of times everyone got their balls in the hole on the second try.