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Monday, June 22, 2009

"We're on vacation. We're supposed to be nice to each other."

We are trying to be. It's just that it has been raining for 4 days and is supposed to for the duration of our summer vacation. We are a cross between utterly dismayed and relatively accepting/development of non-sunny plans mode.

Ella said this at the breakfast table. What can I say? She's right... Time together can be fun regardless of thwarted attempts to get the pop-up out for an overnight and abandoned trips to the beach.

After all, we are going to Bar Harbor overnight this weekend sans children...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

some things I've learned (part 1,356)

- If you run out of milk for cereal, Nutella (the super yummy chocolate hazelnut spread) on a graham cracker does well to assuage your guilt and make your preschooler very happy-happier than Kix could ever make her.

-If you see a car swerve off the road and pull to a screeching halt, don't lay on your horn and fly the middle finger. Assume that they, like me two days ago, were trying to fish a chunk of cantaloupe out of their toddlers airway.

-If you clean up the same mess more than three times in one day, or hear yourself actually fight back with a four-year-old about the need to wear clean underwear, you should have at least one, if not two, glasses of wine once they go to bed.

-If you can't find your tea cup, look in the trash because that is the most likely place for Maya to put it. Besides that, the lesson learned would be to put lo-jack on all your belongings so you can track them by satellite once they go missing.

-If you don't have good friends, the kind that you can call 3-5 times a day if needed to commiserate or complain to, then you might as well sign up for the lobotomy now.

-If you get to eat a meal without someone raking their hands through it, consider yourself lucky.

- Never, ever, write a post about how grateful you are for your kids until they are sleeping- otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for a bad day.

-Try, as hard as possible, not to take away TV as a punishment. This only makes everyone suffer.

-Keep an emergency stash of chocolate in the freezer. This one speaks for itself.

-Do something that makes you sweat and breath hard everyday. This offsets the potential for yelling and screaming.

- We can manage rain, but parenting when the sun is out is just infinitely easier.

-There is a reason that there are supposed to be two parents. No one can be that good.

I want to know who has stolen my patience this morning and when they are planning to return it...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What else is there to say??

Well, since I have officially created some blog junkies (thank you, Angela for your comment)... I better get posting.

First we were on Beals for Noah's graduation from Kindergarten. He was the single graduate of a single pupil class in the 37 student Beals Elementary (grades K-8). It was kind of a good thing he was the only student because he was the entire show. He is an extremely precocious little boy, who also happens to be a Leo, and he is a showstopper. He sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" with full vibrato.





Sandi's dad, third one in from left, with his 5 brothers and sisters and his parents (seated.)


See, she does wear dresses...(okay, I dressed her)


Gram loving Maya







The graduate and his cupcakes. At the end of the ceremony he said, "I hope you will all join me next year for my first grade graduation."

From there we took the girls to the first annual Pride event in downtown Bangor this weekend. (Hats off to all the members of the Bridge Alliance who made it happen- it was so great to have such a turn out and have it be so free and fun and open.)

She was very proud sporting her rainbow flag.

Then we came home and pretended to be in a parade. That is the sunroof she is sticking her head out.




You knew they were coming....

Momma bird had her babies!

Ella has had a lot to say lately:

"Sometimes it feels like Maya is stronger than me." (I tried to ignore this one so that I didn't have to tell a fib to boost her self-esteem.)


"When I fell off the see-saw" (an unfortunate accident that I was 100% responsible for) "I felt like I was going to die."


Pointing very enthusiastically at the training bras at the store, "Oh, Momma! Can I please get some kid boobs?"

"When I get goggles, I'm going to go under the Hampden pool."

"Oh, Momma, that is just the way it goes."

"No, Momma. That is never going to happen."

"I just have little kid boobs now, right?" (I swear I don't understand the sudden obsession.) I then gave her a VERY brief overview of puberty and how the breasts and the pubic hair grow when a girl becomes a teenager. Ella, deadpan, "I'm not very excited about that."

But the real deal is that Ella's preoccupation with clothes, dressing and re-dressing has reached an all time high. We decided it was better for our sanity if we just installed a bar in our walk in closet at her level for her so she can peruse her own merchandise, make educated selections and (hopefully!) become more responsible about putting her clothes away...


We didn't get a photo of the big lopsided grin she wore, but it was there. I promise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

mucho gracias

I want to say thank you this morning. Thank you to Sandi for going to work and, yes I'm really going to say this, allowing me to be at home with our spectacular girls. And thank you, San, for house sitting these three nights to help fund our overnight to Bar Harbor- for leaving the most comfortable bed ever made and missing the bits of time with the girls before work to do it.

You see, this morning I can't even begrudge our little rooster from her get-the-day-started-with-the-sun schedule. All I can do is revel in the feel of her squishy, smooth-skinned cheek under my lips, the giggle as she unzips her pjs to show me her newly discovered belly button yet again, her busy work in the play kitchen in the living room where she puts her sippy cup in the pretend fridge, the exuberant run from across the room when it has been too long in between snuggles and she leaps into my arms, fists tight around my neck and then a pat pat on my back.

Ella is still asleep and if she doesn't take me down with 6 outfit changes before noon, I suspect I will be full of appreciation for her too. It's just that kind of day.

We are headed to Beals for a kindergarden graduation tomorrow and all I can think is, no thank you. I want to keep them just as they are. I love Maya's incoherent babble and Ella's witty innocence. Yesterday, we went hiking with our friend Kizzy visiting from Montreal and at one point I had Maya on my back and Ella on my front and, rather than being weighted down, I couldn't bear the thought that the day would come that I couldn't carry both of my girls on my body.

Ah, these are the days...Thank you, San, for letting me have them. Sorry you have to miss them but I think the people thank you for saving their lives. We'll have fun with you tomorrow. And maybe we'll make you some chocolate bread.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

something you don't need to know about but should

Warning: contained below is information that may make you want to come over and ring my neck. Proceed with caution.

(Emilie and Angela... this one is for you. Em, because you love to bake bread and Ange, well you know... you're the only one I know who loves chocolate as much as I do.)

Below is a recipe for Pane al Cioccolato... chocolate bread. Need I say more? You have to try it.

Ingredients:
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 packet yeast (1 1/2 tsp.) or 1/2 ounce fresh yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
melted butter, for brushing

1. Lightly grease a 6" deep cake pan. (If you want to make it artisan, or free form, use a baking sheet or stone and cook for 10 min. less.) Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center.

2. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 4 tablespoons of the water, then stir in the rest. Add to the center of the flour mixture and gradually mix to a dough.

3. Knead in the softened butter, then knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise, in a warm place, for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Gently knead in the chocolate (this is where I sample the chocolate to make sure it is of excellent quality), then cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap; let rest for 5 minutes.

5. Shape the dough into a round and place it in the pan (or shape it into a large round and place it on a baking sheet or preheated stone.) Cover with your trusty lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it rise, in a warm place, for 45 minutes or until doubled; the dough should reach the top of the pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (but maybe you should have done this during the last rise...) Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Remember to decrease the baking time by about 10 minutes if free form. Brush the top with melted butter (as if the chocolate in it wasn't enough!) and let cool on wire rack.

Ah... sigh. You won't regret making this unbelievably scrumptious bread. You'll just regret when it is gone. Chocolate dough with bits of melted chocolate inside but you can eat it for a meal, rather than dessert? I mean, someone was firing on all cylinders when they thought this one up.

Okay, time for me to go eat some chocolate.

Monday, June 8, 2009

the fanciest tea party on the block

We had the tea party at Tia's house to attend today. We were all dressed in our finest; even Maya wore a skirt.


Tia greets us at La Casa de Feliz (the happy house). Sandi's got her all vintage in black and white.


The idea for this tea party was born last week when Ella was in Tia's bathroom, admiring all her candles and fragrant soaps. Ella said to Sandi, "You know what I like the most about Tia? That she likes pretty things."



Photos of Maya are blurry because she is always moving...


The table is set. The placard reads the theme: "Pretty Things."


And there is the prettiest thing of all.


Yummy food...

Aunt and niece conferring about what should come next...



Why dessert under a tent in Tia's bedroom, of course!






The smile says it all.
Thanks, Tia. That was super fun.

incredible news

Part I

Maya slept until 6 a.m.!! This might as well be 10 a.m. as far as we're concerned.

Part II

I haven't been out for a long run in a bit and today was a good day, weather and schedule wise. My last long run taught me something very important- I need replenishment in the form of electrolytes, not just water. So this morning Sandi and the girls brought me some Gatorade about halfway through and then left it for me to finish on my way at Elm St. (Em, there is an empty Gatorade bottle on your front steps.)

I just want to take a moment to bow to Gatorade. It was like speed for my muscles.

The best part about running a long route through Hampden? I was able to give a little salute to all the dear friends and family who have moved to Hampden since we've lived here. I waved to Trish, saw Emilie as she was packing her kids in the car to go to work, a wave to the O'Reillys and the Merrill-Maguires as I passed their streets and then I ran by the newly purchased house of our friends Katie and Alex. (Now, Matt and Ange, you're really going to have to move to Hampden because I cannot run to Amherst.) I felt so blessed to have so many people we love within running distance.

Okay, but really the amazing part is what I ran... I ran a half marathon this morning! 13.1 miles. I set out for 12 and I thought, oh why not? Now I am dressed in a skirt and heels and off for a bit of work and then to Tricia's very fancy brunch tea party she is throwing for Ella and we were invited (I think only if we dressed up.)

I hereby dedicate this run to Emilie Manhart for telling me I could do it and to the makers of Gatorade- I don't know who you are but I love you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Getting her Kix

This is the story as it was told to me. I was not there. I was (blessedly) upstairs sleeping.

Maya started off her morning with a bowl of Kix, eating about half and then rejecting the rest. The bowl of now mushy Kix was sitting on the table a while later when Ella came down to eat breakfast. Maya, seeing Ella have some cereal, decided she wanted her Kix back. However, now they were old and soggy and she rejected them again.

Sandi put the bowl on the floor for Mochy the dog to eat.

Maya was not pleased with this move.

She scurried across the floor, spoon in hand, and plopped down next to Mochy and began a full out competition. Now, while Mochy is only 10 pounds, she is a champion speed eater and has mastered the fine art of swallowing without chewing. Maya began to spoon mushy Kix into her mouth whilst Mochy was inhaling for all she was worth. Alas, though, Mochy was too fast for Maya who got frustrated with the little dog's speed. She dropped the spoon and began shoveling the Kix into her mouth by the fistful.

Now... as the mom who was asleep and heard this secondhand, I would by lying if I didn't say that I was somewhat concerned by the fact that our 19-month-old and our dog were sharing a bowl of cereal on the floor. But, then again, who am I to judge?

log rolls

A reminder of all the fun we could be having if we just rolled down a hill every now and then on a beautiful day...







Feeding the Fire

I'm not entirely sure why, but Sandi offered to straighten Ella's hair one morning before glamour camp.



My thought is... do we really need more primping, more fuss, more steps to get out the door?


She hasn't asked me for this beauty treatment. I think she knows I will likely say no.



I think one particularly bad day, Sandi even re-straightened it after an afternoon bath because they were going out. Oh, boy...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

a little background

For those of you who don't know, I did not grow up an athletic child, a close reflection of my non-athletic family. I was more like a chubby, Guiding Light-after-school-watching kid who got involved in softball at age 10 because the hot dogs were too good to pass up (they had those toasted, buttered rolls. I mean, c'mon!) I was the kid who was literally out in left daydreaming, watching the game going on in some other galaxy. Then, every now and then, when it would come my way, I would hold up my glove and duck, eyes closed, praying it would land in safely. You know those candy bars that kids used to sell to make money for school? I remember OWING $20 to myself at one point in time because I had eaten so many caramellos. A buck a bar... you do the math. ( I daresay I even won some incentive prize for top sales.)

So I left childhood physically unfit, unable to throw a ball even like "a girl," more bookworm than outdoorsy kid, with zero knowledge of organized sports and an embarrassingly low cardiovascular threshold. I didn't even know how to make a paper airplane or fly a kite.

Somewhere along the way this started to change. In high school I began to hike, I slimmed down, I rode my bike, I joined a beginner ballet class (which I quit after a month because everyone else was 6 years old), I took up cross country (even though my only goal ever was just to run the entire race- they called me the energizer bunny because I just kept going. I swear people passed me walking), I learned to rock climb, sail, horseback ride and I even was on the gymnastics team my senior year. I fell in love with the outside and began to think of nature as my solace; a mountaintop became the place I longed to be.

In young adulthood, I became more serious about hiking and began doing some backpacking, too. I've climbed Mount Katahdin twice, Mt. Washington once and have completed three race-walking marathons. I love distance biking, pilates and yoga and I have been an avid exerciser for the past 10 years. And, of course, I recently gave birth to the runner hiding inside myself.

And yet, today, when I was unlocking my bike after yoga class to pedal home, a friend said to me, "Oh, Suzanne, you're so athletic. You're always running or biking or hiking or doing something."

I felt like turning my head to see if there was another Suzanne standing behind me. I wanted to point at my chest and say, "Excuse me, are you talking about me?"

I guess, even though I have been "athletic" for far longer than I was a couch potato, I still haven't given up that image of myself. Maybe because I still feel so ignorant in the world of organized sports, I still think that "athlete" and "Suzanne" don't belong in the same sentence. Yet the truth is, I can peek in on a baseball game and have a good idea of what is happening just by looking at the screen and not having anyone translate now.

We drove by a tennis court the other day and Sandi said it looked like fun. "I think I would like to learn how to play tennis," I said. At least I think it was me who said it.

Deeper thoughts

We have discovered that Maya has an on/off switch. It turns on at 4:30 a.m. and off about 6 p.m. and no one has yet to discover how to manually flip the switch.

Yes, we have tried the putting to bed later people but it makes no difference. She is just up and cranky all day. We have discovered that she wakes up ready to consume food so we are thinking that a milkshake around midnight, a little baby take-out if you will, might buy us some more sleep...

Ella, on the other hand, is slightly obsessed with death. Last night she said, "Now, let's talk about how you get dead."

Okaaaay....

These are some highlights:

"When your heart stops beating, your blood stops moving and your brain can't work and that is who you are so you die."

Not exactly...

"When you die, your body dies but your spirit is around and part of everything but it is too little so we can't see it."

Well, kind of...

"Let's continue our conversation about getting dead. Ask me anything you want, and I will know the answer."

"It's the same for a person to die, or a dog or a spider or an ant. A spider still dies if you squash it with your foot or your sneaker."

I told Sandi to come in the living room for this existential conversation. Let's face it, we don't really understand death, so how can we explain it to a four-year-old? I don't so much believe in a place called heaven, but I do believe the universe is too magnificent and efficient to waste a soul- I can't imagine that the essence of a being would just poof! and no longer be. That energy has to go somewhere and be reintegrated somehow. Likely we recycle back through, but if nothing else, our souls must become part of the early spring green, the rush of the surf against the sand and the love of a child who waits at the window for you to return from work.

Other thoughts Ella has shared lately:

"Wow, if you and Mommy both go to work today, you will have lots of money!"

That's the hope...

I was trying on a bridesmaid dress I wore when I was pregnant with Ella (at her prompting of course)...about 60 pounds ago. It was literally falling off. She told Sandi later, "It was so big because I was in Momma's belly. Actually, I didn't really like it in there. You kept feeding me lots of food and drinks."

Ella picking out an outfit (and a bra) for me: "Momma, you want to wear these boobs today?"

"Why do some girls like trucks and some girls like dresses?"

"Can we stop by your room on the way downstairs so I can pick out some clothes?"

"Clams are my favorite creatures to eat."

Our friends, Matt and Angela need to have their heads examined because they have offered to take our kids overnight so we can a much needed get away ALONE. Their 17 month old, Annalise, is Maya in replica. (But thankfully, so are Brady and Ella replicas so the big kids will be easy and the little ones... well, good luck.) In a couple of weeks we have reservations at a fancy place in Bar Harbor and will be dropping our girls, and alcohol in various forms, off at the Smith's and will hope our friendship remains intact with these dear and crazy people...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

charmed

Yesterday we came to Beals Island overnight so I could work. After spending a beautiful day in a darkened massage studio, I threw on my running shoes and hit the road. I was blessed with an expansive sunsetting sky, a pleasant 53 degrees, ocean air and a couple of miles of road that hugged the sea.

I even "ran" into a member of the Carver clan on a dirt road who stopped and hugged my sweaty form and I thought, "Wow, I love this place."

And when I got back... I ate two lobsters my father-in-love had caught that morning.

Charmed for sure...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

bonus

Here is a bonus Ella quote:

Regarding her Nalgene water bottle with markings on the side to denote fluid volume.

"Mom, how much sugar is in here?"

"None. It is water."

"Well there are markings on the side to say how much is in here."

"Yes, but it is still just water."

Pause. "Well, how much propane is in here then?"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Deep thoughts

"Litter isn't good for the Earth, at all."

Oh, more installments of Ella's thoughts on life...

We were playing ice cream parlor in the pop-up camper parked in the driveway. Ella was taking it VERY seriously. She said to be, concerned: "This customer is asking for tree ice cream and I don't know how to make that. Plus I think he is allergic so I'm going to give him black cherry instead."

"Momma, close the door so Brady can't see my privacy."

"I know some things, but not all things."

"Just think, if you had two hands, you could do everything!" (To me, at the bewitching hour of 5 p.m. when I was flying solo.)

"I'm the stage manager and she is the funny maker." (Who do you imagine she means?)

"Isn't it delightful in here!" (the pop-up camper)

"Oh, I am just thrilled!" (again the pop-up)

"You know, Brady, this dress isn't as twirly as you think it is."

"Mommy, why do you just have your boobs on?" (To Sandi who was sunbathing in her bra and skirt.)

"Maybe we shouldn't go into the woods because I am going to have to wear something pretty..."

"Mom, I have to tell you something incredible."

"Oh look! Maya is sitting like a real person!"

We were walking holding hands, heading into the hospital to have lunch with Sandi and I said to Ella, "I'm the luckiest woman in the world because I'm your mom."

She replied, "I'm the luckiest girl in the world."

Fishing a bit, I asked, "Why is that?"

"Because I'm not a mom," she answered mirthlessly.

Weekend Fun



Morning garden

We had some fun this weekend... a camping trip cancelled due to impending rain (if we have learned nothing we have learned that camping in the rain with kids is the opposite of fun) leant for creative playing around home and a trip to Bar Harbor.



First the park...









Static cling





Then the beach...







My favorite ever picture of Ella and I.

The skirt, even the one with the petticoat, does not slow her down.










sand tastes soooo good




And, of course, some ice cream...








Ella said, "Bar Harbor is so great!"




Twins. Except my skirt doesn't twirl.


Echo Lake







new twirly dress from Sea of Cotton, home of the original "twirly dress"



We found a momma bird had built her nest in our playset tree house. These are her beautiful eggs...

And the proud momma.




Lowe's helped us bring the campfire home. Okay...it's possible with this baby we might never go camping again.



A quiet dinner after the girls went to bed...