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Monday, May 30, 2011

to top it all off

There really isn't too much left to say about this really awesome Memorial Day weekend. Day three felt like it kicked off summer in style with a trip to the beach with my mom and sister, complete with bathing suits, 80 degrees, hermit crab catching, sand in the toes and ice cream cones.

It's possible the beach is my favorite place.

Four cousins...contemplating the world.
Three more weeks of school!  Happy summer!

fun in the yard

The grubs have eaten huge chunks of our lawn, the ants are infesting our house and the Asian lily beatles are eating my lilies. I have dubbed spring 2011 the year of the insects.

I put Milky Spores, a non-toxic mushroom spore that somehow kills the grubs, on the lawn but as far as I can see it hasn't exactly worked.  It's time to plant grass seed but I don't want to just give those buggers more to snack on.

We are in full yard improvement mode at our house, and this garden was just begging for an upgrade.

We went to Home Depot this morning after on-sale fencing for our back garden and on a whim decided on a stone border for this garden.  It is about a 100% improvement.

While we worked, the girls built worm houses.  They collected worms and put them in the house until they burrowed back into the dirt and they went off in search of other worms.  At one point they were calling out, "Free rides to all worms!" on this little car they have but, as they didn't have a queque of anxious ants waiting, they moved on to the worm house.

I am trying to ward off the lily beatles with a cooper powder (non pestiside)and some strongly worded demands for their deaths. The tiny orange nusences literally can eat lillies in a few days right down to the stalk.  We've been locked in a power struggle for the past few years as they have continued to gorge themselves on my once beautiful lillies.

Then onto a fire, dinner on the grill and toasted marshmallows for dessert!

Homemade coleslaw, quinoa salad, grilled peppers and halibut Sandi's dad caught from the sea. Delicious!

What a wonderful afternoon in the yard!

Before we had kids, Sandi and I used to spend entire spring days outside on yard projects.  It is seriously one of our favorite things to do. Finally this year we can feel it....our kids are content out there with us.  They play, they help, they make up games.  They even have kid work gloves and a mini wheel barrow. No one even complained when we spent an hour at Home Depot this morning.  Ella gets really excited when we beautify the house or yard.  I love her for that.

Sandi has less than 1 week left of a 12 week biochemistry course she has been taking as a pre-requiste to her graduate program.  We are all ready for her to be done.  Between work and 12-15 hours a week of studying, she is like a hermit, diligently tucked inside even on the rare pretty days we've had.   But all that is going to change as of Saturday after her final exam.  We've got a patio to lay, a fence to erect and more retaining walls to build!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

the talk you never want to have with your child

Last week there was an attempted abduction of a 3rd grade child waiting for the school bus in the town over from ours.

Apparently a strange man pulled up to her, opened the passenger door and tried to coax her to get in.  THANK GOD the girl knew not to and ran to the house to get her mother who called the police.

Here is the article in case you are interested:

It isn't as though I don't know that these things happen.  When I was a child there was that widely covered event of that little boy named Adam who was abducted and was missing for a long time and eventually his body was found.  His father went on to host that show "America's Most Wanted." There was a movie made about it and, for some reason, I was allowed to watch it and it absolutely terrified and haunted me.  I even knew the details of how he had been murdered.  The idea that someone might try to take me plagued my mind as a child.

To be honest, we have never had the "don't talk to strangers" talk with Ella.  She barely talks to the people we know well, so it never seemed like a conversation to have. (Maya, on the other hand, we are having fitted for a harness and leash so we can wait a few years on the talk with her.)  To be completely honest, I don't want to tell my child about these parts of the world. I don't want her to be afraid and to expect bad things from people she doesn't know. I don't want her to know about war and world hunger and pedophiles.

But she is braver than she used to be.  So brave that this morning she and Maya and Emerson managed to unlock the three safety locks on her bedroom window and climb out onto the ROOF to collect pine needles.

 (They came downstairs to ask if they could sew the pine needles together to make something.  I said, "Pine needles!  You didn't get them on the roof did you? Ha ha ha!"  To my utter horror, they informed me they had.)

We finally sat down to talk about it with her.  We asked her if she was playing in the yard and a man came up to her that she didn't know and asked her to come with him what she would do.  (I was truly curious to know her response.)  She shrugged and said, "I guess I would just keep on playing and ignore him."


We took the tact of factual information:  what had happened to the girl waiting for the bus, how if anyone ever asked her to come with him/her that she should immediately start yelling and run for us even if it was neighbor through the woods who said he had something to show her, that we would never send anyone to pick her up that she didn't know and if she was told that by a stranger that it was not true, that while the world is full of good people there are a few that are not good and try to take children (gulp) but it is very, very rare for that to happen, and that she and Maya are the most important things in the world to us and there could be nothing worse than someone taking one of them..

I am shaking while I write this.  It is viscerally painful to think about any of it.

Ella looked appropriately frightened without being traumatized.  I told her that if someone tells her she has on a pretty dress in the grocery store and I am right there with her that she can smile and speak to that person. She doesn't need to be afraid of people.  She just needs to know what to watch out for. 

And now can we please go back to the bubble?

happy you're healthy and here day!!!

One of dearest friends, Charissa, had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was senior in high school. She started her treatments on May 26, 1995 and finished them a year later to the date on May 26, 1996.

This past Thursday she had been cancer free for 15 years.

Her partner Mindy, the least conniving person on the planet, plotted, planned, schemed and lied to throw Charissa a surprise party this past Saturday.

I, for one, LOVE surprises and this was no exception.  And what at WONDERFUL thing to celebrate!

Tricia and I were recruited to the decorations committee and we took our charge very seriously.    

Saturday morning the girls and I set off in the rain to collect flowers from around the yard and down our street.  Maya was a fan of plucking blossoms one by one and tossing them into the water while Ella took the cut it close approach leaving not a shred of steam for the poor flower to drink.  Ah well.  It was fun and they felt very helpful and I snuck around them cutting actual flowers that were usable.

Sorting rocks and marbles to put in the bottom of the vases.

I simply used cleaned glass jars for vases, Trish had the rocks and marbles and the flowers were from my garden.  These darling little centerpieces for the wonderful price of free.

Mindy was very wise to secure tents for this affair so it could be held rain or shine.  I never could get a good photo of the lanterns we hung (unlit) but they looked cool and at the end was a Chinese prayer flag with symbols for love, tranquility, peace, etc.
Charissa had been whisked off to the spa for the morning with her sister Stephanie (behind her in this photo) and she was thoroughly shocked when she approached.

Charissa mother had flown in from Alabama to surprise her!

Charissa and Mindy

And, of course, no family party is ever complete without the kiddo doing something ridiculous and hilarious.

It is a very strange feeling to look around your life and wonder if you had made that right turn instead of left how your whole life may have ended up different.  If I had never had scheduling conflicts with the massage therapy school I wanted to attend I never would have ended up at the school I went to.  And I never would have met Sandi and we would never have these kids and this family and nothing in my life would probably look the way it does in this moment.  All for one scheduling problem. Thank goodness for that problem which was such a headache to me at the time.

It is hard to imagine my life without Charissa.  If she had not survived and she and Mindy and Emerson had never been a family...well, I don't really like to dwell on it, but it makes me so very, humbly grateful for all the left hand turns instead of rights, for the delicate, intricate weave that makes up this life. 

Happy to your health day Charissa!  We love you so.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ella's big event/those parenting moments you feel like you got right

Last week Ella asked me if she could get her ears pierced someday.

I told her (once we discussed it fully with Mommy) she could get her ears pierced as soon as she was ready to take care of them and could save up the money herself.

She told me she had lots of money so that wasn't a problem.

We have talked about instituting an allowance but money has never really mattered to Ella so we never really have.  I think that is all about to change.  She has been working like an industrious beaver all week trying to secure work for herself that will earn her cash.

I am careful not to pay her for things that she should be doing anyway (picking up her toys and dirty clothes, clearing her spot at the table, helping set the table).  She has been helping fold and put away laundry, helping me out with Maya (I can use all the help I can get, even from a six-year-old) and fetching things for us when we need them.

We sat at the kitchen table Wednesday morning and counted all her bills and coins.  I think her grandparents must be funneling most of their pocket change to our kids because she had an astounding $21.50 in her piggy bank that she has saved since she last cleaned it out in April.  Talk about an educational opportunity to teach about money and have her truly grasp what the value of each currency meant toward her goal.  ("Oh, I only need four of these but I need one hundred of these to make a dollar!") I thought it would take her a couple of weeks to earn it but by Thursday (and with one I.O.U. to her grandmother for some dusting to be done on Beals Island next week that was granted advance pay) she had the $25 plus tax she needed to get her ears pierced.

The date was set for yesterday afternoon.  We gave her all the information about what it would feel like and what she would need to do to take care of them and she was so confident and ready. We watched a video about ear piercing.  We counted down the days. We made a trip to the bank to cash in her rolled coins and she went, sequined bag in hand, up to Claire's boutique for her big moment.

Nervous, but certain.

Selecting the earrings.  Maya, looking on anxiously about what this woman was going to do to her big sister.
Ella asked if she could sit on my lap for comfort.  Naturally, Maya needed to as well.  I started to get really nervous for Ella and got that flippy feeling in my belly.  She held very still as the two employees wielding piercing guns stood on each side of her.  She gave one quick jerk of surprise at the sharp pain and I thought she was going to burst into tears but she turned and smiled at me.

She was so damn proud of herself.  And we were so proud of her.  She decided what she wanted and, with our blessing and support, she made it happen for herself.  We did very little but I felt like all our years of encouraging her and pushing her to be a little braver than she dared had finally paid off.

It felt like she flew from the nest a little yesterday.  And, amazingly, instead of being sad and wistful, I was proud of her and of us as her parents.  I felt like we had done something good and sound.  Not in letting her pierce her ears, but by letting her be.  Just be.   I felt like she had stored up all our years worth of encouragement and certainty in her like a squirrel storing nuts for winter, and finally revealed them with a big "TA DA!" 

It was hard to get a good shot of her earrings because she had had enough of me photographing her.  But they are pretty purple tanzanite stars that sparkle like her eyes.

And luckily, she isn't so big that she no longer wants to ride on the carousel.

Friday, May 27, 2011

p.s. thanks

I have neglected to thank Emilie for allowing me to steal her photos as of late.  Many of the Sugarloaf finish line pics are from her lovingly standing in the rain awaiting our arrivals.  And the concert photos are all hers and I boldly stole them right off her camera this morning before returning it to her. I had carried it all night in my purse, though, so it seemed we were even.

Plus I bought her a hot chocolate in the non-VIP hot chocolate line.

But, thanks anyway Em, for the pics and please everyone send her good vibes for the Burlington Marathon on Sunday!!!!

Night on the town

I am here to tell you that a night out with your friends, even if your child begs you not to leave and you have the worst service of your life at a restaurant, does a world of good for a parent's soul.

It also doesn't hurt if you get to walk around all night with a VIP tag around your neck.

Last year our humble "city" of Bangor began the Waterfront Concert Series and we are pulling some big names (Alan Jackson, Lynard Skynard, Melissa Etheridge, Reba, Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith in addition to music festivals) and some culture to our patch of grass along the river. 

A group of nine of us met up to hear Brandi Carlile (my favorite singer and performer of all time) and Ray Lamontagne.  We had tapas and drinks before the show at L'Apertif (a regretable decision that ended with the bad service, ordered items that never showed up and the owner criticizing me when I complained and not offering to comp anything).

Randy and Rachael, Sandi and I, Tricia, Ange and Matt, Emilie and Sam.

But alas, when one of your best friends is in charge of advertising for the corporate sponsor (please shop at Darling's if you need a car) and you get to be a VIP for the night, nothing else seems to matter. (And yes, we are all sporting our badges in this photo.)

VIP meant we got to hang out in the Darling's tent, oogle at cars that we can't afford, drink free drinks and eat free food.  Perhaps the biggest perk was that we had our own personal porta potty.  I mean, hello?!  There was even a remote chance we could go backstage but that did not come to be.   Which in the end was perhaps better because what do you say to a famous person that doesn't sound trite and kind of stupid?  And how can you insure you won't inadvertently touch them inappropriately? 

A sunny and hot afternoon turned into a chilly and damp night and, though I was teased at the possibility of bringing a hat and mittens (and would have if they hadn't been packed for the summer) I was only slightly chilly in my wool socks, jeans, scarf and fleece.  We did have to go after some hot chocolate at one point and were very disappointed to find there was no VIP line and we had to wait among the people.

Women sprung free from their everyday lives is a beautiful thing:

Favorite quotes from the night:

Trish (who was limping with a sprained ankle): "Can you slow down so I can videotape this sign 'insider's only' as we go through?"

Emilie, gazing out among the crowd:  "Where do you think all these people live?"

The owner of L'Apertif when I told him just how atrocious our experience had been as I was paying, "Well, if you hadn't been wasting my time telling me all this I could have been ringing you up."

Something I've noticed about myself over time: I used to be harder to please. I needed circumstances and events and weather to cooperate in order to feel contentment and happiness, which made these states of being unstable at best and unachievable at worst.   Maturity and motherhood and life have smoothed my edges so I'm more sea glass than sharp stone.  Or at least some of the time I am.  I find contentment in a quiet glass of wine (ok, let's be honest a quiet anything will bring untold amounts of pleasure), the whisper of a breeze on a summer's night, a hummingbird landing on the ledge of our deck.  
Last night, sitting among friends, I was struck by how much the things that truly matter to me in my life can be distilled down to my family and my friends- two words that for me are largely interchangeable.  My friends are my family and my family members are my friends.  

I looked around at the bright happy faces of my family (friends) last night brimming with happiness to just be with them.  Just to know them, have them know me and share love and connection between us.  The drinks were fantastic, the music amazing, but the friends?  They will win every time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

despite the wet

It is REALLY hard not complain about the weather.

I mean, it was supposed to be 63 and partly sunny yesterday and it was cloudy, windy and 49. We haven't seen the sun in EIGHT days.

Yet, this crummy weather (headline on "NORTHEAST SKIPS SPRING!") has proven to me just how damn resilient Mainers are.  I see people out running, riding their bikes, walking their dogs, mowing their lawns when there is a 12 hour break in the rain and even wearing shorts and flip-flops. 

You've gotta love a hardy Mainer.

On Saturday Mindy and Charissa, in a supreme act of mercy that they claim was fun for them, took our girls for 4 hours!!  (But who is counting?)  Sandi is on a 4 day stretch and this time alone was simply heaven.  (Not to be confused with Rapture.) 

It sprinkled.  I did not care.  The grubs are still eating my lawn and I could not yet plant grass seed.  I did not care. 

Mindy asked me if I was going to do anything special with my time.

I told her I had a date with my garden.

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