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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

when the math doesn't work in your favor

Sandi and I have been spending our summer playing like we have a terminal illness.

I'm not suggesting that is funny, more that it is accurate.

We planned our entire summer around the inevitable end that Sandi is starting full time graduate school in Nurse Anesthesia in the fall.  I think I have had the most fun summer of entire life (despite all the packing) and we seem to have really squeezed every last drop out.

In preparation for school Sandi had to read a book called "Study Without Stress" which is geared to help medical students and the like prepare for the grueling course loads and stay organized from the get go to prevent drop outs. 

Let me tell you this book has only caused me stress.

The book works on subtraction to undermine everything meaningful about our lives.  First, you have a total of 168 hours in a week (24 x 7).  Of that you minus 49 or so for sleep, 35 for hours spent in class, 30-35 more for studying,  21 per week for meals and maybe 7 or so for personal hygiene (luckily it doesn't take Sandi and hour to shower and she has all her meals made for her by me). 

I think I may have left out a few subtractions but it leaves you with about 2-3 hours per day and 9 hours on the weekend for everything else.  Everything else means exercise, getting you teeth cleaned, mowing your lawn, paying your bills, cleaning your house (luckily I do all those things too) and PARENTING YOUR CHILDREN.. 

This is our schedule for the next nine months. Sandi is in Portland (2 hours away) Tues, Wed, Thurs for all day classes in her 19 credit/semester program.  She will attempt the impossible by studying as much as she can during her non-class hours while she is away from home.  During the other days she will get up early and spend the day studying, taking her break after school and for supper and then resume evening studying.  All this is an attempt to free up Sundays for a day off. 

The three days gone is going to take some getting used to since she will be out of town, but that feels like the easy part.  It is taking on every other blessed thing at home so she can study all the time that will be the crunch. 

Sandi's mistress (she hates when I call it that):
The Portland UNE campus is small and quaint, mostly devoted to graduate programs, and right in Portland which means she can shop at Trader Joe's before she comes home.  I'm all about looking on the bright side.
At the library where I predict she will be spending a lot of her time:

Last week we went to Portland to help get her settled, meet the woman in whose house Sandi will rent a room (we LOVE her), and have a night away.  We had a session with our beloved Naomi who does really cool energy work called  holographic repatterning and always helps us get ourselves and our family system on the right track. 

We stayed at a beautiful hotel, ate the best meal of our lives at The Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro (another plus: Thursday night take- out), went out for a beer, ran together the next morning and just thoroughly enjoyed time to function without clocks and demands and children.

So here we are. Sandi left this morning at 5:45 to embark on her new adventure with a heavy heart. Last night she said she felt sick to her stomach and thought I want to go back.  To work, to normal.  I don't want to go to school.  This morning she had her pillows in tow and her clothes and her toiletry bag and I tried not to think too much of the fact that we will be sleeping apart so much this year.

She said, "Have a good day."  I said, "Good luck today."  A kiss and a hug and all the words you want to say but don't need to and can't anyway because they would be too sad just sit unspoken between you.

I love you.  I'll miss you.  Are we sure this is a good idea?  How will we keep it all together?

Monday, August 29, 2011

blogger on a binge

I am feeling the effects of my anemic posting for the month of August. 

I have so much to say!!!  I am the blogging world's biggest liability, I think.  One of those people that prattle on and think people care.

To prevent such careless self-expression I am going to stick to one topic.

Hurricane Irene.

Okay, so by the time it hit Maine, it was demoted to a Tropical Storm but STILL.  The third day of the Folk Festival was cancelled for it (a SERIOUS bummer) and I saw rain falling from the sky like I had never seen it before.  It was rain with turbo boosters.

As a child I always experienced a thrilling fear at the idea of major storms and can remember clearly when Hurricane Andrew came through and my parents dug out the D batteries and filled the tub with water for the impending loss of power. 

As a parent it is a whole different ball game. 

I felt a small thrill in my stomach as the wind picked up and branches came down but mostly I was plagued by these thoughts: what if one of the pine trees falls down on the roof over the girls room? what if the basement floods and our freezer gets fried? what if our brand new fence is blown over?  what if a branch falls on the electrical lines and starts a fire?

We are incredibly dependent on power to operate an elaborate sump pump system in our basement.  The water from the perimeter of the foundation empties into a basin that is pumped up and out of the basement.  Without power the basement would flood in a matter of hours.  It isn't finished but we have lots of stuff down there we would prefer not to have swimming in water.

Because we like to live life on the edge, we didn't get the generator Patti gave us a year ago up and going until after dark when the basin was mostly full.  Guess what?  It didn't work.

Tricia and Brock came over to try to problem solve and as we all stood there donning flashlights on Brock as he reconfigured a spark plug in the whipping wind, I had a sudden realization.   All I wanted to do was run inside and throw together something to offer them to eat for their trouble.  I was utterly uncomfortable with the handiness of fixing a generator and wondered instead about how I could manage a batch of cookies without an oven.  I am more Betty Crocker than MacGyver.

I guess what I'm saying is that when the hurricane comes, only come to my house if you want some baked goods.

As if to follow suit with our string of bad luck with all devices with a pull cord, after multiple failed attempts to start it, the pull cord pulled right off into Sandi's hand. 

Luckily Trish burst out laughing and we high- fived and came up with a new plan.  We called the Manharts and they were kind enough to lend us their really awesome generator with an intact pull cord.

Once operational,  it took the really awesome generator nearly 2 hours to pump out enough of the basin so we could go to bed. (Normally the pump is so fast and powerful it drains the basin in under a minute.)  Sandi set her alarm for 3 a.m. and got up to fire up the generator and drain the basin again.  We had only 6 inches to spare before the water reached the top of the basin and came flooding onto the basement floor.  Thank you Sandi. 

I realize that countless people had real and true emergencies in the hurricane, unlike my little faux crisis without power.  But I can say that I am grateful to not be slogging in inches of basement water today and so thankful to have people to call on for help.  I mean, Trish had a tree fall on her roof and STILL came over to do spark plug manipulation. 

If only I had been able to offer cookies...

folk festival - a decade of fun

This was the tenth year the Folk Festival has been in our town. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the most fun weekends of the year. We always loved it before we had kids and now our kids clamor to get down to the Bangor Waterfront before they miss a second of the action.

I sure do love them for that.

One of their favorite parts, beside the culture, the international music, the sheer magic that our little city can pull off something so, of course, the bus ride from the parking lot to the festival.

Their second favorite part is seeing their friends. I do believe, by some miracle, that the french fries fall somewhere in the forth category rivaled only by getting to stay up so late!

We met the Stonyfield Farms milk man and partook of all of his free samples, at least once.  As if we don't know we like Stonyfield.  But we had to be certain.

Maya definitely had some dancing to do:

We even took the girls at the start and then took them home for a nap.  (Are we hardcore or what?) Both nights they were up until 10:30 PM which might as well be the middle of the night for them.  Our beloved baby sitter and friend, Becca, even came down Friday night with us before college snatched her up again on Saturday.  My mom always comes up and volunteers and spends the weekend at our house.  It is an annual event that we all look forward to.

Our girls were so flippin happy I myself was giddy.  (A rare event for sure.)

New favorite picture:

Up way past dark, Ella kept exclaiming "The stars are out!!!  The stars are out!!!"  Poor kid.

wrapping it all up

I just can't resist posting the last of the Schoodic pictures for this year.

This amazing place we get to spend so much of our summer is made possible by Patti and her brother who own, run and maintain the camp and are so generous to also let us use it. They grew up spending their summers at the camp and now we are so lucky that our kids get to call it their favorite place too.  A big thank you to Patti especially who makes so much of our Schoodic summer fun possible. 

Wow, is leaving there ever a sad good bye.  As we were packing up to go, Patti said, "Well isn't this a sad turn of events."  Yes, indeed.

But look what we get to remember:

Ella doesn't so much jump off the dock as simply run off it.  We never tired of watching.

Kristi and her husband Mike (who NEVER comes to Schoodic- no, we can't understand why- and came 2 days in a row!)

My mom and Sandi's mom, laughing over something:

One night we had a campfire on the beach and then the kids lite sparklers.  The fire had been popping and throwing sparks as it plowed through the 2x4 kindling so Sandi put the metal cover over it.  Shortly after, spinning her sparkler in the air, Ella backed right up INTO the fire.  Thankfully the cover was on it and her tender, bare skin landed on hot metal rather than open flame and Sandi was very nearby and threw her promptly into the lake.

This is Ella about 10 seconds before her fateful event.

Luckily, Sandi is a nurse with all sorts of cool, nursey supplies she had those second degree burns cleaned and dressed before you could say "burn unit" and they are healing nicely.

I may be able to sneak the girls out for one more day trip to camp before school starts but it will be chillier, windier and with a touch of September in the air.  And so we are left to pine until next year, knowing that the distance and the seasons make it all that much more sweet a return. 

The hardest part in leaving is not even in the missing of this place.  It is in the certainty that nothing next summer will be exactly as it was this summer.  When you measure your kids lives day by day time passes at a more natural pace.  When you measure it year by year in a place like this, somehow the passing seems cruelly unfair.  And, I suppose, so is life as a parent.

So I leave with this on my heart:  Enjoy this moment.  There will never be another one like it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Suzapalooza 2011

There is something totally awesome about having your birthday feel like a national holiday- at least among your very tight-knit circle of friends and family.

We woke up in a cloud at the lake on my birthday, content to know the sun would burn it off and expecting a full day of fun ahead.

I barely had time to peel my eye lids apart before the girls were shoving presents my way.  Ella braided me a friendship anklet (all by herself) and Maya made me a lovely beaded necklace.  Sandi bought me a pair of Nike Free sneaks to help me transition to "barefoot" running and the Vibram 5 Fingers that are coming in the mail (a story for another time). I love that my three girls know me so well.
I welcomed 35 with an enthusiasm that surprised me.  I love my thirties and why should 35 be any different?  My life seriously gets better with each passing year and I am holding fast to that plan I can tell you.

One of the things I love so much about having my birthday party be an annual event is that, while it is fun to be celebrated, this party is as much for everyone else as it is for me.  I guess you can't help it when you're talking about a gorgeous August day on the beach with the world's best people.  And I can't help but love knowing that Anna says to her mom in exasperation, "Can we PLEASE leave for Suzapalooza now?" 

(Thanks again Matt for coining such an awesome name! I seriously think t-shirts are in order for next year!)

Ella and her posse:
This picture could have a thousand stories to go along with:

Sandi had a red velvet (YUM) cake made with a picture of me and my two thumbs up pose.  It was hilarious and delicious. (And, yes, that is apparently the french spelling of Suzapalooza.)
I LOVE this picture of this unknown little thumb:

I got cards full of love and appreciation, biking and running clothes, gifts of well- being, a gorgeous piece of handmade jewelry, and some really cool headbands.  I just felt so loved and so very, very grateful for my life and the people in it. Instead of a card, Patti made me two blueberry glaze pies.   Save a tree, eat a pie.  Now, that's my kind of eco-friendly motto.

The crew:

Oh, my do I ever love my big sister...

Four lucky, lucky friends:
This cake eating, present opening, love fest was followed by a rousing game of dock Frisbee (pictures courtesy of Emilie).  We were trying to establish what it is that makes jumping off a dock after a flying Frisbee so frigging appealing and all we could come up with was that it is just inherently exciting. 

Case in point:
(poor guy didn't stand a chance on this one but that didn't stop him from trying over and over and over again.  I'm pretty sure he can swim better than me.)

A little healthy competition never hurts either.

(Neither of us managed to catch it but boy did we have fun trying.)

After about 150 attempts, I did finally manage a catch.  The triumph was embarrassingly sublime.  As a former couch potato, these small athletic feats are to be noted, bragged about and documented.  What can I say?

Here's to an awesome year of being 35!
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