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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Outside, please.

The last day of school vacation, with sun in the forecast, and me and my besties were all single-parenting it for the day.  What's a mom to do but team up?
Our texts to each other looked like this:
"What do you want to do Sunday?"
"I don't care as long as it's outside."
"Anywhere as long as it's outside."
With the temps not promising to rise above 50 we packed some warm stuff and headed to the beautiful spread of land on Field's Pond.  Hiking trails, space to picnic and a pond with a thatch of beach protected from the chilly wind.  What more do you need?
A pack of kids ready to hit the trails:
(No, it definitely wasn't shorts weather but Reed has his own, independent thermostat.)
Check out Beckett who trailed happily behind.
Once again I wonder how these kids keep growing like the weeds in a May garden.

For the third time in a week I marveled that I was at the stage of parenting where my kids had the stamina to be on foot for an extended period.  And once again, I was fed by the hushed peace of the woods.

 Reed, in a short series I like to call "Tree Pics."

  What are you to do when you find two branches of equal length?  Why make a train of course.

It has a tendency to attract attention.
 After lunch we walked another path to the pond.  Through brown fields, still unable to shake the hold of winter, we made our way through the makeshift bridges that saved our feet from the muck. 

Yes.  Please and thank you.
 Beckett is not just Ange and Matt's "baby."  He is our baby as well.  Likely to keep the status as the youngest child in our gaggle of kids, he is going to be the recipient of our combined motherly experience and more layed-back approach.  He will be quickly forgiven and protected as we all dote on him.

 The kids set up a store once again, with experience and new contributions lending to a more sophisticated approach.  Skyler fashioned a cashier stand complete with a conveyer belt.  I paid 20 pine cones for a few shells, an old brick and a fancy rock.  A steal if you ask me.


Monday, April 22, 2013

get away

For the end of school vacation week Sandi and I took the girls to Portland.  We all love Portland: Sandi and I for the liberal, semi-city feel, for Trader Joe's and the Green Elephant vegetarian bistro.  The girls love it for Build-A-Bear, staying in a hotel and for the TV, pool and breakfast in said hotel.
Sandi had to be at UNE for her Advanced Life Support class all day Friday so we stayed Thursday night and Friday night.  While she was doing a refresher on saving people's lives, we went to Build-A-Bear.  Sounds even doesn't it?
The girls had some Easter money burning a hole in their pockets. (Maya's was burning a hole in her Hello Kitty wallet.)  This was their main event in Portland.  They cared little about flip flop weather, the hike I had planned or the trip to the super cool park.  For them it was all about the commercial experience.
Somehow I managed to dissuade them from getting any more stuffed animals (which would inevitably join the ranks of the others smooshed into bins in their bedroom) and instead to get accessories to play with the ones they already have.
They relished the shopping experience.  It was fun to not have a time commitment or anywhere to be and to just enjoy them as they pondered, changed their mind and twirled in circles around the store.  Maya is really into Hello Kitty (she has a stuffed one, plus the toothpaste, purse, blanket and shirts- yes, I am serious).  Ella was all about acquiring some clothes for her bears.

Ella has been saying really funny, grown-up things lately.  As Maya was pinning over a deflated pink Hello Kitty that was just begging to be stuffed and brought home, I gently encouraged her away from it, saying there was no way for her to carry around two massive-headed Hello Kitties.  As she walked away to put it back in the bin,  I explained this to Ella:
"You see honey, I don't say no just to say no.  Momma always has a good reason if I'm directing you a certain way.  I can see the big picture.  Maya has two other Build-A-Bears at home besides Hello Kitty that she doesn't even play with.  It makes no sense for her to have a fourth stuffed animal, especially such a big one.  So I am trying to talk her out of spending her money on something she can't really use. You get what I mean?"
Ella nodded and said seriously,  "Momma, for the first time in my whole life I think I just saw the big picture."

Maya left with some outfits, this bed and a baby Hello Kitty to the giant one she already had which ended up being a good call.  She's really into moms and babies and it is so cute the way she cares for them.

Ella left with a few outfits including this get-up.  I, for one, am so relieved Daisy will sleep well at night with this sleep mask.
Then it was on to Mackworth Island to the fairy house village to do some building.  We went there last year on a similar trip to Portland and it is such a fun place.  I know my kids are older now because I am willing to brave trips on foot without another adult present.
Maya carried Hello Kitty in this backpack which then required her to utilize a walking stick.

The weather was warmish but you wanted a sweatshirt and to keep moving. I found myself grateful to be outside, gulping fresh air but wishing for just a touch more green. I feel so deprived of green.  But it is hard not to be moved by the majesty of the world awakening once again.

 And then...what a sight for sore eyes.  The promise of the woodsy growth that has started and will gain intense momentum in the next few weeks makes me incredibly happy.  Being able to count on this in such an uncertain world is very comforting to me.

Fairy house construction:

 Maya took the unconventional approach with the backpack for the return journey.  Don't worry.  It isn't as though she dropped one of the water bottles tucked into the mesh outside pocket while scaling a log and we had to backtrack to hunt for it.

This is why it is vitally important that I have some time with my kids that isn't scheduled and where we don't have anywhere to be.  I need it. They need it.  Together we need it.  There can be time for exploration, water bottle hunting and finding just the right rock, shell or acorn.

And time to appreciate the incredibly friendly squirrels.

This is the life granted to the stuffed animals spared the humiliation and rejection of the bottom of the animal bin.

It was nice to have a break from laundry and cooking and to-do lists. Even if just for two days. (Although I will say that coming home to all the unpacking and settling back in at home makes me wish we had stayed away longer.)  I never thought I would be able to say this of my high-strung self but I have finally cultivated some peace in myself and around myself:  time to breath, to enjoy and to just be. 
All I can say is better late than never.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

sand...yes, please some sand. vacation week. 
When I picked the girls up Friday, I said, "Happy vacation!" and they were very excited. Then Ella said, "Mom, do you get a vacation?"  And I was like, "Wellllllllllll...."
Yeah, maybe in November when Sandi graduates.  (And can it please involve a Carribean beach and a cocktail?)
Now that our kids are older and in school and we live 35 minutes away from each other, Ange and I don't get to see each other as much as we once did (and as much as I, speaking for myself, would like to).  Summer and school vacation weeks are a chance for us to spend a whole day together.  And a beautiful, spring day with the promise of sunshine meant only one thing: the beach.
Mount Desert Island: home of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, homes that cost more than some people earn in a lifetime, the most breathtaking coastline you can imagine and, this time of year, a chance for the locals to partake before the tourists come. 
One of the things I love about MDI is that it is forever a treasure hunt of nooks and crannies to explore and discover.  There are many gems off the beaten path, some unmarked and some that are closely guarded secrets. 
I love to find these places.  Once Emilie and I followed a local's directions to a secluded fresh water sandy beach in the interior of the island only to find out later that it was an unofficial nudist beach.  You get what you get. 
For years I have heard of a beach called "Wonderland" but knew it was hard to find.  It just so happens that Ange knew where it was. 
Before we met up the girls and I went into Reny's for some new sand toys.  The cashier said, "Planning ahead for the summer?"  I said, "No we are going to use these right now. We are on our way to the beach!"  The cashier and another employee looked at me with such admiration and joy that I would be taking my kids to the beach in April I almost wanted to invite them to come or at least bring them back one of our buckets full of shells.
Turns out Wonderland isn't hard to find.  There is even a sign marking the parking lot.  You just have to be willing to drive and keep driving.  And then you have to be willing (happy) to walk the 3/4 mile or so down a pretty woods path to the beach. 
We were. We so were.

This is my kind of wonderland.

I swear I don't favor Maya in taking so many pics of her.  She is just so animated how can you not photograph her?  (Plus the other kids are not that into it.)

Anna and Maya dug for hidden treasure.  And found some.
 Ella and Brady ran a store.  They sold dried kelp, rocks and a pair of abandoned mittens. You had to pay in pine cones.  Or you could use a flat rock as a credit card.  Pretty sweet.

Here they are at the warehouse building up their stock.

 Guess who else decided to run a store?

Oh bare, pale feet on sand and rock.  It was like coming home. 
Ange and I got to talk, semi-uninterrupted for a long time.  I sat back with my face to the sky and kept breathing deep breaths. I was present.  I was happy. 
I was also getting a sunburn. First day out of the box.  And just after I vowed (that very morning) to be more careful with my skin and sun as I finish out my 36th year.
The 3/4 mile walk down became a snail-paced, seemingly 2 miles back.  At one point Ella asked Beckett if he wanted her to piggyback him and he complied.  Then, as soon as he was on her back he informed her of the number two in his diaper.  Nice of him to honor the agreement of full disclosure. 

 The to the still-quiet town of Bar Harbor for some homemade ice cream at Ben and Bill's. 

And some cartwheels...
 and the rare opportunity to run in an empty fountain.
On the way home Ange told Beckett that they were dropping us off at our car and then going home.  From his car seat in the back he yelled, "I want go home with the Carver's!" and I felt my heart melt like ice cream on a summer day.
This trip made me excited for summer.  The few moments of over-stimulation in a noisy, kid-packed car while Maya kept kissing, and then kicking,  her sister reminded me of why I need to keep meditating and carrying my insulated bottle of iced coffee for the inevitable dip in energy and the loss of my head-in-the-game mentality.  And keep my kids from sitting next to each other.

But all in all, I am left with a smile on my sun-kissed face and a joyful, lightened feeling in my heart. 
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