RSS
 

Posts Tagged ‘Vaughan’s Island’

Day Seventeen: It’s History

01 Jul

I tried to stay zen upon waking this morning. This, our last full day in Maine on CMRT 2016: K9 Edition. And potentially our last full day ever in this house we have grown to love on Turbat’s Creek. Remember how I told you it was on the market (for a very reasonable price, those of you interested in real estate investment with a mind to allow responsible single moms with great kids and a hypo-allergenic dog to rent it during the summer!) Well, yesterday the real estate agent came to show it to a couple who were in town and very interested. I was a good girl. I told the owner that of course I didn’t mind if the real estate agent came by, and I even cleaned/tidied up so that it would show to max advantage given the fact that it was an active rental to a vacationing family. And I stayed on the beach while the showing was happening. Well, for the most part. When Beau checked to see if they were still here (yep, cars in the drive), he noticed that the front door had been left wide open. Since it was me, and not the real estate agent, that was going to have to spend the night in the house with whatever mosquitos and other biting insects she let in, I stepped inside and called out a friendly hello. When she poked her head down the stairs I very politely told her that I was just grabbing some snacks, and shutting the door on my way out!! But I never did see the couple, so I don’t know if they looked like people who would rent to me or not.

Anyway, here it was, the final full day. And I was trying desperately not to think about it. To not ponder at all. And I was mostly successful. That has been one of the brilliant aspects of the extended two week stay. Feeling less rushed and less “we have to do this now it’s our only chance!” Which has made for a more pleasant experience overall, and made me more appreciative, less melancholically nostalgic. Which used to happen to me while the vacation was still happening! So, this morning the girls and I decided to head into town to a museum that we’ve passed almost every day of every year we’ve been coming here and never bothered to enter. White Columns, aka The Nott House, aka the First Families Museum, is a lovely 1853 Victorian Era Greek Revival mansion run by the Kennebunkport Historical Society. It stayed in the same family for over 130 years, and was a family member’s home until the 1980s, therefore many of the furnishings and decorations are original to the house and family. The rest has been filled in with donations to the historical society that are appropriate to the era. They even have vintage era clothing hanging in the closets! (And, yes, this house had closets! Which is shocking for that time period. And we discovered the fascinating reason why on our tour.) Admission to the house with a 30+ min tour was $10 for me, and kids under the age of 12 are free. The tour was excellent, and done by an intern from Kennebunk High School. He was very knowledgeable, and entertained all questions, including those posed by my curious girls (like, did any of the family children slide down the banister? He wasn’t sure, but he did know that one of the original glass sidelights by the front door was broken by a slingshot wielded by the first child to live there.) Anyway, the home is in excellent condition considering its age, even the original, hand-painted wallpaper is intact in most rooms! In one of the rooms of the home (I believe the original kitchen) is the First Families Museum. It is a room full of objects dedicated to the Bush Family, most specifically, to George H.W. Bush, who, with his wife, Barbara, spends the majority of their time at their Kennebunkport, Maine, home, Walker’s Point, land that has been in their family for generations. It was a neat little exhibit of Bush and Kennebunkport memorabilia. The best part to me being the displays of old family photographs. But they were also running a video biography on a tv in the corner, and I happened to catch the last little bit. Regardless of your political leanings, it was an interesting history of a family that has played a huge role in American politics, and a nice little exhibit in support of one of Kennebunkport’s most famous resident families.

After the house tour/museum, during which the girls were excellently well-behaved and engaged, we wandered into town for the last little bit of souvenir shopping. We hit a few stores, bought a Christmas ornament, and then interest petered out rather quickly. Because of the amount of food we still had at home, I was not going to buy lunch in town, so we headed back to the cottage for a late lunch.

And the afternoon was reserved for beach time with the Nelson girls. Mandy brought her girls down to Turbat’s Creek one more time, and we were joined by her friend, Monica, and Monica’s toddler granddaughter, named Vaughan (after the island.) It was a pleasant afternoon spent chatting, and watching naked beach baby Vaughan being cute as all get out. After an exploratory walk to Vaughan’s Island, and playing some card games on the rocks, Harper and the Nelson girls went out into the water one last time, with Harper even being brave enough to dunk her thin-blooded Florida head under the icy water. Then it was time to round everyone up, say our goodbyes to the Nelsons, and rinse off the beach gear one last time. What a pleasant ending note to what has been a glorious vacation.

Then the laundry and packing frenzy began in earnest, because I had done exactly zip to get ready to leave! Unfortunately, my allergies have started acting up something fierce in the past few days and I had to take something to stop the incessant sneezing. Benadryl was effective on that front, but the drowsiness was something that I just didn’t have time to succumb to. Soldiering on, I got as far as I could, leaving a fairly large chunk of work to do tomorrow morning. Oh well, it will get done. It just will. And since I haven’t slept past 6:45am on any morning but one this whole 2.5 weeks, I’m guessing I’ll have plenty of time…

Share
 
 

Day Sixteen: Against the Tide

30 Jun

The one thing I promised my boy about this trip is that we, he & I, would take to the kayaks and paddle to Cape Porpoise Harbor. It’s not too terribly far away from our enclave on Turbat’s Creek, but it added another level of difficulty to the single parent vacation. Because, while I am more than happy (and often very happy!) to leave the kiddos home alone while I have some “me time” – for example, filling the car up with gas, or buying ice cream sandwiches at Hannafords, leaving the girls alone while I was out on a kayak, pushed my personal boundaries of responsible parenting. If I’m just up the road and something occurs, I could get to them fast, I could contact other people to help, etc, etc. But if I’m out in a kayak, even though there is cell coverage throughout the course, I’m stuck. I could not get to them fast, I would be out of the loop. Not to mention the fact I would be out there with their brother, so even if I could paddle home just as fast as I could drive home from the grocery store, I couldn’t just abandon their brother out in a kayak. Anyway, it just didn’t feel right to me. Enter stage left: my lovely, generous friend, Mandy. Earlier in the week, we looked at tide charts and determined that if she picked the girls up after teaching her yoga class on Thursday morning, Beau and I could possibly make our journey in the morning. Tide wasn’t going to be low until 2:00pm, and Mandy could get them just after 11:00am. It was going to be tight, but should be doable.

So, Beau and I started to prepare, had the kayaks toted down to the creek, life jackets on (and fastened!), and we went to set off. Only to realize that these extreme tides we have been having this year, well, they are not just extremes in the highs and lows, but at least in the case of the lows, they are running faster. We pushed out into the rapidly diminishing creek and set off for the cut between Turbat’s and Cape Porpoise, only to discover that a full 3 hours before true low tide, the canal was already impassable. Exposed rocks blocking the path, and kayaks bottoming out. (Cue defeated Pac-Man sound bite here.) So we were flat out thwarted. Extremely disappointed, we paddled back to our beach, pulled the kayaks out of the water, and caught up with Mandy. Being the extremely generous friend that she is, she says with a shrug, I’m still taking the girls home to play with my kids for a few hours, and you’ll just do it later this afternoon when the tide is high. I wanted to cry. This kayak adventure was the one thing I definitively promised to make happen, and I could not have even dreamed of trying without Mandy’s help. So Beau and I carried the kayaks back up to the house, bummed around for a little bit, eating lunch, etc. A few hours later, Mandy returned with the girls, and her girls, and her sister-in-law and her girls, and one boy who happened to be a friend of her younger daughter. Three adults, eight kids (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 8, 7, 1), and one dog. Time for the beach!

This afternoon proved again exactly how magical Turbat’s Creek really is. When we staked our place on the small beach with chairs and bags and coolers, the kids immediately set off for Vaughan’s Island, with the adults trailing close behind. They explored the tidal pools, and waded out into the icy Atlantic. Just being kids, while the dog scampered about, and Mandy & I talked. (Her sister-in-law was also quite lovely, but having a 1 year old in tow, especially one who was doing the car nap thing when they arrived, she was off being a hands-on mother for the first little bit, while Mandy & I were free to let our entire posse roam.) As the tide started coming back in, we headed back to the beach, and the food. (I would especially like the thank Mandy for introducing me to frozen Hershey’s kisses.) We sat and talked, occasionally throwing the ball for Remy, while the kids stayed in the water. Even my crazy Florida kids dunked their heads! Beau walked through chest deep water back over to Vaughan’s through the rising tide, and then had to swim back. It was lovely and relaxed. I enjoyed the company of other women, and the kids certainly enjoyed the company of other kids.Then it was time to pack up. Mandy graciously took my girls home with her, and Beau and I took another (high tide) run at Cape Porposise.

Once again we toted the kayaks down to the creek. They are sit inside ocean kayaks, and are very stable, but they are not light. Carrying them is not my favorite thing to do. But we got them down there for the second time today, and were happy to push out into the creek to set off. The weather could not have been more glorious. Shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt under our life jackets, pleasantly comfortable even with exertion. With little wind and no other boat traffic, we made the fairly quick, and exceedingly beautiful paddle over to the Cape Porpoise Harbor. It was fun to paddle among the anchored lobster boats. And have some fun with selfies (I’m really bad at it – I can never get the thing I want in the background.) We paddled up to the working docks, beached the kayaks on the shoreline, and walked over to the monuments to gaze at Goat Island Lighthouse, not so far in the distance (but farther than we wanted to, or had energy to, paddle out). Then it was back to the kayaks for the return trip home. Unfortunately for us, the wind had kicked up, and through the tide was almost slack, it was a battle to get back across the harbor to our cut through. But we made it, and certainly I am not the worse for wear for having a bit of a much-needed workout. The whole adventure makes me wish I had access and opportunity to kayak more often. There really is something delightfully primal about experiencing nature at water level.

After using our spaghetti arms to carry the kayaks back up to the house one more time, it was time for quick showers and change, to head over to the Nelson’s house. I got a little sidetracked taking care of our gear, and then melting into a lovely hot shower, but we eventually got our act together and joined the party. And a party it was, indeed. First of all, Mandy and Dan are some of the coolest people I know. Completely wacky and funny, and just all around fun. As you might expect, they foster this silliness and unabashed enjoyment of life in their children. To that end, as they are in the process of rebuilding their barn which was gutted in a fire last Fall, they have built a dance platform, complete with light-switch operated disco ball and strobe lights. Being voice artists, they also have a good sound system, complete with microphones. So, the girls had put together their ultimate dance party playlist. Mandy & I managed to avoid the fray for a little bit, enjoying a cocktail and some grown-up conversation – as if you could actually refer to us as grown-ups, or our conversation as mature! (I sure am craving a doughnut right about now!) But we made our way out to the barn, and I’m pretty sure today is the most exercise I’ve gotten in months – first the kayak trip, and then all the dancing? Good times! But after awhile the music was too loud (god, I’m old), and the strobe light was kind of messing with my head, so I gave the kids a 20 min warning, and we extricated ourselves once again. Beau spent most of the evening hanging outside with Dan, and their neighbor, Tim. And it was nice for him to have some “guy time”. Plus, Tim gave Beau a really cool dragon model, which was awesome and extremely generous of him.

I do love to see my kids so happy. And it made me feel good when Mandy, who had spent some time with the girls outside of my presence, told me, “You have really happy kids.” Because as much as I want people to notice their nice manners, noticing the image they project from their souls is even nicer.

Soon enough it was time to head back to the house and crash. Can’t believe tomorrow is our last full day in Maine. I can’t even think about it.

Share
 
 

Day Fifteen: The First Rule of Book Club Is…

29 Jun

So, last week we visited the Book Burrow, and I bought the latest Elizabeth Strout book, The Burgess Boys. At the time the owner told me they were having a book discussion next Wednesday, and I, cavalierly promised to attend. As I was buying the book. Before I had actually read it. When I was still in the process of reading a different book. And I have definitely not been doing the kind of reading on this trip that I usually do. Partly it’s because I’m alone with the kids, but a larger contributing factor is the amount of time I am spending throwing the tennis ball for the dog. Usually, when the kids are playing happily in the water, or on the rocks, I am merely parked in my chair reading. I brought several books to read so I would be prepared. But I am spending what seems like an inordinate amount of time exercising the dog. Yet one more reason why he’s going to hate me when we leave, because that’s not how it’s going to go down in our normal lives. Especially since we don’t have this level of doggie nirvana right outside our door. But I digress. The point is that Wednesday had rolled around, the book discussion was set to begin at 9:30am, and I had not yet finished the book! It was early in the morning, just the boy & I awake, and he asked me if I was planning to go to the discussion. I was hedging, saying I wanted to, but I didn’t feel right since I hadn’t finished the book yet. He asked how close I was to the end, and I showed him where my bookmark was, pretty much right in the middle of the book. He looked at me, paused for a beat, and said, “Mom, it’s not even 7am, you could finish that if you wanted to.” I looked at him, realized that he was totally giving me permission to park myself on the couch, and just read for the next two hours. So I did. With only a few minor interruptions, I was basically undisturbed for the next 2 hours. And guess what? I finished the book. At 9:14am. Now I had to go! So I asked the kids if they minded, and they, readers all, said I should definitely go. I raced up the stairs, changed out of my pajamas, and got to the Book Burrow only 2 minutes past the 9:30am start time. And I am so very glad I am the type of person who tries to keep every promise I make, because I was one of only 4 people there, including the owner and the guest moderator. Which actually made for a very nice discussion. The irony? I was the only participant other than the moderator who had finished the book! But it was a pleasant time spent with 3 nice ladies, all of us with divergent backgrounds and life experiences, discussing the book, and as it dovetailed, life. I was so pleased to have participated. And even more pleased that my children encouraged me to do so.

As I was driving home I called the kids and told them to start making sandwiches because the torrential overnight rains had stopped, and we were going to have a picnic on Vaughan’s Island. I knew by the charts that the tide should be almost out, so we could easily get across, and have some time to spend over there. Beau commented that it was really foggy, and he couldn’t even see Vaughan’s Island from the house. But I told him that just made it more fun. So as soon as I got home we finished putting together sandwiches, chips, fruit, and drinks, and grabbed a few beach blankets, before making the trek across the mud to the Island. I don’t remember us ever doing that. Picnicking on Vaughan’s. I laid out the blankets on the smoothest spot above the high tide line, and the kids grabbed their food and clambered up onto the climbing rocks. After eating we just kind of hung out. Beau & Avery playing on the rocks, and Harper reading her book (natch). I even laid down and dozed off for a short catnap in the sun. But then the sky began to get more and more overcast, the fog settling more heavily around us once again, and one by one the kids peeled off to head back up to the house. I stayed down a little longer, throwing the ball into the icy Atlantic for my crazy dog. But by the time we got back up to the house there was thunder rolling in the distance, and it was clear that more rain was on its way.

So, we spent the afternoon inside, as the rain poured down on the house. It was relaxing. We worked on our puzzle, read, watched some videos. Everyone sort of drifting off to their own corners to relax as we were stuck inside on a rainy summer day. But after a few hours the rain stopped, and in the late afternoon it was nothing but high tide and clear, sunny skies. And though we still have a few days left, I am starting to feel the pull of the end. That our vacation is winding down, and opportunities are becoming limited. So I suggested, despite it being after 4pm, that maybe the kids would like to take the kayaks down to the beach. The joyous response was unanimous! They were changed lickety-split, lifejackets were on, and everyone helped to get the kayaks and paddles down to the water. At first there was a bit of drama –> 3 kids / 2 kayaks. But we got it figured out, and within hardly any time at all, they had found a way to all play together, with the odd man out actually sitting on the back of the larger kayak. Time drifted by, and suddenly we had been down at the creek for two hours.  What a glorious chunk of time. And I was loathe to call the kids in, but it was getting late, and we still needed showers before heading into town for a promised dinner jaunt.

On a side note, I discovered via a local that the house we rent is currently for sale. I am crushed. This could be the final year for us. Because it is quite possible that whoever buys the house will keep it as a summer residence, or even a permanent residence, and it might no longer be available for rental. So, if any of you dear readers would like to invest in some rental property in Maine, I can vouch for how awesome this house is, and I know for a fact that it is reliably rented out for the entirety of every summer. Or, if you just want to buy it and let me come visit for a few weeks, that would be cool, too! As soon as I finish typing this I’m going to check my lottery tickets. It’s actually listed for quite a reasonable price considering the property. The house would need some work if you were trying to turn it into a full-time residence, but it is perfect as a rental. Perfect. I am bereft, and trying very hard not to think about the fact that when we drive away from this house on Saturday morning, it may be for the last time. Arrrrgghhhh! Can’t. Think. About. It.

Anyway…. Once we got all the gear back up to the house, the kids went inside to shower and change, while I rinsed the kayaks, and washed the dog. Then it was time to head into town for the last of the promised Ben & Jerry’s stops. And yes, I remembered to pack the kids’ shovel spoons!! But first it was time to try out the new Italian place that has opened since our last trip to Kennebunkport two years ago. It’s called Roma Pizza and Pasta, and it is conveniently located in the same building as the B&J’s! They advertise pizza by the slice, but as the kids were describing how hungry they were, I decided the best course of action was a whole pizza. One for them, one for me, guaranteed leftovers! So we went with a small cheese for them, and a Rustica for me (artichoke hearts, sausage, garlic). Yummy!! It came out quickly, and it was super delicious pizza. It’s different than Atlantic Pizza, and I wouldn’t forsake either one. But it’s nice to have options, and both of them are excellent. The kids put a hurting’ on their pizza, with each kid having two slices or more, so we ended up with only a single cheese slice as leftovers, but I have several pieces that I can’t wait to eat for lunch tomorrow! Then, after stuffing ourselves with pizza, we walked out one door, and into the next to get ice cream. The kids, who had been spoiled by Amy the first day, looked askance at me when I said only one scoop, but they know one is better than none, so wisely thanked me & scampered off to tuck into their treat.

By the time we got home, it was approaching 9:00pm, so I told the kids that it was time to get ready for bed. That our late nights were starting to catch up with all of us, and they must have been tuckered out, because I heard no complaints. Everyone going compliantly to their beds to read. And when I went upstairs just a little bit later to turn off lights, all were down for the count. Bringing to a close another amazing day…

 

Share
 
 

Day Thirteen: Team Chickpeas, You Can Like Us on Facebook

27 Jun

It started off as another lazy day on the creek. Watching tv, kids fixing themselves a bowl of cereal for breakfast, lazing around the house. I bought some sourdough bread the other day, and made the effort to make some eggs, heat up some bacon, to go with my toast, but there was no urgency to the morning. Eventually, Beau came and asked me if he could go down to the beach by himself. Because the location of our cottage is damn near perfect, and Turbat’s Creek is, frankly, magical, I said of course he could. He needs some time away from me, to explore on his own. Soon his sisters followed suit, heading out to the beach together, under strict orders that if their brother wanted to play with them, fine, but they were not to annoy him if he didn’t. He did pop back up to the house to show me the prize he had discovered on the vast field of seaweed covered rocks – a leather football. Soaking wet, but otherwise in excellent condition. Quite a find. (Later, I did ask the young family renting a house on this street if perhaps it was theirs, and it had just gotten away from them on Vaughan’s, but they said no, so I guess it’s Beau’s now!)

After a bit, I roused myself and changed out of pajamas to take Remy down for his own exercise session. I swear that dog is tireless. I think it entirely possible that he would happily run himself, quite literally, to death. And my goodness has he turned from a dog who loves to fetch into a ball obsessed monster! After awhile I put the ball & chuck-it away, and while the big kids went back up to the house (I’m assuming Minecraft was calling!), Avery & I continued over to Vaughan’s Island. The Lobster Detectives were on the case! The tide was so extremely low, that many of the tidal pools we poke around in were far shallower than usual, and this summer they have also been choked with sea grasses/kelp. Makes it difficult to seek out wildlife in those conditions. But after turning over a rock or two, Avery & I found one baby lobster with a single claw. Feisty, that one. But we just wanted to find them, never touching (have you ever seen how far back a lobster can swivel its claw?!) And after that one, our interest kind of petered out. Now true low tide, Avery headed back up to the house, and I stayed down with Remy, tossing the ball directly into the Atlantic. Watching him bound out into the cold water time and time again. Again I say, he is going to be so angry at me when we leave…

After some beach time everyone made their own lunch, and Beau actually fell asleep on the couch on the screened in porch. I’m guessing this is a growth spurt happening. Fingers crossed it will not necessitate all new clothing! The girls & I got cleaned up a bit and headed into town. I woke Beau to ask if he wanted to join us, but he just wanted to continue napping. We went to a few of our favorite stores down in Dock Square, picking up a postcard here and a t-shirt there. We also had to stop in the Copper Candle to get our Christmas ornament. Every place we travel we get a Christmas ornament as a souvenir. It is always so much fun unwrapping the ornaments in December, and revisiting the memories of our travels and adventures. We now have quite a few Maine ornaments, but I found a new one shaped like a whale, with a hand-painted scene of a lighthouse, and the year. Perfect! As Avery pointed out we went whale-watching for the first time on this trip, and we went to the Portland Head Lighthouse, so it was a good representation of Maine 2016. I also wanted to peruse an antique store or two, but the one I remembered as being so good, is now mostly new things, or vintage reproductions. Still incredibly lovely stuff, and you could easily decorate a gorgeous home from their stock, but I was looking for something a little grittier, some true, you know, old, antiques. I was going to strike out to US-1 in search of some of those we had driven by in the past, but it was getting on in the afternoon, and I figured the kids might not be as excited about this venture as I. So we headed back to the house. Beau was awake, but said he had slept for most of the time we were gone (definite growth spurt). The kids headed back outside to play/explore, and I set about making dinner. Because it was Monday night, and time for another round of responsible parenting…

I know I have mentioned her before, but I have a local friend named Mandy who I adore. She is a nut, just like me. Fun, and funny, energetic, kind, and lovely, and crazy in some of the exact same ways I am, we always have such a great time when we’re together – whether it’s a girls night out, or just sitting side by side on the beach at Turbat’s Creek as our kids play on the rocks and swarm around us. She has a lot going on in her life right now, and has, unfortunately not been available to play with me until tonight. Which I completely understand. I am in KPT on vacation, away from most of my life responsibilities, but she actually lives in Kennebunk, and her responsibilities are raining down on her head daily. But reviving a tradition we started last visit with the powerhouse team of Like Us on Facebook, we met up at Sebago Brewing Company for another go at Monday trivia night. Drinks ordered we began tucking into our potato nachos (normally these things are to die for, but tonight they were overcooked). As I took a bite, I noticed something strange, but recognizable on the plate. It was half a chickpea. Glad that it was recognizably edible food, but what the heck was it doing on our potato nachos? We took it as a sign, and team Chickpeas was born! I wouldn’t say we were exactly crushing it on the trivia, but it’s difficult to properly focus on accessing the useless knowledge storage part of one’s brain, while actively catching up with a dear friend you haven’t seen in two years. And we had much ground to cover: burned barns, gifted children, family, boob wrangling, new/old boy, signs from the universe, microwaved ice cream, and lest I forget, Mandy is now a Major Award Winner, which cannot go un-recognized! My goodness, how we laughed. Deep belly laughs. It definitely counted as an ab workout. And perhaps the most hysterical part was our come from behind victory! Team Chickpeas was quite happily in last place before the Hail Mary round. The final round has three questions, for which you must wager between 1-10 points. If you’re right, you get the points. If you’re wrong, they get deducted. Well, we certainly had nothing to lose, so we intended to bet big no matter what. Here’s the crazy part. We knew the answers to all three questions. Okay, maybe we didn’t *know* the first one, but we both had the same gut reaction answer, so I felt pretty good about that one. And I was positive I *knew* the last two. One of the answers was even “Daytona International Speedway” – holla for the Florida chickpea! Anyway, our score, with an additional 30 points, was good enough for 2nd place!! We were shocked and very amused. Especially since one of the prizes for 2nd place was the metal Sebago Brewing Company sign that I got last week because sweet locals didn’t want their prize. (Funny thing is that as I left the house, Beau had said, “Win another metal sign tonight, Mom. I want one for my room.” I told him no way was I going to let him hang a brewery sign in his room, seeing as how he was only 11 years old, but he shrugged, and told me to win another sign anyway. And we did!) So, in splitting our prizes, Mandy took the sign, and I took the bar towel and bottle opener key chain. Then two boys at the bar, I don’t know if they were the 1st or 3rd place winners, had extra bottle openers, and gave us a few more of those. I’m happy to clip one to my beach bag, and always have a memento of team Chickpeas and our epic trivia adventure.

Another great day, another day I’m thankful that we stretched our rental out to two weeks. It really has been idyllic to just relax in a place we love. Not feel like we *have to* do anything. The kids were even asking me today if we could just buy a house and move here. I loved the innocence of that inquiry. Obviously, my Florida kids, who have only really experienced snow on ski vacations, haven’t the slightest clue what their winter lives would be like, but I do love that they have also come to love, and feel at home in, this place that makes me so happy. Just like Beau’s mug says, I Love ME. And when I’m here, that is especially true for both meanings. I love this place, and I love me. The Maine version of Krista. Me.

Share
 
 

Day Eleven: Bush-League

25 Jun

Remember when I said that yesterday was a lazy day? Um, yeah. That was bush-league. Because today? Today’s level of laziness blew yesterday’s out of the water. There is not much of a linear story to retell, so I’ll just make a handy bullet-point list of the things I accomplished today. You should consider this almost entirely inclusive:

  • Woke up. Though I didn’t even do that with any particular grace. Apparently, woke in the middle of a sleep cycle, or something, because I was groggy and bleary for quite awhile.
  • Repetitively threw the tennis ball into the ocean for Remy to retrieve.
  • Took all my kids across at morning low tide to explore the beaches and tidal pools on Vaughan’s Island. This happened rather early (8:30am-ish?) We did turn over a few rocks seeking baby lobster. Photographs were taken to prove excursion, and existence of said shellfish.
  • Went to post office to mail package and get postcard stamps. Actually mailed two postcards.
  • Went to grocery store to buy toilet paper, dog shampoo, and, by request of the children, goldfish crackers.
  • Played Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.
  • Updated my Mother of the Year application by adding: “While on beach asked 10 year old daughter to please go up to the house and fetch me a beer from the refrigerator. Reminded her to please not forget the bottle opener.”
  • Repetitively threw the tennis ball into the creek for Remy to retrieve.
  • Read 77 pages of my new book. (The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – kind of agreed to attend a book discussion on Wednesday morning. Only 243 pages to go.)
  • Lathered the dog with oatmeal shampoo when rinsing him off in the yard with the hose in hopes of ridding him of the funky creek mud stench he has acquired. Seriously, before his bath he had squiggly cartoon odor lines emanating from his body. Much better now. Until tomorrow anyway. When I will undoubtedly repetitively throw the ball into the water for him to retrieve.
  • Took a shower. (Yes, that is worth listing. It’s vacation. This is not a given.)
  • Went down in the creepy, partially-unfinished basement several times in order to do two loads of laundry. (Often times the dryer needs more than one cycle to get clothes, and especially towels, totally dry.) Several of those trips down were after dark. And after my 8 year old whispered in a bright, but spooky voice, “Don’t go in the basement!”
  • Made my kids eat salad for dinner. Shockingly enough, they did it. Sort of, anyway.
  • Finished a puzzle.

 

There you have it. Pretty much everything I did today. Though when I list it out like that, maybe yesterday was not so bush-league on the laziness front after all. Today seems like pretty strong work on my part. Of course I didn’t give you the list of things I did NOT accomplish today, which would include, chief among them, washing the dinner dishes. Oh well, have to save some excitement for tomorrow morning…

Share
 
 

Days Five and Six: Relaxing in the Sun and Howling at the Moon

20 Jun

The blogging always falls off when the destination has been reached. Partly because there isn’t as much to report, and partly because I slip into the laziness of vacation. The intended laziness. After all, isn’t that the point of vacation? It’s strange to think that we have already been here for two days. For two whole days. They have been idyllic. Truly. This weather must have been custom ordered for a Florida girl who is so over the heat of her home state. The highs here are in the 70s, occasionally soaring into the low 80s (did you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) Because even when the mercury touches 80+, the low humidity keeps it from feeling like a strangling weight on your chest and around your neck. The breeze has been almost constant. Jeans and hoodie/fleece vest at night, and frankly still a little too chilly for a bathing suit for me during the day. Blue skies, bright sun, stunning views, singing birds. It’s like a damn Disney movie up in here. And I am the princess who gets to live in this dream. What a lucky girl.

Let’s see if I can remember how the past two days unfolded…

Sunday, June 19:

Had a lazy, lazy morning. Kids watched tv or played on their tablets, I lounged in bed for a bit and read, we lingered over breakfasts, shook the weariness out of our heads. I was still feeling a bit tired, as I had gone to bed late, and rose far too early. Here’s the thing I remembered about our little cottage on Turbat’s Creek – it gets VERY bright in the morning. Here’s the thing I had forgotten about our little cottage on Turbat’s Creek – the sun rises at 5:00am. I am not kidding. Sunrise at 5:00am. Five o’clock in the morning. Isn’t that too early? But we took our time this morning. Why? Because we could. The brilliance of renting the house for two weeks instead of one, I have lost the ridiculous sense of urgency that we must go-go-go, we must get out on the beach early to maximize our time spent experiencing Maine, we must schedule our activities so we can fit them all in, we must, we must, we must. I have shed that sense of urgency that oftentimes gets in the way of our fun. And it is GLORIOUS. One of the things I had discovered on Saturday night was that the only hose, handy for rinsing muddy feet, and necessary for rinsing muddy dog, was merely a thin trickle of water. Not going to cut it. I mean, I rinsed the dog’s feet on Saturday night with water bottles refilled from the sink. Not an efficient model for keeping Crazy Momma’s thin sanity intact. But, being a fixer, I decided that a quick trip to the hardware store was in order. The old hose was so kinked and bent, that in places it was broken or worn through. Nothing a new hose couldn’t fix. So, one trip to the nearby Ace Hardware, and I had a cheap 100′ hose (which I will leave here) and a new spray nozzle (which I will likely take home). Connect everything and discover that I’m still only getting the barest amount of water, despite it being connected properly. New plan, check the source of the external spigot. Because I could see water spraying from the hose attachment (even when the old hose was attached), so I knew there was water flow. I detached my hose and turned the spigot on full – not the water pressure I was hoping for, or frankly needed. Did I freak out? No. I went down into the uber-freaky basement, and found the place where the interior water pipes attached to the pipe feeding the exterior spigot. The valve there? Only slightly turned. Yeah, I’m no plumber, but that valve needs to be wide open for the water to flow to the exterior spigot with enough force to feed a 100′ hose. Opened the valve, went back out to check the hose, and we were good to rinse! Was this rocket science? Nope. Not brain surgery either. But it felt good. Damn good. To be alone and confronted with a problem, and instead of losing my head, thinking it through and solving it myself. And when I took a moment to call my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, I made sure to thank him. For everything he does for me and my family, obviously, but specifically for this. For never treating me as a princess who was incapable of learning or doing something new. For raising me to be capable. It is one of the personal traits I am most proud of. Being capable. And I am so grateful he taught me to trust in my own abilities.

Hose situation (or rather, what the heck are we going to do with the muddy dog situation) resolved, it was time to hit the beach. To be fair, the kids were already down there. This is what I love about this house, and the fact that my children have grown into their independence. While I was figuring out the hose, getting the beach chairs out of the basement, getting myself ready to go down there, the kids were already playing on the beach. I had helped to slather them with sunscreen, and get their towels, but the beach here is close enough to the house, that I could hear them if they shouted. With the caveat that they were not to go deeper than knee deep, they were allowed to go down and settle in, play on the rocks, wade by the shore. Turbat’s Creek really is a kids’ paradise. Turns out it’s a dog’s paradise, too. But it’s proximity to the house, it’s relative privacy, make it perfect for a momma who doesn’t want to, and probably couldn’t if she tried to, stay on top of her kids at all times. They played on the beach for hours, while I sat and read, or threw the ball for the dog. As the tide receded, Remy alternately chased a ball across the mud flat and into the water, kept a watchful eye on his kids, and laid in the shade of my chair. Again I state, heaven for everyone involved. About midday I left them playing, and came up to the house to make sandwiches, get a bag of chips and some drinks, and of course some applesauce cups with the intention that they use shells for spoons to eat (the Nelson family trick!).

The afternoon rolled on nicely, in the most delightfully relaxed manner, and late in the afternoon who did I spy walking across the flats with my girls scampering at her feet? Enter my promised surprise guest of CMRT 2016: K9 Edition – Amy Lynch, all around wonderful lady and school nurse extraordinaire! As plans for CMRT were unfolding, Amy rather jokingly said, “Will you adopt me? I want to be one of your kids. I want to go on the road trip.” And with complete sincerity, I suggested that she join us in Maine for a few days. House has more bedrooms than the kids & I strictly need, and at the time I offered it was unknown whether or not the kids’ father would be joining us, but even if so, it was only going to be for a few days, so I offered up a bedroom with an attached bath, and a sincere offer to join in the craziness. (As it turns out, the kids’ dad will not be coming up to Maine at all this summer, so there’s no rush for her to vacate on any schedule other than her own plans.) But I am so pleased that she took me up on the offer. The kids know and love her, and she knows and loves and has taken such extraordinary care of them in the years she has been at LPA. Plus, I greatly enjoy her sense of humor and company; it’s nice for me to have a friend.

We went back up to the house for a bit, waiting for the tide to finish going out. Then we headed out across the flat to cross the few feet of ankle deep water that Turbat’s Creek is reduced to during low tide. On the other side? Vaughn’s Island – a nature preserve island – home of the massive rocks for climbing on, the tidal pools for turning over rocks to spot baby lobster, and the tideline to check for interesting things that have washed ashore (one year I found the duck decoy that currently graces my mantle at home.) It is so amazing to live right across from this island, so easily accessible, so perfect for exploration, and cultivating the magic of childhood. Heck, the magic of a relaxed adulthood. It just strikes home the idea that life really is beautiful if you’re paying attention.

Thankfully, Amy is a far better houseguest than I am a hostess. Dinner was a low brow affair of spaghetti and meatballs, and then it was time to take the children, already in their pajamas, out for ice cream. Specifically, to the Ben & Jerry’s down in the heart of town. If you’re a bourbon fan, may I humbly recommend the Bourbon Brown Butter limited batch. Yum. Amy graciously treated the kids to their favorite flavors and toppings, and then gave them their special spoons. At the register they are selling little shovels, because ice cream is better when it is being “shoveled” into your face! These “spoons” are hysterical, and watching their enjoyment of using them was a hoot. More magic, to be sure. Wandered around the town a little bit – making a stop in one of my favorite stores of all time, that was thankfully open late – Daytrip Society. I swear it seems to be my goal to empty my entire wallet in that store. Daytrip Society has the cutest, coolest, most incredible current and retro items. Bought a wonderful necklace and some cards there. Then we wandered some more, peeking in the display windows of darkened shops, and found the companion kids store – Daytrip Society Jr. – also open and delighted in browsing there as well. Soon it was time to head back home as it was time for everyone to turn in. We had all been up a little too early – Amy earlier than all, and with a full travel day under her belt, to boot. It was a perfect first day of vacation. Can’t believe how lucky I am to have so many more of them lined up in a row.

 

Monday, June 20:

The first day of Summer! And Amy’s first full day with us in our beloved little Kennebunkport. We lazed a bit and tried to strategize our coming days, fitting in desired activities without making ourselves feel too scheduled, and taking the weather into account. When we discovered that there was a lobster boat tour scheduled for 10:30am, we raced to change and head out the door to the Nonantum resort. We got there just in time, though only to discover that the conditions were a little to windy and rough for lobstering, and all trips aboard the Rugosa were cancelled for the day. Okay, no matter, we’ll sign up for tomorrow afternoon. Then we piled back into the car and headed down to the “office” of First Chance Whale Watching down in Dock Square. We got ourselves confirmed for the Wednesday morning whale watching cruise, for which I am VERY excited. The lady said that there have been loads of whales spotted offshore, so I am hopeful that we will have abundant marine wildlife for viewing. They very nicely allowed us to leave our car in their parking lot for a bit, so we could wander up to the bookstore Avery has been dying to visit since she saw the sign advertising The Book Burrow, only to discover that it was only open Wed-Sat. Alright, save that for a return visit. A stop in the French patisserie for refreshments, a lovely shopping excursion into a shop called “Best of Everything” (and they’re pretty close to being accurate!) where Harper and I each bought ourselves new necklaces, and then it was back to the car. Well, anyone who knows me knows the place I had to take my friend. One does not come to Kennebunkport, so close to the retail nirvana that is Freeport, without visiting. So, since we had already forgone a morning on the beach, and the boat trips weren’t panning out, we took the 45 minute jaunt up the interstate to visit my mecca – the LLBean flagship store! Ahhhhh!

After finding easy parking in the LLBean parking lot, our first stop was, of course, to take our required pictures in front of the big Bean boot. But our most urgent need was lunch. I remembered and located the brick over pizza place we have frequented over the years, but it has undergone a transformation into a much swankier, hipper place. All things considered, they still let me in the door, and we had a delicious lunch (perhaps some of the best pepperoni I have ever tasted!) Harper was thrilled because she got to sit in a large, upholstered wingback chair at the table, and now she thinks perhaps what’s been missing from her life all along is a dining throne. After lunch we wandered into the book store next door. Such a cute store, with a wide variety of books, games, decorative frames, collectibles, notecards, etc, etc. And then down the street to The Mangy Moose – a really fun, and irreverent gift shop. And then it was time to head back across the street to the main attraction. I can’t explain what it is I love about this store so much. After all, it’s really just a store. And they sell nice things, but in the end they are just things. But it’s the combination of the beautiful store, the wonderful things, the incredibly nice and helpful people. It’s a happy place for me. The kids wanted to head up first to the kids’ section. We took a look around, but the real draw there is the photo booth. Amy & the girls had their silly fun, and then Beau & I took our turn. What a nostalgic souvenir, a strip of photos from a photo booth. We wandered the store, and all its sections, viewed the trout aquarium (which boasts the largest single acrylic viewing window of any other aquarium in the state of Maine), and then Harper got totally sidetracked watching a man in the hunting department fletch arrows. She was transfixed watching him glue feathers onto plain wooden shafts. Beau wanted to head off toward the rifles/shotguns, and wanted my company to do so, so I left Amy with the girls, and wandered through the guns with Beau, talking about his grandfather’s (my father’s) fowl hunting, and the possibility that perhaps we could both go skeet shooting with Pop when we got home. When we headed back toward the girls, Amy said that they could sell Harper a single arrow for less than $10. As she looked at me with her pleading gray eyes, I discussed with the kind LLBean employee what kind of tip he could put on the arrow, and then consented that she could use some of her own money to purchase one. She got to pick feathers, and he prepared the bare shaft for the tip and the notch end. So, now she has all the pieces to assemble her own arrow. Plus, it cost about $8.50. I just need to procure a small piece of light sandpaper and some superglue. Then she’ll be ready to go. I can’t remember the last time I saw a child vibrate from happiness in this way. The salesman compared her happiness to a current viral video of a dog playing with an automatic tennis ball launching machine. He bounces and dances and scampers on the deck as he returns the fetched tennis ball and waits for it to launch again. Honestly, I think Harper was even happier than that dog!

We wandered over to the bike and boat shop, but the kids were fading fast, so we needed a snack. Plus, I may or may not have promised a treat as I told them water was the only option to drink with lunch. Lucky for us, there was a Dairy Queen right across the street! (Ben & Jerry’s is great, but all of their ice cream has egg as an ingredient. Luckily, the older two love the B&J sorbets, but it is not an ice cream location for them. DQ is.) A quick dipped cone later, and we had happy campers on our hands once again. That bought us enough time to take a spin through the LLBean Home store. I could just move in there. I love the decorative pieces – sadly, I do not love their prices as much. But there are definitely a few things from their home collections on my lottery list. (You know, the things I’ll buy if I ever win the lottery. I’ll decorate my home in Maine with many things from LLBean when that happens.) Until then I just dream and drool. Back in the car for an easy ride home, and a dog that was glad to see us and play a little fetch in the front yard.

One of the things I love to do is play bar trivia, and at the Sebago Brewing Company here in Kennebunk, they have an awesomely unique bar trivia game on Monday nights. So, Amy & I had a little girls night out for beer, bar food, and trivia. The kids have gotten to the age where they are comfortable being left alone for a few hours, and I am comfortable leaving them so. They have their own kids’ phone, and are allowed to text or call me when I am away. Not only do I like having some more freedom for myself, but it is also good to build up their independence. Win-Win for everyone. Though I did tell the trivia host jokingly that he might occasionally see me on my cell phone, but I was not cheating, merely responding to my 8 year old whom I had left charge of the phone while Mommy was off drinking and playing at the bar. (And before you run to the internet to research, I’ve already done it. Maine, like Florida, has no laws regarding the age at which it is legal to leave children home alone.) The host laughed, and said, “Well, at least you didn’t say four year old!” He then proceeded to say he was changing our team name, which was merely CMRT, to “Responsible Parenting” which made the night infinitely more awesome! The beer at Sebago is delicious (I had their Runabout Red), the food was good, and we had a pretty showing – coming in 5th place. The people next to us, who came in second, won a decorative metal sign for Sebago Brewing Company. When I commented what a cool sign it was, they handed it to me and said, “Here. Take it.” I thanked them profusely – because I really wanted it – and turns out they are locals who play every single Monday. I told them I would happily take it back to Florida to represent a little piece of Kennebunk down there. Amy suggested that I come back next Monday and see if I could join their team. Hmmmm… Might have to do that…

Got home before too late, and the kids barely noticed us coming in the door, so I’d say all went well. But there was one last thing we needed to do before turning in. The full moon was hanging huge and low in the sky. So beautiful, and calling to something primal inside us. What’s the best thing to do with a full moon? Howl at it, of course. So we all walked down to the beach, and tilted our heads back to the sky to howl. Beau politely declined to be our boy werewolf, and Remy got excited, but kind of looked at us like we were crazy. But Crazy Momma, her girls, and her friend, howled at the moon like the wild women we are. It was perfect. And, as I later discovered, it was a special, once-in-a-lifetime (or at least my lifetime, as it only occurs every 70 years) event. An early Native American tribe named this full moon in June a Strawberry Moon, but it rarely coincides with the Summer Solstice. So, what we were howling at was the Solstice Strawberry Full Moon. A rare delight to behold, and in this case, experience.

With a heart full of beauty, it was time to turn in, and close the chapter on another awesome day. This vacation is unfolding exactly as I hoped it would… Couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.

(Editing may or may not follow at a later date. Just can’t be bothered right now.)

Share
 
 

Day Twelve: We spotted the ocean

19 Jun

Ever since hearing that Toad the Wet Sprocket is going to be the free 4th of July concert at LLBean this summer (we saw Matt Nathanson last year), I’ve had this song in my head. And while the rest of the song doesn’t quite say how I feel about this place, excising the first stanza does quite nicely:

We spotted the ocean at the head of the trail
Where are we going, so far away
And somebody told me that this is the place
Where everything’s better, everything’s safe

Despite my interrupted sleep last night (details on this at the end), today was one of those perfect summer, beach vacation days. Not much happened. Sunscreen was necessary. Bathing suits were wet. Everyone got sandy. Discovery followed exploration. Friends were involved. We didn’t watch the clock. Bedtime was ignored. And this cottage on Turbat’s Creek in Kennebunkport felt exactly like the place where everything’s better, everything’s safe.

Avery and I hunted lobstah on Vaughan’s Island, and eventually Beau came over to join us. We found quite a few of varying sizes. I waded out into the ocean. The deepest I could get was about thigh deep before I could no longer feel my feet and decided to turn back. The kids scampered all over the rocks. We had a picnic lunch in the yard because I refused to clean everyone up only to turn around and go back out again. The weather was, once again, perfect. Highs in the high 70s-low 80s, mostly clear blue sky (a little overcast from time to time kept the temps down). And then we more than doubled the number of kids when my friend Mandy came back to the beach with her two and two of their friends. We just kept moving our chairs as the tide came in, eventually forcing us onto the seaweed-covered beach. The kids played well, and evenly divided their time playing on the rocks, and in the water (especially after we broke out the masks and snorkels!) After the extra two kids were picked up by their mom, we broke out the kayaks. Beau went into town with his dad, so it was just the girls. We sent them out tandem and they had a great time. Only one snafu where Harper & Birdie, collectively weighing approximately 80-90 pounds, got pushed by the wind in the wrong direction (like the out to sea direction!), and unable to keep their wits about them and resolve the situation, they fell into tears and panic. But Super Mandy rescued them, and ended up getting into the kayak with them and paddling them back to shore. Maggie and Avery managed to make their paddling partnership work and just tooled around close to the rocks. Once Mandy brought back the errant girls I hopped in the kayak and paddled out with Maggie for a minute. I’d forgotten how good it feels to be out on the water, gliding easily. How connected to the water a kayak makes you feel. It was nice. But the wind was still kicking up, and we decided to end the day on land. I think we one time gave the girls a 10 minute countdown that lasted 45 minutes. It was just that hard to leave the beach. They were playing so nicely together, the sun was warm on our skin, it was pleasant having a friend to talk to. But eventually, it was time for the Nelsons to leave, so we rounded up our stuff and headed back up to the house. Dinner off the grill was consumed, a movie was turned on, and bedtime was forgotten.

I went out onto the mostly unused screened porch on the back of the house to read. I always forget about that space, and I wish I didn’t. It is right next to the woods behind the house, and it is especially pleasant at night. They have a couch and a lamp, and you can hear every bit of wildlife, as well as the lapping of the water. It is incredibly peaceful out there. Especially since a particularly loquacious owl was keeping me company last night. But after awhile the mercury dropped and I was chased inside by my inefficient clothing.

All in all, it was a very good day.

Now, for the story of my interrupted sleep. I put it down here because not everyone shares my belief in paranormal things, and I’m giving you the option to opt out of reading now. Because while I’ve never seen Casper, I do happen to believe in ghosts. I’ve experienced living with a particularly adept at opening deadbolt locks ghost in college. In our house set up here, I am in an upstairs bedroom, the girls have another upstairs bedroom, and Beau has the daybed in the open living area at the top of the stairs. We all share a bathroom. I keep my door closed, mostly because they wake at the crack of dawn and I’m desperate to sleep in past their waking. But I will hear them from time to time in the middle of the night. In fact, at midnight I heard talking, of the in your sleep variety. Clear, but unintelligible words. I got up, opened the door, and saw, as I suspected, Beau tossing in his sleep. I thought it sounded like him. I immediately fell back asleep. But at 2:00am on the nose I heard a child’s voice say, “Mommy.” It sounded like it was right outside my door. It was clear as a bell. I guess what captured my attention most was that it didn’t really sound like one of my children. My eyes snapped open. And I heard a child’s retreating footsteps, perhaps 10 steps in all. I bolted from my bed, convinced that one of mine had wet their bed and needed my help (a fairly common occurrence in my house), or was wandering about looking for the bathroom, about to wet themselves. Upon wrenching the door open my eye immediately fell on Beau, he was abed and sound asleep. I darted the few steps to the girls’ room, and they were both there, sound asleep. All three so deeply asleep under the covers, and in positions that they couldn’t possibly have achieved in the few brief seconds from the time I heard the child’s voice and footsteps, to the time I was gazing upon them. It was rather spooky. But, didn’t seem malicious, so I whispered a “please keep them safe” and climbed right back into my own bed. Though I admit, this time I left the door open.

Share
 
 

Day Ten: EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!

17 Jun

“Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream…”

Everything *is* awesome when you’re living your dream. And that seems to be what I’m doing on this vacation. This morning I rolled out of bed late, had a piece of sourdough toast and a cup full of blueberries, then herded the children out of the house because my appearance downstairs coincided with low tide. Low tide means we can walk from our beach across the mud flat and about 10 feet of maybe ankle deep water to a nature preserve known as Vaughan’s Island. It was time for our Lobstah Hunt! Two years ago my kids met a local teenager who showed them how to find baby lobsters in the tidal pools on Vaughan’s Island. Nothing difficult, just flipping over rocks, but there is a bit of a science as to which rocks are most likely to yield lobster underneath. And these are tiny guys, most are fit in the palm of your hand size. But for kids who have only seen lobster in the tanks at our local grocery store, this is something amazing. Frankly, I find it amazing too. This morning it took us a bit of time to find one, but once we got into the deeper, colder tidal pools, the lobster abounded. The first one we found almost managed to take a chunk out of my toe. Luckily my lightning quick reflexes had my foot retracted from the water as soon as I felt him scampering near my toe. That and the fact that my high pitched shrieking like a little girl with her hair caught on fire probably scared him back into his hidey hole! We also spot lots of other great things on our tidal pool adventures – sea urchins, tons of hermit crabs, many other varieties of crabs, sponges, etc. And never fear, no lobster are ever injured in our great Lobstah Hunt. We flush them out, sometimes pick up one or two for a photo op, but always put them gently back into place so they can grow to become delicious, er, I mean, adults.

Another great part of Vaughan’s Island is the outcropping of rocks on the near side of the island. This morning after we had exhausted our tidal pool interest, the kids clambered up the rocks and proceeded to play a very detailed imaginative game. I was nearby, but not involved – in fact, made a quick trip up to the house to retrieve my book and a beverage – while they all three played together cooperatively. One time I looked back to see Avery and Harper scaling a rock wall that must have been 10 feet in height. It took my breath away to watch them, but kids need to be kids, and if there were pieces to pick up afterward, then that was just what I was going to have to do. So I turned back around. Put my back to the action. And irony of ironies, no one was hurt on the huge outcropping, by leaning over rock ledges or scaling rock faces that were directly above pointy boulders; instead it was literally the last step off the beach onto the tarmac road where Avery slipped and slammed her shin into a pointy rock. Sigh. Many tears and a bag of frozen vegetables later she was exclaiming with great joy that her damaged shin was purple and pink, some of her favorite colors! I think she’ll live.

After returning from our island excursion, Harper and I once again played another game of Qwirkle. I tell you, I am flat out obsessed with this game. Luckily Harper is a puzzle enthusiast as well, and the game appeals to a visual learner, so I have a partner whenever I want to play. The funny thing is that it takes quite a long time to play a game when there are only two players, but she always stays engaged to the very end. Probably a bit because she enjoys it, but also because she’s so competitive. Wonder where she gets that?

After our game Harper wanted to be the one to make lunch. As you may know, patience is *not* my strong suit. I could have had those sandwiches made and distributed within 10 minutes. But, I need to let my kids do more things for themselves. I know that. I do. But it’s so damn hard. But I waited this one out. She took orders, Avery assisted as sous chef, and five sandwiches were prepared, chips and fruit put on plates, and distributed. It only took 45 minutes. And I did not rip out my hair. At least not all of it.

Beau’s dad had promised him that the boys would take an afternoon kayak adventure once the tide came in. Realizing how important this was to both father and child, I decided the best thing to do to keep the girls from arguing and demanding that they too wanted to go on a kayak adventure, was to get them out of the house. So we had a girls’ only excursion to – where else? – Target! But there was a very specific purpose for this trip. Today is June 17. And for anyone paying attention, you know that Tuesday, June 17th is when The Lego Movie was released on DVD! Yep. We got our copy, and I anticipate it will see a lot of use. I think I’d like to watch it at maybe half speed just to get a better look at all the details hidden in the background. Harper was also pleased about our outing because she scored the next book in the series she is currently reading. It’s another of Rick Riordan’s mythology based series (something of Olympus?), and the darn thing is like 800 pages. But a very reasonable price considering, and I’m a sucker for buying books, so….

Once we got back to the cottage it was time to head down to the creek for a bit. I just wanted to sit in the sun and read. And that’s what I did. Harper started out with her own book, just standing out on the rocks reading, but then she put her book away and played nicely with her sister for quite some time. Eventually the boys returned from their almost 2 hour kayaking excursion – I imagine Beau may have trouble lifting his arms tomorrow. We headed up to the house to get cleaned up, but not before asking some locals we had overhead talking about pizza where they recommended. They suggested a place called Lower Village Pizza just across the bridge in Kennebunk. And I am SO thankful they did. Wow. Some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Crust – Amazing! Flavors – Terrific! Truly some exceptional pizza. And the nicest people you ever want to do business with. A great experience, a wonderful dinner! We watched The Lego Movie while eating our pizza (but of course!) And after our long day, Avery was asleep on the couch with her dad before the movie was over, and the other two trooped dutifully off to bed without a single argument by 8:15pm. Ah, summer!

Tomorrow: Getting my windshield replaced! Just like two years ago when I had to have my windshield replaced in the driveway of this same house, but this time it’s a different Honda Odyssey. My only 14 month old one. Sigh. It’s supposed to be thunderstorms around here sometime after midnight, so here’s hoping those clear up in time to make this mobile windshield replacement a possibility. I don’t like driving around with a huge crack in my windshield.

Share
 
 

Day Nine: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

01 Jul

It’s a risky thing, meeting a friend of a friend. I mean, you love your friend. And you have to assume that because your friend loves this other person that you’ll like them, too. But you never know. Maybe the things your friend likes about you, and the things they like about the other person are diametrically opposed. Maybe when the two friends of friends get together they’ll be like magnets that repel one another. Luckily for me, and the matchmaking skills of my dear friend, Jen Hughes Manley, friends of hers are most definitely friends of mine. Today, thanks to the tireless matchmaking skills of Jen (and despite her efforts to apparently derail her own efforts by mentioning baseball loyalties – geesh!), the official Friends of Jen Society got together on the beach at Turbat’s Creek. The FJS includes Stephanie, with whom Jen has been a work colleague for the past decade, Kimberly, who was Jen’s college roommate, and me, who spent my formative years at Country Day & Episcopal High School engaged in all manner of growing up shenanigans with Jen. It turns out that Kimberly lives in Scarborough, just north of Kennebunkport, and Stephanie was vacationing in Goose Rocks, the next town up from Kennebunkport. And so after some back & forth e-mails, and a fortuitous day off, they and their children, and me and mine, descending upon the beach at Turbat’s Creek this morning for some relaxing fun. All together we have 9 kids, 3 a piece, whose ages are 10,8,8,8,8,7,6,5,5. (I know I said that last night, but it was so fun I wanted to say it again.) And the kids got on famously. Nary a bicker, shifting groups at will, but everyone feeling welcome and included. It was crazy the coincidences of situation between Stephanie & I, just hysterical and awesome to discuss life with someone who really, really gets it. And Kimberly was so incredibly sweet as to bake an egg-free cookie bar dessert so that my kids could be included. Wow. They were both just good people. And I hope they walked away thinking the same about me. We sat on the beach while the kiddos played, then at low tide we walked across to Vaughan’s Island, seeking, and this time finding, lots of baby lobsters (or rather, lobstah), and plenty of crabs, hermit and otherwise. And it was only the impending rain, that we had been notified was coming down our way from the Portland area, that caused up to scatter back to our own homes. It was really a lovely morning, exactly the sort of thing that vacation should be about. And all thanks to Jen for her superior matchmaking abilities, and her excellent taste in friends!

After getting the kids cleaned up, we played a few games, including the wildly fun Scrambled States game (shout out to Tina for an awesome welcome gift!!) But as the afternoon wore on, I was feeling worn out. And really, is there anything better than napping in the afternoon while it’s raining outside and the windows under the eaves are open? I laid down and slept hard, well into the afternoon. What a delightful treat! I awoke feeling refreshed, which was a very good thing because yesterday I did something silly and signed up for an evening 5k! At the time it seemed like a good idea, despite the fact that I’ve probably only run like 4 times in the past 6 months. But I knew I could finish a 5k, even if I wasn’t setting any land speed records. And, hey, for $20 I got a long sleeve t-shirt and a draft beer, not to mention the fact it was going to force me to go for a run. Seemed like an excellent idea. Plus it was to benefit the Puppy Jake Foundation, who raises service dogs to give to disabled military veterans. Talk about a cause I can get behind. Since the rain was slacking off, I figured the race would be a go, so I got dressed and headed down to the registration area, which just so happened to be at the Old Vines Wine Bar in lower Kennebunk. The course was a loop through town, with a stretch down by the beach. It was chip timed, but the course was not marked, so I had no idea as I ran where I was on the course, and it’s been so long since I ran that I had no sense of how to ascertain, have I gone a mile yet? Two miles? Etc… It was drizzling, but the temperature was cool without being cold. The stretch along the beach, despite being so foggy as to completely miss any sunset views, or views of any kind, was delightfully cool, and the breeze seemed to alleviate the humidity. Once we made the turn into the woods for the back side of the course, it was close, very humid, and hillier than I bargained for. But I pressed on, remembering the mantra don’t quit ’til the end. As it turned out, it was a pretty good run for me. That last hilly mile kind of threw me for a loop, but overall I felt pretty good. My goal was to be sub-30 minutes. But I ended up finishing with a time of 28:25 – which averages out to a 9:09/mile pace. Not the fastest I’ve ever run, but darn good for a girl who hasn’t even been running these days, and has spent the last 10 days or so doing absolutely no exercise and eating like crap.

Of course the best part of the race was the post-race party. I lucked into a bar stool in Old Vines, sat down to savor my free draft, and perused the menu for some bar fare. Being an upscale place, the choices were rather chi-chi, but I enjoyed immensely my green olives & pesto, plus Basque sausage plate. Not to mention the last two slices of the guy next to me’s caramelized onion & bacon flatbread pizza! My second beer was a Peak Organic IPA (in a bottle) and I must say it was positively delicious! Since it was organic, I’m assuming it was as good as a health drink. And don’t bother telling me different, I feel younger and healthier all ready. There was also a jazz trio playing in the bar, which was great, though it did make conversation a bit difficult. And I ended up sitting next to a guy that also had some crazy coincidence things in common with me. It was entertaining, and very bizarre.

But now I’m home, showered, and ready to fall into bed. Not sure what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. And frankly, I kind of like it that way. But I’ll say this, in order to prolong my sense of glory and accomplishment, I’m probably not going to take a run…

Share
 
 

Days Six, Seven, & Eight: Sitting on a park bench, behind the wheel, and on a beach

30 Jun

Where on earth do I begin? Perhaps the epicenter? Which for Day Six (and the beginning of Day Seven) was the back deck at the Tisons house in Fairfield, Connecticut. Or maybe just at the beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start.

Day Six started off innocuously enough. My children were up early, but not obnoxiously so, and they managed to wake without bringing the rest of the house out of slumber with them. We kind of had a lazy morning as Joe & Tina got ready to go to work. Then mid-morning I loaded my three, plus the Tison’s 7 year old daughter, into the van, and took off for the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport. Yet another science museum at which I receive reciprocal free admission. This was a small museum, but fun, mostly because they had an indoor ropes course-like obstacle course. Anything that gets the kids climbing, stretching, moving their bodies is great in my book. But before that makes me sound all pious and health-conscious, please allow me to confess that I then turned right around and took them to McDonald’s for lunch. After we had all ordered I sent them to a large booth to sit and wait while I paid and collected the food. They sat at the table, chatting excitedly, but in no way disruptively (shockingly enough, my children do actually have and were actually using their inside voices!) It took me all of four minutes maybe to complete my transaction at the counter, with them in view the whole time, and as I entered the dining room area an older woman snarls at me, quite loudly I might add (definitely not her inside voice), “THOSE children are being TOO LOUD!” Now, at this juncture I had several different routes of response: (1) I could totally ignore her. Not really my style. (2) I could have turned to the kids and said, hey, let’s show this lady what it really means to be loud. Very tempting, but, see, unlike her, I do have some class, so I decided instead to go with, (3) Laugh derisively in her general direction, and say, to the children who are looking at me silently and with great expectation, loudly enough for the other patrons to hear, Well, kids, that lady seems to think you are being too loud, so let’s remember to continue using our inside voices. I’m sure the irony was lost on her. Because nothing says “I’m a reasonable person” like someone who goes to McDonald’s at 12:30pm and then gets upset that there are children present.

After our lunch we headed on to Norwalk to make our annual visit to the Stepping Stones Museum for Children. For whatever reason, my children never get tired of Stepping Stones. Avery especially loves the water room, but Beau especially loves the outdoor space. There they have all kinds of hard foam blocks and shapes for building and climbing on. Of course it is tragedy waiting to happen because Beau has a very specific creation in mind, sets about trying to recreate it in three dimensions, and then some three year old comes by and finds great joy in knocking it to the ground. It is definitely a test of Beau’s self control. And sometimes he handles it better than others. He did fairly well, but his temper was definitely rising to the top. (Poor kid, comes by it honest. Crazy Momma feels you, sweet boy.) But it was out in that play space that I encountered the sassiest, most ill-behaved child ever. She was adorable. About 5 years old. And every time she opened her mouth I wanted to turn her over my knee. I cannot even imagine what her home life is like for her to have learned to speak to and interact with other people in such a way. She was hands on hips, bobbing her head around, what’choo gonna do about it, getting up in Beau’s face. Honestly, part of me wanted to let him haul off and knock her block off. Her behavior was so ugly and antagonistic, for no apparent reason. And as Beau, with my prompting, continued to say things like, can you please move back from my building so I can finish it, and can you please stop talking to me like that, she at one point spit in his general direction. At this point I was interacting with her, as well. Not discipling, but definitely being cuttingly sarcastic. I was hoping that her mother/father might overhear and approach me, or that she would run off and tell her mother/father, because I had some choice words for them. But clearly there was no guardian in sight, nor hearing distance. Eventually I realized that she and her equally as ill-behaved little brother belonged to one of the nannies that was sitting together at a table across the courtyard. Eventually she left Beau alone, and it didn’t come to anything else, but I weep for the future as I watch this latest generation of entitled children age. I tell my kids that one day they’ll appreciate how strict I am, that they will be much better adjusted and highly functioning members of polite society. That may not seem important now, but as adults, when they are prepared to handle disappointment, when they are capable of understanding and moving past the word no, they’ll thank me. Of course they already thanked me when on the way home from Stepping Stones we stopped in at Stew Leonard’s, like you do whenever you’re in Norwalk. Part grocery store, part sideshow, part excuse to eat ice cream for snack, we wandered the aisles pressing all the buttons, watching all the shows, and generally having a great time. I especially loved the interaction we had in the fruit aisle. We were chatting with another mom as we stopped for our sample of lemonade, and singing and dancing in the aisles (impromptu dance party!) to the Chiquita Banana song, when the other woman turned to Samantha, and said, “Your mom’s a good dancer.” To which Samantha promptly said, “Oh, that is not my mom.” I don’t think she was meaning to be rude, just factual, because what are the odds (I guess 1 in 4) that the woman would chose to address the one child that actually wasn’t mine! But it made us grown-ups laugh so hard. Because it was such a teenager thing to say. That is not my mom. Especially when it was directed toward the crazy momma that was dancing in the aisles of the grocery store!

But the real crown in the jewel of Saturday was the post-slumber-party-bedtime socializing. As I’ve said before, Tina and Joe are some of my favorite people on the planet. And while it makes me sad that I don’t see them more often, the times when we are all together are magical. I’m not going to recreate our night for you all here. It’s too personal, too you-had-to-be-there, the memories too ethereal to translate. But let me give you the brief, stream of consciousness recap here: The night started at about 9:30pm on Friday and ended at about 7:30am on Saturday. We drank Beam & Coke, we shared a 40, we taste tested summer shandy. Yon distant light did nothing to repel mosquitos. There was the fear of imminent, collective demise due to a mountain lion attack; luckily it was only a tiki torch that was attacking. On several occasions we all almost wet ourselves laughing. I’m pretty sure Tina used to be a DJ, just ask her, she’ll tell you, and her “fire” playlist was one of the best things that ever happened. I will forever be unable to see a park bench without thinking of Tina and Joe. We took a short course in the proper identification and naming of Indigo Girls. We discussed our love of Bill Murray, no, not him, the other guy, a W&L legend and mutual friend. We saw the sun rise, and sang morning has broken. We cried. We laughed. We cherished our friendship. I honestly don’t recall the last time I pulled an all-nighter, but I’m assuming it was law school. But I can say that I don’t believe I’ve ever had as much fun pulling one. And how do you end an epic up all night experience? With a run to McDonald’s, of course. Never has a trip to acquire breakfast sandwiches involved so much giggling.

Now, as road trip strategies go, pulling an all-nighter before driving approximately 250 miles, doesn’t really fall under the category of best practices. It tends to hamper the efficiency of travel. Having to stop every 50 miles because you need to get some blood flowing and mainline caffeine, that is. Yeah, I would feel myself starting to get drowsy, thus necessitating another stop. I can only wonder what my children thought was wrong with me. But even if the trip that should have lasted 2.5 hours took us 4 hours, I made it safely to Boston, where we went directly to the Boston Children’s Museum. The irony of this whole thing being that I became a member of the BCM due to their fantastic reciprocal agreements with both other children’s museums (50% off) and science museums (free), but of all the museums we visited on the northbound route, BCM is the one we spent the least time in. Of course, it was my shenanigans the night before, necessitating the stops, that lengthened our drive, that shortened the amount of time we could stay, but… I’m not even the tiniest bit remorseful, and I wouldn’t trade that all-nighter for the world. And frankly, my kids have outgrown many of the exhibits there. So, I sent my crew straight up into the BCM climbing structure to burn off some energy, and we went into the construction exhibit room they all love so much, they once again participated in a scientific study that some grad students were conducting, and they managed to slip into the art room for a quick painting project. Could we have done a little bit more if it wasn’t getting quite so late? Sure. But I was ready to make the final push to Maine, so at 4:30pm, we loaded up and put Boston in our rearview mirror.

At this point, even though it was later in the day, I was feeling more alert, but I was so anxious to get to the cottage I didn’t even stop at the NH Liquor Store! There is something physiological that happens to me as we cross the Piscataqua River Bridge. An easing of the mind and spirit, a relaxing and release of the stress in my body. Maine makes me happy. Plain and simple. And yes, I realize that I am visiting at a halcyon time. I’m not shoveling snow, or dealing with ice on the roads. I’m experiencing blue skies, fairly low humidity, and evenings cool enough to require (at least for my thin Florida blood) a sweatshirt. So, I’m willing to amend, to add a word or three, so I’ll say, Maine in the summertime makes me happy. Because it does. And how can you argue with their state motto? Maine: The Way Life Should Be. We made our way up 95, off the interstate, through Dock Square, down Ocean Avenue past Walker’s Point, and down to Turbat’s Creek Road. And there it was, our rental house, waiting for us as always. Just pausing long enough to throw my purse into the house, and notice the awesome kitchen renovation, we immediately walked the 50 feet down to the beach to soak in our favorite view. Then I immediately turned back around and walked back to my car to grab my sweatshirt! Ah, Maine in the summer! Of course it was probably only 70 degrees, but when you’ve been used to high 80s and high humidity, it felt downright chilly. After throwing some rocks and poking around, it was time to come back in and unpack. But what a relief to be here, especially after all of the bizarre automotive incidents we were plagued with, it was lovely to end the northbound leg of CMRT: Summer 2013 Edition with an event-free roll into Kennebunkport.

Thankful that the children let me sleep in a little – after all, I was operating on a fairly severe sleep deficit – we had a very lazy first day in KPT. Just lounging around the house in the morning, we didn’t even make it down to the beach until almost noon. But remembering my mistake from last year, when I neglected to apply any sunscreen to my children because I was wearing long-sleeves and a hoodie,  this year I made sure to lather the children up. Then I sent them down to the beach by themselves with strict instructions that no one went deeper than their knees, and they stayed together. This is one of the things I love most about this house. The beach is so close that with all the windows open I could hear them if someone screamed. And they are getting old enough that as long as they roam as a pack, I feel like I can loosen the leash a little bit. The most dangerous part of our beach is the rock formation on which they like to climb and explore. But guess what? If someone is going to slip and fall, my sitting 20 feet away from them on the beach isn’t going to prevent a broken arm, or a need for stitches. So might as well give them some freedom to explore without my watchful eye. Lovely to have a place to do that. Their dad went down to join them first, but I wasn’t too far behind and we ended up spending several hours down there. It was low tide, so we walked across to Vaughan’s Island, which is part of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Preserve. This is our lobster hunting ground. Last year a teenage boy showed us how to flip over rocks and spot baby lobster. Under his expert tutelage we found tons of them. This year our first expedition brought us only two lobster, though one was rather large, and tons of hermit crab. I even saw several larger hermit crabs dragging smaller hermit crabs. I found this to be curious. Why were they doing that? For the purposes of mating? Were they going to eat them? Was it mothers taking care of babies? Odd. (Maybe one day I’ll Google hermit crab behavior, but for now I’ll plunge ahead with the end of my boring story because I’m still rather tired and should go to bed.)

When the tide started coming in we walked back across to the mainland, and I parked myself in a chair with a book while the kids played on the rocks, and lounged in the tidal pools there. There were some admonishments about not throwing rocks with other people nearby, but mostly the kids were free to explore. At one point, when he woke from a nap, John was nice enough to head up to the house, and return with sandwiches for everyone, and a beer for me. Not a bad little beach day, all in all. But the sun began hiding behind the clouds, making it cool enough for me to slip on my cover-up and drape a towel across my legs. The kids had kind of wound down on the whole beach experience, especially since we said we weren’t dragging out the kayaks today. So, after a brief check of Fandango, we quick-stepped it up to the house and got cleaned-up. Usually we are just wrapping up our week in Maine during the annual summer Pixar movie release day, but since we traveled later this year, we missed the big event and Monsters University has already been in theaters for over a week. So we headed up to Portland and got our Pixar on. My brief review: I liked it, but I’m kind of surprised that the kids did. Though come to think of it, Avery didn’t have much to say about it, and it was Beau who said he really, really liked it. I felt like the themes were really rather mature (disappointing your parents, trusting your friends, second careers), and that slowed the pace a bit. But I always appreciate a kids’ movie with adult humor, and I loved the references to Monsters, Inc. And the brilliant thing about taking your kids to a 4:45pm movie is that you don’t have to feed them dinner afterwards! So, after eating a popsicle in the driveway after returning home the kids were happy to jump into their jammies and get into bed. And now, it’s about time for me to do the same. Not eat a popsicle, I’ve been sipping a rum & Coke (Now I only drink bourbon when Joe Tison mixes it for me), but time for me to rest my weary head.

Coming up tomorrow: Another beach day, this time with some friends of my friend, Jen Hughes Manley. We don’t know each other yet, but we all love Jen, so I’m positive that we’ll get along gangbusters. When we’re all together we’ll have 9 kids ages 10, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5. Good times, good times. I think I’ll keep that rum handy…

Share
 
 
 
© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim