We’ve resumed our Monday morning playdates.  It’s a great way to start the week and see friends.  An added bonus is that it gives Annika the continuity of seeing “old” friends as she adjusts to a part-time preschool schedule with her “new” friends.

This past week, we were at Casa Young.  Elizabeth suggested some late-morning cookie making for the girls and I’m not sure who was more excited!  I also offered to document the morning’s events knowing full well that Elizabeth takes great joy in giving me a hard time about the zillion images I have of our children that I can’t seem to upload in a timely fashion (I keep telling her that I’m saving the good ones for their high school graduations).  So here I am, within the week! [Elizabeth is a far better and more prolific blogger, and don’t forget, you will likely learn more about Annika’s world there than you will here.]

A batch of dough, a TON of cookie cutters, some brightly colored frosting and a handful of food safety violations later we had happy girls all hopped up on sugar. And, with all the cookie cutters flying, with Annika and Emily earnestly trying to work the dough, I didn’t notice that Elizabeth and thoughtfully punched out the letters to make the girls’ names.   It was perfect.

Think any cookies made it home?  Not a chance.


Mudroom 2.0

Coming from the West Coast, I didn’t truly understand the gravity and importance of such a room.  Entry-Schmentry, right?  Wrong. One’s mudroom says a lot about one’s home.  The mere existence of one simply says,

“Hi, welcome to our house. Now ditch all that stuff that’s bound be dirty/wet/snowy/muddy and get inside where it’s cozy.”

The mudroom at our house was built by someone long ago after the house was built.  In the warmer months, it’s a downright pleasant stop on your way inside.  During the colder months, it’s pretty awesome too.  Coming in from the cold it’s large enough to shake off the elements and peel off the layers.  Exiting the house is another thing. It’s not heated.  This means that we snatch what we need and let it temper “in the house”  before putting it on.  Sound silly?  You try putting on a down coat that been in a refrigerator all night so that you can go outside and get the mail in a snowstorm.

So we’ve been in our little house in Blue Hill for almost 2 years to the day.  During that time we’ve focused most of our efforts on a complete demo and renovation of the basement and it’s requisite hardscaping for the walk-out (seems the term “patio” isn’t used this far north of the Mason-Dixon).

Except for some painting and a bit of this and that, most of the upstairs (the main floor) is largely untouched.  Because there’s the industrial-strength blue dorm carpeting that runs through most of the house…and once you pull that up, there’s no stopping…but what to replace it with?  And then there are the zillion older windows that need replacing at some point for something more efficient.

But the mudroom. The colder weather is nipping at our heels and I just couldn’t face another season passing through the space looking like it’s disheveled self.  A few little fixes, a coat of paint, and a few new accessories later, it’s like we’ve been in one of those home improvement shows.

So during my mom’s last visit, we tackled this little space (Thanks again, Mama!).  And wow, what a difference.  A fresh coat of paint and trim, a new light, more than enough hooks, a curtained area to store more coats and vests and off-season stuff (because looking at snow-boots in July is depressing)…and did we mention that Annika has hooks of her own?  At her height?  Talk about self-sufficiency!

She turns 3

The big day has long since passed and a short stack of Left To Be Written thank you notes remind us that there is some unfinished business to attend to. This being one of them.

This is where we sigh and fondly recall a pregnancy, a birth, and the cruel speed of time. Yesterday she didn’t know that she had hands and today she’s trying to unlock the mystery that is snapping.  One minute she is bravely scaling whatever she can climb (in some sort of sparkly number no less) and the next she’s curled up in our arms, letting out a sigh that we will always know as hers.

No grand slideshow of photo amazingness here. In fact, we really need to remember to either stage a few pics or nominate someone to be the photographer. Still, a few highlights to share. Top: Annika and Ira doing “roll-pollies” down the hill. Middle: Chris and Annika blowing out the candles. Yes we made cupcakes and no, the stand isn’t mine. Bottom: Some of our friends and family who joined us.

Somewhere, there is a picture of us all together.  We somehow manage to get one each year and hope it surfaces soon.

The morning was looking gloomy and turned out spectacular. Annika’s birthday pals Spencer & Wyatt had their 1st birthday party earlier in the day (we love that she also shares her day with Cousin Erin…maybe someday we can celebrate together!). We love that Team Young live so close (and are convinced that at some point Annika and Emily will realize just how close and manage to bushwhack their way to each other’s houses through a grove of trees, a field or two and some unsuspecting neighbor’s yard) and that we got to enjoy not one but two birthday parties (in one day!!!) for 3 awesome kiddos.

I should also mention that the casual shrug of “oh let’s keep it simple and have a little party here” is downright comical…especially when one factors in the need to have a What If It Rains plan. Happily, we enjoyed a balmy (and bug-free) summer evening, great food (yes, there were skewers involved and no, no child was harmed…many were delighted in fact) and the company of many wonderful people.  We are lucky and grateful for so much.

If the year before you is anything like the birthday you have, then Annika is destined for another year of love, laughter, family and friends.

Special Delivery

Every once in a while treats show up in the mail for Annika. She is thrilled to bits.

A package from my dad arrived. A few days later I told him that it was tucked away from curious fingers. I thought it was for her birthday. The response included, and I quote:

“Open the package now !!!!!!!!!”

A potpourri of treats in one Cat in the Hat backpack included a number of Cat in the Hat books, not one but two Nascar Magic Coloring books (with stickers, that she proceeded to put on herself and me), a pair of socks, a small flashlight, and not one, not two, but three Weiner Dog antenna toppers. I think we’ll be the only people in our area code with those!

Must be Summah’ (part 3)

So, it’s a well known fact that weather in Maine can turn on a dime. Moving here, I was told that if I didn’t like the weather, I should just wait 5 minutes. Especially here on the coast. It can be a gorgeous day with a hint, a suggestion of grey…and then suddenly the clouds gather and you realize that your raincoat is conveniently still hanging in the mudroom. Likewise, what appears nasty and foreboding can suddenly break and grant you blue skies and rainbows.

Such was the case last weekend. Mountain Day is an annual event celebrating the awesomeness of our very own Blue Hill Mountain (it’s true classification as a mountain still perplexes me). There’s yoga at the summit, a fun run, plus an assortment of food and entertainment on the meadow. What wasn’t to look forward to on this Sunday in early-August.

Chris had Sealight duties so I planned a late-morning adventure (read: let’s go play and run around on the mountain so that Annika has a giant nap, grant me some time to work). Blue went grey, a light mist began falling, and I still asked Annika if she wanted to go for a walk. The mere suggestion had her out the door. We suited up. It was warm and a rain layer would be needed. By the time we parked, the rain was falling a bit more.

“It’s raining Annika. Do you still want to go for a walk?”
“Yes, Mama.”

Also consider that summer in Maine arrives with an obligation to enjoy every little bit that you can. The season is short and so many things ONLY happen this time of year so one best get crackin’. This also leaves little room for suggesting, “Oh let’s do that next weekend.” Why? Because next weekend will likely present itself with another amazing array of events.

And why not, right?

And then it rained a bit harder.

It’s not long around here that you find yourself in the company and friends. A short walk to the meadow and we were greeted with “AHHHHHHHHNNIKAAAAAAAAAA” by a very wet and very happy Emily. The rest of the Young Posse was there, Elizabeth beaming as usual, the boys cozily tucked inside the stroller bubble and Chris wondering why all us crazy people are Just Standing Around in the Rain Chatting. Sure we ducked under pop-up tents that the food folks had set up…but really. It’s Maine…and it’s raining…and dry clothes are but a few minutes away….whatever. It’s also difficult to explain to an almost 3-year-old the logical benefits of staying dry.

And then it rained a bit harder.

So we decided to go for a walk.

Annika and Emily were terribly impressed with StoryWalk. We were delighted to find one of Annika’s favorite books, Down to the Sea with Mr. McGee as the book we could enjoy on our walk. The Young Posse had the good sense to head home. As for Annika and I, well, we made it to the end of the book and turned ourselves around at the start of the trailhead that takes you up the mountain. If it had been a sunny day, we would’ve had quite a view from even that point.

Hearty girls they are.

While it was great to see friends and pick up some food to enjoy later at home, the rain finally came down hard enough that it pretty much shut down the event. By the time we made it back to the car, we were soaked.

An hour later it was hot and sunny.

the potty files

At a certain point this morning, she decided that she’d rather be sans clothing and sans diaper. As usual, we asked her the usual question, “And what will you do when you have to pee or poop?”. Pavlovian response = “I’ll go to the potty!!!!”

Three hours and at least six self-administered and “I need help” potty-times later and I think we are on to something. We’ve been working on this for a while now.

I finally put a diaper back on her when she declared herself done. She sat down to eat a snack/lunch and said that she was worried about peeing on the chair. I took it as a hint that she was done with this episode of remembering to stop everything and “go”.

She usually isn’t encouraged to be sans everything for so long in the house…ugly carpet is still carpet…but the timing and vibe was right.

I’ll leave you with this. At one point I offered her Big Girl Panties. We do this regularly. It’s like our very own Abbott & Costello routine that goes nowhere fast but full of laughs. This time she decided that the best place for them was…not on her body…but under her pillow?

I’m curious about what she thinks is going to happen after her nap.

how to climb

Must be Summah’ (part two)

And then it’s time to pick strawberries…

It’s a full-on assault of the senses…but in a good way.  That first step in to the grocery store on an early summer day and you are greeted with strawberries.  Fresh. Local. Strawberries.  Not giant berries as big as your hand. Small red berries that smell so sweet you can only imagine how good they taste.  You buy a quart becasue, well, it’s Maine and this particular berry season only lasts a few weeks.  Otherwise we pay through the nose to get them from somewhere else.  And we have, and it’s usually a bit of a let down.

A lesson one must learn when living in a place with very distinct seasons is to embrace the season you are in. This may seem obvious, but it takes time to realize.  There are all sorts of things one must and can do year-round, but you can only plan to do certain things for so long and then that season is over.  None of this, “I’ll do that when I’m not so busy”.  That magnificent and short-lived thing is Happening Right Now.  Around here it’s usually around food.  Fiddleheads in March (or is it April?  I keep forgetting mostly because it’s 2 weeks and I still say “I’ll stop and pick some up next time”).  Berries in the summer. Apples in the fall. You get the idea.

So, to Old Ackley Farm we went on Saturday morning. 10 minutes from our house and we are on a giant and gorgeous farm.  Chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, etc.  The farm also grows quite a variety of produce.  And ’tis the season for a few acres of berries to be harvested.

Annika had a great time picking a lot and eating only a few.  We think that we were so focused on reminding her of what to pick (red) and what not to pick (white) that it didn’t really occur to her that she could eat them.  Anywhere else and there would be multiple signs (like in the bulk food aisle) or Someone in Charge calling out to remind us that there’s No Eating. Here, no problem.But she did and we did and so did everyone else.  The berreis were practically begging to be eatn right then and there.

So, all told, we picked six quarts.  in the past 24 hours we’ve enjoyed them in our dinner salad (with balsamic vinegar of course), in a cobbler and yes, in this morning’s pancakes.  A lot remain that need to be hulled and rinsed and probably frozen.  Frozen until that dark winter day when everything’s white and the only memory of summer are photographs and berries in our freezer.

Must be Summah’ (part one)

  • I was one of three cars waiting for the first vehicle to turn left.We must’ve waited at least one minute!
  • You find yourself needing to actually choose which party or event to attend.
  • People I did not recognize outnumbered the people I did recognize at the grocery store.
  • RVs, the sleeping giants on the road, gently lumbering through town.
  • Well dressed parents stroll across Main Street with their well-dressed kids.  At least one person is wearing white pants, another wearing plaid shorts.  [Must be a rule when one travels to New England in the summertime.]
  • Shopping carts filled with “vacation food”, an assortment of disposable goods and bottled water at the grocery store.
  • Waiting for a table at a restaurant!

These aren’t complaints, oh no.  For about 8 weeks our lives in this quite little town by the sea get a bit hustle-bustle.  The population feels like it triples and suddenly we are looking for parking and waiting in lines.  It’s a nice feeling.  It’s like mingling at a party.  The influx feels great, because it’s short.  Soon enough everyone will go back from wherever they came. Soon enough we can drive from one end of Main Street to the other and know (or at least recognize) every person that you see along the way.

Welcome Back Liz!

As of a few weeks ago, Liz (LIZ!) is home for the summer which means that we have part-time/at-home childcare twice a week.  To know Liz is to love Liz. Back in the day, I thought I was a pretty awesome nanny…and then Liz came into our lives.

Together, she and Annika embark on some fun journeys; Curtis Cove of the beautiful days, Springer’s on the rainy days, walks to The Fish Net for lunch, picnics  and playdates at the park, and last week’s trip to Birdsacre Sanctuary in Ellsworth. Even here at home, they hatch plans of high adventure making use of every square inch of the house and the yard.

Annika is thrilled to bits to be in Liz’s company.  On the days they are together, I might as well be invisible.  A lesser mom might have her feelings hurt.  Me, I couldn’t be happier.

So how did the magical Liz come into our lives? Last spring, I asked for a referral from a friend who works with a lot of really motivated and talented students.  I knew that she’d know the right kids who’d want some summer work.  Lo and behold, she smiled when I asked, knew just the person and a few days later the phone rang.  It was Liz introducing herself. A few weeks later we met…everyone hit it off…and the rest is history.  We are forever in debt to the friend who made the introduction. She knows that I owe her one.

Everyone with a child should be so lucky to have a Liz in their lives.