Category Archives: Living

An Island Visit

A glance at the calendar told me that we’re in the last days of summer. I had been planning a visit to a dear friend since spring, and just hadn’t made the time to do it. So I put all housework, garden work, school planning and other things aside and gathered bathing suits and towels, packed a quick lunch for us to eat in the car, and the children and I were on our way.

IMG_2956-1I had forgotten the beauty that filled the drive from my home to her home. We didn’t pull over into any of the planned “scenic lookout” places, but we did make a quick stop, due to a Little complaining of a bit of a tummy ache, near an old cemetery at the top of a hill overlooking the world. (Okay, maybe not the entire world, but it did seem that way.) The view was enjoyed, the tummy ache subsided quickly, and we were back on the road.

I wish I could convey the peace that overcame me as we slowly made our way over hills, around turns, over a large bridge and a small causeway to the final turn to my friend’s home, finally arriving at the farm that has been in their family for generations.  The Littles ran off for a quick guided tour, thrilled to see baby chicks and turkeys. Then we did a quick change into swimming gear (well, the children did, us Mama’s knew how cold that water would be).

IMG_2968-4A little parking adventure, a short walk, and we arrived at the sand beach. For those of you unfamiliar with the coast of Maine, beaches are plentiful, but SAND beaches are precious few and far between.

IMG_2965-2Oh, that water was cold! But the children didn’t seem to mind at all.

IMG_2970-5IMG_2959-1It was, like all days spent with a dear friend, perfect. Sun, sand, water, and being with one I love so much. If I were a romantic, like Anne who lived in Green Gables, I’d call her a kindred spirit. (Good thing I’m not a romantic, right?)

This day, spent on an island at the end of the world, watching our children play in the water, taking in the abounding beauty of God’s creation, visiting and sharing life with a friend, this was a day of peace and joy. Exactly what this Mama needed in the midst of a very busy season.

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Celtic Interlude

Saturday night storms brought a welcome weather change. Finally, an end to the hot humid days we’ve been having, returning us to the mid-70 degree temperatures we love about Maine summers. Before heading down the coast to spend some time visiting my grandfather, we stopped to enjoy a bit of the Celtic festival taking place nearby. Image

Image We enjoyed bit of bagpipes, drumming and dancing, then grabbed a bite to eat. Our family seems to always gravitate away from the crowds, so we moved toward the almost empty waterfront for our quick picnic which included climbing, playing, and enjoying the view. Image

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IMG_2869-4A walk through the vendors, a quick hello to friends, and we were on our way. Just a quick interlude, but enjoyed ever so much.

Capture the Summer

This summer has been flying by and we haven’t even gotten to the beach once yet. I know that this week would be perfect to go since it is so very hot here, but it seems almost too hot to sit out in the sun. (Hot is a relative term. It’s been hitting 90 degrees every day. Here in Maine, we call that HOT. Down in Texas, it was a cooler summer day.)   I think I need to just plan a day and go.

Even though we haven’t made it to a day of ocean side swimming, we have been doing a bit of summer seizing. Yesterday we met a lot of friends at the park for a game of capture the flag.Image

The waterfront was hot and still without the characteristic breeze to blow any relief until the sun began to set and the shadows grew long enough to cover the field.  The kids played several rounds of the game, with a few moments of rest in between and during the game. Image

After a while a band joined the scene at the waterfront for what looked to be a video shoot. Once the cameraman got all the shots he needed, the band had a little fun playing around. And we had a little fun listening.  ImageOne of the band members had a beautiful old Saint Bernard named Hugo. Silas followed him everywhere, and finally had a chance to sit and pet the “puppy”.  Image

Capture the flag gave us a chance to capture a bit of the summer.  Next stop – the beach!

Rain Means Watercolors

IMG_2220-6This very wet weather we’ve been having lately has been keeping us inside more often than we like this time of year, so the Art cabinet has been getting a lot of use.IMG_2217-4And what better thing to do when it’s pouring outside than to put water to good use inside? From learning how to hold a brushIMG_2218-5to the proper water/paint/paper sequence (and not water/paint/water/paper that was tried so many times with frustration as to why the paint was not working)
to exploring all the shades of PINK IMG_2213-1 to creating the picture imagined just so. IMG_2216-3
And then all the artwork was gathered together to take to the nearby hospital to hang in the room of Great-Grandfather who is also Great-Great-Grandfather and is recuperating from illnesses that brought him to what he thought would be his end, but joyfully is not. And now he has some sunshine in his room from the family who loves him so dearly, thanks to the rain that made us watercolor.IMG_2215-2
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Goings On

 

It isn’t for lack of things to post about that have kept me from posting. It’s the deluge of things going on that keep me away.

  • Birthdays! Our youngest Middle turned 12! Twelve! How blessed we have been to have her with us these 12 years. There are few who know this quiet girl well, but those who do are so fortunate indeed. Quiet, funny, hard working, dreamer, planner, always thinking of others. We’re so glad we’re the ones who get to be her parents!Image
  • Another Birthday! My grandfather’s 94th! Yes, 94 years old. Oh, the things he has seen. The things he can teach us. There isn’t enough time to learn. He still has such a great sense of humor. He hasn’t been feeling very well lately, but we’re hopeful the doctors can figure out what’s causing the problems he’s having and find a solution.Image
  • Our anniversary! Usually our anniversary gets lost in the shuffle of the busy-ness of the days. But this year we had a chance to spend the afternoon together. Thrifting, treasure hunting, bookstore visiting, home depot (because that’s what we do), and dinner together (Oh. My. Can I just tell you how much of a treat it was to eat with him without having to share my food with a little one or get up three times to fetch more water, more napkins, or take one or more to the rest room? Bliss I tell you!)
  • A week at day camp for the Middles, which required (it didn’t, but they really wanted it and this Mama was happy to oblige) costumes made just for them for Native American week.
  • Furniture finding and painting to sell. This seems to take more and more time that I just can’t seem to find at the end of the day. Perhaps it’s time to shuffle a few things around to find the time.
  • Music lessons and recitals. Yes, even our Oldest Middle who was so very reluctant to take lessons played in front of Other People. And, like most other things he does, he played his piece perfectly.
  • Remodeling. Well, outside remodeling. We’re working on a new kitchen porch. We. As in my husband. Every now and then I hand him a board. Or a screw. I did help a lot with the prep work. That counts, right?Image
  • Appendectomy. Our oldest daughter who is living on the other side of the country went to the emergency room the other night thinking she had an ulcer. Turns out she was wrong. She had appendicitis. It wasn’t an extreme, urgent, we-have-to-remove-this-now situation, but it was a so-we’re-admitting-you-and-you’ll-have-it-removed-sometime-before-the-end-of-the-day situation. And our son-in-law is deployed. And our granddaughter needs meds every day twice a day at the exact same time with very specific doses. So this mama’s heart was really wishing I could jump on a plane and be right there to take care of everything. But I couldn’t. So God did (of course, He did). Everything turned out well, and she’s coming home next week. So I still get to take care of everything, just a week later than I wanted.

 

Taking Turns, Two Down

Poor little Silas was up most of the night. Between the low grade fever and the stuffy nose, he was pretty miserable. I tried to nurse him through his fitful almost-but-not-quite-awake cranky moments throughout the night, but the stuffy nose interfered with even this most basic Mama and baby time. In the wee hours of the morning, Papa took over, walking him across the floor, keeping him upright, until he was able to breathe, and sleep, again (and giving me a brief respite and nap). And then it was my turn again and my nursling and I spent the rest of the night sitting up on the sofa, as sitting up was the only way Silas was able to keep the stuffy nose (mostly) at bay and breathe. And just as I started to doze off, Emma had a bad dream, the results of which woke Sophie. Both of them were quite happy to spend the rest of the night close to me on the sofa.

With such a restless night, I expected the worst from the day. But the brightly shining sun beckoned. Image

Jackets were quickly put on and we spent some wonderful time outside in the warm sun. Image

(Warm is, of course, a relative term. I checked the temperature later and found that it was only 28 degrees. But warm compared to our sub-zero and single digit temperatures last week, yes?)

Sandbox time, follow the leader, tag, exploring, drinking much needed coffee.ImageImage

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Exactly what we needed.

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And a good thing we spent time in the sun while we could. Later afternoon brought an unusual nap for Emma and the development of a not so little fever. She slept off and on most of the afternoon and evening.

Mid-supper, Silas returned to his favorite spot to rest, in Mama’s arms, and promptly fell asleep. Two down. Hoping and praying it stops there.Image

Keeping warm

In the middle of a bit of a cold spell (it was -8 when I checked this morning), we’ve been working at keeping warm. For me, that means keeping the wood stove filled and burning hot, providing hot meals and making lots of tea for all. For the children, it means keeping the woodbox full (a daily chore for the Middles) and maybe wearing a hat during school time. The Littles spend a lot of time playing in the living room and sitting under blankets.

The Littlest Little is contributing in his own way. He’s working hard at keeping us moving. How you ask? Well, this is how he spends his time lately.ImageYes, that’s a dresser he’s climbing on.

ImageAnd of course, once you’re on, you need to get off, so to the edge he scoots, knowing that someone’s hands will catch him before he falls off. (We always caught him.)

Oh, but climbing on the dresser gets so boring once it’s been conquered. So he found higher mountains to climb.

ImageOh, don’t be fooled. Yes, a sofa is pretty safe. Close to the ground. Soft. But the seat was not the summit he was aiming for.  Oh, this little one had much more in mind.

ImageThe top of the sofa back offers, of course, the best view. Why, from here, a little one can see so much more. ImageSo proud of himself, and with a giggle as one of us raced to the his side knowing fully the next step he’d take (oh yes, we’ve done this before), the boy did the only thing you can do when you’ve reached the top.  Jump. 

ImageAnd once he was safely on the floor again, he laughs, turns around and does it again. Oh, yes, he certainly did his part to make sure we kept moving to stay warm.  I am a little worried about what will happen when he realizes we have a balcony overlooking the living room.

Moments

There are moments when everything becomes crystal clear. Moments when all the clutter falls away.

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Moments when little sisters play perfectly together, making forts in the living room.
When a jewelry making Middle finds the perfect beads to make her latest creation.
When a Middle boy sits in the kitchen practicing his cello, which he reluctantly started playing just a few short months ago, but enthusiastically and passionately continues.
When the youngest Little walks through singing a song only he can understand.
When a new video is posted from the school our oldest son attends.
When my husband embraces me in a sweet and tender hug while we watch a recording of our son playing live in a concert we were able to watch in person miles away and months ago.
When our oldest calls because our grand baby wants to say hi to Bumpa and Babcia.

These are the moments when it is crystal clear that the best investment any parent can make is an investment in our children. It isn’t about how much stuff you give them, or how big or well decorated your house is. It’s about giving them time, energy and love to grow into exactly what was intended from the beginning.

And sometimes, like in the photo at the top, it’s about letting them stay in their pajamas all day, with a silly little hand knit hat for warmth (that just barely fits, but is still loved). Watching the littlest Little push the biggest Middle around the house on the little red flyer scooter. Another Moment.

After the frenzy

The Christmas frenzy has pretty much come to an end. The brown paper packages tied up with string (red and white baker’s twine) have all been opened. Most of the new gifts and goodies have found their place among the old. We still have some cleanup and sorting and place finding to do, but we have now entered into the Peace part of the season.

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A quiet joy of discovering has entered our home. Drawing, writing, creating, imagining is the theme of the quiet moments of our days.

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We still have a couple of unopened gifts tucked away. I had planned on pulling them out during the quiet of Christmas Day, but that never came. I thought about waiting until the 12th day of Christmas, but I don’t know if that’s a tradition of gift giving that I want to begin. So one of them, the ginormous set of gel pens you see in the photo above, made an appearance tonight, accompanied by some very detailed coloring books for those moments when you want to be creative but don’t have the time or energy to create.

My family gave me great photo editing software, and I’d love to be able to show you my amazing photography skills, but I need to develop them first. (Get it… Develop my photography skills? Sorry.) But perhaps at some point all the planets will align and my camera will meet my subjects and will line up with time to edit, upload and blog my pictures. Or maybe little blog elves will come in at night and take care of things for me.

Our little cottage is being tucked in with a blanket of snow. All day today and all night tonight the snow is falling. The quiet from the snow, the warmth from the wood stove, the full bellies from the last of the Christmas feast, the creative and imaginative mood that has fallen on our children. The quiet that comes when all the Littles are tucked into bed. For these things I am thankful.

Family Ornament Making

First of all, if you get a feed of my blog posts, you got a pretty strange post. It wasn’t from me, I was hacked. WordPress caught it, but not in time to prevent the post from being sent to feed readers. Hopefully, it won’t happen again.

Now, onto much more interesting things.

Our oldest son is home for Thanksgiving. He hasn’t been home since April. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to have six of our seven children home. Music, laughter, basketball playing, video gaming, Lego battles, seeing his face in the morning, watching him get to know his littlest little brother and refresh his relationship with his other siblings who have grown and changed so much since he’s been gone. These are the things that make distances hard, but homecomings wonderful.

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One of the things we all worked on together was finishing up some things for our space at the School House Antique Mall. There is a gigantic sale there the weekend after Thanksgiving, and our space was far too empty to go into a sale weekend. I had some things I’ve been working on, but needed to put finishing touches on them all. So yesterday was family crafting day. We got so much done together. It was funny watching my husband trying to tie bows on some things, but he did such a great job.

There was much more I wanted to get done to take into the shop today, but even though I was up to get an early start, Silas woke up just after I pulled everything out, so my morning was much less productive than I had hoped. But I got some quiet snuggle time with him, and I know how fleeting these days with little ones are, so I treasure them.

I wish I could show you some great photos of our space at the antique mall, but my camera is MIA, possibly stolen, but we hope not. So until it resurfaces, I’m stuck with the camera on my iPad, which is wonderfully handy, but woefully short on the little things, like focus, sharpness, exposure, shutter speed. So please forgive me for my out of focus and not too interesting pictures.

We made some sheet music filled glass ornaments,

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and a few clay angel wings,

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and some sheet music, glitter and clay button ornaments.

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We topped it all off with a book page wreath that I don’t have a good picture to show you. Our tree is up and our space is much more filled. And while there are still many, many more things I’d love to have in our space, it is definitely ready for the sale.

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So if you find yourself in Brewer, Maine on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after Thanksgiving, stop by and visit. There are so many booths offering some very lovely things that would make wonderful Christmas gifts. And everything over $10 is 20% off!