I love to travel but if I’m going to be completely honest, sometimes I have to force myself to do it. It’s all the worrying about money and the things that might go wrong that I can’t seem to get over. What if the weather is awful? What if there’s a big, obnoxious crowd of people ruining my expensive holiday? As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a ton of work to do to get ready for any trip—planning and packing, laundry before you go, laundry when you return home, loading the car. Ugh… It’s easy to wonder if it’s worth the effort. Add to that the fact that I’m not very comfortable on skis and you can probably guess that I was a little ambivalent about this trip.
When I look at these pictures (and there are a million more where these came from) I don’t remember any of that. I am reminded of the gorgeous tint in the sky as the sun set. I think about my quiet walks around the property while my family enjoyed the slopes. I remember the turkey tracks I saw, or my surprise when I came upon the sled dogs standing so quietly in the snow. I can hear the laughter of my kids as they are speeding down the tubing hill and their excitement in their voices as they jump into the heated outdoor pool on a 12º night. How can we have done so much in three days? In how many ways did they grow and change? Can I put a price on that? It was definitely worth it.
Oh my gosh! Could it be more difficult to plan a day to go and cut down a Christmas tree? It seems so silly. This is really a luxury. One has to have plenty of extra time and money to be able to drive two and a half hours north to cut down a tree when they are being sold on every corner from mid-November to December 24. But it’s a tradition and I can’t let it go. Plus, once we get going, we love it. It’s finding the right day, weighing the pros and cons of weather and schedule, and then sticking with the decision that is that hard part.
Historically, this is the first real snow of the season for us. It always feels as though it will be a let down if there is not any snow on the ground. First, Dave wouldn’t be able to do his fun ‘shake the tree’ trick. We wouldn’t be able to have any snow ball fights, either. Finally, how disappointing would our pictures be without at least a thin layer of the white stuff? I don’t need to tell you. Depressing…
So we hem and haw. We check the weather obsessively. We pore over the calendar and discuss how many free hours we need to be able to do it right. And then we cross our fingers! This year, again, we got lucky. There wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground, but there was enough. The only draw back was that it was c.o.l.d. So very cold! You would think that would have encouraged us to make a speedy decision and get the heck out of there but… no. We might have been out there even longer than we usually are! We just couldn’t find the right tree. I started to lose feeling in my legs before we found a tree to call our own.
But it was worth it. And when I look at the pictures, I feel so happy that we did it! These kids… they are so beautiful. They light up my life! When I see their pink cheeks and snow crusted hats and when I think about all the happy times we’ve shared on these crazy adventures, I feel lucky. Super lucky.
I didn't plan for Halloween this year. Usually I try to nudge the kids towards costumes that I think I can make, or something that reflects a current interest, and generally I try to have their choices complement each other. I'm always thinking of the photos! This year, I just didn't have it in me. Maybe on some level I hoped they would find the motivation to do it themselves. They didn't, really, and then Halloween was upon us and I don't respond well to a time crunch. I talked Theo into Harry Potter, thinking that next year he'd be too old and I knew I could buy a costume. I'm generally not into the purchased costume thing, but I thought he looked really cute! I was perfectly happy with the way it all turned out.
For her costume, Franny decided to be Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle. She knew nobody would know who she was and she was fine with that. I was thinking this might be her last year of trick-or-treating and I really did want her to 'own' her costume. I thought she did a pretty good job given the last minute situation. I particularly thought the carded wool for a wig was brilliant!
It was kind of a slow night and we got a bit of a late start, as usual. The kids did most of our street on their own. We joined them to go farther afield but they didn't even want to go very far. As a result, they recieved much less candy than usual, which was fine with me!!
We cleaned out one of the toy drawers last week and the kids were inspired by some of the things we found. They took the safari animals and the silks outside and created these dioramas by combining them with found materials from the backyard. They were happily at work for over two hours and then called us out to see their finished product. I decided to snap a few photos to help me remember some of the joys homeschooling brings. (It's easy enough to remember the struggles without pictures!) I was happy that they felt inspired, but even happier that they found something to do together without the neighbors being around! Lately it has become difficult to get them to go outside unless they have friends here. That is such a big difference from when they were younger and would spend hours outside playing together, just the two of them. It was so nice to see that happen again!
Sometimes I wonder how I got to be so lucky. One of the
places where this feeling is prevalent is Hermit Island in September. Normally
we have the place almost to ourselves so we set up at an ocean prime site and
settle in for a few days of crashing waves and quiet beauty. This year was a
little different. Every ocean prime site was taken. We were not almost alone on
the island. Many of the sites near the ocean prime sites were taken as well and
we were (okay, mostly I was) very disappointed. We drove around the campground
several times to try to find the next best site. It was kind of a rocky start
and, I’ll admit, it set me off. I had a hard time sinking in and enjoying
myself. We had a beautiful site. It was perched up on a hill looking over half
of the campground. We had gorgeous views of the shore and we were close enough
to still hear the pounding surf at night. But I couldn’t let go. I used my
bird’s eye view to watch for campsites that might be opening, and for two days
we thought we might move if something else opened up.
This is not really the best approach to take when one is so
close to perfection, but it’s what I did. I still had fun and so did Dave and
the kids. It was just hard for me to let go of the ideal (as usual). I kept
wondering what we had done wrong that we missed all of the good sites. Did we
arrive too late? On the wrong day of the week? Should we have waited until the
following week in September? I wanted to know so I could assure myself I would
never make the same mistake again! Basically I took everything I had at my
fingertips (great family, flexible lifestyle, gorgeous location, four free days
with nothing to do) for granted and I did not stop to appreciate how lucky I
really was to even be there.
today, as I went through the pictures we took on this trip, I finally saw how
very fortunate I am to be able to live the life we have chosen to live. We had
such a lovely trip--endless hours on the beach, a gorgeous hike, campfires and
s’mores, and a nice bike ride through the grounds. The kids had more sand art
fun (outlining our shadows and carving shapes,) and Dave, Franny and I spent
time looking for sea glass. We were actually quite successful! Franny spent
some time on the beach crafting a bracelet out of found glass and some netting
she had. Theo spent what seemed like hours sifting through the sand
contemplatively. Dave launched the kite and we did nothing more than watch it
sway in the wind. How could I not have been bowled over by gratitude? I’m so
glad I force myself to keep this blog because otherwise these pictures would
still be sitting in iPhoto and I’d still be suffering under the illusion that
perfection is anything other than what we already experienced!
We packed so much into the end of August, I lost track of time and missed the deadline to post before it was over! Dave reminded me this morning so I quickly jumped on and will now try to catch up on chronicling our busy, nearly two week trip to Maine and PEI.
The kids really wanted to go back to Orchard House this summer but I was a little hesitant because the water access left a lot to be desired. Plus, as much as we love the Blue Hill Peninsula, I wasn't sure we needed to spend a whole week there again this year. I managed to find a lovely house, also on the pond, that could be rented for only four days. This seemed to be a perfect solution to our problem and the house was gorgeous. We booked it right away and looked forward to our upcoming vcacation.
The house did not disappoint! It was beautiful, well-appointed, comfortable, and had great water access. Our only complaint was that the waterfront lacked privacy from the next-door neighbors but it wasn't that big of a deal. We loved every minute of our time there and we can't wait to go back!
While we were in Brooksville, we had the chance to visit most of our favorite spots. We hiked Blue Hill, ate several meals at El El Frijoles, stopped in at Black Dinah and The Cave for delicious coffee and chocolates, and of course spent a nice relaxing afternoon at Blue Hill Books. We all had so much fun in the kayaks that we often spent most of the day by the water. We couldn't have asked for more!
When it was time to say goodbye, we packed up our things and headed north to Canada. I love road trips and this one was just as good as any other. We enjoyed the sights, and listened to Anne of Green Gables on audio so Theo would be ready for our time in PEI. Once we were in Canada, we enjoyed some pretty great scenery. We crossed over the Confederation Bridge just as night was falling and it was beautiful! Sweeping views of the island made us all the more eager to arrive.
We didn't really know if we'd be able to make it all the way to Charlottetown on the first day, so we had not made hotel reservations in advance. Unfortunately for us, that meant staying at the Quality Inn until we could find something better. The hotel was very well located but not very nice despite the promise of a renovated room. We spent most of our two nights in the room trying to find better accommodations and all that work paid off. We were able to change over to the Great George for one night and when we checked in they told us they would do what they could to get us another night there. We were so thrilled! The Great George was one of the nicest hotels we've ever had the pleasure to visit. The staff was lovely, the lobby so inviting and the kids loved the cookies and tea during happy hour. This lucky break was the icing on an already great trip!
We spent our first day exploring Charlottetown. We popped in at the Anne of Green Gables store and decided on a whim to buy tickets to the Anne and Gilbert musical for the next night. The kids weren't really all that excited about it, but I thought it would help us all get into the mood. I'm so glad we went for it because it turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. The kids fell in love with the musical and have spent all the time since we've been home singing the songs and acting out the scenes. It's difficult for me, as a parent, to make decisions that go against what my kids say when we are only talking about a form of recreation. I was worried they'd be tired and bored since they'd told me they could take it or leave it. It's nice to see it all work out when I really have no idea whether I'm making the right decision. I only wish more parenting moments could unfold that way!!
The next day of our trip was all about Anne. We visited the Green Gables Hertiage Place where the farmhouse that served as Montgomery's inspirations still stands. We watched a film, toured the house, and took a walk in the woods and down Lover's Lane. Next we went to Avonlea Village to soak up even more Anne. The village is like a small scale living history museum, except that they are depicting the fictional village from the books. We watched several performances that recreated stories from the novels, enjoyed a raspberry cordial, and took a carriage ride through town. The kids tried on costumes and played in the school house. They also spent a lot of time with the sand sculpter that was on site that day. They seemed to be quite taken with the sculpting techniques he was showing them
Beyond these highlights, we also visited a jam factory, a toy store, a traditional lobster supper and spent a lot of time at the beach looking for sea glass. On our last day, we visited the sweet, little Victoria-by-the-Sea. The people there were so friendly! We stopped in at the restored lighthouse and heard the story of how they used to guide the ships through the bay. Then we spent a good deal of time with a local candle artisan who explained her technique to the kids while she talked about what it was like growing up in the small island community. After we popped into some of the other shops, we took a break at Island Chocolates with some hot cocoa and treats! Later, after we returned home, we listened to an audio book,Tango, that takes plaace in Victoria-by-the-Sea. The author describes the town and the people so vividly we felt like we were still there! I'm so glad that we took the time to visit this very special community.
Some other highlights:
*COWS (of course!)
*The kind woman at Nellie's Kitchen who taught them a few things about sea glass and then wrapped the pieces they found.
*Learning about the parabolic dunes at Greenwich Interpretation Center (and them seeing them up close on our beautiful walk.)
*The very awesome independent bookstore Bookmark. We could have spent a whole day in there!
*The water slide at the hotel in St. John. What a great way to end our trip!
been a whirlwind summer so far--camps, Dave's trip to France and our own
attempts to follow the season with fruit picking and outdoor activities have
kept us super busy. I was so happy to be able to find time to spend a day at
the beach together as a family. Dave packed us a delicious pinic lunch, as
usual, and we stopped at Russell Orchards on the way to the beach for yummy
scones and muffin tops!
kids spent a ton of time wandering far down the beach and tried out some
sand art ideas from one of the beach books we borrowed from the library. We
spent a good amount of time in the water and saw lots of crabs crawling around.
Franny wanted to prove herself after our first trip in May when we supposedly
missed her picking up the crab, so she spent some time trying to catch one and
did, but we missed that as well! Theo had a ton of fun riding a
large piece of driftwood all the way down the waterline from where he found it
to us. He seemed like he was really enjoying the relaxing waves and was in no
rush to arrive.
and I took a long walk down the beach looking for interesting shells and sea
glass. We didn't find much glass, but we did find a few interesting shells to
give to Franny. We ended our night at DownRiver, as usual, and it was the
perfect ending to another perfect day!
day we were up early to try to beat the crowds and the sun at Parlee for
blueberry picking. We were not successful on either count, but we did pick
plenty of blueberries. Normally we like to go blueberry picking several times a
season, but that might not happen this year. We tried to enjoy it as much as we
could for that very reason! I'm not sure what our plans are for these
blueberries, but I know we'll be enjoying them one way or another!
were stressing me out this year. We haven't missed a year of pick-your-own
since Theo was a baby. But this year the kids wanted to do Emily's Vaudeville camp
and the season started late. It rained one weekend and then they weren't free
during the week. The farms we usually go to were picking off and on and it was
hard to pinpoint a time to go. I was so worried we were going to miss it. And
the more I worried the less I really wanted to go.
had other plans this past Sunday. We were going to take the canoe out for a
paddle on the Concord river for a belated Father's Day celebration picnic. The
forecast started looking a little iffy, so we changed plans last minute and had
to wake the kids and rush out of the house to get to Parlee. It's a good thing
we did because they closed the fields one hour after we arrived. We picked as
many strawberries as we had the patience to pick--about 7 quarts, and then took a
break to enjoy some strawberry doughnuts and strawberry shortcake. The place
was packed by the time we were leaving but we'd had a nice time and I was
glad we got it done. As I look over these pictures I feel grateful for many
things: the farmers, my beautiful kids, ever-patient Dave, and a gorgeous
summer day. I've got to find a way to remind myself that I don't need to stress
out about these things. It'll all be okay in the end. Perfect is the enemy of
our tradition, we planned a hike for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, the weather
forecast did not look good for hiking so we took the liberty of postponing
Mother's Day to wait for better conditions.
enough we got our perfect day. Dave packed our usual picnic of sandwiches on
fresh, homemade bread and made sure to bring a thermos of very cold lemonade.
The kids gathered their snacks and filled their bladder packs. I made sure we
all had sun hats and we were ready to hit the road. We couldn't have had a
was so quiet almost all the way up the mountain. We passed a couple of people
and a very young family and were passed by some of the most polite and happy
dogs I've ever come across. When we arrived at the summit, there were many
small groups about but Cardigan is huge so we basically felt as though we had
the place to ourselves!
hiked back down a bit to find a calm, less windy spot for our picnic and made
sure we liked the view. Dave had forgotten to pack our blanket but that didn't
stop me from spreading out and soaking up the warmth of the sun. It was just
continued further down the mountain we let a pretty big gap form between us and
the kids, which gave both pairs a nice chance to talk. When we crossed a brook
I looked down and noticed some packed snow around a boulder. We stopped to look
more closely and saw many more spots still frozen. Considering it was the end
of May we were pretty surprise. We waited for the kids to catch up do we could
show them. Theo volunteered to pose with the ice so we would remember our
couldn't travel so close to Vermont without taking a quick trip to King Arthur
Flour. We thought it would be a good chance to stock up on bread flour. We were
pleasantly surprised to learn that we would get a free baguette for being
rewards members. We chose a spread from the refrigerated section and sat
outside to enjoy our snack.
hoped to have more time to spend in VT, but the day was passing quickly and
most attractions would be closing soon. We'd wanted to stop in at a museum or
an independent bookstore but we just didn't have time to drive much further.
Instead we headed towards downtown Hanover and visited the Dartmouth bookstore,
which is run by Barnes and Noble. I kept my expectations low but I was very
pleasantly surprised. We spent over an hour happily browsing the wonderful
selection in the kids department. It was very difficult to drag Franny and Theo
out the door. After a quick stop at the Co-Op for dinner items for the kids (
yogurt and shrimp cocktail!) we headed home happy and satisfied by a day
well-spent. Another wonderful Mother's Day...