Monday, July 27, 2009

what a view!

Charlie is a typical 5 year old boy. His legs go faster than his sense of balance can handle, so he manages to fall or trip every 10 feet. Maggie doesn’t have the same excuse since most 6 year old girls exhibit a little more grace. Both children’s legs are currently covered with bruises and nasty cases of poison ivy. Today’s outing didn’t improve their looks in our attempt to hike to the top of a nearby mountain.

After befriending the world’s biggest black Labrador Retriever (he put his face in the window of my full-size van to say hi), we walked up a rocky road beside a blueberry field
before scrambling up quarter-acre size rock faces and sitting down to eat our picnic lunch. We fended off the now hungry dog, the deer flies, and no-see-ums, eating our sandwiches in record time so we could pick wild blueberries and drink down limeade. The view was just incredible with woods and farms spread out before us and the river off to the east. I promised the kids that we could bring binoculars the next time so we could find the exact location of our farm.

Between sweating just from carrying Julia Ellen in the sling and holding Timmy’s hand I had my hands full and just gasped when I saw Maggie trip on a rock in front of me and see half the bag of cheese popcorn go flying through the air in a beautiful arc. Her arm and leg were bleeding (luckily it wasn’t the knee that had been cut so badly last week that if we lived closer to the ER we would have gotten stitches) and she tried to make everyone else miserable all the way back to the car.
Just to add to the sweat and ickiness of our hike, when it came time for drying off after baths I noticed Charlie messing with himself. He said, “Is this a tick?” and sure enough there was one right THERE. While I did flinch at first, I managed to get it off and flushed down the potty.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

do you need to go?

Now that Timmy has turned 3, we are potty training in earnest. He started about a month ago learning to sit on the potty and get m&ms for sitting. Now he has progressed to getting 1 candy for using the potty if I ask him to, 2 candies if he does it without me reminding him, and a whole 8 candies for pooping in the potty. There are still lots of wet pants, especially since we spend so much time outside doing various farm chores and he isn’t within a few feet all the time. There are gross moments like this morning when I finally got myself and the baby ready to attack weeds only to discover after I stepped outside that Timmy had pooped in his pants. Yuck.

But I have to remember that all the older children went through this as well, I recall one particularly nasty episode in a Subway sandwich shop restroom where I just pitched out Maggie’s underpants. Timmy will eventually learn to use the potty, which will likely lead to embarrassing events like last week when Charlie dropped trou right in front of a dozen picnickers at a town beach and peed right on the sand.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

enjoying the summer sun

Well, we finally experienced the first 2 hot days of the summer much to the delight of my children as well as every other person in New England. Even the local newspapers have front page articles about what the rain has done to the farmers and tourists. Nothing has been growing and fungus diseases have been rampant while the tourists from Canada are still traveling here in masse. It makes me wonder how cold and miserable the weather must be up there if they think Maine is an improvement this summer. I have been slowly signing the children up for lessons in swimming, sailing, and canoeing.

Last year Mary helped out at the farm down the road with the horses, but our neighbor seems a bit distracted and hasn’t gotten back in touch with me. I think I’ll check out the horse rescue farm a few miles away and see if she can do anything useful. Mary just wants to be around the creatures in any way she can, she checks out every horse book, fiction or non-fiction, she can from the library and asks every few days, “Do you promise I can have a pony when we move here?”

A well meaning friend keeps suggesting that the girls do ballet with her children, but I can’t contemplate spending beautiful Maine days cooped up at an inside activity. What people who summer here as children remember are the bright blue skies, the cool breezes, the days on the water, and the incredible views of mountain and sea. I want the kids outside, running through the fields, riding their bikes to the mailbox, and wading at the shore. As soon as the package arrives with my sling, we are going to hike up this mountain that overshadows our farm.

It is a mile to the top, but without a secure method of carrying Julia Ellen, it might as well be as far as the moon. While we aren’t quite ready to camp at Mt. Katahdin or brave the summer crowds at Acadia National Park, we are enjoying every ray of sunshine, every breeze, and every opportunity to be out in the wonderful Maine air.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

run faster!

After a year long respite I signed up for another running race, but this time one of the children agreed to run with me. Mary has gone running a few times and shows promise so when I explained that the course was less than 2 miles and all downhill she agreed. This morning we got up, futzed around for a bit and topped off Julia Ellen’s tank, before leaving town to go up to Brewer in the misty rain. I was much more nervous than she was, I knew I wasn’t as fast as I was last year. However, the crowds of people lining the route cheered us all on (the 4th of July parade starts 15 minutes after the race) and the views over the Penobscot River were quite pretty. I finished the 3000m in about 13:30 (my first mile time was 6:30) and started back to cheer on Mary, only to find her standing in the chute, already finished with a time around 14:30.

I was so proud of my little runner and she paraded around the rest of the day in her race shirt making Maggie and Will jealous. They have already promised to run next year with the added bonus of seeing the parade and scooping up some candy from the floats. Now I just have to convince Tim to haul the rest of the crew to cheer us on, I think the mention of classic cars and a 1952 John Deere tractor just might be the trick.

Monday, July 06, 2009

shipping one kid off

This afternoon we took Will up to Boy Scout camp, his first time being away from home for more than a night or two. I’m sitting here in relative luxury, for my little boy forgot to pack soap, there wasn’t a pack of mosquito netting available within 300 miles, and I'm not quite sure that he remembered to pack shorts.

The sun finally came out for the first time in over a week and the temperature soared above 80F for the first time all summer. It might be a very stinky, buggy, and hot week but I’m sure that he will still have a great time. After all, my little social butterfly will have 199 other boys to jabber with for 6 days and no amount of discomfort could compete with that.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

eat your veggies

After hitting two of our local libraries for new books to read, I came across this interesting selection An Apple a Day, The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat by Joe Schwarcz, PhD. The first half covers specific foods and whether the health claims we hear about in the media are warranted. Some examples are tomatoes and Lycopene, fish and Omega 3 Fats, and Chocolate and Flavanols. The other half of the book concentrates on food issues of our day that have turned trying to have a healthy lifestyle into a herculean task. Is MSG that awful? Is High Fructose Corn Syrup the same chemically as sugar made from sugar cane or beets? Are there fewer pesticides in organically grown veggies? Should we be concerned about polyvinyl chloride leaching into our foods from plastic bottles? The more I read the less worried I was about not jumping on the wagon every time another medical study “proves” that this food is good or that one is dangerous.

While I think it is great that some families feed their children granola for breakfast, hummus and salt-free pita for lunch, cabbage and hormone-free free-range chicken for supper, I can’t manage to go beyond a little ground flax thrown in the pancake mix and a ban on colored breakfast cereal. I might not be doing too badly, the kids eat pounds of fruit and we use real butter and hormone-free milk. Basically studies show that you should eat lots of fruits and veggies, more whole grains, low fat dairy, and eat less overall. If you are concerned about what your family eats or are just want to know if the hype is for real, read a few chapters. I do suggest putting an apple beside your favorite reading spot ‘cause all this talk of food will make you hungry for a healthy snack.