Wednesday, June 19, 2013

why do I do this to myself?

Summer is supposed to be down-time, a season of being able to relax with a cool drink on the front porch while watching the children play tag and basketball knock-out. Instead, I have signed up the children for activities that require me to be a logistical master and be in the car for at least an hour each day. No, it isn't that bad, but Tuesdays are going to be a little tricky. Charlie finished school for the year yesterday, but Mary has about 30 minutes worth of work in English and Math, while Timmy is still progressing through first grade (1 hour's worth). Then I have to get the four oldest to practice the piano each day. They all have lessons on Tuesday afternoons, but I can't leave all 4 at once because they would not just sit quietly and read during the other's lessons, so I have to take 2 down to the library to wait their turn. Maggie and Julia Ellen have swimming lessons in the next town starting later in the afternoon, so my schedule looks like this: 

get up, dressed, start laundry, tidy house, take care of chickens... starting at 6
get children up, dressed, teeth brushed starting at 8
school with Mary and Timmy at 9
stand over children with a stick to practice starting at 10
get some sewing done, work in garden 
go run when babysitter arrives at 12 
herd everyone to the car at 2:15
drop off 2 children at piano, 2 children at library, go back home for 1 hour
pick up Maggie and drive to swimming lessons at 3:45
finish swimming lessons at 5:30
race home and fix dinner
tidy house, bathe children, and put everyone in bed by 8:30

Tim picked everyone else up at the library after work and was shooting model rockets with Charlie in the front field when I can home with a van full of groceries. (note to self: getting to the commissary 7 minutes before they close does not make for a pleasant shopping experience) The boys have swimming lessons on Thursday afternoons, and I still have to call Lisa about scheduling riding lessons for the big girls and Charlie. Luckily Will leaves for camp on Saturday, leaving me with only 5 children at home for the next month. The rest of the week seems to be filling fast with doctor's appointments, birthday parties, and such, leaving me with little time to sit on the porch with my glass of iced tea. But this is only the first week of summer and I'm sure I can somehow squeeze in trips to the pond and other fun hot weather activities that make Maine such a wonderful place to live.     

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

UFO challenge

For our first summer meeting all the members of my local quilt guild brought in 3 unfinished projects (UFOs) that have been collecting dust in our sewing rooms. Some were finished tops, some were assorted blocks in a basket, and some were kits with fabric washed and pressed, still in the bag. Our goal is to have them finished by our Christmas party with the incentive of $5 gift cards from Mardens, a local salvage shop with a huge fabric department, and a chance to win a $25 gift card as well. My first of the 3 projects is a red, white, and blue throw size top I worked on while 7 months pregnant with Julia Ellen, trying to make the time go by faster. My goal is to donate it to a veteran at Togus VA hospital in Augusta. My second project is a huge quilt top with blue stars on white background that I would like to make as a gift. The Bonnie Hunter quilt that I was planning on making for my dear SIL has 1000 blocks and since I have finished 50 so far, I think that might not happen this year. My third project is a tote bag we started at a guild meeting a few months ago, and since I didn't have a clue as to how to make a box bottom or make handles, I was stuck. After a lot of help last night after the massive show and tell of everyone's projects, I finished my tote this morning. The only problem was that I somehow turned the lining upside down and my inside pocket was facing the bottom of the bag. I guess I didn't want a pocket in there after all since I would have had to undo almost everything to get it put right. 

I do like how the bag turned out, I might try to make another, this time with black and white fabrics and a red cuff, but making sure that the darned pocket is facing up.     

Friday, June 14, 2013

cleaned up big time

On Saturday morning it was cool and raining like the dickens, but I had signed everyone up for the Garelick Milk Run in Bangor. Tim and Julia Ellen stayed at home, but the rest of the crew were still game to run a mile downhill as fast as they could. Charlie came in 3rd overall in the family run (7:05) with Will close behind, followed by Timmy, Maggie, and then Mary. I followed in the competitive run with a time of 6:04. Timmy won $25 from Hannaford, Maggie won a water bottle, and I won a cooler of dairy products, and that was just from the door prize drawing. The local outdoors store, Epic Sports, always gives gift certificates, so Charlie got $15, I got $25, and we won the family category, netting us another $45. With our winnings I bought the girls new Speedo bathing suits (the most modest suits I can find locally), and Charlie's birthday cake. 

There are a lot of local races in the next two weeks, everyone keeps asking me to join them, but I'm taking a little rest and doing my prep work for the Tour de Lac 10 miler at the end of June. The prizes there aren't monetary, but Margaret's homemade raspberry jam prizes are worth the effort. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

wrapping up the school year, sort of

Will officially graduated from 8th grade last night and the girls only have to attend class until Friday, but school is still going on at home. 

Charlie only has about 1 week's worth of English left as well as CAT testing, but we just started a new biography of Robert Goddard from the Childhood of Famous Americans series and began reading Treasure Island aloud. 

Since Timmy didn't officially start 1st grade until January, he obviously isn't going to be finishing his work anytime soon, but I'm not worried about intruding on his summer vacation, his work only takes 1 hour per day max. Mary and I decided that she could use a little 8th grade prep work this summer in grammar and math so we will be doing that for about 30 minutes a day. 

Add to that workload swimming, piano, and riding lessons and it will already be a jam-packed summer, but I'll still cram in races, gardening, taking care of my chickens, and finishing up some quilting projects.

Monday, June 10, 2013

little chickens

Our chicks are not yellow fuzzy, down-covered balls anymore, but are skittish, gawky birds with cinnamon colored feathers coming in and huge feet. After buying a full sized galvanized waterer and feeder, I took them out of the box brooder and let them out in the coop, blocking off the doorway with a board so they won't fall out when someone opens the door. Will and I made a small outside enclosure for them and let them explore the great wide world for a few hours each day. However, they are skinnier than I anticipated and can escape through the crack between the stake and the coop wall, as well as over the top of the 3 foot high fence, so my design needs to be improved significantly. 

I am finding the birds to be soothing, they make good company when I need to escape from the barnyard atmosphere of my house with 6 children bickering and cackling constantly. The chickens are also amusing to watch, I gave them a scoop of cottage cheese (part of our winnings at the Garelick Milk Run) and after a short period of hesitation, they began to peck and run off with curds to the corners of the coop to gulp down. They stepped in the white mound, pooped in it, and when I came back in 30 minutes, the paper plate was completely bare. The chicks startle easily, instinct against predators means that any noise, be it the door opening, a scrape of the stool against the floor, or a loud burp, sends the creatures into a deep freeze, not moving or making a sound for 10 seconds or so when one bird gets tired of standing at attention and goes back to the regular business of eating, drinking, pooping, and scratching in the litter.

Originally I wanted to name all the birds after flowers, but since they all look exactly alike, I think I'll just call them all Buttercup and be done with it. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

hot race results

Last weekend I had my first night away from the children, other than hospital visits to produce for them another sibling, in 9 years. Friday night I ate dinner at a fancy-shmancy restaurant in Ellsworth all by myself. I ordered shrimp jambalaya and had the prettiest plate of chocolate mousse I have ever seen with 3 scoops lined up with whipped cream and a different berry on top of each, raspberry sauce swirling about the edges. I wish I had taken a picture, but I left my camera at home. I further regretted leaving it behind when I drove past town and saw the raw beauty of Hancock and Washington Counties on my way to the motel in Machias.

Route 1 swooped through tiny picturesque towns and continuously skirted postcard-worthy views of water, islands, and conifers. The next morning I woke to a super hot day, for Maine that is, of 85F and I drove on another 45 minutes east to Pembroke, where the Cobscook 10K would take place. Since I was so early, I drove the course and took in the view at the end of a side road, which literally ended on the gravel beach. If I hadn't been driving the Jeep, I would likely still be there trying to extricate my vehicle, but it was the loveliest place I had been in a long time, fog hovering over the water with islands of stiff hemlocks and fir trees rising out of the mist.

Until the director called us to the starting line all the runners were standing on the west side of nearby buildings, knowing that we would be overheated well before we hit the only bit of shade on the course. Of course that was when the hills began and the road changed to gravel, adding to our misery. This was an endurance race rather than one to be enjoyed, my time (49:55) was 5 minutes slower than my last 10K, run only a month before. Afterwards, I staggered to the shade of the tent, where someone kept passing me slices of watermelon and bottles of water until I was able to sit upright. After the big picnic, complete with salmon, hamburgers, and dozens of desserts/salads, I drove on to Eastport, the easternmost city in the US, and to Quoddy Head Lighthouse, the easternmost point in the US, before returning to my motel and hitting the shower and bed by 7pm. 

This weekend's race is not only shorter, a 1 mile downhill sprint, but cooler by 10+ degrees. As Saturday is predicted to rain heavily, I am being flexible as to who I end up taking with me. Also, my goal of breaking 6 minutes might have to be postponed for a year, I would rather not take any chances on slipping and falling just for vanity's sake.