A perfect Memory Jar

Every year we go to Maine we collect shells and rocks and beach glass along the shore. Some years we get super lucky and find a starfish or a sand dollar. This was one of those summers. Sand Dollars were in abundance and Rebecca found 4 and I found 1. The day we left Rebecca asked if I could get some sand as a souvenir before we left, so I got a Tupperware container and filled it with the wonderful Ocean Park sand.

I used to put all of Rebecca's findings in glass jars. She would display them proudly on her dresser. On the top of each jar I noted the year. I don't know where those jars disappeared to -- they must have gotten lost in the move a couple of years ago.

I decided that Rebecca would like something similar this year. I also decided to "dress it up" a bit. What resulted was our perfect Memory Jar!

I painted our shell white and using a glue gun attached the ribbon to the back... This will be our signage.

I recycled an old pickle jar (Clasusen's Sours if you must know!)
and glue-gunned (is that a verb?) a swatch of fabric to the lid...
This does cause the lid to not close firmly,
so I applied more of the hot glue to the rim of the glass jar to secure the lid well into place.

Next I filled the jar with out treasures... sand, shells, rocks, beach glass and 2 of Rebecca's Sand Dollars.

Once the treasures were safely inside the jar and the lid glued on tight, I tied the shell on as well, onto which I wrote "OPME" which stands for Ocean Park, Maine and the year.

Rebecca loves it!

Random thoughts at 6:12 on a Sunday Morning

There really is no place like home, is there? Our vacation was fun. Our vacation was perfect really -- As perfect as one can be when children are involved! The weather was magnificent and we took advantage of our numerous beach days where the kids were able to hang out with their 12 cousins and play on the sand and in the water all day long while the grown-ups read and ate and went for long walks along the shore. We all have come home a little blonder and a whole lot tanner. The fresh air did us wonders. While it was hot, there was a constant ocean breeze and all we needed was a quick dip in the ocean, which was uncharacteristically warm this year, to cool off. When the kids felt "beached out" we took little excursions to Cape Elizabeth, Portland, a local water park, amusement park and to miniature golf. On the only rainy day I took the kids to the movies.

Our two week adventure has now come to an end. While the children miss their cousins and built-in play mates, we are all happy to be home in our own surroundings... with our own comforts.

Almost everything has been unpacked. Last night, after dinner, I took a long and luxurious soak. I missed my bath most of all. How nice it was to crawl into my comfortable bed with my pillows, my clean sheets and downy duvets. I slept like a baby last night. The air conditioning hummed soothingly in the background. (We had no AC in Maine, and while it was never too hot, everything always felt damp!) At midnight the thunder rolled and the lightning lit up the skies. All were safely tucked into bed, and I went back to sleep.

When I could no longer sleep at 5:00am, I got up and crawled onto my couch in my living room with my cappuccino. There is nothing like a morning coffee in the comforts of one's own home while everyone else is asleep. That was the problem with Maine. Our place was small and the kids were up late at night and up at the crack of dawn. There was no quiet time without them. (I love them dearly, but sometimes I want them as far away from me as possible!)

I'm so happy to be home. I've been ready for a few days. I will miss, however, the sweet Maine breezes that smell of sea salt and pine... I will miss the joy on the children's faces as they play with their cousins or lick their ice cream cones or pick out penny candy... I will miss my long walks on the beach with the girls... I will miss my wonderful nieces and nephews who are growing up to be amazing people... I will miss the endless hours of chit chat and laughter on the beach... I will miss the hours of reading I had... and despite all the work vacations are -- breaking up sibling fights, making breakfasts, lunches, packing and unpacking and cleaning up after a day on the beach and the mounds of laundry created by the hour -- our summers in Maine will always hold a special place in our hearts.

But we are eager to move on... I have to get a new cell phone! I have many wonderful and exciting projects ahead of me... The children have a full summer yet with soccer and tennis camps, more beach and trips to Newport to visit Moo and Popsy... in 6 weeks my Littlest One turns 5 and he could not be more excited. In 6 weeks school starts and I could not be more excited!

Waterpark Fun

I lost my cell phone at the water park yesterday. I feel completely naked without it. I hate not having my cell phone, which, at this point, is my only contact with the outside world. After 2 days it seems I have some weak internet connection... Hallelujah! I miss you all! I miss blogging and texting and emailing... Hi, my name is Jessica and I am addicted to my mobile communications... actually, I'm really just addicted to keeping in touch with all my girlfriends!

I'm feeling a little brazen which is completely NOT me... and because you all seem to like all my photographs I thought I would post some of myself... in a bathing suit... at the waterpark... I'm going to regret this... but here goes!

Meantime, pray that someone finds my phone and that I can get it and all my lost contacts back!

I'm seriously a big chicken and afraid of heights and proud that I did this!

I loved it so much I went up for more!

Ok, now that was embarrassing... hope you enjoyed the show!!!!

we won't let it rain on our parade!

the boys don't need sunshine to use their metal detector!

they found 3 bottle caps...

and a quarter!
But they still have fun!

and what's a little more water when you're already playing in it?

But sometimes the parents have just had enough of the beach
and will use the overcast weather to go off on an adventure...

first to Cape Elizabeth, ME

to visit the most photographed lighthouse in the world,
The Portland Head Light
(I didn't get a picture of it this time around!)

and take in the magnificent views

I can hear the ocean in this shell!

Time for lunch at The Lobster Shack!

2nd lobster roll while on vacation...wondering how many more I can sneak in!

the kids enjoyed walking out on the cliffs

I tried to get a Christmas card photo... none in this batch!

Daddy and Alexander and Rebecca stayed up on the cliffs
while Christopher and I went down below to find some sea glass...

and over to Fort Williams to visit the remains of the World War II forts

from there we headed to the Old Port in Portland for some more sight seeing...
... to be continued!

Life's not always a beach...

Sometimes it's a walk or a scooter ride to the Soda Fountain...

...where they have the "bestest" ice cream!

Gotta love Alexander's pink and green peppermint stick!
(As he steals some of Christopher's frappe! Note: A frappe is a milk shake in the non-New England states!)

Where they also have the bestest selection of penny candy!

A quick stroll on to the beach at sunset and a quick photo of the family...
and the spectacular views...

...and a cranky, grouchy tired four year old!

all photos property of The Entertaining House and may only be used with permission

the sea giveth... and the sea taketh away...

Alexander being chased by the waves... I wouldn't let him in. I was a Mean Mommy today but the tide was high when we got to the beach and the rip tides and undertow too strong for my littlest boy. Later in the day he would understand why I was being so mean.

All photos property of The Entertaining House
Photos may only be used with permission

My arms ache and my shoulders and back are sore! Boogie boarding and swimming in the ocean the past couple of days has proven to have been quite the work out. The waters are rough. The undertow is strong. Riptides have been appearing, it seemed, out of nowhere. The waves have been fun to ride and often hard to stand up to. But the water has been bath-like, especially for here in Maine. And so how could I not have a little fun. 

Now that my shoulder has been repaired I'm able to join the kids. Rebecca begged and pleaded over the winter that I have the surgery so I could go boogie boarding with her this summer. And for that reason alone the surgery was so worth it! And yet, I remember, as I paddle past and over the watery white caps, the wave that knocked me down 12 years ago causing the first of many dislocations and 12 years of pain. I cannot forget and I will not forget. I am not as strong a swimmer as I used to be. I will get there again one day, but I know I do not yet possess the strength to save myself should I find myself in such a situation. I have fun with the kids but I remain leery and cautious. But I cannot let this turn into fear and take away my fun.

Riptides are caused by the uneven surfaces at the bottom of the sea. The winter storms have caused the sandy bottom to shift and erode, forming sandbars in some locations and deep holes in others. When the tide is high and the undertow strong, riptides are formed by the sea's uneven bottom. Even when close to the shore. The sea has been beautiful but incredibly rough here the past few days. I worry for all of my children but more so for my littlest who is not familiar with the ocean's power and strength. He is fearless and determined. This is certainly not a combination I like in a child who wants to venture into rough waters. My oldest is smart and skilled. My middle one less skilled but very aware of his surroundings and his own insecurities when it comes to rough waters. In our particular area in Maine 48 rescues have been made in just 2 days. Most of these rescued are grown and capable swimmers. I've never seen such a flurry of lifeguard activity in all the summers I have been coming here.

We keep our little ones close by and still the sea can pull them out. When we tell them to get out of the water they listen. Eventually the tide will turn, become more gentle and recede. The waves will still be strong enough for boogie boards and surf boards.

Luckily there is so much to do here that we can keep busy at beach without being in the rough waters. About a half a mile away there is a creek that connects the inlet to the ocean. The waters race down the little creek even at low tide. The current is strong. We try to walk upstream and feel as though we are walking in place! This is a great place to collect pretty rocks and shells and sea glass. This year we've all been bless by the wonderful gifts the sea has given us. Among us we have found 5 sand dollars in just two days. They are magnificent.

It is hard to explain the perils of the sea to such a small child... a child who sees others frolic around and having fun. It's hard to be so much smaller than everyone else. It's hard to watch those around you having all the fun. But it would be so much harder to lose a child.

Yesterday, not far from us on our beach, a woman was found floating in the waters by two teenagers. She was unresponsive. A flurry of activity swarmed around her when she was brought up to dry land. CPR was preformed. Police and ambulances and the fire department showed up. As did all the life guards. Nothing was known about this woman. One would assume that she was on vacation with her family. One would assume she was someone's mother. One would assume she was someone's wife... someone's daughter. One would assume she knew how to swim.

This is a quiet bucolic town, a throwback to easier times in the 50s. The streets are safe and the children roam freely. Nothing happens here. The families that come here do so year after year, generation after generation. The families that come here know the sea... respect the sea...

Should you ever find yourself in a situation where the waters seem rough, the current strong or a riptide near by DO NOT PANIC... instead swim, slowly, calmly and PARALLEL to the shore. Do not try to swim in until you feel the waters have calmed. Riptides can come, seemingly, out of nowhere. The unevenness of the sea's sandy bottom is what causes them. Swim until you see relatively calm waters. You may just be a few feet away. Should you find yourself in TROUBLE ... do NOT raise your arms and flail about. Try to get attention by remaining calm. Being calm and focusing your energy on swimming and treading waters is very important. Most importantly do not go out alone if you can help it. If possible bring a buddy with you. If waters are rough stick close to shore. Take a look at your surroundings and notice what other swimmers are doing. If there are few simmers in the ocean your best bet may be to stay out for a while if you are unsure of your skills. Lifeguards are competent and good and will notice you have gone out too far. They will respond and come and get you. Vacations are meant for fun and relaxation but it is important to always be safe.

Monday Morning Maine

   Taking my kids out to breakfast
+ Walking home on the beach
+ Making and packing lunches and snacks
+ 13 cousins between the ages of 4 and 14
+ Super powerful surf and strong undertow
+ Boogie boards and surf boards
+ Fun and memories to last a lifetime
+ Unpacking lunches and snacks
+ de-sanding coolers and beach bags
+ 2 loads of laundry
+ Dinner
+ Dinner clean-up
+ 1 Stella Artois
= 1 tired Mama who fell asleep at 7:30, leaving Rebecca to put Alexander to bed by herself!

A Canadian Visits Maine:A Gastronomic Journey by Lily Lemontree

The Lovely Lilly Lemontree has graciously offered to be a guest today. She thought it fitting to write a post about an idyllic Maine vacation seeing as that is where I am with my children. (I like her version much better. Chasing after after three kids all day long is neither idyllic nor a vacation!)  Come along her wonderful journey which is sure to titillate all of your senses! And because you won't have had enough, you must absolutely stop by her blog after this wonderful New England feast!

Thank you so much my dear friend!
XOXO, Jessica

Everyone’s favourite hostess, Entertaining Mom, is off to Maine for a couple of weeks, that lucky girl! She always posts such great pictures of her excursions, makes you feel like you are there with her. Which got me thinking about what it would be like to actually spend the weekend in Maine with her as her guest, and in particular, what culinary delights would the hostess with the mostest entertain us with??

We’ve all been on her foodie blog, The Entertaining Kitchen and had our eyes and mouths water with all the deliciousness she has going on there, so I figure we would be in for a treat. Of course, when speaking of Maine, lobster (or should I say ‘lobstah’) is the first thing that pops into my mind. (The honest truth is lobster pops into my mind all the time, no prodding needed, it is one of my absolute favourites!)

So let’s pack our bags and jump in the car! I think our visit would go something like this.

Lunch of course would be a casual affair, maybe a picnic in a great spot she’s familiar with. Her picnic basket would be packed full of these delicious sandwiches, the recipe courtesy of the doyenne of New England living herself, Martha Stewart.

Mini Lobster Rolls
(courtesy of Martha Stewart)

3 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat (from 4 boiled 1-pound lobsters), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) salted butter
8 top-split hot dog buns (1 package), halved crosswise

Combine lobster, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salt, and Old Bay, and cayenne if desired, in a small bowl.
Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, toast buns until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, transferring to a plate lined with paper towel, as you work. Fill each bun with 1/4 cup lobster salad.

After a fun, rigorous day spent outdoors enjoying all that Maine has to offer, our evening would be spent releasing the day’s “stresses.” For some of us, stress release usually involves a little alcohol (can I hear  Entertaining Mom giggling a little bit??) and in this case the alcohol of choice is beer.

Lobster Tails Steamed in Beer
(courtesy of allrecipes.com)

2 whole lobster tails
1/2 (12 fluid ounce) can beer

In a medium saucepan, over medium to high heat, bring the beer to a boil.
If lobster tails are still in the shell, split the shell lengthwise first.
Place a steamer basket on top of the saucepan. Place thawed lobster tails in basket and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

What kind of a send-off would it be if  Entertaining Mom didn’t host a traditional clam bake party on our last night with her? Nothing says summer in New England like this!

Firehouse Clam Bake New England Style
(courtesy of allrecipes.com)

20 small (1 pound) lobsters
20 pounds clams in shell, scrubbed
10 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
10 pounds cod
20 white potatoes
20 sweet potatoes
20 ears fresh corn
5 pounds bratwurst
5 pounds hot dogs
5 pounds pork sausage
3 pounds sweet onions

At the beach dig a hole in the sand with the approximate proportions: width = 2 feet, length = 4 feet, depth = 1-1/2 feet. Line the hole with stones from the beach. Build a fire inside of the hole and cover with rocks from the beach. Heat the stones for 2 to 3 hours.
Remove coals and/or embers from the hole. Arrange hot stones evenly across the bottom of the hole. Place fresh 1/2 bushel seaweed (wet) on top of the hot stones.
Working quickly layer the food on top of the seaweed, the food should be layered evenly on top of each other in the following order: clams, mussels, fish, sausage, hot dogs (wrapped in cheesecloth), onions, potatoes (white and sweet), corn, and finally lobsters.
Cover food with a clean, wet cloth. Place remaining seaweed on top of cloth.
Cover entire hole of food with a wet tarpaulin, sealing the steam created by the hot stones and seaweed in. Allow a very small amount of steam to escape to relieve pressure. Let bake cook for 1 or more hours. The bake is completed when the potatoes are soft. Serve bake with melted butter to dip the seafood in and lobster crackers. Don't forget napkins -- you'll need 'em!

A very special thank you to Entertaining Mom for having me guest post while she is away and of course, for virtually hosting us!

Have a great trip!!

and... away we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm in bed, all dressed and ready to go, resting and enjoying my morning coffee. I packed my frother so I cannot have my morning cappuccino. My coffee feels a bit naked without it's foam! The kids are still asleep. The car's all packed up save for the medicine bag and the bag that will come to the beach and the cooler. And my laptop. And my scale! Yes, somehow I am going to sneak the blasted thing into the car again! Yes I could quite possibly be the only girl who travels with her scale! I don't do this for short trips mind you, just the longer ones... especially those that can potentially involve lots and lots of caloric foods and endless days of sitting in the sun with ass planted firmly in beach chair. And if I don't watch it at the end of my 2 weeks the ass will be not so firm in my beach chair. The scale keeps me in check. It reminds me not to overindulge in Pier fries and ice cream and lobster dripping with butter or fried clams. It reminds me to keep a move on. In the years before The Scale I would somehow, magically, end up a good solid 5 or more pounds heavier. But, when traveling with The Scale this doesn't happen! I am sure psychiatrists would have a field day over this. I am sure they have lots of labels for me, but I have found that if it works, it works and if ain't broke don't fix it... unless, of course, you are talking about The Scale!

I have also packed, of course, my running shoes. Not sure how I will be able to escape the kids daily, but I have brought them none the less. My real hope is that while we are all on the beach, 14 kids ranging in age from 4 to 14, and between 6 and 12 adults, someone will offer to keep an eye on my guys while I put on my headphones and take a long power walk down the miles and miles of beaches. If I can accomplish this several times times a week I will be a happy.

Packing list:
bathing suits
T-shirts (both nice and casual)
flip flops
tennis socks!
beach cover ups
beach chairs
beach toys
cameras, lenses, flash
bath towels
pillows (I won't travel long term without my own as well!)
my favorite blanket!
that's about it
the only thing left to pack is the laptop and the kids.
do I have to bring the kids?
can't I leave them behind?
I can't dose them up with Benedryl before our long journey. My littlest kid reacts to that like it's Mountain Dew on steroids! I do have some bourbon in the liquor cabinet tho...
Ok, time to wish me good luck (I'll need it!) on my (mis)adventures!

Now this may just be the only suitcase I'll ever need!

Even though internet is limited I will get to it! I also have a few wonderful guest bloggers lined up for you.. stay tuned!

Gifts from the Sea...

I am drawn to the sea. She is majestic and magnificent and mysterious. She is glorious and beautiful and powerful. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is awesome and amazing, spectacular and vast and huge and deep. I love the bright cerulean waters of the islands and the deep greens of the cool New England coastline. She is always the same and yet ever changing. She is predictable and yet not. She is calm and furious. And within her presence I am in my glory. I am at peace and ease. I respect her and admire her. I am drawn to her beauty and power. It is the ocean I seek when I need an escape. I could never live anywhere too far from it. And when I cannot readily stand on her shores I find peace and solace in the bath.

I hear many mothers who complain that they never take time for themselves... there is never enough time in the day. While my days are packed I do carve out time to myself. I need it. My children need it. My children need me to take this time. While I cannot readily set off for a good, soul-cleansing run on the beach (What would I possibly do with the children?) I can draw a bath. I can fill my big, deep tub with water and scents from the sea, from Provence or from Tuscany. I can climb in to the hot water and let my body feel weightless and close my eyes and let the worries and the stresses temporarily melt away. I need this. My body needs this. My soul needs this. Alongside my tub are various shells that I have collected from the Bahamas, from Bermuda and Newport and Maine. I have clam shells that serve as a soap dish and luminaries filled with sand and shells. And now I have the sea glass I collected from the beautiful, rocky shores north of Boston. Beautiful sea glass in browns and greens and blues and whites in all different sizes and shapes. Magnificent glass that has been magically transformed from someone's discarded bottles. Glass that has been tossed into the sea and been broken up by waves and rocks from, perhaps, violent storms and glass that has been transformed from something jagged and sharp and dangerous into something smooth and soothing and magnificent. I look at my sea glass and I see beauty. I love the feel and the smell and the look of it. Like the shells and the life deep below, sea glass is a gift from the sea.

How privileged I am to have grown up with the sea -- to have spent my summers with her, with little fish nibbling at my toes... to have been able to have watched as octopi wrapped their arms around the docks of the marinas... to have played on her shores and dug holes in her sands... to have learned to fear and revere and respect her... to have swum out for miles and miles and miles.

It was to the sea I ran when I was just 16 and our summer home caught fire. It was to her I could share my innermost thoughts and bare my soul and shed my tears... It was to the the quiet, private beach I rode my bicycle when I needed to run away. I would take off my shoes and walk in the sand and feel the softness beneath my feet. I would sit and watch the tides roll in or out and watch her lap upon the shores. And she seemed always to listen to me, which to a teenager, is of great importance.

The sea is forever changing, like the seasons. She changes with the day and throughout the year. She can be calm and she can be tempestuous. She's as mesmerizing as a crackling fire in the middle of January. Have you ever really taken the time to watch the sea? I highly suggest you do. Her message is powerful. Her message is soothing.

I live just miles away from the beach and I wish I could get to her more often. My relationship with her is different these days. I can no longer just sit and watch her motions and emotions. I now have children I must watch. I cannot take my eyes off of them for a minute. I watch as they dig her sandy shores and delight in her waters. But I cannot trust her. I cannot trust her to take care of my children for I know her secrets. I know her strength.

It was not until I was in my 20s that she earned my respect. Twice. The first time I was in Nantucket. I was pretty far out and got caught in an undertow. I am a strong swimmer and by the grace of God I did not panic. I let the sea take me to where she wanted. I curled up in a ball and let her take me here and there. I held my breath and was happy to bounce around on the sand... was happy to feel the sting of the salt on my forehead from where I had been tossed. In the end I ended up along the shore a good bit away from where I had entered. I was afraid. Until then I had never really known fear. I certainly had never feared the ocean.

At the end of that decade I was in the Bahamas with my husband. The crystal blue waters were magnificent and appealing and spectacular. A storm was approaching and the surf was rough. But the sun was out in her glory and it was a perfect day to be at the beach. I made my way out. The surf was rough but not overly so. Still I entered with caution -- the kind of caution one has after one has had a close encounter. The waves started to come faster and closer together. I stood there, about waist deep, trying to decide whether to jump over her watery peak or dive below. I decided to dive but my timing was off. And as I went down she grabbed a hold of me with such passion and force. As I had in the past I remained calm and rolled into a ball ready to be tossed and bounced. I was not ready to be slammed onto my left shoulder with that kind of fury. Fury enough to knock my shoulder from the comfort of her home. I knew instantly what had happened even though I had never experienced an injury (or pain) like that ever before. Thirteen years later I am still paying the price from that ill-timed, ill-fated decision. Thirteen years later and my respect for her remains strong. My fear of her remains strong. And my love for her is unwavering.

It is my dream, to one day have a home at the sea with windows tall and wide. I will sit and watch her ebb and tide and lap the shores and wave hello. I will forever feel soothed and comforted and calmed by her motions and movements. I will forever seek her thoughts and advice and solace. I will turn to her for advice and answers and comforts.

I will always relish the many gifts I have received from the sea.

Decorating for The Holidays with Mother Nature

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you know that I love to bring the outside inside. I love to use nature as a tool and an inspiration to my decorating. It's beautiful and it is free!

A couple of years ago I made this centerpiece. I gathered pine cones in assorted sizes, as well as acorns and painted them gold, silver and white using regular poster paint. I then took a few really cheap plastic apple ornaments that frankly were quite ugly. (My mother is famous for giving me everything she wants to, but cannot toss!) I painted them lightly with a coat of the gold poster paint as well. And finally added a few of the smallest ball ornaments I could find lying around the ornament boxes in the basement.

A few pine cones have broken over the past few years but there were still plenty enough to create a new centerpiece!

If you want to recreate this at home you will need:

* One or two foam paint brushes. These are disposable. I don't want to ruin a good brush on the pine cones.
* A bucket filled with pine cones and acorns of assorted shapes and sizes
* Newspaper to work on
* Gold, silver, white or whatever color paint you desire

Paint your objects and let dry several hours on newspaper.

Find a pretty bowl, platter or large plate and arrange your items to your liking.

And, for my fabulous southern and coastal friends, fear not! I have a delightfully wonderful ornament for you!

This brilliant idea came from my friend Maya at Completely Coastal. I adore her blog and have to see what great things she has on there daily! Maya, in turn, got the idea from The Stories of A to Z... a new discovery for me... I'll be back for more!

I just love this ornament! I have some small pieces of sea glass that my 8 year old collected in Maine last summer. This will be his project for certain!

In order to make this ornament you will need a plain glass ornament, some sand, some shells or beach glass and a funnel to use to pour the sand in to the ornament. It doesn't get easier or prettier than that! (I'm thinking a pretty pink or lavender bow to tie on to the tree!)

Now I am waiting for Maya to come back to me with a creative way to use my 30+ oversized clam shells the kids collected in Newport this past summer! No pressure Maya... I'll wait... and wait and wait and wait! ;)

Don't forget to enter my Holiday Giveaway in the post below!

The Rain in Maine Stays Mainly in Maine!

8:19 am

It couldn’t possibly be a more miserable day. The rain is unrelenting. We can hear it hammering down on the rooftops and slamming against the windows. I do love a good rain storm. I do love to be wrapped up on the couch with a good book, blanket and pile of pillows stacked neatly beneath my head. I’ve read a lot of books this trip. I’m about to finish my third and, so far, favorite book Julie & Julia about a youngish New Yorker who documents her year of trying to follow all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’ fun and real and hilarious and it is definitely my favorite book of the summer. For anyone interested in food and/or cooking, this is one you’ll have a hard time putting down, especially if you are on vacation in Maine and it’s done nothing but rain!

We did have a couple of beach days. We had one lovely day where even I dared enter the cold, dark Atlantic waters! And then the weather turned considerably icky. We did have fun that day we went fishing in the rain, and on Wednesday, despite being cool and overcast we spent all morning out on the boat attempting to fish. Yesterday we hit a water park called Aquaboggan. It was a balmy (at best) 64 degrees out. The kids were freezing but they had a blast. (Think just 30 degrees colder and it’d be cold enough for snow!)

Because the weather was so dismal the water park was virtually empty, save for our large clan and the kids had no wait for any of the rides. Why hit a water park in near arctic temperatures you ask? Because you cannot sit in a small condo all day when you have three kids, two of which are very energetic little boys! Because they all want to hang out with their cousins and the onshore breezes at the beach would have felt even frostier than we all felt at the water park… And because you can only kill so much time at a movie theater… and because outlet shopping is not in the cards this year.

Vacations sure do take on a different meaning when kids factor in to the picture. Vacations with babies are definitely not vacations. They are trips. They are neither enjoyable nor relaxing. I do not miss those days of chasing-hovering-wiping-stressing and coming home even more uptight than before I had even left. I do not miss the days of schlepping bottles and cups and diapers and wipes and Pack and Plays and booster seats and high chairs and dealing with screaming fits in long (relentless) car rides up the New England coast line.

And even now that I have no bottles, cups, diapers, wipes, booster seats, Pack and Plays and relatively few screaming fits up the New England Coastline I still have children. Children that get sick and children that need to be fed and cleaned. With children comes dirt. So despite my vacation I still have to make (for the most part) breakfasts, lunches and an occasional dinner. I still have to do the dishes and clean up. There is sand to sweep and crumbs to vacuum and counters to wipe down and I still have laundry to tackle (easily a load a day) and I still have to entertain my troops when we are not off gallivanting around (in the rain!)

As I sit at my laptop composing something in Word that hopefully will get posted today when I get to a place with internet access, the Disney channel is on in the background, the rain is still plummeting to the ground and we must once again come up with something to do. Rain on any vacation is a bummer, but right now I remember fondly those days where vacations were truly vacations… whether we were in Italy, France or England… Bermuda or the Bahamas… rain or shine… vacations were as they were meant to be. We had only ourselves to worry about. We ate and we drank and we relaxed and of course it was disappointing not to be in the sunshine but a little rain meant an extra nap, an extra drink or an extra snack… and did not require a Degree in Mastering The Fine Art of Entertaining Your Children on Vacation which can suck the life out of you. I’m ready to head home, as we will be tomorrow. I’m longing for my bed and my shower and my things… I’m not entirely looking forward to unpacking all of our crap and putting all of our crap away. We’ll be heading to Newport for a few days this week and I’ll need to repack again. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of my Sunday will be spent catching up on everyone’s blog and letting my kids enjoy being at home for a short while!

Update 12:10 pm

The faucet in the sky doesn’t seem to be turning off any time soon. The kids have read, watched TV, run around in the rain, eaten their weight in Charms lollipops, Blowpops, Whistle Pops, Bottle Caps, and Smarties, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as we are out of food and I am certainly not hitting the grocery store before heading back home. We’re growing moldy. We’ve worn nothing but swimsuits, heavy fleece pullovers, running shoes worn for the sole purpose of running away from rain or jumping over puddles a la OJ Simpson in the days of Hertz commercials and not in the days of his running from the law. I’ve washed the same sweatshirts and towels and bathing suits over and over and over again.

We’ve only worn real clothes once on our trip. A combined 5oth Anniversary-Slash-70th Birthday Party was thrown for both sets of grandparents at a lovely house on remote Peak’s Island, a charming and rustic island set 20 minutes (by ferry) off of the Portland coast. The boys looked adorable in navy blazers, polo shirts, madras shorts and flip flops. Rebecca wore her pink and green Lilly dress and went barefoot, a result of a driving moccasin rubbing again bare skin casualty. It was a lovely and (unheard of for this season) sunny day.

Other than that day only casual clothes have been worn. Burberry and Brooks Brother’s jackets, Gucci loafers and jewelry have remained in the condo. Tory Burch sandals were worn only to my meeting Anita Shreve. I did have a cashmere sweater on that night, around my waist. Jeans and sweats and flip flops are the norm here. Only when worn over bathing suits. It’s an easy breezy fashion lifestyle. And I admit to loving it while I am here. I couldn’t feel more relaxed in my white Gap T-shirt and old, navy fleece pants. I’ll not change to go to the movies. I’ll just toss on my running shoes. My hair is loosely tossed back into a pony tail. At home I would not dare leave the house this way. Even in inclement weather. I’d have on perhaps some little black leggings, a cute tunic and slosh around under my beige, black, red and white plaid umbrella. My hair, despite the downpour, would be tidy too. There is much to be said about just being comfortable though. And there is much to be said regarding my ever growing waistline. This foul weather is not helping any at all. I can’t wait to be home and get back into shape. It’ll take a week or so again to undo all the damage I’ve done and to comfortably be able to zip up my jeans. I’m mad at myself for letting myself go… but who can resist a damn good whoopee pie and a nice ice cold beer at the end of even a rainy day? Who can resist native soft shell lobster dripping in butter, or fried clams or fried popcorn shrimp so fresh you can taste it? Perhaps I should have had less ice cream and eaten more blueberries. But here in Maine, the blueberries are not quite ripe enough to eat. I might be a tad bloated in the belly and slovenly looking… but it does feel good!

We’re off to the movies now. G-Force opens today. We’ve done about all that we can do to stay dry and since there is a giant Cineplex not too far it’s as good as any place to stay out of the rain… and eat some good, artery clogging movie theater popcorn in our dingy old sweats!

Sittin' on the dock of the bay...

Mother Nature has not blessed us with endless days of glorious sunshine and warm ocean breezes. Instead we've been blessed, for the most part, with cool, cloudy, damp Maine days. But we cannot wallow away our vacation. We cannot cry over spilt milk or spilt sunscreen. We cannot let a lack of sunshine rain on our parade!

Late yesterday morning we got up and decided to go for a walk on the pier and the docks a town away. We were granted permission from the harbor master to fish on the docks below, so we returned home to grab our fishing gear. It had been drizzling all morning but, of course, the moment we set foot on the docks the skies opened up pouring bucketful after bucketful of water down on us. We enjoyed the wet fun as long as we could, til we could take no more! We caught no fish but we had a great time! We returned home, soaked to the gills, changed into sweats and sipped mugs of hot chocolate.

After we warmed up we headed to The Soda Fountain for some ice cream. I can think of no better way to end a cold rainy Maine day than to go out and get a delicious ice cream cone!

Today we went fishing on Uncle David's boat. We tried in vain to catch a striper or a bluefish. We didn't have much luck today either. As we headed back to the marina Christopher asked his father a question. "Why do they call it fishing if you never catch anything?"

"Well," Daddy answered. "If you always caught the fish you would be catching instead of fishing!
Below, a refresher course for everyone!

Picture of Rebecca and the mackerel, or bait!
and Daddy getting the bait on the hook!

Rebecca and I are heading back to the car... we cannot get any wetter or colder, but the boys want to stay and fish a little longer.

Alexander, mastering the art of fishing

You, Me and Anita Shreve! (GIVE AWAY!!!)

I had to borrow my mother in law's copy yesterday so that I could familiarize myself with the story before going to hear Ms. Shreve talk about her latest book, set in in a prestigious New England boarding school, is about how life is greatly altered when a few teenagers do something so stupid without stopping to think about their actions and how this one stupid act affects all those around them. It is gripping and the characters are raw and pure and real. Ms. Shreve basically had me at hello! I picked up my copy last night (which she signed for me!) and am already 100 pages into it. The story is that engaging. (And I have no internet to distract me!)

Ms. Shreve is a wonderful story teller and after her reading she talked about her many books and influences. She talked about her writing style and habits and how she became a writer. I had a wonderful evening and was glad I had the opportunity to hear her talk. She is exactly as I had imagined... a Dianne Sawyer-like woman of the literary set. Perhaps I will pull out my pen and paper and resume my own writing... I am once again inspired!

I could have picked up many books. I have read most, but not all of her novels. Instead, I picked up another copy of Testimony, had it signed, and am giving it away to one lucky blogger!

So if you are interested in my give-away, leave a comment, blog about it and follow me!

I will announce the winner on Sunday, July 26th when I am back home with ample internet access!

And for those of you who wondered how I fared with the kids yesterday. Everyone was happy. Rebecca ended up spending the afternoon with her cousin Brielle and I brought the boys to the beach to be with their (boys) cousins... Wrapped in my cashmere hoodie and shorts, I read comfortably on the beach with the cool breezes coming off the ocean. I finished my book (The Beach House by Jane Green) just in time to start Testimony! After all my whining we all ended up happy!

For more on Testimony and Anita Shreve, ckick here to visit her website.

a break from the beach and Anita Shreve

Hellooo all! It's cloudy and overcast and I am happy to not be at the beach... but since I have posted the pictures the sun has poked her sleepy head through the clouds and I may have to dress and screen the troops, pack up lunches and snacks, towels toys and everything else one needs. Truth be told I'm not much in the mood. It's windy and cool. But the kids want the beach... well, one wants the beach and the other wants the pool... I cannot be at two places at once (which as moms is something we so should be able to do) so I will have to figure this out! Since Daddy does not get back here until late tomorrow night and I cannot split myself in two, I will have to decide which kid(s) to piss off... this is no small task as one, or two, of my children will declare me The Meanest Mommy In The World followed by several thousand whiny-chantings of That's Not Fair!!!!
We have had a fabulous time and the weather has been lovely... cool ... in the upper 70s during the day and low 50s at night, but for Maine it is perfect. The kids have had a blast playing with their cousins and despite my lack of communication with the outside world I have no complaints!
Tonight I am off to hear Anita Shreve (I just love her!) talk about her newest novel, Testimony. I will let you all know how it goes!
Farewell for now my friends... I will be back soon!

Lostah, chowdah and Stella (Artois) for dinnah...

First of all I have to start off by saying I have NO INTERNET at the condo in Maine this summer and I am having serious (SERIOUS) withdrawal issues... so it's a good thing that the weather has been lovely and we have been at the at the beach all day because the moment I am in the condo I want to hop on the laptop... but I can't! So it's a good thing my mother in law invited us over for dinner!

I will check in with all your blogs as soon as possible... my time on here is limited and don't have a whole heck of a lot to report. Daddy went back home to CT last night for the week and we are hanging out with family (13 cousins between the ages of 4 and 13!) and the kids are having a blast...

Right now Rebecca is putting on a "show" with her cousin Brielle... very funny. very funny!!!

Daddy rejoins us on Friday and that's when the fun will begin.

As he headed out the door to head back home, he poked his head back in and asked "do you you have your Big Girl Panties or will I need to bring them with me when I come back?" I assured him I had them with me!

Road Trip 2009

We're off to the land of lobsters and moose, of sweet pines and salty ocean breezes... I'll have the kids in my car, the jogger, the snacks, waters, music and DVDs. Daddy will have all the other luggage and the toys and the beach items and cooler and all the stuff that his sedan can fit by my monster truck cannot. The minivan held more. No doubt about it. But we're OK. Rebecca will be in the third road next to the jogger. The two boys will be in the second row, separated by a pile of comforters and pillows. I want no child to be able to touch another child. And, if I could temporarily, I'd duct-tape their mouths so I wouldn't have to hear the incessant whining and tears and pleas of I want this and no not that. Driving in cars with independent-minded little people is no small task. It's dangerous. I'm hoping that by keeping Rebecca in seclusion in the third row in pre-teeny bopperdom that I'll have some sense of calm. Some. I can't put all three in the same row for more than 5 minutes at a time. I cannot. I will not.

Our trip to Providence, on Monday, was actually quite delightful. It would be terrible to say that it was because Rebecca was not in the picture... but it would also be the truth! Alexander is always content in the car. Sometimes he'll watch a movie and sometimes he's happy to just watch the world go by outside his window.

Christopher likes to play his DS and watch movies as well. But he never learns and he gets carsick. Terribly carsick. So when we went to Providence on Monday I told Christopher to look for license plates. I thought it would entertain him for 5 minutes, not the entire trip. He was fascinated and having such a good time. On the way there and back he found (with a little help from his Momma) plates from 23 states! I loathe to drive on I-95 but it's a great way to find all sorts of fascinating license plates. We located plates from: New York, California, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Vermont, Indiana, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Hawaii (!!!), Virginia, New Hampshire.

Alexander had fun finding shapes in the clouds, Snoopy upside-down on an airplane, sharks, dolphins, turtles, birds, and the like. I'm sure we'll play the same games again. I have no idea what we have in store... I guess it's wait and see... and I am sure you'll hear all about it!

Meantime, you can read all about one of last summer's escapades if you wish by clicking on Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear... should give you a good laugh and make you yearn for the good days gone by (sans enfants)!