Friday, July 29, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

For My Girl On Her Birthday

Six years ago today it was hot.  I was hugely pregnant, and felt even bigger than I looked.  

I was halfway through my 37th week, but knew this second baby of mine wouldn't hold out until 40 weeks.
The baby had been breech until a week before, and I'd been doing all kinds of head standing, downward dog, cat and cow, and accupressure in order to encourage turning.  It finally worked, and I remember the moment my midwife palpated my belly and agreed yes, this baby is finally head down.  "Good Girl", I instinctively thought to myself.  It was in that moment I knew that baby was a she.  

I realized during breakfast on July 28th that the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having every evening had already begun-- maybe this would be the day.  Wylie (a week away from his 2nd birthday) and I met some friends and cousins at a playground in town and played for the morning.  My contractions became stronger and more frequent throughout our time there--to the point that I was feeling distracted and they required some focus.  Around 12:30 I took Wylie home for lunch and a nap.  When I lay down beside him the contractions, instead of settling out, became stronger and more frequent.  I decided to get up and call our midwives.

"Tell Rob to come home and fill the tub".  I loved that response.  Rob came home right away (fortunately he only works 10 min. away).  We also called my sister, Heide who had agreed to be with Wylie and present during the birth.  We called my mother (who lives 3 hours away)  who was also planning to be at the birth.    Heide arrived before the midwives and we all agreed it would be best if she could take him out for a while.  They headed to the grocery store for some lemon Popsicles for labor snacks.

The midwives arrived soon after, and I was able to get into the tub.  My contractions were still strong and close together.  During this time period we were living in our cabin, a 12x20ft. one room w/loft, while our larger house was being built out back.  Rob, took one of our midwives out for a tour of the new house.  While they were outside by labor quickly picked up and I suddenly found myself in transition.  I was in a very different head space than my first labor and I found that true to the many birthing books I'd read, transition this time around felt like a complete loss of control.

Rob and our second midwife came back inside and were surprised to hear how close the baby was.  After a few minutes of rest I remember saying, "I know its too soon, but I feel like I need to push".  Our midwife replied, "I don't think its too soon".  I really loved that response.

On the first push I felt the water sack burst, and with a second strong contraction the baby was born.  She was tiny, and absolutely covered in sticky white vernix.  She screamed for what felt like 10 minutes and pinked right up.  I couldn't believe she was there.

While we were still in the tub Heide came home with Wylie, and our labor snacks!  She had missed the whole thing.  My mother also missed the birth, by hours, as did my younger sister.  Wylie was so little, and suddenly seemed so big.  He called Juniper "Noisy" for the next two days.

Juniper Karen, six years ago today you burst into this world, bright and noisy, 
and you haven't changed much!  I hope it stays that way.  

Happy Birthday Junebug!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Morsels

We've had a crazy busy few weeks with lots of travel, visiting with good friends, and now two birthdays and an anniversary approaching.  

Morsels from the past few weeks:

We spent some time with friends at a lake home belonging to their family.  The camp was built by our friend's grandfather and still contained many of the toys played with by his mother as a child.  Among these were a set of Barbie and Ken dolls circa 1950's with original clothes--such a hoot, and these adorable little village and farm pieces.  I'd love to find a set like this for my kids.  All the kids had a great time with them.  

 Kale carried around one of the tiny tractors for the entire weekend, and Wylie and Juniper set up several villages, Wylie narrating a tragic story, "Suddenly one day a terrible storm raged over the village of Auchnol.  Lightening flashed, waves swept the land..."
(Auchnol comes from a fantasy book we've been enjoying on CD, "The Cabinet of Wonders" by Marie Rutkoski. I think I like it as much as the kids do.)

Wylie enjoyed the kayaks for the three days we were there and has become quite skilled at maneuvering them.  He was a bit of a late bloomer in large motor coordination and I love to see him coming into his body and developing a comfort and even pride in his physical ability.   Not to mention the joys and freedom to be found in riding your bicycle well, or paddling a kayak solo across the water.  Love it.  

We've been taking advantage of the summer daylight for playtime after dinner, and some time for me to work in the garden.  I'm not sure what it is about this time of day, but I remember even when the kiddos were little how nicely they would play outside together in the summer after dinner.  

We had a small campfire one evening last week while Rob was out, and after the kids lost interest in playing with fire I headed to the garden to do some weeding and watering and they set off, involved in some ongoing play.  After a while I went to check on them and found a band in our back yard.

Another day last week I was hanging laundry and stopped for a few minutes to answer a phone call.  
When I returned to the deck I this is what I found in the laundry basket:

A few other things often found around our place: 

Random wires and mechanical parts in various stages of dis-assembly.
Chickens in the bushes

Iced tea stands  
Iced tea is less expensive to make than lemonade, and apparently rather lucrative--especially if you are two cute kids and you ask for donations only.  They brought in a bundle.  
It has since become a regular affair here on hot days. 

In the garden we've been loving the fresh herbs, and tons of flowers:  

Interestingly enough the plants that seem to be doing the best are these rouge pumpkins from last fall's 

November 2010

July 2011

 Juniper will be 6 this week, and she too is really coming into her own, though in a different way than Wylie.  She's always been athletic and competent physically, as well as strong willed and creative.  However, she went through a couple of years where I felt like her individualism, and her sense of self was a bit lost.  There was a lot of wanting to fit in with her friends --ie. wearing mainly pink, only pretty, and preferably Disney princess paraphernalia at the expense (or so it seemed to me) of her own interests and style--it happens so young.

So I've been quietly rejoicing this summer as I've seen  a bit of sass and spunk sneaking back:
The occasional hands on her hips, the incorporation of black into her wardrobe, tree climbing, mud stomping, and belly laughing.   And I've always loved those quiet talks at bedtime when the kids are able to say exactly what is on their minds.  Such as, "Mom, did you know there are 5 different words for vomit".
Gross yes, but way better than Disney princess in my book!

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I love the seasons in Maine for their renewing effect, and the opportunity to see such growth.  Not just in plants each spring and summer, but in ourselves (and these children!) as well.  The cyclical nature of the seasons allows for such contemplation of how we've grown and changed from year to year, as well as being a source of hope for what we know must come again, and another chance to do it even better.  I've never lived outside of New England so I can't say first hand, but I have a feeling that life without seasons could feel stagnant.

Now too I'm beginning to notice cycles in my children's development and likewise find hope and relief in these patterns.  It's taken me nearly 8 years to realize the natural cycle of my first born-- the difficult half year point slowly, painfully, escalating and finally tapering as spring arrives into a lovely, cooperative whole year child for the summer and fall.  What a relief to see that no, I wasn't doing it all wrong, here we are rolling along smoothly again.

His sister is thankfully a few months off of his cycle, testing her limits and sass as she approaches her birthday each summer, quietly weathering the storm of her brother's moods throughout the colder months.

And Kale too, once upon a time my best sleeper, has thankfully, after months of short unpredictable naps and wakeful nights, cycled back to long, sound naps and (cue cheers) almost uninterrupted nights.

No doubt, now that I think I've got it all figured out something will shift.
But just as summer has finally arrived in a fit of 90 degree days and afternoon thunderstorms, so too will those periods of difficulty melt into a sunnier disposition, and after a time these carefree days will turn their corner toward more trying ones.

Over and over again, for better or worse, this too shall pass--until next time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


By the time it gets to berry picking here in Maine I've usually sort of forgotten how good a real strawberry is.  The ones from the grocery store are so tasteless we never buy them, and although we store and use frozen berries all winter its not really the same thing.  So by the time June rolls around and the berries are ripe I can feel kind of nonchalant about the whole ordeal.  I am usually fixated on restocking our jam and frozen berries for smoothies and set right to filling the baskets without even tasting a berry.  But, sometime about halfway through the first basket I pick the perfect berry.  Deep red, full-- but not too big.
After one its hard to stop.  On the car ride home I eat one after another, jam be damned.  Fresh is the way to go.  But, of course there is a limit to the number of berries one can eat in a day (there's always tomorrow!) and even the kids start slowing down after day two.
Sandhill Farm, Somesville, ME, pick your own organic strawberries

All of my attempts at picking sans children were futile-- even so we managed to bring home a good haul.    
Berry picking with my kiddos has not always gone as nicely as it may sound.  But this year, although I was the only one actually picking, everyone kept themselves happily entertained long enough for me to fill the two baskets I brought.  It helps that the older kids can now understand the logic:  the faster mama picks, the sooner we leave.  This means much less fuss about not being able to eat berries from my basket
(if you're over 2 you can pick your own!) and more cooperation throughout the entire morning.  Key to our success was picking on sunny mornings with a cool breeze, meeting up with friends, and getting to see a nest full to the brim with baby barn swallows almost ready to fledge.  Not to mention all the yummy berry goodies we've been eating:  strawberries with cream, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake with strawberries and whipped cream, strawberry smoothies, strawberry popcicles and strawberry pancakes.  They even agreed to go back a second time to get enough for jam.

Wylie wanted to use the Squeezo for the jam.  Whats that?  You've never heard of the squeezo?  Well, let me introduce you.  This amazing contraption takes whole fruit (or chunks in the case of large fruit such as apples or even pumpkin) and miraculously removes skin, seeds, and core leaving you with amazing fruit puree.  Rob found this beauty on Craig's List for my birthday last fall after we'd borrowed one from a friend for two years in a row.

Of course strawberries are not real hard to mash and I was prepared to do them by hand, but Wylie can be fairly persistent (understatement of the year), and really who wouldn't want to Squeezo if you had the chance?  So I took it down, we assembled it and we went at it.  Let me say the child is brilliant.  Give the berries a rinse, dump them in and turn the crank.  I did half a basket then had to put Kale down for a nap.  When I came downstairs Wylie had finished the rest of the berries on his own.  13lbs. of berries in about 10 minutes.  Amazing.

The jam recipe did warn against processing the berries as it will affect the texture of the jam.  After going through the Squeezo our jam has no chunks of berries in it--but really that's OK by me.  It turned out great.  We did two batches of freezer jam and a batch of regular jam.  I use Pomona's Low Sugar pectin and followed the All Fruit recipe, using apple juice for a sweetener, along with a bit of honey.  Breakfast this morning--warm popovers (gluten free) and fresh strawberry jam yum!

Tomorrow maybe strawberry sorbet...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Upta Camp

There's a sign we drive past fairly often beside a small stack of bundled wood:  "UPTA CAMP WOOD $4".  I'd like to say I've always had chuckle at this, or even that I've often dismissed it as slightly obnoxious
as in, "Lobstah Rolls" advertised for "three dollahs".  The truth is I was always a bit baffled, upta camp?  Until a few weeks ago I finally got it.

Last week we headed upta camp (actually down and over to camp) in western NH.  Rob's aunt and uncle have a place on a lake that his grandfather built in the 60's (50's?) , where all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins gather every 4th of July.  It's the only time each year we all get together and its always a crazy, chaotic weekend of cookouts, card playing, salads, swimming, more card playing, and plenty of good natured teasing by all.  Uncle Ed (who lives there with Aunt Sharon the rest of the summer--just the two of them) refers to the weekend as "the invasion".  It's really a blast and all the second cousins have such a good time playing together.  I'm still not sure how all those people can stay in a three room camp for 3 days and enjoy themselves (except maybe Uncle Ed).  It does help that there are houses nearby for sleeping several of us, and of course our family camped out in Adelle.

Most of the Fowler clan at the parade

Red, white, and blue

At the lake

 Lots of good Papa time

Cousins who love each other

These two could not get enough of each other.  And Juniper was beside herself with so many big girl cousins to admire, not to mention an "Aunt" who she'd attached herself to by the end of the weekend.  Wylie had his first real success paddling a kayak solo, and Kale may be swimming on his own before either of his siblings.  

One other highlight was a new game I learned when we headed over to their local elementary school for a big game of whiffle ball.  The playground had a ga ga pit.  This has nothing to do with the rock star--but the game does rock hard.  I haven't sweat so much in ages, and the whole time I was laughing so hard I could have peed.  If you don't know this game learn it.  I think I'm going to have to pull some strings and have a ga ga pit built at our city park playground.  

In keeping things real, I should add that in addition to the wonderful time had by all, there was also the
4  1/2 hour road trip each way complete with a toddler who was either crying, or holding my hand until my elbow was literally numb from hyper-extending (very little knitting done on this car ride), an emergency bathroom break at one seriously nasty porta potty, a child vomiting in the camper, and an adult tantrum concerning a certain electronic device which will not be in use for the remainder of the summer (unfortunately I'm not referring to my husband's cell phone). 

Here's to another good 4th.