Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We celebrated the solstice with two very different parties on a day that felt just how Summer Solstice should feel.  The first was wild and raucous, with a band, swimming pool, trampoline, zip line, and badminton.  The second was a quiet bonfire with kids riding bikes through the grass and poking the fire with sticks.
The two combined were the perfect lead in for what summer is for us:  a time to cram in as much outdoor fun, games, and adventure as we can in 2 1/2 months; and a chance to kick back with friends and let go of schedules while the children play in the mud well past bedtime.   

The bees arrived a few weeks ago and are busy with their sisters (and a few brothers) in the bee yard.  I purchased two new nucs, to replace the one I  lost to swarm late last fall, and the other that I combined with my weaker hive.  That "double" hive survived the winter, and now there are three hives full of bees.  When the wind is right the smell of honey is magical.  

Kale has his own little garden bed this year and dutifully harvests what he can, along with gathering the eggs, several times daily.

    Kale's kale.

    One of the parties we attended was an Juhannus Party, a Finnish celebration of the Solstice.  According to our Finnish friend the direct translation is "midsummer celebration" which is a strange name for the first day of summer.  But then again, she reminded us, "summer in Finland is very short!"
It feels that way here some times too.  In acknowledgement of the short season we brave cold water in May, squeezing in as much swimming as we can, until that last warm afternoon in October.  But this spring didn't offer us any opportunities for pretend early summer.  Now that its officially here we're living it up.  State Park swimming one day, crab gathering on the seashore the next, followed by pond swimming off the end of the john boat, and camping this weekend.  It feels a bit overwhelming, and entirely necessary.  June in Maine is good.

   This boy is happy to be out of school!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Simple Summer (or anytime) Projects

We've been working on a few small projects so far this summer--aside from the many garden and yard projects always underway.  They have all been quick and easy, not revolutionary, but still worth sharing for others to try.  

A few fun, inexpensive, ideas for rainy days...

Crepe Paper Flower:  
Back in April I bought supplies to make crepe paper flowers.  We didn't get to them until the real flowers outside were blooming, but they are still nice in our office window.  These were simple to make and a little paper goes a long way.  A quick internet or Pinterest search will show many ways to do them.   I'm dreaming up a whole "garden" full for next winter.  Maybe we can try this idea from Elsie Marley.  
I'd pretty much like to try all of her ideas.  

Home-Made Stationary:
The Montessori school in our town prints the children's artwork into cards.  We keep receiving Thank You's and invitations on "official" stationary made by our friends.  Super cool, and way easy (we've done this before, but then forgot how simple and fun it was).  So, using our copier I shrunk a few of each of the kid's masterpieces (and random drawings scavenged from the recycling bin) and copied them onto card-stock.   We've gifted a few sets and are using others for ourselves.

Peg Board Room Divider:
Wylie has been asking for his own room, which can't happen without some complicated room finagling.  But, we thought up a plan to give him a bit more private space in his shared room.  Kale and I set it up one afternoon while the two big kids were away.

We used one 4x6 sheet of peg board ($26 at our local lumber yard), some painter's tape, and left over paint.  I attached the board with twine so we didn't have to put screws into the bunk-bed.  Now the front half of the room is Kale's, and Wylie has privacy in the back section.  The holes conveniently let us see just enough to know if someone is moving around back there, which is settling if you are walking into a quiet room and are not sure if you're alone (or you are a nosy parent wondering what's going on back there).  Of course I couldn't resist the chalk board paint for at least a little bit of it.

(Confession:  I wrote the message myself.  The original message read:  Party 8:00, or when my mom leaves.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Real and Green!

I originally titled this post Green! and was going to write about the shift in season we've just had here with swaths of green wrapping around us in near claustrophobic closeness.  About the absolute contrast of June and January in Maine.  But I'll let the pictures share that story through a recent walk through the woods to the neighbors field.

I'll tell another story.  I spent the day with a friend yesterday, the mom of two young children and we shared a lot about the hardships of parenting, societal views of mothers, homeschooling, money--it was not light conversation.  At some point she mentioned the need for more "real" stories of mothering.  The ones where its all laid out there.  Where no one walks away judging themselves against another's perceived perfect life.  

I don't consider this space, on my blog, the place for lamenting the bad stuff.  I choose to document the times I want to focus on and remember.  I believe our lives are very much made of the stories we tell ourselves, and I want mine to be a good one.  I don't want to dwell on the faults, or publicize my weakness.  I believe the "I'm a worse mom than you" Facebook posts can be just as damaging as their perfect counterparts. Even so, a bit of reality is necessary.  No one's life is perfect, and one lovely walk in the woods is just that-- it doesn't tell of the 9 other hours in the day.  

So today, a bit of the hard stuff (only the pictures are pretty)...

We just finished a stint of two weeks without a working leech field.  Two weeks of peeing outside, washing dishes in the shower outside, two weeks where we had very few flushes allotted to us (lest the tank fill and back up into our house), did only one load of laundry, and spit into bowls while brushing our teeth.  
Then they installed a 15 foot tall! vent in our yard, filled the sand back in, and said, "It might work for another 7 years, or you might need a whole new system.  Let's wait and see".  

Its been two weeks since then, and I'm sure we won't know if its really working for another year or two. What's definitely not working now, is the washing machine.  Take a minute to image what it might be like to open a front loader with 8 inches of water that won't drain.  Right.  Now imagine that water is soaked with a week's worth of dirty running clothes, 10-year-old boy underwear, and a sleeping bag that was peed on the night before.  Yup.  Imagine hauling said smelly, nasty, sopping,  laundry across the bathroom and dumping it in the bathtub to drain for the night.  Yup.  It took three towels to wipe up the mess.  Two days for the smell to dissipate, 1 day for the repair guy to come, not sure when the part will arrive.  

I forgot that my 4-year-old asked me to wipe his bum, and left him sitting on the toilet crying for 15 minutes while I weeded the garden.  

My big boy had rocks thrown at him at recess--and I'm pretty sure he deserved it.  

The lawn mower won't run.  

Most days I yell at my kids.  Many days I swear in front of them (almost never at them).
I haven't thrown a book in three years, but I have wanted to many, many more times since then. 

My 4-year-old sings rap songs about "Call of Duty"  (though no one here has ever played the game), and educates his friends about AK's, snipers, and missile launchers.  


The renters in our cabin are complaining of ants.  Lots of ants. 

And their pipes are leaking.  Still.

We waited 15 minutes in the 85 degree sun, without shade, for ice cream.  Kale's came on a blue cone, with blue candy on top.  Two days later his poop is still blue.

I wasn't sure if I should feed the pigs crappy left over pizza from the corner store, because it might not be good for them.  Then I realized I'd just served it to my kids.

The kids were nervous about a garter snake in the driveway.  "Don't be scared,"  I told them, those won't hurt you.  You can even catch it."
When Juniper leaned in for a closer look it reared up and struck at her.

It was a lovely walk.