Doesn’t It All Go By in a Blink

Summer 2014 004

Broken arm to start off the hot months.

Summer 2014 015

Baby’s first haircut. Goodbye curls:(

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” ― L.M. MontgomeryAnne’s House of Dreams

When every day of summer lasts a million years (this is how it feels anyway) I find myself forgetting that I only really get a handful of summers with my kids.  What I mean of course, is a handful of summers when they are still mine.  Before they’re begging to go over to friend’s houses and to summer camp and into the future without a backward glance.  It isn’t my wish to keep them little forever- little kids are an incredible amount of work.  But I do love the innocence.  I love the soft cheeks, the concept that mom and dad can make everything alright, and the way they sleep without anything weighing them down.

These are a few pictures of our summer so far- a blur of manic energy contained in a few photos.

 

Summer 2014 037

July garden.

Summer 2014 032

Calvert Marine Museum, terrapin.

Summer 2014 Indoor beach 011

Indoor Beach Day

Summer 2014 031

The new balance bike.

Summer 2014 051

Water table fun and bug catching.

Summer 2014 077

First full family campout, Elk Neck State Park, MD.

Summer 2014 131

I capture the castle.

Summer 2014 163

I’m 3 today!

Summer 2014 135

Life is good.

Summer 2014 119

Oh yes we DID bring the clip-on highchair.

Summer 2014 038 Summer 2014 105 Summer 2014 106

Advertisements

The Quilt is Done

Summer 2014 019My mother did not quilt.  My grandmother did not quilt either.  My great-grandmother probably did quilt as befitted the time in which she lived,  but as we were not destined to know one another I can’t be sure.  What I’m getting at here is that quilting was not something I absorbed from my childhood surroundings.   I wasn’t mitering corners at grannie’s knee or using a rotary cutter in elementary school. It is rather baffling therefore that for my first quilting project ever I decided to make a queen-sized quilt for my baby daughter.  I considered the lap quilts but felt she would outgrow those too fast, and who has twin beds anymore anyway and so heck- why not just go big or go home?  So I went big.  I completed all of the blocks during her first year of life and even got them all put together with the inner borders.  We were living in Eugene, OR at the time and knew we wouldn’t be able to stay.  I chose colors to remind us of that place- the blues of the sky, the greens and browns of the earth.  For the background I chose a patterned fabric featuring bright umbrellas in front of a cloudy sky. Once the top was done it just sat.  And sat.  For 2 years.  I’ve heard this is common tale- the patchwork top is the exciting part and after that it’s just levels of tediousness.Summer 2014 018

Once I finally came to terms with this understanding I hired a longarmer.  In other words, one who possesses a long-arm machine.  It was a wonderfully freeing experience which has left me with a finished quilt, a sense of peace, and a neater sewing area.  Thank you Heidi Hendrix in Lusby, MD!

The longarm machine is an invention which allows the quilter to spread a large portion of the quilt out while machine quilting the patchwork top, inner batting, and backing together with a set pattern such as spirals.  If your other alternative, like mine,  is using a small sewing machine shoved into the back corner of your loft, a longarmer might be preferable.

For the next quilt I will be using a solid color for the background, and instead of doing a sampler quilt where every block is a different pattern, I’ll just be sticking with the ones I like.  Rail fence is one of my favorites- nice and simple and best of all- no triangles!

Summer 2014 016

 

Will She Look in the Oven?

It is a rainy and humid day in Southern Maryland.  So humid that I feel moisture gathering between my toes as I sit here typing this.  I have lost track of the number of recent thunderstorms and every day it feels like we are walking through a thick pea soup.  The snack crackers grow soggy before you can eat them.  My hair is at its curliest this time of year and it seems that my son has inherited my humidometer locks.  This week he is all ringlets.  We have been attempting to air out our sleeping bags from a recent campout but the longer they hang over the upstairs railing the wetter they get.  You get the idea.

Clearly this was not the best day to mop my kitchen floor.  However it was long overdue and it had become so sticky that traveling through the kitchen felt like trying to fight my way out of a glue trap.  I was over it.  I would vanquish the stickiness.  I would beat it into submission.  Prying myself out of the wooden chair I went through the motions of mopping.  Then the water sat there.  For hours.  Not drying.  Perhaps even accumulating more moisture as it sat glistening at me in a mean-spirited kind of way.

Finally I took down the baby gate in order to make lunch.  Instantly one child went down.  Then the second.  Possibly both concussed from the wetness of my disgusting kitchen floor.  The baby gate went back up.  The dog towels came out so I could dry the whole thing by hand and even after all this the floor was somehow stickier than ever.

I opted to take my aggression out on the stove which I have not cleaned in two years of living in this house.  Why clean it now?  Because my mother is coming in 2 days.  My mother who always has a sparkling stove and who lives 3,000 miles away where she cannot regularly check mine.  Chances are that she will not, in her week of visiting, actually open my oven.  However we all  know that the only way to be sure is to clean it.  That’s the rule.

So the oven is clean, the floor is mopped (for all the good it did me), and the outdoor plants have been watered.  That’s the extent of it.  Everything else is grimy, smeary, crusty, and stinky.

Yesterday my daughter wanted to check her reflection as she recently ran through a screen door and landed on some bricks yielding an incredible fat lip that she has been diligently monitoring.  I followed her to the mirror and happened to notice that one of my fingernails, which I had just hurriedly trimmed, had landed in a highly visible spot in my hair.  Fortunately I was able to remove it before we set off for Target.

So it seems that I have landed myself in, “The Grimy Years”.  I get that now.  The area under my son’s clip-on highchair must be scrubbed by hand 3 times a day- 4 if we have a snack.  Oh yes, I could leave it but then he would track it all over my house.  Two nights ago I asked my 3 year old daughter to try to keep her mulberry jam off the white carpet.  She did.  But I forgot to mention that if you need to sneeze when you are chewing up beets be sure to contain the result.  Oh white carpet, why were you ever invented?

My toilet is sweating.  A lot.  The floor is uneven so all the sweat forms a river and the river leads to the low spot right in front of the bathroom sink.  When my daughter travels across the bathroom to get her potty seat (7 times a day?) she must walk right through it.  Sometimes she slips.  I wipe it up several times a day while glaring at the toilet and demanding, “Really?  Do you have to be a jerk?”

Grimy.   Humid.  Gross.  Motherhood.

 

Thanksgiving Traditions: Mountains and Pancakes

Fall winter 2012 204

Thanksgiving 2012, Virginia. Appalachian Trail near Big Meadows.

20131128-144538.jpgIn the craziness of daily life around here there aren’t many moments to step back and think, “Hot damn. I am a grown up with a family of my own.”  This realization can prompt the following train of thought, “These are not just the people that live in my house- this is my FAMILY.  It’s Thanksgiving!  We can start our own traditions and renew the ones our  parents created as well.  We can do whatever the hell we want!”

john day photo

John Day Thanksgiving 2008.

20131128-144500.jpg

The pancakes before filling.

La Pine Thanksgiving 031

Exploring Fort Rock State Natural Area Thanksgiving 2010.

Usually we go on a fun and exciting trip away during this holiday weekend.  My husband and I spent our very first Thanksgiving together making stuffing on our camp stove at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Eastern Oregon.  Our fingers were frozen but we watched the sunset and thought about how lucky we were.  We stayed in a small inn in the tiny town of Mitchell and hiked our way through several crystal blue days.  It set a precedent.

Ashland Thanksgiving 016

Thanksgiving 2009 on the side of the Pacific Crest Trail near Ashland, OR.

We’ve continued to go somewhere amazing every year except the year our daughter was born.  She had a cold, was getting her first tooth, and was only 5 months old.  We weren’t up for any more adventure than that.  We had another baby this year and he is still young, only 7 months old.  I guess we should have remembered that history repeats……

We weren’t supposed to be home this year.  We had planned an ambitious 10 hour drive to upstate New York to visit family.  The evening before we’d hoped to depart our son was vomiting and  breaking out in a scary rash.  He is also getting some teeth at the moment.  So we stayed home.  Thanksgiving Eve found us at the pediatrician for the second time this week and when we woke up this morning the only plan we had was to create, bake, and consume a lasagna at some point during the day.20131128-144526.jpg

Breakfast in our house is mostly a functional meal- it only exists to keep us going until lunch.  Oatmeal, frozen waffles, and yogurt are regular staples.  Gourmet breakfast just doesn’t happen around here.  However this morning we had a house full of fruit and I remembered my dad’s go-to holiday breakfast- German Oven Pancakes.  Perfect.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
1/2 cup milk                                      1 box frozen or fresh raspberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour                     1 20 oz. can of drained chunky pineapple
3 large eggs                                      4 bananas
dash of salt                                       Other fruit as desired (raisins, blueberries, etc.)
2 T. butter                                        1/2 cup packed brown sugar
   Top with either whipped cream.

20131128-144514.jpg

Made whipped cream out of a can of coconut milk. Have since discovered it is advisable to chill the can overnight.

Put milk, flour, eggs, and salt into mixing bowl. Mix well with wire whip. Melt 1 T. of butter in each of two 9 inch pie tins in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees. When butter is sizzling, swish around to grease bottom & a little up the sides. Increase oven temp. to 425 degrees. Pour batter evenly between the two tins. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. The edges will puff up into a nice bowl. Transfer to plate and spoon on the fruit, adding your own favorites. Sprinkle with brown sugar and top with your choice of cream.

20131128-144550.jpg

Through our children’s children traditions live on.

We don’t plan on spending many Thanksgivings at home.  We hope to be out exploring new places and filling those precious days off with experiences that are new for every member of the family.  But when we are here or if we’re staying somewhere with an oven, it’s German Oven Pancakes for us every time.  Enjoy!

What’s your go-to holiday breakfast?

It’s an Easy Life

Inspired by a recent comedy clip by Michael McIntyre.  Particularly the line, “Things you don’t even consider to be things become nearly impossible after you have children.”

If Monday is indicative of how the rest of the week will go then I think I might need to use some of my non-existent vacation time.

Before having children things were as simple as they seemed.  Now….. Bah!  Yesterday’s family trip to the fabric store yielded a toddler protesting so loudly about being strapped into the stroller that I just grabbed a zipper and ran.  If I’d had a minute I might have noticed that zippers come in two varieties- open bottom and closed bottom.  While it is possible to convert an open bottom to a closed, the reverse seems to still be eluding the innovative minds of the day.  This became evident after I’d sewn the non-separating zipper into my daughter’s super hero cape only to find that I couldn’t open it.  Who ever heard of a super hero who couldn’t open their cape?  Ridiculous.

Braving the fabric store a second day in a row and as a solo parent this time, I managed to pick up a zipper that will hopefully do the trick.  In the time it took me to get both kids into the double stroller, into the store, through the line, and back into the car, I had to perform most of my party/mom tricks including initiating I Spy, singing “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in public, etc. and all while avoiding aisles in which either child could reach out and grab things like presser feet, and so on.  In addition, an elderly lady in a walker seemed to cut us off at every turn, smiling at me as if to say, “Oh how funny we’ve ended up at an impasse again!”  I like to think that my return smile did not say, “Move it or I will cut you.”

When we got home I plopped both kids in the stroller again to walk two houses over to our tiny post office.  The one that I can almost always count on being closed whenever I need to use it.  Such as any day after 4PM or before 10AM and Saturdays before 10:30.  With a big box under one arm, steering the double stroller down the side of the 50 mph road with the other it belatedly dawned on me that today is Veteran’s Day.  Crud.  Upon leaving the closed and empty post office I suddenly noticed blood all over my toddler’s face.  “My lip got bumped,” she told me.  Upon examination I found a large chunk of her lip missing.  Sometimes I get a bit angry about so many sidewalks around here being made out of uneven brick.  Yes, it’s a historic place.  Yet consider that we are living in the age of strollers and wheelchairs and bikes and skateboards (and walkers!).  Gah!

The absurdity of the day continued.  We returned home.  While bringing my baby inside the house, my toddler (who refuses to consider the potty as an option) ran into the screen house and pooped.  For the third time today.  And it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.  When I tried to bring her inside it turned into a wild chase wherein I tried to catch her and pick her up in a way that did not put her posterior anywhere near my face.  Impossible.  She went noodley-legs on me and I had to throw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes.  It was not a good smell my friends.  By the time she was changed and settled with some crayons my baby was screaming his head off for his beloved squash puree.

Daring to hope that we could leave the lunchtime chaos behind us, I wiped my daughter down and watched her run across the living room.  Toward our one nice chair.  With macaroni and cheese stuck to her butt.  “Wait!  Stop!”  She actually stopped.  Just in time for our dog (who is using only three legs at the moment due to a suspected torn ACL) to gimp over and eat said macaroni.  Well, at least that worked out.

And to think there was ever a time when I just got in my car ALONE, drove somewhere, and accomplished something easily and in a timely fashion.  It sounds like a dream.  There was also a time when I could correctly identify the current day of the week and my present age.  If I still have these skills they are quickly leaving me.  Well that’s alright- less to remember:)

Embrace the Whirlwind

20131103-153550.jpg

Dorsey Park, MD

20131103-154025.jpgThe last year has been a whirlwind for us- we got to know our new surroundings (Southern Maryland verses Western Oregon), made some friends, and welcomed a son. Much has happened, most of it was a blur. Incredibly we have now found ourselves in November.  Again.

Time for the Halloween decorations to go away and to plan the Thanksgiving menu.

Time to make Christmas lists and check how much heating oil is in the fuel tank outside.

Time to throw leaves, take in the East cost colors, and make that last apple pie.

There is so much to do and doing it with two kids can make it all seem daunting, particularly with no family close by.  However it is possible.  There is time.

There is time for hikes at the nearby state park.

20131103-154550.jpgFirst taste of grass at Cove Point Park, MD.
20131103-153728.jpg

The Dove at Historic St. Mary’s City, MD.

There is time for dinner picnics and pirate ships at sunset.

Time for eating grass.

Time for peace.

Time to be a family.

It isn’t easy and you might ask yourself later if it was worth it.  But you needn’t.  Because you know the answer before you leave the house.

No matter how awful it might be it will always be worth it.  Because this is the only time we have.  Not tomorrow, not next week.  Only this minute, right now.  So we have to figure it out.  We may have to stay up late to pack tomorrow’s lunchtime picnic.  We may have to spend naptime doing the dishes, the laundry, making the next batch of baby food, locating the pruning shears, or scrubbing the sweet potatoes out of the white carpet because there simply is no other time.

20131103-153644.jpg

Greenwell State Park, MD

This stage of life is a whirlwind- an attempt to survive and take the family with me.  An effort to document enough moments so that my kids can get an idea of what their early childhood was like and more importantly who they used to be.  We may come out of this craziness one day or it may be like this forever.  But we’ll come through it together.  And we’ll know that we always took time to make time.

20131103-160345.jpg20131103-160231.jpg

Explore the Calvert Marine Museum with Toddlers

Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 003

Watching the otters Bubbles and Squeak

Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 002 Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 009

The Calvert Marine Museum is well worth the annual family membership fee of $60.  It’s a wonderful option for those very hot days, very cold days, very wet days, well you get the idea.  Although the exhibits don’t change much my daughter doesn’t mind.  She looks forward to checking in with the rays, the terrapins, the sea horses, jellyfish, and the otters most of all.  On good weather days there is a lovely wooden pavilion for picnicing, a boardwalk, a covered area housing a large antique boat collection, and the best feature- the Drum Point Lighthouse which is open from 11:30-12 and then again sometime in the afternoon.  Naptime has made it impossible for me to ever go in the afternoon though so I wouldn’t know about that.  That’s only for the parents of Older Children.  The lighthouse boasts several separate rooms and although the winding stairs are quite tricky with a toddler in tow it’s well worth it.  A tip from a sadder-but-wiser-girl: do not wear a skirt as the updraft can be gusty.  The history of the lighthouse is my favorite part- many different families (something like 15 of them) raised their kids in it and I always have a great time imagining them gathered around the table on a blustery day or sending a home-made slinky down the stairs.  When the kids were school-age they took a boat to the mainland  (the lighthouse used to be quite a ways out in the water) in order to get their education.  Just imagine a boat instead of a school bus.  Those lucky little buggers.

Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 010 Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 011 Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 012 Autumn 2013 Marine Museum 014

For those of you with toddlers there is a Sea Squirts program that happens twice or thrice a month (see website)- it’s free but if you want to stay and look around afterwards you will need to pay the daily admission fee.  For my money I’d rather just take my kids there on a quiet day.  There are so many people that attend the toddler program I’ve never been able to hear anything and my toddler gets impatient with all the waiting.  If I didn’t also have a baby attached to me I might find it a bit more manageable.

Besides the animal exhibits there is also a Discovery Room which is wonderful.  It has a fossil digging area with experts on staff to help the kids identify what they find.  There is a sailboat replica that the kids can climb in-  it comes complete with a set of life vests and sailor hats as well as a marine backdrop which makes for great photos.  Perfect for the grandparents.  There is even a mini lighthouse along with keeper quarters.  Lastly there is the staffed touch tank.  My kiddo doesn’t seem to care about it either way yet but one day she will.  I’ll be sure to be there when that day arrives.