Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Shenanigans

Now that we are back home, we are settling in to the pace of summer life. We are very lucky that both Brad and I can primarily work from home, which means the kiddos are enjoying a summer in their own space. The grown-ups are feeling a bit stretched and crazed, but it's so worth it. The days are filled with lots of simple pleasures, and we've embraced a 9:00 bedtime, which leaves space for some extra fun.

Monday, we all went to what may be my favorite library program ever! They did an evening at the circus, and we were the performers:
We all eventually mastered plate spinning. Issa is the hula hoop queen. Evan got pretty good at the stilts. And Daddy, well Daddy may retire to the circus. He can juggle like there is no tomorrow! We have great video but I can't get it to upload here, which is making me very grumpy.

Tuesday, we had an impromptu dinner out with Ryan and Felicia. It was a total spur of the moment decision, but it was so fun.

And that's what I love about summer. Schedules get a bit easier. Life gets a bit more relaxed. I could get used to this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Happy Anniversary!

14 years ago today, I married the love of my life.

We were idiots. We were 22, but we thought we knew everything. We had the world figured out. We were clueless.

Over the past 14 years, we have grown up together. We have launched careers and supported each other through every degree and transition there. We have adopted furry babies and welcomed two children. We have survived sleepless nights, vomit, and wondering what the right decision is for these two people we love more than anything. We have moved three times, finally settling into a house that was way too big at the time and is now filled. We have moved furniture and re-purposed rooms more times that I can count.

These years have been an adventure. There have been times when we didn't know what the next right things was--there will be more of those. But through it all, the one thing I have always known is that I am standing beside the right person. I wouldn't want to be in this with anyone else, and I can't wait to see where we go next.

I love you baby--always and forever...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Paradise by the Sea

Last week, my mother gave Brad and I an incredible gift: she kept the kiddos and the dogs so he and I could sneak away to Maine. When we first started talking about a trip, we really thought we would go to Great Britain. We started planning and planning and planning, and before long we had train routes sketched and itineraries filling. And then we realized we were tired. We have both had quite the year at work, and life keeps us going full throttle. We realized that what we really wanted was a week away to do nothing--guilt free. We wanted to go somewhere near the ocean, away from the internet and cell signals, and remote enough that we wouldn't feel the pull to be on the go lest we miss something. Brad found a set of cottages that have been in operation since 1889 on the Penobscot Peninsula in Maine, and it was exactly what we were looking for and so very much more. Their motto is Cottages by the Side of the Sea, but it really is our Paradise by the Side of the Sea.

We set off on Sunday, and discovered halfway to the airport that our flight was delayed a bit, which left us enough time for a lovely brunch to begin our vacation. It also meant that we were going to miss our connection to Maine. Thankfully, Brad was able to talk to the agent before we took off and rebook us on the next flight--with a first class upgrade--still landing in time for dinner. It also meant we had a long enough layover to get a bite to eat. We landed in Maine to discover that the company through which we had booked a rental car was already closed because of our delay. Thankfully, we hadn't prepaid and we were able to get a another car through another company much less expensively--and they upgraded us to a Jeep! In short, every little blip turned into something fabulous.

On the way to our cottage, we stopped for dinner at a fun little pizza restaurant. They have wood-fired ovens and the best pizza I have ever eaten. We stopped to pick up a few groceries, and then headed into our cabin. When we arrived, we were thrilled to find it was exactly as it had been described online. It was cozy and tucked into the woods with a beautiful view of the ocean. We also had this lovely breakfast basket waiting our arrival:
 The scones were homemade, and the little tags on everything just made it feel so cozy.

Monday was the Solstice, so we decided to set an alarm to see the sunrise. It didn't disappoint. After a brief nap, we headed into town to have lunch and pick up more groceries for the week once we knew how well equipped our little cottage really was! We found our lobster rolls and a tiny place recommended by the locals, and we managed to find our way back to the cabin in time to go down to the rocky shore at low tide:
 The water was way too cold to wade in, but we loved seeing all of the little snails and creatures on the rocks.

We ate dinner at the cottage for the rest of the week:
And I have never been so grateful I married an engineer! We had picked up some coffee that had been roasted locally, but when we got back to the cabin we realized it was whole bean, and we didn't have a grinder! We had picked up Irish Oatmeal in a tin, though (because we had enjoyed what was in our breakfast basket so much). Brad emptied the tin, washed two jagged rocks, and proceeded to crush the beans:
I even caught it on video:

We ended our day watching the sunset on the Solstice. Perfection.

Tuesday, we never left the property. We used the most beautiful day there to hike up to Look Out Rock:
Brad is part mountain goat and hopped up easily. Thankfully, he was willing to give me a hand up. I needed about three more inches of height to make some of the rocks on my own! The view didn't disappoint, though: 

We hiked back down a slightly easier trail that has been there since the cabins opened. We made it home in time for tea and to watch the beautiful day from our front porch:
 Wednesday, we went to lunch at one of the best and most bizarre places I have ever eaten. It's a lunch counter that sits right down at the water's edge. From the road, there is no way I would stop! The menu is on the old Pepsi concession board with the letters that pop out with the day's special written in crayon on typing paper and pinned to the outside. There is only picnic table seating, and they only serve fried seafood. It is also a James Beard award winner and one of the 10 places you must eat in New England according to Gourmet Magazine. The view was incredible:
 The restaurant sits on a reverse fall, which was amazing to watch, and the food was spectacular:

Everything was uniquely breaded, and there was no flavor cross-contamination. All of the sauces were homemade and unique, and I could eat there happily every day! We spent the rest of that afternoon exploring the little shops in the closest town and picking up what groceries we needed for the rest of the week.

Thursday, we hiked back up the trail to the fairy garden on the property to help this lost fairy find her place:
 And then we went down to watch the tide go out on the sandy beach:
 Calling it sandy is a bit of a stretch, but it was a beautiful place to read:
 And watch the tide and spend our last afternoon:
Aside from those few adventures, we puttered around the cottage. I lived in this red rocking chair on the front porch:

 We watched storms roll in:

 And we made friends with all kind of critters. A little muskrat family became frequent visitors along with a squirrel and a chipmunk. We also saw more birds than I could name, a fox, a nesting pair of osprey, and on our last night there a deer walked right by our cottage.

When it got too chilly on the porch, we moved inside:
 We ate breakfasts on the porch:
 And spent lots of time reading and chatting and playing rummy:
 And we spent the week filling these cubbies:
Pine cones from near our cottage, poplar bark and acorns from the Fairy Garden, shells from both beaches, our coffee rocks, champagne and scotch corks, and so many memories of quiet moments.

It truly was paradise for us. I refused to leave Thursday until Brad promised to take me back next year...and every year after.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's Summer!

We are settling into a summer routine around here. Much to the kids' dismay, I created an even better brain mush prevention station this year:
Each kiddo has a dry erase board for all of the tasks they need to do each day. They owe us 30 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of math, 10 minutes of writing, 20 minutes of dance/ninja time, and a parent task (this week, it's been weeding, picking up and cleaning dog toys, helping with errands, you get the idea). It also has a block where we list any fun things or places we are going that day. As they complete the tasks, they put a check in the box. Once everything is checked, they can use this sticks in the boxes to the left for screen time. They get 90 minutes a day, but they can carry any remaining sticks over to the next day. So far, they are saving up for a few days and then having a veg out afternoon! It really seems to be working for us! Even the kids admit that they like it.

Issa is using her stretch band every day and doing some other exercises that Mrs. Lauren P/A suggested. Daddy and Evan also designed this super cool ninja training plan for Evan to do each day:
We are also squeezing in plenty of summer fun. Our first day off, we went out to lunch, and the kids explored the pollinator garden while we ate on the patio: 
 Monday, the kids and I headed to our museum! They had a new exhibit called Hide Away Woods, and we had a ball:
 It's a climber's paradise:
 The highlight for Issa, though, is her new do:
 With the summer away from competition, she decided she wanted a little mermaid color, and Miss Kelly was happy to oblige! I love that I have a picture of Miss Kelly giving Issa her first hair cut, and now she's giving her a first color! Issa was thrilled with the results:
She and I finished our girls' afternoon with mani/pedis, and her nails now match her hair. I love her spunky spirit! 

I would say we are off to a great start this summer! Here's to a few more weeks of summer fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And Another School Year is in the Books

Last Thursday was the last day of school, but the whole week was packed!

Monday, we had Evan's field day, where he was thrilled to be one of the flag bearers for his class:
 Evan's teacher has this field day thing down. The kids had fun, and they had a snack or drink between every game--the highlight being watermelon.

Tuesday, we had Issa's field day:
 Her teacher made sure the kids had a fabulous time! Wednesday, they ended their economics and nutrition unit with a restaurant. I think it may have been my very favorite class event to attend. The kids had turned their classroom into a Mexican restaurant that was decorated as a cave as a throw back to their field trip to the caverns. They made menus, but they were only serving the house special: cheese quesadillas with a side of fruit. It was adorable.

Thursday, we finished first and fourth grade:
It was a great year with incredible teachers. The kids grew so much, and I have almost come to grips that I now have a fifth grader--as in one more year of elementary school. I have to stop blinking; these kids are just growing up so fast.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

And Now He's Officially Seven

Evan is now officially seven. All of the parties are finished, and I do believe he feels well celebrated. We had his last party while everyone was in town because your birthday can't be over until you have Nana Mac and she makes you a cake:
 Evan chose a Green Lantern theme this year, which proved to be no challenge for Nana:
 Please notice the French bull dog shirt that Aunt Shannon managed to find. She is a a clothing miracle worker.
 And he's very proud of his latest build:
Nana took Evan shopping for a Lego set for his birthday--just like she took Issa clothes shopping. He was one excited boy! I believe this is an AT-TE, but I keep getting the letters jumbled. I do know it's a Star Wars vehicle, and he has been playing with it since he finished building it.

I'm still having a hard time believing this sweet boy is seven. He brings so much laughter into our lives, and I love watching him grow. He's no longer my little guy. He is forever building or breaking something. I bought the biggest box of bandaids I could find for the summer, and I'm not even sure those will make it through June. But I do know I can't imagine our home without his sense of humor and wild imagination. Love you, little man.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Settling In...

The past couple of weeks have been a blur! We had family in town, Issa's dance recital, birthday parties, and the end of school. I'm tired just typing that. So...we will take a few days to recap.

Issa finished her third year as a Company dancer:
We were so proud of her! She has grown so much as a dancer this year. It's a huge leap from Tiny to Mini, and she just kept dancing. I will never get tired of watching her on stage.

We are so grateful to the family that made the trip down to celebrate with her. It's a whirlwind weekend, but she was so excited to have her own personal cheering section, including her incredible ballet teacher and choreographer:
 I could watch Mrs. Lauren A. dance all day every day, and I love watching the two of them together.

Issa's teacher also came to support her:
 And of course she always has the support of the world's best prop dad and brother:
 And I love that she gets to dance with her street party friends:
Issa has been away from the studio for a week and she's already asking when she gets to go back. I sure do love my favorite bun head.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Puppy Love

I think this pup is loved:
He is growing like a little weed, and he's ornery as all get out. He has learned how to unlatch gates and look pitiful enough to make the family attend to his every need. He has been home for three weeks now, though, and I can hardly remember life without him. Neela is the happiest she has been in a long time, and the whole family is quite smitten.

He has also earned a nickname: Dobby. He hops up on his hind legs to put his front paws on your lap or a gate, and he looks just like the little house elf from Harry Potter. Someday we might just give him a sock.