July 27, 2015

This time of year

See those tadpoles?  They are about to hunker down for the night. Me too.  How about you?  

This weekend we were out of town, which practically guaranteed that today was going to be busy and a little off center.  And it was, but it's summer!  And I'm not working!  And we returned with lots of home garden vegetables, so who am I to complain if I felt a little sluggish all day?

Monday is about to tuck in and I have a few more bits and pieces of produce in my pantry and freezer to show for today's efforts.  I'll drop heavily into bed (probably still smelling of cucumbers and tomatoes), but tomorrow first thing I'm gonna peek in that freezer to see how things are doing, and then I'm going to label all my blueberry jams.  It's the simple things in life, right gang? 

Huckle spends his summer days by the water, Bear is dutifully studying to become a magician.  As for me, I live to be up to my neck in all sorts of produce bounty this time of year.  Smelling to high heaven of mint and green beans and zucchini.

Good night!

PS: I'm tired.

July 23, 2015

July {Star Wars Birthday}

...as in July 2014.  I'm going to be working backwards here, gang. Today's post is about Bear's birthday last year, the follow up post will be about Bear's party this year.

So Star Wars Party!!!  For a 6 year old! And only 6 year olds enjoyed it, see...

The setting for this one was in Pennsylvania at my in-laws house.   Bear wanted a Star Wars celebration of a sort, but we were hardly to be home and able to pull it off near or around his birthday. That's when my mother-in-law, B, came in clutch!  She kindly hosted the party while we were in town visiting.  Not only was the timing to be perfect, but she willingly took the reins for planning the whole gig.  I hardly had to raise a finger- just a quick e-mail here, a Pinterest link there and voila- we show up at my in-laws house where a Star Wars party was set to launch in 3,2,1...

In a matter of moments the yard went from looking like that up there- a group ready for a good time- to this:

A group having an increasingly festive, good time!

I didn't manage to take many pictures, but let me tell you how creative the food was!  B had labelled them all with a Star Wars theme and the cake consisted of cupcakes patterned to look like 2 lightsabers in battle.

Champ, being the awesome phys. ed teacher he is, set up a Jedi training course.  Children and adults participated in lightsaber battles and obstacle course training, then a snazzy certificate of completion was handed out to everyone.

It should be noted that Bear's Taun-taun sleeping bag made a showing at the party.  He had been gifted it a few days earlier by my Star Wars fanatic brother and my sister-in-law (who lovingly supports my brother's obsession most of the time (you are soo good, S!).  The thing is actually super cool, crazy gigantic and Bear sleeps in it every.single.night.  Thank goodness summer in Vermont is relatively cool!

Happy, Happy 6th Birthday, Bear!

Party Details
- I originally had looked at all these creative Star Wars party invites, but then I            didn't need to use them.  'Cuz remember?  My awesome mother-in-law B was          doing all the leg work for me.
- I did some of my original field research herehere and here.  Oh come on, why        not call it what it is?  ;)
- link to the Jedi Training Certificate I created.
- link to the Star Wars birthday thank you I created.  Yoda image from here.

It's a year later, but you deserve another thank you or two B&T!!! 

July 18, 2015

The week that ended with Great Escape

I could alternatively title this post "How I Know They Are Growing Up".  Here's why:

1: This week was Bible Camp for the boys.  It was Ace's first time in attendance and just like Bear when he began, it took him some time to adjust.  Just a day or so, enough to remind me that the child is 3 and though he has a boatload of confidence and an older brother to boot, there will still be times when he needs a little coddling, an extra hug from Mama, or a summery afternoon nap.  Once I cracked the code for this week, he was as pleased as punch to trot off to camp.  He spent his hours there among such a supportive staff- I am continually moved by what they provide to the youth in my town each summer.  I think they know how I feel since I am a blubbery, emotional mess by the time camp ends, but it is all just so poignant!!!!!!

2: All in the same afternoon the boys caught a bug (what in the
world is it?!), worked on an art project and ate lunch brook side without getting their clothes soaked or accidentally dropping their food into the water! I don't even know if i can handle all that independence from them.  Also I'm not entirely convinced they will never again lose their lunch to a flowing stream.

3: Our summer family traditions now firmly include Great Escape; learning one's way around an amusement park is an important childhood skill I say!  This was a big year for Ace and Bear.  Ace is tall enough (and sure enough of himself) to go on all the "kiddy" rides.  He showed no discretion among the airplanes, swings, carousel, train, cars- all brought pure joy.  Bear was eager to go on all those rides too, but this year he discovered a whole new world available to him.  A world full of heights and speed and plummets... 

See that tower in the distance?  That's Sasquatch.  Bear rode it.

Bear rode both the "lift" and "drop" versions: rising 19 stories, 192ft into the sky with me and experiencing weightlessness for the first time in his 7 year old life.  He devoured it whole.  We moved on to Steamin' Demon...

It's a loop and corkscrew roller coaster- yay!  Champ did a grade A job of videotaping Bear's first ride, so we only have a photo of us leaving the station.  But here's a picture I took of it a few years ago...

You get the idea.  

Watching their childhood pass so swiftly is hard.  I can easily sink back into the memories of cloth diapers and nursing and board books read from the rocking chair.  My remembrances are gauzy and nostalgic- there are always lit fireplaces and cozy dogs nearby.  My favorite music is gently playing and dinner was prepared hours ago, hot and ready to be eaten at a moment's notice.  

My remembrances are entirely faulty.  They are as synthetically created as the memory in my head of my baby boys always smelling like Heaven and nothing more.  It's only when my present day life encourages me to build new memories of my children- memories like that of Bear gleefully screaming his lungs out in the coaster seat next to me- that my fist of a heart loosens a little to let all that goodness seep in and a little of that cloyingly persistent part of the past seep out.

It's too early to tell if eventually all my memories of my boys balance out and I have consistently accurate and good ones.  I don't even know if I want that to happen.  What I am happy to report from the trenches though, is that it is a little less painful to watch your children grow up when as parents we recognize that we need to grow right along with them.  "Change is the only constant" and all that jazz.  If Bear is ready to move on, well then it's my job to introduce him the the next coaster in sight.  

It occurred to me as we were skipping up to Sasquatch that the moment will come when I might no longer be able to handle such rides.  When even if Bear perennially asks me to join him, the day comes that I must turn him down as I sink into a park bench.  So I studied those benches before the ride launched and I saw those parents.  The moms or dads gingerly sitting there and squinting into the sun with a most amazing look on each of their faces, full of love and wistfulness and satisfaction. I saw their children, practically adults, sitting in the seats surrounding me.

 That afternoon at Great Escape I knew they were not remembering the time consuming process of helping their child up into the ride's seat and buckling him in, nor the jarring effects of the loopy roller coaster which no Excedrin entirely erases.  They were remembering holding their child's hand and gently leading on to the next ride, the next challenge.  A perfectly painted summer sky, the smell of funnel cake sweet on their child's lips.  No bickering siblings, no sore feet.  The lure of fresh soft serve once the park closes and the gentle sighs of a 7 year old as you proudly carry him out of the park he has conquered.

Hmmmmmm, what's that?  Oh you bet I'm gonna carry that version in my heart for as long as I can.  For the time being, it's as realistic as they come.

July 14, 2015

"The Dangerous Book for Boys" and "My Father's Dragon" {aka our summer kid-riculum}

One needs be intentional in summer, otherwise it wheels on by, leaving Fall and perhaps a melted popsicle, in it's wake.  I enjoy the feel of summer, but if left un-manipulated I am very much that person frowning into the sun with a Fudgesicle dripping down my hand.  So I do manipulate and coax summer in to a form that we can manage.  

really, this attire is the only way to battle with water balloons

We fill our sun-soaked days with kayak paddles, and impromptu 
picnics, and camp days and dirt.  Lots of dirt.  Bookending all that are appointments and mini vacations: those ritual visits of dentists, grandparents, well child check-ups, and amusement parks.  

ran out of blog appropriate water balloon battle pictures.  How about raspberry picking instead?


But what about those tiny pockets of time that show up each day when the watercolors have been overused and even the sand pit has been graded enough?  Sure, sure we practice our reading and math and letters over summer, but what about all that other important knowledge?  The kid-riculum of summer!  The knot making, paper airplane building, star gazing, tree house building type of summer day nostalgia!  Well, if you're a wiz then you already know how to teach such things to your child and you innately know how to spread it out across time.  I am not a wiz,  BUT I do have the perfect book to guide me in parental wizziness*...

"The Dangerous Book for Boys" is a book unto itself and I struggle to appropriately explain it.  Similar to a boy scout handbook, but with supplemental stories.  Chock full of activities and advice ranging from first aid, to important battles, to tanning an animal skin, growing sunflowers, understanding grammar and building an electromagnet.  

Bear just turned 7, but there is still plenty in this book for us to explore!  We cracked into it this week and explored the pages on paper airplane building and the 7 Wonders of the World.  He was immediately smitten.  Ace stuck around for a while too which shows how awesome this book is if it's suggestions can hold the attention of 3 year olds!

the planes taking a break from racing each other

My paper airplane building just upped into the competitive range thanks to the directions in this book.  Can't wait to see what other skills we learn this summer- there is a section on 
building a go-cart...  Oh and there is a similar book for girls too (not that I think the female population wouldn't enjoy this book as well)!!!!

Where do we do these activities?  Why, anywhere the wind blows us!  Take a look at this day's classroom; complete with dirty beach towel and wrinkled yoga mat.  The boys 
flopped right on down after our airplane races and turned an ear to our current 
summer read...


Are you familiar with the "My Father's Dragon" series?  They are lovely and magical; centered around a boy and the baby dragon he helps to rescue.  There's a helpful cat, lots of tangerines, a few lollipops and many interesting wild beasties.  It pairs well with "The Dangerous Book for Boys" because the main character has packed a curious assortment of objects (along with the skills needed to correctly use them) to help him on his journey.  We are on the second of the 3 book series and both Bear and Ace are enraptured by the imaginative tale.  

Fall has always been my favorite season, but with these helpful books and a whole lot of lovely weather I'm beginning to appreciate summer more and more.

*also I have Champ who is a wiz and an Eagle Scout to boot

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