Getting Ready

The listening center by the window with the ladybug chairs in my favorite, although I love how the library turned out too.

Preplanning officially starts this Thursday, but I've been unofficially on the clock for the last two weeks. New school means new curriculum to get trained on, new room to unpack and figure out, just lots of new that I wouldn't ordinarily be encountering my seventh year in this business. So as much as it pained me to head into the building early, I know it's a special case that won't have to be repeated every year.

I've been dropping by the building for the last two weeks now. At first I would take Annie on my way home from dropping Violet off at camp, and we would only stay an hour, long enough for me to move furniture or unpack my desk, little things. Last week, I took the girls to Camp Mimi and Camp Grandma and I worked all day every day. It stinks to not get paid for all the work I've put in, but the payoff is that the room is done and I'll be ready to focus on the new school year (open house paperwork, daily schedule, all those other things) once preplanning starts.

By far the most complex Ikea undertaking so far.
It was also great to have a week without the distraction of the girls. After their Ikea dresser got recalled, we decided to take the opportunity of a full refund to go ahead and upgrade them to something they could both share. They seem fairly committed to sharing the same room, so it's probably time to migrate Annie's clothes in there as well. Even though our house is pretty much 80 percent Ikea, it was still daunting when all the pieces spilled out. We had to take a break halfway through to nourish ourselves (we decided to only eat at places we would never want to take the girls) with some excellent sushi. But all's well that ends well. We also went to the movies, a nice Italian restaurant, shopped at Avalon, met a friend for drinks... you know, all those adult-y things we never do anymore. It was nice to have the one-on-one time with Matt to reconnect, since once school starts we won't see much of each other. Seriously, with a 7 a.m. start time, I'll be lucky if I see 9 p.m. anymore.

I made all the drawers.

On a Boat!

As one of our fun farewell to summer (sniff sniff) activities, we were invited by some lovely friends to come out on their boat! After Annie's last experience on a boat (see Maine events) I was crossing my fingers that the waters would be calm, and she did great. Both girls immediately took to jumping into the water and paddling around.

Made for the water.

After lunch on the boat and several swim breaks, we headed back to camp where everyone relaxed, let a little rain blow over, and then cooked out for dinner. It was such a break from routine, something so new for the girls to try, and a great way to cap off the summer. I know summer's not quite over yet (although it will be on Thursday) but already things are getting busy and it was fun to give the girls a new experience. 

Our view for dinner.

This beautiful rainbow followed us home.


Maine Lobstah!

Don't let go!

Friday was our last full day in Maine. It was too cold to "beach" but we still walked down and decided to try our hand at kite flying. Lauren had a bright blue octopus kite with eight waving tentacles that the girls had fun holding on to. The tenacity of Mainers (or perhaps it was the dumb tourists, who knows!) was astonishing. There were kids in bathing suits, families with beach gear, and look how we are dressed! Pants, jackets, layers... I guess if this is your yearly beach vacation, or this is your (short) summer season, you make the most of it regardless of weather! I remember having a picnic in Sweden one summer under very similar circumstances. Hey, if it's summer, you take advantage.

Our flying octopus!
After naptime we decided to take the kids to a mini golf place we had spotted earlier. It was your typical vacation town putt putt place, complete with giant waterfall in the middle of it. Violet had only played once before, but she was too young to recall. And Annie was a novice. Of course, beginners luck meant that on the second hole, Matt showed Violet how to line up, then she took over and got a hole in one! Annie quickly figured out the best spot to start her shot was about an inch from the hole, allowing her to make her own hole in one (or hole in nine, whatever). It was actually pretty fun. The nice thing about family places like this is that they are, well, full of families. Families who totally get it if your kid wanders onto their green or cheats their way through the course or has more fun playing with the waterfall than playing putt putt. That put us at ease and everyone had a really great time.

Getting ready to play.

Attempting some instruction.

Our last Maine event was dinner with a view. We headed back to York for dinner at a restaurant definitely nicer than somewhere I would normally take my kids. The staff was great through, and still very family friendly. I mean, when Fluffernutter sandwiches are on the kids menu, you know everyone will survive the night.

Spotted on the cliff walk before dinner.
The girls ordered spaghetti. When we eat pasta at home, I always make Annie take her shirt off. Things are bound to get messy, after all, and why make more laundry for myself? Well, no sooner had we placed our order than Annie starts trying to strip her clothes off! "But I eat spaghetti!" she kept insisting, unable to figure out why tonight should be any different! I died. Fortunately, giant lobster bibs were procured in short order, saving the day.

One big, happy, messy family!
Matt ordered the whole lobstah! It was totally intimidating but apparently amazing. I spent my dinner tag-teaming with Grandma and Grandpa, getting the kids out of the dining room and letting them run around in the courtyard overlooking the sea. Then we headed back home to get ready for our return journey the next morning. The flights home were easy, the kids did great even though we weren't back in our own beds until 11 p.m. Thank goodness for airports with play areas (or moving sidewalks that might as well be play areas). It was an awesome trip! Cross one off the bucket list!

When in Maine...

So Maine-y Things to See

Meanwhile, in Maine... things were heating up finally. We headed back to the beach and this time things were glorious. I mean, the water was still so cold your ankles would freeze in about five minutes, but the rest of your sunkissed skin would be roasting. I swear the sun seemed brighter in Maine, perhaps because it was often absent. We beached, came home for an early dinner, then walked back into town for ice cream in the evening. A full day.

Now THIS is a beach day!

Good thing Annie could keep her feet without my help because I was not that brave!

Thursday dawned dark and gloomy. We had booked tickets on a lobster boat, thinking an hour and half to see lobsters was probably safer that five hours to see whales for my novice sailers. As it turned out, the trip was still about an hour too long for Annie. The ride took us out to Kennebunkport, home of the President Bush summer compound. It was pretty chilly and choppy, but we were all weathering it just fine until... well, let's just say we learned my youngest child gets seasick. Poor thing. After she announced "I have a tummy ache" in the most pitiful wail and promptly threw up her breakfast, she fell mercifully asleep for the rest of the ride.

Lobster traps. Apparently the lobsters are really good at climbing out of them.

The Bush property. During his presidency, this was a no-sail zone.

Seasick Annie.
We survived our boat trip and even got to pet a few lobsters and spot some seals. Next up, the Maine affair of fresh lobstah rolls, eaten as only they should be, on a picnic table next to the water off paper plates. Yum yum. We strolled around the city, had ice cream, Annie perked up immediately after hitting dry land again. The sun even started peaking through the clouds again, warming things up.

First lobstah of the trip!

Exploring Kennebunkport.
Before going back to the house, we decided to take a stroll on the Marginal Way, a walking trail along the water boasting beautiful views of the sea and crashing waves. Annie's refusal to sit in the stroller and Violet's desire to explore made it a bit nerve-wracking. But the sights are just breathtaking. Maine reminds me a lot of Sweden, both in scenery and climate. And it was even sunny enough for sunglasses. Oh Maine, make up your mind with this weather.

Our little family.

It never gets old.
Want to know if we got another beach day? If anyone ever ordered a legit lobstah? If we finally decided to come home? Find out here!

The Maine Event

Airport fun! Thanks Southwest for a patriotic send-off!

Every summer we try to get together with Matt's family. For years we would gather at the ancestral home in Peachtree City, which was terribly convenient for our little branch. But over time, we've become more bold. We've met up in Ohio to visit extended relatives, taken in Boston, gathered in Williamsburg, and this year we decided to venture even further afield, all the way to Maine. The last time Annie flew was before she could crawl, so this would be a big experience for both girls. We booked flights on July 4th, being the patriots that we are, and it was exciting to see all the families decked out in their red, white and blue. (Matt scoffed at my request that we all wear one of those colors but did allow me to pick out a blue shirt for him to put on. I thought we looked lovely!)

Hooray for the red, white and blue!
Annie had been asking every morning if we were going to Maine today, so it was a relief to finally be able to say yes! And thanks to Southwest, we all had snacks at the airport and wifi on the plane, so the girls did great on the plane. We had a brief connection in Baltimore, finally landed in New Hampshire, hopped in our rental car and drove through scenery that Violet insisted looked just like Georgia, until we finally pulled into Ogunquit. Just stepping out of the car, you could smell the salty air. It was still warm, but the temperature would fluctuate wildly over the week were were there. You could change your outfit three times a day and still not be dressed appropriately the next hour.

Finally taking a nap.
We landed, settled into our rental house, had dinner and headed to the beach, just a short walk down the street, to watch fireworks over the ocean. Ah, the perfect distance from the noise to finally cure my kids of their fear of fireworks! The girls were dying to get their feet wet in the freezing surf, then it was to bed with everyone.

Princess in the garden.
The next day was determined to be a beach day. The girls stayed busy in the morning, running around the lush garden yard that came with our house. The grass was so thick and green, the flowers so beautiful. I did some outdoor yoga on the porch before we headed out - my first time doing yoga outside. It felt wonderful, although my balance was so off without a fixed point to look at... the clouds would drift by overhead and my body would slowly drift with them, ha!

Looks pretty, doesn't it? It was so. cold.
We suited up and walked to the beach. Oh, the wind was so cold. The water was ice. Even in the sun, it was hardly bearable without a clothes or a blanket. We braved it for a couple hours and the kids didn't seem to notice, but it was a relief to head home. Of course, once a couple blocks out of the sea breeze, the sun made things nice enough to run in the sprinklers, a perfect compromise.

Not quite the beach, but no complaints.
After a rest, we headed out to the nearby town of York to see the Cape Neddick Lighthouse. The surrounding area is all giant rocks that the kids had fun clambering over (while I tried not to freak out too much). It was a beautiful Maine view, all white and red roofed and blue skied. At the visitors center, there was an adorable little old man who painted pictures of the lighthouse, and you could buy prints where he would write your name on the little sailboat in the foreground. Such a sweet little souvenir!

The Nubble Light

Greg and Lauren and the view.
You would think all that excitement - outdoor yoga, beach day, sprinklers, the lighthouse, rock walk - would be enough. But this family wanted more. We stopped for dinner on the harbor at Barnacle Billy's, landing a prime table on the outdoor patio with a perfect view of the boats, the bridge that opened and closed for passing sailboats, and one uninvited guest. A rather bold seagull took one look at our table and decided we were the suckers who were going to leave him dinner. The girls thought it was hilarious and worked to perfect their seagull call. For all its chilly start, the day ended beautifully.

Meanwhile, in Ogunquit...

The diners.

And the seagull.
Did the beach ever warm up? And what about lobster? Isn't Maine all about lobster? Find out here.


Summer Glass Half Full

Pool pals!

Well, it's July. Summer is half way done. Or, on the other hand, I have half a summer left. Let's be optimistic here. And we're still having a good time. Here are some things we've been up to... Violet had her friend Taylor spend the night. The girls played in the pool for hours. Annie watched them jumping in from the side and decided she was a big girl too, so before I knew it, she had cannonballed right in, totally dunking under before bobbing back up in her floaties. Once I realized she had no fear of going under, I figured she was ready to tackle the waterslide. (Truth: I didn't want to take her on the waterslide myself.) You know, it took Violet years before she was bold enough to do the slide solo. Annie, on the other hand, marched right up the steps, hurled herself into the darkness of the enclosed tube, and came out the other end grinning. She's so bold. She's going to steal my car when she's 13 just because Violet will be old enough to drive and anything Violet can do, Annie is going to do 3.7 seconds later.

Rocking the water slide for the first time.

First King of Pops popsicles at food truck night.

Annie was very sad she could not take a ride.

Foot bath.

So one evening after dinner, Violet was running around barefoot and somehow got a thorn stuck in the top of her toe. Oh, the agony. You would have thought someone was about the chop her toe off, the way she carried on about it. "I'm just so scared it is going to hurt!" she kept crying when I told her the thorn had to come out. It took 10 minutes and her dad's company to convince her to take a warm foot bath, and Matt had to physically restrain her when I approached with the tweezers. I'm sure the neighbors thought we were conducted some type of torture. But it did eventually come out, along with the admission of "that didn't hurt so bad".

A special guest and Madeline's birthday party.

Our neighbor Madeline turned five this summer, with a lovely Frozen Fever-themed bash. Violet wanted nothing to do with Elsa, but Annie was all like "I'm going to sit next to her!" and had no qualms at all about snuggling up to the frozen queen. Little things like this constantly remind me how different my girls are.

Princess Annie!

My pal Jen had a shower celebrating her baby girl!

Leather push button reclining seats, popcorn kids meal... fanciest dollar movie ever!

Cumming Aquatic Center for the win!
I have to admit, this summer has been pretty sweet when it comes to water action. At the pool, I can actually sit in a chair and observe from the sidelines and the girls play in the water. Violet is a strong enough swimmer to make it all the way across the pool and as long as Annie has her floaties on, she's good to go. And they were awesome again at the aquatic center. Annie has no problem taking off on her own, and Violet was able to hang with the big boys. They were so busy it was almost hard to keep track of them all!

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