what if?

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Moira went to Cake Camp this week. 3 ½ hours a day of culinary delights and countless calories brought home, but she adored it. And we devoured her creations. She loves baking and with a peanut/nut allergy in the house, our baked goods must be from scratch, so it is a great and useful skill. The class was full of girls (and one brave boy) and I admit to being surprised that so many kids would give up being outside on a July morning. Then, Scott pointed out to me that kids don’t play outside anymore, but he was surprised that kids would give up their electronics to spend a day in the kitchen. The class included the basics like the importance of hand washing and even had the kids helping clean-up and do dishes at the end, because, as the teacher pointed out with a wink, cleaning up the kitchen is part of it.
So, I’m sitting on the front deck this morning and enjoying a piece of blueberry crumb cake (made with fresh blueberries from the farmers market) with my coffee and thinking how Moira can take over the baking duties. It is a win-win if she loves it and has the benefit of giving her and me a chance to spend some time together in the kitchen. I’m thinking of cool fall temperatures and the lure of applesauce muffins and pumpkin bread. Then I think of school. She’ll be in school till nearly 4pm. Home, unwind time, homework time, supper time, pack lunches and bags for tomorrow, get clothes ready and …. And when are we going to bake? Midnight cupcakes?
More and more I think about homeschooling. I think about what it might mean for our quality of life. We would sacrifice my meager earnings, but most of those will go to pay for Maggie’s preschool tuition, so that might be a wash. And what would we gain with the sacrifice? We are sad to think of summer coming to a close, but is it summer, or the schedule, the freedom of time together, time to play, read, explore and enjoy? I need to think some more… and another piece of blueberry cake wouldn’t hurt.
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Look!

Sam was quiet today – too quiet, and as all moms know sometimes too quiet = trouble! But, I walked down the hall and look what I saw… and the grin – he was enjoying his book. Lazy summer days, curled up on the couch, reading… oh, mommy is so proud! And, frankly, a little jealous. Looks pretty comfy, doesn’t he?

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something’s missing…

We’ve read Cynthia Rylant’s Dog Heaven approximately 428 times; it is comforting. Moira has had the toughest time, which has prompted questions about life after death, who exactly is God, what does he look like and will God mind if Milo pees on things in heaven. The last question was the easiest to answer, just in case you are keeping track.
Maggie, meanwhile, at 4, understandably doesn’t quite get the whole thing. She said, “If we miss him so much, let’s go unbury him.” Oh, so not how it works sweetie. The first night I had a dream that we had made a horrible mistake and I woke in a cold sweat with a fierce desire to run straight to the backyard. After a midnight cup of tea in the window seat and a good cry, I know we did do the right thing, the only thing we could do under the circumstances. And the kids will learn that sometimes you have to make difficult choices and do things that aren’t easy but necessary. Meanwhile, we’ll keep reading Dog Heaven and I’ll keep trying to answer the tough questions. And poor Sadie will keep waiting for her friend.

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I’m sad

Today, I am really sad. We’ve had problems with Milo, and things are just not getting better. I have contacted trainers and vets and the SPCA and the SPCA trainers and Rat Terrier rescue groups and the consensus is this is a dog with a behavior problem that makes him unadoptable. In the wrong home Milo could be abused. We’ve had him almost 9 years and as he has aged he has truly become a grumpy old man who does not like chaos. And our house – um, welcome to chaos. We can deal with grumpy (though with three kids in the house we have to be careful) but the peeing all over everything – can’t take it anymore!!! We’ve tried for almost 10 months to figure out a way to make it better or find him a new home. And last week, we admitted defeat. I called our long-term vet and spoke with him. He knows I’ve shed tears over this; I’ve sat in his office bawling while he handed me tissues. And he agreed that it is time to call it.
Milo freaks out at the vet; he had a bad experience once (not with our vet) and now he shakes and whines and has to be muzzled. That is not what I want for his last memories, or our last memory of him. So, we’ve contacted a traveling vet, who has talked to our regular vet and there’s only one thing left to do. The Dr. is coming to the house early tomorrow morning. We’ll do it right here at home and wrap him a blanket and bury him in the backyard under the apple trees. “And his soul will go to heaven to hang out with Lucy, Katie and Uncle Red, right?” Asks Maggie. “Right.”
“But I’m still a little sad and that’s okay, right?”
Oh, yes. Me, too. I’m sad and that’s okay.
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summer time and the livin’ ain’t easy

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Strong thunder storms last night and everything in the yard is wet. It is only 73 degrees, but with 96% humidity. Yuck. My hair is gross, my floors are gross, my couch is gross… everything feels damp and icky. And, let’s face it, the kids can only read and paint and color for so long and then they need to DO SOMETHING. This morning Moira just wanted to color and draw, Danny just wanted to play with Moira (who did not want to play with him), Sam only wanted to play with Danny (who only wanted to play Moira) and Maggie would’ve happily played with anyone, but no one wanted to play with her. AAAAAAHHHHHH!
So, I made them clean their rooms and sort through their bookshelves, making piles of things to give away. Then, to reward their hard work, I took them to the pool in the pouring rain. It was a deluge and they were so funny and excited to be swimming in it. “We can really get wet?” Maggie asked with wide eyes and a huge grin. “Only in the pool. Don’t let the rain get you,” I told her. Took her a few minutes to figure that one out.

how libraries encourage your kids to read… or not

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So, I have been kicked out of our local public library. When I tell people, they wait for the punchline, but there isn’t one. We’ve really and truly been asked not to return. We had taken a break from the library because we had been having some issues with losing books. Them, not us. The 4th time I received a notice about not returning a book I had, indeed, returned, I was reluctant to pay for it. It was not that I did not have the $3.95 to replace Curious George’s Ice Cream Shop, it was the fact that I kept having to pay to replace books I had returned. I’ve had library cards in every place I’ve lived, including the big city of Boston and the tiny, little island library in Islesboro, Maine. I got my first library card when I was 6 and since then have held a library card wherever I’ve lived and I’ve lived in many places. I’m not telling you how old I am, but let’s just say that amounts to several decades of library use with no problems. Until now. I loved taking my kids to the very library where I got my first library card. There was history in the stacks and it felt good.
I did approach the librarian to express my concerns, but my concerns were dismissed. Therefore, we took a break. As a teacher, I get a library card that is good at several surrounding libraries, so we were still able to attend story times and check out books (books we returned with no problems) – we just missed the sense of community in our own small library. Which is why, after a several month hiatus, we went back to our own library so my 4 year old could attend a special event with some of her cousins. And we were promptly told that our privileges were revoked until we paid for Curious George’s Ice Cream Shop. Not only that, but in case the public tongue lashing was not sufficient, the library director sent a certified letter to my home to officially “revoke all lending privileges.” The irony is that the book cost $3.95 while the certified letter cost $6.11 to mail. I am not feeling the love!
The kids and I just got back from the other library, the one where we still are allowed to check out books, and I am watching the three of them as they curl up on the couch on a stormy summer day to read. Sam devours the Oliver Moon series. Maggie is very into Minerva Louise and Fancy Nancy. Moira likes the Ivy and Bean books and just started Caddie Woodlawn. And me, the English teacher…. Well, you see, my library privileges have been revoked.

The P’s of Summer

Playtime,
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pool time,
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puppet shows,
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poison ivy, prednisone…
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We are deep in the troughs of summer around here. So far this summer has certainly had its share of ups and downs. My car being towed 5 times in 4 weeks and ultimately needing a new transmission is one of the biggest downs. And yet, since we do not have a car, we have no place to go… the kids and I have been hanging out at the pool and in the backyard. The days have been long and lazy almost out of necessity. When we are forced to slow down and breathe, sigh, we see all the good and amazing things that we miss when we are zooming everywhere. Right now I am going to not dwell on the stresses in our world, I am going to focus on my 3 remarkable kids. I am going to inhale the smell of sunscreen and fresh cut grass. I am going to pour another cup of coffee and think about everything that I am not going to get done today… if you need us, we’ll be at the pool.