all twinkles, all the time

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~sylvan took this rare portrait of both parents together~
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~this one too~
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~stained glass star by jonas~

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There was a big gaming party here the other night. An older strategy game called Diplomacy—50th anniversary edition! Snoresville.

So I begged some good friends to go out on a date so I could babysit their dear girls. If you’re longtime readers, you have seen these sweethearts around the blog.

SONY DSCFirst, we had our choice of Bento boxes. Pictured above is the Dessert selection: a cranberry and blueberry on a tiny plate, with a side order of frozen blueberries in a pitcher, served on a serving rock. (That tea set used to be part of the clutter around here, and now it is sparking joy in little hands.)
SONY DSCThen we had a second dessert by the Christmas tree and wood stove, on a beautifully set table with our names on placecards. We were served mochi puffs with a drizzle of honey, with peppermint tea and honey, by candlelight.SONY DSC SONY DSCYou had to get dressed up for the occasion: Princess or sparkles. The princess dress on hand was too small for me, but thankfully there was a red, sequined shirt that was just my size.
SONY DSCI brought over a big stack of our favorite Christmas books, since no one here wants to hear me read them anymore. (Or they will, but grudgingly, totally NOT in the spirit of giving.) We read so many of them that my voice got tired! Good old favorites: Shall I Knit You a Hat?, The Little Fir Tree, Peter and Lotta’s Christmas, Ollie’s Ski Trip, Christmas in Noisy Village, The Reindeer Christmas, and more.
SONY DSC There was also “hair molish” aka Nail Polish, that I brought over. (Do you recognize these toes? I have loved them for many years now.) This was a nice choice of colors: mermaid blue and sparkly purple on the left, and hot pink and sparkly orange on the right.

The owner of the toes wanted to fall asleep in front of the wood stove. And I was the very naughty babysitter who said sure, fine, no problem, have some pillows! I got to watch her fall asleep out of the corner of my eye, while I was ostensibly knitting. So sweet.SONY DSC SONY DSCBeing in the company of these dear girls made me remember that I miss making things for little tiny people.

I made two little gnomes today and off they’ll go into the mail tomorrow:
SONY DSCThese last three pictures are also ones that Sylvan took.

{Inexplicably, WordPress will not let me make another caption on the photos.}

~a little glimpse~

SONY DSC~we woke up to being in the clouds~
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This is not our new house. It’s my mom’s new space. This past week we were helping her and my brother work on finishing tasks as well as moving some of her big items, making the whole process much more real for all involved. It’s a gorgeous space, perfect for her!
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A big part of this task was also helping sort through her basement, with lots of our stuff down there. Here are some of the types of things I found: an entire bag full of little love notes from me to my mom, with early, invented spelling; art work from three years of art school; a Mon Chi Chi wearing a tiny little Brownie uniform; an original Cabbage Patch Kid (handmade, not plastic); a baby dress I once wore; lots of mouse poop and chewed up insulation; report cards; papers with comments and grades from teachers; letters from my Swedish penpal, Kristina; maps and guidebooks from my travel in early 20s; a postcard written in Russian, which I once knew how to read; postcards that used to be on my wall in middle school; real film photographs, with negatives; awards from camp; math word problems about Vikings from 4th grade…
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~one of my three technical drawings from Drawing II~

There was a metric BOATLOAD of paper associated with my growing up and teenage years. BOXES (really!) of notes written during class, surveys written for and answered by friends, a whole series of notes written during the Latin Certamen competition between six people, co-written stories set in various time periods that filled notebooks (notebooks!), letters between me and my bestie from high school (during the summers and after high school). There is no digital record of any of this. Hours and hours of longhand writing.

One of my favorite notebooks had this painful Latin translation which I am fairly certain could be retranslated quite easily because of how close it sounds to the original Latin:

Judging this location not at all suitable for disembarking, he waited while thither the remaining ships were being brought together for the hour at anchor. 

Meanwhile, the legions of military tribunes were called together and he had known both from which came Volusenus, both from which he was willing to make shown.

In addition to the Latin translation, dated 3/16 (year unspecified), there were some notes about Harry Truman and WWII, my geometry homework (unfinished), my bestie’s geometry homework (different assignment, also unfinished), a section of one of our co-written stories, and a note contributed by us both about our upcoming weekend plans. I kept flipping through,
imagining I would find some rhyme or reason, some organizational schema. Nope. Just random.

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~hello 4361: our new house!~

I got OK grades and was a pretty good student, excellent at playing the school game. But imagine if I had actually had school as my primary focus?! Staggering! A lot of it was painful to read, mostly because it was looking back at a time of insecurity and extreme awkwardness. Most of it got ditched into the recycling pile and a few select items were burned ceremonially. It made me think about my students. Newsflash: high school is not their (or any teenager’s) primary focus!

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~front door: you are standing in our kitchen looking into our mudroom~

I feel sad for these young whippersnappers that they do not have any sort of physical record they will ever sift through. They won’t encounter these painful, previous, unformed versions of themselves. Scrolling through texts from 25 years ago would be arduous to say the least, if the text platforms we are using today will even last into the future that far. Doubtful. So there they will be some day in the future, just the already-polished versions of their adult selves. Boooooooring.

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We got to meet our house yesterday. WE GOT TO MEET OUR HOUSE YESTERDAY!

I was trying to think of an analogy, suitable for the occasion. Kind of like seeing a first picture of your baby on an ultrasound maybe? But not quite because we were actually able to stand INSIDE of the parts of it! A visit with the dog you will adopt? I mean, we conceived of this house, thought so much about how we use our space, what we want from this house, the feeling we wanted to have inside of the house, we tried lots of things and came up with the design (Jake, mostly), and yesterday we visited the factory at Epoch Homes and got to meet #4361, its factory name.

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~looking into our “away” room, right off the kitchen/entry~

We toured the factory with Jordan, who was awesome. I spotted our house on the factory floor first! There were all of these stations and we could stand inside of our downstairs (in two parts) and feel the space for the first time. Amazing! And in a few short weeks, #4361 will be here in its new, forever home in Hope.

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~looking into the “away” room from the outside~

You may notice the trim has the same rounded corners as my mom’s new house. Kind of a family tradition. 🙂

Do you like Jonas’s look?

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hiccups and the making of grown-ups

SONY DSC~these beautiful flowers come from The Bridal Bouquet florist in Thomaston, ME~

Parenting older kids is different. There are great things like: no bottoms/noses to wipe! Much less bodily fluid exchange overall in fact, and I am not sorry to see that chapter end. I recall a special morning when I decided upon the name of my Mommy Memoir, Spit-Up in My Slipper, when I was in my bathrobe, holding Sylvan with one arm while brushing my teeth with the other, and I felt a warm trickle down the back of my ankle heading for my cozy slippered foot. It was hard work because one of my children came to the planet with very clear demands: surely there was some mistake and he was actually an adult in a small body, possibly the crown prince? It was relentless, truly that was the word, and because we are parents we set limits and boundaries, said yes when possible and no when necessary, thought long and hard, reflected on our work as parents, frequently felt terrible, sometimes felt euphoric, set regular routines, had a family rhythm and structure, all of which was designed to help the crown prince stay amazing and yet not become a tyrant. By contrast, now we sleep in on the weekends and Jonas is not the Extreme Lark (early bird to the max) that he once was by choice; as a teen he has also lost the ability to wake up and snap immediately into high mental functioning that once made me despair. I take for granted the continuous hours of sleep per night that I am afforded.

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Jonas recently remembered a time when he was small (and Sylvan was an insignificant factor in the story, so we place Jonas’s age at 4-ish) and had the hiccups all day. The painful kind that wouldn’t go away. We tried everything. Then we drove across town to Miss Joanie’s, since she is fabulous and magical and of course would know just what to do. There was a lot of giggling. Did she suggest sugar on a spoon? Or something equally hilarious? He couldn’t remember the remedy, but he remembered the visit and being cured (with love and laughter?). Jonas remembered us having the time to do this together, just drop everything to make an impromptu visit to see a special person. Just look at this old post if you want to see those soft, round cheeks of Jonas and Sylvan and the hands of that Hiccup-Whisperer, even though the photo is a few years later than the hiccups.

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Parenting older kids is still a lot of work and it’s complicated because it’s my first and favorite and forever and most important full-time job, but I have an out-of-the-house job now too that is also full-time. They still need us—and thank goodness!—even if it isn’t for bottoms and noses. We converse about a lot of interesting topics and not so much about pooping, Uranus, and farts (I mean these are all still important topics, don’t get me wrong, they just get less play now). There is teenage snarking. Male love manifesting as loud and physical and wrestling and licking (!) and dead-arms and games of indoor basketball. We read aloud. We help do the dishes. Some of us complain about the need to shower with regularity. We play together. Learn new words. We help edit papers, find resources, give ideas, discuss teaching and teachers. Sometimes we have to talk about the use of media, when this is and is not appropriate for all of us. We clean up our messes, sometimes grudgingly. We drive our kids places, not that we are over-scheduled, but we take them where they need to go. We work on teaching skills for life, like how to be a good guest, keep track of your belongings, and how to remember that critical last step of eating a bowl of cereal (carrying it to the sink, rinsing it, putting it in the dishwasher). Someday these people will not be just my people! And I want them to know how to have fun and be silly, be loving and be loved, share a home, make and eat healthy food and have good conversations, put their devices down when appropriate, participate and be interested in the world, etc. 

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I do really like these people my children are becoming and it’s interesting to know them, and to have known them since the beginning, to see how much they have always been THEMSELVES, even from tiny babyhood. Sylvan has never been an easy person in the morning but he has always been a champion cuddler and snuggler and wrestler, and is always ready to have fun with people of all ages. Jonas always had his eyes wide open to the world, ready to take in every detail (the Internet was made for him to discover Chester Arthur, among other many bits and bytes of knowledge to consume), but he has also been given to singular obsessions with and repetitions of words and songs (annoying), and is quite prone to teasing. It is so funny to hear about what they remember, those  moments that feel like nothing when they happen, just life, just hiccups, just the corner in the sunshine making Valentines.

This is a whole new level of socialization, of personhood and parenthood, that all started with “Please don’t wipe your nose on me.”

goodbye, dear house.

SONY DSC SONY DSCSo this graphic represents the things that make our household go. All the chores and things that we did at our old house. I made it the summer before I started working full-time, just so we knew, all of us, what was really going on. 

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Thank you for being our first home. We had a lot of fun laughing times with each other, and with our small and bigger children, inside your walls. Jonas grew  3-plus feet.  Sylvan grew from 22 inches to 58 inches. Sylvan and Jonas had the chicken pox. And Sylvan concurrently had the whooping cough, so we were quarantined inside your walls.
SONY DSC ~this is what happens when a bird hits the window (WordPress is being a jerk and I can’t center this)~

And we cooked and ate a lot of meals as a family. But when we first moved in, there was so much that you needed. I feel happy knowing that we left you in better shape than we found you. Remember the acres of terrible wallpaper? That really cheap awful plastic wallpaper that we peeled off of almost every wall? We replaced the horrible dark, cheap cabinets in the kitchen with sky blue cupboards and beautiful stone handles that Jake made from Lake Champlain stones. Or that ridiculous linen closet…with no shelves?!  A lot of the cosmetic changes we made had us wondering about the sanity and (lack of) aesthetic sense of the previous owners.
SONY DSCWe left you with a beautiful clothesline that dried so many loads of our laundry by means of the clean wind and warm sun, right next to the garden and the bluebirds and the field of hay. When I hung up the laundry, I loved looking at the early apple blossoms from the nearby tree, and later, at the bluest sky that limned every rosy apple like a halo. The clothesline was a haven: I could take a moment away from bickering people, do something productive and helpful and get a break.
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We left you with a lovely chicken house, perfectly sited so that there was ample shade in the summer and a bit of protection from the winter winds. I made it with help because Sylvan loved watching chickens when he was about 1.5. It was my first construction project; he helped by dumping out the nails on the floor and climbing the ladder. Now there’s electricity to both the chicken house and the other shed; Jake did that. We put a new roof on to keep us all dry! There’s a compost now. And wow, did we have a lot of help from our family doing all of these things for you. 

SONY DSCRemember when the kitchen sink and dishwasher drained directly under the house and into the crawlspace? Totally 3rd world! And in the middle of the coldest part of winter, Jake and Ike and a friend crawled under that nasty place and connected those pipes to the other pipes that took wastewater away and added insulation under the kitchen floor where there had been none. Super awful job on both counts.
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Built-in shelves. New paint. All of this brought you to a new level of practicality and beauty. You are the house I  lived in the longest in my life: eleven years! Sylvan was born at home just 18 days after we moved in, under the watchful eye of that bluebird.
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So this past weekend, we said goodbye to you. Your new owners are adorable and young, sweet people. It was hard to hear the echoes in the empty rooms. There were so many last-minute details, random things that belonged nowhere but needed to be put somewhere. We had help again from our friends and family, those people who keep showing up for all the big events.

I had to go to work this week and it felt like I was trying to function at a normal level, but that I just had this big event that had completely consumed and exhausted me on a really deep level. Almost like having a baby. So I’m still recovering, sleeping so deeply every night (which is different than having a newborn). And no, we have not found our next house yet; we’re renting this winter (photos to follow).
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I left the curtains in our bedroom that I made. They’re faded now. But maybe your new owners will use them until they have something better. And a very special spitball is still on the ceiling of the dining room, left by a very special babysitter. It “conveyed” with the property.

We’re taking with us a lot of wonderful memories with you. Thank you. With love.

~time away~

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This has been a summer of many adventures for us, not always together. Which is fine, because we usually see a lot of each other. Sylvan has had two weeks of adventuring in Kentucky with his Bumpa. He also spent a week at Ultimate Frisbee camp in MA.  Jonas has two weeks of “dancing robot” camp with NuVu Studio.

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Jonas, Mr. Crafty and me, plus our dear friend Ryan went to Baxter State Park for two days this week. The three gents summited Mt. Katahdin, our tallest Maine mountain, on a beautiful, perfect day for hiking. I stayed in our sweet little cabin on the lake, had a quiet, leisurely breakfast (reading School Library Journal and picking out new titles for fall ordering). There was a Northern Flicker to watch also.
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I rented a kayak and took a three-hour paddle, looking for moose (didn’t see any) and watching/listening to birds, up a little brook to the side of Millinocket Lake. The brilliant thing was being alone and setting my own pace, deciding to just float and listen to the wood thrushes sing to each other until they stopped, or paddle hard across a windier spot, or stop and try to discern whether the huge hunting bird of prey was an immature bald eagle. Nobody’s agenda but my own. The weather was just so darn perfect: warm and dry and breezy and just lovely and comfortable. THE WAY SUMMER SHOULD BE IN MAINE.
SONY DSCI would look up to the big mountain and see the clouds rolling over the summit and wonder where on that big rocky thing my three people were at that moment. Turns out, no surprise, these gents surpassed the average hiking time and cruised past the campers and dilly-dalliers, and they missed out on any clouds and precipitation.
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~all these pictures of the mountain are by Mr. Crafty and Mr. Handsome~

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~this is the back yard of our cabin~
SONY DSCAnd here is how you look after you hike all day, then take a shower, and change your clothes:

ready to flop on the couch.

:spring, festive:

 

SONY DSC~may~

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How could we forget your sudden, bright demands upon us to be social, organized, and in attendance? There was no dress rehearsal, no gradual easing into things. Just suddenly everything all the time:

Baseball games and practices, and in addition to the regular May Mayhem, lots of extra things going on with a Waldorf 8th grader about to graduate, plus his dad, Mr. Crafty, who is about to graduate this 8th grade class. Class presentations, trips, performances, graduation, etc. People here are juggling a lot of details right now.
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I could have cropped this photo to take out the Mumma’s hand about to swoop that baby up. But that’s a part of the story too. Look at those little pincer fingers, ready to pluck up a strawberry… Except for that all-seeing one who was ready to pluck him up!
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SONY DSC~in motion: where else?~
(Morris Dancing)
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SONY DSCWe spent an elegant evening supporting a good cause for our school, the Hats Off Auction! People were encouraged to wear hats, and they did. Beautifully.
Here are some bird-themed hats.
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~beautiful birdie!~
SONY DSC ~vintage rooster feathers~
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~little peeps~

SONY DSCAt the beautiful Rockport Opera House
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Graduation boots. In red, of course.