Friday, July 27, 2018


Yesterday was a triumph of relaxed summer family funtime. I do not even know what happened. We started the day at a large spring fed swimming pool the moment it opened at 10:00 (because I don't do parking hassles) and hung around for three pleasant hours goofing around, racing each other (Charley beat me handily and was completely relaxed at the other end of the pool while I was practically hyperventilating), and practicing our dives. The only hiccup was when I had to take a call for work that I forgot about completely and ended up having to answer questions about the weather station I'm trying to install on the roof of the science building, standing on a pool deck in my wet swimsuit passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Wes not pictured due to Goggle Drama Malaise

After the pool we went to our fancy grocery store for some iced tea and playtime before going on a rather expensive aimless meander through the aisles where somehow the package of chicken breasts I went in for cost me thirty-eight bucks. The store is in a cool area of downtown and is filled with hipsters and young professionals. We made quite the breeder spectacle in our rowdy pack.

And then we went home, binge-watched four episodes of Goosebumps together, and then scattered. Wes and I made dinner. Charley puttered. James and Mary went to a friend's house. Soon we had tortilla soup simmering on the stove, cornbread cooling, and a big heap of homemade tortilla chips. I walked across the street to retrieve James and Mary and the mom invited me in for a glass of water. Dinner was just the right amount of silly and very fun and then the kids got popsicles and headed to the back yard. Ryan and I looked at each other like "WHO ARE THESE HAPPY PEOPLE??"

This is Wes's Hamilton pose

Today has been nice too.

Started with a row.


Thanks to Sarah's advice we went to Michaels to make slime FOR FREE and freaking destroyed the place. BUT IT WASN'T MY HOUSE!!



Naturally we went for sushi next.


And you guys, I know I'm making this sound like the best summer camp ever, but believe me when I tell you we've had our share of spats and annoying behavior and angry stomping, but it has been manageable (dare I say?) (There is currently a weird bumping and scraping noise coming from the garage that I am choosing not to investigate. Outside noise, outside problem, and Ryan will be home in four hours). Manageable feels really good.

(Things also might feel manageable because I have gone out with friends two nights this week. Once for Italian with my friend Melanie and once for beers with our tutor, who is now my legit friend, Mary Beth)

I mucked out the cubbies so we can start the year pretending to have our shit together. I was SUPER PROUD of myself when our tutor Mary Beth came over and asked if I could get some writing paper for the kids AND I KNEW RIGHT WHERE TO FIND IT. Probably the most personally satisfying moment of the year.


And now we are having some mandatory find something to do time until it is time to go to the pool. Almost there!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Vacation hangover funtimes

Well, we're back from Maine. And like every year we have spent much of our time since our return trying to figure out how we can spend EVEN MORE TIME in Maine next year. It is really a special place.


It was sort of weird to have no kids with us during the day in Week 2, but CAMP IS THE BEST. This week they went on a field trip to a marine biological research lab and did hands on experiments before returning to camp for a cookout on the dock and then heading back out to a boatyard where they got to tour a huge tugboat under construction. !!!!

We arrived at the cookout to find Mary had turned into a big girl.


Ryan and I went on a hike through the woods with my aunt.



And then I finished and submitted my revisions and went out to celebrate. We love this restaurant because it's possible to spy on the kids sailing at camp from the deck.


Charley and Wes were on this boat and they were FLYING (and almost tipping over, obviously). On another note, HOW AMAZING IS THIS?! AND WHY DON'T WE LIVE THERE ALL THE TIME?! Mary also sailed this giant boat during the week, because that's a completely normal four year old activity.


James and Mary ate lobster.



Mary bit off a little more than she could chew on the paddleboard and had to be rescued. Wes saw what was going on and jumped in with all his clothes and his hat on and swam out to rescue her.




Charley caught all kinds of creatures in the crab trap.


The last day we were there he got his giant ziplock bag of frozen dead mackarel and rowed it over to the lobsterman's house. He gave it to the lobsterman because we were going out of town and we made him get it out of the freezer. The lobsterman was so excited he offered Charley a lobster in exchange.

Other goofing around...




Wes got really good at being the guy who pushed the boat off the dock. He also got good at grabbing the painter (rope) and jumping to the dock and then catching the front of the boat. I used to love that job!



We rowed to an island.


Most of us cried when it was time to leave, and not just because we had to get up at two o'clock in the morning for the airport. This sign taunts us every year.


They freaking love planes.


We were greeted by this disgusting vista of our skyline (I think?) thanks to a thick layer of African dust and, I'm assuming, some ozone and NOx thrown in just for fun. The hottest weather we've had in years and a nasty case of vacation hangover.


We've been hunkering down inside and I've been preparing the house for the school year, finding all the uniform pieces for everyone (Charley has some new requirements since he's going to secondary school and Mary is a girl, so we have a lot to figure out this time), cleaning out the cubbies, removing all the crustacean shells and rope from the kids' backpacks and trying to do just enough fun stuff so that they don't kill each other.

Sunday I go to New Hampshire for a workshop on doing climate research using ice cores. They told me I need to bring long johns, gloves, and a hat to be worn under my regular clothes and the giant parka they will loan me because we will be working in a lab that is kept at ZERO DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. What have I gotten myself into?? And then school starts A WEEK AFTER I GET BACK. Summer went, um, fast? But we did pack a lot of things in if I think about swim team and everything else we did. Also also, our schedule is going to freaking EXPLODE once school starts so I'm trying to enjoy all this downtime. Judging by the way I screamily kicked a bunch of neighborhood kids out of my house yesterday after a game they were playing got so out of control that Mary got hurt, I'd say it's going awesome. I also mom-voiced a pack of teenagers who were blasting music with WILDLY OFFENSIVE lyrics at the pool yesterday because DANG. #crazyoldlady

Monday, July 16, 2018

Matlab, pie, Vikings, and pirates, pretty perfect

Just like clockwork, I write a vaguely complainy blog post about how everyone keeps fighting and we have to keep asking everyone when they last pooped and if they could somehow discretely describe it before the waiter comes back and then BAM. Everyone settles in and we have a completely lovely few days that give me hope that we are still a nice normal happy family.

Charley and Wes and I spotted this in a gift shop the other day and all three of us instantly started giggling and then when we realized we were all thinking the same thing we started full-on belly laughing. Self awareness!

(I should probably go buy this and display it prominently in our house, a reminder of that happy moment in which we all accepted our not-normalness and celebrated together)

Other happenings... Wes has a Thing with haircuts right now and it takes quite a bit of doing to get him to agree to it. I try to be cool and accept this for as long as I can but inevitably, usually when his bangs brush his nose, I reach a breaking point and start getting more and more insistent. Which is how we ended up getting haircuts on Saturday morning in the Harbor. Bribes for this haircut included Charley also getting a slightly unnecessary haircut and a round of whoopie pies.

After. There is no before. I asked the barber to take him from "Stranger Things" to "Apollo 13" and I think he did a great job.

Before that though we got to tour a Viking ship that was visiting for the weekend. The kids watched a two hour Nova about Vikings a month or so ago and Wes has been curious about Norse history ever since (his interest started with a school project on Stonehenge and then he moved onto a more general fascination with Early European history of all kinds). This ship sailed across the Atlantic from Norway through icebergs and storms with a full crew aboard. It was fascinating and a little terrifying to imagine. Many of the crew members were broad, tall, blond guys with big bushy beards. Vikings?





We got haircuts and went for a walk and went home for lunch and after lunch Ryan discovered a pirate treasure map in the kitchen. The kids had been eagerly awaiting the finding of the first clue since we arrived a week ago and then jumped RIGHT IN. Even Charley, who knows what's up, was racing from clue to clue.





Treasure in the dinghy!


And other than that has been a whole bunch of pleasant goofing around.



Wes has become QUITE the boatman this year. From the porch I watched him steer the dinghy towards the dock, and then all at once, pull the oars in, stand up, turn around, and throw the painter to Ryan before leaning over and catching the edge of the dock. Such a natural little Maine buddy.

Tongue of concentration.

James is on a restricted diet at the moment and at the church coffee hour I told him that all he could eat was fruit.



Everyone is always ready to sneak in a nap




Or a game of cards


And this morning we dropped ALL the kids off at camp. Mary wandered into my room this morning with her Anna Elsa jammies on and let out an uncontrollable SQUEE! as soon as we made eye contact. She powered through getting her hair brushed and walking the half mile to camp on pure adrenaline, but when they asked her to change into her bathing suit in the girls' room she emerged a few minutes later red-faced, still dressed, and holding her shoe. So I helped her finish changing and got her settled with some other kids. She was playing happily when I peeked through the window shortly after that and I haven't heard anything since then. It is weirdly quiet at the house right now.



Also, I have a small teenager.


After dropoff Ryan and I went to the little neighborhood grocery for a cup of coffee and a couple of hours of quality time with our laptops as he continues to learn Python just for the heck of it and I continue to mutter swear words under my breath as I put the finishing touches on a revise and resubmit article due on the nineteenth. Last night I was all ready to quit my job and stay home to take care of the kids and their EXTENSIVE needs, but then this morning I got great satisfaction from making convincingly professional-looking graphs in Matlab so I guess I'm back on the horse. Matlab and I have a classic abusive relationship. Thank god I got the article to the point where I could pass it off to my coauthor this morning because I was starting to FREAK OUT and not be very fun to be around in the late evenings.

I will leave you with a picture of the pie my aunt bought at a neighborhood food sale and brought home to share and what it looked like when she pulled it out of the fridge the other night. Apparently a tall little birdie found it first!