Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Many Quick Takes

I had like twenty-seven different brilliant thoughts about what to write while I was in the shower this morning, but then I got in my car and drove to work and POOF! Gone! I will give it a shot.

1. As you know, a hurricane devastated most of the coastline of my state. I had to contribute by staring gape-mouthed at the forecast, the models, and the video coming out of Rockport and Houston and feeling utterly horrified and helpless. The sun finally came out in Houston late yesterday, but unfortunately they are just beginning a long road of rebuilding. Austin looked to be in for some heavy rain too, and it did rain a lot, but it was not scary in any way. We bought a few days of extra groceries and planned to stay in all weekend but took advantage of a lull in the rain to get outside for a bit and take some wind speed measurements with the Kestrel I borrowed from work.


2. Sunday we had crazy rain and wind but we ventured out for church because everyone was starting to turn on each other and we thought it would be fun to fight out in public for a change.


3. And then we went to lunch with some friends at a hamburger place where we usually eat on the patio. The three boys all still wanted to eat on the patio and play in the wet sandbox and I was like "You want to eat outside in the rain while I eat inside in the quiet?! YES YES YES." They thought it was the best thing ever.


Some of the friends we were with arrived after we did and had already told their kids that they couldn't eat outside and arrived to see my kids cavorting around in the wind. Oops.

4. I got two new pairs of glasses. One of them is BLUE blue. Ryan's cousin had these awesome blue glasses on the last time I saw her and I went to the same website and thought I ordered the same pair. Hers were less day-glo, but OMG I LOVE THESE FREAKING GLASSES. It took some getting used to, but the sensible tortoise shell ones I bought at the same time have remained in their case in my purse the whole time because BLUE GLASSES MAKE EVERY OUTFIT LOOK COOLER. They also make my haircut look better, oddly. I CANNOT QUIT YOU BLUE GLASSES!


5. They made me move offices this summer, which was annoying, but actually turned out to be a good thing because this office was NEVER USED AS A CLOSET. I brought in a dog hair-covered rug from my house (our dog died two years ago) and some things for the walls and I really love it.


Best things about it are that it is not currently undergoing asbestos abatement and it has a proto window that opens onto the hallway that has another window that goes OUTSIDE.


6. Bedtime never really stops being a total PITA, right?


7. We have a new after school nanny that is working out SPECTACULARLY WELL. She is some kind of magician who can get the kids to do homework and practice their instruments and still have time to play before I get home. She has put on Charley's rollerblades and shown them some tricks. She took them to a skate park yesterday. It is SO AWESOME. Which is why it was extra mortifying yesterday when I fumbled my phone on my way home, called her, and left a MINUTE-LONG MESSAGE of me belting out Hamilton in the car.

8. Finally, my new role at the university requires that sometimes I put on steel-toed thigh boots and wade into a cattail pond to get water samples. I was all in on the boots and the trucking through the cattails. I was less enthusiastic about reaching into the snake-infested water with my bare hands to get the sample. But it was great to be back in the field again.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

House tour!

Like one person asked me for pics of the new house so HERE THEY ARE! Thanks one person!

Here is the view right inside the front door. When I came to scope out the house before we looked at it with the realtor, I peeked through the window by the door and could see all the way to the back of the house and I liked it so much I forgot that I was in the middle of bringing a sick kid home from school.


Here's the other side of the foyer. That's the table where we keep our rollerblades, random boxes, and junk mail.


To the left of the front door is the dining room, which for us is the piano room and homework/project overflow room. This is one of the reasons I liked this house so much. Now the kids have a place to do table things without having to clear them off so that we can eat dinner! Alternatively, it is a place where someone can go do their homework when they can't stand to sit near another person who is, I don't know, breathing wrong and causing them an intolerable level of irritation! My favorite part of this room is the "Birds of North America" print that my friend Rosa gave me as a house warming present. I *treasure* it. IMG_5784

To the right of the front hall is Charley's room, which he is supposed to keep looking nominally nice, since it's downstairs. He is doing a pretty good job. Sometimes. My favorite part of his room is that he now has a full-sized bed but loves his cute little twin-sized patchwork quilt that he won't give it up. I helpfully put an old queen-sized quilt in there the other day and found it stuffed into the coat closet. Message received!


Living room, featuring THE GREEN COUCH (which is slowly getting kid-ified since it is in the only room with a TV)!


This is the kitchen. I love it, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for the one Ryan built with his own two hands. Still, this one has a cabinet JUST FOR THE CROCKPOT. Cabinet space heals all broken hearts.


The other side of the kitchen and the little counter height windows that sold the house. And like fourteen wine bottles.


The other real reason we bought this house is the UPSTAIRS FAMILY ROOM. It is all of our favorite rooms and we hang out up here after dinner most nights. The first time I had a bunch of moms over after we moved in we all noticed how quiet it was and that was because HALF THE KIDS WERE PLAYING UPSTAIRS. That is a beautiful beautiful thing.


Mary's room! She was helping me take pictures.


James's room (is not usually this clean!)!


Wes's room!!


The master bedroom, which needs some things on the walls.


Annnd, my desk on the other side of the master bedroom, which is my other other favorite part of the house.


So there you have it! My house on the only day this year it will be this clean!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dispatch from testosterone-land


Today I am taking my three boys plus one friend boy to a WATERPARK by myself.  It opens at noon, so in a few minutes I am going to gather them and run to Target for lunch boxes and other random school necessities (like beer) and then we are going to go to Torchy's for lunch so we can be standing at the gate when they open at noon.  School starts tomorrow, so we are pulling out all the stops today.

But still.  Four boys.  Target.  Lunch.  WATERPARK.  Lord, hear my prayer.

A couple of randoms before I go...

On the plane home, we sat in two rows.  Charley, Wes, and Mary were behind James and me.  Also in my row was a man who told me excitedly that his wife and two children were seated in another part of the plane, so it should be a quiet flight for him.


Highlights included James fourteen bathroom trips, my repeated need to hiss instructions to the other kids by putting my mouth three inches from his ear and yelling between the seats.  Mary screaming with indignation every time her headphones came off.  Me hanging my entire body over my middle seat to help her adjust her seatbelt, put her headphones back on, and open her applejuice can.

But I'd say the best moment in the flight for him was after they turned the seatbelt sign on.  Mary started screaming, like SCREAMING, and I had to give him a brief lap dance as I propelled myself out of my seat, quickly threw all the debris off Wes's tray table, and sat next to Mary.

Did I mention that we got up at ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING to drive to Boston to get on the flight?  And Mary went to bed at TEN?  And did not sleep in the car OR the plane?  It was ugly.


I wore sandals and went barefoot pretty much the entire time we were in Maine, so my heels are so disgusting that they act like the scratchy part of Velcro.  A random sock stuck to my foot the other day and it stayed there as I walked across an entire room.


This morning we went to the kids' school to find out who their teachers are and to get our pickup pass.  After several minutes of polite chatting with the office staff, Wes volunteered that he'd gotten to cross something off his bucket list.  The woman asked "Oh yeah?  What was on your bucket list?"  Wes smiled and said excitedly: "SKINNYDIPPING!"


The boys are all back inside.  I offered them a candy bar each in exchange for taking out the trash and washing out our disgusting trash can.  It was music to my ears hearing them working at the large trashcan below the window by my desk, screaming and yelling about the how gross it was.  Then they took turns spraying it with the hose.  #happymemories

So that means it is time to locate our bathing suits and get this party started.

Updated to add: after ignoring the background noise of four boys messing around with who knows what, Wes came running upstairs.  I was about to tell him to give me a few more minutes when he exclaimed "CHARLEY BROUGHT MAGGOTS INSIDE."  NOPE.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Our plan is to not give them enough time to feel sad (it will not work)

Today's our last day at home (the kids call Maine "home" and believe our normal life is just a barely tolerable "trip") and we have a few items left to check off our to-do list. It's also Mary's fourth birthday (observed) since on her actual birthday, Sunday, we will be back in Austin and Ryan will be driving our car home with his dad. Which is how we got into the situation where we will be eating cupcakes with each of our three meals today (breakfast cupcakes, as is our tradition; lunch cupcakes, that I baked for the camp cookout; dinner birthday cupcakes) in addition to "happy hour" at three o'clock, where we eat onion rings and drink beer and watch the kids sail at their camp, adjacent to the restaurant, and s'mores on the beach after dinner. Fortunately I've been preparing my liver and pancreas for this moment for the last three weeks.

We were going to spend the morning sailing, but the weather had other plans.


The kids started camp last week and it has been the best year yet.


I asked them if they would rather have done the half-day option (which wasn't actually available) and Charley responded "NO! You paint and draw all morning, have lunch with your friends, goof around for a half hour, and then spend the afternoon sailing! What could be better than that?!" It does feel weird to send your kids off to camp on vacation, but they love it SO MUCH and are becoming quite proficient little sailors. They have met the nicest kids from all over the country and world and the director makes everyone hot chocolate after they take their swim test. We are so happy.

Yesterday Ryan and I drove and chaperoned a field trip to a boat yard where we got to tour a nineteenth century schooner they are restoring, called the Ernestina.


It did not take much convincing to get us to sign up and the cute kids all singing along with the radio was a huge bonus.

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Ryan and Mary and I went on a long kayak trip around an island and then to a resort that lets you use their pool if you buy lunch there.



The paddle over was cake, but the wind picked up on the way back, so it was really rough and scary on the way back (and fun, fun fun fun).


I arrived early to camp pickup the other day and found them in their element.



The kids swam out to this ledge on Saturday and stayed there until the tide came in and buried their feet and they had to jump back in.


We usually keep a pretty tight schedule to make sure everyone is getting enough rest, but the second half of this week we pulled out all the stops and started having crazy after-dinner funtime, with swimming and kayaking and games and sailing.





We went to a benefit concert for the kids' camp that ended with us walking through a luminario-lined path through the woods in total darkness with a gentle rain falling. So that was magical. Mary glommed on to a counselor from the camp that she is particularly enamored with and danced with her all night. It helps that this counselor's name is also Mary. When the older Mary left to go get some lemonade I tried to get Mary to dance with me and she screamed "I DON'T WANT YOU! I WANT MARY!"

Mary's been enjoying her only-child status during the day.







We leave for the airport in Boston at ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, piano starts up again on Monday and school starts on Wednesday, so when the party's over it is REALLY REALLY OVER. But just like every year our goal is to drop them into their chairs at school with a slight sunburn, covered in bumps and scrapes, sun-bleached hair, and possibly just the tiniest bit of seaweed tucked behind their ears.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ARGH 2017!!

Well I guess the biggest news since we last spoke is that a band of dread pirates came and left a bag of goodies for the kids to find the other night.


The pirates tried to sneak away before the adults could have a cup of coffee and an English muffin, but ARGH! The kids spotted the Jolly Roger at 7:15 AM. Captain Wes declared, as he stood watch on the front porch, "I THINK I SEE A WAKE!!!"


They followed clues on a daring adventure, up the front steps, down the back steps, up the little hill in the side yard, and all the way over yonder to the neighbor's dock.



There was some judicious turn-taking when it came time to pull up the treasure (these are 2017 pirates after all).

(As you can tell I've lost track of who the pirates are in this story. Do the pirates leave the treasure? Or do the pirates hunt for treasure? Are there opposing bands of pirates?)


At last! The treasure has been found!




Mary became highly territorial about her portion of the loot (pictured here on the treasure bag) like a good pirate (who has three older siblings).


And then we pillaged the house for breakfast and headed to church*, looking like a ragged band of scallywags.

Wes politely removed his eye patch before we got out of the car *without being asked*. A milestone for sure.

*We do not *make* them go to church on vacation. They are weirdly fascinated by churches up here, probably because they serve brownies and lemonade afterward and because we let them wear whatever the heck they want. This is fine at the tiny church we go to near our house, but this Sunday we tried a new church and I swear to you we were sitting behind some offshoot of the freaking Kennedys--lots of Brooks Brothers and loafers and beautiful dresses. Wes broke the ice by climbing noisily over an entire row of people, wearing his Texas Rangers shirt and do-rag, to point out to the oldest boy (IMMACULATE oxford and neatly pressed khakis) that they were both wearing the same watch. The world needs more Weses (Wesses? Wesi? Kids like Wes?). On the way out we encountered a board member at the research institute where Charley wants to work one day. She remembered us from all the lectures Charley's been going to and smiled fondly at all of the kids. I'm starting to form a professional network here, so that means I should never leave.

In other exciting, non pirate news, Ryan is back!!

Count the children in this picture. It helps to focus on limbs.

And we went on a boat ride.