Commencement

Monday was Jax’s first day of 1st grade, and to say he was thrilled would be a vast understatement.  He has never been ready so quickly or so enthusiastically to go anywhere before in his life.

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I think part of it was the shirt, which he chose and I allowed, even as I nicely asked for a new shirt, just for the first day.  But if he is going to grow into the independent soul he is destined to be, I suppose I can let the kid pick out his own clothes.

All five of us dropped him off and escorted him to his classroom, but it was more because we wanted to celebrate him and be part of the commencement of something so great, not because he needed any hand holding.  Hugs were perfunctory and joyful, but I still savored mine.

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Every day since I have heard a litany of reasons why 1st grade is so much better than kindergarten, from one student being named The Big Cheese each day (he is waiting his turn with bated breath), to the fact that he can read as many books as he wants! at rest time, to the new special pencil his teacher gave him and so on.  The second morning he climbed into bed to snuggle me and said, “I don’t think I need breakfast today, Mom.  Let’s just go right to school.”  Willing to miss a meal to get to school faster? 1st grade really must be a special place indeed!

Em had a short orientation yesterday and her first full day was today.  I am counting the minutes until I pick her up to see what I hope is a glowing face bursting with exciting news.  She asked to take a shower this morning rather than a bath last night so her hair would be “extra bouncy,” and picked out a very sparkly outfit all on her own at Carter’s, with her brand new Frozen backpack.

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Again all five of us made the trip to school, and we walked together into school, holding hands in the parking lot, everyone’s backpack filled to the brim with necessities (including Little H’s, who insisted on putting some snack and a juice box in Em’s old one so she could bring one, too).

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Jax gave us a quick “Bye!” and hurried into his classroom, then we went into Em’s room (which we know and love because it was Jax’s last year) and helped her get settled, which beyond a little hand-holding, she didn’t really need.

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After hanging up her backpack and putting her lunch in the correct spot, a friend asked her to join her to do Play-Doh, and with an extra hug and a smile, she ran off to join her.  JDubbs and I looked at each other and realized our work was done.  We have shaped them into the sweetest, smartest, bravest little people we could, and now we have to let them grow.  Watching Jax happily writing at his desk across the hall and Em shyly talking to her tablemate next door, I think we did a pretty great job.

Oh, and meanwhile, this one and I have been having a very lovely day together.

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Time for Little H to get the spotlight she so richly deserves! A new beginning for everyone!

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High Tea

Jax started 1st grade today, and although I am brimming with pride over his accomplishment and happiness, this post isn’t about him.  It’s about my lovely little Em, and how I cherished today, our last full day at home together.

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All five of us dropped Brother off at school this morning, like we will for Em on Wednesday on her first day.  Afterward the girls and I grabbed Em’s best friend Viv and, with Little H in tow, headed to a little slice of heaven known as The Song Garden for a celebration in everything it means to be home with this girl: happiness, beautiful treasures, pretty dresses, and making small moments very grand just with her presence.  Little H is on board with this type of extravagance (with her sneakers on just to keep it real), and we are slowly encouraging Viv to join us in this uber-girly joie de vivre.  The girls were really excited, and that includes me!

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The experience began with a walk through the flower garden to the Tea House itself, where a full tea party awaits any visitor, but particularly a party of four ladies with fancy on their minds.

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The amazing part is, this place is just set up like this at all times, waiting for people to come and make themselves a cup of tea.  There are gorgeous, romantic, nostalgic trinkets everywhere, some for ambiance and some for sale, and you pay for the lemonade, tea, coffee, biscotti, or baked goods you consume in a cash box using the honor system.  If this isn’t a morning well spent, I can’t think of any better.

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With a cozy bed laden with a well-loved quilt and a child-sized table set up for a tea party with the porcelain dolls seated there, I really needn’t do anything to entertain the girls, and happily sat back to drink my pink lemonade, pinkie in the air.   All I needed was a copy of Anne of Green Gables and I pretty much would have been in pure heaven.

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Later, while Little H napped and after Viv had gone home, Em and I finished a chapter book we had been reading, snuggling on the couch, and made lunch together, which we ate–in the mode of the day–on fancy placemats while we chatted about school.  She is so excited and ready to go, a bit hesitant about being brave and sharing the sparkle that is her, but I know she will find good friends with whom to share all this wonderfulness (and Viv right in the classroom next door).

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She’s going places! I’m just grateful I’ve been able to be present enough and with her for so long to appreciate the amazing little person she is.  Now time for life with just Little H…what will that be like?

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A Watchful Eye & A Favorite Spot

There is a little spot I know that makes my heart happy to just be near it.  I stand below and watch them climb to it, and that is enough for me.

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I watch them help each other to reach it, and guide each other down.

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I watch them take in the world from this new perspective, ever so much higher because they are so small.

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I watch the smiles that light their faces as they sit and drink in the sea.

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And I realize it’s not the place that is my favorite, but the happiness that comes from sharing it.

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Beach Time With Grampy

The documentation of vacation fun continues, with a foggy afternoon after dinner with Grampy, who came up to spend a night and day with us in Maine.

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It was touch and go whether the skies would cooperate and we could make it to the beach, so it was very last minute when we decided to risk the rain, pajama pants, sweatpants, and all.

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The rain held off, and even if it hadn’t, the time together at the beach would have been worth it!  We don’t get to see Grampy much, but when we do, it’s always such fun!

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The kids love the opportunity to play with him!

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We all do!  Love you, Grampy!

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One Evening In Maine

One thing I miss so much about our adventures in Maine last week were our every evening trips back to the beach, replacing the sometimes wearying period between dinner and bedtime with freedom and sunshine, guaranteeing tired kids and sandy sheets, no matter how thoroughly we hosed them off.  I miss watching the big kids play so well, hardly ever fighting, because the ocean, the beach, the sand dunes belong to no one.  What is there to fight over when the world seems so abundant?

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That’s not to say Jax and Em didn’t squabble–of course they did–but they were more likely to just simply walk away, plenty of room to make their own fun and avoid anyone else’s crabbiness.  Besides, with the sea as your playmate. you don’t need anyone else.

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Of course, everyone is quick to forgive and forget at the beach, and before long hurt feelings are replaced with laughter and silliness.

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We still tried to get Little H in the water every now and then, but no luck.  Her “I no like waves” dogma still applied.  IMG_8585

It’s okay; we’ve learned we just have to have fun with her on shore.

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I miss these carefree nights with my little family!  With school and schedules looming, nights like these are more precious to me than ever.

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Daddy’s Girl

As I said when I described our trip to Maine last week, Little H was not very fond of the water.  While she was dipping her toes in for the very first time, Jax came running toward her full force shrieking his head off, and after that she has held true to her constant explanation, “I don’t like waves.”  Even to cool down a little or during low tide, she wanted nothing to do with the ocean and preferred a bird’s eye view to her feet in the sand.  I think it had something to do with the company.

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Half the magic of vacation was Little H’s refrain, “Dada no go work today?” with a big old smile on her face.  No work, more time to spend on his big strong shoulders, her favorite place to be.

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I’d like to say she warmed up to the water over the course of the week, but that didn’t happen of course!  When Daddy sets a precedent like this, why would she?

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One of my favorite duos to photograph, at home or away: Daddy and his kiddos, but especially his baby girl.  These two melt my heart, but mostly because I can tell she has him wrapped around her little finger.

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Love those big strong shoulders and sandy toes!

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The Call Of The Sea

Once upon a time, I lived within two blocks of the ocean, its blue depths winking at me from my bathroom window. I would stroll down to the water’s edge nearly every night after work or on a weekend morning after breakfast, if only for a few moments, watching its ebb and flow and its always-changing personality, calm one evening, furious the next.  I am drawn to the ocean and its dynamics like a magnet, and sometimes, when I look around and find myself landlocked and shivering in the mountains of Vermont, I wonder how it is I got here.

My children, as do I, love living in Vermont, but they most certainly think the ocean is an exotic and thrilling place to visit.  I will lull them into feeling comfortable near it with years of adventures and vacations nearby, and hope that one day, like Miss Rumphius, I can encourage them to travel the world, live by the sea, and make the world more beautiful somehow.  I think I’m off to a good start.

The joy of the first time in the ocean for nearly a year.

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And even though my littlest mermaid preferred to have her feet planted firmly on land, I know she won’t be able to resist the call of the sea forever.IMG_8296 IMG_8298

It’s in her blood, after all, and they have all the time in the world to get better acquainted.

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