Family Photos Maine Montage

In an effort to move these Maine blog posts along–which I can’t skip because the memories and photos are precious to me but I’ll admit, there have been quite a few of them!–I’m going to combine three glorious days of Maine extended family fun into one gigantic family photo montage.  We loved sharing our vacation with our family, as did our kids, and were especially glad to celebrate our nephew’s Tommy’s birthday and to have everyone experience these locations that are so dear to our heart.  Therefore, enjoy!  Montage time!

Old Orchard Beach

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Kennebunkport, York, Wells

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Drakes Island at Sunset

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Ogunquit

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There are so many things I can say about how blessed we are to get to experience this precious life in such a glorious way, but I think the photos did it better than I ever could.  Much love to our family and thankful for these wonderful memories with them!

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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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Back From Paradise

Oh, lovely readers, thank you for a much-needed break from constant communication, and although I did try to at least keep up with my photo of the day, my laptop and personal hotspot apparently conspired against me so that I could not even get a signal strong enough to upload a photo.  I wasted a half hour here or there trying to make it work, but it wasn’t with too much dismay that I spent my evenings talking with my husband and reading than my normal routine of editing, posting, emailing, repeat.  So since we have been home less than 24 hours, my brain is still a bit on vacation, and thus all I can muster this morning is a smorgasbord of cell phone images of our wonderful week in Maine.  With my thankful heart, I say, Enjoy!

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Every day was as amazing and memorable as the one before, from beginning to end.

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So sad it’s over–already dreaming of going back!

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4th of July Favorites

I never have much to say about spending the 4th of July with my family that would sound novel; I’m sure our annual celebration looks and sounds a lot like ones happening all across the country.  What makes it special to me, and what keeps us coming back and celebrating the same way every year, is the people we spend it with and the reassuring happiness of traditions truly enjoyed.

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We had the same rockstar crew as last year, the same location, stellar fireworks and delicious food.  The biggest differences were that the kids were one year older and that much more excited, and I actually got my act together the day before to buy them red, white, and blue outfits, which the kids were WAY more excited about than I would have thought!

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We had aunts, uncles and cousins galore with us, which makes the waiting in lines and down time before fireworks just as fun as the games and prizes!  I love that my kids’ memories of holidays are mingled with thoughts of family and time together.  That means more to me than any amount of money spent or any extravagant vacation we could take.

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One thing I love about Em is how every year she patiently waits in line to get her face painted.  The woman who does it is an artist and takes her time creating beautiful works of art for all the children, so the line can be long.  But Em loves it, so we eat ice cream and wait together.

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While we were waiting, Jax played games, raced over an inflatable obstacle course, and climbed a rock wall!  He loves the carnival atmosphere!  Then with silly glasses and glo-sticks, we snuggled up on our chairs and blankets and waited for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to begin.

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The kids absolutely loved it, especially Little H! She is still talking about it weeks later, saying “Fireworks loud!” and naming all the colors she saw. IMG_5434 IMG_5437

Another awesome, memorable, festive 4th of July in the books!

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Camping With Kids, Take One

For Father’s Day this year, JDubbs decided he wanted to break with tradition and instead of spending the weekend at home with his family, he wanted to take our little party of five on an entirely new adventure and start a tradition of our own: he wanted to take the kids camping.  JDubbs grew up camping and the idea of the five of us in one tent, the security blanket of bedtimes and schedules out the window, sounded exactly like the kind of weekend he wanted.  I, on the other hand, was less sure, grasping at any and all vestiges of normalcy.  “Should we bring books?” I asked him.  “What about toys?”  He looked at me like I was officially out of of my mind and reminded me that that is what sticks are for. Trying hard to focus on the potential for magic and not so much mischief, I simply packed the kids’ clothes and let JDubbs do the rest.  All we needed was a place to sleep, he pointed out to me.  The rest we could improvise if need be.

Improvisation is not generally how I roll.  Have you seen my chore chart?  I generally enjoy things neat and organized.  This weekend was going to be an experiment in many things, one of which was parenting-on-the-fly.  I took a deep breath and trusted in my husband, and perhaps a little in God, that all would be well.

I have only been camping in a tent twice in my life, both with JDubbs when we were in our twenties, when there was more emphasis on beer than babies.  But those experiences left me with a great impression of JDubbs’s ability to come prepared and be responsible, so while he and the kids unpacked the van, I basically stayed out of the way and let the master do his thing.  I did mine–I took photos.

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It has been long established that setting up camp is not in my particular skill set.  I would be more successful teaching a bear to read than to pitch a tent.  But JDubbs had three very eager helpers, and before long, we had shelter, and the kids were wholeheartedly proud and impressed.

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My next job was to keep the kids out of the way while JDubbs set up the food/grill/campfire.  They were content to stay inside the tent, although preventing them from popping one of our air mattresses–which I had laboriously blown up in the nearest bathroom and somehow managed to carry back to camp–wasn’t exactly easy with three little monkeys jumping on the beds!

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The kids were barely through dinner before they were begging for dessert.  Of course we obliged.  Camping isn’t camping without having to cut the marshmallow out of your daughter’s hair with a leatherman!

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Then it was off to bed for Little H, with the big kids staying up until it was dark to sit by the fire with us.  Jax excused himself and went into the tent to read for a while, but Em was our little buddy and hung out chatting by the fire with just me and JDubbs until bed.  It’s so amazing what you can learn about what’s inside your child’s head when you have nothing else to do but just be there and listen.

After a decent night’s sleep, it was breakfast in red Solo cups while wearing fuzzy bathrobes…

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…and then a hike to a nearby waterfall.  The kids were really excited about the adventure, and super good troopers about the trek!  We hadn’t brought the stroller with us and it never would have made it down the trail anyway, so JDubbs and I took turns carrying Little H (when she’d let us) and keeping clumsy Em from breaking her neck.

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Afterward we had naps all around, a bit of ice cream and some quiet time…

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…before heading to the river for some cool fun, which mostly revolved around finding interesting rocks and throwing sticks.

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The big kids eventually brought their favorite sticks back to the campsite and used them as wands to cast Harry Potter spells on each other.  Our neighbors could hear shrieks of “Wingardium Leviosa!” and “Petrificus Totalus!” as Jax and Em ran around trying to make each other fly and hexing each other with the full-body bind all afternoon.  Looks like JDubbs was right; apparently toys are overrated.

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Back at the campsite, the kids got a little antsy waiting for dinner.  I broke out the emergency markers I keep in my diaper bag for restaurant distraction, and was hilariously surprised to see the kids set up what was basically their own tattoo parlor!  I guess since everyone on my side of the family has at least one (if not four or five), it’s not too surprising that the kids were ready for some ink of their own.

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The forecast called for rain so before the sun set JDubbs and I basically broke down everything extraneous that night and packed it back into the van.  By morning all that was left was our tent and the people and gear inside.  One thing that we kept out, however, were the necessary accouterments for snipe hunting!  That is one tradition JDubbs would never forget!

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Don’t know what a snipe hunt is?  Look here–I can’t remember if I fell for this the first time JDubbs and I went camping, but I think there is a high likelihood I did!

Well, JDubbs, as I often say, you were right.  Camping was a really great escape for our family, a chance to unplug and reconnect, to spend quiet moments listening and loud moments laughing and living life.  I hope this becomes a new tradition for our family!  You deserve only the best and happiest memories for Father’s Day!

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We love you!

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My Mother’s Day

This year on Mother’s Day (aka the best holiday ever because it’s always on a Sunday and therefore JDubbs is always around), I asked for the usual things: sleeping in, time with my family, and lunch at The White Cottage in Woodstock.  Better known as my happy place, with my very favorite people in the world.

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I’m not alone in my opinion!

Every spring we can’t wait for Mother’s Day when The White Cottage opens with its delicious food, fabulous ice cream and setting that just begs families to sit and stay awhile.  I really cannot ask for more than the many memories I’ve had with my kids, sitting by the river, throwing stones, playing in the grass, and pretty much guarenteed an idyllic Vermont summer day together.

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Every year we come here, and every year I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be on my special day.  The kids look forward to it, and so do I!  Jax asks to play Red Rover and Em looks for minnows and tadpoles in the little pools beside the river.  Everyone loves the ice cream and there is no rush to head home.

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These four people are the greatest gift any mother could ask for, and this Mother’s Day, like always, was a day worth waiting for.

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Thank you for a very wonderful day!

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Easter Blessings

Oh my goodness, Easter was so long ago!  How did I forget to document all the blessings (literal and spiritual) of such a wonderful day?

We spent the night before Easter at Auntie Amanda and Uncle Chris’s house, and the kids were beyond thrilled that the Easter bunny was able to find us there!

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I think there was more than one Easter bunny hopping around that morning!

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Once they checked out their loot, the kids were content for quite a while.  That bunny sure knows what they love!

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After a wonderful morning and their first game of Monopoly, we headed over to my hometown where we could celebrate with extended family.  The girls looked just perfect in their matching Easter dresses.  These photos just speak to my heart about family, tradition, and sisterhood.

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Of course we took a few minutes to get some family photos…

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…and the kids explored a little while the grown-ups hid the eggs for the hunt.

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Then we let my three and their big cousins Christian and Erika battle for as many money-filled plastic eggs as they could find, as my sisters, my cousins and I did throughout our childhood!

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Oh, so blessed, so happy to continue wonderful traditions, and so thrilled to spend a sunshiney day with my family!  Grateful for each and every one of these memories.  A really lovely day.

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