Daily Necessity — Monday, July 30th

There are certain things that make daily survival possible. Coffee is one of them. It’s been two years since I have slept through the night and just as long since I have slept until 7am. I would love to blame it all on Alexander, but really, every one in this house is to blame. I have to keep moving or I will crash. Since Alexander is not napping properly these days, due to his being schlepped around constantly in order to accommodate his siblings busy schedules, I get no down time whatsoever. I know that until school starts up again (and I pray he goes back to a nice daily nap like all 2 year olds) I will have to rely on coffee, my drug of choice these days, to help me keep up this crazy lifestyle. I am overdue for a major crash and I am sort of looking forward to it, but until then I will keep a mug by my side. It can be hot, such as now, with milk and sugar, or it can be iced. It’s Monday. I have one kid in camp and two others home. It will be a long, exhausting week… I know this already as it is 9:12 am and the two boys were messing around and the baby started to cough and up came his Cinnamon frosted Mini Wheats which were preceded by some yogurt and a cup of regular milk and a cup of chocolate milk. And guess where it all landed. On me and on the white carpeting. So I have told Christopher, as he instigated the incident and did not stop when I had asked him to, that there will be no TV for him today. My long and exhausting day has just become doubly so. I still have to take several bags and a box to Goodwill… I have three loads of laundry to wash, fold and put away. (I washed 6 loads this weekend and put them all away last night) I have to entertain the boys — and I am not really in the mood to do so. I have to keep packing things up so we can sell the house and move. I have to pick Rebecca up and then make lunch and clean that all up. I have to take the boys to the playground and get Rebecca to the pediatrician because her ear is still bothering her. I have to keep setting up activities for the kids. I need to eat something. I need to help Christopher with his reading and make sure Rebecca does hers. Then there will be dinner to prep and clean… then there will be showers for the kids… then finally bedtime. When all is said and done it will be 9:00 or 9:30 and I will drag my exhausted body to bed only to be woken up by Alexander 8 hours later… and the viciousneverendingcycle will continue tomorrow…

Scaredy Cat No More!

Those are my feet dangling from that swing! And that’s me up there at the tippity top of the log flume! I have been wanting to do these rides for a few years now but have been too chicken sh*t to try them. If Rebecca can, then so can I… so I did. There I am with Becca and my niece Brielle inching my way up Mount St. Helen’s in a tin boat with no seatbelt, harness… no nothing holding me on. The higher we get the stronger my legs grip around Becca’s and the whiter my knuckles get gripping the sides. Finally we reach the top of (in my mind) Mt. St. Helen’s and downdowndowndown we go… my eyes are shut… I shouldnothavedonethis I think to myself as we land with a splash! And just like that it was over. Painless. Even Fun! I want to go again and again and again!
And those are my feet high above… up in these flying swings that look like so much fun. It has looked like so much fun for so many years. I eagerly climb into my swing (with a v. nice tight fitting seat belt!) and leave my sandals by my side. Slowly and steadily we take flight and I am carried upupupandaway and I can feel the wind in my hair and I feel like the little girl in the Robert Louis Stevenson poem called The Swing.

The Swing

by Robert Louis Stevenson
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do! Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide, River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside– Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown– Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
Only I am not going down… I am spinning around and going faster and faster andfasterandfasterandfaster and I am being launched thousands of feet into the sky and coming down and going upupup and coming downdowndown down all the while spinning around (whipping around really) ever so quickly and wondering again, whyonearthiamonthisblastedride when suddenly we slow down, way down and I feel like a bird coming in for a landing. And just like that it’s all over. And I want to do it again and again! And againandagainandagain… next year. And next year I will try the old wooden roller coaster… and from here on in I will try something new. I will be a scaredy cat no more!

Portland Head Lighthouse – a mini history lesson from our trip

We have been wanting to visit this famous lighthouse for a while now and a cloudy, rainy day proved to be the perfect day to do so!
The kids got a history lesson from Dad on this trip.
President George Washington hired two local masons from the town of Portland in 1787 (Maine was then part of the colony of Massachusetts). He asked them to finish construction of a lighthouse on Portland Head. The men were instructed to use materials to build the lighthouse from local fields and shores. The government did not have a lot of money. The old tower, built of rubblestone, still stands as one of the four colonial lighthouses that have never been rebuilt. The masons had four years to build the lighthouse but funds ran dry. It seemed that the lighthouse would never be finished, but the first Congress made an appropriation and authorized Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, to inform the masons that they could finish the tower. The Portland Head Lighthouse was completed in 1790 and first lighted January 10, 1791.
During the Civil War it was raised 8 feet due to raids on shipping in and out of Portland Harbor.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a native of Portland, often visited the Portland Head Lighthouse and was friends with the keepers. It is believed he received inspiration at the lighthouse for his 1849 poem:
The Lighthouse
The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
and on its outer point, some miles away,
the lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
in the white tip and tremor of the face.
And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light,
with strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!
No one alone: from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean’s verge,
Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o’er the restless surge.
Like the great giant Christopher it stands
Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave,
Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night o’er taken mariner to save.
And the great ships sail outward and return
Bending and bowing o’er the billowy swells,
And ever joyful, as they see it burn
They wave their silent welcome and farewells.
They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
Gleam for a moment only in the blaze,
And eager faces, as the light unveils
Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.
The mariner remembers when a child,
on his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink
And when returning from adventures wild,
He saw it rise again o’er ocean’s brink.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
It sees the ocean to its bosum clasp
The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace:
It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,
And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.
The startled waves leap over it; the storm
Smites it with all the scourges of the rain,
And steadily against its solid form
press the great shoulders of the hurricane.
The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din
of wings and winds and solitary cries,
Blinded and maddened by the light within,
Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.
A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
Still grasping in his hand the fire of love,
it does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,
but hails the mariner with words of love.
“Sail on!” it says: “sail on, ye stately ships!”
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man neared unto man.

Greetings from Comander General Christopher James!

Christopher likes to play Army Guys with his cousins on the beach. So what better than to see a real fort and bunkers by the Portland Head Lighthouse! Rebecca, still feeling under the weather decided to sit in the car with Alexander and Dad while Griffie and I investigated the old forts and bunkers. They are reminders and remainders of our Civil War, but since Griffie doesn’t know about the Civil War and it was too complicated to explain quickly I told him this too was commissioned by General George Washington as the Portland Head Lighthouse was… The bunkers look out over the Atlantic Ocean so this was, in his mind, to fight the Two If By Sea! (I’ll correct him eventually!)

He is quite fierce looking dontcha think!

Awww, Mom…. I can’t shoot you!

Images from a cold, cloudy rainy day in Maine

With 13 kids between the ages of 2 and 11 the only place to be, in Maine, is outside unless it is absolutely impossible — snow or hail or sleet or massive downpour!

The kids are great at keeping themselves busy by organizing baseball games or going for walks or diging for crabs, or even going in for a dip!

Here is poor Rebecca feeling miserable but still she tried to stay involved

The Road to Recovery….

We have been back nearly a week and I still feel like I have my sea legs on so to speak. Our vacation was not exactly what we had expected, but we had a good time despite the obstacles. The weather was, for the mostpart, uncooperative. But thanks to some rain and overcast days we did get to see some sights that we hadn’t on past trips. Rebecca developed an ear infection, and while being quite the little trooper, she just was just not herself.

It was a cold and cloudy Wednesday and we were huddled up on the beach with our Dunkin Donuts coffee and towels and sweats trying to figure out what the game plan was going to be. Rebecca started to complain that her ear hurt, and since I have been doing this Mom Thing for nearly a decade I knew for certain that Rebecca had developed a lovely case of swimmer’s ear. So I called up our pediatrician and aksed if we could please have an Rx of Cipro ear drops for my ailing daughter as there is not a Walk In clinic for many many many miles. A perscription was promptly called in. Two hours and a dose of Motrin later Rebecca is getting worse. I could see that the pain was intollerable, so I decided perhaps she should be seen by an MD as opposed to Dr. Mom… called up the Insurance company and got an appointment set up. Lo and behold I was wrong (to my shock and amazement!) and Rebecca was given a 3 day dose of Zithromax. The next day there is only mild improvement, and the day after that and the day after that as well. Now the course of antibiotics are done and Rebecca is still not well. We had many mini-battles because although her ear was bothering her, the sun finally came out and she desperately wanted to go swimming and boogie boarding in ocean. I caved in knowing it was the last day of vacation, and a beautiful day at that. We would be home the next day and she could see her pediatrician Sunday morning. (I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that our pediatric group is open every day!)

We decided to hang out all day and take advantage of the wonderful weather and avoid weekend rental traffic. We left Maine at 8:00pm. (The drive home is 4 hours barring any stop or traffic incident. Don is happy to make the trip at the end of the day and we both think that this is the best for Alexander. We would hate for him to take a 2 hour nap at 6pm!)

The drive home ended up being late and long, but other than that it was uneventful. Until we got home. Alexander woke up as we stepped through the front door. At first he was a little disoriented, then saw his little Fisher Price Laugh and Learn play house and got all excited to be back. Do you know what’s worse than a two hour nap at 6pm? A FOUR hour nap at 8pm! Ugh… I sat with him in his stuffy (the house had been completely closed up for a week) sardine can sized room and together we rocked on his rocking chair. It could have been worse and less than an hour later he was back asleep…

I crawled into bed that night so excited to sleep in. It had been a tough week of sleep on vacation. Alexander did nap every day, but was deprived of the long ones he was used to. That combined with later than normal bedtimes and early morning wakings, thanks to the train tracks just behind the condo property line, did not make for much sleeping… at least for Alexander and Mom. I knew that Alexander would sleep in for me that morning. Nice and late.

And then, there it was, a bad nightmare come true. The shrieking MOMMMMMMEEEEEE at 5:45. Could it be? Was it a dream? Was it from the TV? I fell asleep in front of the television. Nope, not the TV. What better than to air a commercial for the Tempur-Pedic mattress? No more insomnia… no more nightly wakings… Alexander is screaming MOMMMMEEEE across the way and here is a mattress that can solve my problems? Damn, I’m getting one ASAP! Not sure how it will solve my Alarm Clock from sounding off at the most inoportune times, but if it can solve all my sleep problems it has to be the mattress for me!

So here I am a week later and still exhausted. I can not sleep in and I have not been able to nap. I tried to nap that Sunday afternoon after returning from the pediatrician with Rebecca, who, by the way still had the nasty middle ear infection and apparently the Zithromax did squat for it and apparently it is a dated drug. Well, no dwelling on the past… we move on to bigger and better drugs. Or whichever the Drug Rep Who Recently Visited the pediatric office says is the bigger and better drug!

So why not nap with Alexander? I knew you were going to ask! Well, Christopher has had soccer camp this week from 8:30 am until Noon and Rebecca has had tennis camp this week from 9:00 until 1:30 and so Alexander thinks the perfect time to nap is when we get Christopher. A nice 25 minute nap. And certainly I can not nap then too as who would then drive the car? And I absolutely, positively will not let him nap after 4pm… So, we have long and exhausting days which start at 5:30 or 6am and don’t end until 9pm! Luckily, my husband can be a real trooper (when he wants to!) and I have gone to bed before the older two! Unfortunately these crazy exhausting days mean I do not get any time with my husband. As I walk around in my zombie-like and terribly sleep deprived state I have one thing that helps me to stay positive and focused… school will start up again … in about 6 weeks I will have my life again! Meantime, yawn, I will try to move forward the best I can… It’s now 10:30 and Alexander has decided to take an early nap today. He just woke up. Yep, it’s early, but at least I was able to get some sort of break today!

On the Beach

When the weather’s good here you can’t beat a day at the beach. Having checked out the forecast even before our arrival we knew we had one or two good beach days at best. We decided to take full advantage of Tuesday. The kids never begrudge a full day in the surf and on the sand! A day on the beach is just that — an entire day (which starts before lunch and ends sometime just before the dinner hour, depending on what the dinner hour may be!
The nice thing about the beach (especially with 13 kids between the ages of 11 and 2) is that no one misbehaves! No one is too loud (unless the baby is napping and then you can shoo them away)… no one is jumping on furniture or screaming or running amok! And if they are who cares? No one complains about boredom… no one makes a mess or spills milk on the floor. No one leaves crumbs all over the place. And, instead of saying “go wash your hands” which will most likely be met with a series of ugly whines, you can say “go rinse off in the water” which, for some reason never goes unprotested. The best thing about the beach is never once having to say get off the computer/TV/Nintendo!
Christopher who claims, as of late, to never have anything to do but watch TV… who claims his toys are boring as are books and anything we suggest is met with a shrug, a grunt and a “I don’t want to!”
On the beach they play baseball, superheroes, war. They eat lunch and snack and surf and dig for crabs and shells and make up all sorts of new games and things to do. Even when they are not doing anything they are delightfully busy and never complaining of boredom.
The only thing the kids ever protest is leaving the beach. There is safety in numbers so when one family starts to pack it in the rest of us follow suit. Gathering our stuff at the end of the day is a major undertaking as it is. So when we decide to start cleaning up this is like giving the kids a 30 minute warning!
There are 15 boogie boards, about 16 beach chairs, 8 umbrellas, towels galore, toys, toys, toys and more toys…. wind screens, sunscreen (15, 20, 30, 35, 45, 50 spf) sweatshirts, sweat pants, flip flops, change of clothes, mega coolers that were once filled to the brim and are empty by day’s end, water bottles, plastic cups… paperback novels, magazines, etc that all need to be claimed and collected.
Then the haul and mass exodus off the beach. We are a sight all 27 of us! But we have fun and this is what a day on the beach is for us… this is what Maine is all about for us… a day on the beach!

Monday Morning in Maine — our photo montage

They say that New York is the city that never sleeps. Well, we seem to be the family that never sleeps. At least on vacation! Our days our busy and filled to the brim and the children are so exhausted that they fall asleep before their heads hit their pillows at night. Even Alexander. Despite the long days and late nights no one sleeps in around here! As soon as the sun is up — and it’s up awfully early these days — we’re up and rearing to go. Yesterday we decided to stroll over to our favorite local eatery and have a nice hearty breakfast before hitting the beach with a vengeance!

Ice Cream Balls and Magic Hat Circus Boy Beer

Poor Alexander. He was so excited to get back to the beach today and play with all the cousins and swim and ride his boogie board in the ocean. We had a lot to do this morning which included getting groceries for the week (almost $400 worth — Oye vey!) and then coming back, unloading the groceries, cleaning up and making lunch. We finally got to the beach at 11:30, just in time for Alexander to fall asleep in the jogger. I am not going to complain about this. I will never complain when the opportunity presents itself to me to sit on my rump! It turned out, however, not to be such a great thing for Alexander who was fast asleep in the stroller. Alexander, who wanted to go to the beach more than anyone. We had been there less than an hour when suddenly the sky went from blue to black in a matter of seconds, and in a matter of seconds we all had to repack everything we had just come to unpack. Alexander woke up just in time to see the beach flying past him.

It’s been thundering and raining for over four hours. Four hours of building with those big cardboard blocks and playing with cars and army guys and puzzles, and four hours of trying to keep Alexander from sticking everything into all the outlets. These past four plus hours have not been devoid of fun. Mine began with a Magic Hat Circus Boy beer and the boys all made vanilla ice cream in an ice cream ball with vanilla, sugar, half and half and some rock salt. I take my Magic Hat off to them. They did a magnificent job! Such a magnificent job there is none left for Rebecca who is off at her grandmother’s house playing with her cousin. Shhh! Don’t tell… we’ll make more tomorrow!

Friday the Thirteenth

I had completely forgotten that yesterday was Friday the 13th until the afternoon. This is probably a good thing as had I known everything would have gone wrong. Not that I am a superstitious person, but I am the type of person to walk around a ladder instead of under it and I have been known to knock on wood.

I took Alexander to the beach yesterday. I had him playing hard and having fun. The purpose for this power play was to get a good nap out of him so that I could pack. We left the beach at Noon and at 12:05 he was passed out cold in his seat. I transferred him without incident and ran up to take a shower. Not 5 minutes after I got out of the shower did he wake. I tried and tried and tried to get him back to sleep but my efforts were proving futile. There is nothing worse for a mom who expects her toddler to nap… who needs her toddler to nap (for sanity purposes) than for her toddler to cut his naptime short. It can really ruin a day. It makes the afternoon drag on and on and on. When you have been up with said Toddler since 6 am you really want a break. When it is just 12:30 in the afternoon you simply can not imagine how on earth you are going to make it until 8pm without completely losing it or melting from sheer exhaustion. The remainder of the day seems like an eternity. It is then that I realize the date and the implications it will have on the day, on my life.

I don’t fight it any more and let Alexander help pack. (Unpack) and we just kind of go through the motions until it is time to pick the other two from camp. I have a sitter all lined up to come play with the kids so that I can continue to pack. Instead I have to take Christopher to get his hair re-cut. Yep, re-cut. I do not know what M was thinking when she cut the kids hair on Tuesday, but Christopher came out with something resembling a Liza Minella cut gone bad… luckilly it was a little longer than Mz. Minelli wears her own hair. But I had to get it fixed so that I would not be appalled, years from now, when I looked through the vacation pictures!

So, here it is Friday the 13th and I am taking Christopher to get his hair fixed. Luckily I forget it is the 13th (temporarily) and when we get to the kid’s salon I tell M to fix it. I simply tell her to even out the (hideous) layers and do something resembling a little boy’s bowl cut. A few snips here and there and the results are amazing. Farewell Liza and Hello Christopher!

Onward and upward. I decide to quickly stop by Toys’R’Us to see if I can find a supersized rake for Alexander to play with at the beach. There isn’t any, but it’s amazing that on 7/13 they are already blowing out all their beach things and we get a couple of really cute toys for Alexander and a great big King Kone Ice cream for Christopher. He’s happy now. (Wasn’t when I had to pull him away from the Xbox he was playing with at the hair salon!)

Then on the way to the car I see this chi chi boutique having a sidewalk sale. My eye… well, both eyes, actually, are imediately drawn to these hip-cool-chiq boots… black suede with black sheerling and these horn buttons on the sides. They are only $50. I try a pair on an they fit like a glove. I call Don and ask him what to do. Then I throw in the deal sealer and tell him that the origianl list price of these Boots is $470! (No, I did not accidentally add an extra number or make a typo.) He said “Fifty buck is fifty bucks… do what you want.” I am not sure what he means. I look at the boots and walk away deciding that I do not need them. I don’t need them? Since when have I ever not gotten something that I didn’t need?

When I am in the car I start to panic and hyperventilate. I should have gotten them. I should have gotten the boots. I contemplate turning around. I contemplate this until it is just too late to do so. Ugh… Grrrr. I am kicking myself at this point. What a stupid idiot I am. I showed self control at the store. Self control is useless and good for NOTHING! And now I want those boots more than anything!I know, for certainly, that had it not been Friday the 13th I would have not shown any self control and would have gladly handed Fifty bucks over to the sales lady and been proud of my Sale prowess… Ugh. Now it is Bastille Day and I am proud of nothing. Then, this morning I learn that I will have no wireless internet access this week… I am hoping that it is still Friday the 13th in Hawaii and as soon as they come on over and join the rest of us n Bastille Day my luck will change!