May I have your attention please?

The following takes place between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.:

Dad: C’mon Dani. Eat a green bean first, then you can have more fish sticks.

Dani: Nuooo Nooo. Ewwweeeee (unhappy sounds)

Caed: Hey Daddy. Excuse me, Daddy. Daddy??

Dad: Dani, you have to eat a bean first. No more until you eat a bean. Stop crying. Do you want to go to your bed? Ok, then stop crying.

Caed: Daddy, excuse me, Daddy. Hey Daddy!

Dani: Noo bee, mo’ milky!

Dad: One bean. Just one bean, Dani. Good girl!! See that wasn’t so bad. Don’t spit it out. No, you have to chew it and swallow it. No spitting, Dani. EAT THE BEAN.

Caed: Daddy....Daddy..... Hey Larry!

Dad: (laughing) What did you say Caed?

Caed: I said ‘excuse me Daddy’.

Epilogue - Dani finally ate the bean, remembered she did in fact like beans, and gobbled up the rest on her plate. And by the time Caed finally got Daddy’s attention, he had forgotten what it was he wanted to say.


The Train Trainer

Recently, Caed overheard me talking about the stock market being down again. He was of course curious to know what things you can buy at that kind of a market, and whether it goes down because it is on a drawbridge. He was imagining something along the lines of the farmer’s market on Main Street selling green herbs, not the broker’s market on Wall Street trading greenbacks.

I gave him a quick explanation and then promised to teach him all about money, and how to manage it wisely, when he was a little bit older.

He replied, “And when you’re a little bit older, I’ll teach you about trains. Cuz I know that stuff really well, and you don’t know it yet. But I will teach you.” So cute, that boy.

So this morning, he demonstrated to me that he does, indeed, know more about trains than I do. Before the clock struck 6:00 a.m., he had constructed a drawbridge out of his train tracks and blocks, using his “Thomas map” as inspiration.

(A brief aside to define the Thomas map: This is a booklet obtained at the Day out with Thomas that has pictures of all the things you wish you had, but your mom won’t buy, unless she is desperate to get you to potty train, and even then, you’d still only get one thing. And now you can’t even ask to buy stuff from it anymore, or else she’ll take said Map away for good).

A bit later, the drawbridge and its elaborate island loop were inadvertently demolished by the wrecking ball that doubles as Baby Sister’s foot. Caed solicited my help in the restoration efforts, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was unable to duplicate his design. This is not so much a tribute to Caed’s structural design genius as it is a revelation of my three-dimensional ineptitude. But whatever way you look at it, I apparently have a lot left to learn from my ever adorable train trainer.


Bust my Buffers!

He DOES look like a cheeky engine, doesn’t he?

It was a lovely day on the island of Sodor, (temporarily located at the Railway Village in Boothbay, ME). All the children were eager to take a ride on a Really Useful Engine. But before the children could board the coaches, they had a very important job to do. They needed to fill their bellies full with the best cinnamon rolls north of the Mason-Dixon, as it would not do to find themselves hungry during the train ride.

With breakfast behind them, the children were ready to embark on their wonderful journey. They arrived at the station teaming with excitement. “Peep, peep!” whistled Thomas. Caed and Dani were delighted!

“Oh bother!” Mom exclaimed, as she realized her camera was running low on battery power, just as Thomas was rounding the corner. “Without any pictures, our blog will be ruined!” Mom said crossly.

“But we musn’t stop now, Mom. What about the tractor ride, and the bouncy house, and the hay maze, and the legos, and the TRAIN ride?” the children wondered.

Just then Sir Topham Hat appeared and said to Mom, “You have caused confusion and delay. Go get the batteries from the General Store at once, and return here to the station, and then your camera will be really useful.”

Everyone agreed. So Mom went to get batteries, just as Sir Topham Hat instructed. And later that morning, when the children boarded the beloved Thomas the Train, her camera was Really Useful indeed.


Nana is dialed in and I'm still on hold

Cell phone. Palm Pilot. Blogging. Bluetooth. iPod. Macbook. Facebook. And soon, the iPhone. What do these things have in common? My mom, a grandmother 13 times over, was into all of it way before I was. You know you’ve missed the train to hip-town when your own mother is sporting a shuffle while you are still walk-manning around in a late 80s trance.

Many moonwalks ago, when the Palm Pilot was all the rage, I worked for a technology consulting company and juggled a demanding schedule. Yet I clung to my dino-Daytimer to manage my work across multiple time zones while my mom categorized recipes and wrote “to do” lists in her new Palm. She was the savvy early adopter, and I was the lazy late bloomer. But in my defense, I was only late because I didn’t have a Palm with an alarm chime going off automatically to remind me that it was time for me to upgrade to the tools of the 21st century.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially me, when this past week, one of my friends from middle school found me on Facebook through, you guessed it, my Mom’s “wall”. (This, I believe, makes me officially as uncool as a smokin’ CPU in a commodor 64. And not the good kind of smokin’).

You see, a couple days prior I had reluctantly set up a quick profile on Facebook so I could log in and see updates from my brother on his big move to DC. I had resisted any participation in this online venue up until this point, because (and here’s the irony) I thought myself TOO OLD to toggle with the likes of teenagers, too crotchety to connect with college kids.

But apparently Facebook is for moms too. MY MOM, that is. And wouldn’t ya know, she has like five hundred friends already, and stuff written all over her wall. And I’ll be honest, I really don’t even know what that means. I didn’t think walls were supposed to be written on. At least that what my Mom told me back when I was five and quite prolific with crayons. Boy, has she changed her iTune since then!


Way more than a thousand words...

There was nothing special about this day and the hug that began it. This was just one of hundreds of hugs Caed and his Dad have shared as part of their morning goodbye routine. It just happened that on this particular day the camera was nearby, and I was able to capture an ordinary moment which, upon further examination, was extraordinary enough to stop me in my type-a tracks, rendering me tearful and speechless.

And here's another ordinary moment drenched in extraordinary blessing. This time it’s reflected in the face of Daddy’s little girl.


What's in a Name?

Apparently quite a bit.

So for those of you expectant parents, I suggest the name “Lugono Anela”, which supposedly means “sleeping angel”. Yep, I think that’s what I’d go with in hindsight.

I’ll start with Sheridan. Her name means “wild”. We paired it with middle name Alayne, which means “beauty”. Wild beauty, that's kind of nice, right? You know, like the long flowing hair, bright sparkly eyes sort of thing? Now of course I think my daughter is beautiful and all. But right now she seems to be giving more air time to her first name. Way more.

She fell down the stairs for the first time (top to bottom) this week. She cried a bit, and then not 5 minutes later, she took my hand and tried to drag me back up the stairs (she wanted to walk up, not crawl). It seemed like her way of saying to her hard-wood assailant, “Is that all ya got?”

But it isn’t just her fearless indifference to pain and consequences that makes her my official wild child. She also regularly pushes limits. Mine. Hers. Caed’s. Any limits will do, really, as long as she can push them. And if she can’t push limits, she’ll settle for buttons. Or slamming doors. Did I mention she has also endured a bloody lip and pinched fingers from the door slamming, and yet, this prolific practice continues with no lesson learned? (Only lesson learned here is this--don’t name your child “wild one”.) Indeed, I’m already praying for greater grace as age thirteen approaches.

And then there is Caed. He’s compliant, thoughtful and sensitive. (Don’t get me wrong--he still has the crazy energy of an almost 4 yr old boy, often exhibited at the most inopportune times). But he’s starting to scare me. His name means “Warrior” or “Battler” in the Gaelic. Yesterday, he revealed his namesake to me through his imagination. He solemnly reported that the wild animals were all trying to eat Baby Dani, and that he used his knife to cut them so they wouldn’t be alive anymore, and so that they couldn’t bite her.

He was almost beaming with pride as he recounted the pretend protection he provided to his little sister. Okay, that’s not so bad, you might think. Well, it gets a little worse. The day before the wild animals were on the prowl, he was pretending to be a soldier. Again, he was “cutting the bad guys”.

When I asked him where he learned about, ahem, “cutting”, he replied that he had seen a picture in the “God Book” (aka the Children’s Bible). I have to say, of all the media that might lead my child down the path of violence, I wouldn’t have guessed it would be the Bible. But alas, I checked out the picture he was talking about, and there it was, a picture of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, knife and all.

(To the editors of the Children’s Bible, I just have to say, “Really?? THAT’s the image that you had to depict out of hundreds of other possibilities in the vast recording of Hebrew history, most of which would be MUCH easier to explain to a 4 year old!”)

With all this namesake nonsense, I find myself wishing that my parents had thought to name me “Sabira Breanna Sage”, which means, “Patient, Strong & oh soo Wise”. Because that’s the kind of name I think I might need to rear my wild one and my warrior!


One Week in Maine

This website began about a year ago with the inaugural post The best of Maine...with 4 under 4.

Well, this year, when the Riggs came to visit, they brought a new baby brother along, and we set a rowdy record with a house full of 5 kids, 4 and under. We packed what felt like an entire summer’s worth of fun into one week, and lucky for me, Kendra has already blogged about it.

Her account is quite thorough, although I did notice that she accidentally omitted any reference to the heavy drinking we did every night after the kids went to bed. :-) Ok, ok, so it wasn’t every night, and we did limit ourselves. We had only drinks that start with “M”, in honor of the visit with Mainely Myles--Mojitos, Mudslides and Margaritas (all in Moderation).

I also find that being with Kendra inspires me to take more pictures. She does an amazing job of documenting memories with a great many photos. So I tried to keep up with the prolific photo-shooting, and now have lots of pictures to prove how much fun we had.


Chili con Carnival

This morning on our way to school, Caed was rehearsing all the things he wanted to tell his classmates about his weekend. As he recounted, day by day, all the “pun t’ings” we did over the weekend, it occurred to me why I am so tired today! We literally went non-stop, squeezing family fun into every minute of our long weekend.

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon and early evening at the Bath Heritage Days celebration with some friends from Dad’s work. The fun began with carnival rides and concluded with a Chili-Chowder Festival, and dancing to familiar folk tunes in the park. I’ve captured a few pictures below. My favorite is the one of Caed and Dr. Josie gearing up to go down the slide.
Not sure who is having more fun!

Sunday was more a bit more laid back, but still loads of fun. We went to a little pool party and BBQ at our friends house, and again, had a blast. Sheridan surprised us a bit with her reluctance to go in the water. Finally a sign of healthy fear in Dani the Daredevil! And Caed surprised me with his enthusiasm for swimming by himself (with the aid of a floaty and paddle bar of course), and with his willingness to jump in and practice going under water.
Not the least bit surprising was how much I enjoyed kicking back with a glass of sangria with my girlfriends, while the Dads were on duty in the pool. Did I mention how much I love it when Larry is on an elective month??


Stars & Stripes Forever

Or in the case of the flag Caed obtained at the Freeport parade, stars and stripes until about 10:30 p.m., at which time the little parade flag fell apart from the endless waving.
Our morning began on a classic Main St. in Maine, as antique fire trucks and patriotic polka-playing floats paraded through Freeport Village. We had a quick picnic in the park, and then headed home in pursuit of gloriously long naps for the kids. To my delight, they both slept well that afternoon, giving us just enough courage to attempt the fireworks with them later that night. So, after a wonderful dinner with friends, we headed out to catch our first 4th of July fireworks with kids.

And I’m so glad we did. Sheridan struggled a bit to stay up, but once the fireworks began, she was all smiles. Caed and his friend Ethan had a blast as well, doing what 4 yr old boys do--wrestling, laughing and shouting out “That’s a blue fireworks”, “No, THAT’s a blue fireworks.” “Haha, that’s a stinky fireworks!!” “P.U.! Stinky fireworks....” I believe it went downhill from there. I had a flashback to my childhood when my Dad yelled out to me and my sister Michelle, “GIRLS!!, I will separate you if you can’t be quiet!!”. I drew upon that same threat with Caed, and it seemed to work, at least temporarily.

My favorite part of the evening, though, was when Sheridan crawled off Daddy’s lap to go sit next to her brother. She followed him in classic little sister fashion. So when he laid down on his belly, legs bent and feet dangling in the air, she had to do it too. The result (shown below) may very well be the cutest picture of feet I’ve ever taken!


The Beach at its Best

Today was a true blue Maine summer day. Beautiful sunshine, fresh ocean breeze, and enough surf to go around for the crowds that flocked to Pine Point beach this morning. We set a record for how long we could last without “melting down”. Two hours and change. Not bad at all.

Sheridan learned a couple valuable lessons today as well. The first was that she didn’t like the taste of salt water. The second was that she didn’t like getting knocked over by the surf. It was nice that she learned this early on, as it cut down on the amount of chasing after her that I had to do. She was content to run and play in the sand, and leave the wave taunting to her big brother.

Caed took on a few waves nose to nose. At one point, he laid down on his belly in the surf, directly facing the ongoing waves. I watched with a bit of apprehension, not knowing whether he would be quick enough to hop up and out of the way--or whether I would have to go into the water to retrieve him. Luckily, he concluded that playing chicken with the waves was not a game he would win, and he decided to stand back up. Quickly, I might add.

Note that the picture above resulted from applying the iphoto effect of “antique”. For some reason, I like the nostalgic, golden and grainy look. It reminds me of that “time stands still” feeling you get when you’re playing at the beach. I also took several more pictures for those who want more documentation of our play date with the sky, surf and sand.

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