Goodbye Maine

Because making a "Goodbye Maine" slideshow is way more important fun than packing. And also, because I thought it would be wise to work myself up into an emotional frenzy right before the movers come.

*The song in the slide show is "My Little Bird" by Rogue Wave. It makes me cry. What else is new?

I'm going to go pack my computer now. I mean it this time. I really am. So things around here will be quiet for a week or two. See you on the flip side.


On Striking Gold

Every day holds tiny treasures. I pan for them here in the quiet hours before the stream of day sweeps me in. I realize as I do how impossible it is to seize this day while worrying about the next one. I realize too, how many treasured moments I squander by turning my back on today to tug at the loose ends of tomorrow.

What surprises me most is how there are still so many gems to turn over in my palms, even on the days I paid little attention to the sparkling stream underfoot.

So I share here, more for myself than anyone else, a few of the moments still shining in my hands.

1. Dani called her favorite blanket a "b'ankey" for nearly two years. But this week, she added an "L" to her repertoire, and threw it in twice for good measure, turning b'ankey into blankley. When she wakes up, she calls for me (at the top of her lungs) and reaches out with both arms when I come. She can get down from her bed by herself. She knows that. I know that. But she waits for me to come, to carry her and her blankley downstairs to start the day.

2. Yesterday we met some friends for a hike. We traveled down the path toward a river and stopped to wade just after the waterfall. Our friends brought water soakers, and we splashed an entire afternoon away. "It's even better than a playground," Caed told me later. Yes it is. Way better.

3. The kids brought seedlings from school over a month ago, and we decided to give them a special place at the "old house" rather than taking them with us and risk losing them altogether. (There is a metaphor here, I'm sure.) Anyway, we planted them this week, and the kids were so proud. Then we ran through the sprinklers and ate popsicles.

I keep coming back to these simplest of joys. Maybe they wouldn't appraise for much in the hands of another. But in my hands, they outshine the worry. In my hands, they make me infinitely rich.

What treasures are you turning over in your hands today?

Linking up with Maegan today for this Bigger Picture Moment.
Bigger Picture Moment


Landmark at Low Tide

It was Sunday, but I already knew. This would be my Tuesday moment.

Last year, whenever the tide sunk low while the sun stretched high, we walked the sandbar. We tried on many occasions to cross to the furthest "island", but never made it. The water lapped too high; the children halted, too afraid.

But Sunday, we made it across, our last attempt a successful one. It felt symbolic, though it probably wasn't. It felt like we put the final piece into a gorgeous puzzle, after turning it this way and that to make it fit. And we could sit back now, admire the entire picture, begin to tell stories about the hours we spent putting it together, the thousands of pieces.

For the kids, it was just another morning at the beach, another day of exploration topped with the triumph of finally reaching the furthest shore. But for me, it was a landmark moment, marking endings and beginnings and the places in between where we met so often with delight and wonder. Like a crescendo note rising with the tide, singing in one breath the whole story of the time when we were neighbors with the sea.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats


In Which I Kill (among other things) My Chances for Mother of the Year

This weekend I inadvertently murdered a giant sea snail. But how was I supposed to know that they can retreat into their shell and seal the entrance with a "trap door"?

On the bright side, the kids received both a beautiful shell and a vivid marine biology lesson.

Caed found the sea snail at the beach and brought it up to show the grown-ups. We all oohed and ahhed. "Sure, we'll take it home! It's beautiful! Where did you find it?"

A few minutes later Caed came back with a huge clam. (Seriously, kid, how are you finding this stuff?) Unlike the poor snail, we quickly recognized the big guy to be alive (and as unhappy as a clam at low tide), and seeing as I had no plans for making clam chowder, Caed and his friends "saved him!" by placing him back into the ocean.

And then there were the hermit crabs. Caed found at least a dozen and put them into a bucket of water, bringing them food in the form of seaweed and a few shells, "to make them feel cozy." He worked up the courage to touch them, and by the end of our beach excursion, he reported, "I shook the hermit crab's claw and he said 'thanks for saving me!'" Later he added, "The hermit crabs love me, because they know I'm going to be nice to them."

So of course, when you're the sort of kid who shakes hands with hermit crabs, the news that you prematurely ended the life of a hard-shelled sea creature (no matter how slimy) is not going to sit well. "But he was a Daddy Snail! What about his kids?" Caed worried. "Why he dead, Mom? Why he losed his pamily?" Dani wondered.

Now where is my trap door when I need it? I could use a bit of sealing off right now, hiding from the world, or at least from the sea snail police.

So what did I do this weekend? Oh, nothing much. Just packed a dozen boxes, scrubbed the walls, boiled the last of the potatoes in my overheated kitchen, overdosed on ice cream (the hot kitchen drove me to it!), and orphaned a whole school of sea snails.

So anybody know if having a record (like, say a prior felony for crimes against humanity mollusks) disqualifies you from running for Mother of the Year?


This is how you spell "adorable"

This boy makes my day on a regular basis. A few days ago, he decided he would use his quiet time to write another book. He likes to surprise me with the subject matter, but I often figure out the theme by his questions.

Such as:

"Hey Mom, how do you spell 'lighthouse'?"
"Does 'Maine' have a silent e?"

He is so proud of his "Maine Bok".
And I (of course) am so proud of him.


What Your To-Do List Will Never Tell You

I should be packing. At least that's what my bossy, controlling To Do List keeps telling me. It beeped at me yesterday. (It thinks it's all big and bad because it lives in my phone and has a fancy alarm.) I heard the beep and shouted, "You're not the boss of me!"

So in rebellion against the ugly list, I sassed and ran. The only things I'm packing today are lunches and a beach bag. Put *that* on your list and check it.

And then I dashed off toward the coast to meet up with Corinne and her darling beach babies. And while I have very few decent pictures to prove it, we had an absolutely lovely morning.

I started and ended the day in the exact same circumstances--with enough loose ends to make a mop, an overwhelming list of tasks, a pile of unknowns rattling my courage in ten minute intervals. But by choosing to rest, really rest, smack in the middle of prime-accomplish-stuff-time, I discovered unexpected gifts, the kind To Do lists never give. A soul refreshed, a heart encouraged, a spirit renewed.


Where (or in what) do you find refreshment and renewal? And if you say you find it by checking things off your To Do List, then (a) I probably won't believe you. But (b) I will still invite you to my house for the most refreshing and renewing To-Do-List-Tackling you've ever experienced. And (c) no worries, because I'll provide the boxes and the packing tape.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats


But First, Lots of Summer Time - Part 4

On our last day with Alexis here, we picked 7 pounds of blueberries. I worried I might not be able to use them all before they spoiled; and given the move, I didn't want to freeze any.

That was Thursday. They were all gone by Sunday. Now I'm thinking about going back to pick some more. Seriously.

Dani ate more blueberries on Thursday than she has consumed in her entire life. She skipped through the rows exclaiming "Yummy! I yike b'ueberries now!"

But after we got home, she wanted nothing to do with them. She told me she only liked outside blueberries. Whatever, crazy girl. That just leaves more for me and Caed.

Inside or outside, I'm certain Dani would never turn down one of Libby & Son's homemade blueberry donuts. Truth be told, it's possible I want to go pick more blueberries just for another sampling of those scrumptious little circles of doughy heaven.
When we came home, we whipped up a batch of blueberry muffins. They were gone in less than 24 hours. I blame their unusually fast disappearance on the fact we ate them for brinner (breakfast dinner). Antioxidants cancel out the butter and sugar, you know. At least that's what I heard....


Get Your Hopes Up

I wrote this a month ago and never hit publish. It seemed too personal. I worried it would come off like I was full of myself. But then I read it again today, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed and afraid of the future, and I was convicted by my own words. I need to stop letting the fear of unknown endings pool around my heart. So this is me, wringing out the fear, remembering the faithfulness of the Author who wrote these early chapters of our lives, who weaves beauty and meaning in every sentence of character development, who has already written my tomorrows.

I remember it was dark, as dark at least as Santa Clarita skies can be, long after the shift change between sun and streetlights. We sat looking up and then out over the canyon, staring off into the distance like we might see our future if we squinted. I had a ring, and he had a plan. And even though I believed in him at twenty times the going rate, I still wondered. I wondered what would become of us when we chased a dream so clearly out of our league, when we never caught it--or worse, when we did--when the dream looked us in the face, threw its unattainable head back, and laughed. "You? You really thought? Oh that's adorable, really. But come on, look at me! And look at you...."

The plan back then was to move to Oregon, where we'd work to pay off our college loans. He would manage a small business for a friend's father, and I might substitute teach, maybe freelance for the paper. And in his spare time, he'd volunteer at the hospital, take a few classes to bolster his GPA, and then, maybe--just maybe--he would be accepted to P.A. school.

That was the dream I feared was too big for us.


Last night I watched him walk to the front of the room. I listened while they talked about his time as a resident physician. I beamed as they read a glowing note from a patient. And within moments, he sat again next to me, slid the certificate under his chair, a tired smile curling across his face.

Thousands of people become doctors, graduate from residency, go on to fellowship or straight into practice. It's not that special, in and of itself. But when you're the guy everyone assumed wouldn't even go to college, when you're the guy who took lump after lump and never once a handout, when you're the guy who was written off as unremarkable before being given a chance to prove otherwise, when you're that guy, it is a big deal. A very big deal.

I met his eyes and saw the canyon-gazing dreamer fifteen years his junior. It's practically impossible, everyone had warned. Don't get your hopes up.

I swallowed hard, crinkled my eyebrows together to block the tears, trying not to be the sap that cries about everything. I squeezed his hand.

It feels like the end of a beautiful story, I thought.
It feels like the beginning of one, too.


And this is what I want to say--to my children and to yours, to my friends and their daughters and sons, to our nieces and nephews and everyone we love who is tempted to gaze out into the canyon and wish something impossible. Get your hopes up. Lift them as high as they'll go.

Sure, it hurts when they tumble back down. (And they will. Many times.) But make it a habit to stretch and reach and try, until the falling and failing become not nearly as scary as the not trying. Yes, I know this is not the safe way. I know this is the painful way, the hard way, the scary way. But it is the best way. So go on. Get your hopes up. Lift them as high as they'll go.


All That Matters

Yesterday, I posted pictures of our Maine summer and allowed my reluctance to leave to seep through my words. I have indulged this habit--to grieve before the loss. To miss this house, these shores, these spaces I've filled for the last three years, to miss them all even while I am still in their midst.

And in response to my nostalgia-marinaded post, my friend Deb (who is a poet and a red head--only two of the many reasons I adore her) commented:

that photo of you reading,
is priceless.
and timeless,
and could have been taken in , oh, Ohio even
And I have been thinking this, at every hour, at every turn around the road I ran this morning, that Deb is right.

There was also a time, I remind myself, when my favorite coastal running route was unfamiliar, when I'd never even seen the buoy mailbox that now doubles as a mile marker. There was a time when I knew nothing of the rocky shore, when I didn't want to leave the cobblestones of Alexandria, when Old Town's harbor seemed like the only suitable place to sip a double tall latte. But I should know this now. That there will be another road to run, another hidden gem of a coffee shop, another roof under which to snuggle and read and host tickle fights.

And all these "anothers" might be waiting for me in, oh, Ohio even.

The backdrop in the photos will change. Life will feel less familiar for a season.

But all that matters, I take with me.
(I'll say it again, because I need to hear it twice or maybe twenty times.)
I take with me all that matters.

Linking up this Bigger Picture Moment with the lovely ladies at Bigger Picture Blogs.

Bigger Picture Moment


But First, Lots of Summer Time - Part 3

If I'm not careful, we will be on Part 27 of this But First, Lots of Summer Time series before Labor Day. I blame it on Alexis. She's been taking far too many fantastic pictures.

It occurred to me this morning that I picked up four Maine summers for the price of three. Three winters. Four summers. It occurred to me this morning that I am a very lucky girl.

We happened upon our first tidal pool in the summer of 2007. Dani isn't pictured below as she was asleep in the stroller, my six month old chunky monkey. I remember when I took this picture exactly what the not quite 3 year old Caed said. "Look Momma! I'm twimmin!"

And now would you look at them?
This is what happens after three winters and four summers.
And this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me cry.

Our most wonderful babysitter in the whole world gave us a Maine A-Z book as a going away gift. I told her that wasn't at all necessary--a goodbye gift--because after all, she was coming to live with us in Ohio. What? Your fiance's not okay with that? Shoot. I thought we had it all worked out. Anyway, she gave us this book. And I love love love it. I think the kids do too, but really, who cares. I love it, and we're going to read it.

In the book, we read that the Maine coast as a chickadee flies is only 250 miles long. But if you trace every nook of the shore, you could walk 3500 miles and still not cover it all. More miles of coast than roads. No wonder I don't want to leave.


But First, Lots of Summer Time - Part 2

The house is quiet, save the whir of ceiling fans and a panting spaniel. Naptime falls fast. Babies breathe slow. We are all the best kind of tired.


But First, Lots of Summer Time - Part 1

"We still live in Maine! We're not moving to Ohio until after we have lots of summer time!"
During last week's visit to our future digs, Caed explained this arrangement to anyone who would listen. The nice elderly woman at the rest stop. Our future landlord. His cousins. His Daddy's new colleagues.

Dani, if she was feeling particularly brave, would echo his sentiment. Usually several minutes after the conversation with the adult had ended. "We're going to da beach all da time, right Caed? And I always wear my pink twimmin' soup."

Well, if it is lots of summer time they want, then lots of summer time they shall have. And just to make the memories even more lovely, we invited my dear (and brave) sister Robin and her three precious girls to spend the fourth of July with us. And as if that wasn't fantastic enough, we decided to add one more dear friend and kindred spirit to the guest list. Alexis flew all the way from LA to hang out with us in this final stretch of summer.

And she brought her camera. (Cue the happy and maybe slightly jealous dance.)

So, courtesy of Alexis, I present to you...

But First, Lots of Summer Time - Part One
A Peak's Island Excursion

What does "lots of summer time" look like in your neck of the woods? Or on your stretch of the beach? Am I the only one drooling over a camera that starts with D and rhymes with Shinedy?

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