Monday, June 30, 2008

Farm Camp, Day One

Yesterday was Bear and Bug's first day of Farm Camp. They were too excited to eat much breakfast and, well, less than patient when we took a wrong turn on the way out there. When they realized we weren't where we should be, their reaction went something like this.


So very helpful to have four children bellowing like injured moose from the backseat while I tried to negotiate fog-enshrouded twisty country lanes. We made it there approximate three minutes late. They survived, albeit somewhat indignantly.

They each "adopt" a farm animal for the week and are responsible for that animal's care and feeding. Here are this year's adoptees....(drum roll)...

Meet Noah. Noah is a one month old inexplicably named female Holstein calf. She has been adopted by Bug. According to Bug, Noah enjoys eating hay, laying down, drinking milk from a bucket and resting her chin on Bug's hand.

Bug spent a long time grooming her yesterday, and Noah was spotless and gleaming when I met her yesterday.

Meet Astro. Astro is a two month old female Holstein calf. She has been adopted by Bear. According to bear, Astro's favorite things are eating hay, slipping her halter so she can suck on it, drinking milk from a bucket, and chewing on Bear's boots. Bear informs me that she's probably teething. She lets the calf suck on her hand and reports that she can feel "lumps" in the calf's gums, which must be teeth on the way.
Check out Astro's face in this picture. Don't tell Bear I told you, but this calf is a bit of a nut. She's definitely feistier than the calf she adopted last year. I think she'll have her hands full with this one.
She's really pretty obsessed with the strap on Bear's boot. The whole time I was there taking pictures, Astro just kept angling for a way to reach that strap. When she got it, she'd suck away happily (and noisily) on it. And, no, you don't want to know what that is on the heel of Bear's boot. And, yes, it's what you think it is.
I'll try to update each day this week with pictures and tales from the farm...stay tuned...

Newsflash (please sit down, folks)

I just went JOGGING. On purpose. Without a mugger chasing me or anything.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bear and Bug Get Brave

edited to add: If you didn't already know, you can click on pictures to see them larger. You are hereby forbidden to do this on any picture that features any portion of me from the neck down. Thanks.

This past week Bear and Bug got the chance to sit in an enormous floaty-thingy while being hauled around Great Pond behind a friend's motor boat. It's a ton of fun unless you wind up with a sadistic boat driver who deliberately steers you into waves and boat wake. Then you tend to get dumped into the lake a lot. Which can also be fun if you're in the right frame of mind.

Bug was fairly concerned about the being dumped in the lake part. She basically wanted to go about the speed you would achieve if you tied a thousand butterflies to the tube by gossamer ribbon and politely asked that they fly around the lake using only one wing each.
Lucky for Bug, a sympathetic mom was piloting the boat. Dads tend to think it's a riot when kids get dumped off the tube. Moms tend to consider things like lasting emotional trauma. This mom promised to abide by Bug's request to go "only slow."
This is right after she climbed over the back of the boat and into the tube. She's still not sure, but I promised her we'd stop immediately if she didn't like it.

She decides that she might like it a little bit. Possibly.

Actually, she thinks it's kind of fun. Bear made a big show of being somewhat bored by the whole thing. (Preteen, remember?) When she goes on the tube with her friends, they go much faster and catch air. However, Bug refused to try it with anyone other than Bear, so she was stuck going s-l-o-w with her little sister. Oh, the horror and indignity of it all.

Wow! Suddenly Bug understands why everyone makes such a big deal about tubing! It's fun!

Poor Bug will never be a poker player, will she? Everything this kid feels is right on her face.

One of Bear's favorite parts comes after we stop and cut the boat engine to change riders on the tube. She likes to jump off the tube in the middle of the lake like a hotshot and swim back to the boat.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whatchu Lookin' At?

We had an utterly fabulous afternoon at a friend's camp on Great Pond yesterday. That's where we encountered this Mama Duck, who was not at all camera-shy.
I'm working on editing the nearly 900 photos I took... wait till you see what Bear and Bug did at the lake!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Animal Pancakes: An Arnold Family Tradition

When Uncle Awesome and I were children, we could depend on three things when we visited Mamaw:

1. She would have saved her coins for us to divide between us when we arrived.

2. She would let us use her cow pitcher that poured milk from its mouth.

3. She would make us animal pancakes for breakfast.

It was inconceivable to us that any of these things would not happen.
After Bear and Bug attained pancake-eating age, Papa decided to carry on the tradition with the new generation. It has become something they look forward to every time Papa is around. They plan several days in advance what animals they are going to request. I try to steer them toward pancake-friendly shapes (beetle, snake, turtle) and away from the types of animals that Daddy Shortbread has been known to request (Portugese Man o'War).
Mamaw, in recent years, has admitted to me that she had a sort of "all-purpose" animal shape that she used with slight modifications for every one of our requests. We were so awed by the concept of anything other than a round pancake that we delightedly accepted whatever she handed us on a plate.
Now Papa, as some of you may know, has a tendency toward being a somewhat freakish perfectionist. No all-purpose animal-ish blob for him, no sir. Behold, the wonder that is Animal Pancakes, the Next Generation:
Elephant Pancake:
Bear with Lizard Pancake (and plastic model):
Bug with Moose Pancake:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dragging Nana and Papa Around Maine

For Nana and Papa's anniversary on Saturday, we loaded everyone in the van and drove them to a couple of tourist sites around Maine. We started at the Gray Animal Park that rehabilitates native Maine animals (recognize it, Grandma and Grandpa?). Nana had never seen a live moose, so we sought to remedy that immediately.
First, though, we saw this little dude. He's an albino porcupine. "Please, get me out of this joint." he seemed to be saying. Then he gave up and turned around on his branch, so that we were treated to his very pointy rear view.

The only current moose-in-residence was a little on the puny side, but very obligingly positioned right up by the fence, so Nana had her Moose Encounter. Eventually, he too turned to give us his rear view, prompting Daddy Shortbread to comment, "Wow, we'd better get Bear out of here right away since she has a NUT allergy." Ah, male humor. Always a treat.

After taking Nana and Papa to one of our favorite southern Maine pizzerias, we headed to Freeport for the Desert of Maine. Weird? Oh, yeah!
The desert used to be a fully functional farm, complete with a 1783 barn constructed with wooden pegs instead of nails. At some point overfarming removed all the topsoil, revealing the glacial silt beneath. It's now 300 acres of baby powder-fine sand dunes.

Here are Papa and the girls searching for gemstones, which the owners seed in a small portion of the desert for kids to find. They get to keep three each, and it's a Big Fricking Deal for them each time we go. They find as many as they can and then hem and haw over which ones to keep. Remember the polished rocks we used to collect, Uncle Awesome? These are like miniature versions of those.

I thought it would be hilarious to end this post with pictures of Bug and Papa wearing these goofy hats from the gift shop. They were slightly less on board with the idea than I was.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If That Was Summer, I'd Like a Refund

We just had a lovely ten day run of temps in the 80's and 90's, blue skies, abundant sunshine, and deliciously warm pool water. For the last four days, it has alternately rained, misted, and drizzled with highs in the 70's. Today is the girls' Field Day, which they will be spending IN THE GYMNASIUM instead of outdoors. Bear is cranky about this. "My last Field Day is going to suck," she told me at breakfast.
I have a theory.
Now, not to be pointing fingers or anything, but my parents are due to arrive on Thursday. Every time they have visited in the summer, the weather has been pissy. Summer 2005? I took them to Popham Beach, which was so socked in by fog that I had to swear to them that they were standing in front of an ocean. Summer 2007? My brother's wedding, which was grey, cool, and downright gusty.
This week's forecast calls for rain showers every single day and highs in the 60's and 70's.
I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two and a Half More Days

It's pretty hard to say who's more excited about school getting out this week - the kids or me. I'm heartily sick of trying to convince them to go to bed when it's still light outside and then having to spatula them out of bed in the mornings after their alarm's been beeping for four minutes straight. And don't even get me started on trying to keep Bear on task with her homework when she really wants to swim after school. Hint: when she comes home on a broiling hot June day and declares that she has "no homework" while slipping into a bathing suit and grabbing a towel you can put money on her memory kicking in around 10 minutes before bedtime and remembering the study guide she "totally forgot".
Bear is most excited about getting to sleep in and going to Farm Camp. And dance camp. And swimming. Her self-proclaimed goal is to spend most of the summer underwater.
Bug can't wait for ... everything, she says. Of course, she's playing Wii right now and is really just giving me vague answers without actually listening to my questions. Let's mess with her.

Me: Bug, what will you miss about school?
Bug: Mmm, friends.

Me: What's your favorite book that you've read this year?

Bug: Tough one. (pause) Uh... a toughie. (pause) I pretty much liked all of them.

Me: What are you most excited about doing this summer?

Bug: (pause, eyes glued to screen) Swimming?

Me: What's 158 + 32?

Bug: Hm. (long pause, sigh) I guess I'll have to get a piece of paper for that. (starts to put down controller).

I let her keep playing Wii. I'm not that cruel, but messing with your kids is one of those perks of parenthood that no one really tells you about before you have kids.

Pay attention, Aunt Fabulous and Uncle Awesome (the artist formerly known as Mr. Pickypants)!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Thank you...

To my husband:
-for changing middle-of-the-night diapers
-for being the person I can roll my eyes at when our kids are being lunatics
-for spending ten hours leveling ground & setting up the swimming pool for our kids, and for restraining yourself from killing them when they then immediately asked when you'd be putting the new swingset together
-for loving our daughters unreservedly and always letting them know it

To Tom R.:
-for teaching my husband to fix stuff (dang, that comes in handy!)
-for encouraging your son's sense of humor (one of the first things I noticed about him)
-for being the person he learned how to be a great dad from

To my dad:
-for playing catch with me for hours on end when I was a kid (one of my favorite childhood memories)
-for taking me to plays and symphonies
-for encouraging (enabling?) my love of reading
-for not disowning me during my adolescence when I was insufferable
-for carefully cultivating my appreciation of dark humor (exposure to Thurber, Frog & Peach, Monty Python, etc.) at a young age

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No Kitten

Obviously, he's saving it for our anniversary.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Don't I still look young and fabulous? Wait. Don't answer that. Let's look at this instead:

On a more serious note, thank you so much to all of you for the wonderful gifts & cards. It's been a fantastic day so far - Friday the 13th be damned. Tom surprised me with the glider to match our patio furniture this morning, and I'm assuming he'll be coming home from work carrying my birthday kitten with perhaps a diamond bracelet around its neck. What? You don't think so? Well, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cause & Effect: Sister Style

It always starts so innocently:Turning to this:
Leading to this:
Which results in this:
And this:
And finally this:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pemaquid Point Field Trip

I volunteered (note to self: stop smoking crack) to chaperone the second grade field trip to Pemaquid Point Beach. This trip was the grand conclusion to their science unit on the ocean.
The purpose? To comb the beach for evidence of marine life and other cool stuff.
The problem? The kids were not allowed in the water at all. Now I get that letting them swim would be a bad idea. Having a kid drown would be a major bummer and possible even ruin the whole field trip. But no wading? Really? Have you ever taken 100 eight-year-olds to the beach and told them to stay away from the water? Can't be done, my friends.
One crabby old bat of a teacher (not Bug's) spent the entire time patrolling the beach and barking, "Get outta the water! You are NOT allowed in the water!" to any unfortunate kid who stuck a toe in the surf. She even had the audacity to say this to me when I stuck (you might want to sit down for this) ONE FOOT in the ocean to reach a cool shell for one of the kids in my group.
On a side note, we left Winslow at a broiling 90 degrees with high humidity and arrived at Pemaquid to find this:
It was foggy, windy, and COLD. The posted water temperature was 54 degrees, which my left foot can verify. Incidentally, if you think that being cool enough to wear a jacket is enough to persuade your average eight-year-old that it's not swimming weather, then you are the crack smoker.

My group happened to rock at beachcombing. I taught them to lift up the seaweed (which STUNK) to look for critters underneath. We managed to find:
-driftwood & pretty pebbles rounded by the sea
-hermit crabs (my group collected four and put them together on a rock "so they can be a family").
-one seven inch long sea worm which I prodded with a stick while the three little girls in my group shrieked "EWWWWW!" and hopped around
-mussel shells, lots
-beach glass:
Among the things I learned on this field trip:
-Stay out of Crabby Old Bat's field of vision.
-Kool-Aid is healthy! I asked a little girl on the bus if she might not want to save the jumbo bag of Doritos for lunch and have a piece of fruit for her morning snack, and she told me that she didn't need any fruit because her Kool-Aid had fruit in it and helpfully showed me the cartoon drawing of a cherry and apple on the drink pouch.
-My daughter is incapable of understanding the words "Do not walk across the picnic blanket with sandy feet."

Bug's Master Plan

While Bear was at a sleepover this weekend, Daddy Shortbread and I took Bug out for breakfast - just the three of us. I took the opportunity to quiz her about her future plans.

Me: So, have you thought at all about what you'd like to be when you grow up?

Bug: Well...Hannah and I were thinking we'd live on a farm together.

Me: That sounds neat. What kind of farm would you have?

Bug: There would be five or ten donkeys on one side of the barn... cows... chickens.... bunnies.. pigs... some dogs... kitties...

Me: Horses?

Bug: Oh, yes.

Me: And what would you do to make money?

Bug: (who has obviously thought this all out) Well, sometimes we would have to sell a chicken or if there was one pig born who was the smallest? We would sell him.

(Sorry, Wilbur!)

Me: So, when you go to college, what kind of classes would you take to help make you a better farmer?

Bug: (thinks a moment) I guess I would take the classes about how plants grow and how to take care of animals when they are sick.

Me: What state would your farm be in?

Bug: (looks at me like I'm retarded) MAINE!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I stop to wonder sometimes why I've chosen to live in a climate where the trees have no leaves for six months out of the year. For someone why loves to garden, this must seem a strange choice, yes? Then June rolls around, and I realize that it's because it makes this time of the year seem like that much more of a miracle.

In other words, who needs therapy when I have this just outside my window?


Salvia "May Night":

Chive flowers & visitor:Perfection.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What? She's Growing?!

We had a consultation at Bear's orthodontist this morning where his assistant showed us the x-rays they did of Bear's growth plates in her hand and neck. Consensus? She's currently in "active growth" phase. As the person who buys her pants, this is notsomuch a shocker.

Totally cool (and slightly creepy) was the x-ray of her cervical vertebrae where we could see not only her skull but her face and profile along it.

Bottom line is that she'll start with spacers in the fall and probably get braces 6 mos. to a year after that. They said to plan on about $5,000 total, so Daddy Shortbread feels we should start docking her allowance now to get a head start. Bear seemed opposed to that plan.

The formerly dreaded Boston trip is this Thursday. Bear is now wholly excited about it. I'm looking forward to the Boston, less so the trip. Would it be inappropriate to take the Valium left over from my gum surgery for the ride down? Thoughts?