Happy Summer!

June 21, 2013

I never really liked summer until we moved to Maine. It was always so sweaty before. But now it’s when the weather is perfect and everything is green and bursting.

practicing the long jump | World of JulieEveryone is home! Though this is not our home. It’s the high school track. The boys took track this spring and want to keep up with it, so we’ve been running here and they practice long jumps.

tiny apples | World of JulieDo you see them on there? All the tiny apples? Last year we had maybe 20 apples; so far this year looks like over 100.

Little Free Library | World of Julie

The Little Free Library is bursting, too. If someone doesn’t come take out some books soon, I’m going to have to do some serious weeding.

ripening cherries | World of Julie

Almost ripe cherries.

mountain laurel | World of Julie

This is a mountain laurel, which I forget about every year, until it suddenly does THIS.

ripening blueberries | World of Julie

Blueberries! (Well, greenberries right now, but they’ll be blue in a month.)

hops/beanstalk | World of Julie

Our hops vine is…well, frankly, it’s scaring me. This thing grows several feet a day and I couldn’t really take a photo of it because it reaches so far into the sky that you can’t see the top of it. Notice also how I am too frightened to get close to it, but have no qualms about placing my dear daughters next to it, for perspective. I made sure they jumped away before they were either woven into its vines, or started to climb the thing in the hope of finding a giant to slay.



Summer Jar in FamilyFun

July 26, 2011

Hey all, check out my article about the Summer Jar in the August 2011 issue of FamilyFun magazine (it’s the part about “daycations”). I can’t find it online; I think it’s only in the print edition.

Update: I did find it online. Here it is.



Ramona is 1!

May 25, 2011

Wow, that was fast. All of a sudden, Ramona is 1. She has graduated from rolling to full-on crawling, and just this VERY second, just crawled up one step from the back porch into the kitchen. In the past few weeks she is adopting more kid mannerisms and is much less babylike.

She’s very excited to be able to move with purpose and go where she wants to go.

Make sure you notice the bunny in Ramona’s hand in the beginning of that video. It was made for us by Susan, and it’s Ramona’s most favorite thing ever. She needs to sleep with it, and I often find her giving it big hugs.

What else? Zuzu has been asking for “cherry stuff” for her birthday since January (her birthday is in June). I’m having some trouble figuring out what this means.

I’m kind of into FlyLady right now, but I’m only halfway through the “beginner steps.” I think you’re supposed to get through the beginner steps in a month; I’ve been working on them since March. But still, it’s made a huge difference in what the house looks like. I’m excited to some day get through all the beginner steps and get into the real stuff.

I am very much looking forward to the end of school. While it means my free time goes from 60 seconds a week to 2 seconds, everyone seems much happier when we’re all home. Yes, there’s a lot of bickering, sure, but the day-long “let’s pretend we’re in these six books all mixed together” sessions can begin.

My 60 seconds are up. Posting this before someone lights something on fire.



Appropriate Attire

July 26, 2009

Does the middle of July say “snowpants” to anyone but Eli?


Summer Jar: Try a New Food

July 22, 2009

Last week the Summer Jar told us to try a new food (the Jar told us this the day after we’d gone to the farmers’ market and eaten sour cherries and Italian broccoli greens for the first time, but apparently the Jar thinks we still weren’t being adventurous enough). So we went to the store and finally decided on a pepino melon, because we’re generally melon fans, and the sign next to the pepinos said they taste like a combination of pears and bananas. When we got home we checked into pepinos a bit, learned that they are grown in Peru, and that they can also taste like a combination of honeydew and cantaloupe. Sounded good!

So we peeled it and sliced it up. Henry grabbed the first piece, took a big bite, ate it, and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I don’t like it!” We all took bites, and really, none of us liked it. There really wasn’t anything there to like. It didn’t taste of anything. Or maybe it tasted like disappointment. Or, possibly, relief, since now I didn’t have to worry about us getting addicted to expensive small imported melons. But now we know! Back to cantaloupe!




July 15, 2009

Every summer day brings out more animal in the children. Seriously, I know dogs who are more sophisticated than this.



Summer Jar: Real Mail

July 14, 2009

Last week the Summer Jar told us to make cards and mail them. I had some premade blank cards from the days when I fancied myself a cardmaker, so we drew on those. The most fun part was deciding who to send our cards to (excuse me: to whom we should send our cards). Henry chose Miranda, which was no surprise. He decided to write about how excited he is about Farm Camp (which is next week!). He also took the space to spout forth some untruths about Farm Camp, which is that they have live bats. Well, it could be true. I don’t know. The newsletter we got from them was signed by the farmers and also the animals, two of which were Stella and Luna, so Henry has decided they must be bats.

Henry also addressed the envelope himself. I remember working at one of the many, many semi-clerical office jobs I had after college, and giving a high school summer temp a bunch of envelopes to address, and she basically had no idea how to do it. Which means, I suppose, that she had neither sent nor received mail (or not much) up until that point. Shocking! Anyway, so I take it upon myself to explain the joys and wonders of real mail to the children. Coincidentally, we’ve been reading a lot of Frog and Toad stories lately, and there’s that great one where Toad is talking about how waiting for the mail is his “sad time of day” because no one ever sends him mail. And then Frog sends him a letter, and they’re both really happy about mail. So we talked about how our letter recipients would be just as excited to receive real mail.

Eli decided to send his card to a 13-year-old boy down the street, a fairly random choice since I think Eli has talked to him maybe twice ever. But he plays hockey and baseball in the street, and is friendly and nice, and those facts, I think, make him card-worthy in Eli’s mind. I sent my card to Robyn, with whom I used to have a fairly regular real mail correspondence going, but that’s fallen off in the past few years. So she definitely was due. Remember when real mail was the standard, and so we thought nothing of writing a two-sentence, e-mail-esque, goofball letter? Sarah and I used to send each other the ugliest postcards we could find. I also remember spending an afternoon writing and writing, practically extemporaneously, and stuffing pages and pages of scrawled spiral notebook pages into an envelope to send off. Robyn got none of those last week, mostly because I had mild performance anxiety once faced with the blank card and couldn’t think of what to draw, let alone write. I ended up drawing the view out my window from where I was sitting, and honestly I have no idea what I wrote about. It was rambling, I’m sure, which is maybe the best kind of letter in my mind.

And my preferred kind of blog post, apparently.


CATEGORIES: activities

Summer Jar: What Sinks? What Floats?

July 9, 2009

Last week the Summer Jar told us to do an experiment called What Sinks? What Floats? The Let’s Explore blog gave us the idea. The kids loved it because it involved a large bowl of water (I’m tempted to put “explore a large bowl of water” in the Summer Jar but I don’t want to deal with the cleanup afterwards). Basically you go around the house gathering stuff, and then you decide what you think will sink and what you think will float. Then you put stuff in water and see how right you were. The kids did a pretty good job overall. Our favorite was the sand timer: the side with the sand in it sunk and the empty side floated.

Later that day my friend Ed (a physicist) said, “I like how it teaches them the scientific process.” Oh, what? Oops, right. So I went back and said, “Hey, boys! Remember when we did that floating and sinking thing earlier? Well, when we laid them all out first on the paper to see what we thought would sink or float, that was the hypothesis…” I think they got it, but it would have been better to explain it at the same time. At dinner I said, “Do you boys want to tell Dave [an engineer] about the SCIENCE EXPERIMENT we did, where we learned what a HYPOTHESIS is, and about doing the EXPERIMENT to test your HYPOTHESIS?” I can be really annoying sometimes.

I have to remember that part of the point of the Jar isn’t just for it to tell us what to do, but for us to delve deeper into that activity. Meaning, that Julie should do her homework a little more and go back and reread exactly what we’re doing with the floating and sinking thing.






Summer Jar on Better Way Moms!

June 30, 2009

Hey everyone…I’ve got an article on Better Way Moms about the Summer Jar. Go read!



Is the Portland Museum of Art intentionally anti-family?

June 27, 2009

Thursday the summer jar told us to go to the Portland Museum of Art. I’d put it in the jar because I haven’t been in a few years, and I wanted the kids to see all that art right there in our own town, I thought it might be inspiring, and I thought it might be interesting to compare it to the galleries we went to. Instead I spent the whole time feeling like they wanted us to leave.

First they told me that I couldn’t carry Zuzu in my back in the Ergo. I carry Zuzu on my back everywhere and for a moment I couldn’t even get my mind around how I would bring her around the museum if she wasn’t in the Ergo. When I asked why, the woman at the ticket stand (there must be a more official name for that, but anyway) said that it was because I might not be aware of what was on my back. I get what she meant, I think, that if it were really crowded maybe I’d back into a painting? They did at least provide (flimsy) umbrella strollers, so I strapped Zuzu into one of those to wheel her around. But I will say that it felt all wrong to have her all the way down there in the stroller when I’m so used to her being up on my back.

We went into the first exhibit, a collection of paintings from New England artists’ colonies. Eli was pushing Zuzu in the stroller. Within thirty seconds a docent came over and snidely said, “We ask that one adult hand be on the stroller.” Again, I get it. They don’t want a crazed 3-year-old driving the stroller into a sculpture or something. But I was annoyed because I didn’t want the stroller in the first place, and also because it was a crappy stroller that was like a grocery cart with a bad wheel, and also because the docent said it in a voice that said, “I pity you with your horrid, horrid offspring.”

We decided to go upstairs. I’ve never used the elevator in the museum before. There is absolutely no signage telling you where the elevator is (hidden in a hallway off to the side of the entrance). I wouldn’t have to use the stupid secret elevator if it weren’t for the stroller. Anyway, we finally find the elevator after walking all over the first floor, get in, and there’s a sign that says what’s on each floor, which also says, “Interactive Exhibit for Families!” and tells us where that is. We decide to do that, and make the trek through the museum to the adjacent McLellan Sweat House, which requires us to go through small rooms with a jumbled collection of fragile antiquities and an antique couch that Eli said, “Oh look!” about and was walking toward when a guard hissed, “DON’T TOUCH!” at him, so he turned around. Then we went down a small set of stairs and through a giant heavy door (stupid stroller stupid stroller) to get to an empty room that had a sign on the wall that said, “Interactive Exhibit for Families! In Progress!” Sigh.

Up to the third floor we went (in the secret elevator), where the world’s nicest museum worker let Henry wheel Zuzu in careful circles around a bench while he lovingly teased Eli about what he thought might be behind a door in a mural that was taken from the old Westbrook post office. Love that guy. Totally engaged the kids in the art and didn’t yell at Henry about the fact that he was pushing the stroller without an adult hand on it.

Then we got all excited in the next room, which had lots of fun modern art (Warhol! Claes Oldenburg! Roy Lichtenstein!). We peeked up at the Calder mobile, and in the middle of the room was a salvaged-wood sculpture called Gem by Robert Indiana. “Look!” I said to the boys, gesturing at it. “Where do you think those wheels came from?” and as we were debating wagon vs. wheelbarrow, a docent came over and said, “We have an 18-inch rule, and you’re getting a little close with your pointing there.” Translation: “Don’t be exuberant about the art.” Subtranslation: “Please get your rugrats and leave.” And so we did. The boys could tell that they weren’t wanted. They looked hurt. Maybe I did too.

Look, I get it. I know that the museum is filled with priceless works of art. I know that some children are awful and destructive. I get that you need rules to make sure that the art is protected. That’s fine. And I certainly don’t think that the world needs to cater to my children. I don’t think that they should have handed me a “Portland Museum of Art Scavenger Hunt” pamphlet when I walked in (although, hey, that might have been nice). The whole reason we were there was because it wasn’t the Children’s Museum, and I want my kids to understand that the world is not built for them, and that there are also maybe more interesting things in museums than a display where they can milk a pretend cow.

My issue was really with the extreme condescension. People, this is Portland, Maine. It’s a place where we’re nice to each other. It’s a place of genuine smiles. It’s a place where you work at the museum because you love art, and if you see a mom with some engaged kids on an otherwise dead afternoon, you maybe would mention something interesting about the art, rather than throw your mighty docent muscle around.

So we left. We walked down Congress Street and past Whitney Art Works, with its huge window and giant art, and the boys stood there staring and said, “What’s THAT?” and I said, “Let’s go inside” so we did, Zuzu on my back dammit, and the woman in there smiled a huge enthusiastic smile and said, “Hi!” and let us walk around and look at things and we didn’t even have to pay.

Then we sat in some funny outdoor plastic furniture outside Addo Novo, and no one came out and told us to get off the expensive modern couch. Thank you!

Then we got bread and cookies at Big Sky and the boys ate their cookies at Lady Liberty in Monument Square and watched some jugglers and we felt happy about Portland again.

Until we got back to the car and there was a ticket on the windshield.


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