We are stuck in a sweet, hot, sunny weather pattern and I'm loving it, except it's kind of too hot for running. And we had to buy a few new fans for the kids to help them sleep. But for getting out and enjoying all the swimming spots around Maine, it's perfect.
We've gotten our summer formula down to a science. We make plans with some friends at a beach somewhere around here, sometimes the ocean, sometimes a lake. From where we live, most day trips to the best swimming and beaching are about an hour in all directions, so we make a whole day of it.
We put on bathing suits, and while the kids run around and make messes around the house or get into some kind of trouble outside, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pack water and juices in a cooler, fill tupperwares with cut-up fruit, toss something sweet and something crunchy into the bag.
Sunscreen, towels, changes of clothes, sand toys, and off we go.
Then we drive. Then we find a spot settle in. And the kids usually go right in the water while I chat or sit or (oh my god I actually read a book at Swan Lake) just enjoy the view and wonder if my kids know how good they have it, this Maine life.
|the view of MDI from our chairs.|
|collecting crab claws on the beach.|
The above photos were from a beautiful beach spot in Surry where I sat with my friend Erica (that bundle is baby Willow).
And then the next day, we spent the afternoon at Swan Lake State park:
When we get home, the doors fly open, and the car spills out sand and buckets of seashells and sandy towels. We start dinner, unpack, and run a bath for the kids. My secret wish, that almost always comes true lately, is that one of the kids shouts out: "best day ever!!" as we review the highlights of the day.
The part of these days that has surprised me the most? The conversations in the car on our drives. I'll admit that sometimes the kids drive me crazy in the car. There are lots of unwanted pokes and touches and the grabbing of books and markers. This is when I hear myself saying things like: "Don't make me turn this car around!" I really did say that once.
But this week, there has been less sibling rivalry and more conversation, mostly steered by Skyler, but Reed chimes in for sure. I have been asked all of the following questions during our last few trips to the beach. (FYI: The kids call my dad "Opop.")
--Mom, why did Opop get cancer?
--If you eat all of your vegetables, you won't get cancer, right?
--Why didn't the medicine work for Opop's cancer? Why does it work on some people and not on others?
--What was it like when Opop actually died?
--How long do you think Opop would have lived if he never got cancer?
--How funny was Opop, Mommy?
--What happens to us when we die?
--What would happen if you got run over by a car in the parking lot? What would happen to us?
--But how would they find Daddy? And would we ride with you to the ambulance?
--If I died, what would you do?
--Do kids ever get cancer? What if they are allergic to the cancer medicine?
--Do you and dad put the presents under the tree, or is there really a Santa Claus?
--Is it even possible to do what Santa Claus does? Can reindeer really fly?
--If someone breaks both of their legs and their arms, how would they operate the wheel chair?
--Have you ever had cancer? Has Dad?
--Do you think that I will be alive when you die?
--Do you have to be married in order to have babies? (yes, you do).
--Everyone has a mom, right? Well, then, where did the first person come from?
I know that this all sounds terribly morbid, but actually the conversations have been matter-of-fact and really sweet. They are fueled by pure curiosity, and when there is a long pause after I answer, I look in the rear-view mirror and see them looking out the window, absorbing some new piece of information.
For me, being a mom in the summer means that there are endless coolers to pack, sand to wash from bathing suits and towels, fruit to chop, sun-block to administer, seashells to display, tupperware to pack and then rinse, and enough time on the long, curving roads home to talk about the big stuff and to let it all sink in.
By the way, my answer to the Santa Claus questions: "Wow. What a beautiful day we are having today, right guys?"