Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Week Away

We spent all last week in New Hampshire, a nearly eleven-day getaway that was truly the calm before the storm that is the next three weeks. Although both Lucia and Greta returned to their characteristic New Hampshire ways and rose god-awfully early in the morning (Greta reliably by 5:00am; Lucia by 6:30am), there’s something peaceful about rising with the sun up there, with nothing but quiet outside the windows, and the occasional pheasant in the yard.

We spent all the time we could outside, sitting on a blanket with Greta while Lucia played in her ball hut, splashed in her pool, and enjoyed new discoveries from the barn—this time, a rocking-horse-type object. Lucia was particularly interested in the frogs this time, and we spent lots of time down at the pond, where she dipped her toes in the water and tossed clover and weeds to the frogs that were merely inches away. Sometimes, they’d leap at the plant, mistaking it for a bug, which thrilled her. One time an earthworm oozed out of the mud right near us, and a frog snapped it up in its mouth. I feigned excitement, though inside I was screaming Ick, ick, oh horrible nature!

Indeed, we had some closer encounters with nature than usual this trip. The ticks were particularly horrendous, for one thing. Last year, we ended up in the ER when we found a tick embedded on Lucia’s stomach. There were no ER trips this time, but only because we knew enough to check the girls—and ourselves—carefully every night. We found a tick on Lucia’s shoulder; one on my leg; a monster-sized one on my back; and one scarily close to burrowing into Andrew’s thigh. There was a tick in our car, and one in the bathroom sink, and lots that we brushed off our clothes. Horrible.

There were also several mouse incidents. Ordinarily I’m okay with mice—but Andrew and I both read an article in the previous week’s New York Times about vermin, learning that mice can carry the plague, and so neither of us were very thrilled when we woke in the middle of the night and heard a mouse running around our bedroom, around the perimeter of the room and then behind and beside our bed. All I could think about was a mouse jumping into one of the pack-and-plays. And so I agreed to some traps (just a couple, not the neck-snapping kind, out of reach of Lucia and hidden anyway every morning). The traps remained empty, but we had no more nocturnal visitors.

Oh, except one little gray mouse in the kitchen, which Andrew cornered on the counter. He tossed a dish towel over it, grabbed it in his hands, and carried it out into the woods, where he let it go.

This was fitting, since Andrew was truly enjoying his Back to the Land getaway. He spent much of the first few days of our trip gathering wood and then chopping it with an ax in the yard. At night, we burned this hand-hewn wood in our fire pit. He also prepared most of our meals on the grill. He didn’t shave the entire time we were there.

We ate lunch and dinner as a family every day, which was pretty great—it’s so hard to do this at home. I usually give Lucia lunch on the go when we’re out and about, and dinnertime is such a circus—it’s the end of the day; everyone’s cranky; I have to prepare Lucia’s dinner, and Greta’s screaming and exhausted, and I need to give her cereal—that Lucia generally eats while she watches Olivia. Not ideal. She clearly loved eating all together, eating what we were eating, and we are determined to replicate this in some way even when we’re not in NH. At the very least, we can make an effort to have family meals on the weekends. Once we’re in Maplewood, too, it’s possible we can do it sometimes during the week whenever Andrew can take an earlier train home.

For Memorial Day weekend, we’d invited friends from Brooklyn to join us, and we spent a fun couple of days together—Lucia and her friend ran naked around the yard, and after the kids’ bedtime we sat around the fire. Our friends seemed to fully enjoy themselves, ticks and all.

And now we’re back, counting down until moving day on June 21. This Friday, we leave for Connellsville, where the girls and I will spend the following week while Andrew is swamped with a big work week. The week after that is our last full week in NYC. This is getting a little bit insane.

Lucia did not want to leave NH. “I don’t want to go home,” she said. We didn’t want to leave either, but we felt ready to just get back and get all of this going. There is a lot to do in the next three weeks.




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