Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pictures from New Hampshire

Letter to Greta: 32 Months (A Little Late)

Dear Grets,

Every day, you make us laugh. Every day, you make us want to scream. You are two, and you have become so headstrong, so emotional, and so hilarious that we never know what’s going to happen from one minute to the next. The only certainty is this: most of the time, you’ll be doing something you’re not supposed to be doing; and most of the time, it’s something that annoys Lucia.

It’s amazing to watch you embrace your role as the quintessential Little Sister. You idolize Lucia—but, in your adoration, you also know exactly how best to get her goat. Sometimes you poke your finger toward her, squinching up your little face. This always gets a reaction from Lucia: “MAMA SHE’S POINTING AT ME!!! SHE’S POINTING!!!” Sometimes you actually poke her in the arm or leg, which (obviously) infuriates her. You sometimes grab whatever object she treasures most at the moment and just take off running, holding it close to your chest like a football, while Lucia screams and runs after you. You have no end game in this situation—you have to know what’s going to happen, that I’ll admonish you and stop you and make you give it back. Still, you persevere.

You annoy Lucia, but you also make her (and us) laugh. You can make Lucia laugh so hard she almost can’t breathe. Silly dances, silly babbling, silly faces—Lucia is your best audience. Your sense of humor is quirky, to say the least. Sometimes, for no reason, you’ll announce in a trembly, fearful voice, “Scared! Me scared!” When one of us asks you what you’re scared of, you say, “Chipmunk!” and then laugh hysterically.

You love to dance. You love to (try to) sing. Your talking gets better seemingly by the day: two-syllable and even some three-syllable words are clear now, and you have your ending sounds down. You’re even speaking in sentences. You haven’t had speech therapy for the past two weeks since we were in NH, and in the interim you have really digested a lot of what you’ve been working on there.

You insist on doing things yourself (“FELF.”). You pick out your clothes and pajamas. You choose your bedtime stories. You pack a bag of all your favorite snugs (Bibi, Lambie/Wee, Little People lion, Snow White bath toy, cow, four Peeps bunnies, water bottle) whenever we go downstairs in the morning or after naptime. There is no reasoning with you ever, on anything; when you insist on something, you scrunch up your face in an obvious effort to cry.

And you do cry, quite a bit, turning the tears on and off in a way your sister never did.

You are so very, very cute, little Grets, and we love you so much, and you make our daily life so splendidly amusing and so hair-tearingly difficult. 

Favorite toys/activities: coloring, tiny Playmobil animals, painting rocks, swimming, playing with water, your princess dolls of all sizes, puzzles

Favorite books: The Emperor's New Clothes, The Aristocats, The Brave Little Tailor, Princess and the Pea

Church Sale, Round Two

I returned to the church sale tonight and, of course, came home with a successful bounty:

small microplane grater for NH
metal tongs
2 mini-cupcake pans
2 mugs
8 children's books
10 Little People animals
1 vintage Little People boy
1 vintage Little People dog
tiny stuffed lamb
2 tiny ponies
white noise machine (identical to Lucia's old one, destroyed in the NH storm!)
2 tiny dinosaur figurines
1 medium-size shark figurine

The final day of the sale is Thursday, one last hurrah.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Still Off the Grid

We're still here, still surviving--thriving--with only a dorm fridge and a cooler, and though there has been more rain and lightning, our power has stayed on. It's been another few days of quiet and relaxation. We've spent most of our time at the pond, the girls' favorite spot: feeding fish, spotting tadpoles and salamanders, fishing with long sticks for great hunks of algae, tempting frogs with long grass stalks to jump and chomp.

Today, as a kind of blessing or omen, we spotted the pond's fabled snapping turtle. We were all on the dock, tossing bits of bread in to entice the fish, when suddenly something larger, much larger, emerged from the deep. It was beautiful and terrifying, and it hovered there at the surface, its long, wrinkled legs treading water, and watched us. Then it swam serenely away, under the algae leaves. It surfaced one more time while we played, and then it was gone.

Neither Andrew nor I really believed the turtle was real. We've heard about it for years, from cousins as well as the rare passerby. Just this morning, a woman walked down our unpaved road, saw us by the pond, and called out, "See the snapping turtle yet?" It was like the Loch Ness Monster, or the Abominable Snowman: a myth, a legend. And then--there it was.

The girls had mixed feelings about seeing the turtle. Far too large and strange to be cute, it was definitely a formidable creature. "Scared, scared," Greta whimpered, cowering in my lap. Lucia also declared the turtle scary, though we reassured them both that the turtle couldn't get up onto the deck.

And tonight, another creature, or rather two: lobsters, which Andrew has boiled and picked and prepared for us to have lobster rolls by the fire pit after the girls' bedtime. Bliss.

Lots of pictures to come once we get back home this weekend.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Off the Grid

It's my favorite time of year: our extended stay off-the-grid in New Hampshire. We're here for eleven days this time, our longest stint ever, and so far it's been the usual mix of complete bliss and vexing, unpredictable difficulties.

We arrived very late Wednesday night, and had a perfectly lovely time for most of Thursday: pulling out the toys from the barn, filling the wading pool, visiting the frogs. But right before the girls' bedtime, a huge storm blew in--deafening thunder, terrifying lightning. At one point, all the lights in the kitchen blazed on, and I saw smoke by one of them; then--nothing. No power. A power outage seems to be a given each time we come up here. Still, we never seem to remember to get batteries for the flashlights or stock up on candles. Andrew found one small working flashlight, and we tried not to be too worried about the fully stocked fridge. We decided to just go to sleep.

Around midnight, we were woken up by the fan in our room whirring as though possessed by a demon--power. We went downstairs. Nothing else was working, but we thought maybe the lightbulbs had burned out. Andrew tried to change one, and blew out three bulbs before he understood something was amiss. He called the power company, who advised him to turn off the main breaker and wait for technicians to arrive.

They came first thing and found a downed wire, the wire meant to "return" unneeded voltage. Our house had been getting an insane amount of power. As a result--as we learned once the line was fixed and the power was back on--our microwave was fried, and the girls' white-noise machines, and our fridge. Sigh. Our cousin brought us his dorm fridge, and for the past few days we've been making do with that plus a cooler of ice.

Refrigeration difficulties aside, it's been restful and fun. Highlights so far:
---the girls making "soup" with the play kitchen, filling pots with fern fronds ("noodles"), berries, clover flowers.
---feeding fish from the dock
---spotting frogs
---Greta walking in mud in her bare feet and doing a little dance with each step
---Lucia's sheer delight at spotting a deer from her window--twice!--at bedtime
---a butterfly sitting on Lucia's finger, letting her carry it all the way up to the house
---the girls playing a new game called Deer, which involves running around the yard and stopping at various points to "eat grass"; Greta walked around on all fours sometimes, and Lucia ate her lunch in slow motion because deer are "gentle"

And, of course, we went to a little town nearby for the 4th of July parade and festivities, a pure specimen of small-town fun. The girls loved collecting candy thrown at them by the parade marchers; seeing cows in the parade; and getting little plastic jugs of chocolate milk from a local dairy. Afterward, we went to a tented area and watched cowpie bingo taking place, and had lunch. A completely fun day.

We have many days ahead. Lots to look forward to. Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, we are no longer actually off the grid. We've had cell service for a couple of years now, and Andrew and I finally decided to get internet service this summer to facilitate these longer stays. The plus side: Andrew's ability to work from NH means we can come up more often, and for longer. The negative side: a lightning storm that knocks out our power may be punishment for technologically marring this sacred space.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Church Sale

Oh bliss! It's church sale time. Today was the opening night, and I felt positively giddy as I lined up early, waiting to enter with my two gigantic Ikea bags and a walletful of cash. It did not disappoint. I came home with both bags full, plus a trunk full of larger items. My haul:

a Plasma car (and I got another at a yard sale last weekend, so now I have 2)
2 sawhorses for Andrew
5 large trucks and fire engines for Luca
a handful of Matchbox cars for Luca
6 dinosaur figurines
2 shark figurines
a handful of Littlest Pet Shop animals
a handful of small animal-squirters for the pool/water table/tub
a bag of Little People-type animals
a bulk bag of adjustable metal kids' rings to which you can hot glue any number of items (perfect winter-day activity, making a hundred rings from coins, buttons, stones, etc etc)
a dinosaur puzzle
a poker chip spinner full of poker chips (another winter-day keeper)
a pile of fabric remnants and samples to make pillows (to put on the beautiful leather bench I got at a yard sale two weeks ago)
a scarf out of which I'll make sarongs for the girls
5 kids' books
a world atlas, from which I'll tear the pages to decoupage-wallpaper part of my office

We're heading to NH tomorrow, so I'll miss the next few days of the sale; but we'll be back in time for me to go twice more. I'm already excited.