Sunday, September 20, 2015


So much goodness has been squeezed into our last month or so of summer. I've just been having too much fun to even go through photos, let alone sort them and post them and such. It's been a whirlwind of friends old and new, late nights of laughter and wine, dockside jam sessions, BBQ's, road trips, and so many happy memories.

Last month we traveled up to Woodstock, NY to attend the Summer Hoot music festival again. It was as magical and musical as the last 2 years. This year was especially sweet for me because I finally had a chance to attend some of the later at night music acts and events while the kiddos hung back with other adults at the camp site. Pure fabulous listening to beautiful music under the stars with friends.

 (Naia liked standing right up by the stage and talking to the performers between songs. She normally would say something along the lines of, "Excuse me, that was really beautiful. Will you play more music?")

 (There was a fabulous bluegrass performance of Peter and the Wolf, which had a surprise guest narrator... Kate Pierson from the B-52's!)

(Mike and Ruthy not only host this entire festival, but they rock out too!)


(Once again the big kids were off on their own adventures, and we mostly only saw them from afar or when they ran out of spending money.)

Oh yes, another brilliant performance by Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower. Naia was once again up at the edge of the stage, mostly telling Elizabeth and Dan's daughter Storey how beautiful she was. Then there was the part where I lost track of Naia after the set, and it ends up she was stalking Elizabeth and Storey back in the performers area. But we won't go there. After a set of sweet sing along songs, they were ready to walk off stage when a little girl started crying. "Oh no, we don't want any tears," Elizabeth sweetly said from the stage. Then she offered that she and Dan would meet any little fans who didn't hear songs they loved and sing for them over in a shady area.

Naia went and waited for them to sing to the 3 or 4 other kids who had requests. Including the little girl above who wanted to hear John The Rabbit. Such a beautiful and telling moment, seeing the way they gave this special girl such special attention.

Then Naia requested the song Blue Clouds. They sang it just for her, and she was in complete awe. It's a beautiful song that they wrote for their daughter when she was little, and I often sing it for Naia at bed time. When they were finished Naia asked, "Do you know any songs by Madonna?" Hilarious because I am not sure where she'd ever heard of Madonna. I asked them if they were going to publish more chords and lyrics on their web page because I like playing their songs on my ukulele for Naia. She asked which song I wanted to learn, I told her, and she said, "Ok, I'll teach you how to play it now." I was floored and a touch nervous since I've only been playing for about 6 months. She grabbed a uke, gave me a little lesson, and then said, "Ok, now you sing and play it for me." Uh... I am not singing in front of you guys. But I'll play and you can sing it. So that's what we did. It all ended in a big grateful hug and many heartfelt thanks. Seriously, such a warm, fabulous family making awesome music together.

That really personifies the whole vibe. So very giving and genuine and inspiring.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

the perfect pose

My kids don't know how to pose for photos. Once in a blue moon I get a looking into the lens, smile nice for grandma, sitting still like the people who come with the picture frame kind of shot. The fact is, they haven't been trained to pose.  I have seen and heard people bribe, cajole, order, beg, and even threaten their kids to pose for the camera. What kind of message are we sending kids when we tell them that they aren't good enough for a photo unless they act or look a certain way?

I take LOADS of photos of my kids. Too many one might rightly say. But I always try to disappear when I am taking pictures. The camera is just part of my hand, bionic shutter mom. When I take pictures of the kids I don't stop what's happening to get the shot. I keep talking. I allow them to keep moving and laughing and running and chatting. Or I get completely out of the way and hang back and just watch and capture.

Posing is mostly static and phony and doesn't really tell you much about who this soul is that you're trying to portray, especially when it comes to kids.

Children have so much magic in their nature that there's no need to force them to strike a pose in a dull and conventional way. Just stop and study their movement and the images will come. The way their arms express everything they say, the way they leap and skip everywhere they go, they way their wee faces reflect their inner self so truthfully.

It's the tilt of the head, the wrinkly of the nose, the concentration on a little face, the easy way they squat down anywhere. Pure, purposeful, beautiful little people just doing their thing. When I look back on photos of their childhood, that's what I want to see. I don't need to see a perfect smile, or adoring siblings, or coiffed hair, or clean fingernails (have yet to see those around here). I'd rather capture a moment and share a glimpse into a real person. Because as I tell my kids all the time, you're perfect just the way you are.

(This is how Zach hangs out often these days. Laying still. Contemplating. Or just shutting out the noise of his little sister. Not a pose with dimples and sparkling eyes, but very telling of where he is in this tween stage of life.)

(I could tell her not to swim in her clothes. Or I could just sit up the beach a little and watch. Even without a camera, the watching is so sweet. Pure joy, Exploring and discovering with every sense, every cell. This is what being 4 is all about.)

(More swimming in her clothes. Plus a friend who we have known since she was a baby. Seeing them together, little and big. Each stance so telling of who they are in that moment. Little is care free, uninhibited, silly. Big is changing, growing, hand on hip not sure what to make of the little crazy one, caught between big and little and not sure which way to go.)

(Another big and little moment. 4 year old little sisters running up and down the steps. 10 year old big siblings sit and chat.)

(Why stop a beautiful contemplative moment like the ones above for a posed smile? There is so much beauty in the quiet pauses.)

(None of these kids are looking at the camera and posing, and that's why I love it.)

(Looking right at the camera, but just happened to turn my way. Regal, tiny, real.)

(The look on her face, the way he's looking out at the water while holding her tight. It's a moment for sure. Stormy rough passage, seasick little girl, protective yet worried big brother.)

(Story of friends. And childhood. And the joy of a beautiful day. A pose can't give you that.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Up and Out

It's been 18 days. We hauled the boat out with a check list and a budget and a time line, but of course all of those things were washed away. Four times the cost, four times the time, check list growing. The boat is not merely getting a pedicure, she's having an extended spa vacation.

It's always puts a little knot in my stomach to watch the travel life haul the boat up and out of the water. So awkward and unnatural, I often speak for her and decide she feels gawky and exposed when she's lifted out of the water.

(all of these are cell phone pics... sorry!)

I feel the same way when off the boat, unnatural and lost. We had a house and critter sitting gig at a friend's house for 2 weeks, we thought that would be more than enough time to cover the haul out. We were wrong. Our friends were extremely gracious to let us stay in the house even after they came home. We are crazy grateful. There are chickens and bunnies and a garden and friends who are like family. It's all good.

For the time when we were just house sitting here though it was... weird. This may have been our longest stint just hanging out and living in the suburbs. And yes, the endless hot showers and free laundry was fabulous. There is no denying that. But I found myself going a little stir crazy. I was lonely. I realized that I am so very used to being able to head to the marina pool, or sit under the oak tree, or hang out in the cockpit playing music, and there will always be someone walking by who comes and has a chat. Or a glass of wine. Or hey let's have a group meal. I need that. A lot. We would go back to the marina just to say hi to people and hang out. And stare despondently at our empty patch of water.

So we head to the boat yard to check on progress. Slow going. Weather hasn't been agreeable. We breathe deeply, climb a ladder to get on board and grab some personal belongings, and hope that she'll be ready. Soon.

 (This is Steve. Our fates are in his capable hands.)

(sorry, all of these are cell phone pics!)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

settling in

Choo Choo is finally seeming to find his sea legs now, all four of them. The first few trips out on the boat he was visibly unsure about what was happening. Before we adopted him, he lived on a ranch in Texas, so all of this boating stuff is brand new to him.  He would usually cower as close to a human body as possible and look nervously about. If I was at the helm, he'd wedge himself between my legs and hide. Our old dog Schooner used to do that, but since he was 3 times Choo Choo's size it was a little more difficult to manage.

The last trip out though Choo Choo seemed fine. He was laying relaxed on the aft deck, head pointed towards the wind, watching the waves churn by. He actually seemed... content.

Which is a relief.

And it's a relief to see Naia getting more and more independent each time out this season too. I have to remember Zach at this age, fearless and free.  She's no different.

And I have to remember that even though I have extra protective instincts since she is "the baby", she needs to feel that freedom too. She needs to learn how to use every muscle to navigate herself around the boat underway. She needs to find her own balance without my worried hands guiding her. She needs to face plant and knee skid a few times to learn how to predict the motion of the sea. She may not remember this sail, or this summer, but her body and heart are memorizing the feeling of sailing and the ocean and the feeling of freedom.

As for Choo, well... I am just glad he's managed to not to fall in the drink... so far.

These two little stinkers are such a joy to have around. A constant reminder to find magic in the little things, to point your face into the breeze and let the sunshine wash over you. They a comic little team, and I am proud of them both each day.

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