Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Now That's What I Call A Play Date

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Training Thoughts

We were taking the Metro (subway train) into the city as we often do for a day outing. And this time, for the first time in a long time, it was just Zach and I. No friends, no daddy, just the two of us. I just sat and watched him. And listened.

Normally I tune out the whole ride, a routine zoom through urban blight and littered patches of forgotten woods when we're above ground. Through the eyes of a 4-year old it was something else entirely.

The sewage steeped water that runs next to the tracks was "a mighty river".
The graffiti tags all over buildings were "fancy letters" and "beautiful pictures".
The rusted out railroad cars were "ancient ruins".
The shanty town tents of homeless folks in the woods were "hidden gnome camps".
The dirty escalator taking us down to the platform was "like going into the great pyramids".

Rather than seeing the litter, he noticed every bird. Rather than dwelling on the filth in the Anacostia River, he quacked at the ducks who lived there.

It reminded me that just because he's only had 4 1/2 years on this planet and I have had 36, doesn't mean I always know better. I constantly see grown ups telling little ones what to think, how to be, "training" them to sleep like we do, sit still, be independent, spoon feeding our answers and our points of view. Maybe we're the ones who need some training, we're the ones who could stand to learn a thing or two from these little humans. If we'd only drop our ego, take a breath, and make the time to stop and listen and learn while the world whizzes by.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Light

We have been loving Cynthia Rylant's sweet book series The Lighthouse Family in our spring book basket lately. Zach can't get enough of it. And now he's all about lighthouses.

We have our local lighthouse that we've sailed to many times for photo ops or just on the way from here to there.

But what we love are those quiet, foggy mornings when we're having our tea and coco with the hatches open and we can hear the lighthouse. The low, steady moan that carries across the Bay. He listens breathlessly for 30 seconds and his eyes brighten as the foghorn calls to him.

Finally he got his chance to answer the call. He ran full speed ahead to the base of Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Marine Museum, a screwpile lighthouse exactly like our local one.

He loved exploring the rooms ("It's SO big!" spoken as only a little boy raised on a boat could).

And he talked about all the boats he would save by tending the light through a storm, just like Seabold and Pandora in the stories.

All I could think is that Z is my light. He keeps me going in a storm. Seeing him explore and discover and create brightens my darkest moments. He's so little and yet he manages to keep me on track, steer me straight and true, and light up our lives.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Anatomy of a Clubhouse

Scout out the perfect empty section of the dinghy racks at the marina and use your sweetest 4-year old manners to explain your plan to the Dock Master and ask permission to take over that section of the racks.

Permission granted. Start planning.

Measure carefully. As carefully as a 4 year old with limited grasp of numbers can.

Zach's favorite part... paint the official sign.

He found an old life ring washed up and decided it would be "just perfect" for a bayside club.

Next walk over to the canvas shop and ask for scraps.
They were so sweet and gave Zach some huge pieces of Sunbrella for the roof of the club. Another marina neighbor offered her sewing machine and skills to seam the roof together (and we got dinner with the sewing services too, not bad!)
Finally Zach helped me install some snaps (with the help of yet another marina neighbor who brought over the piling stump to use as a hammering surface when he saw us struggling to hammer on the grass.)

Our sweet little friend Maia was visiting from Vancouver and with her highly trained circus skills she scaled the top of the clubhouse frame and installed the screw ends of the snaps.

And VOILA! With old sheets from the boat and lots of odds and ends from around the marina, the Dolphin Clubhouse is now open.

And inside peek after the kids made themselves at home.

Nice view eh?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Federal Frolic

Special Dinner

Our dear old friends are visiting this week from Vancouver, BC. Zach was SOsoSO excited as we waited for D to bring them from the airport. He decided to set a special table for dinner.

Notice every setting has a gnome and a musical instrument. Why not?

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Neighbors

Construction on the docks. What a fabulous alarm clock each morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Junk Band

Mom, I got to play in the band, and we played on the street in the rain! Today was the best day ever!

Signs of Spring

Friday, March 13, 2009

With My Own Two Hands

Zach loves working with his hands. And I love seeing the pure, beaming pride in his little face when he finishes a project. A project that he initiates, he thinks up, he designs, he creates, he finishes.

We are big supporters of handmade here, but the big irony is that I am whatever the polar opposite of a crafty mama is. I LOVE etsy. Many of Zach's toys are handmade. I oogle quilts and wooden carved toys and knit caps with awe and envy.

It started when I worked for HGTV and I had the privilege of hanging around, interviewing, and getting to know people who can create. Watching talented architects, builders, and carpenters create something out of nothing was always magical to me, and yet so out of reach.

I create. But creating video is so intangible, so unreal, so voodo. Making television shows is like drawing pictures in the sand at low tide. It's only yours for a moment. And nobody else seems to appreciate your real vision.

So Zach has been making ships out of paper grocery bags and robots out of empty boxes and drawing plans to build a bridge to the moon and a zip line to Hawaii.

And he's been sewing. He made a special pillow for his granpda in Hawaii who had quadruple heart surgery last month. And he makes bags for his rock collections. And this week he grabbed his sewing basket and a wooden sword that a friend made for him and started making a scabbard. He measured and cut and sewed and tied knots and the look on his face when he finished was priceless.

Then he said, "Mama, there's nothing in this world that I can't make with my own two hands. Except maybe making the world itself spin."

And now I can't get this song out of my head or the smile off my face.

"With My Own Two Hands"
(feat. Ben Harper)

I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make it a better place
With my own two hands
Make it a kinder place
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I'm going to make it a brighter place
With my own two hands
I'm going to make it a safer place
With my own two hands
I'm going to help the human race
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can hold you
With my own two hands
I can comfort you
With my own two hands
But you've got to use
Use your own two hands
Use your own
Use your own two hands
With our own
With our own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Winter Weaving

I am completely craft impaired and I have a child who LOVES crafting. Luckily we are at the stage where my skills just about equal his and I can set him up with little projects. This week, he wanted to weave.

I grabbed a piece of cardboard from the recycling bin, ran some strings down it, and voila -- a loom. I was wondering if he would "get" the concept of over-under-over-under at age 4, but as usual, I underestimated and he not only got it... but he was tying off his own knots and switching yarn mid way.

He told me this is a rug/blanket for his gnomes.

(His comment to me for this photo -- "Mama you can take a picture of me with my gnome rug and I will make a face like a stupid commercial.")

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Creature Comforts

Who says you can't have it all and live on a boat? We have not one, but two bath tubs (big enough for Z, not for grown ups though). We have high speed internet. We could have cable TV if we wanted to (we don't have a TV by choice). We have heating and air conditioning. And thanks to the creative gift giving of my old friend B we have a fireplace!

Yes, now you know what to get for that hard to shop for boat dweller in your life. Just pop in a DVD, hit play, and VOILA! Comes complete with the ambient sound of a real crackling fireplace and you can even set it to "Holiday Music" mode. The actual heat giving of course is not included, but you can leave this one unattended all night and not worry.

We're thinking we should make a DVD of the view from the boat at anchor during sunset somewhere pretty and sell that for $14.99 a pop to house dwellers!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Somebody forgot to close a hatch during the blizzard. This is what I woke up to in the head (bathroom for you land lubbers)

The view out into the cockpit...

Looking out our ramp on to the finger pier...

Our dock (after much shoveling)...

Around the marina...

Zach's favorite tree...

Wanna see what a snow storm looks like from a boat?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Winter at the Beach

We spent a week at the beach with Miss T. It was cold. It was windy. But that didn't deter the intrepid beach explorers from collecting the bounty of the winter tides.

What amazed me was how busy these two were, doing the important work of the four-year-old. These two who normally never leave each others side, who usually hold hands in all that they do, and who seriously never -- EVER -- stop talking.

They played several yards away from each other on the beach in utter and complete silence. I sat and watched in awe. They concentrated joyfully on arranging driftwood just so, drawing sand hieroglyphics, plucking up shells and rocks and creating beach shrines to mermaids and sea sprites. And they never uttered a word. The wind howled, the ocean roared, the seagulls teased, but the two friends absorbed themselves in beach work without a word for a good hour.

I took a cue from them and even laid down at one point, enjoying the sunshine, and as I closed my eyes I swear I could feel the rotation of the earth. There was something so primal, so of the moment, so pure in that winter beach time.

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