the boys with their German friends

hard to get four little ones to be photogenic at the same time

Today we had visitors from Germany. We met them here in the Boston area, of course, not being any sort of travelers ourselves, but they were short-term residents only and we soon lost them back to their homeland. However, they're back for a few weeks' visit—taking advantage of those generous European vacation policies—and we were lucky enough to hang out with them for several hours today. We planned to go to Drumlin Farm, but of course it's closed Mondays so instead we just ate a whole lot of food and hung out on the lawn. The same thing we do most days, you know, only with more interesting conversation.

You might not know this about us, but Leah and I are not actually very good at making friends. Harvey comes by his crippling shyness naturally. And yet somehow we're now blessed with friends across the country and around the world, friends who are willing to come visit us from thousands of miles away—not to mention all the great folks we know here in our own metropolitan area. It's pretty awesome, and we're so grateful, even if we do have to retreat into our shells to recover from time to time.

I figure most of our friends will probably read this at some point, so let me say: thanks guys! You're all great! Stop by any time!


growing boys

It's been less than a week since Zion started saying "Mama" purposefully as in, "I want Mama." It's lovely to open a new chapter in our relationship where we actually communicate verbally, although now it's more like a tiny window that's opened. He says cracker but not because he WANTS a cracker, only because he wants you to KNOW it's a cracker. It's similarly frustrating when he grabs at something like carrots or broccoli which I have to steam, and then ten minutes later reveals he never wanted to eat them at all. Clear communication it isn't, but maybe only because he doesn't really like food that much.

In terms of his vocabulary, one wonders why in addition to cuck cuck (for the chickens) duck and cat, he has both doggie AND puppy. Why two words for the same thing when "ca" goes for all cars trucks and trains??? We can't ask him, so it will forever remain a mystery. No word for "Harvey" yet, not even "brother," but we know from the bible that it's hard to give names to the God you worship.

Ha! That joke is hilarious, though the witnesses would have my head for it.

I know Dan wrote about all this the other day... I just feel like I should comment in my own way to prove I'm paying attention to my younger child's development. Harvey continues to impress me with his genius level language and mental processing, although I don't know what the benchmarks are for three year olds so maybe it's just impressive to me that children continue to get smarter. Today at Drumlin farm he dug up from memory that Owls are nocturnal, and then asked if that's why the picture of the owl is on the same sign as the picture of the fox. He would have netted more praise for that had I not been busy addressing his definition of "sharing" which included "taking all of Zion's food and eating it." Another growth spurt, perhaps.


weeding and feeding

close-up of purslane growing in the garden

a weed...

Fingers crossed, weeds are pretty well under control in the garden so far this year. Sure, they're a bit out of control in the bed where I planted the root crops, but those were so devastated by rabbits that I was forced, for my sanity, to ignore them for several weeks. Now that bed is kind of an experimental zone with the surviving carrots and onions (and one parsnip!) sharing space with volunteer tomatoes and squashes and, yes, some weeds. Elsewhere, though, the on-purpose plants got a good start when it was still wet and now the dry heat means that the weeds are weak and easily removed with the hoe.

close-up of salad with purslane and tomatoes

... and a salad green

Besides removal there's another way to deal with weeds: reclassification! Where there was space I made sure to give the purslane a little time to grow and thrive; today I pulled some and served it up in a salad. It turns out that, while it'll grow just about everywhere, it also has all kinds of vitamins and omega-3s and who-knows-what, and is also pretty tasty, especially with tomatoes and garlic scapes and a little salt. Just the thing alongside pasta with the first home-grown pesto of the season. Summer is good eating.


happy 5th of July!

an American flag held high aloft on a fire-engine's ladder

oh say

Yesterday was full of delightful festivities. We started off with the Picnic in the Park in Concord (link to last year's for reference), for which I packed plenty of food. We could bring a goodly amount of cargo because this year was a cycling year, so we didn't have to worry about parking and carrying everything an unknown distance.

Harvey on the picnic blanket with lots of food in front of him

the picnic part

There was also music.

Zion and Harvey watching Southern Rail

right up front

And, new this year, hula hooping!

Harvey trying to hula hoop

something like that

Leah did some pretty good work with the hoop as well, which might be presented in video form at a later date.

We also enjoyed hanging out with friends at the picnic, which was also new this year: it turned out that half of our Watertown-based church small group was there, some at our invitation and other by pure coincidence. Much fun, except when Harvey hit Timothy with a hula hoop, an accident which necessitated the application of ice.

Such is the fullness of our social calendar that we had to leave a little early in order to make it to our next engagement, a party at Grandma and Grandpa Archibald's to celebrate the 4th as well as Uncle Tom and cousin Nisia's birthday. The kids had a great time playing together, especially when Grandma brought out the water.

Zion at the water tub with Harvey and Nisia watering behind him

watering plants and selves

Of course, when Zion sees water you know what's coming next.

Zion standing nude in the water tub


The other kids each had a turn in the tub too, but they weren't as enthused: neither Harvey nor Nisia even sat down. I think Zion must have stayed in there for an hour.

And since it was Independence Day, we finished the evening in the appropriate fashion.

Uncle Tom and Granpa giving everyone a sparkler show

fireworks for the under-3s


beating the heat (such as it is)

Harvey standing in the Concord River with no pants on

wade in the water

So far we've managed to avoid the extreme heat that's been affecting the South and Midwest. It's been hot here, but regular hot, and that's fine: we need good hot weather for the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. I wouldn't mind a little more rain, but we're alright so far; I haven't had to water any of those crops yet, so things can't be too bad.

The key to our survival has been that, unlike in the states hit by the heat wave, it's been getting cool at night. That means that while we start the night sweating on top of the sheets we end it fighting for the covers that we kicked to the foot of the bed earlier—and also that the fans can cool the whole house. We do have an air conditioner that we've been using occasionally to cut the humidity, or when we come in from a really hot walk or bike ride, but so far we haven't needed to run it all day just to survive.

And bicycling isn't always hot. In fact, I've found it to be wonderfully cooling under the right circumstances: that is, not pulling the fully loaded trailer up a hill greater than 5% grade. As long as we can keep a reasonable rate of speed up the breeze of our forward motion is just the thing on these humid days. Today Harvey and I did a nice 12-mile loop that took in the North Bridge at its furthest extent (putting our feet in the water was an added bonus!). He probably enjoyed it more: not only did he have the breeze without having to work for it, he also used the time on the bicycle to snatch a quick nap. Life isn't bad when you're three.


dreadlock update - 2-and-a-half months

I feel like I should do an update on my hair, though the writing feels rather slow going since I'm too lazy to do much of anything these days.

hangin out on the hammock

chillin island style

My 2+ month throat infection seems to be nearing its end, though I haven't yet regained the desire to do anything besides mind children. The other day a friend asked me to weave a bike basket for her and my answer was, "Ugh. Don't they sell those online?"

In all of this, though, working on dreadlocks is something I can do. Because working on dreadlocks requires no work at all! Just let time go by, survive one day at a time, and the hair will keep dreading. More or less.

the top of my dreads

When my mother used to tell me my hair looked like a birds nest, she shouldn't have given me any ideas.

It's fun to twist the dreads in my hand and think, "It's working! they're really becoming something!" Then I look in the mirror and say, "Good Lord, that looks like a mess." Fortunately though, since I don't need to style my hair much, I don't really look in the mirror. Once a week I wash my hair with dreadlock shampoo (baking soda and vinegar would work equally well but my mom bought me dread shampoo for my birthday) then I roll the dreads while they're wet and again with wax after they're dry. It's about 40 minutes of maintenance work a week, but I usually split it over two days because like I said I'm pretty lazy and (perhaps related to the tiredness) it's hard to get twenty minutes to myself.

I did, however, try to look somewhat presentable for a wedding I officiated last weekend. I rolled on the wax the morning of the wedding and did a half-up thing crowned with a scarf that I thought might look priestly. Here's the result. (I'm dancing with a sleeping baby on my front, in case anyone has a hard time figuring out the photo.)

dancing at ashley's wedding

footloose if not shoulder loose

You can see the bottoms of the dreads are still quite curly. I look forward to long tubular dreads a year or so from now but in the meantime I'm diggin the in-between.

I thought I was being rather formal for the wedding... I had a whole vest thing I wore over my dress for the ceremony, I tied up my hair and even used a scarf. Then I got to the bride's house and everyone was putting on makeup and I was like, "Oh right. Makeup. Should I, like, do that or whatever?"

It's only been two years since I gave up makeup, and yet it feels like a different lifetime ago. Then again, it's only been two months since I stopped fixing my hair every day and I've taken to it quite naturally.

ashley and leah

brides that invite children to their weddings are rewarded with child-like hearts. Also, I can go to those weddings.

There. Does that feel like a hair update? I hate that everything comes with a "I've been sick" preamble, but that's pretty much where I'm at right now. If I was praying for someone at church and they said, "I've had a lingering infection for two-and-a-half months" I would say "Did something happen in your life right before the infection started?" And if someone asked me that question I'd say, "Well, I got my hair dreaded, and then right after that I got sick."

Now, dreading my hair was nothing if not a good decision. It's much easier to manage given the demands of the children. It's much easier for my sensory integration issues, since I don't get the feeling my hair is pulling at my scalp. I don't feel all "hippier than thou" in fact mostly I'm not conscious of my hairstyle. I prayed about it in advance and felt convinced that God said, "Leah, I could not possibly care LESS about your hair." So it's not sin that's making me sick (not that that's how it works anyway, but that's the subject for someone else's book.)

Maybe I feared people would think I was lazy if I got dreads so I immediately got sick so I'd have to be lazy? To live down to expectations? It doesn't make logical sense but it sounds a lot like me.

Anyway, I like the hair but not the lingering illness, so I pray the Lord will redeem it somehow.


home-grown is monotonous

We've long been looking forward to the bounty of summer, food-wise; the garden makes big promises. Now it's here. The problem is, however, that to be enjoyed to the fullest the bounty must be consumed immediately. So a few weeks ago we were eating a great many snap peas and strawberries (not to mention the lettuce), and then it was the turn of the raspberries—and now we've entered cucumber season. So cucumbers for dinner three nights in a row, but at least I vary the presentation a little bit. Tonight it was couscous with cucumber and artichoke hearts and basil, plus some cucumbers with hummus; last night rice and bean salad with cucumber.

The latter was actually so delicious I want to record it here—not as a recipe I suppose, since I didn't bother to make a note of the proportions, but as a general idea. It was short-grain brown rice, black beans, cucumber, purslane, early onions, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and salt.

As well as the cucumbers we're also getting as much basil as ever we could want, so pesto is involved in many dinners and most lunches. The only problem with pesto—and I could have sworn I had written this before but I can't find it in the archives, so you'll forgive me if this is an old complaint—is that, while the basil is cheap or free, the other ingredients are pretty pricy. Extra virgin olive oil? Parmesan? Pine nuts?! But now that I have a moderate handle on the recipe I can go heavier or lighter on those various things depending on how my wallet feels, and sometimes almonds or even walnuts will do just as well standing in for pignolias. Also, I confess that we buy the cheap grated parmesan in the jar—not the Kraft kind, true, but no parmagiano reggiano or whatever either. But that's alright: the rest of our ingredients are top notch, this time of year.



We made the year's first batch of blueberry jam today. Our timing is perfect in one regard: the final jar of last year's production is open in the fridge, so we need to restock. On the other hand, it's hard to do all that boiling when it's already too hot and humid to live. We managed to get our strawberry jam made in wonderful cool weather this year (which is not always the case!) but blueberry season is pretty much prime time for heat. I'm excited about canning tomatoes later this year, but they have the same problem. At least this evening we were able to escape our steamy house for a wonderful dinner out at our friends' house in luxurious South Boston.

If you're interested in keeping track of our preserving efforts, I'm recording them online this year—or trying to at least. Just now I notice that, while I actually made two batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam this year, I only wrote down one. That will be corrected as soon as I can figure out when I made the second batch.

One problem with the canning this year is that, aside from the blueberry discussed above, we didn't finish any of last year's supplies. Strawberry jam, grape jelly, a couple kinds of pickles, relish, applesauce, pickled peppers: some examples of all those things, and more, remain from the 2011 preserving season. We have to do better at giving things away! Not only is last year's bounty clogging up all the room on the shelves, unless we empty out some of those jars we're going to have to go out and buy some more!



This evening we dined out (again), this time at Leah's parents' house. Good thing we also had friends over to our house for lunch, or I'd start to worry about forgetting how to cook. It is good to get out now and again, though, because we're exposed to foods we don't get at home: dumplings and Korean-style short ribs last night, and lobster tonight. I was trying to think of the last time I'd had lobster; it may be way back when I was in high school, 15-20 years ago. At least, that's the last time I had it as a complete arthropod plunked down on my plate along with a nutcracker and a dish of melted butter. Lobster rolls don't pack quite the same visual impact.

Harvey was pretty excited about the presentation, although he was less enthused when faced with the actual lobster meat. In his defense, though, he rarely eats much dinner, especially when he's enjoyed a peach and the best part of a piece of pizza at the farmers market barely two hours earlier. There were also steamers. I can't recall if the boy tried one of those but I know Leah ate a reasonable quantity: they're her favorite food, and one of the things that tempted her back from veganism lo these many years ago.

Me, I confess I could take or leave both steamers and lobster; I have very proletarian tastes. But they're tasty enough, and once every 15 years quite a treat, especially when accompanied by a fair volume of beer. I'm staying up a little while yet because it doesn't do to be still tipsy when you go to bed, especially in this heat.


we are both of us anarchists or tyrants depending on the circumstances

Sometimes I joke something along the lines of: "Of course I am an anarchist. It helps me understand my children better." Implying that children are natural born anarchists, obviously. And also that that's an excuse for my house being messy.

Unfortunately this gives rather short shrift to actual anarchists. After all, I'm not an anarchist because I like crap on the floor. I'm an anarchist because I believe that a group of people, when stripped of abusive authority figures, can figure out a way to allocate work and resources in a humane manner.

By this definition children are anything but anarchists. Sociopaths maybe.

We are trying to teach Harvey the "golden rule," which is some blah-dee-blah that Jesus said and that parents make their children parrot. (As opposed to the other blah-dee-blah Jesus said about selling your stuff for the good of the poor. That part isn't so widespread in daily child rearing.) So do to others what you would want them to do to you, Harvester. Jesus goes so far as to say "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back." (Luke 6:30) But in Harvey's case we're starting with "Don't hit Zion or he will hit you with something harder like a block." Willingly sharing the toys? That's an advanced spiritual concept. We're working on "Jesus says, this will make Zion punch you in the nose."

Oh God. What if I'm the abusive authority figure who's keeping my children from effective allocation of blocks?

Yesterday Harvey was whining that he only had water in the stroller instead of juice and I shouted, "THE ISRAELITES GRUMBLED AT MOSES IN THE DESERT BUT THEY WERE REALLY GRUMBLING ABOUT GOD AND GOD GAVE YOU ME TO BE YOUR MOTHER SO YOU SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW AND ASK GOD WHAT HE WANTS YOU TO DO IN THIS SITUATION!" Which is not really fair because a) I haven't like drilled the story of the poison quails with him, b) Harvey can hear God's voice just as well as I can and probably better if I'm not yelling at him, and c) if someone orders you what to pray the appropriate response is to tell them to fuck off.

But maybe, in addition to calming down around the juice issue, I should let the children figure out how to live together with one set of blocks. It's hard when one can't speak the language and the other has a lack of impulse control, but then again the same thing could be said for adults.

harvey and zion whispering at ashley's wedding

plotting the revolution


camping 2012: getting going

We've been working on getting ready for this camping trip, to the exclusion of all else, for two straight days. Dada hopes to leave at 6:00 (haha), Mama at 8:00. What will happen?

5:30 - Up and getting ready to go. It's 52 degrees out; I wish I hadn't already packed up all the warm clothes.

6:30 - packed up the relish, then had to dig it out to make sandwiches.

7:30 - Harvey is sitting in the car. Rascal would be too if I let him. Some anxiety about our departure.

8:30 - Zion throws up.

8:40 - Leah runs inside to get the juice cups.

8:41 - We leave.

8:45 - Come back for some things we forgot, leave again.


we're back

It was touch-and-go for a little while there, but we survived four nights of wilderness adventure in remote Bar Harbor. We got home last night after dark, and it was a little odd to turn on the lights in the house—not only because we obviously didn't have any luxuries like that out in the woods(ish), but also because we haven't been using electric lighting even at home for a while. It's sometimes nice to give things up, and that's a big part of the appeal of camping for me. Of course, it's also great fun to climb mountains and wade in the ocean and swim in ponds, to eat breakfast at restaurants (well, one restaurant several times), and to explore all sorts of playgrounds. We took many pictures; they will make an appearance somewhat later.

camping 2012, day 0: travelling

Leah and Zion smiling

rest stops make us happy

As I mentioned, the trip didn't get off to the best start this year. Zion was running a fever for a few days before we left, and just moments before we were going to get in the car he threw up. But as it turns out, low-grade fevers and baby car trips are a great combination: he got to rest undisturbed for a few solid hours and we got to drive without stopping all the way up past Portland! (Harvey spent the time watching shows on his iPad; I'm sure he could have gone five or six hours nonstop.)

a look into the fully-loaded trunk

that's enough room for Rascal, right?

We'd spent the last two days packing up, and it was a good thing; it's tricky to fit us all in the car. But we did much better than usual this time. Not only was the full complement of food moderately accessible at stops (being able to reach chilled apple juice was essential), but I could even see over the load in the rear view mirror! I don't know how I managed it. Beach toys were also easily reachable, which was handy for our second stop, in Linconville.

Zion presenting the camera with a beach rock

rock? rock?

We spent quite a while there, playing in the sand and water. Zion and I stayed mostly dry, but Mama and Harvey got the full ocean experience despite not being prepared with swimming suits.

Harvey running in the water wearing a wet shirt

we didn't really plan on him swimming

Rascal, of course, never misses a chance for complete immersion.

Rascal swimming towards the camera with a stick

he never gets tired of it

Leaving the beach was hard—much crying and screaming was involved—but eventually we were on our way, and with Harvey sleeping while Zion watched the iPad we were able to get all the way up to Bar Harbor with but one further stop, in Bucksport, for gas and nursing.

I think that we made three or more stops for Rascal back before we had kids and we certainly needed more than that the last two years, so even with over an hour at the beach we still made record time up to the campground; and, more importantly, we got there before our friends so we were able to grab the best tenting spot!

Zion and Harvey sitting on camp chairs, Rascal on the ground

chairs, boys, and dog set up

No, not really, we actually waited until they got there—just about half an hour after us—to set everything up. Then Mama and Harvey went swimming in the pool (I sense a theme here) while Kyle and Margaret cooked us chicken and corn for dinner. (I was... probably doing something very important too. Watching Zion? And collecting firewood?) The boys were super-excited about the tent, and we went to bed ready for the next day's adventures.


camping 2012, day 1: end of an era

the four of us posing atop North Bubble

Rascal was there too

There are lots of reasons that we like visiting Mt Desert Island, but chief among them are climbing mountains and eating big breakfasts at Cafe This Way. This year there weren't many problems with the latter, at least.

Harvey eating oatmeal at the Cafe

breakfast luxury

Sure, Zion was a little fussy at having to wait for his food, but that was generally survivable. Mountain climbing, on the other hand, gets harder every year. Harvey weighs around 40 pounds now, so with all the other things I had to carry—plus the weight of the backpack itself—I figure my load was close to 55 pounds. Leah carried Zion in a backpack we found at a consignment sale, which wasn't entirely comfortable for either of them. Still and all, we made up a couple of hills—North Bubble and Connors Nubble—and then back along the shore of Eagle Lake.

Washington racoon (a puppet) on top of the sign for the North Bubble summit

he was also carried to the top

It wasn't a really long hike, but parts of it were pretty tough. Up to Connors Nubble was a steep climb, and the Eagle Lake path had moments of tricky scrambling over boulders. It was well worth it though, because even though neither peak was very high both of them had some great views.

some of the crowd eating lunch above Eagle Lake

not a bad lunch view

Harvey would have nothing to do with walking at the start of the expedition, but on the way down from North Bubble we convinced him to try a little bit and he did quite well, even bouncing up from a big fall. After some jostling on the descent he was even more enthusiastic about moving under his own power, and I had to work pretty hard to convince him to get back in the backpack from time to time, in the interest of finishing the hike before it got dark (and I really appreciate our friends' willingness to adapt to our radically changing pace).

Harvey hiking among boulders with Dada following

he doesn't need fancy shoes for barefoot hiking

Most impressive was the fact that Harvey did it all barefoot. It was a lot like having a hobbit in the party, what with the short stature and the curly hair and all (not to mention the constant desire for another meal). He definitely earned his stops to dip his feet in the water.

Harvey dipping his feet in Eagle Lake

a well-earned break

He walked close to a mile in total, and was doing great until he tripped over a root and bashed his big toenail pretty good; the third time he'd been bloodied on that hike alone. He was done with the backpack by that point too, so the last three-quarter miles or so I was just carrying him. The hike marked the end of Harvey's time riding up mountains in the big backpack: it was so painful we didn't try in again. Next year the pack'll hold Zion, and where Harvey can't walk he won't go.

We ended the day back at the campsite with peanut noodles and lawn bowling, both of which Harvey approved of wholly (Zion was a fan of the balls more than the noodles).


we tune in to the olympics

No camping report today, sorry: we spent all day watching the Olympics (except for when we were waiting at the RMV, exploring a playground in Wilmington, swimming in the pond, or out for a walk with friends). NBC streaming is useless to us since they check for a cable package, but never fear, the BBC is more generous—at least, when we trick them into thinking we're browsing from outside the US. So far we've sampled a great many sports, and spent serious time on sailing, cycling, equestrian cross-country, and swimming. As Leah says, "how can we be doing anything else when it's the most important moment in someone else's life?!"

As for Harvey, he just appreciates the opportunity to watch unlimited tv. Never mind being able to tell what's going on, though he did enjoy it when the horsies went through the water.


camping 2012, day 2: all kinds of independence

the party on top of Sargent Mtn, looking to the north

on top of the world

Since we could only handle the arduous effort of hauling the boys up trails once, on Tuesday we split up. Leah, Harvey, and Zion went in to town to have some fun, and I got to hike without a child on my back for the first time since 2009! Unencumbered, I advocated for a big hike, and so we headed up Sargent Mountain, the second tallest in the park.

the party coming down a rocky slope

careful now...

Well, I say unencumbered, but I did have Rascal to contend with. At least I didn't have to carry him very much, but he was a bit of a trial at the beginning of the hike. Before we could go up we had to go down a long way, and since it was early in the walk he was raring to go and pulled constantly at the leash. It's pretty good exercise hopping down boulders down a 45° slope! When we got down to the foot of Jordan pond, we had about 1100 feet of climbing in front of us, some of it quite steep; that's when I had to lift Rascal over one particularly high step. He's good at jumps up to about three feet or so, but anything higher than that—or a consistent rock slope of more than about 60°—and he starts looking for another way around. But sometimes there isn't one! Eventually we made it to the top, and he was ready.

Rascal resting in front of the Sargent Mtn summit

and now lie down.

It was terrible hot and humid climbing up but then cold, gray, and windy on the top, so when we passed by Sargent Pond on the way down we were less inclined to want to swim than we'd been in anticipation. Still, all the boys—in fact, the males of all species in the party—went in, because how often do you have a chance to swim in a mountain pond?

Rascal and Becca in front of Sargent Pond

swimming hole

Sargent Mountain is probably the most remote peak on the east side of Acadia (keeping in mind that remoteness in this case is entirely relative!), so there aren't any reasonable loops that take in the summit. On the way back, though, we did decide to take a different route to bypass the boulder slope pictured above—coming down it was bad enough!—and on the way around Jordan Pond towards the cars we came upon someone's half-finished project.

Washington racoon poses with a beaver-gnawed tree

trying to take credit for someone else's work

Then I got dropped off back downtown where I met up with the rest of my family, and marveled at Harvey's happy independence as he ran all over the Bar Harbor village green.

Harvey running back from the fountain in the park

feeling comfortable with his surroundings

Then we did some other things, but I can't recall them because I was too tired and hungry. Luckily we eat well on these trips.

hot dog, cheeseburger, and corn and bean salad on a plate

we make sure we're well fed


Camping Day 2: Kid edition

One of the things I was most excited about going up to Bar Harbor was taking the boys for a day by myself. I wanted to do all the "little kid" things I researched on the chamber of commerce website, and I wanted to do them at my own jealous pace. So as Dan mentioned we split up on day two of our vacation, and after breakfast the boys and I went off! Our first stop was the town playground.

the bar harbor playground

mountains in the background, daycare in the foreground

I have a hard time checking my snobbery when I'm at new playgrounds. True, it's not a great park for toddlers. There's one big structure in the middle with no wide stairs and no small slide. There's nothing a baby can crawl up on and there's no shade. But Harvey and Zion still spent an hour checking out the swings, the giant tire, and the riding toys left by the numerous day care groups there. And since there were about twenty day care kids also vying for the space, there was much excitement to keep the boys interest. I had to practically drag Harvey away when Zion needed a nap. With beautiful mountains in the background to boot. Maybe I should be less snobish next time. But maybe I was just anxious to get to the wading pool.

the wading pool

calling to us

The Glen Mary wading pool is just around the corner from the playground, and I think it should be at the top of any "Free things to do with kids in Bar Harbor" list. The concrete pool is huge, though never much deeper than my knees. The fenced-in park includes a set of swings, bathrooms, and plenty of shaded grass to spread out all our stuff, sleeping baby included.

wading pool with all our stuff

let sleeping babies lie in the shade

There were two families there when we arrived, but the pool and surrounding lawn is so massive that the baby could sleep in the shade and Harvey and I could play in the water undisturbed. For a while we had the place all to ourselves until a lovely hippy family arrived and plunked down right next to us. I had a great conversation with the women who's daughters were named Cora, Lucinda, and Juno (her oldest child Henry proved my personal theory that hippy parents get up to speed slowly and tend to name their first child something normal.)

By the time the kids were ready to dry off we had the place to ourselves again. We certainly couldn't leave without trying out the swings first! They both swung for a while, but Zion turned out to be more interested in the chain-link fence, which he rattled and hung on for some ten minutes.

at the wading pool swings

now THIS is fun.

By this time it was mid-afternoon and I drove the boys back into downtown with the anticipation of meeting Dan at some point before dinner. I offered Harvey the choice of three options: look in stores, throw stones in the ocean, or visit a museum. "MUSEUM! HURRAY!" he shouted, putting his hands in the air.

The whaling museum is no longer, unfortunately — it's been closed to make room for a giant hotel. But the ABBE museum is right in town, celebrating Maine's Native American heritage. Harvey permitted me to look at baskets for approximately thirty seconds before we headed downstairs to the children's section.

inside the abbe museum

loungin like the native americans did

The children's section of the ABBE museum is essentially one big circular room with some beanbag chairs in the middle. Along the sides there are puppets, blocks and books that can be dragged into the middle of the room for reading and/or mess making. Harvey and I read several stories while Zion pored some wooden blocks all over the floor. The shape of the room and the fact that we were alone there gave the blocks a beautiful echo when they hit the floor. I joined him in throwing them a little bit myself just because it sounded so pretty.

At $5 for the three of us, the museum was the only thing we spent money on all day, seeing as we packed in lunches and snacks (and thank you Dan for making the sandwiches in the morning). The only problem with the ABBE museum was we had to leave before the children wanted to. When I said it was time to go meet dada they responded by soiling their diapers in unison and then screaming about it. The epic clean up had us spending twenty minutes in the bathroom, at first to change both diapers and then because playing around in public bathrooms is apparently high fun at this age.

The thing about going fun places, we try to explain to Harvey, is you always have to leave them. In order to go to more fun places. It's a hard pill to swallow but made easier by the campground playground.

on the see saws

isn't someone going to push us?

This playground is full of fan equipment that's banned in every other playground in this great nanny state of ours. A spinning merry-go-round thing, a teatherball, and these mile-high seesaws. All the more fun because they're probably dangerous.

weeeee! apples!

So that was my awesome day with the boys. I wish every day could be filled with so many adventures, but finished with sleeping in a real bed.