If I Could Talk to 2-Year-Old Me…

A young but wise beyond my years 2-year-old me.
   A young but wise beyond my years 2-year-old me.

This is a picture of a 2-year-old me holding my very best friend, the doll I got for my birthday and named Baby Hat. I know it’s not possible, but if I could talk to 2-year-old me, this is what I would say:

You are not going to grow much taller than you are right now.

See that black-and-white TV on your right? Laugh at it. In 25 years, you’ll understand why.

Keep that silly pink hat on your head. You are going to need it to cover a horrible perm when you’re in the 7th grade.

You will never learn to cook.

Baby Hat is not a bad start, but you are going to get much better at naming babies.

BLOG Kristin jr highThis is what you are going to look like in junior high school, but like all painful things, it, too, shall pass.

You are going to marry the man of your dreams and live happily ever after.

You should take care of your skin.

I already know that you’re not going to, but don’t worry about it. When you start to wrinkle, your eyesight will fade, and it will all be good.

You will travel the world wide, but you will always love home the best.

You will survive childbirth, a car crash, and your first year of teaching, but wisely, you will never submit to having a root canal.

People will think you are weird, and they will be right. It’s okay, because all of your favorite people will be weird, too.

Put your head down and go.

Do the hard thing first.

Chocolate loves you.

You won’t remember anything I’m telling you, because you’re only two and do not have a memory bank yet, so you’re going to have to figure all of this out on your own. But don’t worry, you will.

This is what Baby Hat and I look like today. I am not sure to whom time was kinder, but it doesn't matter as long as we still have each other. We are nothing if not loyal.
This is what Baby Hat and I look like today. I am not sure to whom time has been kinder, but it doesn’t matter as long as we still have each other. We are nothing if not loyal.

Summer Dog Days

The Summer Dog Days are not pretty. We’re talking dirty, matted hair, chipped pedicures, and the tendency to laze around all day eating cookies. And those are just the dogs.

The people are also in their summer plumage: sunburned, sore, and sporting chlorine-damaged split ends.

We’re all a mess. And not surprisingly, so is the house. It’s like the spring cleaning frenzy that hit hard in April and May never happened at all.

It’s no one’s fault, really. It’s just the way of things. Summer is for big projects, and this summer is no different. Joe and I built new garden beds and a fence in the front yard Garden bed and a pergola in the back. Next up is a greenhouse made from vintage windows – we laid the foundation for it last weekend.

Inside the house, Elsie and I repainted and remodeled her room, creating a dramatic change from beige walls with country furnishings to bright red walls and in a French classic style. All that’s left is to install the crown molding.

We’ve also had beach days and zoo days and baseball games Ben hittingand sleepovers with friends from out of town. Beth and Kristin(Hi, Beth!)

We’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and the Fourth of July.

We’ve gardened within an inch of our lives, and are now feasting on peas, beans, radishes. Soon, we’ll have tomatoes and peppers.

And some of you may have heard about the potatoes. A potato harvest is excitement like no other.potatoesinbowl

But what happens when you focus on the big projects? The little things, the regular maintenance, the stuff that has to get done or YOU WILL GO CRAZY does not, in fact, get done at all.

This is why I am tripping over overflowing laundry baskets and piles of shoes. This is why every time I reach for a clean, dry towel, I have to go throw a load in the washer so that I will have a clean, dry towel approximately an hour and a half after I need one. This is why the refrigerator, despite undergoing a thorough detail during the frenzied spring cleaning about two months ago, is now piled high with Tupperware and takeout containers. I cannot open the freezer door without risking injury from falling frozen goods. The tragic irony? I can’t close the freezer door either. A purge is badly needed.

So sure, I may have painted a bedroom and a fence, but have I touched up the chipped kitchen cabinets? No. And I have no immediate plans to, either.

And yes, I may have cleaned and purged and neatly organized all the closets in May, but can I fold and put away my linens easily now? Not a chance.

This is what the Summer Dog Days are for: sticky, gritty kitchen floors, fingerprints on the cabinets, dog nose prints on the sliding glass doors, and sitting back and ignoring it all until you can stand it no longer. With any luck, everything be all right once the back-to-school, let’s-get-organized energy surge arrives. That should be in about a month.

Until then, enjoy the fleeting Dog Days of Summer.


Please, World, Take Care of my Daredevil

The middle one is 18 and headed to college next month. I’m not sure I can let him go. Not because I’m feeling all mothery and clingy (though, that’s an issue, too) but because of stories like this one, about David Legeno, the Harry Potter star who died while hiking in the desert.

Nick off the beaten path
He’s near the beaten path, but not on it. It’s always the road less travelled for Nick.

Why do people feel so drawn to explore dangerous places? Can’t you just watch a documentary about the desert from the comfort of your own living room? Nick certainly doesn’t think so. There is nothing he loves more than a spontaneous jaunt off the beaten path.

Nick is my daredevil. He wants to climb mountains and descend into caves and swim the ocean and then, maybe, sit down and have lunch before he sets out for an afternoon of skydiving and bull fighting. I’m forever saying things to him like, “Will there be a lifeguard on duty?” and, “No getting lost allowed,” and my personal favorite, “Try to keep from getting into a situation where you have to chew your own arm off.”

Once, on a trip to Vermont, Nick was patient while I took some notes for a travel story I had planned to write on the ECHO Lake and Aquarium Center in Burlington. I liked the place, not only because it showcased some unusual aquatic species, but also because it had a roof and four walls. It would have been tough going, indeed, to get lost or hurt in there.

The reward for Nick’s forbearance while I worked was a kayak trip out onto Lake Champlain. Once in his boat, he immediately headed for a small island out in the middle of the lake. To me, the island seemed a million miles away.

Nick paddled so fast, I couldn’t keep up. Soon, he was completely out of sight. He was 13, and I thought I’d never see him again. I had to call him on his cell phone to tell him to head back to shore. Digging my cell phone out of my bag while keeping my own kayak afloat was no fun, let me tell you.

So you’d think I’d have been prepared for a stop at Quechee Gorge on our way home. “Perhaps you boys would like to dip your feet in the water?” I asked Nick and his brother, but before I got all the words out, Nick had jumped in cannonball style and Ben was close behind.

Nick wants to throw himself into Quechee Gorge.
Nick prefers to swim in Quechee Gorge.


Nick and Ben in pool
But what is so wrong with swimming in your own backyard pool?

Now, Nick is headed off into the real world, and I may not always be there to call him on his cell phone and to tell him to: a. wear sunscreen, b. check for ticks, or c. avoid getting into a situation where he has to chew his own arm off.

Please World, take care of him, and send him home to me in one piece.

Ferocious Competition: A Fourth of July Tradition

Once a year, we rise early in the morning, head to the center of town, cover our faces with war paint, and engage in ferocious combat with our neighbors. If all goes well, we’ll finish the day soaking wet and reasonably successful at blowing the blueberries out of our noses.

Welcome to Scituate’s annual Fourth of July Old Home Days, an old fashioned holiday celebration that features games, a teddy bear decorating contest, hug-a-bunny, pony rides, face painting, crafts, pie eating contests, fire trucks and more.

Attending this celebration has been a tradition in our family since we moved to Scituate, RI in 2001. The first year, we didn’t know about the teddy bear decorating contest, but by the next year, we were ready. Our bears were outfitted in the best red, white, and blue doll-sized costumes that Wal-Mart had to offer. All three of my kids earned blue ribbons in their bear’s category. We would accept nothing less.

Bear contest

One year, I almost won the adult musical chairs competition, and I proudly sported the resulting bruises on my arms and legs. These were war wounds, and I was a warrior. I am fully aware that the term “almost won” means “lost,” but as my hyper competitive personality will not allow me to admit defeat, I’m just going to have to stick with “almost won.”

Adult musical chairs

My kids have entered (and even won a few) water balloon tosses, hula hoop contests, checkers tournaments, and limbo lines, but victory in the pie eating contest eludes us all. It’s possible that I may have influenced my children with my hyper competitive nature, because there was one year when I think Nick nearly choked on his blueberry pie rather than accept second place, but he did not perish in combat, and so that yellow ribbon is just as much a thing to celebrate as a blue ribbon would have been.

Ben pie eating contest

At the end of the festivities, the hot and sweaty combatants, I mean, community members, are usually free to frolic about in their bathing suits under a cool shower at the end of a fire hose, thanks to the North Scituate Fire Department, although tomorrow it may be Hurricane Arthur that cools everyone down.

Tomorrow’s festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the grounds of the First Church and Community House. I hope to see you there, though maybe you shouldn’t challenge me to a game of checkers. Someone may get hurt.