Sunday, July 27, 2014

Corners and Crannies: One Year Here

One year ago yesterday we settled on our house, six months after putting a contract on it. Although there are times that I worry that I might not have the courage to live in an old house, that the sagging floors and old roof coupled with finances too limited to fix each ache and pain, make me too damn nervous. 

But I love our house. And I love the projects that we have completed. And mostly I look forward to the days that will bring the completion of more projects.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Favorite Things: 01

Sometimes when we say something is a guilty pleasure, we just mean that we like something that isn't very cool. I think we most often mean "Embarrassing Pleasures."

This is not an embarrassing pleasure because how could I be embarrassed by this-- it's cool, really cool, I'm certain even all the cool people would agree. However, it is actually guilt inducing. I spent way too much money on it in a brief moment that I thought for some confusing reason that we had the extra money to spare. We did not. However, considering that the shipping was half the cost, there is no sending her back, and so I get to enjoy her, even if the guilt remains.

Design coffee table books are one of my new favorite things. Until we put an offer on our house last January, I didn't really care about decorating much. However, in the past year it has become something of a problem. An actual problem.  I get envious of other people's homes and it makes me want things I can't have. I don't want to be jealous or materialistic or financially irresponsible, all of which are frequent symptoms of my Pintrest/ DesignSponge binges.

Regardless, I love flipping through design/ decorating books. And this one is possibly my all-time favorite. Now if only Arlo would stop trying to force me into being a decent mother when all I want to do is stare at the pretty rooms. Pretty rooms, that I might add, somehow don't make me feel all the same unpleasant jealous reactions I sometimes experience. Something about these homes and spaces make me feel good, make it easier for me to look around my own house with a fresh set of eyes and feel as though I might have actually created the type of space I had been hoping for.

So if you are in the market for a really good coffee table book and you either a) have the money to spare or b) accidentally think you have the money to spare, maybe you want to go buy Spaces by Frankie Magazine.

Sena might love this book even more than me. She spends hours pouring of the pictures. Have I mentioned how cool I think that kid is? 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Girl

While Gus seems like he came from neither of us, like he may have been switched at birth, every single one of Sena's actions, interests, and personality traits is easily traced back to me or to Tom.

If we had only had Sena, I think I would have been under the mistaken impression that children are perfect blends of their parents. That child is so completely our child that sometimes it is borderline painful. I watch her and I see myself and I see my husband, and sometimes I forget to see Sena. And then her shy smile creeps across her face, and I see her again, my girl who loves to dance and to eat weird food, who can be teased easily and who is always trying to find a way to make a pun.

She is confident and bossy, like her mother, but with a touch of shyness she gets from Tom. She doesn't complain. She makes the most of everything. She jumps in, with both feet, every single time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Weekend We- Friday Night Framer's Market

For a few short hours on Friday evening, we were a family of five: the hours between Sena returning from camp and us leaving Tom behind when we left for Ocracoke.

We spent the hours at the North Beach Farmer's Market and Car Show, the best thing happening round our parts on a Friday.  Part market, part town party, complete with paper plate kite making and s'mores. We decided against the kettle corn line and went for Rita's instead. I didn't bother picking up our normal supplies since was leaving with my mom in an already packed truck the next morning.

Now, the kids and I are enjoying salt air and lots of ocean time, while missing Tom who won't make it down here for at least two weeks. When we get back to Maryland a month from now, we'll return to our normal Friday night tradition, I'm certain, just as apples begin to replace melons and the sun starts setting earlier.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Third Generation

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me about this beach, about Uncle Billie's at the end of the pier, and about the Golden Key Club where the most beautiful women she had ever seen worked (turns out they were drag queens). At the time North Beach was a summer city, full of cottages left vacant during the winter, full of vacationers looking to drink too much and gamble. The beach of her childhood was raucous and a little crass, a giant carnival. There were bars on every corner, hotels sprinkled through the neighborhoods, a bingo hall, places to rent inner tubes, segregated beaches.

By the time I was here as a kid, this beach had quieted down. The little stretch of sand was usually rather empty. The Oasis served bad french fries and scoops of bubble gum flavored ice cream to the few kids braving the jelly fish infested waters, though my mom and aunts didn't call them jelly fish: to them, they will always be sea nettles. There was no longer a net guarding the shores.There was a waterfront IGA that I found any excuse to walk to during the day: a roll of toilet paper, an ingredient needed for dinner, a pack of Bubble Yum.

The beach of my childrens' childhood is an altogether different place still: packed on weekends with day trippers from Northern Virginia and Prince George's County, paying 12 dollars to find a few square feet to lay their beach towels. There is no longer a grocery store, but we walk past the post office where my grandmother was the post master for 22 years on our way to the bakery that made my wedding cakes. And the generations whisper to each other about what was here and what is still to come.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This Week

This week our story consists of a mother who is missing her oldest child, a child who goes away from her often enough, but never without contact. However, for five long days, I won't hear from her, so I check out the camp schedule to see what she's doing. As I write this, it looks like she is in the middle of "Cabin Activity Period – a time for campers to sit with counselors and come up with activities they want to do most." I wonder what it is she wants to do most, and if her fellow cabin mates want the same thing.

This week our story involves a seven year old boy who spends most of his hours down the hill playing with neighbors, only running home occasionally to grab a toy or eat a sandwich. I know that it will not be long until he has become too cool for his family, a family most defined by being a little bit different.  I wonder what word he will use when trying to describe his family to new friends who have yet to meet us: "My parents, well, they're sort of..."

This week our story stars an eighteen month old blond boy with the darkest brown eyes who makes the most expressive faces and runs around slowly, hunched over, making little, beautiful messes. I wait for the moments when he'll fall asleep, trying to convince myself that then I will do the things I know that need to be done. I'll take the laundry off the line and start another load. I'll send out a few emails. I'll vacuum the floors.

The set of our story is always disheveled but never dirty, not by my definition at least, although my older brother who moved in with us a few months ago might disagree. He tries to sneak in anti-bacterial products when I'm not looking. He mops the kitchen floor before I decide to get around to it.

This week our story is slow and sweaty punctuated by cool breezes, a little sleepier than usual.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sleepaway Camp

Today Sena was the first one awake. She could hardly sleep because she was so excited. I found her on the computer looking over every little scrap of information she could find about camp, counting the minutes until one o'clock when we could check her in. 

She has spent hours looking over camp schedules and sample menus, trying to decide what activities she will sign up for, figuring out what to expect.  I felt at least a dozen emotions dropping her off, most surprisingly, jealousy. There was a part of me that wanted to be nine years old too, so excited about something that I couldn't sleep, about to do all sorts of things I had never done before. 

But a larger part of me was nervous, hovering in a way I never normally do, more than a little heartbroken when she sent us away.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moody Holiday

Every year we have a party the day before the 4th of July, which happens to be when our town does the fireworks. Every year, I look forward to it. I love a good party, and this one has become a tradition and usually leaves us with a house full of overnight guests and a laid back day swimming on the actual 4th.

But this year, the threat of Hurricane Arthur postponed our annual fun. An eighty percent chance of heavy rain blanketed the entire day's forecast. The cancellation was made even more bitter because it didn't rain, despite the ominous black clouds that lurked in the corners. The twenty percent held strong.

A much smaller group watched flickers of fireworks across the bay and spotlights crossing the sky from the hotel down the road. But the best light show was, by far, the lightening playing in the clouds above, never making its way down.

I saw in myself a quality I criticize in Sena: an inability to cope with disappointment. My instinct was to pout. I just wanted to be surrounded by friends and grilled meat and controlled explosives, and to do what we do every year.  But that's just not the way it always goes.

Today we will try again, with far less people than usual. But I bet if I can stop moping, it'll be just as wonderful.