We recently went on our annual trek to Maine. I guess it was technically a vacation, but these days that word has a very different meaning than it used to. At this point it’s all about building memories and doing things to make the kids happy. And I’m okay with that, as tiring as it is. (It definitely gives me a different perspective of all those years in Maine when I was younger, and what my mom was going through!)
We did have the added bonus of having a lot of family and friends come and stay with us, which was amazing. It meant extra hands to hold our babies, to entertain them, to play with them, and to feed us! All good things. And our kids were psyched! There was so much laughter and running around and smiles. Nothing is better, or makes me happier than seeing someone I love, love on my children. It makes my heart happy.
But I am still a mom of a 7 month old and a 2 year old, I have a million lists in my head, managed to pack us all up for a week, kept us alive and organized, and therefore my memory is GONE. So I’d like to share a bunch of moment from the week in the jumble that I remember them.
The first thing we do when we arrive in Maine, is go pick up the keys for our rental house. It’s been a long drive with a lot of traffic, and vacation is so close, but this is the last thing standing in our way. We pulled into the parking lot, hungry, tired, and needing a bathroom. I took E inside with me, while Tom and baby G stayed in the car to enjoy a bottle. While we were waiting for the keys, E was lying down on the carpet playing with a new truck we’d pulled out for the drive, and acting pretty oblivious to everyone in the room, who were all smiling and watching him. After a bit, we were all getting restless, and still waiting for our keys. Suddenly someone in the room goes “Oh look! There’s another baby coming, and this one is even littler!!” Everyone got excited and started watching the door, excited for another cute distraction. I leaned forward to look out the window to see what new baby could possibly be cuter than my little E. Of course I saw Tom approaching with baby G in his arms. “Oh, yeah,” I said, “That one’s mine too!”
Finally the person with the keys showed up, and brought them over to a table with a banner that said “Proudly providing vacation rentals for 36 years!” The first person getting their keys started bragging this was their fifth year in a row coming to York for vacation. Not to be outdone, Tom piped up “That’s nothing! My wife’s been coming for 32 years!” I guess I win?
I’m not sure what it is with me and York vacations and animals over those 32 years - but I’ve got stories. Rabid foxes and the national guard. Baby skunks. And now racoon puppies. I’m going to say one morning, but the truth is I don’t remember what day it was let alone what time of day it was. Vacation brain. What I do remember is my nephew suddenly screaming “HERE! RIGHT NOW! OUTSIDE RIGHT HERE!!” And we all rushed over to the patio door, we saw the biggest, round, raccoon pawing at the door. E immediately named him “puppy” as we all crowded around watching him walk around the deck. My dad decided he needed to go, so armed with a lawn chair, he chased him away as E repeated over and over: “Where puppy go? Oh he’s gone.”
Besides strange animals, York has other, slightly better attractions. Like a zoo and amusement park, but I knew that wouldn’t be E’s speed. Although he loves getting dizzy, flying through the air, and going upside down, he’s also nervous in new situations and doesn’t like loud noises or busy places. In a few years, maybe, but I knew it wasn’t even worth trying this time. We spent most of our time with him just walking around outside collecting sticks. There was one thing I wanted to try though - the Trolley ride! I have memories of riding it when I was little, and I thought it might just be perfect. It’s like a train, but we’d all just be sitting in seats together, so it shouldn’t be scary, and the baby could come too. Still, I knew not to get my hopes up too much, since anything can happen with toddlers.
We sunscreened up, packed snacks, and headed out to wait at the Trolley stop. We got on, sat down, and it started to go. It was everything I remembered, and I was excited to get a half hour to sit down, relax, and cuddle with the kids on my lap. And about 30 seconds in, it happened. “No like it. I no like it. No like it! NO LIKE IT NO LIKE IT NOLIKEITNOLIKEIT!!!!!” and so I spend the next two minutes trying to reassure him that we’d get off as soon as we could, while he panicked. So off we got at the next stop, to then walk home. Womp womp. At least we tried?
We also tried the ocean, but that was another no go (and not just because baby G didn’t nap well). E loves dirt, so we knew the beach would be okay. Give that kid a shovel and he’s happy digging all day. He also enjoyed chasing the seagulls around, but most people seem to think the ocean is pretty important too. His best friend LOVES the water, and was having fun splashing in the waves. At one point I got him pretty close as he chased after her. And then a tiny little wave came and lapped at his feet, just enough to get him wet up to his ankles. The tears were immediate as he turned around and RAN as fast as he could. The rest of the week every time we’d catch a glimpse of the ocean he’d declare “NO WATER!” until we reassured him that he did not have to go in.
There was, however, one new thing we tried that E did like. ICE CREAM! That’s right, you can all stop feeling sorry for him. For two years, every time we’ve gone to get ice cream (which has been maybe 5 times?) he’s gotten whipped cream instead of ice cream. And he was extremely happy about it. We figured it was time for him to try the real stuff, though. And so we picked out a small cup of blueberry parfait. He loves blueberries, and he loves cake, so it was a safe bet. He wasn’t so sure at first, though. He took a small bite and immediately declared it “Too cold!” and “No like it!” A few more bites, though, and he said “Okay I like it!” and ate up. He wouldn’t let anyone else come near him, help him hold the cup, or scoop the ice cream. He knew it was a treat and wanted it all to himself. He ended the day totally purple, and on a definite sugar high, but happy. Unfortunately baby G will have to wait a bit longer - he hasn’t even tried whipped cream yet!
If you’re in Maine, you know that ice cream goes hand in hand with taffy! Mostly because they’re across the street from each other, and also because you end up eating both, every day. So after ice cream we walked to watch the taffy being made. It didn’t occur to me how much E would LOVE that. He is such a fan of cooking lately, I feel like the only words I hear on repeat are “cooking?” and “outside?” It’s all he wants. So watching someone else cook taffy and stir big pots was right up his ally.
And it’s pretty much how his week went. If he wanted to go outside, someone took him on a walk. And although there’s never enough cooking in the world to make him happy, grandma did indulge him daily by letting him help with whatever she was making for dinner. Even better, she pretended not to notice as he ate all the cheese and cranberries out of the salad every night.
Speaking of outside, E’s absolute favorite part? All the lawnmowers and weed-wackers! I’d say they’re replacing his obsession with vacuums, but they all somehow go hand in hand. We had a few awkward experiences where he decided he needed to stand and watch the lawn guys without moving, without talking, for long periods of time. They weren’t quite sure what to make of the small toddler who kept following them down the road, house to house.
Awkward is kind of his style. He’s really good at going up to new people. Not so much talking to them. I keep telling him “If you’re going to stare, at least say hello!” (Sorry girls in the field by the basketball court!). When we were on the beach he found a group of teenagers playing some Finnish game called Molkky, and decided to go check it out. After the awkward stares and refusing to give high fives or fist bumps, he eventually agreed to play the game after they offered him the chance. I believe you have to throw the wooden cylinder at the numbered posts, but E decided to walk over and place it in the middle instead. Very carefully with a lot of concentration. When he got it where he wanted it, he stepped back and at least 4 or 5 families in the surrounding area that had apparently been watching this interaction happen, all started clapping for him. He slowly spun in a circle taking in his admirers and smiling at them all. It was kind of amazing.
It might have been E’s best week ever.
I’m realizing I focused mostly on memories of E in this post, which is easy because it was such a big week for him. That doesn’t mean that G didn’t have his moments, though. It just means I’ll have to mention them in a separate post. In general, though, it was a good week. We both got some much needed solo time with each kid. We also got some downtime to ourselves too - I managed to read two books and a magazine!