Monday, June 22, 2015

Beach Girls

I can go to the beach and sit for hours perfectly content with my tall glass of water, my beach chair and a great read.  The sound of the waves is my mantra that lulls me into a deep relaxation.  I have always been this way.  The beach is my calm place.

Watching my girls at beach night this year, I realized that my girls are not like me.  Well, one girl is not like me.  Lilah is perfectly happy to relax on the beach for a spell, but not Grace.  She needs to be moving.  At first I thought it was that she wants to still “play” not quite grasping that teen thing that happens when you move from playing soccer and tag and tossing each other around in the water to “hanging out”.  Hanging out is hard for a girl who needs to move or is bored.  If you can talk and walk, that is fine. If you can talk and swing, that is okay to.  But sit on a wall or sit on a blanket or sit on a lifeguard chair and “hang”? Well, that is just a waste of a trip to the beach.

I realized that Grace is just like my sister.  When we go on vacation, I am the one in the chair with knitting, my drink and my book.  It is my down time, my “I’m taking a break time”, my “let Mamma be” time.  But not my sister.  It is her walk the beach time.  It is her paddle board or jog time.  She is always moving at the beach.  Just like Grace.

I realized that this is not unwillingness to morph into teenhood.  This is Grace being who she is, who she has always been, and who she most likely always will be.  My girl.  My beautiful, active, content beach girl.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Monmouth Park Racetrack - Family Day

We took the girls to Monmouth Park Racetrack’s Family Day to see the horses run.  Boy do they run.  The girls have never seen horses run so fast, except on television.  I asked their trainer if horses in lessons ever get to a full gallop and she said rarely.  A lesson horse has a gallop stride of 12-14 feet.  Depending on the course, a horse and rider may gallop a few strides to get to a jump quickly, but usually this only happens in larger horse shows.  American Pharaoh has a stride of 24 feet.  Simply amazing.  I know my girls aspire to gallop and I wonder if someday we will take a trip out west to a ranch where they can ride through open land and not be confined to the wooden fence posts of a lesson ring.......

Grace aspires to be a great photographer.  She can be seen with my Canon more often than I am!  We have plans to take advantage of great classes offered by a local camera shop in the fall.  She is also going to begin a photography portfolio.  

Grace’s pictures of our day:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sea Bright, New Jersey

I have lived in New England all my life and have never been to a beach in New Jersey.  I’ve been to beaches in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  New Jersey is so close but yet so far......getting through New York is such a travel nightmare.

I can now say that I have been to the beach in New Jersey.  We were driving to Monmouth Park Raceway and took the scenic route through Sandy Hook and Sea Bright to Monmouth.  The beaches are on a narrow strip of land.  It is no wonder that this area was wrecked by Super Storm Sandy.  I can only imagine what the flood insurance costs......

My initial reaction was frustration at how restricted beach access is.  I thought we had it tough in Fairfield County Connecticut but at least we have the option of paying ridiculous amounts of money to spend the day at the beach.  Beach club after beach club restricts the public from accessing the beach.  We stopped and asked a beach club attendant were we could go to take a walk and he suggested the public beach in Sea Bright, NJ.  There was a small lot and thankfully it was very cool for a beach day and we had no trouble finding a free parking spot.  Free is very misleading because although there is no cost to park your car, each person is charged $8 to step foot on the beach!  $8 pp for a family of 4 is $32 just to go to the beach!  I complain that it costs $20 to park for the day at our beaches.......  Greg asked if we could just take a walk for free since it was evident we were not spending the day at the beach and they waived the fee for us.

The beach itself was lovely.  The surf was high and although this is a very groomed beach, the waves deposited many little lovelies for us to find.  I wonder what treasures would be discovered on a more remote beach.  We found Artic Wedge Clams and one Great Piddock and Jingles in dark charcoal gray colors.  We found bits of sea urchin and a great piece of coral.   Many of these pieces have been glued onto the shell mirror that Grace began making about a month ago.

New Jersey is a pain in the neck to travel to.  It took two hours to get there but took three to get home due to constant traffic through New Jersey and New York.  However, I think that a return trip is in our future.  Before we go, we will have to research more remote beaches that are not groomed and look around for great shelling spots.  I bet there are great spots to stay in September, once the season has ended and school has begun.....

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Time to Grow

This has been a time of discovery for my girls.  They left the barn they rode at for a year.  Due to construction we could not make lessons for three weeks and I thought to myself that there must be a closer place.  We found a barn 10 minutes away where I could drop the girls off and return to pick them up if I had something pressing that needed my attention.  This barn has group lessons which intrigued my girls and most importantly the girls would be split up.  

The time has come that it is no longer appropriate to do everything together.  If one girl gets more lesson time and attention it causes resentment and bitterness.  They need space, room to grow and discover, room to fail and pick themselves up again, or to succeed on their merits and celebrate without fear of hurting feelings or taking away from one another.  

It has been a season of horses and barns.  Lilah rides at the barn 10 minutes away.  She loves her group lesson.  The trainer is strict, disciplined and always asks for her best.  Because the expectations are so clear, Lilah delivers her best every time.  Her best may not always be pretty.  One pony gave her a run for her money and she had to dig deep and learn lots to control him and have him respond to what she was asking from him.  The lesson here is perseverance and determination.  She did not give up.  She learned how to tack and untack and how to put on a lead line.  She has ridden bareback and trotted with no stirrups.  She has exercised with the group as well as jumped over the cross rails giggling like crazy.  In just 6 weeks, my little girl has grown.

Grace has found her own way too, at another barn, a bit further from home, and a perfect fit for her.  This barn focuses on equine therapy, is smaller, more intimate, and does not offer group lessons.  Grace feels at home here and wants to spend as much time at this barn as possible.  The setting is tranquil, on the hill above a reservoir, shaded by trees, populated by rescued cats and therapy dogs.  For Grace, it’s a little slice of heaven.  It is also just the right balance of structure and nurturing, for Grace needs both.  She is eager to jump and cantor and compete again.  This will come.  Hopefully she will be volunteering here as well, merging her love of kids with her love of horses. 

We have also visited a friend’s barn and watched her ride.  Her farm was so welcoming, allowing us to watch a lesson, visit with the horses and ask questions.  I love that they are able to share something they love with a friend.  It makes the bond of friendship stronger and gives them the opportunity to talk with someone who “gets it”.  These girls.  I imagine great things are in store for them.  I love love love watching them discover themselves and their abilities through horseback riding.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hurt Go Happy

I try very hard to be intentional with our time.  We spend a great deal of time in the car.  We drive 25 minutes to Grace’s barn for riding.  We drive 30 minutes to piano lessons.  We drive 20 minutes to glass class.  This time adds up and to waste it on pop music is a shame.  Sometimes we listen to Joel Osteen, especially if it is one of those days.  Most of the time we listen to an audiobook.  

I stumbled across this one on Audible.  It is infused with ASL and Deaf culture and was the perfect accompaniment to the girl’s second year of ASL.  My girls knew all the ASL signs they referred to and they would show me what they look like while we were driving.  We spent a morning at the library researching ASL and apes including the famous apes like Koko.  We learned how much of this book was based on the real life accomplishments of teaching apes to sign.  The girls learned the complicated issues surrounding product testing on animals from rats and mice to chimpanzees.  We debated the ethics involved in this.    Even though their ASL II class has ended, the learning continues. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New Sliding Door

We are doing lots of improvements to our home: new bedroom, renovated bathroom, crown molding, renovated closets, a new office (Lilah’s old bedroom) and the removal of  a radiator and two windows to make room for the installation of a sliding glass door.    Greg and I always joke around that we spend so much time talking and dreaming and planning for work that when it actually happens, sometimes it feels like it has always been.  

I love my door.  I love to sit at my dining room table and enjoy a real breeze.  I love the natural light it lets into my home.  Right now my back yard is nothing much to look at but I can see the potential for a patio and an outdoor living space.  Someday the pool will no longer be there and I can imagine gardens and a beautiful bird bath.  I can imagine a peaceful place in the middle of a not so peaceful neighborhood.  I wonder when that finally happens, if I will sit back with my cup of coffee hand in hand with Greg and feel like it always was.....

Monday, June 8, 2015

104 Days of Summer Vacation

But school does not come around just to end it!  Our life is not a perpetual vacation.  In fact, I consider us always schooling even if our summer months are not spent doing "book work".  This was a fun journal entry we did with the help of Art For Kids  

With this entry we declared NoteBook Girlz on hiatus for summer vacation.  We will start up again in September!

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...