Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fight the Power

Everybody in America these days is so good all the time, so self-improving. All you have to do to be avant garde is refuse to use organic toothpaste. Here's a list of things I do to live a bohemian lifestyle:

1. Never floss.

2. Never run any charity foot races. In fact, don't jog AT ALL.

3. Don't wax or dye anything.

4. Wear shoes with poor arch support.

5. Eat carbs.

6. Lean out.

7. Just say no to daily sunscreen. Stay indoors instead.

8. Massages are creepy. Don't let strangers rub you.

9. Don't "upcycle." Never use the word "upcycle" again.

10. Grow an unironic moustache.

Remember kids, being flawed is the new perfect.

You're Auntie Amanda :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Last week, Shovels and Rope won Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year (for "Birmingham," below) at the Americana Music Awards. They are a husband and wife team who perform Americana folk-rock (or whatever you wanna call it) as a duo. I can't stop thinking about Dolly Parton when I listen to Cary Ann Hearst singing. I wish I had half her sass. She's amazing.

Sometimes Michael Trent plays guitar and drums at the same time.

Sometimes they even swap instruments completely.

Their voices blend beautifully together.

Buy their album, O' Be Joyful. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So Then This Happened...

Last weekend, Mumford and Sons descended on my little hometown for one of their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover tour dates and I wasn't there. Tears!

The State Capitol Publishing Museum

Downtown Guthrie, OK

Between a great line up for the two-day GOTR concert stage (Mumfords! Alabama Shakes! Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros! Justin Townes Earl!) and a street festival that brought in local bands and some heavy-hitters like the Del McCoury Band and T-Bone Burnett, the town was expecting 40,000 people and hundreds of thousand of dollars of revenue. By all accounts so far, it was a very successful weekend for my little town on the prairie.

My mom and dad's 38th wedding anniversary was on Friday, the 6th, so they went downtown for the street festival and got to see Marcus Mumford perform with the Del McCoury Band! I think they were glad that they didn't have tickets to the GOTR concert on Saturday, though, because the temperature got up to 100˚F. Oklahoma weather is brutal.

Mumford and Sons donated $109,000 (ticket sales from the first 1,000 tickets) to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

They auctioned off a signed-by-the-Mumfords Deering banjo with the Guthrie Stopover logo on it for $5,200 to benefit a local Logan County charity, Logan Community Services.

They hung out with Grammy-winning fiddler and Guthrie resident, Byron Berline at his Double Stop Fiddle Shop.

And in the spirit of a festival which is meant to bring musicians and fans and small-town communities together, the show closed out with all the bands on stage together singing "With a Little Help From My Friends."

This may go down as one of the big regrets of my life. *Sigh* Rock on, Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Well, we had quite a busy weekend. On Saturday we hit our favorite orchard in New Hampshire for the first apple pickin' of the season with cousin E. The best way to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the new season is to put the children to work in the fields like migrant laborers, I always say.

When our apple bags were full, we went over to the farm stand to buy peaches and ice cream and feed the ducks.

Later that afternoon, Grandpa put up a tent to play in and then we had dinner and cake to celebrate his birthday.

THEN, on Sunday we had Mike's company picnic. It's usually held at a place called Kimball Farms, which has ice cream and mini golf and bumper boats and pony rides, etc. The girls always love it, so it was worth scrambling to fit it all in.

This was a simulator ride in the arcade. They chose to do the runaway mine car ride, so Kate felt it was both fun and scary as "old mines" are one of the things on her short list of scariest things ever.

Gotta do the pony ride.

Now they both want a pony for Christmas. "Just make the house bigger," Katie says.
And finally, today was Kate's first real day of school. When Mike and I walked her into her classroom this morning, all the kids yelled, "Kate!" and she ran off to sit on the rug with them without even saying goodbye to us. This evening she sang us a song she made up that goes:

I love school.
These are new friends to make.
I love my teacher.
I love my friends.

So I guess that's all good. Yeah. September is moving right along. Now I just need it to get chilly enough so that I can wear jeans all the time and stop shaving my legs. Then I'll be all set! Bring on the sweater weather!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School

Maggie started first grade on Wednesday. Can you even believe it?! No, me either.

This is pretty much the only picture Mike got of her before we had to rush out the door because she would not cooperate. She's not about to cry. She just insists on making weird faces and acting awkward in photos. I have no idea who she gets that from. Ahem.

She woke up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, all jazzed to go back to school and see her friends. She got dressed and ready to go with no prompting and seemed excited by the familiar morning routine. However, when we got to the playground, it was a zoo. The teachers were outside with signs trying to get their classes to line up in front of them to go in, but the whole place was just a complete madhouse. Maggie ended up crying and saying she didn't want to go anymore. I think she was really overwhelmed by the crush of people and the noise, and she was feeling apprehensive because her only friend from kinder who is in her class this year didn't show up until the very last minute.

Luckily, her teacher this year is wonderful and very kind. She came over and talked to Maggie and asked her to come stand by her at the front of the line and hold her hand! We hugged our goodbyes and off she went. Mike and I hung around chatting with friends and waving to her until her class went in, and she genuinely seemed fine after she was assigned a spot of her own. When I went to pick her up later, her teacher said she was great all day and Maggie said she loved her class. Then Day #2 went smoothly, no problem. She just needed a quieter transition, I think.

Yesterday, we dropped Maggie off at her school and then zipped over to Kate's preschool for her Open House. Kate did two days per week of preschool at a nearby community center last year (where Maggie and our neighbor friend went the year before), and her teacher suggested that this year she bump up to the pre-K instead of just adding another day of the same preschool program again. So this year, she'll go three days per week, and she has a new teacher in a different classroom that Maggie never had.

So far, so good. The class will be quite a bit smaller and the kids do seem older and more mature. Her new teacher is lovely - like a very kindly grandmother who happens to know a ton about children's minds. Kate's neighbor buddy is in her class along with a small handful of kids she recognizes from last year, so I think she's going to love it despite the changes.

Here are some photos of them in their new outfits, which they picked out themselves, as is our pre-school-year ritual. It was hotter on Wednesday than it has been for most of the entire summer, so we decided to postpone Maggie wearing her new first-day-of-school dress until yesterday when it was much, much cooler. Also, because of Kate's open house, they could wear their new outfits together. I think they look adorable anyway, but they would not pose properly for the photo. Mike got frustrated with them and gave up trying to get a picture where they both look normal. Here's the entire portfolio. Which one do you think is the least bad?

No shoes. They would not put their shoes on. They did eventually have shoes on for school, I promise.

Kate's shirt says "smart cat" and Maggie's dress has little hearts all over it.

Kate's first full day of real class is next Monday. I will be here at home, drinking my coffee, hopefully posting a lot more on my blog, and absolutely piggishly wallowing in the sweet silence.

... and missing my girls, of course, and wondering what they're doing, but also, AHHHH! THE SILENCE.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Final Summer Fling

All right! Summer's over, so get back to work!

I know, I know, I have been taking a little last summer vacation from this blog, but Labor Day has come and gone and we are in the thick of Back-to-school Week, so I'd better get crackin', eh?! I hear you.

A couple of weeks ago we took one last summer fling trip up to Maine to see Mike's relatives and show the girls the farm where Grandpa grew up. We had been talking about how we haven't been up to Searsport since Maggie was two years old (and Kate hadn't ever been). And then Mike's cousin, Anne, contacted him to see if we could get our girls together sometime, since she has a daughter, Emily, who is only a few months younger than Maggie. The girls are peas in a pod and haven't seen each other since they were tiny, so it was well past time to go up.

Maggie and Emily meet for the first time, October 2007.

At Swan Lake, Maine, July 2008

Thanksgiving, November 2008

We took a leisurely drive up from our summer home in the woods of New Hampshire (Mike's parents' house), leaving the interstate at Brunswick and heading up Route 1 through all the gorgeous little seaside towns. We stopped off in Wiscasset to visit Lear's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, which is owned by Mike's cousin Ron and his wife Pam. They make lobster ice cream there, and it is totally delicious! I am not pulling your leg whatsoever. I went in intending to try it just for the sake of being able to say I did and assuming it would be weird, but it is honestly amazing. Ron and Pam gave us a sampling of their many flavors, and I can also highly recommend the blueberry, the pumpkin, the caramel apple, the peach - well, all of them, really. If you are ever in Wiscasset, ME, you have to stop in. The location on the waterfront, and the whole town itself really, are so lovely.

We continued on up the coast to Belfast, where we had dinner and checked into our hotel. Belfast is another really fun little town where you can eat a lobster roll for dinner on the deck overlooking the Passagassawakeag River where it flows into Penobscot Bay - which is exactly what we did.

More funny cutout pics. This one was much too tall for Kate; Mike had to give her a boost.

The view of the bay from our hotel balcony.

The girls loved to play out on the lawn overlooking the sea.

The Perfect Spot!

There is also a little path next to the Adirondack chairs that goes down to a beach.

It was rocky and low tide, but the girls loved it.

Not a bad place to spend the summer!

Back up the path to the hotel

On Sunday afternoon, we headed over to Searsport to visit with Mike's family. His Aunt Linda still lives on a piece of property that was once part of the farm. We had lunch and visited and then went up the road to take a walk around my father-in-law's portion of the farm.

Hanging out in Aunt Linda's hammock. The girls really want one now!

All the little ladies!

Emily and Maggie, the 2013 Version

Grandpa leads the Ducklings

You gotta have a walking stick.

Looks like Little House on the Prairie!

Farm Girls

Headed down to the pond with Grandpa and Uncle Jay

Maggie is a country girl at heart.

Katie is more of a city girl. She did NOT like the tall grass scratching her legs.

So she convinced Grandpa to carry her on his shoulders!

Maggie and Emily, however, were fearless explorers.

I have to say, Maine has become one of my favorite states to visit. I think I still love living near a big city most of the time, but Mike and I agreed that we always feel at home when we're in Maine. It's one of the most beautiful places I can think of, in any season. We'll be back soon!