Martha Thinks

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lift-Off, 7th Grade!

Ah, 7th Grade. 

He was in no mood to pose for me this morning but when he came home he said he had a good day and he really likes his homeroom teacher.  That's a big deal!  My memories of 7th grade are not so great.  I was always trying to please, laughing extra hard, a nervous wreck.  Worried minute by minute about how I looked, what I was wearing and what other kids thought about me.  It was exhausting.  I don't see a lot of that in my son.  He seems very confident and if (hopefully) he learned in growing up in this house, I am very grateful!

My annual back to school sign, now for only one boy to see, boo hoo!  Yes, he alone gets all of our attention, questions, fawning, rules and regulations.  But he also doesn't have to share the tv or chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Two Days to Go - Museum

Ah this wonderful city of Boston has so much to offer.  We have loved having a membership to the Museum of Science and being able to go as often as we like.

Sometimes during the school year we will come right after school for an hour or two and be out by the time the rush hour traffic hits.

I am happy that this place keeps my son entertained.  That's a big bug!

He never gets bored here and with the membership is able to explore all corners at his leisure.

Bonus for the day: eating lunch with Dad who works near the Museum.

This is the elegant courtyard of the Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square.  Who knew?  What an amazingly lovely place to sit and enjoy a meal. On the other side of the brick walls are offices.  I kept thinking, what a great view outside their windows! 
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Day at the Beauty Pageant

Ok, I wasn't "in" the beauty pageant, LOL, but I worked for one day at one.  Turns out they were short one judge and so they asked me to judge!  I quickly had to read all of the guidelines on "Beauty" "Theme" "Photogenic" "Talent" "Outfit of Choice", Natural vs.Glitz and where points should be deducted for not meeting criteria.
In other words, this mother of three boys was on a different planet.  The seats were all filled with moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, etc. all helping with costume changes, make-up, clip-on air and false eyelashes.  Miss Cinderella Teen was on hand to give out the awards.

There were 3 judges all together and we in the end had to pick the winners in five categories.  It was a daunting task.  If I am looking at it from a practical side, out of about 20 girls there were two or three that really stood out.  But it warmed my heart in ways that I did not expect to hear during their interviews what their personal stories were.  Since pageants are typically a Southern event, (in fact these organizers are from North Carolina and this was the farthest North they have come) there were girls there from all over.

One 12 year old girl was from upstate New York and her grandmother told her if she could find a pageant she would take her and she did.  It was her first one.  She wasn't the best dancer and her routine wasn't all that sophisticated, but she was very graceful and elegant.  And when it came time for the Judge's Choice Awards, we gave her the award for "Poise".  Another 16 year old girl just helped her mom through back surgery and has an 11 year old austitic brother.  She told us how she helps take care of him and the other day she was eating an apple and he said he wanted one and he grabbed an onion and started eating it.  She said "I help with that kind of stuff".  I got a little teary.  So she loves her pageants and only watches "Say Yes To The Dress" and all things on TLC there's no judgement from me.

That's the heartwarming stuff.  This was the back of  a mini-van STUFFED with wigs, costumes, props, etc. Oh yes, there was plenty of the questionable side, too.  Babies not two months old trussed up like dolls "competing" by having their mothers walk around with them on stage.  "Who am I judging?"...I kept thinking?

The five year old who has been groomed since she was an infant for this job.  During the interview process she's pointing at her palm saying "show me the money, judges, give me the best scores, I'll love you forever" and blowing us kisses and making heart gestures with her hands.  One three year old's parents made a motorcycle prop on wheels with a ring of fire that they pushed her through.  (It was a Carnival theme!).

So how far away from Honey Boo-Boo was this pageant on a Saturday in Massachusetts?  Not far at all.  I chalk it up to a new experience.  And for that I'd give it an 18.9 (with 20 being the highest score, ladies).
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

6 Days to go - Poolside

My brother and sister-in-law have this rockin' pool and are totally generous letting us use it.  It is divine and so completely relaxing.

Sometimes it is the twelve year old and me, which is kind of boring for him.  Luckily a friend was free today and they had a good game of Marco Polo.

They are into these "Magic" cards, trading and speaking in foreign tongues about character's names, moves, what is more collectible, etc.  I just kept my nose in my book, because I can't even pretend to be interested in that.
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to entertain a kid for 8 days

I have been through this drill before.  Vacation is over, scheduled vacation that is.  We are back from a few days at the beach, Scout camp was the first week in August, drama camp ended in July, and we dropped the college brother at the airport so he could start sophomore year.  And now planted firmly in my lap is how to entertain my 12 year old for the waning days of summer vacation. 

But truthfully over the years, I have enjoyed this time with my boys.  Having no more of a goal than to chill out and have fun, I come up with a list of what we haven't done.  Museum, mini-golf, movies, boat cruises, apple picking, are all up for grabs.  Sometimes there is a little arm twisting involved, but I tried to keep the trips to a half-day so they could do what they wanted the rest of the day.  

Knowing the "hammer" comes down pretty hard when school starts and free time is a thing of the past, I am trying to treat Ronan to some fun.  This day's excursion was the New England Aquarium.  Recently revamped and with brand new windows in the tank, beautiful colors of coral and so many beautiful fish swimming by that it is totally enchanting.

Way up at the top of the tank this turtle poked its head up to say hello.

The colors are as mesmerizing as the first time seeing "Finding Nemo"...

There is a ferry that runs from the Charlestown Navy Yard around Boston Harbor, stopping at various points including Long Wharf - home of the Aquarium.  It is not very big as you can see and when this Whale Watch came sailing towards us standing on the wharf, I did hold my breath for a second.   Talk about threading the needle!  No room for error.  But in their skilled hands, they docked perfectly and the smaller white boat in the background was our ferry waiting to take us back to our car. 
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Friday, August 16, 2013

He's Not Missing Shark Week

The beginning of Shark Week landed on Carter's birthday.  Well, that is a cause for great celebration in this house of Shark Week lovers. 

Since he worked so hard on the firepit/patio and it the weather was going to be nice, I thought it would be a fun idea to rent a projector and screen and show JAWS.
It was so much fun watching a movie outside!  Except for the jiggly picture which they couldn't quite get to stop, once you got past was like a backyard drive-in theatre.  

With popcorn and pretzel candies of course.

On the inside for anyone who needed to use the bathroom or escape the mosquitoes I kept the TV on so no on would have to miss a minute of a shark attack, seal attack or Air Jaws!

Lots of laughs on the deck with his friends.  Not everyone was paying close attention to the movie!  

For all of his backbreaking, sweaty work over this firepit, I am happy to see this scene.  Carter and his friends, warm summer night, sparklers and memories.

 A few days later we headed to Maine for our annual beach trip.  What a difference a year makes.  Last year my heart was so heavy I thought I would not recover from having this happy boy leave the house and go to college in the Mid-West. ( I couldn't figure out where my own "true north" would be since he has been the child who's even temperament has been a neutral force in the house.  His sense of adventure, helpfulness, humor and smile lifts us all. As he so perfectly put it this summer "Mom, you can never be mad at me" and I said "I can get mad at you, but I can never stay mad at you."   And that's pretty much our relationship.
But something does happen that lets you release a little easier sophomore year.  Yes it does.  You see how happy they are to get back to school.  You realize that you made it, too, and they think of where you are as home.  That the high school gang are forever friends, taking up right where they left off at the beach, amusement parks and just hanging out.

But now their worlds have opened up, just like in The Truman Show opening the door to a whole other world.  New friends lives pinging off of theirs.  New moms and dads that you've never met that now know your kid's name. That he now has friends in Atlanta and Orange County.  That he's planning on a semester abroad in Spain junior year.  It is the life I dreamed for him, all coming true.

He's 19 and living in a "quad" with 3  friends.  We went to IKEA to buy a futon, his donation to the space.  He took a photo in the store and sent to his roomie/ friend "Soc" who is providing a refrigerator.  I bought an inexpensive painting at a yard sale and he asked if he could have it for his wall at school.   They are giddy with excitement for the adventure of the new year.  And he is still sharing it with me.

We are planning to drive out to see him in October.  And he said "everyone wants to meet Mrs. Salz."  Now that is a gift, better than Christmas.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Scout Camp

This Saturday morning I found myself in New Hampshire, picking up my Scout after a week of sleep-away camp.  I didn't go on the drop-off because he said I didn't need to and at some point I am thinking we don't "all" have to do everything, right?  Let's give each other a little elbow room.  So his dad took him up and then mom and dad both brought him home.

Although I had hoped that he would like the camp, I was still a little worried that  he would be homesick. A week without friends, family or the computer?  No SpongeBob or Pawn Stars re-runs (the incongruous combination of soccer...that is always on in my house) would he ever manage?

All of this signs lined the dirt road up to the campsite.

Wonderful attributes describing these Scouts.

I loved the crafty nature of them.

And when we finally got to the top of the hill, the closing ceremonies were already under way.  It was so charming, not a very "boyish" term, I know, but isn't it just what you think Scout camp would look like?  
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He had a great time!  Looked a little in need of a good scrubbing, but tanned and happy.

As the flag was lowered ending another week of camp, the Scouts stood at attention. My son got three merit badges and came away with tales of swimming great distances and hikes and his special pocket knife and how he said after Wednesday "I didn't see any point in changing my socks."  Oh that's what I smelled on the ride home.

On our way out of town we saw this cute pottery barn and stopped in to check it out.  Completely quaint, charming and unique. A real pottery barn...not like the one in the Mall with glass doors and air conditioning.

When I see a joyful display like this it makes me want to try something very bold in my own "barn".
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Two Perfect Days

With my youngest son in Scout Camp it was the official start of my vacation week.  More of a mental stay-cation sort of thing but a nice break from "will you make me a smoothie" and "I'm hungry" and "can I have a friend over?"...and the words that kept coming out of my mouth..."you have been on the computer for two hours!"

Off I went to meet my friend, Peg, and enjoy an absolutely, positively perfect 10 of a day.  We've had the heat, we've had the rain but this week 80 degrees and low humidity moved in...aahh.

We took in the craft fair at and then a boat ride along the marshland in the harbor.  Transforming.  What a difference it makes to get off the land for however long (in this case it was an hour ride) feel the wind off the water and be needed for nothing.

Then a nice stop for dinner.

The annual road race went by right outside our restaurant window.

This beautiful old maritime town was transformed in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  

It is a charming combination of brick and cobblestone walks, unique restaurants and hip high school kids with fun colors in their hair and black Converse sneakers.  You can go into a dimly lit bar for a cold beer or spent a lot of money at a destination waterfront restaurant.

Or what I think is best of all...bring a picnic and sit in the park and check out one of the prettiest views on the North Shore.

It is my hometown that I do not live in, Newburyport, Massachusetts.
I declare my love.
I am happier every time I go.
I have 20 years of memories through all the seasons.
Kids, boats, fireworks, pumpkins, craft fairs, amazing window boxes, pizza, coffee, bagels at Abraham's, Winfrey's Candies...I could go on and on.  

Back down the road to my "actual" hometown of Reading.  Taking another great day of memories with me.
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