Things got a little crazy in NH when our West coast cousin showed up. And no, that is not Cinderella leaving the ball. And yes, it is one of my sons. And no, Matt has no idea I posted this photo….
The boys spent a week with their cousins (and went to camp) and generally had a great time.
Beyond their cousins, part of the appeal is a very comfortable place to be, a huge playroom, a room with a climbing wall, a movie room and an arcade room – as well as lots of outdoor space in which to run around. I tried to repay our stay by working in the garden and yard, and doing laundry and dishes. Having to coach one’s child on what to do if he or she encounters a bear can be a bit disconcerting but apparently this is part of life in Amherst, New Hampshire. It’s hard not to be favorably disposed toward a state in which the license plates read “Live Free or Die.”
Among other activities, there was a hike, some playdates, and a hermit crab funeral (RIP Hermie and Happy). We decided to go blueberry picking one day and crossed into Maine. I loved the ‘Welcome to Maine’ sign. The tag line was “The way life should be.”
When we got to the blueberry patch, my sister told all of the kids we would have a contest – whomever found the largest blueberry would get a dollar (because, really, why not turn a friendly outing with cousins into a fierce competition?). We were all determined to win. At break time, we compared our loot. Somehow, despite C. and I having collected 5x as many berries as the kids, Malachi had some of the largest blueberries. His biggest one was easily double the size of any of ours. I walked the kids back to the van to get a snack and heard Malachi talking to his cousin Paige (5 years). She asked him where he found the blueberry and he said the biggest ones were on the smallest bushes. Paige said, “Really?” Malachi responded by saying, “Yes, really. Sometimes the best gifts come from the smallest things.”
It is getting to be too much not being able to move onto the boat and living out of two vans. In contrast to being disappointed, I think Matt was relieved I was going to get myself and the boys out of there. We headed up to NJ to visit my parents (August 1) and left Matt to deal with the boat. After a few days in NJ, we drove up to New Hampshire with my mom to visit my older sister and her family.
We decided to move the boat from one marina to another. The other one has a pool for the kids, a playground and is generally better suited for a family. Although I liked the quiet and solitude of the first one, Matt is more social and he is the one doing more work on the boat (and spending more time in the marina). Matt’s mom, C, came down and was a wonderful help with the boys. I was able to unload both vans and completely re-pack them to make living out of them easier (although we’ve been sleeping on the boat, we still haven’t really moved onto it because it makes getting the work done a lot more difficult).
Matt was feeling a lot of pressure about the amount of repairs needed, the fact that summer is rapidly sliding by, and that we want to get going but need to balance the desire with the safety of the boat. I finally said to Matt that one of the reasons we are doing this is to stop feeling we ‘have’ to do certain things. I suggested that maybe a better goal is just to get to the point where we can move onto the boat – and that when it’s time to set sail, we’ll know it and it will happen.
After another late night last night, one of our over-tired boys fell on a hatch (i.e., the window above our berth) and broke it. This morning Matt realized that the toilet he had spent a week working on in 90-degree heat just broke (again!). He is so frustrated that he said something about selling the boat. He then took the boys for a bike ride to get some exercise and find breakfast. He called me a while ago to check in. ‘I put up the sign,’ I said. ‘What sign?’ he asked. “The ‘for sale’ sign on the boat.” He started laughing and asked how much. I said, “$20 or best offer.” He said he was starting to question everything and then he looked up at the sky and saw the early morning moon (I sign my pots with a moon stamp). He said it reminded him that he needs to lean on me. I told him we would figure it out and that it was all new and being overwhelmed for a while was to be expected.
I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night by Matt having a dream. I have to say that he is the only person I’ve ever met who is completely coherent when he is dreaming. When he talks in his sleep, it’s as if he is awake. At about 1 am, this is what transpired:
Matt: (in a very loud commanding voice) “Who owns this boat?!”
Me: (sounding stunned, sleepy and a bit uncertain) “Uh … we do?”
Matt: (in a very loud commanding voice) “Who is sailing this boat across the Atlantic?!”
Me: (again, stunned, sleepy and a bit uncertain) “Uh … we are?”
Matt: (in a very loud commanding voice) “Who –”
Me: (interrupting him) “Matt, why are you asking me all these questions?”
Matt: (waking up and sounding confused) “Huh? Oh, I guess I was dreaming…”
This brought to mind the memory from a number of years ago when Matt woke me up in the middle of the night by sitting bolt upright, pointing out in the distance, and yelling, “Can you see land?! Can you see land?!” Who else but a natural sailor would have such nautical dreams?
We just arrived down to MD on Saturday night. The boat is a wreck because people have been working on it. All of the cushions and huge bumpers were in our berth and we were trying to get the boys’ beds made up in the darkness. The boat stinks of diesel and worse. When Matt and I finally crashed into our tiny little bunk, after climbing over everything to get into it, I looked at him and said, “I think this is the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.” We both started laughing and fell asleep.
Our wonderful neighbors, J&W, offered to host us at their house for our last night. We had a fun dinner with some other friends who stopped by and then Matt and I went back to the house to sort out the sailing stuff and get it packed up. We worked until 12:30 am and then went to J&W’s house to crash (it made me wonder why adults don’t have sleepovers more often. They’re a lot of fun!). We got up in the morning and still had a lot of trips to make to empty things into a dumpster, take out recycling, make a trip to the storage unit to drop off everything that ended up not going into the sailing pile, etc. so as not to leave anything for the new owners. Until all of this was done, we really couldn’t pack everything into the two mini-vans. I don’t know how Matt did it but he configured them like a puzzle and got everything to fit. We literally left the house 58 minutes before the new owners were due to arrive. Not exactly the relaxed exit I had envisioned.
We then had to drive to my pottery co-op, pack up all my stuff there into boxes, unpack part of one of the vans, and load all of the pottery boxes. The boys and I sat on all the stuff (watching a Dr. Seuss video) while Matt took everything to the storage unit. About three hours later, we then re-loaded the van and were on our way out (after making stops on our way out of Cleveland to say goodbye to two significant others in our life). We were all so exhausted that Joshua fell asleep about 8 minutes into the trip. I called Matt and said I could only make it about 1.5 hours and that we’d need to stay in a hotel. I was literally being fueled by caffeine and chocolate for the previous two weeks and was about to crash. We are hoping this is the storm before the calm.
I am in my element in chaos. I can clearly see what supplies are needed, what has to get done, who should do what, and in what order. Matt, most decidedly, is not. Chaos can be paralyzing for him – even lengthy restaurant menus are overwhelming. He will sometimes ask the dismayed server to ‘just bring me something good.’ We have been married long enough to know each other’s strengths so I take the lead here – sacrificing sleep and a bit of sanity to get everything done.
The cleaning service was coming the next day but there was still a lot left to be done (e.g., organizing the mountain of ‘bring with us’ stuff in the garage, etc). Matt had scheduled an 8 pm massage because “I need to say goodbye to people.”(Had I thought of this nifty rationale, I would have scheduled one myself!). He also said he was going to go straight to the hotel afterward to ‘get a good night’s sleep because I have a 7 am appointment to get a hitch and bike rack mounted on the van.” This was in contrast to my mom and I working until 1:30 am to finish packing things in the house and arriving at the hotel around 2 am. I then got up at 5 am to take her to the airport and was back working in the house by 7 am. Matt had the boys and called me around noon. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Where are you and why aren’t you here yet?!
Matt: Um, I slept through the 7 am appointment so they couldn’t do the bike rack until after 9 am. Do you want to meet for lunch?
Me: No! There’s no time for food! The cleaning people are here. There is stuff all over the place – I’m barely staying one step ahead of them and getting things out of the house!
Matt: Yeah, it’s a lot … (in a commiserating tone)
Me: Mmm-hmm. I know – getting a massage, sleeping in late, having breakfast, going out for lunch … It IS a lot! There’s just not time for it all! (in a decidedly non-commiserating tone)
Matt: (laughing sheepishly). Um. Ok. I’m going to hang up now …
The timing of the universe always amazes me. I’ve been the self-monikered ‘Craigslist Queen’ for the past month. I’ve literally posed about 45 items on Craigslist – one of which is my beloved desk. It’s not a fancy or expensive desk, but it’s huge. I like to spread out when I work on my many projects (‘kind of like a fungus’ as Matt says). We decided it just wasn’t worth it to store my desk for a year and that it was better to get rid of it (we only paid about $150 for it). Disappointed, I posted it for $75. A few inquiries but, again, the thing is huge. It requires at least 9 square feet of space. (I never said I was neat).
As the days ticked toward M-Day (Moving Day), I gradually began lowering the price to $50. Five days before the movers arrived, ‘James’ emailed me saying that he was the youth pastor of a nascent church, that the desk would be perfect, and was there any way I would accept less because they don’t have much money. Really? I thought $50 was already way too low for my beloved desk. I said I would consider it if there were no other takers and said that he could pray there were no other takers and that maybe he could pray our trip goes well at the same time. He responded back and said that his entire congregation (all five of them?) would pray for us, regardless of the desk outcome. One day before the movers arrived I started getting antsy about all of the items that still had to be moved out of the house because they wouldn’t fit in storage. I emailed James to see if he still wanted the desk. No reply. The movers came and went today and the only large piece of furniture left is my desk. Another potential buyer who had wanted to see it earlier emailed about seeing it tonight. Immediately after I gave her our address, a neighbor called and also requested to see it. The caller came to see it and then needed to go home and measure her space to see if it would fit. In the meantime, the neighbor came to see it and decided it was too big. A while later, the caller said it also was too big for her space. So, … two strikes out on my wonderful desk. Within an hour, what happens? I get an email, from James of course, asking if it’s still available! He never received my earlier message and clearly no one else wanted my desk. I felt guilty that I was not initially more generous and ended up selling him the desk for $25 and threw in a $150 office chair for free. We’re going to cross the Atlantic – we need all the positive vibes we can get!