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The pool opened today, so thus begins the official End of School Madness season.  Swim team practice will start next week.  All three kids are going to be in a production of a musical version of The Hobbit (“Hobbit!”) in July and those rehearsals have started.  30 min. away.

This week: 4-H club mtg on Wed.  Thursday night is the 6th Grade campout.  Friday is the Earth Kids picnic AND the school auction.

Next week: 4-H video seminar for Julianna on Tuesday.  Final mtg of my 4-H project group on Wed, followed by the 4-H showcase for the school at which my 4-H kids will be presenting their ill-thought-out persuasive speeches.  Friday, Julianna’s class puts on the little ten min. play that she and Ally have written, produced, directed, and will act in.  Friday night, school picnic (why is this not the same night as the auction?!?).  Small Angels on Saturday.  4-H pool party and picnic on Sunday (AND hoping to make it to DE to see Brent, Andi, and Hazel and appear in a family photo).

the week after: Third grade campout, followed by 20 year college reunion (yes, old, I know).  Luckily that week isn’t too nuts, since I’m ostensibly in charge of that campout and will likely be going out of my mind.

Final week of school: School ends on the 17th, which will also be the 4-H leadership project’s camp-out (Julianna and I).

And in all of that, we wedge 3 swim practices and 3 play rehearsals each week.  Gah.  I have carefully structured my life to not be like this, how did it happen?

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Too much Lego for too long and now look at us!

It’s all Andi’s fault that I did NO laundry today.  Waste your precious time here:

Minifig Maker

The mice that live under my oven are eating my Silpat.  Best-case scenario: inadvertently heat resistant mice. Worst case: dangerous race of super-mice, capable of thought and genetic engineering.

Not very far, but still. We went to my parents’ house on the Delaware Bay a couple of weeks ago.  I meant to post pics and then didn’t.  Obviously.  I almost didn’t GET to post them, thanks to Maggie the Eggplant-shaped Cat.  I’d gotten them onto iPhoto from my camera and deleted the originals from the camera, but had not yet exported them into my pictures file.  I got up to answer the phone/find a sock/put out a fire and came back to find Maggie sitting on my keyboard.  Steve has pointed out that it is unfair to be annoyed by cat butt on my keyboard if I leave the computer open.  The gerbil tank is right next to it and a heating pad next to the television is nigh impossible for any cat to resist.  Be that as it may, I shooed her away and the photos were GONE.  poof.  Ctrl+ass+Delete.

Much cursing and fiddling later, I had them back.  So, for your enjoyment, the photos.  Justin’s kids came up too, so it was a cousin-palooza.  It was one of those days where it was suddenly 95 degrees, framed on either side by 60, so the water was mostly cold, but at low tide, the water between the sandbars was clear and warm.

Ordinarily, you can see oil tankers sitting on the horizon, pretty far out.  But that weekend, they were much closer in.  Close enough that I could hear the engines.  And they were churning up all manner of nastiness from the seabed.  Great hairy hunks of seaweed lay all over the beach.  It looked as if those Puli rasta-dogs were washing up on shore (you must take a moment and do a Google image seach for “puli agility.”  going over jumps, it looks like the dog is exploding).

I hadn’t packed the kids any swimwear, because it had be about 50 degrees for many weeks and I knew the water would be frigid.  But I hadn’t counted on the sandbar water being so inviting.  They squelched out through the nasty muck (Lily lost a shoe at one point and *I* had to go out in that horrid, slimy mess and find it.  ew.) until they reached nice, clear, warm water.  There was a lady who thought she was going to have a quite sunbathe in her kayack.

They’d have stayed out there for hours if I hadn’t been bored.out.of.my.mind and insisted on coming back.  It was just far enough from the house that an adult needed to be around.  Unfortunately for them, that adult was me, and the wonder of childhood is only fascinating for so long. Then I want to sit down.   Unlike them, I was unwilling to sit in the water in my clothes, so they were at my mercy.

The next day was wretchedly hot, with what little breeze there was coming off the land. And by “land” I mean “swamp.”  so the air was heavy, moist, and full of mosquitos as big as pampered budgies.  Dad came in and said he’d see osprey in a nest near the edge of the swamp (a wildlife refuge), so Julianna and I grabbed our cameras and headed out.  In the air-conditioned van.  My camera is not well-suited to a photo safari, so I only have a photo of Julianna taking a photo:

and a grainy, last-known-photo of an osprey.  I swear it is one.  Really.

In other news, Ben and Dean dug through to the earth’s core:

And the Beach Plums were in bloom.  Apparently the name “Prime Hook” comes from whatever the Dutch was for Beach Plum.  The Americanization of the Dutch names in the area has made for interesting beach names–Broadkill, Murderkill, Prime Hook…

The kids and I do love it there…but oh the traffic.  I need a helicopter.  Or maybe I can get Ben and Dean to dig a tunnel to Frederick…

…is the day after the Faerie Festival.  Sigh.  Over for another year.  Every year we swear that we’ll start preparing well in advance.  That by the time the festival arrives, we’ll have our elaborate and beautiful costumes ready. But we never do.  True to form, the night before, I was rushing about sewing fabric wings to shirts –rather than our usual cellophone wings–because it was clearly going to rain.  Soft wings will fit under rain ponchos.  And oh, it did rain.  It rained on us all the way there.  It was that sort of rain that has clearly settled in and plans to stay around.

Ah, the trip there.  This is, what, my fifth year? My sixth?  And still we meander to get there.  Better yet,  the other folk placed Bev and I in the lead of the caravan.  Bev and I are hard pressed to get to the grocery store without getting turned around.  We were taking a new way this year, one that looked to shave almost 30 min off the trip.  We made it about 20 min before Bev and I turned the wrong way.  andrea and Kara took the lead.  They made it about 30 min before taking a wrong turn and then 10 min more before making another wrong turn, at which point Bev and I took the lead again.  We made it the rest of the way without incident.  Best part?  About 45 min in, I realized that we had gone that same way last year.  And were still screwing it up.  I kept looking around thinking, “I’ve been here before.  Where was I going that took me through Westminster?  Oh…the Faerie Festival.  Duh.”  So yeah.

When we arrived it was raining a steady soaking, aggressive rain.  I took a couple shots of our fairies inside the van.  Just in case we were never dry again.

Meagan, Blair, Molly, Brooke, Lily:

Julianna made it into this one:

I’d promised to meet Stacey at the Maypole, so I squelched out to find her and then we all went to get some food.  Stood in the rain to get it, stood in a barn (thank you Spoutwood, for opening the barns for us!) to eat it.  My camera hates low light wide shots, but here you go:

The wee fae wanted to go to the fairy maze even in the rain, so some of us headed out.  It was soggy.

The paths in the maze were slick with mud.  and lined with poison ivy.  Choose your fate!  Fall in the mud or get poison ivy!  I still can’t believe I didn’t go down on my butt.  Not all were so lucky…I saw this little girl wipe out.  Later she enjoyed being “Mud Fairies” with Lily.

Don’t touch my kid, kid.    We were standing and watching a blacksmith.  Because he had a nice warm fire going.  As we stood there, the rain let up enough that we could browse the booths.  Shopping is an important activity for fairies.  I was very taken with the Organic Armor booth. His stuff is all made of latex rubber, it’s very H.R. Geiger and I looooved it.  I’m not one to wear a Princess Leia bikini, but he tied the Cernunos horns on my head and they looked SO cool (cool by my Faerie Festival-addled senses, of course).  If I ever fulfill my dream of having a booth at the festival, I’m so buying a pair.  And like all the artists vending at the fair, the guy selling them was just so nice and interesting.

A vendor tried to teach Lily the David-Bowie-in-Labyrinth-crystal-ball-around-the-hand trick, but she tired of it quickly.  Brooke really got into it and even bought herself one to take home:

Then it was time for the drum circle!  I think the drum circle at Faerie Festival is one of my favorite times all year.  It’s just joyous and uninhibited without ever crossing that line into skanky and dark.  The fact that it draws so many children keeps the Festival balanced very nicely.

It was nice to see Julianna and Molly dancing together:

Lily and Emma

Lily and Emma

Ellie and Lily with a wee Fae drum circle behind them

Ellie and Lily with a wee Fae drum circle behind them

A very pregnant faerie with her belly painted like the sun

A very pregnant faerie with her belly painted like the sun

Lily and the Gypsy Queen, Sheherezade

Lily and the Gypsy Queen, Sheherezade

the faerie moms

the faerie moms

See?  We drummed the rain away and the sun came out!  It was  perfect Faerie Festival moment when the warm sun came out and dried us all.  Temporarily, at least.

When the drumming ended (allowing the clouds to gather again), we went into the forest to see the wee folks’ houses.  Lily and Emma stepped into a troll’s home for a photo op:

I didn’t take any more photos of the little fairy houses in the woods because they just don’t travel well.  when you’re there, it’s a magical grove of dappled sunlight, music filtered through the trees,  and tiny little dwellings with tiny chairs and beds.  In the photograph, it’s a pile of old dollhouse junk under a tree.  So just know that it was sweet and pretty and a fairy sang us a song.  Then we heard drumming.  When the drums beat, the fairies come..  So out we went, to find a band doing a bit of drumming for the dancing fairies. The kids ran up on stage to dance, as they do.

Emma and Lily

Emma and Lily

Then it started to rain again.

and then it rained harder

And then it poured.

soggy soggy faerie

soggy soggy faerie

So we chanted with the drums and drove the rain away once more.  It stayed dry and the sun came out so that we were able to eat dinner out side and enjoy the last bit of the festival.  Lily found a kitty:

We met the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black:

And we met Charles Vess, who autographed my copy of Neil Gaiman’s beautiful Blueberry Girl. (click the link and watch the video.  It’s SUCH a lovely book.  Made me cry like a baby.)

Julianna–wearing new earrings for the first time–sprouted some new ears and some horns

Tired, happy fairies head for home:

In spite of–or, really, because of–the rain, general consensus was that this was the best fest yet.  I think it is tied with the third year, when Molly, Julianna, Tori, and Sophia were at such perfect fairy ages.  They danced with such abandon and still really tried to believe in the fairy wishes.

Julianna in 2005

Julianna in 2005

Sophia wishes on a fairy stone in 2005

Sophia wishes on a fairy stone in 2005

But this was a good year too.  I miss you already, Faerie Festival!

a

Stalked!
May 2009
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