Sail Away

I was going through my posts this past weekend and realized I never wrote about the finale to our Turkey vacation back in June–our private yacht!  Here’s the final post about that trip…although now that I’ve looked through all the pictures again, I really, really want to plan another trip like this!  For now I guess I’ll settle for reliving the memories.

IMG_1752We spent the last few days of our trip to Turkey sailing around the Aegean on a chartered sail boat.  This was literally a dream trip–the most relaxing and amazing few days I can remember.

We chartered the boat directly from the hotel we stayed at for the wedding, but there were many, many other places that rent these boats, called gulets, in Turkey.  In fact, this seems to be a pretty common and popular vacation choice there and the boats came in all sizes and levels of luxury.

Our boat was pretty sweet.

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See that amazing red sail boat off in the distance? That was our boat. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

There were ten of us aboard, plus a 4-man crew.  For three days, we sailed, swam, read, relaxed, played games, snorkeled, jet skied, kayaked, drank wine, ate delicious meals prepared fresh by the chef on the boat, and were generally pampered and spoiled.

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Boarding our boat, I think we were all a little amazed at it’s awesomeness.

When we boarded the boat, the captain showed us a map of the coastline and basically asked us where we wanted to go.  We discussed our options and made a plan, he offered advice and suggestions, and we set sail.  While underway, this was how we spent our time:

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The first day we sailed for a few hours and dropped anchor in this cove so the chef could cook dinner.

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Matt taking the leap off the bow into the Aegean.

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Our first sunset on board. I could totally get used to this.

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Good friends, wine, a private yacht, and a spectacular sunset over the Aegean=best start to a vacation ever.

After we ate, we set sail again for another few hours.  We woke up to this:

IMG_1857  IMG_1848We had asked the captain to bring us to a place where there were ruins we could explore.  He brought us to Knidos, where Greek ruins were excavated by an archaeological dig in the late 90s.  Waking up, we gazed at the crumbling walls of a 2000-year old city.  It was breathtakingly gorgeous.  And it certainly puts our 250-year old historical sites in the US in a very different perspective.

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Marble steps leading up the hill to the Temple of Apollo

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Hundreds and thousands of pieces of marble and stone columns, plinths, and pedestals that were excavated here.

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Terra cotta pipes–originally buried next to the stairs–that were excavated and still mostly intact.

When we got to the top of the hill, we looked over the crest and saw this cove:

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This is not edited. The water is the clearest water I’ve ever seen. And see that pretty little white church on the hill in the distance? It’s too beautiful to be real. But it’s real.

So of course, some of us climbed to the top of the very large rock.

IMG_1936And jumped.

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This rock was really, really tall.

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Matt in mid-air. The water wasn’t SUPER deep there, and Matt is 6′ tall, so when he landed, his foot hit the rocky bottom and he sliced himself all up. But it looked really cool while he was doing it. That’s what counts.

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Some of us chose a slightly safer way to pass the time. (Although Alexis, on the far right, did jump!)

The next day we spent in another dreamy, unbelievably gorgeous cove.

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The actual color of the water. This picture is straight off the camera, unedited.

IMG_2031We jumped off the boat, swam, snorkeled, and used the kayaks and jet-ski.

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IMG_2060 IMG_2069 IMG_2114 IMG_2128 IMG_2146 IMG_2151 IMG_2160We were SO pampered on this trip.  The crew was amazing and attentive–you’d dive off the boat for a swim, and when you climbed the ladder back onto to the deck, one of the crew members would be waiting with a towel.  Our meals were delicious and fresh and gorgeous–the chef worked some miracles in the small kitchen below deck.

dinner on board IMG_2173The whole experience was just insane.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate the gorgeous wedding we’d all been privileged to attend, to reconnect with friends who I don’t see enough, and to relax and disconnect from our crazy, responsibility-filled lives for a few days.

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Matt’s daily nap.

sailing with A and K

College roomies–love these girls.

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Bodrum Castle

On the last day, we sailed back into gorgeous Bodrum harbor and went to the airport, where we flew back to Istanbul for one more, very low-key night before heading home.

It was the perfect ending to an amazing trip.  Seriously, add this to your bucket list.

Required Reading

 

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Lovely “Read With Me” fine art print from Sarah Jane Studios

We read A LOT in this house.  And we have A LOT of books.  Our collection grows frequently; there is no “One In, One Out” rule on books in this house.  I love getting new books and I love giving books as gifts.  I’ve always said there is just no such thing as too many books.

This week, though, the kids’ school is having a book drive.  And really, we have so many kids books, they spill off the shelves and onto the floor…in three different rooms.  Since the books are going to a place where they’ll be used and appreciated, I knew this was the right time to get rid of some books that we just don’t read that often.  I was able to cull about 30 volumes from the kids’ book shelf, and I’m hoping to do another pass and pick out a few more.

(We still have 200+ kids books.  But now we have 30 fewer, so that’s good.)

Obviously we kept our very favorites.  Make Way For DucklingsTikki Tikki TemboAmelia BedeliaFred and TedStrega Nona.  Dr. Seuss.  Blueberries for SalAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayCorduroyFerdinand.

I think it was a good exercise for me to look at the many stacks of books and prioritize them a bit–which stories do I not mind reading over and over?  Which books are the most beautifully illustrated–the books that the kids flip through just to see the art, and the words become secondary?

While I still think there is no such thing as TOO MANY books, I also believe in quality over quantity.  I like to think I’m working toward curating a little childrens’ library I’ll keep forever– that I’ll read these books to my grandkids someday.

What are your very favorite books for little ones?  I’d love some suggestions!

And a Half

andthentherewasoneThe baby is 4 AND A HALF today.  I reminded him this morning and he said, “GOOD!  When’s my cake?”

Normally I wouldn’t do a half-birthday post, but he didn’t get a birthday post back in April, so here’s a short review of why he rocks.  And he does rock.  So much.

Since he’s the only one not in full-time school yet, we have a lot of together-alone time.  I could not think of a better companion–he’s funny, helpful, curious, eager, and goofy.  He does errands without complaint–two to three grocery trips a week, to be honest.  He requests that we go to the gym so he can play in the playroom (so I basically have him to thank for any semblance I have of physical fitness).  He has never met a person or an animal he didn’t immediately like–he is by far the friendliest and most open person I’ve ever known.

Q first day of preKI love spending time with this guy.  We walk the puppy, play a lot of Candy Land, cook dinner together almost every day, read books, practice writing letters, watch movies, and fold laundry.

And through every bit of it, he is cheerful.  He doesn’t know how to be mad or mean.  It’s not even in his nature at all.

Q and OliverWhen he goes off to school, I know my heart will break–I stopped working just after he was born and have been home full-time his whole life.  He’s been my constant companion and my best buddy.  I’m working really hard to treasure this last year we have together. Every day with Q is a day well-spent.

Q as PharrellHe’s four and a half.  The baby.  It’s hard to believe.

Man, I love this kid.  Maybe I’ll make him a cake tonight after all.

Parenting: Proof That Boys Are Weird

IMG_2525If I walked into a bathroom in my house after one of my sons used it and the toilet was flushed, I’d probably faint from the shock.  “Flush the toilet!” is my daily refrain.

Being a mother often involves me shouting out instructions I would never have expected to have to give.  For example, “please don’t lick your shoes”.  (Yes, I’ve said that.)

And “if you’re leaving the house you must wear pants”. I just sort of assumed those things were obvious, but evidently I was wrong.

Each time I hear one of these random instructions fly from me, I have to smile.  Each such utterance is another tick mark on the wall, marking my days of parenting.

Lately, these instructions are mostly directed at the boys.  Granted, B is older and past the shoe-licking-phase of life (hopefully), but I can’t recall ever having to remind her of that, even when she was very little.  The boys, though.  I love them, but seriously, they make me question my sanity.

Lately, Q will say “fire in the hole” out of the blue, then immediately fart.  All boys in this house think that is hysterical.  Matt tries to be a mature adult and not laugh, but we can all tell he thinks it’s kind of funny.  B and I are less amused.

In related news, O and G have decided they are going to make a movie about Q and call it “Fart-nado”.  This decision, made at the dinner table, resulted in one of the boys laughing so hard he choked and sprayed water out his nose.

Which just caused them all to laugh harder.

And this is my life; weird and wonderful.

A Rude Awakening

I am thick in the throes of a complicated dream when the air raid sirens start.  They don’t make sense, even in the nonsensical realm of dreaming.

They are loud enough, though, that they break through the barrier between sleeping and waking, and I realize that they are real.  And they are coming from my house.  And they are accompanied by bright, intermittently flashing lights.

I am instantly in motion, and Matt is right next to me, and we’re dashing from our warm bed to the children–the noise and the light is coming from one of their rooms.  I am in a silent panic.

We burst into B’s room.  That’s where the sirens are coming from.

And she is lying in her bed, struggling to turn off the alarm on her iTouch.  It’s an alarm and she set it, but she didn’t realize how loud it was and she doesn’t really know how to turn it off so she’s swiping and hitting buttons and finally it stops.  Sorry, she says, I didn’t mean to set it like that.

And I laugh, despite the acid taste of fear in my mouth and my elevated heart rate, and say it’s the most effective alarm clock we’ve ever had, as 5/6 of the people in our family are now awake and standing in her room.

Go back to sleep, I say, and walk back to my own room, where I glance at the alarm clock on Matt’s bureau to see how many hours of sleep I have left.

It’s 6:30 AM.  Not 3 AM, which is what time it feels like.

We’re up for the day, I realize.  I am instantly and irrationally irate.  In denial, I lay back down for 10 minutes, mostly out of spite, because I certainly can’t fall right back to sleep after that episode.

So that’s how my day started–in a dead panic, followed by utter disappointment and rage that I didn’t get to go back to sleep.

How about yours?

Eight is Great

G chin in hand

I grew up with two sisters.  Then I had a daughter.  And then, when I was pregnant with you, I realized I better keep having daughters because I had no idea about anything having to do with little boys.

Then I found out you were a boy.  I can’t lie–I was nervous.  But you, my sweet child, have proven to me that I had nothing to worry about.  You have given me a glimpse into a world I knew nothing about–this world of little boys–and you’ve showed me how lucky I am to get to be a part of it.  Boys are weird, yes, I cannot deny that.  I can’t pretend I completely understand WHY you do some of the things you do.  I can live with that, though.  Because in return for your weirdness, I get to see the world through a completely and totally different lens, and for that I am grateful.

G Bundle baby

My first boy, you are the most physically driven and active person in my life.  You interpret the world around you with your whole body, and you always have.  You throw yourself fully into whatever you’re doing, often with very little regard to your own safety.  When you were little, you ran everywhere and climbed everything.  Now that you’re older, you are capable of exercising a bit of self-control in my house, but outside you still pretty much run everywhere and climb everything.  Your Dad says that probably won’t change for a long, long time.  I believe him.

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Because of you, I am a much more laid-back and less anxious parent than I would have been without your influence.  You’ve taught me that it’s okay to let a child test their physical limits and push boundaries.  That you WILL fall and you WILL get hurt, but that’s okay because it’s how you learn.  I don’t know why I still do it, but I constantly, constantly remind you to Be Careful.  If I counted the number of times I’ve said that to you in your eight years of life, I am certain it would be upwards of a million.  And you always reply that you’ll be careful.  Then you do exactly what you were planning to do anyway and I watch and sometimes I have to hold my breath and bite my tongue to keep myself from shouting at you to stop because you’re going to get hurt.  And then you do whatever it was–you climb the tree, you scale a fence, you snowboard down a huge hill without ever having done it before, you balance on a skateboard with only two wheels and careen down the driveway at top speed.  And I take a breath and move on, impressed with your ability to master your physicality yet again and shaking my head ay myself for ever doubting you.

G sledding

At eight years old, you can throw a baseball harder, farther, and more accurately than I ever could.  You can throw a football in a spiral and hit a moving target.  You can swim three different strokes well enough to place in the top three in your 8-and-Under division.  You can do a full flip off the diving board at the pool and you’re working on your one-and-a-half.  You are basically good at every sport you’ve ever played.  Your body just always seems to know how to do whatever it is you want it to do.  It never ceases to amaze me.

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You are just a touchy-feely kid.  You hug and kiss me all the time (I hope you never stop doing that).  You barely ever walk past anyone in this house without touching them–sometimes that gets you in trouble, but sometimes it’s nice.  When you’re tired, you run your hands up my arms and if I have on long-sleeves, you stick your hands inside my sleeves and do it anyway.  You’ve done it since you were a tiny baby.  I know I’ll be sad when that one stops (but admittedly it would be weird if you kept doing it forever).

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Because you tend to rely so much on your physical side, I was worried when it was time for you to start school a few years ago. Would you be able to sit still for that long?  Would you be able to control yourself for 7 hours in a classroom and not touch everyone and everything?  But you’ve blossomed in school and I’ve loved watching you.  You are social and friendly; you know the names of every kid in your class within a day or two.  And probably their favorite football and baseball teams, too.  You are fun and smart and non-judgmental–anyone can be your friend, and if they’re nice to you, you’re nice to them.  And I was silly to ever think you would be anything but amazing.

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You don’t mind attention, either.  In fact, unlike your middle brother, you are perfectly happy to have all eyes on you.  You are confident and outgoing and silly.

G like a boss

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Like your Dad, you can rock a suit.

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You are the child in this house who I can always, ALWAYS rely on when I need help.  I need someone to empty the trash?  You’re on it.  I can’t kill a giant spider because I’m terrified?  You’ve got it.  I’m exhausted and complaining about the amount of crap all over the place?  You clean it without being asked.  I know I can count on you and that you’ll help me with anything, anytime, without complaining.  It’s so nice to have someone like that.  In fact, you’re the only kid in this house who has ever put on a load of laundry and flipped the wet clothes into the dryer without being asked.  I think you’re the only kid who even knows how to turn the washing machine on.  I’m so lucky to have you (and I have to make sure to show the other kids how to do laundry).  You even mow the lawn.

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You are sweet and emotional, helpful and funny, goofy and smart, and you make me proud to be your Mom every. single. day.

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I love you, sweet child of mine.  Happy Eighth Birthday.

On Aging

I wish I could claim that I’m aging gracefully, but that would be a lie.  I’m fighting it with all I’ve got.

I hate the greys in my hair.  So I color them.

I hate the wrinkles on my forehead.  So I cut bangs.

I use anti-aging face wash and moisturizer, I work out several times a week to try to stay in shape, I do what I can to maintain at least a semi-youthful appearance at the age of 35.

If it’s vain of me, I can live with that.

The other night I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few necessities, one of which was a bottle of wine.  The cashier asked me for my ID, which I totally didn’t expect.  I sort of half laughed, thinking he was just doing it because he had to, but he didn’t smile back–he actually wanted to see my ID because he thought maybe I wasn’t old enough to buy alcohol.  I gladly handed over my license.

My elation over looking super young was short-lived though, because then he looked at my birth date on my license and visibly winced.  And then saw my reaction to the wince and said, “You look much younger than you are.”

Too late, buddy.  My age just made you grimace.

Good thing I got the wine.