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The Sun Sets On Four

Dear Jaxson, here we are again.  It seems like yesterday that I wrote about you turning four and now we are saying goodbye to four and welcoming five.  I'm not really sure if the time is going by faster because your growing up so quickly now or because I turned the dreaded seventy this year and that is pushing us forward quicker.  Either way, I am here again to thank you for such a great year.  Every year with you is so special and because of that, I want you to remember our times together when you are a big, big boy and so I write for you and include photo's from each year of all the awesome things you have done.  You know I do the same for Liam...because I don't want either of you to forget, as you travel through life, to have lots of fun and to keep trying new things.  That's how you grow in love...with people, projects and things.  Don't forget Mother Nature either.  Right now you are really good at taking care of her and she really needs lots of help, so keep Mother Nature on your list of things to take care of.  So my sweet boy, lets have a little look back at what we did together when you were four.


How can we go forward without looking back...this was such a big day for you and you love the smoke coming from your birthday cake. You blew all the candles out at once...Great job.  I couldn't do that this year at my birthday. So many candles would probably set the house on fire...great job Jaxson.

This was your gift from Nana and Papa so you could have a bike at our house.  It certainly did not take you long to learn how to go fast on this.  Actually, you like to go fast everywhere.  Cool helmet you picked out.

Your first year driving the big boat in Maine.  This was really a special day and yes, once again you wanted to go fast.  It was such a fun summer at the Maine house with you and Liam.  Papa and I had lots of fun and were glad you could come so often.  

Some photo's don't really need words.  You just look at it and know you want to remember that photo forever.  This is one of those photo's of you Jaxson .  It just melts my heart.  You are so sweet and handsome.  Maybe because you are mostly smiling and laughing and in this shot you are sharing your sweet spot.

When we weren't at the Maine house in the summer, we were at Gooserocks beach in Kennebunkport.  It's one of our favorite beaches and you and Liam love early morning kite flying with Mom.. Shh, everyone is still sleeping.

After summer and so many trips to the beach and lots of boat rides, making smores at the campfire at the Maine house, it was time for Fall.  Canobie Lake Park is where we go every September and this year, another first for you, driving the bumper cars.  It was a bit tricky for you to learn to turn the wheel but once you got it, yup, off you went, really fast.  Go Jaxson. Catch up to Liam if you can.

So many things happened in the Fall.  In October we rented a trailer at Point Sebago in Maine and that was such a fun long weekend, that we decided that this year we would rent one for a whole week in the summer. You did really good at the campfire this year.  Remember last year, you put a burn in Liam's jacket...whoa.

Also in the fall we went to the Audubon and you and Liam practiced your camera skills.  It makes me so happy that you both love being in the woods and always want to bring your camera's.  You got your first very own camera this year and you got some really good shots..don't worry about the people with no heads, that will come next year.

I would say by the looks of these last two photo's that Nana has something out of order.  I think this one belongs in the late summer, early fall group.  Can you guess why, Right...we don't have coats on. It sure was a fun day at the Audubon.  I learned how to lean my camera on the rock and it took a photo all by itself.

So, lots of new lessons for you last fall...You are now doing karate, which you love.

How proud were you when you got your award for breaking that wood in half with your foot...Nice job Buddy. How to be a great Crouching Tiger Cub.

You played soccer for your second year and now your really good at it.  So nice that Mom was your coach.

Then Thanksgiving and Christmas came..and we went to the Tea House to see Mrs. Clause.  I loved that day best.  Liam and you, then Mom came home early from work and met us there. Both you and Liam are the best tea buddies. When we are home we have it everyday together.  You both were pretty excited about the holiday season.  I got excited because you were excited and that's one of the things that so nice about having you and Liam in my keep me excited each time I know I'm going to be with you or even just running over to your house for a hug, a kiss and a high five. 

Remember these...your favorite Christmas present from this year.  You march to your own beat when it comes to dressing and I must say, you have very good taste.  A bit on the wild side but that's how you roll.  I like that about have a mind of your own and you stand up for yourself.  Don't ever change that and going forward don't lose your ability to be a bit edgy.  It makes you who you are and you'll always stand out in a crowd.  You know me, I like to sparkle whenever I can, ya, you be the same way.  A little bit of sparkle keeps them guessing...

I think our little family really, really loves the ocean because we find it every season, even in the winter. Here we are at another favorite place, St. Maarten.  Pinel island is special.  Beautful water and great sand and no rip tide or currant.  We all feel quite safe here and you love doing your own thing.  It's a joy to watch you play, jump and build sand castles...

But one thing you don't like about Pinel Island are the Iguanas.  I took your hand and we walked by them and then we knelt down together and you were really surprised when they just walked by.  I bet next year you won't be afraid.  I have to admit though, they are kind of creepy looking...

You learned how to whistle early in the New Year.. and you whistled all the time...then we had whistling contests in the car. Papa was the loudest, I can do songs and Liam was a bit on the not so good side and just keep whistling...I think you had your own happy tune in your sort of reminded me of my grandfather...he whistled all the time it was nice listening to you.

One cold, wet day in late winter we went to the beach at the Salem Willows with your Geiger counter that you got for Christmas.  You found two quarters.  You said "you were rich"...I don't know if you were rich but Papa and I think we are pretty rich having such great and Liam are the best.

Of course all winter long Papa and I take you and Liam to swimming lessons...but what a big year it was for you...finally, you jumped off the diving board.  I know you were scared but you decided to be brave and you were so proud of yourself.  That was a fun ride home as you relived EVERY moment of that dive.

Some days we don't do much.  I think it's good to just rest and play sometimes.  So you get your John Deere jeep out and go for a ride up and down the road at Nana's. You and Liam play post office and fill the back of your jeep with packages that Liam tapes up with duck tape and then you drop the boxes off at the neighbors houses. You always let Liam drive...but you drive when your friend Parker comes to play.  Those are really fun days and you both are so creative. 

Before you know it...spring arrives and spring means baseball season...and you are one heck of a baseball player.  You hit the ball, run like crazy to first base..not only do you step on the really protect yourself from getting tossed off...and what the heck, while your out there, you might as well do a few karate moves...practice anywhere you can...right Jaxson.

Rounding third and heading for home..go Jaxson, go.  I know that look on your face..i see it every time you think you pulled something over on me or Papa or even Mom.  You know right here that you are going to make sprinting for you...You give it your best and collect your high fives at home base...way to go.

You only have one more year of pre-school.  How can that be.  This year you learned how to write your name, and do all kinds of great things.  You learned how to pray each day and you learned how to be kind and gentle to the world.  I love how much you love everything.

Another thing I love is how you take everything to heart.  When you had to shhhish Mom because she was talking during your ceremony, you did it quietly but she got the point. You are a very good listener and most always follow the rules.

Another new sport for you is riding.  You and your pony Sneakers go out every Wednesday and you just love it.  This makes me happiest because I love horses and riding also...but Nana has a bad knee so I haven't been in awhile.  I do like to see you up there though, so proud and learning so fast.  You already know how to steer Snickers wherever you want him to go.  You know what Snickers loves best about you...he loves the carrots you bring him each time you go.  

So this is how I sort of see you now.  Riding off into boyhood, away from toddlerhood. My heart fills with gratitude and love for you.  I don't think you could ever know how much fun you are. How you fill my days and Papa's day with laughter and knowledge and the wonders of childhood that we had forgot about because your Mommy and Uncle are so grown up now.  You though, your just beginning.  We had a great year together Buddy. That's what you are, my best Buddy.  I just want you to know, one of my most favorite things about this year was our "car seat conversations"...Yes, all those rides in the car and sometimes at Costco...oh my.  I learned a know, I think your right.  We have so much fun "because we have a lot in common."  How did you ever get so smart...when you started out as a little sprout.  One more year together before you go off to big boy school.  We better keep working on making each other's "heart smile". That's another expression that you taught me and just so you know heart smiles every time you show up on my door step and yell "I'm back"...come on in little one.  You are most welcome here...

Happy 5th Birthday Jaxson...Nana loves you to the Moon and Back

You are my Sunshine..

Sidenote: Father's Day weekend: Maine house.  Jenna, Jaxson and the big bed.  Jenna starts singing "your are my sunshine to Jaxson...he listens for a minute, stops her and says, "Actually Mom that's Nana's song for me".. 


Sizzling Hot

Then the heat came, without any warning.  Sidewalks sizzled like a Saturday night steak in the frying pan. Windows closed, shades pulled down, to keep whatever cool air remained in the house from the night before.

When I was young, back in the 60's, spring was graceful and pleasant, giving rise to slowly letting winter lose it's grip.  It was welcoming and gentle, the temperature climbed at a slow, steady pace, preparing the earth for hazy, hot and humid. Steamy, like lovers at a drive-in movie. 

Today, once again, we scramble for the ice tea, lemon chicken salad with raisins and walnuts.  Cucumbers sliced in sour cream and dill.  There will be no turning the oven on.  Dessert, of course, lemon sponge cake with a heavy sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Pull up a chair on the porch, summer just rolled in.


Spring Beauty

To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music;

it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy,

than to attempt to fully understand.

      Henry T. Tuckerman


Boston With The Boys

It's a rare event these days to get a sleep-over with the boys..They are so busy with their sports and school and the fact that their Mom doesn't want to give them up so easily anymore...can you imagine that, so when they had a Saturday free lately, after asking a million times for a sleep-over, we planned it.  One of our favorite things to do with the boys every spring has been to take them to Boston to the Public Gardens and the Common.  We factored that into our plan.  Also, a month of so back we had taken Liam out to dinner in town but Jaxson had not been there so after our adventures in the parks we would go to dinner at our special spot. Part of our strategy was that with all that walking and playing, they would be pretty tired when they got off we went. 

If was a lovely day weather wise and we were grateful for that.  The boys were in shorts so we knew it was really a rare New Enland spring day...we parked the car.  Actually we got lucky on that because the walk to the Gardens was very close by.

Along the way I had to stop and take a few photo's...It's in my DNA and the boys are very good about waiting for me and if not, they just keep going and I catch up.  There is just to many things to see in the spring with flowers popping up and great reflections.  This was on Newbury St., a really lovely street for flower gardens and potted plants.

A Saturday in the Gardens or Commons creates the best people watching.  This was a wonderful day for taking a bike ride or just strolling hurry.

Lots of trees were blooming and the kids were enjoying the view through the limbs...Such a happy feel here after a long muddy spring...

 Not to be outdone by the other boys, it wasn't long before mine decided to give a tree a try.  Liam was like a monkey going from branch to branch but Jaxson needed a lift every once in awhile...They sure had fun though.

I'm hoping his Mom doesn't read this blog post because she might have a heart attack...LOL.  Yes, Monkey Joe extended his trip up the tree.  I was right under him and when it was time to come down...I was there to help him guide his feet but he did perfectly well on his own...This one is full of adventure and not an ounce of fear...

Papa was rigth there keeping an eye on the boys went from tree to tree, checking them all out. So many people spreading blankets and having Saturday afternoon picnic's, babies in carriages, happy to just be outside.  The grass was really thick and a nice shade of green..I guess the rain is good for some things.

Help Papa, I'm stuck.  He didn't give up though...he made it and he was so proud of himself.

Late afternoon, the sun is going down, and the clouds are starting to fill in.  It was time for us to start out. We had a long walk up Newbury St. to get to our dinner spot.  I just love looking at the Boston skyline though from wherever I am and then capture it with my camera..

As I came out of the Gardens, the duck boat was going by.  I thought it was great that this one was honoring Dublin.  All the boats are different in color and message.  

Back up Newbury St.  What little boy can resist walking on the wall and jumping off of each one.  Not this little guy...he is constant motion and so much fun to take anywhere...boys just being boys.  Liam was up ahead with Papa and I'm sure they were enjoying great converstation...

We ended our day in Boston at Trident Book Sellers and Cafe, but not before we stopped at Campers Shoes, where both of the boys picked out a new pair of snazzy shoes...If you look closely you can see Jaxson got new red ones...he is a bit flashy..So if you have never been to Trident and you love great comfort food and books, the next time your in Boston do give this a try.  The boys love sitting in the second floor window, reading books, yes, they let you read while you eat...and both declared the chicken fingers and fries were the best ever...along with a delicious mango smoothie...

Two things, the day with them was wonderful.  No running to games or swim lessons.  No agenda, no clock. It was a day we all needed.  To be out in the sunshine, all of us doing what we love...some climbing trees, me with my camera and Jim just loving being with the boys.. Number two, the day wasn't over, we got to take the boys home with us for the night.  Our first sleep over in a very long time.  Liam was in his own bed here for the first time and Jaxson and I were still snuggling in the big bed.  A busy day but one that i am so happy I have for my memory book...

Guess what:   they did not fall alseep on the way home...does that mean they are really growing up???



When did it happen?  "It was a long time ago."

Where did it happen? "It was far away."

No, tell. Where did it happen?  "In my heart."

What is your heart doing now?  "Remembering. Remembering."

Mary Oliver



A Special Morning In The Pine Tree

Recently I spent the morning with my favorite little fuzz ball.  It was somewhat of a cloudy day but thankfully not a rainy day, well, right up until the end.  When I arrived there was my "girl" way up high in the pine tree, all alone.  When she saw me coming, she got behind the pine needle branch and there she kept her eye on me, hoping I couldn't see her.  You know, by this time though, I think both her and the Mom know me and the sound of my car. They still keep a sharp eye on me but after spending the morning with them this time, they are becoming more comfortable with my visits and the beeping of my camera.  I did tell you that they have very good eye sight and very good hearing.  They can actually hear their prey before they ever see it. So on this day, we just hung out and honestly, it was one of the best mornings I've had in a very long time. That baby is so cute and today she was in the mood to entertain, instead of just sitting...So there she is, up above, just waiting. Waiting for her Mom to come back, hopefully with a bit of lunch.

I wanted to give you more of a visual of where these two are living.  In order to get the owls with any magnification, I use a 150-500 lens.  I'm putting that on the Canon 7D MK11..with a crop factor.  I mostly shoot at 500 in order to get some nice close ups but for this photo, so that you could get some idea how big this pine tree is, I had the camera set at 150.  I wish I had gotten a shot of the entire tree so you could see how high up she is but I'm not even sure if my lens would take it all in...Maybe next time I'll bring a wide angle and get that shot.  For today though, you can see that the tree is wide, actually much wider than this, which I'll show you more of later.  Unfortunately I have never seen the baby come out or go into the nest. She is always on the branch when I arrive. Some days when I go, neither are there and because this is private property, I don't hang around.  So, this was her spot on this morning.  If you look above her and to the right you will see the nest.  It is quite large and when she is in it, I cannot see her at all.  It's the big brown blob sitting inside that circle of light, but it is also sheltered from the weather from above.  I'm pretty sure she is still walking the branches to get down to her limbs..but I don't really know for sure.  She could be practicing her flying a bit.

So there I am watching the baby, holding that big ass lens and across my right shoulder the Mom comes flying by...before I could move the lens and get to the 150 point on the lens, she had glided into that tree like a kid sliding into home base..It happened so fast, I never had a chance.  Look at her, all puffed out, thinking in her "owl way"..she can't catch me flying.  It's true, I have yet to get a photo of her flying..I did get the feathers all puffed out though.  I have never seen that before.  Now notice where she is standing on that branch.  It is quite a ways from where the baby is and she is right under the nest. Also she is very close to a bump in the branch which will become significant soon.  I wondered why she didn't go stand next to the baby but that became very clear later also.  I think she is so beautiful. 

This was the best part. This is the second year that I have watched and photographed a baby owlet.  Until this day, I had never seen the little one move.  She could stand on the branch for hours and just watch me. In the beginning she stays very close to the Mom, now the Mom is at the other end of the branch..My heart was in my mouth as I saw her slowly start to move towards her Mom..please little one, don't fall. Wings up a bit, I'm assuming for balance and off she went...

Lifting one little claw at a time, all the way over to her Mom..I was encouraging her the entire time...cheering her on like I do with the boys when they are learning something new...I was this little one's grandmother for a few moments in time..and I was so awe inspired by her bravery and courage.

Finally, she reaches her Mom...but notice where the Mom is now.  She has taken two steps to the right and lowered herself on the branch..she is now eye level with the little one. I was encouraging her but so was her Mom.  Standing so far away from the baby when she landed, forced the baby to walk, moving down on the branch now had a different meaning...

This is one of my favorite photo's of the two of them together..right after the baby reached the Mom..and the Mom knew she was safe, they both turned to me and posed, their very best pose so far.  Bright eyed and strong, standing side by side, saying "we are o.k."  thank you for being here to support us.  O.K. that is probably not what they were thinking, but this is my story and that's the version of it that I some way though, they did acknowledge that fact that they were not afraid of my presence or the click of my camera anymore...and decided to do what they had to do without worry.

Now that the baby was safe, the Mom took a nap.  Not a long nap but I could tell she was exhausted..The baby was patient for awhile but not long enough...when at rest I noticed the Mom's ears fell down and rested with her.  When alert, her ears are always up.  These are the things I notice when I upload my photo's.  Such a joy to view these on the big screen after being with them.  I notice the little things once they are uploaded and I smile each time I discover something new about them.

The baby has been patient long she moves two steps to the right and starts to snuggle her Mom.  I swear she was giving kisses and the Mom ever so slowly, opened her eyes...who can really resist a baby snuggle and a little nip...

Fully awake now...I know why the Mom was so tired.  She had been hunting for the little ones lunch..there were photo's before this of course but I can't post them all.  The hunting process to my knowledge is, the Mom catches the prey, digest it and then regurgitates it to feed the baby.  This is what is happing here. When I enlarge this photo on my computer, I can clearly see the Mom's mouth open and the babies little beak inside the Mom's mouth.  It was fascinating to watch.  To me, this was the truth telling moment, that they were no longer afraid of my presence and did not have to keep a sharp eye on me every moment. This was the perfect Mothering Moment, that I have talked about so many times before in some of my other post. That Mom knew what she had to do for the little one and so she fed her.  Mothering moments in the wild are powerful. I am so full of gratitude for all the times I have been privileged to witness these tender moments. I add this one to my list now.  It explains so much how the bonds of Motherhood are so strange and instinctual and universal.  Nature is a testament to that.

Here's another thing that has no boundaries between the families in nature and our human families.  After spending a fair amount of time feeding the baby, once again the Mom is tired.  i swear that baby is so big now that she must have spent a good portion of the night hunting for her.  The Mom's tired, the baby is full and has lots of new what does she do...she harasses her Mom.  In this photo, she picking on the Mom's feathers and just being a brat...LOL...

Look at her pulling on her Mom's ear...I honestly had the best day with these two.  The baby was out to torture the Mom...but she was really just playing. I got the connection between the little one and little kids who just keep at their Mom's until the Mom gives in or moves on...poor Mom, one eye open, one eye closed...but who can sleep with someone biting on your ear...made my day..

So this Mom did what any self-respecting Mom would do and she moved away. Now the little one had to figure out how to get to her again...wings out..a first for this little one while I was there...Awesome, and she slowly moved down the branch to where her Mom was just standing..

Then this happened. Mom is deep in sleep.  The baby checks her out and maybe figures if she spreads her wings that will rattle the Mom...Well it didn't.  It did rattle me though.  Please baby don't attempt to fly while your Mom's asleep.  She wouldn't want to miss this great event if it were your first time...I didn't want to miss it either...but by now I had been there for many hours.  I have so many wonderful photo's from this day...more that I will share going forward.  More about this baby spreading her wings.  I did not get to see the baby fly.  That would have been the frosting on the cake. I do love that look on the babies face though..Like, wake up Mom.  I need to play or fly...

You know what I took away from this wonderful day with Mother Nature and all these Mothering Moments. Nature takes time.  Whether your going for a walk in the woods, or watching a family grow up in a pine tree. If we want to take it all in, we have to give it the time it deserves.  That's how we learn.  That's how we are amazed and that's how we know all is right with the world.  Not watching TV..not popping in for a few minutes.  It takes time.  I am so enriched by my time in the woods and in someone yards who shared her pine tree with me.  My friend gave me a gift by letting me take up space whenever I wanted to.  I took that time and I got lucky, because I stayed. I could have grabbed a couple of shots and left but then, look at what I would have missed. This was the highlight of my spring.  The flowers will come, the sun will shine, the ocean with it waves will be waiting for me..babies don't wait.  Babies are babies for such a short time. I knew I couldn't miss this...because who knows when I'll get another chance at seeing this little miracle of life happen again...many never get to see it at all.  So I say to you...take the time, be patient with your own little ones and with moments spent in nature.  You will always have the memories...but first, you have to make them...

I hope your enjoyed this little romp in the Pine Tree today.  I know it's a longer post than usual but what could I have left out....nothing my friends, absolutely nothing...

"The future will belong to the nature-smart-those individuals, businesses, and political leaders who develop understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need."  Richard Louv