Category Archives: ocean

In the Heart of the Sea…is my girl

Ahoy, mates!unnamed-7 Somewhere on the ocean blue, is a boat.

On this boat, in the heart of the sea…is my girl, Cope.

A daily text, tells me where this boat is sailing…


This boat is hunkered down in the harbor of Connecticut near Mystic as Hurricane Joaquin shows off a bit.

unnamed-11With Cope are 21 of her classmates, a captain, and a crew of maritime educators. They are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime: “Ocean Classroom.”

unnamed-8 The boat is a schooner named The Roseway, of  The World Ocean School.

unnamed-24 Each student is allowed 1 large duffel bag and a smaller day pack for school books. The summer reading was In the Heart of the Sea, “where basically,” Cope summed up, “everyone eats each other.”

A cheery image for any parent, no?

In the Heart of the Sea is being turned into a movie and coming out this December, starring Chris Hemworth. It’s likely to be on the DO NOT WATCH list, alongside A Perfect Storm…and all other disastrous ocean films.

unnamed-25 Before embarking, Cope and her crew stayed together at a campsite in New Hampshire. We had our practice good-bye. Cope said, “This is just preparing you for when I go to college!” (said a bit too gleefully.)

I do not like this, not one bit. Let’s move on and not dwell on such things.

unnamed-26We drooled over her course materials, laid out on her cot. Cod! I suddenly wanted to know all about cod, too!

The crew travelled to Hurricane Island in Maine, then off to Gloucester, Massachusetts: the true embarkment of their ocean adventure (and the true embarkment of A Perfect Storm!)

unnamed-9 We visited with Cope for the last time until November 21st.

unnamed-19 “Mom, come see my bunk!”unnamed-17 Cope is up front by the bow (gotta use my ship language correctly!) Her father, The Professor, says that she’s sure to get lots of waves and ocean swells. And if the ship leaks, she’ll be sure to get wet. Isn’t that SUPER FUN????! One of the items on the packing list is Dramamine. And foul weather gear. And flippers. And a special knife for “rigging.”

unnamed-18 Here’s the kitchen.

How do they shower?

1. A bucket of sea water is dumped over head.

2. Shampoo.

3. A bucket of fresh water is dumped over head.

Done! Also: they swim a lot.

Each crew member is part of a watch group for 4-8 hours, 24 hours a day. I keep imagining what it will be like for these young sailors, sailing under the great light of the moon at 3 a.m., feeling the wind as the sails shift, speaking with dolphins, and watching the sun set and rise while pulling ropes on that beautiful schooner.

I do not worry about hurricanes, sharks, or pirates. Or cannibalism. I am excited, and yes, a bit jealous of this great adventure. If only I could fit into Cope’s pocket and see all that she is seeing. Cope is a lover of words and brought her journal. I imagine a stunning novel could come of it. What happens to a crew of 22 teenagers on a small ocean boat, together for 2 months? Oh, the possibilities…

unnamed-1 Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, and all the Boston cousins came to wave farewell. Paige said, “Oh, darn it! I forgot my white handkerchief to wave good-bye!”

After touring the boat (which was very crowded with parents and siblings) and chatting, we heard: “Okay, folks. I have to be the meanie. You have five minutes to say good-bye. FIVE!”

Perhaps I should have been better prepared. But I found myself a bit speechless. What advice would you give as your child as she sets sail for the next two months?

unnamed-4When I see this picture (which I don’t like of me, but why does it have to be about ME?) I can’t quite believe I’m a mom who has a child this old. Old enough to sail the ocean without me. Who is looking at me and is SO EXCITED TO EMBARK. (Thank you, Lindsey for the shots!)

Yes, I’m sure I was full of advice, but the only thing I could say was, “I love you so much.”

unnamed-28 unnamed-29There’s this odd feeling of…when you aren’t all together all the time, where there still be four of you?

unnamed-21 The siblings took the good-bye the hardest (though one sibling is excited about “exploring” her older sister’s room.)unnamed-3 unnamed-2 The boy misses her the most. He comes home wanting to tell her all about his soccer game and homework and high school and… she’s not there to tell.unnamed-6 And then, I swear, the boat started to move! This was getting real. Can you see her? She has two girls sitting on her lap. And yes, there are BOYS on the boat, too!unnamed-20 unnamed-16 unnamed-5 That boat kept going and going…and darn it, I wished I had my white handkerchief. Dave Pilla, Ocean Classroom coordinator and maritime expert shouted, “Hip-Hip…” and we all yelled back, “Hooray!” three times for good luck.unnamed-14 And then that Roseway fired a cannon shot that rivaled a pirate ship.unnamed-10 We waved and waved until that boat was out of sight.unnamed-12 Cousin posse; we shall not remove our ocean bracelets until our girl returns. unnamed-13The Roseway is headed to Mystic Seaport, the NYC Harbor School, Baltimore, Georgia, and Charleston. From there they will have 10-12 straight days at sea as they make their way to the Caribbean and eventually San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of course, this is all dependent on the weather. And Joaquin.

unnamed-27I’ve been given lots of advice since my girl sailed away. My two favorites: “Don’t be such a baby.” Ha. For real. And: “It was  very comforting to know Logan (her son) was always under the same moon as me.”

I thought of our girl as we watched the lunar eclipse on Sunday, as the bright light of the moon was shrouded in darkness and eventually a blood moon. I think of her as the sun sets and the sun rises on our fields of green and the weather begins to change and leaves fall to the ground. No matter where she sails, she is with us always.

I came across this right after she left. It made me think of her, too.unnamed-22Indeed, she’s had a very happy start. That lucky lucky duck!


labor day weekend: work hard, play hard

Labor Day! A dreamy four-day weekend and the last hurrah before school really begins. But before we play, we must labor. unnamed-19We bought the wood for new garden beds two years ago and these strapping young men finally nailed them together. Yeah, that’s how we roll around here.unnamed-22One must use these corner pieces or your garden beds to fall apart!unnamed-21Tenny was working very hard, too.unnamed-23We were away so much this summer that this beauty was one of the few, the brave, the proud…tomatoes hanging on the plant.unnamed-24These little punkins are somehow growing outside the garden beds in a random garden patch. Who knows how these things happen. It’s like a Jack and the Beanstalk story. We like it!unnamed-26And the squash is doing something. Remember: you can eat these tasty things!

unnamed-20 Do you see our dry grass? We’ve had an unusually dry summer. While boys nailed wood, I cut down all the hostas. This little gem of a girl swept them all up…unnamed-25And dumped them on the garden beds to protect them from weeds and winter.unnamed-27We peeked into the compost. Do you compost? It makes the most magical dirt.

After the work, came the play on Monday: the ocean! Whew!

unnamed-15Paige was buried as a mermaid.unnamedHailey, my adorable niece was twirled around by Ian – just arrived from Alaska!

unnamed-11We kinda like Ian

unnamed-18Beach games!

unnamed-1 unnamed-17Grandma took us down to the water’s edge where the children were given a history lesson on our ancestors and the great sink shipping at isles of shoals. It was fascinating. I’m so grateful for this woman! It reminds me: we need to know and write our stories or they will be lost.

unnamed-4 Ian and Nellie went head to headunnamed-6 unnamed-5 unnamed-8 Cousins!unnamed-10 Boogie boarding – my favorite! It was 90 degrees, making the New Hampshire water bearable.unnamed-9 Rye Beach, NHunnamed-12 Diving into the wavesunnamed-13

unnamed-16And the fab four came out of the sea together…ready to greet another school year. Ready to work hard and play hard.


Photo Ops

I’ve been wanting a DSLR Canon camera for a few years now, but husband keeps telling me we have a great camera and I just need to get to know it better – become friends – become one.  I have to say, I do love my point and shoot.  Gregor bought it for me for Christmas.  He’s always pushing me to try out technology.  I swear, I’d still be taking pictures with film if it weren’t for him.
I’m constantly pulling out my camera.  It’s a Canon Elph, less than $200.  It’s a great bargain for such great quality.
Normally I don’t mess with the settings.  I just keep it on Automatic and have the camera adjust.  Sometimes I go to the effort of turning off the flash, which photographers seem to constantly advise.
But.  The other day Gregor was playing soccer (I am out again.  Foot. Sad face) and I had my little elph.  
G just looooooves when I begin snapping away. However, the automatic setting wasn’t getting the job done.  Soccer players move too fast and there was nothing but blur.  I adjusted to the “Kids and Pets” settings and got a much better photo.  This is the only other setting I ever go to.
But then I decided to mess.  I switched to “High-Speed Burst.”  I don’t like to mess because then I can’t get the camera back.  But really, how hard is it?  It’s not at all!  I’m encouraging you to all mess.  “High-Speed Burst” is great for action shots.  It takes a series of pictures in a row and you decide which one is best.
When I exclaimed how excited I was, Brynne said, “You’re just figuring those out now?”  I know, it’s ridiculous how long it’s taken me.

I’ll never be lazy again.

My new favorite setting:  “Miniature.”  It focuses the middle and blurs the background.  It also boost color beautifully. 

Another “Miniature” shot with flavor ice.

“Toy Camera Effect” darkens image edges

“Monochrome” records images in a single color

“Super Vivid”

“Poster Effect”

“Color Accent” captures one single color and B&W for the rest of the photo

“Color Swap” changes one color for another

“Low Light”

“Natural Light”

“Fish-eye Effect” shoots with the effect of a fish-eye lens

“Miniature” effect

“Toy-Camera Effect”

“Miniature” photo of Grandma’s freshly pinted honey from her beehives.  Only 15 bee stings later.

Another “Miniature.”  I think it’s such a cool setting.


A “Fish-eye Effect” of the ocean will look like a tsunami

“Monochrome”  I didn’t like this for the beach.  The beach should have color.
“Automatic” setting

“Automatic” with a flash

Cope snaps a picture on “Beach” setting.  One for bright sunlight.

“Miniature” capturing my first-ever pedicure.  Look at that photo detail.  

Cope didn’t pose for this “Miniature” shot.  I just liked it.

Last “Miniature”
Someday, I will buy a big DSLR.  But is there a great need if I know my settings better and don’t need to blow my pictures up to poster size?  Someday I’ll actually take a photography class.  Maybe someday I will actually read the manual!  
Do you have a DSLR?  How did you learn photography?  Do you have advice?  I am loving learning.  It’s such an art.


Skipping School

As you can see from my blog header, I like the ocean.  A whole lot.  It’s one of my favorite places to be.  Someday I will live by the sea, maybe on a boat, and I will be able to hear that beautiful, untamed ocean call my name more often.  Too bad that ocean isn’t a little closer to Idaho.  And speaking of the above header, the ocean picture confuses my husband.  He likes my other one better, the one with the kids.  Do you agree?  I feel guilty over these things.
And why, Maisymak?  My mother is the queen of nicknames.  When I was little she  called me “maisy mouse.”  She said it was because I was teeny tiny, had a high, small voice, and looked like a little mouse.  Sometimes I was mousy, I guess.  I prefer “shy” to “timid.” Please never call me that.  I will not be timid if you do 🙂  My mom still calls me maisy mouse and I’ll give her all the credit when I make it big with my Maisymak Granola Snack.
The other day, when the freakish heat wave washed over the east coast (it’s now 30), we stole the kids from school and made a trip to the ocean.  
We stood on the rocks and watched that mighty body of water.  Unfortunately, it was not as warm as the forecast had predicted.  In fact it was freezing.
But it sure was pretty.

No matter.  My children are cold blooded, maybe reptiles. Or fish.  I hate cold water.  You couldn’t have paid me enough to jump in.  These two?  Psyched.  Even for them it was a tad cold.  We were all running back to the car in minutes. The Atlantic ocean in New Hampshire is definitely not the Pacific.

These two had their swimming suits, but didn’t dive in.  I had some beautiful shots of the ocean and the kids but the computer ate them.  It really did.  They are not to be found 🙁
Though the ocean was a short adventure, we were glad to skip school, remembering, “Never let school get in the way of a good education.” I’m sure we learned something on this cold March afternoon.  I’ll be sure to get back to you on what exactly that was.
Are you getting some good education this weekend?  I’m excited about going to a writer’s conference and listening to some great talks.  I’ll be sure to report on the highlights.
Have a happy weekend!



It’s school vacation week!  So far, so good.  Yesterday we left for the dentist at 7:50 a.m. and arrived home at 4.  The kids were all-stars.  I give Daddy’s ipad full credit.  And the free Angry Birds download.  In August we go to our regular dentist that we love very much and every February we go to NHTI dental clinic that we love very much because they are nice and they are cheap.  For $15 your child (or yourself) can get a fluoride treatment, bite wing x-rays, and a cleaning.  Sealants are only $8 a tooth.  It takes a long time because instructors have to check work, but hey, tell the kids to suck it up.  And then take them out to lunch.  My bill was $60 versus $485.  I could do a happy dance just thinking about it.

Anyway, it’s cold, cold, and windy outside.  Last year at this time we were gearing up for this vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  Isn’t that a great name?  Outer Banks…

Upon arrival we felt the effects of the terrible tsunami disaster in Japan, half a world away.

The ocean was calling my name.  It asked me to come, and I almost went.

We stood at the precipice of that great ocean.  In our tutus.

We were supposed to go back this year if only to get the Christmas card photo op.
Every morning I ran on this beach all by myself.  There was never another human in sight.  There is a word for this:  Bliss.
This morning I made myself go outside, in the snowy and hilly New Hampshire terrain.  The wind was so wicked I came back inside after running down the driveway.  Then I stewed.  And made myself go back out and complete 4 miles.  Mostly because I had to wash my hair.  And we don’t wash our hair around here unless we deserve it!  
This year we are spending our tax return on the basement, to make a room for Cope.  With every nail put in the wall, every dry wall mounted…I will be dreaming of sun and sand and the Outer Banks.  
The things we do for love.


that was then, this is now

Today was much different than last Saturday.  Last Saturday was Labor Day Weekend and we were headed down to the ocean for one last romp with the cousins!  I love Labor Day.  It always reminds me of riding my bike in college wearing my fabulous overalls and flip flops.  Andrea was on my handlebars and we were laughing like crazy.  Then our crazy new friends (cute boys!) pulled over in their mint-colored pick-up truck and asked us to go water skiing the next morning.  We did, in their mint-colored big boat and wore wet suits and had more fun on a Labor Day weekend than I could remember.   Good times….
Last Saturday I woke up early to get in a 6 mile run before heading out.  Gregor said the salty ocean would be good for my poison ivy (finally, finally! i believe i am over the awful affliction, though my stomach looks like leprosy).  We packed up yummy sandwiches and snacks and away we went.  We went to Rye Beach in Portsmouth where the water was still feeling the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Perfectly awesome waves!
Too big! Brynne wailed, but clung possessively to that boogie board.  We only have two so you gotta make your turn worth it.

Gregor and Cope are always fearless with shockingly-cold water…Gregor physically pulled me in so I could get in on the action.  Stop it! I kept saying.  Despite the fact I almost lost my sunglasses and did lose my hair clip, I was glad!  I had the best time body surfing and boogie boarding it back, catching the best wave of my life.

The surfers were out by the dozen.  Brynne got over her fear of the big waves…

And then we ran into this surfer dude – Drew!  He’d been surfing for hours and was feeling mighty tired. Here he catches up with Brendaen.  Drew is the coolest.

The kids caught up with cousins…oh we love our cousins so.

I love how the brothers have their serious conversations whenever we are together.  The tide grew higher and higher until finally we were perched on rocks and the boys were talking in the ocean.

This was one picture in a series of five.  It was hilarious trying to get these girls together.  Ella was trying her hardest to pull Grace over, who was not having it!  Brynne and Chloe finally have the picture-taking thing down.  The trick is to smile sweetly and mom will go away.

The oldest:  Cope and Hailey stay in the ocean as long as possible.

Despite the fact we had JUST stopped at McDonald’s to get the kids an ice-cream cone and Gregor and I shared a massive soda, (isn’t soda so great after an ocean trip?) Gregor saw this place and just HAD to stop.  Oh boy, it was good.  He got 6 cupcakes – 2 Canoli, 2 Peanut Butter Cup, and 2 Chocolate Cream.  We devoured them greedily in the car.  Mmmmm.

I had to take a picture of this scenic sight painted onto another building.  I love Portsmouth.  Such character.

We arrived home and had our first bonfire in our new fire pit, courtesy of Glenn and Gregor who “handmade” the circle by the sweat of their brows.  Love that homade feel, huh Seth???  S’mores, fire, pictures, the sun going down.  A great weekend.
And then school started and BAM! we are in the thick of things.  Summer is a long-past dream I wistfully think about between whistle blows and math homework.  This week my husband is suddenly absent (sports camp!), there were 6 soccer practices and 2 games, a middle school open house, young women, a doctor’s appt, visiting teaching, a playdate, homework galore, book covering, emotional breakdowns, and some serious running mileage.  Um, when are we supposed to fit piano in?  We’re trying to cram that in too while Cope is making noise about starting to sing a choir that has it’s own orchestra…Yep, school has started.  And with Labor Day, this was a short week!  A great thing happened too:  the dining hall 🙂

We’ll take it though.  We are healthy, the sun is shining, and fall is approaching.  My favorite season…even if there is no body surfing.


An Ocean Adventure

We try to do two ocean trips a summer.  While at swimming lessons last week, Gregor and I were discussing the best day to go before our trip west.  “Want to go right now?” I asked.  “Sure,” he said.  “Really?” I said. “Let’s go!”  So we did…
New Hampshire has miles of ocean shoreline and it’s only an hour and a half away.  A spontaneous adventure was just what we needed.  We went to Rye beach.  It was packed but still loads of fun.

An ocean-front home.  This was a great contrast to where we were in North Carolina.  This public beach is right in front of hundreds of homes.  Still, a great “cottage.”

New Hampshire water is notoriously cold.  It’s soooo hard for me to take the plunge.  My kids?  They don’t mind a bit.  Our favorite thing to do is surf in on the boogie boards.  Here’s Nelson coming in after a great ride.

Brynne was fearless.  She definitely needs more swimming lessons because she was way out there riding the giant waves in.  Sweet!

Oooooh…there’s that board I want out there.  And there’s Nelson, Brynne, Cope, and Daddy.  Cope and G were without boards.  They body surf into shore.

Waiting for that perfect wave.

Paige was so funny.  She would try to race the waves in and scream as they came closer.  Two years ago I was messing with my new camera and Gregor was walking the dog.  I turned to take a picture of her and she was gone.  It was one of the most terrifying minutes of my life.  We found her way way down the beach.  The mommy patrol took charge and led me to her.  Whew.  This year she made another run for it.  Suddenly gone.  I ran down the beach and asked what in the world was she doing?  She shrugged and smiled at me.  Kids.

Nice spot

Hours of surfing fun.  Cope was getting mad at me after I still hadn’t dunked after two hours.  Finally I did it, and boy was it worth it.  Boogie board surfing is a rush – I felt like I was ten.

We were all a bit red but very happy.  And of course we had to stop at Johnson’s on the way home for HUGE bowls of ice-cream.  Their kiddie size could feed a small country.  Yummy.  
A day at the ocean? A day well spent.

Today and Yesterday and Maybe Tomorrow

1.  We just got back from school shopping – what fun!  The kids didn’t need clothes though I’d love to outfit them all in Land’s End.  I drool over the catalogs.  But they each got a new backpack with some school supplies.  Cope used her own money to buy a certain under-the-shirt item 🙂 and two shirts and a belt.  I gave in to the begging from Brynne and bought her a new froggy lunch box she did not need.  Nelson was very happy with his backpack but was put out when I refused to buy him the large LL Bean pocket knife to take to school.  (???)

2.  My brother-in-law Curt always says, “Kids will always punish you for doing something nice for them.” I didn’t really understand this until thinking about all the fun trips we take only to hear constant whining, fighting and complaining.  I think my kids are good kids but sometimes…

3.  Yesterday we took a trip to the ocean.  LOVE the ocean.  I would be very happy living by the sea.

4.  We used our boogie boards for the first time hitting the big waves.  I’ve never had so much fun with the waves.  Now Cope and I want surf boards.  Gregor still prefers to body surf.

5.  Shaving your legs right before a big ocean trip is perhaps not the wisest.  Salt.

6.  Ice-cold New England ocean waves are a great post-run ice bath.  Truly!

7.  Besides my children and ONE 60-year old woman, I was the only girl in a one piece bathing suit.

8.  Fish and chips is a great way to end an ocean trip.  Then some ice-cream.

9.  I was so mad when I went to take ocean pictures and my battery was still plugged into the wall at home!

10.  Tomorrow my friend Maryn is taking me on a 13 miler.  Long runs are probably the most important training run every week when training for a 1/2 or full marathon. The problem is my longest run has been an 8.  I’ve been dreaming of it, obsessing over it, feeling anxious about it all day.  5:30 a.m.  Wanna come?  GU will be my friend.