Monday, July 8, 2013

Sleepin' and Puffin

On Saturday afternoon, we moved over to a rental house because seven people and a dog in 800 square feet is a little close, especially when it's over 85 degrees at night and there is no air conditioning. The cabin we rented is about a half mile down the road from Dad's place. I was looking forward to having more room to spread out and everyone getting more sleep. Well, that didn't exactly happen. At all.

We'd never been in this particular cabin and the floor plan is a little bit wonky. There are two sets of stairs, so that two bedrooms and a bathroom can be reached by one set of steps at the front of the house and three bedrooms and two baths can be reached by a second set of steps at the back of the house. The  house is also, shall we say, traditional, classic, untouched, historic, all those adjectives that when you see them in a real estate listing are code for old. This doesn't bother me too much, as all the houses I lived in growing up were traditional, classic, untouched, and historic. But the Girl was not in love with the house. I'm not sure if it was the bad feng shui, or the vague smell of old person, but she was majorly unhappy with the move.

I don't know if this happens in other families, but in our family, anxiety is contagious. If one kid is afraid of swimming in deep water, he or she convinces the others to be afraid of swimming in deep water. If one kid is afraid of dogs, pretty soon they're all jumping into my arms at the sight of a dog. So, after five minutes of crying and chewing on her nails and wailing about the burglars who were sure to break into the cabin, and the ghosts who were sure to be roaming the halls, and the fires that were sure to spontaneously combust us all, all three kids were wringing their hands and moaning.

This lasted from about 8:30 until 10:00 for the girls. The Baby kept insisting on "just one more kiss, just one more hug. I'm scare-ward." She also told me, "I just love your kisses and hugges." The Boy piped up with, "there's no such thing as 'hugges,' although there is such thing as haggis." Um, yes. Shortly after making this correction, the Boy got bored with the whole thing and went to sleep. He's amazing. He and the Baby were sharing a room with two single beds and she was running laps in the room and down the hallway to stay awake and he slept through it all. Just so you don't think I had totally abdicated my parental responsibilities, I tried. Honest to goodness, I tried. To be in our family means you have anxiety, so I sat down with the Girl and trotted out my little speech about the wrong thoughts and explained that the wrong thoughts were making her think the house was bad, when it was perfectly fine. She needed to banish the wrong thoughts. When that didn't work, I tried changing the subject. When do you think this weather will break? What do you want to do tomorrow? She was not having any of it. By then I was getting pretty frustrated, so I said something helpful like, "well, I don't know what to do about this," and walked away. Great parenting, I know.

Meanwhile, the Baby was at that point of exhaustion when kids get wild and she was running in and out of her bedroom, insisting that she was not tired, and that she needed to to just "one thing" and then she'd go to bed. I picked her up and stuck her under the covers of the bed and insisted strongly that she go to sleep. As soon as I left the room, she was up again, lying down so that her feet were on her pillow and chatting and blowing raspberries at the ceiling. Eventually, the Girl was so overwrought that the K lay down on the bed with her until she went to sleep.

Of course, because curtains and shades are apparently illegal in Maine, despite the fact that the sun comes up at 4:30 in the summer, the kids were all up at dawn. You can just imagine how much I was looking forward to Sunday! Because it was still a million degrees, we decided to go for a boat ride. Monhegan Boat Line runs a 2 1/2 hour puffin tour out of Port Clyde.

 Since I was over-compensating for my parenting failures the night before, I made the children wear life vests, even though no one else on the boat was wearing them. They complained, but honestly, the vests were so inconspicuous that I'm sure no one even noticed:

The Boy was especially happy with the life vest situation:

I can't begin to explain what is happening here.

Our guide for the tour was an old bearded man named Pete. As we passed various islands he would tell us which fabulously wealthy person owned the island and to what lengths they went to build their faux-rustic cottages (i.e., "that house is an old colonial from New Hampshire that was disassembled in New Hampshire, then hauled up here and brought out to the island on barges and reassembled.") It was like a Hollywood tour of the star's homes, only on the water.

We brought a picnic lunch and ate at tables on the deck while Pete regaled us with stories and we tried not to let any of our napkins blow overboard. After about an hour we arrived at Eastern Egg Rock, where this tam-o-shanter-wearing scientist has spent 40 years reestablishing puffin colonies. If it sounds a little crazy, it probably is, but it's also more useful than, say, humor blogging, so I'm going to shut up. I'm happy to report that we saw puffins!

Puffins in pairs:
These two were mating when we spotted them.
I guess that makes this picture puffin porn.
 Puffins going solo:

We circled the island multiple times to make sure that we all had our fill of the puffins. Most interesting (to me) tidbit about puffins from Pete, "if you go to Newfoundland, you'll see puffins in the grocery." And for a moment, I thought it was because Canadian puffin prefer Oreos and Ritz Crackers to herring, but then he finished with, "the puffin is edible." Damn Canadians.

After the puffins, we got to see some other rare creatures:

Harbor Seals:

We weren't even that close. This may be the best picture I've ever taken. 

The Baby napping:

All the adults really enjoyed the trip, but the kids thought it was a little boring. As the Boy put it, "I don't like to do things that take too long." Apparently obsessively playing Stack the Countries on the iPad doesn't count! 

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