26 June 2011

Taste of Summer

This past week was the official start of Summer.  To me, there's nothing more summerlike than the combination of strawberries and rhubarb.  A perfect marriage of succulent sweetnenss paired with tangy crispness.  I stopped at a local farmstand on the way home from work one day and picked up two pints of the juiciest, ripest native strawberries that I've had in a long time.  It was as if they had just been plucked from the fields.  You know you have a good strawberry when the juices run thick, staining your fingers (or your chin!) as you take that first bite.  It's messy, sticky, and totally delicious.  Unfortunately, the stand did not have any rhubarb that day, so last night I picked some up at the grocery store, knowing that I could not let these strawberries go to waste and had to make something rhubarby with them.

I came across this recipe earlier in the week, tried it out while G was napping today, and suffice to say, even though this weekend turned out to be anything but summerlike, the moment I put this bar into my mouth, it was an explosion of greatness. 

Hot and bubbling straight from the oven
The finished product. 

This is the type dessert that makes you feel like your tastebuds have awoken after a long winter's nap.  So without further ado...Happy Baking!

Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert Bars

1.5 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1in pieces
1.5 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbls lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbls corn starch

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups uncooked quick oats
1 cup firm packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tbls milk


Combine rhubarb, berries, and lemon juice in 2 qt saucepan. Cover; cook over medium heat stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender. (8-12 min)

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in small bowl.  Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mix begins to boil. Continue boiling until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat oven 350.  Combine all crust ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mix becomes coarse crumbs.  Reserve 1.5 cups of crumb mixture.  Press remaining mixture onto botton of greased 13x9 in baking pan.  Spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 30-35 min., or until golden brown. Cool completely.  Combine all drizzle ingredients in small bowl and drizzle over cooled bars.   Cut into bars.  Enjoy!

25 June 2011

The Three Musketeers

My mom emailed me today with one simple statement: "Six months from today is Christmas." Whaaa?  Summer just started like five minutes ago, and in Maine, you count every one of those minutes as precious.  But it did get me thinking about gifts. And how even when Christmas is still six months away, there are gifts that appear in our lives every day, in all forms, whether we are conscious of them or not. 

So today G and I had a date with two of his buds, M and N, and their mommies, who are, of course, my buds.  We met at a local indoor playspace to burn some energy.  The day was raw and rainy, so needless to say, the place was packed. Jammed with kids of all ages, running amok, shrieking, giggling, tossing random objects from high platforms.  Chaos.  In the middle of it all, were our boys, each finding their own interests--for M it was the trainset...you could see the imagination etched on his face as he intently made those trains move around the track.  For N, it was the wooden grocery cart, that he expertly rolled all over the play area, then climbed in to check out all that was going on around him.  And G, in his typical introspective way, stood magnetized to me for the first ten minutes, before deciding it was ok to explore, and gravitated towards the shakable egg, yellow maraca and bell tambourine.  These three could form a band!

The six of us then went to lunch at a popular in town deli.  It's there that I started thinking about gifts. There we were--three mamas with our three boys, all blonde-headed cuties, sitting contently in three highchairs, eating their blueberries, mixed veggies, and whatever else we put in front of them.  These boys have been given the gift of starting out their friendships at the earliest stage possible--G and N, who were born exactly a week apart, and their almost-two-year-old role model, M, (who affectionately refers to G as "Gairdette" and it's just about the cutest thing I've ever heard.) I like to think that G and N were friends in the wombs since N's mommy and I, even into our ninth month of pregnancy, were still taking walks with our dogs and bringing them to the playfields.  And M, well, the running joke is that G seems to have gotten alot of his advice about this world from M, even before he was born. 

In a world that is so chaotic and uncertain, where there are worries and tragedies and misfortunes, it's a significant gift to have a day like this, spent with friends, while watching your own child find his place in the group.  M, being a year older, is  clearly more vocal and can say what he wants, etc., while the two almost 14 month olds are still just stringing together long bouts of jibberish with an occassional "Dadadadadaaaaaaaa" mixed in. But if you really watch and listen, they are communicating with each other the only way they know how.  Being around M always makes me wonder what G will be like at his age now, but basically in a year.  Almost a year ago at M's first birthday party, I couldn't imagine G at that age, upright, gaining the confidence to walk, and yet here we are, just about there.  And someday soon, N and G will be walking side by side together.  Yet another milestone and gift. I hope as the years go by, and these boys grow, that they will always remain pals, and us three mommas can look back on days like this and say "Remember when..."
Checking out my reflection at Gelato Fiasco
Is this thing sturdy?

24 June 2011

Ours is a judgment free zone.

So this week has been a trying one.  All three of us have been sick. It started when I picked up G last Friday from daycare, and received a not-so-glowing report as to how G's day had been.  This is unusual because normally it's quite the opposite and I can hardly get him to want to come home.  He had been feeling out of sorts, with a runny nose and this time, had some lovely discharge coming from his eyes.  Couldn't get an appointment on Friday night, so first thing Saturday morning, in we go.  Double ear infection.  The bane of a mommy's existence I think.  But, fortunately, once he is put on the antibiotic, he is back to his old self, and you'd never know there was an issue.  

Then came Sunday, Father's Day, and we spent it in Ogunquit. For some reason that day, my left eye would NOT stop tearing. It was like I was constantly crying out of that eye. I chalked it up to allergies, because the pollen had been so bad.  One glance at the filmy yellow goop on my car is enough to know that we've had a bad allergy season so far. Monday came and I started feeling more and more congested, the eye still tearing, now becoming a scary Halloweenish red.  Like those fake eyeballs you can get in a costume shop, where you can  see all the vessels.  Lovely.  Meanwhile, Terry hadn't been feeling good either, stuffy, sore throat, etc.  Would this ever end?  

By now, it's Tuesday, and while my left eye cleared up, it began to share with my right eye. Wednesday was a miserable day at work, constantly tearing, painful stinging, clogged nostrils, and not quite a sore throat, but that feeling as if a muscle had been pulled in my throat.  I managed to get an evening appointment at the doc confirming what I had been in denial about---sinus related conjunctivitis.  Awesome.  Even more awesome was the fact that I couldn't pick up my prescription until Thursday morning because of the inconvenient hours of my pharmacy.  

Here's the thing tho. What I love about the age that G is at now is that he is totally without judgment. On Wednesday, I was feeling my worst; my eyes were bloodshot and teary; my face was dry, red and splotchy.  And here was this happy little boy who still wanted to hug me, who still wanted to play with me, and who still would hurl himself at me in a fit of giggles while testing the sturdiness of those adorable little legs.  He gives me that gap-toothed grin, the rascal tilt of his head, and melts my heart.  He can't say it yet, but I know he loves me. 

22 June 2011

Beautiful Place by the Sea.

 This past Sunday was, of course, Father's Day.  Or as I like to say, Daddy's Day.  Terry had to work for a couple hours in the morning, (ah, the demands of a newly minted GM!) so G and I met up with him mid morning to venture down to our other favorite place in Maine, Ogunquit.  

Sweet Father's Day card made at Daycare from G to Daddy
It's a bookmark!

Simply put, Ogunquit is like a sparkling rare jewel.  It glitters, it's breathtaking, and if you're like me, you can't get enough of it. When the Keegan's would summer in Maine years ago (before most of us wised up and moved here), it was Ogunquit that was our destination.  Even as it's gotten more popular and crowded over the years, the things that I love about it have remained the same, and because of that, I've been able to introduce them to Terry and now Garrett.  There's even a smell that I associate with this little village--it's a heady mixture of sun, sand, and salt air...it's fresh, coastal, and delicious.  

Most of my best childhood memories have come from this place.  From the countless hours  I've spent digging my toes into the satiny white sand of Ogunquit Beach, to the many times we've sat in Shore Road traffic on a trolley named Molly, Dolly, or Polly, etc.  There is so much about this small town that, in summer, mimics a delectable paradise.   

My sister and I used to roam this town freely, either as typical pre-teens, trying to walk ahead of our parents on the crowded sidewalks so as not to be associated with them , or in the evenings, when the 'rents would go off for a nice dinner, and Sis and I would patron our favorite pizza place , La Pizzeria, which, 25 years or so later, still exists under the same name, and with the same terrific tasty offerings. (Yes, there's a pattern here, I find delicious pizza where ever I go.)

Our beach days would start early in hopes of scoring the perfect location before the tourists, many of whom drop in from our northern Canadian neighbor, descended and took over the best spots. Ogunquit Beach sand could rival any Caribbean beach.  It's clean, debris-free softness is literally like walking on velvet.  To this day, I maintain my rule of ditching shoes the moment my toes hit that sand.    

My sister would draw the perfect paddle-ball court, our competitive nature taking over, and we'd play for hours, each hoping to best the other.  At some point we'd have enough, and exhaustion would take over as our tanned salty selves could simply not play one more game.  It takes a hearty soul to swim in the ocean at a Maine beach.  This is not Florida bath water.  This is the icy Atlantic, and at first dip, numbs you to the very core.   But, if you're like us, you'd run right in, paralyzed with the shock of cold, and then, the longer you stay in, the warmer it gets.  The sunlight shimmers on the water, making it look warmer than it is, and often in the distance, you can just make out the white triangle of a passing sailboat, bound, perhaps, for Perkins Cove.

A day at the beach would not be complete without a stop at the little shop that was appropriately known for so long as "Sundries", since that's exactly what they sold.  If you forgot any essential beach item, you could always find it there.  Now it's just called "The Beach Shop".  I think I liked Sundries better.

And then there's the Marginal Way.  That mile long coastal path that stretches from the center of town to Perkins Cove, where all the lobster boats come in, and where there are a plethora of shops and restaurants to satisfy the eager vacationer.  The Marginal Way alone is magic.  The views from various points are incredible.  My sister and I were famous for scrambling over rocks to get closer to the ocean, and when younger, (and when we weren't as well versed in the environmental hazard of this) would toss an empty plastic 2 L bottle that had a note stuck in it out to sea, hoping that it would one day wash up on the shores of some exotic land, and be picked up by kids like us, but on the other side of the world. Needless to say, we never heard from anyone.

And finally, in Perkins Cove we land, where we sit and reflect at the waters edge, noting the lobster boats parked and awaiting their next tour.  We always got ice cream at Barnacle Billy's, another iconic landmark that still stands today.  Mint chocolate chip for her, peppermint stick for me. 

Now that we have our own families, our traditions have expanded to include them.  On several occasions, I've met my sis and her girls to have a beach day, complete with lunch at La Pizzeria, an ice cream in Perkins Cove and maybe a trolley ride around town.  And in his short life, Garrett has visited Ogunquit four times! I can't wait to keep introducing him to those traditions and make new ones of our own.  

And so this past Sunday, Terry and I kept up with our newest Ogunquit tradition, which was to have lunch at a delightful outdoor eatery called "Frills", and then walk around town, down to the beach, and have G experience first hand the sandy goodness.  The beach was crowded, the tide was coming in rapidly, so we knew we didn't have long.  But I wanted to give him the chance to touch the water.  We've been practicing our walking steps, and so with hands held, we toddled on down, letting the foamy spray graze our toes, and what I thought would be a loud protest at the frigid temps, turned out to be a giggle of pure euphoria, as the waves licked at his feet, and then pulled back in a quick undertow.  The look on his face was of anxious anticipation as together we waited for the next wave to come our way.  He loved it.  But then again, he is a Maine kid.  Maybe he'll grow up surfing in these frosty waters, who knows.  

Daddy demonstrates the Claw to a giggly G
When we were done with Ogunquit, (pushing the limit with no afternoon nap), we surprised Grampie because after all, it was Father's Day and we were so close to where he and Grammie live.  They hadn't seen Garrett since his birthday party in late May, so it was terrific to surprise him, and see the slow smile spread across G's face as he recognized his two favorite people (besides Momma and Dada of course).  We got to show them how G is taking a few unsupported steps, and then G got to have his favorite cuddle time with Grammie.  He looks sad here but I think he was just very cozy.

And then there's Grampie.  Boo loves his Grampie.

Whatcha pointing to, Grampie?
Ah, my friend, The Fan.         

Look Grampie, I can stand on my own very well

Every holiday, celebration, or marked occasion in general, I can't help but wonder, what will G look/be like a year from now?  As much as I love watching this boy grow, I wish time would slow just a little, so we can truly enjoy these precious moments. 

14 June 2011

Popovers and Pizza.

There are three things I learned from this weekend trip to Bar Harbor; 1. As much as I love camping, especially in BH, staying at a *really* nice hotel does have its perks; 2. To me, the best sound in the world is our son's hearty, infectious giggle, especially when he really gets going; and 3. Hiking with our dog to her most favorite spot is worth the physical challenge of getting there, just to see the unadulterated bliss she gets from launching off a rock, and making a gigantic splash for the tossed ball.  Fellow hikers stop to watch her antics, and like us, get a kick out of her focus on the ball and the water.  

We really did have a spectacular weekend.  Maine weather in early summer can be, well, iffy at best.  Somehow we managed to snag a couple of amazing days that seemed to cluster only in the immediate BH area, because as I heard from others, hometown and south were getting rained on.  We started out on Friday morning and by 'we', I mean myself, Terry, the babe, and of course, the Dog.--by now I have this drive down pat. In my head, I plot certain points along the way that help make the 2.5-3 hours fly by.  

Suffice to say, my Civic has a lot of nooks and crannies for storage.  It never ceases to amaze me how much STUFF is required to bring along a baby.  But, we managed, and in a couple short hours, were transformed into our favorite place.  Of course, no drive up is complete without stopping at the Big Chicken Barn. What?  Yeah, it's surreal. For the book and antique lover, it's 26,000 sq. feet of delight.  It's also exactly two hours from home, so a good stopping point, and the sign that we are almost to our final destination.  I always manage to find a few treasures from my ever-growing book list at this place.  

Gman waits patiently for our buzzer to sound that our table is ready
From there, it was onward to Jordan Pond House.  This place truly is a little slice of heaven.  We arrived there just in time for lunch, which of course consisted of a traditional 'popover and tea'.  Or in my case, freshly squeezed lemonade.  There is just about nothing more delicious than sinking your teething into a piping hot, buttery, airy popover, that has been slathered, and yes, I mean slathered, in creamy butter and tart strawberry jam.  I literally wait all winter for this first bite.  Sure, I've made them at home, but it never quite tastes the same.  This year, it was Garrett's turn to try his first one.  He loved it.  And of course, we've been promising Gabby her birthday one for days now.

Trying the first popover bite
Yup, it's yummy.

Miss Gabby is anxiously awaiting her popover to cool

Jordan Pond and the Bubbles
 So after we inhaled our popovers (and a very expensive kiddie grilled cheese for the babe), we flaked out on the grass to let G crawl around a bit.  After all, he had been cooped up in that car seat for along time. He wanted to be free!  JPH over looks, obviously, Jordan Pond, and then beyond that, two of Acadia's lovely hikes, the Bubbles.  It is breathtaking and serene, and the sight never gets old. Garrett quite enjoyed frolicking with daddy on the grass, and then realizing he had all this open space to explore, took off to see what he could find.

I want your hat, Daddy.
And I'm off!

After Jordan Pond, we took a walk around the nature trails, and then finally decided to check in to our hotel.  But first, we had to drop off Gabs at where she was boarding.  As difficult as it was to leave her, because we are so used to have her camping with us, we just couldn't have her stay with us.  So we dropped her off, then headed to The Bluenose Inn.  We had an amazing room that overlooked the Harbor and plenty of cushioned space for G to explore.  We immediately changed into our suits and headed to the gorgeous indoor pool.  Unfortunately, it was so cold! You'd think an indoor heated pool would be...well, heated.  We lasted about half an hour...but watching G's chin quiver in shivers was too much to bear.  That night, we headed into town and had an early dinner at our favorite pub, The Thirsty Whale.  It was such a beautiful evening! Summer in Maine had arrived.

So in previous trips to Bar Harbor, T and I discovered the most amazing pizza place.  Last summer, when we took G here for the first time, he was just a little baby and we really had to call it a night early one evening.  So by 9pm, G was sleeping, and we were starving.  We ordered a pizza from this place, Rosalie's.   Oh. Em. Gee.  It was the best pizza we had ever had.  There's something just ridiculously good about it.  The sauce has this tangy yet slightly sweet taste, and what I love most is that there is just the right amount...not too much, not too little.  The crust is thin and a mixture of crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.  Needless to say, we had it in our heads again, that we could not go the night without having this amazing pizza.  T went to go get it, and there's just something about eating pizza in a hotel room, on a nice coffee table, with no plates, and just tasting the goodness that is a fresh, hot awesome pizza. 

Did they just get their food?
Alright, so enough about pizza.  Saturday came, we picked up Gabs, and went for breakfast at yet another favorite spot, Two Cats. See the theme here?  Bar Harbor is a foodie paradise. There are just so many amazing restaurants.  Two Cats is no different.  They have the freshest tasting ingredients. The only annoying part is that it takes forever to get food.  Oh well, it's still worth the wait.  We fueled up, and enter the park.  Gabs knew we were heading to her spot.  The Bowl awaits.
Where's Gabs?

Did she jump in again??
We secured G in the backpack carrier, and started the trek.  I have missed hiking with Gabs. She's so fun.  She can be off leash, and even tho the hike is a challenge, in a short half hour, we were at the top...the glistening pond of the Bowl shimmers in the sun.  It's still.  Quiet.  And then soon, it's splashes and giggles. G loved watching Gabby fling herself off the rocks into the water.  It was such an awesome afternoon.  I'll be honest.  A year + after having Garrett, and I have not done much in the way of strenuous exercise.  Isn't chasing after a crawler exercise enough?  So this felt awesome...to be sore in muscles I forgot existed.  Not to mention, being in that coastal air.  Exhilarating.

After the hike, Gabs was exhausted so back to the car we went.  We had parked at  Sand Beach, quickly changed G into his swimsuit, and took him for his first real beach experience.  It was a joy to introduce him to the beach toys and then watch him discover the grainy sand.  He was hilarious.  

What do I do with this?

Is this right?

What do these do?
Where are my toes??

Ooh a pail!

 Soon it was time to pack it in.  We headed back into town, grabbed lunch, and then took Gabs out for a walk around Main St.  She is, after all, the Belle of Bar Harbor.  But let's face it. We were all exhausted.  It was nap time.  We dropped Gabs off for the night and went back to the hotel. 

Dressed up for a night on the town.
For dinner, we couldn't decide what we wanted.  I sometimes feel like there are so many choices in BH, it's just too difficult to pick. And now adding the babe into the mix, our choice needs to be wise.  The fog was starting to roll in and the air was rapidly cooling.  In the end, we needed something hot and comforting. Usually that means Thai or Italian.  That night, we opted for Italian---Mama Dimatteo's.  Hot, delicious.  Garrett was a peach, and the hostess, who was probably in her 60s, was constantly flirting with him. I think she just appreciated that he wasn't yelling his head off like the little girl who sat behind us, and also seemed infatuated with the Gman.  And who wouldn't be? 

Then came Sunday.  It was so chilly and rainy, it was as if Mother Nature knew we had to head home that day.  We wasted no time in gathering up all our stuff (didn't we just unpack it all?), making sure there were no stray blocks under the bed, then packed the car and headed off to pick up the Gabs.  Breakfast then was at another local favorite, Cafe This Way.
We slowly made our way off the Island.  It's always bittersweet.  We know we'll be back in a few weeks when Terry's sister is in town, but it's always hard to leave this magical spot. We decided to take Route 1 south after Belfast...driving through Camden and Rockland...G started to have a backseat meltdown around Camden.  We need a diversion. That's where Reny's comes in handy.  A quick stop there, perusing the wonders that is that store...and G was temporarily appeased.  Daddy thought it would be cute to try out some sunglasses.

I'm too busy for autographs.


Unfortunately, somebody's mood did not improve, and it was determined that, despite having what we thought was a gigantic breakfast, lunch was what was needed.  A quick stop at delicious Sarah's in Damariscotta and all was fine.  Arriving home is also bittersweet.  The unpacking is daunting.  The laundry that piles up so quickly after being away.  I always feel this rush to do it all at once because I know I won't feel like it later.  

It was a fabulous weekend away.  The weather cooperated. We had our two favorite traveling companions with us. And it once again reaffirmed that it doesn't take much for our little family to be content and happy.  I can't wait to do it again soon. 

08 June 2011

A Love Letter to the Dog.

I am dedicating this entry to our beloved Gabby, who today, turned 5 years old, but still has the nub-wagging, bum-shaking exuberance of a puppy.  Gabby came to us when she was just 14 months old. For some crazy reason, we had decided 4 cats weren't enough and we needed to add a dog to this chaotic mix.  And so sweet Gabby, this is a love letter to you~

Dearest Gabby,
You've been with us four out of your five years here on this earth, and not a day goes by that we don't think that your presence  has enriched our lives every moment of those four years. Even when you're naughty, which I'll get to later.

I remember what felt like kismet in how you were brought into our lives, and how we were allowed to 'try you out' for the weekend--Labor Day weekend of 2007.  We took you hiking with us in New Hampshire. By the end of the day, you were exhausted, sprawled out in the backseat of my car, and I knew I wouldn't be able to give you up. You were ours.

I remember your first night home with us, Terry working late, and you did NOT like your crate. So I slept with you, hugging you on the floor of our apartment. And then when T came through the door late, I knew you'd always protect me, as you barreled forward, your deep startled bark probably waking the neighbors.  

You needed some training. You were, well, a little nutty. Not in a bad way, but you are a Rottweiler after all, so even though you are a lovebug, you needed some basic obedience. You and I went for six Thursdays, where you splendidly became a quick learner and followed everything I commanded. You also mastered the Gentle Leader, which has since become our favorite training tool. (No people, it is NOT a muzzle. Sheesh) 

It wasn't long before you embedded yourself fully into our lives and hearts. You became my shadow; my backseat copilot. My buddy to take everywhere and do everything with.  Remember getting up at 6am and driving to the dog park for half an hour of play before work. I do! Suffice to say, the kit-tehs were less than thrilled by your arrival. I think they are still wondering when you're going to leave. Except Winston. You somehow managed to make him love you. (A common tailless nub bond, perhaps?) I still find it amazing that you won't walk down the hall if you know big, bad Franklin is blocking your way.

We soon discovered your love of swimming--whether a shallow pond in NH, to the icy winter waters of the ocean, or by launching yourself from a rock to get that tennis ball we threw into Acadia's "Bowl".    You love the beach. You love to run and you somehow make your 80lb self look graceful and gazelle-like in doing so. With you, we have explored so many places that turned into favorites.   Gabs, you may not remember the first time we took you camping, but we do.  

It was, of course, at our favorite serene Mt. Desert Campground in Somes Sound. You waited patiently as we set up camp, exploring every nook and cranny surrounding our site. How your nose must have been in overdrive! So many new smells!  We set up the air mattress and that night, expected you'd sleep on your LL Bean dog mat.  No sooner had we settled precariously onto the mattress, you launched yourself smack dab in the middle, nearly sending us both flying into the sides of the tent. You readjusted until YOU were comfortable and there you stayed. Of course, that's when I learned that you make *the* best blanket ever. We never get to experience that at home since the kitties own the bed.  You make everything fun.

You do have your quirks.  As much as you love water, you hate rain. Especially wet grass.  You're stubborn and willful. (But then again, so am I)  You seem to sometimes have selective hearing. You have an incontinence issue that comes with being a spayed female. Isn't being a girl tough?

You have your naughty moments.  You've eaten entire sticks of butter, wrapping too, that were meant to just be softening on the counter. If we're cooking and need to drain fat from say, ground beef, we can't leave the bowls out or you'll slurp them down, giving us a greasy smile of satisfaction while you smack your lips.  You are a carb hound. You love pizza crusts. You love finishing our DQ ice cream cups. You adore a Jordan Pond House popover.  

But you have healthy habits too. You know the moment I split open a freshly ripened avocado.  You suck down cantaloupe. Your soulful gaze doesn't waver when you're watching us eat, hoping that the even the smallest crumb hits the floor.   You've found that Gman has learned to 'feed' you from his highchair and you stick close to him at all meal times, not yet bored with soggy Cheerios or graham crackers. 

You're G's biggest fan. If we let you, you'd lick him up one side and down the other. You're gentle and sweet and maybe sometimes slightly overeager, but you're the one he gives his smiles away for free to.  And you're the one who was the recipient of his first 'Mama'. You've been so patient this last year, as our routine had to change due to this tiny, sometimes loud, being that all of a sudden demanded all of our attention.

I remember, especially during the long cold winter, you looking at me, with those warm chocolate eyes, as if to say, "Ma, I'm bored.  Why aren't we meeting Buckley and his Human at the field for some ball play?" What can I say? I couldn't bring out my 7 month old for an hour or two of dog play when it was 15 degrees out. But I understood, Gabs. I always understood.

Guess what, tho, Gabs?! It's summer! In a couple days, we'll be in our favorite place; where you will no doubt, as you have for the past four summers, reign supreme as the Belle of Bar Harbor.  You will get to swim at the Bowl, strut down Main Street, splash in the fountains, and be admired by all.  And then it will officially be summer, and the Gman will be able to toddle around, while we resume our play dates for you and your buds. I promise.

So happy birthday, sweet girl.  And here's wishing we have at least 5 more happy years with you ahead of us.  We love you.