Happy Birthday TWO you!

Little Miss Cleaver is officially two! And as timing would have it, her birthday fell on Maine Maple Sunday - so it was a BIG day for a big little girl.

We kicked things off with cards and presents from Mom and Dad in the morning. She decided to open the books first, with Nothing Like A Puffin eliciting a demand for Daddy to "Read it." But as great as books are,  it's hard to say what was the bigger hit, her new tool box, or the new playhouse.

Follow my trend of Pinterest-inspired projects, this playhouse tutorial worked out pretty well. Two extra-large moving boxes from U-Haul, one roll of colored duck tape and about 40 minutes of cutting and taping, produced what can only be called a new favorite hangout. I wanted it to be big enough for her to stand up in and this just barely made it. It's a tight squeeze when I'm asked to go in, but it's a perfect fit for her.

As we have for the past few years, we drove up to Sebago for a pancake breakfast at the town hall and then a quick jaunt to Grandpa Joe's Sugar Shack for the warm syrup on ice cream and sugaring demonstrations. It's always cold on Maine Maple Sunday, but this year it was really cold, so we spent most of our time huddling by the evaporator. And since it hasn't really warmed up yet, there wasn't much sap to boil, and we picked up the last pint of syrup they had (sorry everyone else!).

If we weren't sugar-ed and present-ed out from the morning, we had applesauce cake with maple buttercream frosting and more presents with Memere after naptime. LMC's uncle made the stuffed monkey, which is entirely hand-stitched and amazing.

I'm a sucker for traditions and in moments like these, those traditions really bring to the forefront how much LMC has grown and changed since last year and how much I've grown and changed over the many years I've been visiting sugar shacks and eating pancakes. 

When my mother moved out of her house a few years ago, my brother, at my request, tossed 2 milk crates of my journals and sent about 8 years of my scrapbooks from my middle and high school years. I shelved the scrapbooks and have only recently been looking at 1998 a lot, because LMC likes the Winnie the Pooh cover.But looking back at that year, i doubt that girl would have any inkling who and where she'd be now and how she'd be so different in some ways and how very much the same in others. 

With LMC its such a fascinating process as a parent to watch her grow and become more independent and opinionated and more herself and to wonder, which of these things will stick and what will change? Will she always love fixing things or will it go away along with the preference for pink socks? Or will the pink socks be a signature style? I can only hope that as a parent, I give her the room and support to explore and find out for herself.

I've packed away the birthday crown for another year, but I look forward to seeing who LMC will be when she wears it again.




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Roadtrip: Maine Maple Sunday 2010

Pretty Pints all in a Row

Every year, the 4th Sunday in March is celebrated state-wide as Maine Maple Sunday. Which is yet another reason to love Maine. Last year, Mr. Cleaver and I visited Merryfield farm in Gorham. This year we cast our syrup-seeking net a bit wider and drove out to Sebago to get our sap and sugar fix. And boy did we ever!

Town Hall

We started off our morning at the Sebago Town Hall for a tasty pancake breakfast benefiting the local fire department. The fire chief himself served Mr. Cleaver his coffee. The hall was packed to the gills with locals, with a few sundry outsides like ourselves.

Pancake Breakfast

No Mrs. Butterworth here!

After we'd filled our bellies we drove about five minutes up the road to Greene Maple Farm  - where six generations have been turning sap into syrup.

Generations of Syrup Makers

Outside the Greene sugar shack I overheard the following exchange:

It's always cold on Maple Sunday!

Teenage boy in shorts: "It's cold"

His sister: "It's always cold on Maple Sunday!"

And indeed it was chilly, but it's nice in the sugar shacks next to the evaporators: )

Syrup Makers

At Greene's we sampled warm maple syrup over homemade vanilla ice cream and picked up a pint to take home.

Maine Maple Syrup sold Here

Sap Taps

A pile of tree taps.

Next we stopped at Grandpa Joe's Sugar House over the line in Baldwin., where the Murch's have been in residence since 1916 and making maple syrup since the 1980s.

Buying goodies

They had a plethora of goodies at Grandpa Joe's and we came out with some more samples, some maple sugar candy, and, Mr. Cleaver's favorite, maple cotton candy.

Making Maple Cotton Candy

Though some strange weather patterns (mostly a string of unseasonably warm days) has significantly cut back on the sap run this year, everyone was proud to demonstrate their craft. And visitors were glad to stand by the fire, which runs around 214°F/101°C.

The syrup making-inferno!

There may be no more beautiful sight than the stea rising from a Maine sugar house on a cold spring morning.


I can't wait until next year, but at least I got syrup to tide me over :)

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