Thanksgiving 2016

Sooo… happy Christmas Eve. I thought it would be a good day to get this Thanksgiving post done! :)

We were in Franklin for Thanksgiving and this year the family went to the dogs! We had five adults, two kids, and four dogs. It was crazy and fun!

All lined up and ready for a walk!

The usual fare for Thanksgiving. I forget what it was, but I’m sure it was delicious. :)

Who wants some cheese?!? Little beggars.

Lex made bread with me. It was awesome. He made me promise not to post pictures on Facebook, but he said one picture on the blog would be ok.

Eve and her doggies.

I put all the photos in a Google album for your viewing pleasure. :)

Now, I have some Santa duties to fulfill. Merry Christmas y’all!

A Doggie Weekend

This is a bit overdue, but I have to write it before we see the family up here tomorrow!  Hahaha.  Gotta keep things in order.  :)

Last week I took Arlo and the kids to Franklin and we had a super fun time!  Rosy was there with her two dogs and my parents have a new puppy too, so it was a puppy filled visit!  They all got along so great.  I was amazed and thrilled.

I’ll put a few pics here, but I put all of them online here.

We found an awesome playground along the way!

Bodhi had to get his share of food, despite all the big dogs!

Eddie thinks he’s a lap dog!

Lex loves his puppies.

Champagne mojitos all around!

Girls day out! Shopping, lunch, and pedicures. So fun! Eve LOVED her first pedi! :)

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Oh yea, we also celebrated Rosy getting her PhD and having a birthday!  It was a big week for Rosy.  I’m so glad we were able to be there to celebrate her!

Alan pointed out the other day that vacations in Franklin are really my most relaxing vacations because they take very little logistics.  Once we get there someone else walks my dog early in the morning (thanks Dad!) and pays attention to the kids early in the morning (thanks Mom!) and chats with me all night long (thanks Rosy!) and I can relax and just be.  It’s great.

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We found the Lost River!

We took a great day trip to the White Mountains with Rosy today.  We explored the Lost River and Gorge, then we got lunch, then headed up to the Basin.  We were going to swim, but the water was sooooooo cold!  Fresh mountain water!

At the Lost River we started by going down, down, down.

Then we went back up!

Eve asked me to take her picture. Unfortunately you can’t really see the waterfall behind her.

So beautiful!

Sistahs!

Rosy took a picture of me and Alan and the kids up in that bridge. Maybe she’ll share it with us. 😀

We also went crawling through caves and rock formations. It was so much fun!!

It’s hard to take pictures in dark caves!

Then we climbed all the way up to the tip top for an amazing view!

The famous Lemon Squeeze! If you don’t fit through that wooden frame, you won’t fit through the squeeze!

Duck!

Alan bravely went through the Lemon Squeeze with the kids!

It was all smiles all day!

We took a break in the tree house. Do you see the baby bear behind Eve?

There’s another one! There were adorable carved bears all around the tree house.

After lunch we went over to The Basin.  There are so many amazing things to see in the White Mountains.

A waterfall near the basin.

The water was CHILLY!!

Chilly, but beautiful.

They went in anyway!

To round out the day we stopped for ice cream.  When you have lunch at 3pm, ice cream for dinner is perfect!

Eve sat by herself on the bench to eat ice cream and read her book.

A great day was had by all! (except the poor woman who broke her ankle at the Basin and had to wait nearly an hour for the rescue squad to get to her!)  We saw a few other things up that way that looked interesting, so we all agreed another day trip would be in order.

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A quick trip to the country

I am so woefully behind on blog posts that I brought my laptop along to Franklin, thinking that without a house full of chores calling my name, maybe I’d have more time (and motivation!) to blog! I even have a topic list! :)

Right now, however, I am sitting on the front porch, with my feet propped up on a milk can, under the beautiful glow of the full moon, waiting for Mema, Tom, and Greg to get here. The kids are upstairs, maybe asleep or maybe still chatting sweetly with one another. I figured I’d do a quick post about the day, then shut down for the evening.

We decided to take a quick trip to Franklin this week, since Greg will be in town and we haven’t been to the country in awhile. Alan had meetings he couldn’t miss, so I took advantage of the extra space and decided to try Arlo on his first long car trip with us. We packed all our stuff in the front seat and put Arlo and his stuff in the back. It worked out really well!!

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We got Arlo all snugged up in the back of the car. I think it’s a pretty nice way to ride. I think Eve wanted to ride back there too. :)

He does not like the car and has trouble settling down. He usually just shakes and pants so hard he gets drool all over the car. I gave him a mild sedative in the hopes of making his trip less stressful. He still had some trouble settling down, but the panting was much gentler and he was able to relax off and on. I think the fact that each time we stopped he easily got back in the car again is a good sign that it wasn’t too awful. As soon as I opened a door he’d jump right in.

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Arlo prefers to drive!

Rosy met us when we got there and I enjoyed my big kids heading upstairs to play while Rosy and I sat on the porch, chatting and overseeing doggie interactions. The puppies were not immediately friends, but they’ll come around!

We took a walk to the pond, of course, because that’s what we do around here. I let go of Arlo’s long lead and he ran like a stallion around the pond. He loved it! Everyone had fun until Lex wrapped Arlo’s lead around his leg (why?!?!?) and got pulled right off his feet!  He fell flat on his back, bumpted his head, and got the wind knocked out of him.  The fun was kind of over after that.  He’s fine fortunately, but we headed home.

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One of many ponds around here.

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Arlo isn’t interested in ponds any more than he’s interested in rivers. He is not a water dog.

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The dogs were not fast friends (Arlo having just suffered a five hour car ride and the effects of minor sedation just wearing off), but after a little time they warmed up to each other… a bit.  (Eddie’s look says, “Really?! Another dog?!”)

I got the kids in bad late, as usual on the first night, and listened to them talk and giggle for a long time. Later I went out to walk the dog and was awed by the full moon and fireflies. I couldn’t resist getting the kids up (they weren’t sleeping anyway!) and invited them out for a moon light walk. It was perfect.

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The full moon tonight is so beautiful. I couldn’t resist taking the kids out for a moon-lit walk.

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Pointing at fireflies. It’s hard to take pictures in the dark!

Eve picked daisies and we discussed fireflies and it was a perfect outing. They eventually fell asleep, late, but that’s ok. We have no plans tomorrow. :)

A little getaway

I am so far behind on blogging that I’ve started a list of things to blog about! I have a few minutes right now so here is a quick one.

Last weekend Alan and I took a long overdue weekend getaway! Friday night we drove to Burlington for a sweet, grownup weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Did I even blog about that?! I’ve been slacking. We celebrated 16 years last week! That’s a long time! Not as long as the 36 that my parents celebrated though. :)

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We had to pull over for this beautiful sunset! So many colors!

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We used to take us-pictures everywhere we went. That was before we had cute kids to take pictures of instead. :)

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This is the Winooski Dam… I think.

We got in really late so we had a fantastic dinner and the hotel bar and then passed out in bed, watching the TV shows that we wanted to watch instead of the usual Teen Titans Go! I think we watched Friends. :) Arguably about the same level of quality as TTG!

The next morning we took a long walk along Lake Champlain. It was a perfect day and the lake is just beautiful!

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Alan at the end of a long, narrow, rocky pier we walked out.

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I’m so pretty. :)

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Burlington is a great city and so pretty.

After our walk we went back to the hotel for showers, then headed up to the Church Street area. We had lunch at the Vermont Pub & Brewery, on the deck, overlooking a hopping farmers market in City Hall Park. After lunch we wandered around the market, then up a few blocks to wander around Church Street. We bought souvenirs for ourselves and others and checked out each restaurant as we passed, looking for a good dinner option.

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Hahaha… oh, Vermont!

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This t-shirt made us laugh on our anniversary trip. :)

We ended up back at the hotel for a quick rest, then off to the Vermont Comedy Club to see some stand-up comedy. It was so funny and so much fun! I’ve seen comedians before, but always in an auditorium, never (that I can remember) in a comedy club with food and drinks. We had a blast.

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Posing with photos. I think we should have swapped sides. My Colbert impression needs work.

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At the Vermont Comedy Club, waiting for the show to start.

The next day we woke to this ugliness, which was just fine because it was time to head home anyway!

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Not a beautiful day!

I’m so happy we had a beautiful night and an perfect day for wandering around the great city of Burlington. We both agreed we should go back again soon.

A visit with friends

We went down to MA to visit with the Js and kids. So much fun. It was just like old times, except we had four kids tagging along! :) We left after work on Friday and met them at the mall for dinner. We all used to live in that area, so it was fun to revisit our old stomping ground. A lot has changed, of course, and there are so many more buildings now!

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Dinner at the mall with ice cream cupcakes for dessert. Yum!

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Can you see Boston? The hotel advertised this as a “skyline view of the big city” which made us laugh because this picture is way zoomed in and you can still barely see it. :)

Saturday morning we got breakfast at Panera Bread (kid table and grown up table and everyone was happy), then headed to Gloucester to check out the Atlantic. Julie used to work in that area and took her kids there when they were younger, but it was our first time.

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Can you tell which two kids are jaded of me taking pictures of them! :)

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Lovin’ the Atlantic in Gloucester, MA.

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Throwing rocks into tide pools.

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Eve found a little cave and ASKED me to take her picture!! Whoo hoo! Look at that beautiful smile! : )

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We went pretty far down the rocky shore.

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I tried so many times for a nice picture of the four kids together…

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This is the best I got. I think they are all looking at Julie’s camera though. Oh well!

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Eve found these shells on the rocks. The crab shell still has eyes in it! Eek! In the car the eyes fell out and now they are just resting in the shell in a bowl on our table.

When they were tired of the rocks we drove to a nearby state park that had a big playground, a sandy beach, and even more rocks.

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See-saw logistics. Not many playgrounds have these any more.

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These two work well together…

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These two didn’t work so well, even though they had a long discussion about how best to make it work. :)

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A different beach in Gloucester. Julie knows all the good places to go.

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Some quiet time for my boys… but paparazzi mom couldn’t resist!

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Kate LOVED Lex and wanted to hold his hand everywhere we went. Lex was very sweet and played so nicely with her. (She loved him when we visited last summer too.)

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These two, griping about some injustice done to them. I think maybe they didn’t get to play on the rocks long enough or something. I want to say “a peek at what’s to come,” but really I think we’re already there!

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This picture cracks me up! I love Molly’s face. They were commiserating about something, but when I started to take pictures you can see Molly peeking at Eve to see what to do. I can just imagine her thinking, “Should we smile for the camera? Are we still angry?” After a few snaps Eve ducked out of the way so I couldn’t catch her laughing! LOL!

Around lunch time we debated having lunch in Gloucester or heading to Kimball’s for ice cream. Ice cream for lunch?! Guess what won.

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Ice cream!!

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Everybody loves Kimball’s!

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Silly girls.

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Bumper boats! Eve and Lex were the only two out there and they loved it!

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Lex was enjoying cruising around, but Eve was out for destruction!

Lex and Molly and Alan played a round of mini-golf while the rest of us just hung out.

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Kate and Jim, and the old fashioned Kimball Farm ice cream truck.

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Eve’s first pony ride (I think). She’ll get a lot more actual riding this summer at camp.

After Kimball’s we headed to a playground to let the kids run free while the adults discussed dinner plans. That’s vacation, right, one meal plan to the next! :)

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We stopped at a very cool wooden playground that Julie used to take her kids to when they still lived in MA. The kids are all bigger now, but everyone still loved it.

We ended up at the Olive Garden. Sooo yummy! They gave us a big table tucked into a nook, away from the rest of the people enjoying their meals in peace. I think it was the special kid area. It was perfect!

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After dinner I tried one more time to get a good picture of the four kids. I promised Eve that if she gave me a good smile then I’d let her take a picture of the four grown-ups. Kate is excellent at posing for the camera, and Molly tried to help Eve come up with a good smile. :)

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Hahaha… I took many pictures, but this is the best I got. They only got sillier from here! We are clearly past the easy, photogenic baby stage!

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Apparently the grown-ups can’t do any better than the kids! Oh well! Maybe we’re just a bunch of funny looking people. Or maybe we were all just too happy and silly to make calm, posed faces.  :)

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These two had a hard time parting. They kept running back to each other for just one more good-bye.

It was just a short visit, but we packed a lot in and it’s so wonderful how easily you fall into step with old friends. I wish we could manage more than once a year, but maybe at this season of life we should be grateful for whatever visits we can manage. I hope the kids continue to be friends as they grow up. <3

New York City!!

Last Thursday night Alan told me that he may have to go to Melville, LI for a few days and maybe we could come along and spend a few days in the city. Friday morning he told me he definitely has to go and, oh, by the way, he felt terribly sick and stayed home for the day. I spent a flurried day Friday deciding if we wanted to go or not, what we would do there, what we would do with the dog and cat, and what happens if he’s not feeling better by Monday! Talk about a lot of mental energy expended, but in the end it was totally worth it!

I very quickly compiled a list of kennels and dog sitters, and just as quickly discovered that everyone is booked up due to it being school vacation week. D’oh! So then I found friends who were willing to take Arlo instead, and our neighbor kids agreed to check in on Daisy. I scoured the Internet for ideas of things to do with kids in NYC, downloaded subway map apps, figured out the LIRR schedule and how we could get ourselves into and around the city. All the while, gently and kindly asking Alan, “how are you feeling? let me know if I should cancel travel plans.”

Sunday afternoon he decided he was feeling up to the trip, so we picked up a few pizzas and brought Arlo over to yet another home. The poor dog must be so confused! These people live in the country (not like us big-city dwellers!) and had lots of room for him to play. They also have two TINY dogs, one of which is also named Arlo. :) Just the week before we had joked about them having the same name, but it didn’t matter because they would probably never meet, then here were were, introducing the Arlos.

Monday morning we packed up the car, stopped at CVS for medicine and neck pillows (Eve has been wanting one for a long time now!), then headed south.

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Happy travelers

When we got to the hotel we did our typical hotel stuff, swimming and cartoons! We went out for dinner to what I thought would be a nice sit-down Italian place (based on their lovely website), but which ended up being a fast-food pizza joint. The food was good, but the portions were insane! Lex and I both ordered personal pizzas and got 16″ pies! I told the waitress that we wanted personal pizzas and she said, yes, that was their personal pizza. Alan ordered chicken parm and got two huge pieces of chicken. Needless to say we had dinner for the next few nights!

The next morning we went out for breakfast (no free breakfast at the hotel), then dropped Alan off, then headed for the Long Island Railroad. I had zero interest in driving in the city, so the LIRR seemed like the best option. Also, kids love trains.

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Waiting for the LIRR

When we got to the city it was a bit drizzly and chilly, but not too bad. The kids were amazed with the size of everything and with the sheer number of people. I put the fear of God in them at the train station, emphasizing the importance of staying with me and NOT wandering off! They did amazingly well both days!

We walked from Penn Station over to the Empire State building, got a snack in the lobby Starbucks, then checked out the gorgeous lobby for awhile. Lex wanted to go right to the top, but I convinced him that it wouldn’t be much fun on a cold, rainy day. From there we walked up to the New York Public Library to check out the infamous lions. We had a great time at the library, mostly just trying to find the books. Seriously! We found books encased in glass, we found rooms full of books with the doors locked shut (but we could peek at them through the window!), and finally we had to ask at an information stand, “Where are all the books?!” The guy told us about a huge underground store of books under Bryant Park. “Cool!” we said, “how do we get there?!” Turns out the public is not allowed in there. We were laughing so hard! Lex said, “But where are the books we can read?!” and the nice man pointed us to the children’s reading room. Guess what we did once we got there?

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“The Big Nate section is as long as my arm!!” said a very excited boy!

After awhile I convinced the kids to stop reading so we could continue exploring the city. We headed over to Times Square and the M&M store. Times Square is such an amazing place. So many billboards, so much to see, so much to hear. It’s all overwhelming and cool and crazy and surreal. We were greeted by a wiff of chocolate as we entered the M&M store and the kids were in heaven. We browsed there for awhile, spent nearly $100 on candy, then headed to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for lunch. I’ve heard about this place and I knew they had singing waiters, but when we walked in and saw a guy standing on the counter telling jokes, I had to double check with the hostess that it was kid-approprate! :) She laughed and said yes, very much so. We got a table and discovered that not only did the wait staff sing, but someone was singing or MC-ing almost constantly and the sound system was very loud! I asked the kids a few times if they wanted to find somewhere quieter, but they said no and ended up loving it! We even stayed two songs longer than necessary because the kids were having so much fun!

From there we took the Metro (finally!) to Central Park. Actually, on the way to the metro we saw the Hershey Store and had to stop in there too. Now carrying well over $100 in candy, we headed to Central Park. I was planning to take them to the zoo, but by the time we got there they were slowing down and not interested in the zoo, so instead we wandered around Central Park for awhile, checking out the birds and the rocks and the trees. I love the juxtaposition of the beautiful green park with the big city buildings in the background. By this time the sky had cleared and the sun came out, and it turned into a beautiful day!

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Central Park. So beautiful!

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Fun in the sun!

The kids were tired, but Lex really wanted to go back to the library and finish the book he had started. My cell phone was about dead, so I thought maybe I could charge up at the library and see where the day took us from there. We found the books much quicker this time, but didn’t find any power, so after Lex finished his book and Eve announced herself too tired to read, we headed home. Metro -> LIRR -> Parking lot (where I discovered a parking ticket for parking without a permit!) -> hotel. Back at the hotel I fed them reheated pizza while they zoned out into the TV! Alan got back from work around 8:30 (they went out for dinner) and we all passed out by 9pm.

The next morning Alan agreed to drop us off at the train station (I had done some research on parking and don’t even get me started!) so we stopped at an awesome bagel place for breakfast take-out and headed for the LIRR. We all ate bagels on the train (with apologies to the poor people sitting facing us!) and discussed what to do in the city. It was beautiful and sunny, but still a bit chilly with morning air. We decided to start at Rockefeller Center (where the Lego store is) and go from there. It’s amazing how many different levels there are to the city! You see all the tall buildings, but there are also whole underground areas with stores and hallways and you can move from building to building and never really know where you are, then the subways below that, of course! We hung out in the underground Rockefeller Plaza (I’m sure there’s a name for that underground mall but I don’t know what it is), then decided it would be a good time to go up to the top! We got tickets, admired the amazing chandelier, appreciated the lack of crowds at 9:30 in the morning, and made our way to the Top of the Rock! It is so, so, so amazing up there! The views are breathtaking and just the immensity of the city is awe inspiring. Eve likes to pretend that she’s afraid of heights and fussed about going up, but when she got there she couldn’t get enough of it. She used up a bunch of quarters in the view-finders and made friends with the gift shop attendant, and kept going back to look at the view one more time. It was outstanding!

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On top of the world!

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Such an amazing view!

Back down and underground again, we wandered around looking for a post office and an exit. When we made it to the outside we found ourselves right in front of the Lego Store! Yippee, said Lex! I, however, had had enough of being indoors for awhile and insisted we wander around the exterior of Rockefeller Plaza for awhile, enjoying the flowers and fountains and weird swimming pool artwork and sunshine! They obliged for a bit, but soon enough we were in that Lego store, drooling over all the Legos you could imagine!

When I finally got them out of there we headed back towards Times Square, stopping to check out fountains and other public artwork along the way. It was lunch time, so we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square (definitely not a budget trip!) for lunch. The wait was almost an hour from when we got there to when we got food, but there’s so much to see that the time flew by! I felt a little guilty eating at such a pricey (and just ok food) place, but when the check came and I realized that we probably eat the cheapest things on the menu, I felt less bad.

After lunch we got on the red line and headed to the end, Battery Park! I was excited to show the kids the Statue of Liberty and thought maybe we could do a harbor cruise or the Staten Island Ferry for a closer look, but they had no interest in either. In fact, they really had no interest in the Statue of Liberty at all. They told me they already saw it (which is true, but look how little they were!) and that was enough. Next time we go I should take them to Ellis Island to impress upon them the history of it all. Or not. We’ll see. Instead we played at the playground there, played with a cool musical thing, fussed at mom a bit, then played at the playground some more. Good times.

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Monkeys on the playground at Battery Park. Statue of Liberty? Meh. Playground? Woohoo!

We decided to walk up through the financial district to a different playground that I had heard was pretty cool. I forget where I heard that, maybe random blogs or something, but we made the walk and discovered it wasn’t really very cool at all. Really my kids were just a little old for it and the day had turned chilly and we had turned tired. We got Starbucks along they way, ate snacks at the playground, played for a bit, then headed back to the metro for our final trip home. By this time, our fourth trip on the LIRR, the novelty of the train had worn off (though not the novelty of the arrival of the train!) and the kids were noses down in their devices for the whole trip home. I was ok with that. I drained the last of my cell phone battery coordinating pick-up with Alan and checking Instagram (a worthy use of battery, right?!) and we all relaxed for the ride home. Alan picked us up at the station and we enjoyed another evening of cartoons on the TV. Alan ate leftover chicken for dinner, and we both had room service (a super yummy veggie burger with arugula, avo, lettuce, tomato, and aoli sauce on an chiabatta roll for me and shrimp cocktail for him). The kids ate the remaining pizza in their TV stupor.

The next day, Thursday, we returned to the yummy bagel place for breakfast, then headed home! Another smooth drive. Another great vacation. These kiddos are awesome travellers!!

I started adding “just a few” photos here and ended up with nearly 50, so I thought it best to post them all to a web album and try to limit the number in the post.  Click here for LOTS of pictures.  I added captions to many of them, but you might have to click the little “i” icon to see it.  I hate the new Googles Photos thing.  I wish they would bring back Picasa.  That was pretty much perfect.

Anyway, not to end on a complaining note!  I am so amazingly happy that this trip all worked out.  That Alan’s company is so close to the city and so OK with family coming along.  That Alan got better (enough) to do the trip.   That Alan wanted his crazy family along instead of enjoying some quiet hotel time to himself.  That our friends were willing to take Arlo for almost a week on super short notice.  Everything seemed to fall in to place and I am so very happy that I got to introduce the kiddos to the great big city.  They both loved it, but also agree that we are happy living in Vermont.  :)

Google made a video for me with some of the photos.  You can watch it too, if you want.

Back to the Ocean

We have a lovely Maine tradition going on for the past few years. This year we decided to kick it up a notch and stay the night. Truthfully I think about it every year, but this is the first year I’ve gotten my act together enough to book a hotel room. :) It wasn’t the best hotel (motel, really) but we had fun.

I was hoping to head up first thing Saturday morning, but Alan had his company picnic that morning we we did that first. Delicious food, good company, and a little swingset mediation. Good times all around.

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She “meditated” like this for six minutes. I know because she insisted I time her. It was the longest stretch of quiet from her in ages. :)

After that we headed to the ocean!! We had a yummy meal at Inn on the Blues and then put our toes in the ocean. It was a beautiful night!

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Such a beautiful night.

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Boogie boarding past bedtime.

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I like this picture. :) Handsome hubby. Kids playing in the background. Sweetness.

The next morning we headed to breakfast at the Lobster Cove to take advantage of our “free breakfast” as advertised by the hotel. Turns out it was “free” as long as you don’t eat more than $6 worth. :)

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Waiting for breakfast.

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Pre-breakfast selfie.

Then off to the beach to set up camp.

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The beach was CROWDED by 10am when we got there!

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Luckily we found a little place to snug in our fancy new red “easy-up” tent. It was an excellent addition the beach gear!

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This one had chocolate pancakes and pancake syrup for breakfast. Can ya tell!?

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This one did too!

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Sand beard!

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Boogie boarding!  The water was so cold it was painful.  It literally brought tears to my eyes and each wave crashing in felt like torture.  The kids loved it!

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I love his face. :)

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Beach babe!

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Handsome beach boys.

When were were done at the beach we headed for ice cream and taffy. It’s important to get good and sugared up before a long trip home.

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Can’t do a Maine trip without checking out the taffy shop.

Next summer maybe we’ll try for two nights! :) Good times at the Atlantic!

Niagara Falls!

This weekend we took an awesome trip to Niagara Falls! I have been planning it for awhile, and thinking about it for even longer! We got passports for everyone and the kids are now international travelers!

We left bright and early Friday morning, preparing for the long drive. The map said 7hr15m but it took us closer to nine hours! I lost track of how many times we stopped! But we made it, eventually. :)

A little rock throwing break.  Things got a bit tense in the car so we took a break to walk around and get some space.  The kids immediately found some rocks and a little pond and went to town! :)

A little rock throwing break. Things got a bit tense in the car so we took a break to walk around and get some space. The kids immediately found some rocks and a little pond and went to town! :)

Instead of getting three hotel rooms, I rented a sweet little house through HomeAway. My first time doing such a thing, but it went really well!

The adorable little house we rented.   It was so much better than a hotel, especially when you're traveling with seven people!

The adorable little house we rented. It was so much better than a hotel, especially when you’re traveling with seven people! Lex declared it an excellent place to play hide and seek. :)

Friday was nice and sunny, but the forecast was rain, rain, rain for the weekend, so we hurried down to the falls Friday night to get our first glimpse.

We made it to the falls!

We made it to the falls!

This made the long drive worth it!

This made the long drive worth it!

The Canadian Falls

The Canadian Falls

Feel the power!

Feel the power!

Saturday morning we woke to rain, as expected. We gathered up the umbrellas and went out anyway. The plan for the day was the Butterfly Conservatory and the Floral Showhouse, both indoors.

These two make my heart happy, even in the rain.

These two make my heart happy, even in the rain.

The Butterfly Conservatory was very cool, full of beautiful butterflies (of course) and plants. The kids each had cameras and took lots of pictures. It was a beautiful place to visit.

Eve, standing very still hoping a butterfly will land on her. :)

Eve, standing very still hoping a butterfly will land on her. :)

Lots of bright colors to attract the butterflies.

Lots of bright colors to attract the butterflies.

Eve is big into selfies these days.  She wanted to take pictures with everyone so she could make herself an album. :)

Eve is big into selfies these days. She wanted to take pictures with everyone so she could make herself an album. :)

This little guy hitched a ride on Mema's shoulder as she wandered around.

This little guy hitched a ride on Mema’s shoulder as she wandered around.

Alan made a new friend at the Butterfly Conservatory.  It stayed on his ear for a really long time and had to be physically encouraged to fly away before we left the area.

Alan made a new friend at the Butterfly Conservatory. It stayed on his ear for a really long time and had to be physically encouraged to fly away before we left the area.

After we left the Butterfly Conservatory we took advantage of our bus passes and took the WeGo bus to the Floral Showhouse. Lex was excited to ride the bus. Despite the downpour, we huddled under our umbrellas and waited for the bus. It was fun for awhile. :)

Although the Floral Showhouse was technically indoors, it was still quite rainy in there.  I'm not sure if parts of the roof were just screens, or if it was just super damp for the plants or what.

Although the Floral Showhouse was technically indoors, it was still quite rainy in there. I’m not sure if parts of the roof were just screens, or if it was just super damp for the plants or what.

Rocking out at the Floral Showhouse.  It wasn't a terribly exciting place so the kids made their own fun.

Rocking out at the Floral Showhouse. It wasn’t a terribly exciting place so the kids made their own fun.

There was a whole mini-village outside the Floral Showhouse.  It would have been cool to explore, on a less rainy day.

There was a whole mini-village outside the Floral Showhouse. It would have been cool to explore, on a less rainy day.

Waiting for the bus, in the rain.

Waiting for the bus, in the rain.

Saturday was actually Mom’s birthday and we talked about going out to a fancy restaurant for dinner, but by the time we got home we were all wet and cold so instead of going back out to a fancy dinner we instead bundled in warm clothes and ate enchiladas at home.

The original plan was to do the Journey Behind the Falls adventure and the Hornblower Cruise on Sunday, but since the weather as so awful we decided to reschedule those for Monday and just kick back and relax on Sunday. It took a little running around (for me and Rose) to get it all set, but it was totally worth it!

That day Rosy and I decided to buy matching "on sale" fleecies and go hang at the falls in the rain.  Good times.

That day Rosy and I decided to buy matching “on sale” fleecies and go hang at the falls in the rain. Good times.

Sunday afternoon cleared up a bit (well, the rain stopped anyway), so we went for the Aero Car trip across the whirlpools.

You cross the US/Canada border four times on this trip in the Aero Car.

You cross the US/Canada border four times on this trip in the Aero Car.

Mema and Grandpa Tom, enjoying the view!  Not too scary.

Mema and Grandpa Tom, enjoying the view! Not too scary.

Dad wanted to go on the white white jet boat seen here.  We stuck to the arial view from the Aero Car instead.  :)

Dad wanted to go on the white white jet boat seen here. We stuck to the arial view from the Aero Car instead. :)

Then we went up to the Skylon Tower! I originally thought it would be fun to have dinner up there, but the prices were higher than the tower so I reconsidered that idea! Instead we just went up to the viewing deck and hung out. Great views of the whole Niagara area. I imagine the views would be even better if it weren’t so overcast!

Up in the Skylon Tower.

Up in the Skylon Tower.

The Horseshoe Falls as seen from the Skylon Tower.

The Horseshoe Falls as seen from the Skylon Tower.

Monday we woke to blue skies and sunshine. Excellent! We packed up and “checked out” of our house and headed for the Journey Behind the Falls.

Can you see where the mist from the falls mixes with the clouds in the sky?  So cool.

Can you see where the mist from the falls mixes with the clouds in the sky? So cool.

This place is so awesome.

This place is so awesome.

Lex at the falls.

Lex at the falls.

International travelers!

International travelers!

The Horseshoe falls, crashing down.

The Horseshoe falls, crashing down.

Journey Behind the Falls.  Up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls.

Journey Behind the Falls. Up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls.

Then we grabbed some ice cream and headed over to the Hornblower Cruise. I’m so glad we got at least one day of sunshine. It was beautiful.

Foggy family.  My camera was misty from the Journey Behind the Falls.

Foggy family. My camera was misty from the Journey Behind the Falls.

The American Falls

The American Falls

I purchased Adventure Passes online before our trip so we were able to skip the ticket lines and head straight to the boat!

Waiting to board the Hornblower Cruise under the falls.

Waiting to board the Hornblower Cruise under the falls.

The Canadian Falls, from the Hornblower Cruise.

The Canadian Falls, from the Hornblower Cruise.

The American Falls, from the Hornblower Cruise.

The American Falls, from the Hornblower Cruise.

After our cruise we parted ways with the rest of the family. They headed home and we headed to Coco’s for lunch! Then we crossed back into the USA and drove an hour and a half to visit Jim and Julie! The kids are all so big now, but they still hit it off like old friends. :)

I ask the girls if I can take a picture and this is what they give me.  Pure silliness.

I ask the girls if I can take a picture and this is what they give me. Pure silliness.

We took a drive over to Jim’s brother’s farm to visit the baby animals, then stopped at Wegmans for dinner (love that store!), then headed home for games and silliness.

Lots of baby piggies.

Lots of baby piggies.

Playing with the chickens.  Lex decided they feel soft, but weird.

Playing with the chickens. Lex decided they feel soft, but weird.

Games with the Kirkwoods are always the best.

Games with the Kirkwoods are always the best.

Sweet girls cuddling before bedtime.

Sweet girls cuddling before bedtime.

Silly goodbyes.  I'm so glad that they still like each other and get along after so much time.  I wish we were all a little closer!

Silly goodbyes. I’m so glad that they still like each other and get along after so much time. I wish we were all a little closer!

Tuesday morning, bright and early, we headed home. The return trip was a little bit faster thanks to an excellent audio book and a huge rain cloud that accompanied us most of the way.

The kids are already asking when we can go back. :)

If you care to see all of the 500+ pictures I took, feel free to check out the Google album. I can’t figure out how to add captions. I swear Google makes this photo thing harder and harder every time I try to use it. If you’re not sharing with the world on Google+ they don’t want anything to do with you. Sigh.