Home again, home again

We are home again. Back in the snowy north. I want to complain, but really can’t as the weather is warm (ish – 38°) and sunny today. Everything in Florida was green and there were lots of fountains. I liked that. The cars were all shiny and not covered in salt. Sigh. Anyway, we are back now.

I’m taking the pictures off the camera now. Turns out we took 893 photos!! Yesterday Eve and I were guessing at how many photos there were. I guessed 400 and she guessed a million. We were both off by a lot! I’m going to post vacation updates one day at a time. Trying to do the whole week in one blog post would take forever to read and even longer to write!

I think the kids have been suffering from craft withdrawl during vacation. They’ve spent all day today with the paper and scissors and tape everywhere. Rummaging through the recycling bins, lots of glue and string. Crafty kids getting caught up on crafty things.

crafty kids

Crafty kids hard at work.

Lex also had many inspirations for train layouts while on vacation. On the plane ride home he drew up diagrams and first thing this morning he was at work building train tracks and stations. Busy, busy.

trains p1

The cardboard box is Sea Side Sheds with tracks going up to the top. From the top the trains have the option of going on the trampoline (closer track, near the blue box) or the water slide (further track).

trains p2

More train tracks. I’ll have to ask him about the black boxes by the couch.

Happy Friday. More to come later!

A mini vacation in the White Mountains (part 2)

Subtitle: Hullo Thomas!

Messy kitchen, piles of laundry, and full grocery bags be damned, I’m going to use the remaining 45 minutes of quiet time to post this blog! Sometimes I think I should have named this blog “The Quiet Time Blogger.”

Sooo… after a fun and exhausting day at Santa’s Village we moseyed on down the road (for about two miles) to a quaint little bed and breakfast. Actually it was a pretty big old house. The kids took about 2.5 seconds to find the toy room with lots of blocks and puzzles and books and VHS cassettes from the 80s. When Alan wondered aloud if he would have to rewind the movie before watching it we all looked at him funny :) We had pizza and pb&j for dinner and everyone passed out by 8:30pm, no showers or bathes, just straight to bed. Lex fell out of bed once, face first onto a hardwood floor. The loud thump woke me right up but he slept right through it. An hour later Eve sat up in bed screaming for mommy, over and over. Alan and I both verbally reassured her while I picked my way around a crowded room and over a row of pillows on the floor (recently placed around Lex’s bed). When I got to her (I’m sure it was less than a minute but it felt like forever!) she was basically screaming in her sleep. I wrapped her up in my arms and laid her down and she kept on sleeping. Neither kid remembers that either.

We woke up a 6am the next morning feeling refreshed (only a little sarcasm there) and ready for another busy day. The kids were thrilled to eat Froot Loops for breakfast and Lex only cried a little when I told him he could not have a cookie (fresh baked when we arrived the night before, and I resisted, how’s that for will-power!) on the side with his cereal. Then we took showers and packed up and went back downstairs for the official B&B breakfast of scrambled eggs, french toast (blueberry stuffed for the boys), banana muffins and juice. I ate over half my points at breakfast alone but I felt guilty saying no since she had cooked this big meal just for us and one other family. It was delicious!


Eve and Alan play a quick game of chess before breakfast (well, between breakfast one and breakfast two!)

Then we headed out for another spectacular drive through the White Mountains and a fun-filled day with Thomas the Train. Apparently Sir Topham Hatt makes an annual visit to the US to discuss train stuff with American train people (I wasn’t paying close attention to the story, sorry) and this year he decided to bring Thomas along as a reward for being such a Very Useful Engine. This year and every year. The kids were thrilled!

The event is held at the North Conway train station so there were regular passenger trains coming and going all day as well. There’s also an awesome miniature train setup there on permanent display and various other trains and engines and things to look at. Special for this event they had a food tent, an “Imagination Station” tent which consisted of crafty train related projects, face painting, tattoos, coloring, blocks, and several wooden train tables set up. They also had a bouncy house, a hay bale maze, and, most importantly, the gift tent. Guess where the kids kept asking to go back to. We told them they could each pick out one souvenir at the end of the day, but we ended up in the tent several times while they browsed.


I pay good money for theme parks and train rides and all these kids really need is a good tree to run around :)



The moment they've been waiting for... Peep, peep! Hullo Thomas!


model trains -p1

This is an awesome model train display.


model trains -p2

This is a model of the station we were at. The girl in the bottom, right corner is holding up a sign that says "You are here." Such a cute detail.


turn table

This is the real turn table. The platform (on the right) turns on a small pivot point in the middle and the long rail around the edge of the circle. Impressive.


sir topham hatt

Sir Topham Hatt was weird. I think they should have found a rotund bald guy, instead they went with the mascot look. The kids had no interest in standing near him and Eve got upset because he didn't return her wave from afar. I don't think he could see much through that mask!


tired Eve

We had 2:30 train tickets, but by around 1:30 Eve was tired and ready to be done. Here she is on an old engine, watching the 1:45 Thomas train leaving the station. She really, really wanted to be on that train. Then we saw her friend from school on the train and she was even sadder not to be on it. Poor tired girl.


kitty Eve

To cheer her up we went over to the Imagination Station. Lex chose to bounce in the bouncy house (and get super sweaty!) while Eve opted for some face painting. She makes a cute kitty.


train tables

They were both hot and sweaty so we parked it by the train tables for the last 20 minutes while we waited for our train ride.


final pose

On the way out they decided to have a quick pose with Thomas.

Overall it was a fun day. We were back in the car and heading home by late afternoon. Home in time for dinner and much needed baths.

I see more mini vacations in our future. There’s lots to do in this neck of the woods!

Cool train layout

The best part about the wooden train set is being able to build and rebuild them. So many people I know confine their tracks to a table, or even nail them down because “my kids keeps breaking the tracks.” I think that’s the best part! The kids (and grownups, sometimes) build for a day or so, play with the track for a day or so, then take it apart and start over. I think the construction is often more fun than the playing.

On that note, here is an awesome elevated layout that Alan and Lex built this morning. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to elevate the roundhouse and turntable, but it looks pretty cool!

train set

train set - 2


Lex on Eve

Eve on Lex

I tried to get a nice picture of Eve laying on Lex, but they quickly spiraled into a pile of silly giggles.

the whole track

The whole track

Here is a pretty boring video of them playing with the tracks. They insisted I make it and then they watched it a bunch of times, giggling the whole time, for no apparent reason. :)

Overall we had a nice quiet day. Alan got up with the kids so I could sleep in a bit. Yay! I managed to read the paper and exercise. Alan put the closet doors back on the closets in our room. Yay! Then he went to work (to make up for taking Friday off) and the kids and I played board games and read books and hung out. I asked if they wanted to go to the playground or something, since it was a beautiful day, but they both insisted on staying home. Eve spent the whole day in her PJs. All in all, a lovely Sunday!

Halloween 2010 – Part 1

I realize it isn’t even Halloween yet, but somehow this day of candy gorging seems to have turned into almost a week for us! Starting with Eve’s preschool costume parade on Thursday. Last night we went to a Halloween party at Alan’s office. Lex refused to dress up (reserving his costume for the ACTUAL Halloween event!), but Eve and I donned our gear for the party.

This kitty caught herself a spider.

This kitty caught herself a spider.

Me and Eve

I witch I had a spiderweb necklace! :)

Running the halls

Towards the end of the party Lex, Eve, and Mr. Incredible spent some time (ok, a lot of time!) running the halls and yelling, having a blast.

This morning we all enjoyed NOT rushing out of the house at 7am as we have done the past few days. Instead we had a leisurely morning and then made our way to the Fright River Flyer for a haunted train ride with Gammy and Popcube. It was chilly and very much NOT haunted, but we all had fun anyway.


Love that face, even though she didn't want me to take her picture. It's hard to resist!


The train made a weird unexpected (to me) stop at a farm stand where the kids were all given mini pumpkins. I think it was more so the grownups would all buy coffee and cookies (we did).

Eve reading the flyer

She looks quite concerned while reading this train brochure. Perhaps because she can't read? Or maybe because the brocure is upside down?! :)

The train trip ended about an hour later than expected, which left us rushing home for a quick lunch and then off to a birthday party. Eve and Alan stayed home while Lex and I went to his friend’s birthday party. I was worried because he was so tired and barely ate lunch, but he had a BLAST! He cried only once, when I was told that parents can drop off their kids and leave. His eyes welled up and he asked me please, please not to leave him alone. So I stayed. Luckily I’m friends with the family so it was nice to stay and chat with them anyway.

Rope swing

The birthday boy on the rope swing. Can you find Lex?

Climbing the mat

It's hard to get good pictures in this place! Here he is at the top of the mountain, about to toss a beanbag into that "donut" behind the line of kids!

Cake time

When they were all done with gymnastics, Lex looked up at me in the balcony and yelled "Mom, it's time for cake!" Like he endured all that fun activity just to get cake :) Here he is now, enjoying his dinosaur cupcake.

After the party and Eve’s nap, we spent the rest of the evening coloring at the table. Lex said he needed some relaxing time :) They had a giant snack around 4:45 and skipped dinner.


I LOVE when he reads to her! Even if they are reading a coloring book :)


Eve wrote "pumpkin" on her little pumpkin. She is getting so good with her letters!

Tomorrow we will chill in the morning. I might even read the paper!! :) Then off to the mall (hehe… or what passes for a mall around here!) for trick-or-treating with the Johnson family and one of Lex’s classmates. Hello candy!

The greatest train set ever!

Today was like Christmas in September. A dream come true. For Lex. A guy I know was selling his kids’ train set. Apparently they don’t play with it. Crazy, huh?! He said he had a bunch of track pieces and engines. I picked them up this afternoon and found he also had a roundhouse and turntable! Lex has been asking for those two things forever! Imagine how excited he was when he came home to this:

new trains

This is just the new stuff!

VERY excited! That’s how excited he was! He has thanked me about a thousand times this afternoon and evening. He said it is the greatest train set ever! He has been pretty lovey lately, but today he couldn’t tell me enough how much he loved me and his new train set. He is so sweet. Guess what he did all afternoon?



laying the first tracks

Laying the first tracks. Lex told me that the round house is "even better than the one at the toy store!"

gaining steam

Gaining steam, the track is growing.


Spencer, Lex's new favorite engine.

Eve made it for awhile with the trains and then lost interest, moving instead to the box the engines came in. She took out her markers and decorated the “car.” Then we made construction paper money, which she put in her purse and went grocery shopping with Snoopy Dog. :) They both did a fabulous job entertaining themselves this afternoon. I floated back and forth between them and just relaxed for the afternoon.

decorating the car

Eve working hard to turn a cardboard box into a car so she could go grocery shopping.

Believe it or not, the evening got even better. I’ve been cleaning out, organizing, sorting baby stuff from storage and the other day I brought out a box of bath toys I had put away. The kids were thrilled in the tub tonight. Their favorite toy was a floating xylophone, which consists of six interlocking pieces. They split it in half and made “music” and sang and had a blast. I tried to get a video but they got pretty quiet when they saw the camera.

in the tub

Playing music in the tub.

The Great Train Ride

There is a train that stops at the science museum twice a day, and seemingly every time we are at the museum. Last year it went by with barely a glance from the kids, but this year they asked every time if we could go for a ride. I was never prepared, on the spot, for an hour and a half train ride, but I promised over and over that we could ride the train this summer.

Right about the time I realized that Lex starts school in August I also realized that summer is coming to an end and I’d better figure out this train thing!! So I bought tickets online (not realizing that you can buy them on the train!) and wrote it on the calendar. All week the kids grew more and more excited for Friday and the great train ride.

Friday came, dark and overcast, but we stuck to the plan. They both napped with the promise of a train ride in the afternoon. During naptime the sky opened up with buckets of water and impressive thunder and lightening. While I packed a suitcase full of snacks, books and dry clothes, I debated the wiseness of taking them for a train ride versus canceling plans and dealing with their disappointment. I decided to stick to the plan and we bundled up in the limited rain gear we posses and headed out. Lucky for us the brunt of the storm passed as we were getting ready and driving over, so by the time we had to stand outside and wait for the train it was just drizzling. Much more manageable!

The train is a sight-seeing train that runs for 45 minutes up the river and then reverses direction and runs for 45 minutes back down. I was really worried about keeping them entertained for that long, but they did fabulously! A woman at the train station had give me “train bingo” cards and the kids spent almost the entire ride looking out the window to find things to cross off on the cards. It kept them entertained way longer than I ever would have expected!! At one point Eve said “I see a horse!!” I asked where and she pointed to the horse on her bingo card and then crossed it off :) Towards the end I had to bust out a few books (I brought train and rain themed books :) ) to keep Eve happy. Lex decided to go sit by himself on a bench at the other end of the car. I enjoyed their happiness and they beautiful lightening strikes over the river. Overall it was a fun trip.

After a very successful train ride I agreed to let them play at the museum until it closed. A good time was had by all and we topped it off with dinner at Panera Bread with Alan. I think that was our final summer hurrah! :) Off to school this week.

Lex read the sign to Eve as we waited for the train.
Still waiting. See Lex plugging his ears? He spent a lot of time like that :)
They chose to sit in the dining car. A good choice, I do believe.

Here is what Eve has been waiting for all week! Snacks on the train! Whenever we talked about the train she would ask if they have tables so she could eat her snack on the train. I wasn’t sure, but luckily they do!
One happy boy!
Watching the train leave.