Happy Birthday Eve!!

What started out as a trip to check out the First Robotics Competition in Shrewsbury, MA, ended up being an awesome birthday weekend for Eve in Boston!

Lex will be joining the local FRC team next year and I thought it would be fun to check out a competition.  Unfortunately I was a little slow with the planning and missed the two closer ones (day trips) and leaving just one in MA and one (championship, I think) in Washington, DC!  It just so happens the MA event was this weekend and just outside of Boston, so I suggested a birthday trip for Eve.  She hadn’t asked for any other birthday events or parties, and she jumped at the idea of going to the Boston Aquarium!  Yay!

So we drove down to Shrewsbury, MA yesterday, arriving mid-afternoon.  The event was big and loud and we lasted about 20 minutes. LOL!  After about 10 minutes Eve was ready to go, and Lex was ready shortly thereafter.  We stuck around to watch our local team compete in one match and then took off.  Lex says he’s still excited to join, but thinks it will be much more fun next year when he’s part of it and knows what’s going on.  I can’t argue with that!

As soon as we left this mansion of a high school, Eve found a hill she wanted to climb.

Since we were out sooner than expect, I asked Eve what she wanted to do next.  I suggested a movie, or bowling, or shopping.  She suggested a nature hike.  She’s so smart!  We found a local nature reserve and took a beautiful hike through the dry spring forest.  We heard lots of frogs and saw some signs of busy beavers.  We also decided to have family meeting in the woods.  :)

After that we headed to the hotel for check in, then out to dinner at the Olive Garden. Her permanent birthday request. :)

This morning we drove into Boston to check out the Aquarium.  I love parts of that museum and feel totally overwhelmed with other parts.  I think we all felt about the same way. :)  The fun starts before you even get inside, with a seal exhibit containing fat playful seals who do flips and swim upside down.  They were so silly.

Inside, we had a great time watching the penguins and checking out the enormous tank in the middle!

This turtle is over 95 years old and weighs 535lbs!  Her name is Myrtle and she’s a Green Sea Turtle.  They have two other turtles, called Loggerhead Turtles, that are a bit smaller and younger, but they were napping in the tunnel below so we couldn’t see them.  I remember them from years ago though. One is blind and feels his way around the tank.  Both are rescues that the Aquarium took in.

We headed to Quincy Market for a late lunch, then home.  We got out of town just before the driving rain started!  Poor Alan had to drive in it. :/

Back home we  opened presents, ate cake, and measured Eve on the wall.  I had to reach UP to write her height!  She’s a pretty amazing girl.  She was in a good mood all weekend and we had fun laughing and being silly together as a family.  It was wonderful and heartwarming. <3

Tomorrow it’s back to reality with work and school and meetings and play practice and dentist appointments.  But for now, we relax and enjoy the the rest of the evening together with our amazing 12yr old!  Happy Birthday (not so) little girl!

If you want to see all the pictures from this weekend, check out the Google Album.

A weekend in Stowe

Last weekend (actually two weekends ago) we had a little family reunion in Stowe.  It was great!  My new cousin (?) was playing in the World Championship Disc Golf competition so we all gathered there to watch.  Pretty cool that it was so close (for us!).

This would have been a super cool picture if I were standing in a different position. Oh well.

Chris (in the middle) taking a shot. I think this was the 1st or 2nd “hole” of the 18-hole course.

Some of us got a little tired. We slowly started peeling off as the hole count got higher.

Back at the rental home the dogs were happy to see us!

We rented a house big enough for the four of us, Rosy, Mema and Tom, and three dogs.  With room to spare!  Greg and Kathy had their own rental.

The first night we hung at Greg and Kathy’s house, and the second night we hung at our house. Lex brought along Settlers of Catan and it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser! We played East Coast versus West Coast rules. :)

It was a long game!

This dog is too dang cute!

We had to teach Greg how to do the traditional Collier pose. He’s a natural!

The next day we said our good byes and headed towards home.

Eve made sure all the dogs got a turn with the sparkly kitty ears.

We made a few stops along the way home, including a pizza restaurant, a toy store, and Ben & Jerry’s!  Not necessarily in that order. :)

Lex would like all of this, please and thank you.

My silly monkeys at the flavor graveyard at Ben & Jerry’s. We took the tour years ago, but apparently not with Alan so he insisted we go back. It wasn’t hard to convince the rest of us!

Oh man, look at how cute they were last time we went!!

A good time was had by all in lovely Stowe.  I’d like to go back up there for a weekend trip, just to hang out in the village.  It’s beautiful.

New York City!

Hey, we went to NYC last weekend!  Have you heard?  :)  Some Syracuse friends were getting together in NYC for a wedding of an acquaintance (we weren’t invited to the wedding, but it was black-tie and not something I’d want to go to anyway!) and my friend Lauren texted me a few weeks ago to see if we wanted to meet up for dinner.  With some quick logistics and a super helpful Aunt Rosy, we were able to pull it off.  :)  I rented an apartment through HomeAway, big enough for us and Rosy.  We drove down Friday morning.  The trip took longer than expected because the AC gave out in our car half way there, which necessitated multiple stops at Starbucks to cool off.

The kids read books, played games, and didn’t even bicker (very much). It was a nice trip.

Friday night we went out to dinner with friends (some in for the wedding and others there just for dinner), then we all went to a show at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and  out to a karaoke bar.  There may have been some drinks involved.  It was a ton of fun to catch up with old friends.  I wish we could do it more often!  I love how this group of friends just falls so easily back into sync.

Seven SU friends and a few spouses added in. :) It was a great night!

Saturday morning Alan took the kids to a nearby diner while Rosy and I had a leisurely wake up.  Yay!  Then we all went out for second breakfast (ha!) and down to explore the USS Intrepid.

Rosy patiently entertained the kids while Alan and I figured out the tickets.  Do you see the moon in the picture?  It was much more noticeable and impressive in real life.

Alan explaining something about something. This was definitely more his wheelhouse than mine! :)

It was a quick trip because we had tickets to the 2pm showing of Puffs, an off-Broadway show that’s “a new look at a familiar adventure from the perspective of three potential heroes just trying to make it through a magic school that proves to be very dangerous for children.”  The show was HILARIOUS and I even stayed awake for most of it!  :)

A great show! I would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in NYC or Australia.

Then we met Mark for dinner and an evening full of games and food and fun.

I had some delicious food on this trip! I totally gave up on WW, but enjoyed every bite and sip.

Things get interesting (aka awkward) when your hubby and college buddy start reliving the good old days while sitting next to your teenage (eek!) son. There were definitely a few moments that I brushed over quickly!

Sunday was departure day, but Lex wanted to check out the Lego store in Rockefeller Center first.  Alan took Lex to the diner for breakfast, and Rosy took Eve to a bagel shop, and I had another leisurely morning. :)  Then Rosy, Lex, and I took the subway uptown to Rockefeller Center while Alan and Eve took care of picking up our car from Toyota of Manhattan.  We payed a small fortune for it, but the AC worked again!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We need more photos of Rosy and Lex together. :)

The “ear” statue we remember so well from our last trip to NYC has been replaced with this interesting piece of work.

Lex says Rosy and I look a lot alike. Somehow she always looks better in photos though! :/

I love the pattern on this building!

Alan and Eve picked us up, we dropped Rosy off at her car, and the Johnson family headed home.  Somehow it took us forever to get home, but that’s ok.  We stopped for lunch, stopped for multiple Starbucks breaks, and I dunno, jut took awhile.  We made it though and LOVED our vacation!!

If you want to see all the photos, check out the Google Photos album.

A great day in Ithaca

Yesterday we drove up to Ithaca to spend the day with some lovely ladies from our past. As always, I wish we all lived closer together!  Molly and Eve bonded like old friends and Kate did a great job of making Lex feel special. :)

We met at the Children’s Garden where the kids ran through the Anarchy Zone completely unsupervised (which is the intention of the place) while Julie and I sat and chatted.  So nice!!

Molly and Eve took a smile break while washing themselves off with dirty sponges. Hard to get the mud off when the sponges are covered in mud too! They didn’t mind at all! ::)

Lex and Kate working together to refill the water bottles. This fountain has two levels of drinking fountain, a hose attachment, and two spouts on the side for cleaning feet. Pretty smart design!

Eve is going to love this picture when she’s older. She absolutely refused to smile. Bugger!

I love this crowd!! Just missing the daddies.

When we finished at the Children’s Garden we headed over to Taughannock Falls State Park for a little light hiking.  The kids and I missed the turn for the trail entrance and ended up at the visitor center at the top.  Oops!  The trail has a nice “reveal” at the end, but that was spoiled by the fact that we saw the falls first.  Oh well!

A view of the falls.

From the bottom of the trail. Julie and Jim were at this same park just last week and it was full to the brim! She said the entire river was full, swelling at the banks. Amazing what a difference a week can make!

Walking in the (very slippery) river.

It’s a really beautiful place!

The kids all wanted to climb this. Umm… no! It looked like a fresh landslide.

We made it to the falls – again! This time a little closer. :)

When we were all hot and tired we decided to head for the AC – and dinner!  We went to a cute little mall in downtown Ithaca, wandered the stores, bought “twinning” charm bracelets and some Harry Potter books (I can’t leave a bookstore without a purchase – it’s an addiction!) and then headed to the world-famous, vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant for dinner.  It was so yummy!  I had a fancy pasta dish and it was perfect.  The kids all found food they liked (with a little hunger sauce on top!) and we washed it all down with cake and ice cream at the end.  So good!


Ithaca has a “planet walk” much like the Montshire’s and we found Jupiter on the way back to the car. Can you see Lex in this picture? While the three big kids were goofy, Kate stood there so patiently with a big smile on her face, waiting for the picture. <3

Sadly all good days must come to an end, so we said our goodbyes and headed back to Franklin.  Eve and Molly have plans for a sleepover in Eve’s new bunkbeds, so maybe that will be our next visit.  I even promised Julie an above ground guest room, hopefully an upgrade from the basement suite we currently have.  :)

California Vacation

Soo…. many weeks later I finally have some time for blogging. I’d love to give a day-by-day account of our fantastic trip to California, but really I don’t have that kind of time, so here’s a summary blog instead. :)

On Tuesday, June 20th we flew to San Francisco. We had an easy, on time, direct flight. We landed late in SF, rented a car, and drove to Greg and Kathy’s house in Sacramento. I try to plan my trips alternating busy and not-busy days, so after a full day of travel we spent the next day just hanging out at Greg’s house. We did lots of swimming, played Scrabble and Risk, made dinner, and watched a movie. Daniel and Emily and Heather came for the afternoon and dinner, along with their dogs. It was relaxing and fun and perfect.

On Thursday we left Sacramento and drove back to San Francisco for some touristy activities. We stayed one day and two nights there. We spent Friday wandering around the piers, visiting the Embarcado, the Fisherman’s Warf marketplace, and the piers. We had lunch on Pier 39, and I tried to recreate a sourdough memory I have from visiting with Grandma and Carolyn. I found the restaurant, but the meal wasn’t as good as I remember. Perhaps my taste buds have evolved. Ha! More likely because by the time we got our food it was cold, and cold cheesy sourdough toast isn’t that great. Oh well. We ended the adventure at the Ghiradelli Chocolate place, which I was expecting to be a factory or something, but mostly it was an outdoor mall with a Ghiradelli chocolate store and ice cream parlor. We got plenty of chocolate and ice cream!

The next day we hit the road again, heading south. We stopped at the Google Complex, Tesla headquarters, and Carmel-By-The-Sea. Each was fun in it’s own way. We spent that night at a hotel in Santa Maria, then continued on through Los Angeles and down to Carlsbad — Legoland!! We got there in the afternoon, went through the extremely efficient check-in process, then headed out to complete the treasure hunt and open the safe in our room! Joyce met us at the hotel and explored the park with us.

Trip Photos: Part 1

The next day we spent the day at Legoland until mid-afternoon when everyone was done. It involved a lot of walking, eating, waiting in lines, and spending money. All in the hot sunshine. When we first went to Legoland in Florida a few years ago the concept was amazing and we marveled at everything. This time we were a little less impressed. :) Jaded, maybe. The California Legoland is older too, so a lot of it was faded and worn looking. But fun anyway. And the hotel was amazing! It’s interesting now with a little time behind us, but whenever anyone asks Lex what his favorite part of the trip was he always says Legoland, without any hesitation. Yet he was fussing my lunchtime and was eager to leave by mid-afternoon when we had had enough as well. It’s neat how different people remember things differently.

After leaving Legoland we continued south to San Diego where we “checked in” to our rental house. The owner was friendly but the house was TINY and so, so hot. Turns out AC is not standard in California (whatt??) and I hadn’t thought to ask about it. Joyce and I went for a long, oft detoured walk to the store for dinner and we all had a late dinner on the deck, which was finally starting to cool off. Joyce offered us her guest room and we happily moved there the next morning. When I first booked the trip she was expecting to be moving at the same time, but her plans changed and we were all much happier staying with her! :)

Tuesday we moved to her house, languished in her air conditioning for awhile, then attempted to drive to the beach, somehow ending up back in Carlsbad. I fell asleep in the backseat and take no responsibility for that! :) We stopped and got dinner and then went to Oceanside, CA for a sunset beach adventure. It was beautiful!! Alan and the kids swam, we all enjoyed milkshakes on the pier while watching the sun go down, and we went home tired and happy.

Wednesday, our last full day in California, we spent at the San Diego Zoo. I thought that would be a half day at most, but NO, there was so much to see and we lasted past 6pm! We saw lions and tigers and bears (briefly) and koalas and jaguars living with dogs, and a zebra living with a donkey, and elephants and giraffes, and gorillas and bonobo monkeys and hippos and a VERY hungry tiger!! We had so much fun!! Plenty of eating and shopping as well, but minimal lines and the temps were much nicer. When we left the zoo we explored Bilboa Park looking for dinner, but the places were all fancy and expensive and we were not in a fancy or expensive sort of mood so we headed home for pizza delivery instead!

Trip Photos: Part 2

Thursday morning we said our goodbyes and headed home. Another on-time (early, even!) easy direct flight home and we were welcomed back to the east coast by a beautiful sunset over Boston.

We had such a fine time and once again I marvel at what great travelers my kiddos are. They held it together the entire time and were a pleasure to be around. I can’t wait for our next trip! Where to next…. hmmm…..

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! :)


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.




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!


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!


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.



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!!


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.


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.


One of many ponds around here.


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


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.


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


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. :)


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


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


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!


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


I’m so pretty. :)


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.


Hahaha… oh, Vermont!


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.


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


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!


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.