Apparently we have to drive north for winter this year. This was our second trip to the Mt. Washington region this season and both times there has been snow on the ground. This trip it snowed while we were there. It's nice to be able to drive to winter, but I'm still not ready to trade that for actually having winter here at home. I miss it, as annoying as it can be from time to time. It just doesn't feel right to have no snow on the ground. It feels boring and dull.
Theo was very excited about going back to Bretton Woods. I'm a sucker for the things the kids ask for (especially when they don't ask for things average kids do--iThings.) As the parent skier and bill payer, Dave was less enthused, but we knew if we didn't go in January, we wouldn't go at all. So we booked a shorter trip and hit the road.
It's strange the difference a year makes. Or the difference weather makes. Or something. I'm not going to complain about having lots of time to hang out and read, or knit, but we didn't do nearly as much this stay as we did last year. The falling snow on day one kept me indoors. I just didn't have it in me to get soaking wet and possibly reinjure my ankle in order to walk around the property. Same reason for not snowshoeing or tubing. Then day two brought temps in the single digits and again I was a wimp. With a shorter trip we didn't have as many options. We still had a lot of fun but it will be nice if when we go back we can live it up again!
Another all iPhone picture post! We were working pretty hard to get out of the house on time and we thought we had all the basics (snow gear, lunch) covered along with some extras (thermos of hot chocolate, books). We stopped in Concord to do a little shopping and I asked Dave if he had remembered to grab the camera. No such luck. I was pretty disappointed but I hoped in a Murphy's Law sort of way, that our lack of equipment would ensure photo worthy snow cover. And it did! So all's well that ends well, right?
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the pics. It's more work to get decent iPhone pictures. One has to get pretty close and down low. It was an overcast day so I couldn't do much in the way of action shots. Subjects needed to be still and cooperative and they were (for the most part). I think it was such a treat for the kids to be around snow that they didn't even complain too much about how long it took to find a decent tree!
Every year I wonder whether it's worth it to drive so far to cut down a tree when we could throw a rock from our house and hit ten places where we could buy one. Then every year, as soon as we get out and start walking around among the trees, I remember exactly why we do it. It is so beautiful. It is so peaceful. It's so nice to take a day to walk away from all the stress of the holiday season and just focus on this one thing--to sort of take my mind off of every other thing that's going on. Fresh air, snow, trees, mountains in the distance--it's all good. The long bookstore browse at the end of the day is the icing on the cake. We go home happy and refreshed every single time!
We planned a little trip to Montreal for Thanksgiving Weekend. Over the last several years, we've noticed that we end up with a lot of free time over Thanksgiving that we don't always know how to fill. We don't want to go anywhere near any kind of shopping. We're afraid to visit places like Sturbridge VIllage or the Museum of Science, and all of the kids activities are usually cancelled for the whole week. We considered NYC but decided it might be too crazy with shoppers and parade-goers. Montreal seemed like the perfect solution and we were correct!
We hadn't been to Montreal for about 7 years, since the kids were seven and three. I always remember that trip because it was the first time I noticed the kids becoming a little difficult to wrangle while traveling. All of a sudden they were friends and they didn't really want to do what we said. They wanted to hang out and talk to each other, rile each other up, and fool around. I'd planned this relaxing sort of trip with nothing much on the agenda. I thought I'd pop Theo in the stroller, walk around, enjoy a few meals out and get in some shopping, but they wouldn't have any of it. Theo wanted to walk like his big sister and we were stressed out about them walking into the street and bumping into other pedestrians. Then Franny was too tired to walk and she wanted to go in the stroller! Both kids turned picky at mealtime--the hot chocolate was too hot, or the food too spicy. It was always something. I do remember being pleasantly surprised at the McCord Museum where they had an exhibit about toys. That was a real lifesaver! But after 2 days I decided to cut the trip short and we went home early. I can hardly believe it, but it's true!
Flash forward many years and many trips. My kids are great travelers and really always have been. I think I was just totally surprised by the way they all of a sudden ganged up on me--2 against 1. (Dave was of course with us, but pretty useless as far as strategizing goes.) I learned my lesson on that trip and I never again planned a 'low-key' vacation. I've probably taken that too far in the opposite direction, to be honest, but we've had a lot of fun over the years.
So... when it came time to plan this trip I debated. Low key or structured? Can I take the trip I wanted to take 7 years ago? Can we just kind of wing it and have fun and see where we end up? I'm happy to say...yes! We can and we did and it was great! The kids flagged a little on day one because I kept them out late after we'd been up so early to hit the road. But they were up bright and early the next day and we had a great time (save for a teen moment in the sub-polar zone of the Biodome. We'll skip right over that.) brunching and browsing and walking, walking, walking. Montreal is totally my speed: City-sized but easy to navigate by foot (downtown and Old Town) or car (anywhere further afield). We switched back and forth as our hearts (and feet) desired! We came home feeling refreshed and renewed instead of exhasuted and harried. And we got to practice a little French to boot. Parfait!
PS: I've been doing a wretched job with this blog since our trip to the UK in May. I've been so overwhelmed by the prospect of going through all those pictures that the rest of the blog has been neglected. Starting now, I plan to work backwards until I catch up!
Theo was so excited to finally be able to start sailing at CBI this summer! Franny has been going for a couple of years already and it's been difficult for him to sit by and watch. The age difference between the kids can be tough from time to time. They are so different from each other at each age that many age requirements seem ridiculous and random. I would never have sent Franny down to CBI when she was 10. I don't even think she would have been able to pass the swim test. I would have been beside myself with worry about her on the water, never mind all of the logistical stuff around dropping her off and having her walk over the pedestrian bridge alone.
But Theo at 10 is a totally different story. The swim test was no problem for him. He already understands quite a bit about the mechanics of sailing from listening to Franny and I know he'll speak up if something doesn't seem right to him. Above all, he always has Franny with him. Besides, we know the ropes (ha!) now, so there's no need to worry. That always seems to be the way. We hold back on sending Franny out into the world (and she's in no rush, either!) and then Theo is chomping at the bit to get his turn. More often than not, it's the age requirements that hold him back. He's always waiting to catch up. I wonder how long it will be before they even out in the eyes of the educational establishment?
Having been at this for a while, Franny wanted to try her hand at some other ways of being on the water this year. It took her some time to earn her helmsman (2 weeks?) and after that she gave Merc 2 a shot. She found that she wasn't crazy about the stress of it. In order to really get good practice, she needed a red flag but when the flag was red she found she didn't really enjoy sailing. Giver her a good yellow any day of the week and she'd be happy! Luckily there was quite a bit to choose from--SUP, windurfing, kayaking, etc... We were a little late to register, so she often had to jump on a class at the last minute but once she got the rating she could do whatever she might be in the mood for. She seemed to enjoy the paddleboard but decided to skip the windsurfing class (once she finally got in) because it had been a full summer of lessons already and she was ready to just relax and have fun. That's the only thing that bums me out about CBI. It takes so much for us to get the kids down there, that it is fairly exhausting for all of us. I wish it was easier to get the kids the access they need to practice sailing more, but every location has its trade-offs. For now, we're sticking with the evil we know.
Theo sailed through LTS and earned his solo rating right off the bat. He took Merc 1 two times but didn't earn his rating this summer. I believe there were a couple of island crashes involved. He had fun but I don't think sailing quite lived up to his expectations as much as he'd hoped. I think he'll give it another shot next summer and will hopefully find his niche on the water.
The kids inspired Dave to get in on the action and he became an adult member as well. He got in quite a bit of practice but also ended on kind of a low note one day when he took the kids out in very choppy conditions. I'd gone down with them to watch and take pictures. They had a tough time getting out onto open water and once they were out there they felt like any little gust was going to knock them over. They probably spent less time out on the water than they did gearing up the boat! I hope next year will be a great summer for everyone. Maybe I'll even join them out there once they can assure me I won't be taking a dip in the Charles!!
We packed an awful lot into July this year. Most of the kids' camp weeks took place in July. We were trying to get them to CBI as often as we could. And you can't press pause on the berry season no matter how much it would fit better into the schedule some other time! Around all of that, we simply had to find some time to be at the beach because we'd felt as though our normal pre-season enjoyment had been taken by weather and travel. Plus, we knew the greenheads were coming so we wanted to get out and enjoy the surf before they moved onto the beach in droves.
We enjoy the beach more when we're not packed in like sardines AND when we don't have to pay an arm and a leg to park. A couple of years ago we devised our perfect beach plan, which is to arrive just after the parking fee drops by half. Sometimes we pack a picnic and sometimes we just swing by and pick up a pizza on the way. Either way we have the place mostly to ourselves within an hour or two of arrival and after we enjoy ourselves for 4 or 5 hours, we have just enough time to stop for an ice cream before we head home. It works out perfectly every single time!
I love every picture I take at the beach, always. You just can't lose, especially as the sun is setting. My kids look so happy, so beautiful, so relaxed. There's no better way to remind oneself to be thankful than to go to the beach (except, maybe, to hike your way to a mountaintop--that works too, but it's more work) even if you do have to trudge back to the car with all of that... stuff. I worked out a good trick this time. 'But I have to take pictures!! How could I possible carry any of that while I'm snapping pics??' And they are some of my very favorite shots of the day.
Another one of my favorite photogenic spots is, of course, OSV. As if the landscape isn't gorgeous enough, the kids are so darn cute in their costumes. I usually take about 300 shots and then agonize over whittling them down to a manageable number. This year things were a little bit different because Franny is in the Junior Intern program. It was a more difficult to get really gorgeous shots of her. I felt sheepish about showing up at her station and snapping photos and unlike when she was a camper, she didn't move around that much or eat lunch outdoors. I did manage to score that one shot of the two of them together before she left for lunch in the staff room. Neither kid was being terribly cooperative, so I had to be happy with what I got. I was a little sad because it was such a strong reminder that my kids are growing up. I might not have many more years of getting these kinds of photos of them. They are starting to head in different directions--from me and from each other. I'd best remember to enjoy it while it lasts.
Luckily, my boy was just as willing as ever to pose for more than his fair share of shots. He did start to lose patience with me on the last day when I was really feeling the pangs of how different the whole week had been. Normally, lunch on the last day of camp was when I would get the money shots of the two kids together but Franny just wasn't there and I think that was strange for Theo, too. I don't think he cared too much for being under the spotlight all by himself. I think he missed her. I was so glad to see that he didn't affect that older kid embarrasment about the dance, though. He didn't seem at all wary of dancing with the boy who wanted to partner with him, but I guess the days of picking a girl partner are behind us for a while!