What a day! Sometimes I really do wonder how I got to be so lucky.
Ever since Dave and I spent our anniversary weekend at Chatham Bars Inn last October, we'd been wanting to take the kids to the restaurant there for the weekend breakfast. It's not technically a brunch buffet, but we think it might as well be, and we knew they'd really like it. It was quite a while before we could find a free day on the schedule but eventually we did narrow in on this April Saturday and I'm just so glad we did.
We were blessed with rather beautiful weather--a nice sunny day that started a little cool but quickly warmed up. When we arrived we were very hungry so we chose to eat first thing. After a leisurely meal we took a walk on the beach and spent some time lounging on the porch overlooking the water. April is really shoulder season on the cape so it was very quiet. We felt like we had the place to ourselves!
After a quick game of checkers in the lounge (maybe my favorite spot at the resort) we headed into town to browse the shops. It was a nice leisurely walk. It was so good to feel the sun on our faces after such a long, cold winter. We had fun poking in and around the cute gift shops and (of course) couldn't resist a stop into the local bookstore. We treated the kids to some candy from the old-fashioned candy shop and soon decided to pop into the local library where we struck gold in the book sale room downstairs! We scored a full bag of books for a buck!!
We walked back to the car and came across one of those outdoor chess sets. I couldn't resist the kids pleas to pause long enough for a game and I was glad I didn't. Sitting on the granite bench watching them laugh and play in the sun and warm breeze really made me feel lucky--like this was what life was all about. What's the point of rushing all about and not taking time to appreciate where are right now?
Our journey took us to Salt Pond Visitor's Center next. We managed to see a couple of films and the kids played in the shell/sand box for a good long time. I love a good (free) visitor's center. We learn so much from them!
No trip to the Cape would be complete without a visit to Hot Chocolate Sparrow so we pretty much had to go. It was a great day for raspberry lime rickeys. They were so refreshing. Soon enough we had to head to Eight Cousins because we didn't want to miss their open hours. After a good long browse, we found the local fish and chips joint and enjoyed a nice al fresco meal before heading home.
We packed a lot into one day and had so much fun doing so. We are very lucky to live in this part of the world, with abundant natural spaces to enjoy. I'm so glad we take the time to enjoy each other as a family, instead of filling every free moment with classes or social engagements. I know we take a hit for doing this--we don't get hundreds of holiday cards, for example, but I don't think I would be happy any other way. This is who we are and I like us!!
As usual, March was busy, busy. This takes me by surprise every year because March was never a busy month for me before I had kids. Now, however, it is a month full of performances and celebrations—just one thing after another! I suppose this is a good thing because the weather is not usually all that great. If we were sitting around with nothing to do we’d probably go a little stir crazy.
The kids couldn’t let Pi day go by without making a pie or two. Franny made a peanut butter-chocolate-banana pie and Theo made lemon meringue. They were both delicious! From there it wasn’t long before we welcomed in spring with another Revels Spring Sing. Franny and Theo were asked to participate since they knew the drill from last year. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown in just a year! They don’t look like little kids anymore.
Franny left for Hulbert the very next day. It didn’t look like spring in Vermont, I’ll tell you. But it didn’t snow at all while she was there so she got away with no snowpants the entire time. I think she was quite happy about that!
We had a nice day in Vermont when we went to retrieve her. Lunch at King Arthur and some browsing at Montshire Museum gift shop and Norwich Books. There was more we could have done, but we decided to try to make it home for The Big Read Kick-Off and we were so glad we did. The dance performance and the food were so good! Both kids had a great time looking at the related books the librarians pulled for the event and taking part in the activities. It should be a great month of events for this town wide read. I’m looking forward to it!
The return from Hulbert led right into the Morris Share, which was a lovely low-key event this year. Dave was playing mandolin with the musicians so I didn’t get too much in the way of media. I thought the video came out pretty well, though! Such and such was a new dance for them and I thought they did a great job.
I caught Theo in a quiet moment—maybe while Franny was at Hulbert? It was nice to have some down time with him. Between end-of-the season skiing, battling illness, overnight camp, and spring celebrations, March was a crazy month. I can’t believe how much we packed into it! And I’m glad we found some quiet moments to enjoy as well…
We had such a nice trip to my father's new house in Fort Myers Beach. I didn't really know what to expect on many levels. I've traveled with my father before but not while his kids were in tow and (since adulthood) only in situations in which we have our own hotel rooms. On this trip, not only would we be all together in a fairly small house, we would also be cooped up in the car for the 24 hour drive south. Yikes! I worked very hard to keep my expectations realistic but I'm not sure the anticipatory dread did me any good, to be honest.
And, as it turned out, there were some stressful moments. The driving was rough, though it could have been worse. It was also hard to not have much privacy in the house. But I think the most difficult part for me, as always, was that it is just really difficult to be parenting children alongside your own parent. We have such different ways of being, my father and me. I don't much respoect his parenting and he doesn't think much about mine. The kids got along well for the first half of the trip but things did start to unravel towards the end. I was so grateful we were able to rent a car and get out on our own one day! Then, the next day my father took his kids to see a relative who lives about three hours away in Vero Beach. We opted out because we would be cooped up together in the car to head home the very next day but that gave us a nice day in the house all by ourselves. Highly enjoyable!
Although the house is modestly sized, it has everything one could want--just a couple minutes' walk to the beach, pool in the backyard, grocery store a couple of blocks away. The street dead ends to the bay side, so there is little traffic--great place for kids to ride bikes! And if you don't count the seasonal traffic that rules your schedule, it is in a great location. Sanibel is about 20-25 minutes away in one direction. Naples is about the same drive in the other direction. There are many state parks and attractions in the area (though not the ones Florida is famous for) and we had lots to choose from on our one day out! When I look at these pictures now, I'm overcome with a feeling of gratitude. I have such a beatiful family and we have crafted a beautiful life. There was a lot of unpleasant stuff to deal with on this trip but the pictures help me realize it was worth it.
lunch at Island Cow, Sanibel
enjoying the gorgeous new library in FMB
seeing Thomas Edison's lab and stunning estate
finding starfish and other creatures in the calm water
beach-combing Sanibel's famous sands
learning all about Henry Ford
plunging into the (quite cold) pool after a hot walk
watching the sunset
driving though Ding National Wildlife Sanctuary and enjoying the fantastic visitor's center
I love to travel but if I’m going to be completely honest, sometimes I have to force myself to do it. It’s all the worrying about money and the things that might go wrong that I can’t seem to get over. What if the weather is awful? What if there’s a big, obnoxious crowd of people ruining my expensive holiday? As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a ton of work to do to get ready for any trip—planning and packing, laundry before you go, laundry when you return home, loading the car. Ugh… It’s easy to wonder if it’s worth the effort. Add to that the fact that I’m not very comfortable on skis and you can probably guess that I was a little ambivalent about this trip.
When I look at these pictures (and there are a million more where these came from) I don’t remember any of that. I am reminded of the gorgeous tint in the sky as the sun set. I think about my quiet walks around the property while my family enjoyed the slopes. I remember the turkey tracks I saw, or my surprise when I came upon the sled dogs standing so quietly in the snow. I can hear the laughter of my kids as they speed down the tubing hill and the excitement in their voices as they jump into the heated outdoor pool on a 12º night. How can we have done so much in three days? In how many ways did they grow and change? Can I put a price on that? It was definitely worth it.
Oh my gosh! Could it be more difficult to plan a day to go and cut down a Christmas tree? It seems so silly. This is really a luxury. One has to have plenty of extra time and money to be able to drive two and a half hours north to cut down a tree when they are being sold on every corner from mid-November to December 24. But it’s a tradition and I can’t let it go. Plus, once we get going, we love it. It’s finding the right day, weighing the pros and cons of weather and schedule, and then sticking with the decision that is that hard part.
Historically, this is the first real snow of the season for us. It always feels as though it will be a let down if there is not any snow on the ground. First, Dave wouldn’t be able to do his fun ‘shake the tree’ trick. We wouldn’t be able to have any snow ball fights, either. Finally, how disappointing would our pictures be without at least a thin layer of the white stuff? I don’t need to tell you. Depressing…
So we hem and haw. We check the weather obsessively. We pore over the calendar and discuss how many free hours we need to be able to do it right. And then we cross our fingers! This year, again, we got lucky. There wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground, but there was enough. The only draw back was that it was c.o.l.d. So very cold! You would think that would have encouraged us to make a speedy decision and get the heck out of there but… no. We might have been out there even longer than we usually are! We just couldn’t find the right tree. I started to lose feeling in my legs before we found a tree to call our own.
But it was worth it. And when I look at the pictures, I feel so happy that we did it! These kids… they are so beautiful. They light up my life! When I see their pink cheeks and snow crusted hats and when I think about all the happy times we’ve shared on these crazy adventures, I feel lucky. Super lucky.
I didn't plan for Halloween this year. Usually I try to nudge the kids towards costumes that I think I can make, or something that reflects a current interest, and generally I try to have their choices complement each other. I'm always thinking of the photos! This year, I just didn't have it in me. Maybe on some level I hoped they would find the motivation to do it themselves. They didn't, really, and then Halloween was upon us and I don't respond well to a time crunch. I talked Theo into Harry Potter, thinking that next year he'd be too old and I knew I could buy a costume. I'm generally not into the purchased costume thing, but I thought he looked really cute! I was perfectly happy with the way it all turned out.
For her costume, Franny decided to be Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle. She knew nobody would know who she was and she was fine with that. I was thinking this might be her last year of trick-or-treating and I really did want her to 'own' her costume. I thought she did a pretty good job given the last minute situation. I particularly thought the carded wool for a wig was brilliant!
It was kind of a slow night and we got a bit of a late start, as usual. The kids did most of our street on their own. We joined them to go farther afield but they didn't even want to go very far. As a result, they recieved much less candy than usual, which was fine with me!!
We cleaned out one of the toy drawers last week and the kids were inspired by some of the things we found. They took the safari animals and the silks outside and created these dioramas by combining them with found materials from the backyard. They were happily at work for over two hours and then called us out to see their finished product. I decided to snap a few photos to help me remember some of the joys homeschooling brings. (It's easy enough to remember the struggles without pictures!) I was happy that they felt inspired, but even happier that they found something to do together without the neighbors being around! Lately it has become difficult to get them to go outside unless they have friends here. That is such a big difference from when they were younger and would spend hours outside playing together, just the two of them. It was so nice to see that happen again!