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 those all 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!
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 so glad we did.
We were blessed with rather beautiful weather--a nice sunny day that started a little cool but quickly warmed. 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, relaxing 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 we 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 an 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! Trunkles 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…