Thursday, August 23, 2012

MA Vacation 2012 - Part 3 and Part 4

On day 3 of our MA adventure we headed into Boston for a duck boat tour.  As a general rule I stay away from over-the-top touristy types of things when traveling, but I read some good things about this tour and I just could not resist. There was something appealing about the amphibious vehicle and the idea that the kiddos could get a great overview of the city of Boston (and a little of the history - and there is too much to share on a 2 hour tour).  We had a nutty tour guide who allowed James to take a turn at the wheel to his delight and entertained us with incredible stories about lost neighborhoods and the birthplace of Paul Revere.   I highly recommend a duck boat tour if you are in the Boston area and would like a thorough overview of the city and the history.

We returned to Hummarock that evening to a delicious NE style lobster boil.  I guess the timing was impeccable because the lobsters were just slightly soft shelled but loaded with the most delicious,  decadent lobster meat ever. Needless to say, I ate very well that night!

I am super-bummed about the quality of this pic because it does nothing to capture the awesomeness of Jamesy hanging on to my dinner.

Day 4 was another incredible adventure.  Our first stop was the Miles Standish monument.  I remembered visiting the monument during a prior trip to MA with Christian and I really wanted the kids to share that experience.  There was something about the climb up to the top of the monument up the narrow, precarious steps and the incredible view.  Sadly, we arrived only to find the monument locked and the visitors' hours restricted to some ridiculous time-frame, victims of government cut-backs.    All was not lost, we had a nice hike up to the monument and a quick picnic lunch.  

Our second stop was the Monument to the Founding Fathers.  I was a little curious simply because of the weird Kirk Cameron connection, but figured I was there so why not check it out.  I have to say, I was totally impressed.   I will never forget the 15 or so minutes we spent walking around the monument.  I was moved by things that, generally speaking, don't have much of an impact on me and it felt nice.

James and Luz, ready for a little hike:

Miles Standish Monument, all locked up:

The Monument to the Founding Fathers:

Check it out...even made me tear up...a little tiny bit:

Next up was the super-awesome whale watching tour.  The kids could not believe  that they were saying "real-live" whales up close (and neither could I, incidentally).

The kiddos, looking for whales:

My sweet sis and bro in law.  How cute are they:

Luz and mama...hate that I look so un-glam, particularly in light of above pic and how precious everyone else looks:

On the lookout:

There she is, first sighting of the voyage:

Heading home, sleepy guy(s):

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pooh Turns 91

Did you have any idea that Winnie is a nonagenerian?  I did not until the Louisiana Children's Museum hosted a birthday party for him last Saturday.  It was much as I expected it to be and Luz was sweet enough to join us for the festivities and turn it into a MUCH bigger deal than it was ever going to be...and James, lover of all things WtP, was in heaven.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sharpen Up Your Pencils

The lovely, lazy days of summer 2012 came to an end last week and now we are otherwise occupied with school supplies and schedules and after school activities and bedtimes and sleepyheads.  Routines are good though - the kids learn the drill and Christian and I are forced to get organized.  We figure out how to make the most of every free minute and to enjoy each weekend in between.  

Here they are, off for their first day of fun:

Jamesy's first cubby.  He was psyched when he found it!

So far so good, as far as I can tell.  Great teachers, sweet classmates and (most importantly) smiling faces and plenty of stories to share at the end of the day.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Graduation Day

Amidst all of the ridiculous prep for the First Day of School, which is tomorrow, I came across these incredibly awesome photos of James from his ASH Fin graduation last May.  I love these pictures so much and sometimes I look at them just because I am in the mood to smile and want my heart to feel warm and full.  They are also a reminder of the incredible care he had at ASH Fin over the past 3 years.  There is no doubt in my mind that he was loved very much every single day.

Yep, got my diploma:

Oh yeah, I am a graduate:

How adorable!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Growing Up, As Usual

This absolutely kills me, seriously...





This is the kind of thing about me that annoys me to no end...why could I not take the time to figure out what direction he is facing and keep it consistent. I mean, if I am going to bother to chronicle how fast he is growth like this I should give a little extra effort and get the mise en scene right already...better luck in 2013.

Luz really loves the idea of taking the same picture in the same place every year.  I wish I would have thought to do it with her.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beach Weekend 2012

The incredible high of a long weekend at the beach came to an end as we sat in traffic for an hour outside of the Mobile tunnel earlier tonight.  The drive home was a total buzz kill, no doubt.  But, there is nothing better than 3 days marinating in salt water, exfoliating with gulf coast sand, and enjoying a cold beer under a big blue umbrella.  It is something we have enjoyed every summer many thanks to the Rentons!

It was the last hurrah of the summer for us as Christian starts back to work on Monday and school starts for the kiddos on Thursday.  I have to figure out a way to be in Second Grade with Luz and Nursery with James (yes, Nursery, can you believe this?  real school for this lil' guy already - it is breaking my heart into a million pieces) at the same time.  How on earth do people with more than 2 kids do it?  I am in awe - or maybe it is much like how I keep it together - smoke and mirrors - but on a much grander scale.

Here are a few sweet pics from the weekend of fun, which included a nice visit with Nana and Papa-T, Peg Leg Pete's, Pensacola 360, and many hours on the beach (somehow we avoided Alvin's Island entirely, much to Luz's dismay - and now I sort of regret it because one of my biggest childhood memories is shopping at Alvin's Island for junk - I know, ridiculous):

These guys fixate on the weirdest things...they were super-psyched to pack their own suitcases and be in charge of them - cheap thrills, I guess:

Boardwalk to the beach:

Jamesy, beach chair:

Dinner at Peg Leg Pete's:

Watching a beach wedding from the balcony:

Balcony sunset:

On her way to search for shells:

The haul, I love all of these:

Throwing sand, why do kids (actually, just James, Lucy never did that) think this is fun...he can do it for hours:

James and Papa-T playing whatever game it was the kept James on the beach for hours and hours (thank you, Papa):

It was a lovely, memorable weekend and, as usual, it flew by.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

MA Vacation 2012 - Part 2

On the second morning the kids and I noticed that Christian's very strange vacation habit of waking up at 6:00 a.m. had fully kicked-in.  We had completely reversed roles.  I don't know if it was the open windows, early sunrise, excitement of what the day would bring, or a combination of all of those things that made him do it, but the kids and I were in disbelief.  This is a guy who likes to sleep.  He is also a guy who does not like to waste any time or opportunities and his goal was to get the most out of each day of vacation.  He did.

We spent the day at Plymouth/Plimouth Plantation, touring the Mayflower, and checking out Plymouth Rock (talk about anti-climatic).  The kids LOVED it, particularly the faux Wampanoag Indian demonstration.  I thought it was authentic, but occasionally it bordered on that Ren Fest type of feel which gave me the heebie jeebies.  At one point I asked one of the employees/actors/role players a question about the operation generally and he gave a round about answer, careful not to break character.  Ugh.  The Wampanoag were not actors, they were actual Indians (Wampanoag or otherwise) - the real deal.

There were live animals, houses that looked like they were left precisely as the pilgrims had them set up, cannons, old-timey tools, and every type of eager historian imaginable roaming around the grounds waiting to offer tid-bits of information about their day to day life.  The "actors" were very kind and patient with kids' often strange questions and concerns.  At one point Pete remarked that it was "so sad" when he noticed cow hide laying atop a rudimentary bench, and the historian handled his comment with grace while the rest of us cracked up.

Me, with the kiddos in the settlement fort:

View of the settlement from the fort:

Christian and the kiddos in the Wampanoag cooking demonstration:

The visit to Plymouth Plantation was followed by a quick lunch in Plymouth and a tour of the Mayflower II.  There was not too much to see on the Mayflower, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.  We walked over to check out Plymouth Rock after touring the Mayflower and the kids were a little surprised to see how small it is (1/3 of the original size because for years people chipped away at it for keepsakes).  It is also behind bars and below a gallery so that you cannot touch it, or get anywhere close to it for that matter.

Luz, James, Pete and Liam, waiting to climb aboard the Mayflower II:

Touring the Mayflower II:

Operating the pulley system - they loved this:

The rock.  Yep, that's it.  Really:

The trip to Plymouth was capped off with a stop at Ye Olde Candy Store (or some such place).  The main strip of Pymouth is to the town what Bourbon Street is to NOLA - tacky t-shirts, taffy, expensive mementos, postcards - in other words, a kids' paradise.  $20 later we emerged with enough saltwater taffy to last all week and couple of boxes of something called Bog Frog, something I wish I had never discovered (chocolate, cranberry, cashew, and caramel deliciousness).

Back at the beach we enjoyed a late afternoon swim, a few cold beers, and one of many incredible sunsets.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

MA Vacation 2012 Part 1

Despite still being completely addicted to the Olympics and busying myself with every type of  'end of summer-start of school year' task, I managed to sift through roughly 400 photographs from our incredible vacation in Humarock.  It is going to take a few days to post enough pics to give you an idea of the crazy fun we had over the course of a week, so bear with me.

We arrived in Boston on Saturday evening after a mid-day Jet Blue flight.  The cost of the Jet Blue flight was comparable to the other commercial flights from NOLA to Boston, which is incredible considering it was one of the only direct flights we could find and a layover with kiddos is a nightmare.  I travel enough to know how terrible air travel can be, particularly with kids, but somehow Jet Blue manages to  pull it all together with such ease.  Maybe it is that the planes seem somewhat newer.  Maybe it is that the seats feel roomier (the leather certainly helps and the seat back is by far the most comfortable of all of the commercial carriers - with the exception of a few Delta planes).  Maybe it is the great snack selection.  I think that all of those small details combine to make for a  more comfortable flight.   But the most important detail, at least for us this time, were the t.v. sets built into each seat back.  I watched the Tour de France and part of the Ironman Triathalon while the kiddos vegged out to 3 HOURS of Scooby Doo episodes.  Christian read a book and could have done without the t.v. altogether, but for me (and the kids) it was the best of a good thing.  I highly recommend Jet Blue air travel when possible.

Logan airport navigation was super easy and getting from the airport to Hertz to pick up the car (on a shuttle) was a snap and (sadly) happens to be one of James and Lucy's favorite memories.  The drive from Boston to Humarock was only about 40 minutes and we were totally entertained listening to Christian point out all of the things he remembered from childhood.  It was sweet and the kids loved seeing all of the places where he lived/played/went to school when he was their age.  

We arrived at the house and were instantly in love.  You would have been too, take a look:

Luz, outside of 98 Central Avenue

By the time we got to the house, unloaded the suitcases, and took a few long, deep breaths of fresh ocean air, it was late and getting dark and (yes, believe it) cold.  We headed to THE local restaurant, Bridgeway Inn for a delicious dinner, including my first lobster roll of the week.  If you find yourself in the tiny little town of Humarock, do not miss a chance to check this place out.  They serve all of the typical dishes you expect to find in a seaside NE town and they also happen to have some of the best pizza I have ever tasted.  Plus, it looks exactly like you want the main inn/tavern/restaurant in a small coastal town to look:

On Sunday morning we woke up early with the bright beachy sun, headed to a quick mass (and enjoyed an incredible cross wind thanks to the huge open windows in this lovely, simple church up on a hill) and then headed home to check out the beach.  Luz and James have been lucky enough to spend time at the beach every summer of their lives so far, but Gulf beaches are nothing like Atlantic beaches so it was entertaining watching them take their first steps out on to the rocks and dip their feet in the freezing water.  Despite the much cooler water, the kids loved being at the beach, building sandcastles and (most importantly) collecting rocks.  It was tough to break it to Luz that she could not carry the 10 lbs of precious pet rocks she picked out back to NOLA.

Luz, first day of rock collecting

Christian and James headed into Boston for a Red Sox game with Christian's Uncle and some of his cousins.  While the boys were off watching baseball and James was enjoying a very important Vaicius right of passage, Luz and I spent the day on the beach enjoying some much needed girl time with her precious cousins Delaney and Natalie.  Although the girls know quite a bit about one another thanks to the incredible internet, Facebook, blogs, etc, it was incredible to me that they were instant best friends, talking and playing like they have known each other for ever. 

Luz, Delaney (the blond) and Natalie, first cousins once removed (I think) and friends forever (for sure).

After a relaxing afternoon at the beach (truly, a totally rejuvenating experience - the girls played and I visited with cousin Stacey and Aunt Linda and just enjoyed the cool breeze and the warm sun on my face, oh, and maybe had a beer or two) we ended the day with the arrival of Nana, Papa-T and the Martin family (to say that their travel experience was not quite as smooth as ours is  an understatement and a post in and of itself) and a delicious pasta dinner prepared by Uncle Geddy.  It was a magical day for Luz finally getting to meet the girls and spending the day with them and for James seeing the green monster and experiencing Fenway.  We fell asleep with smiles on our faces and I do not think that changed for the entire week.

All of the second generation cousins - Delaney, Lucy, James, Pete, Samantha ("Sam"), Natalie (on the ledge), Liam and Brendan - Nana is in there too, right behind Luz.

And yeah, picture-taking proved rather challenging at times.