Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Last night we decided to try to take full advantage of the holiday happenings and take a tour of the lights around us-even though there is no snow.  I looked up where lights are on grkids.com, printed a list out, and was ready to go!

I envisioned the children snugly in their jammies with their faces pressed against the window peering out in the dark at all of the decorations in awe.

The children were snuggled in their pajamas, but I had to shut my eyes tight and bang my head against the window to see the rest of my vision come to light. (which you understand is all an illusion)

We had given the kids a bag of kettle corn, a rare treat, and had each of them pick an object associated with the season to count in the decorations we would see.  Reindeer, Santa Claus, and snowmen were chosen.  I thought this would be a fun game and keep their eyes on the decorations.  
Upon pulling out of the driveway, we already heard that there were no snowmen around and we would NEVER see one.  We should have pulled right back into the garage at that point.  But, no.  We had a picture perfect family moment in our head.  (Or at least I did)

Everyone loaded into the car, the oldest a bit grudgingly.  We couldn't get the side sliding door to shut in the mini van.  This is a problem that's been going on for a super long time and each time I bring it in to get repaired the technicians swear that it didn't malfunction on their watch, even though it has malfunctioned in their garage as I unload the kids.  But I digress.  The door is forced shut by the blunt force of my husband. 

The car is now telling us that the door is not shut.  Alarms are going off and none of the interior lights will turn off.  We scramble to find the manual to tell us how to turn off the lights. (I already know how to override the alarm.  I've been doing that for months)
Mission accomplished.  We are now on our way.  My vision of those cute noses against the windows while hearing sighs of contentment by my offspring will not be deterred by a stupid minivan!

Two minutes into our drive we hear a voice ask how long this would take because his stomach hurts from the popcorn.

Five minutes from the house we are at the first destination.  Lights everywhere and blow ups fill the yard.  The kids were impressed, but there weren't enough snowmen.  Santa was at a huge advantage in his appearances on the lawn and the fun game was turning into an all out brawl.

Game cancelled after the first seven minutes of our magical light journey.  I declared no prizes, no winners, just look at the cool decorations like I did with my grandparents when I was a kid! (Insert rising blood pressure as voices and arguments escalate in the minivan which was feeling increasingly mini as I listened to the crunch and smack of the popcorn in my ear and the whirl of air seeping into the not really closed side door.)

Our next stop was a little longer to get to, but it was an actual light show with music!  The kids would definitely appreciate that! 
On the way there are no snowmen!  Yelling about people not displaying snowmen follow.  Mom issues a gag order.  
The kids make up a new game naming songs.  The youngest sings the songs instead because he doesn't  know what they are called (listening to the words he is singing we realize he doesn't know those either!  Peach pourage hot peach pourage cold...). Fighting follows as to what is allowed.  The chuckle and glow I had from hearing the wrong words sung quickly dies and a threat of another gag order is issued if they can't stop yelling.  And of course I yell this.  Let's not kid ourselves here, you would yell too!  The kids are ruining my vision of their cute innocent faces enjoying the wonder of flashing electricity! 
We reach the house with the musical light show.  Look at all the lights flashing and dancing!  Look at the snowman!  Look at the penguin choir!  Wow!  It would have been nice if the kids were exclaiming all of those observations, but no.  It was me.  Kids try to issue a gag order on Mom so they can concentrate on their game.   
Time for the music!  We forgot the music!  That will make the night feel more festive and joyous without a doubt!  Nope.  The radio does not work due to something with the door and it has reset and needs a code. Mom actually growls under her breath at this point.  Ok.  Let's pull it up on our phones.  Do you know how many 105.1 radio stations there are out there that you can access via the Internet?  Just keep downloading apps to see if one of them are it.  In the mean time, the kids could care less about the lights or the music, they continue to chew in my ear, and bicker about songs.
This is the most wonderful time of the year.  Sigh.  Let's just head home and put the kids to bed.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New England Vacation - Duck Flop and Wood's Hole

On a Tuesday we ventured into Boston.  Yes, we drove in and found parking by the mall downtown.  It actually wasn't that bad.

Since everyone was gung-ho about the Duck Boat Tours they have in Boston and said they were a must do, we made this our first stop with a plan to explore some of the Freedom Trail after the tour.

Even the best made plans aren't always meant to be.  The Duck Boat Tour was a total flop.  The kids were bored out of their minds and I may have even dozed off for a bit during the ride. I don't know if it was specifically our tour guide or if all tours are like the one we had, but it sent the kids in a downward spiral with us as parents deciding that trying to coax three children to explore a big city was beyond our energy level and simply wasn't worth the effort.


After grabbing a lunch in the mall we made our way back to our home base in Falmouth.  We ended up in Wood's Hole, a small fishing village that is encompassed by oceanic research facilities.  There are very nice beaches around the area and a handful of restaurants, but not much else.  The research facilities do offer some hands-on activities with ocean animals, but they weren't open for the season when we were there, unfortunately.  We did eat in a nice tavern that overlooked the harbor.  We watched the ferry to Martha's Vineyard load up cars and passengers while we ate.

After dinner the kids took a swim in the pool.  It was not sunny nor was it warm so they were the only ones around, but that made it all the more fun for them so their boredom was forgotten and they went to bed happy!

New England Vacation - Chatham, Kayaks, and Clams!

Our second day in the Cape Cod area was one of our favorites!  We took our time getting up even after our rooster son got us all up!  We journeyed to Chatham.  This is what I envision Cape Cod towns to be like.  It had a cute Main Street with many restaurants and shops.  Not far from Main Street was the beach and a light house.  The homes that lined the beach were unbelievable!  This is what I imagined when I thought about the Cape.  People riding their bikes into town and walking from home to the beach!

We only stopped in Chatham briefly to walk the beach and have lunch in town.  I would have loved to peek in all of the shops and explore more, but the kids can not grasp why one would even set foot into a store if you already know you are not going to leave with a new purchase!


Chatham shoreline

Stopping to smell the flowers, but they won't look to take a picture

The Chatham fishing pier

We stopped for a little ice cream!  It was all homemade

We headed up the coast to Orleans where we stopped for homemade ice cream and then ended up in Eastham for a kayaking trip in the National Seashore.  We did this adventure through Cape Kayaking Tours.  Jonathan was our guide and he did a fantastic job.

We changed into suits, life jackets, and water shoes, and had a brief lesson in controlling the kayak.  Lola rode in a two person kayak with me and Tyce went with Ryan.  I have kayaked on lakes in Michigan but never somewhere where there was a current and you had to be conscious of the tide or risk being stranded on sand!  We kayaked through the marsh and saw a lot of wildlife.  It was very beautiful and a very nice easy trip.

The best part of the trip was the times we pulled the kayaks up on shore and learned about the sea creatures of the area.  The kids had a blast locating and digging for a variety of clams.  Ryan and Jackson even sampled some of the clams raw!  We didn't bring clams home with us, but dug holes and put them back in and covered them up so the birds wouldn't get them.  We also found crabs scurrying around and paddled around an oyster farm.

Tyce and Lola trudged through some murky mud and while Lola got her shoe stuck and lost it for a bit, Tyce was startled by a crab that tried to hitch a ride on his foot!  For a child that rarely shows fear, the look on his face when he felt the crab was priceless and still makes me giggle a little!

Trying a raw razor clam!  It tastes like lobster!

The tour was timed out very well and although it was a little on the chilly side, we loved every minute of it.  The kids wanted to do it again!

We ended the day by stopping in a little pizza shop which was off the tourist trail.  Ry was thrilled that it was such an inexpensive meal.  The kids were thrilled it was pizza.  I was thrilled they were all happy!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

New England Vacation - AAARRR Pirates in Plymouth

This year we were fortunate enough to take the children and go out east for a week long vacation.

Sometimes I wonder if the trip itself is as good as my excitement is about planning it.  I jump in with both feet and just go to town!  I always type up an itinerary with addresses and phone numbers and time to travel to the location.  I am a planner and I love it!  The only thing I didn't love about planning this trip was that we had a foster child at the time who couldn't go with us.  She had to be left behind so I had to plan for that as well and I would have much rathered plan for her to go!

Our first big adventure started first thing with having flights cancelled and being rerouted.  Thank goodness for electronics and outlets in the airport to charge things up!  Unfortunately, we spent the entire day flying and didn't have any play time in our new location of Falmouth, MA.
Breakfast out!
The next day, however, was a different story.  I take for granted that our entire family are morning people!  The sun comes up and Tyce is our rooster letting everyone know that if the sun is up then everyone else should be too!  Getting an early start was a good plan though!  We drove into Plymouth where we saw the Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II.  Our children were more interested in the dead crabs along the sea shore then the rich history of the area, but I feel like I did my job at least giving them some exposure to it and a visual to connect to the Thanksgiving story they hear each year.

Plymouth Rock

After a bit of exploring we boarded Lobster Tales, a boat cruise that goes out of Plymouth.  We had booked a pirate cruise and walked the plank to the boat (which was more like a pontoon then a pirate ship) with tattoos, scars, mustaches, and pirate hats of course!  The day was sunny and gorgeous and the crew was ready to get us going!

The boys were ready with tattoos!  Doesn't Jackson look thrilled!

We used a map to find the treasure

The Pirate ship with the treasure!

Looking for the pirate

Fighting for the treasure!
As we left the harbor we had great views of the Mayflower II and happened to come into contact with a pirate ship!  This pirate was mean looking and ugly!  He had a water gun and blasted our boat!  The kids had water cannons to shoot back at him to try to win over the treasure!  The kids were never sprayed with water, but apparently Ry and I looked hot and got sprayed by the pirate from his ship!  The battle was intense with seaweed flying back and forth and the kids yelling for the treasure!
Jackson playing along with the captain

Nothing worked to win over the treasure so we agreed that a member of our crew would have to be exchanged for the treasure.  The volunteer?  Jackson!  He played it up and even had his shoes off ready to jump over for the good of his crew!  (It was a very proud moment for his parents!)

I don't want to spoil all the secrets of the trip, but we did finally get the treasure and the kids LOVED the booty!


Toasting our achievement!
 We continued out further in the harbor and stopped to pull up a lobster trap.  If our oldest, who is 11, wasn't into all the pirate fun, he definitely was into the lobsters and other creatures we pulled aboard!  The trap was full of different crabs and lobster.  The kids were able to hold them all and have a race with the crabs.  They learned how to tell the difference between male and females and how to measure lobster.  They loved it!!

On our journey back in the kids had some Pirate Brew and did some dancing and the limbo.  This trip was filled with fun and I would definitely recommend it 100%!  The crew did great involving all the children and connecting with what they were interested in.

This was a great way to begin our week out in New England!

Of course for lunch we had to have lobster because Jackson claimed just seeing the live lobster made him hungry to eat one!  The younger kids weren't all that impressed so they stuck with chicken fingers. :) It was a good lunch and then back to the pool to relax and swim!