Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer: Fri., 7/21 - Mon., 7/24

Fri., 7/21

The kids had a fun day on Friday, after the debacle of Thursday afternoon. It was another scorcher, but Lucia, Greta, and I went on a really long bike ride on the trail--about three miles!--despite the heat. L&G were definitely wiped out but they didn't complain at all--Greta rode up ahead, and Lucia rode behind us, taking her time. She told me she likes riding last because she notices more things. She spotted a concrete tower (I have no idea what it actually is) and was fascinated by it, suggesting it was a snake temple.

After our ride we joined Luca, Mom, and Dad at the pirate playground in Yough River Park. The slides were too hot to go on, but the kids walked along the (extremely muddy) sand for a while and explored. They played in the pool the rest of the afternoon, having a blast.

At dinnertime, we set them up to watch Descendants (the girls' current favorite movie), and I drove into Pittsburgh to have dinner with some high-school friends. It was a lot of fun. A giant shark bowl of liquor with extremely long straws was involved. Andrew was getting in at 6:30am the next morning, so I spent the night at Beth's, and he Uber'ed over when he arrived. We had breakfast with Beth and Nate and then drove home.

Sat., 7/22

It was a pretty rainy day on Saturday, but we occupied the day somehow. Splashlings, running around the house, Little People playground equipment with Splashlings, books. In the afternoon we went to the Soisson House (the moneypit on Pittsburgh Street) to show Molly the progress. Even the kids went. There are gaping windows and many holes in the floor, so the tour was a bit precarious, but they all liked going into the tunnel. It was raining again, and the kids all splashed in the rivers of rain water by the curbs on the way home (and after).

Sun., 7/23

Our last day in PA. Andrew, Lucia, Greta, and I took a bike ride, and L&G made me out to be a liar by complaining a lot of the time (where were the strong bike-riding adventurers from Friday??). We tried to join everyone else at the playground after, but it started pouring, so we had to cut the park time short. At home, I gathered a few bags of stuff from the attic to donate (an ongoing project), and we packed ourselves up. The drive back to NJ was a nightmare--downpours almost the whole time, traffic at a crawl. We even had to pull over at one point because I couldn't see the road. Sigh. L&G played with Splashlings, played with their boxes of treasures Pop-Pop gave them (small pieces of silver paper, rainbow straws), watched Descendants and some My Little Ponies, and listened to music.

Mon., 7/24

Lots to catch up on after being away so long! I gave the girls a bath in the morning because we got home too late last night. Our dryer is broken, so I couldn't do laundry, but I unpacked and took the girls grocery shopping. L&G were deep into playing in their rooms before dragged them to the store, with a sundry mix of toys--Calico Critters and their house, My Little Ponies, Splashlings. All their tiny favorites. We began a new book, The Meanest Doll in the World. Lucia's little best friend came over in the afternoon for a playdate. Lucia was out of town for her birthday party, so she gave her a gift (Splashlings) and they and Greta played for three hours.

Later, L&G watched Descendants 2, which was just released a couple of days ago. Monday down.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer: Thurs., 7/20

It's always fun to discover new fun things to do in SWPA. This morning we headed to Nemacolin, where we explored all the amazing things to do for free on the resort grounds. First, some impressive animal habitats--lions, tigers, mountain goats, hyenas, and more. Next--the hit with all the kids--was the miniature golf. They had a lot of fun and played all eighteen holes. Then we had lunch and ice cream in a little cafe, where there was also a giant aquarium and a room with a beautifully displayed shell collection (like a mini shell museum). There was a foosball table, too, which the kids played with despite having no idea how to actually play. We were at Nemacolin for about four hours--a lovely way to spend the day.

The rest of the day was difficult. Three is a tricky number of kids sometimes, with alliances forming and odd kids out, and with the heat and the kids already tired, it was quite a slog to bedtime. Thank goodness the first half of the day was so much fun. Nemacolin is definitely going onto my list of things to do for our annual summer week.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer: Wed., 7/19

Another scorcher. These hot hot hot days are hard on everyone. I'm glad I'm not in NJ, though, since we have no central AC! But still, here, we're outside a lot with the kids, so we are immersed in the heat. Luca came today, and the kids had fun playing in the pool again. We did go out on the bike trail in the afternoon, despite the sweltering temps; all three kids rode well (as did I!). Later, we went to Linda's to play in her magical backyard.

A mildly annoying heat headache has just blown up into a full-blown headache, so I'll keep it short tonight.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer: Mon., 7/17 and Tues., 7/18

Mon., 7/17

A busy day in SWPA. We headed to Pittsburgh this morning for our annual summer visit to the Carnegie Museum. The first thing we saw was the gruesome diorama of the camel and courier being attacked by lions. L&G are absolutely mesmerized by this every year. Lucia was incredibly interested this time, while Greta was more freaked out than anything else. They asked lots of questions about why lions were attacking, how it felt to be attacked, whether we'd be attacked by lions ourselves, whether the animals in the diorama were real.

Next, Lucia requested that we see paintings, so we headed to the art wing instead of the natural history wing as usual. We all enjoyed walking through the galleries. L&G were particularly interested in how people sat so still while their portraits were being painted.

Then we went to the Hall of North American Mammals, always our favorite. Then we took a snack break, and finished off with Gems and Minerals.

We had a late lunch at Eat N' Park, and then the girls played outside for the rest of the (late) afternoon until bedtime.

Mom, Dad, and I sat outside talking to friends later that evening, and then--at 8:30pm--there was a knocking at an upstairs window. It was Greta, looking down at us. I went inside, and she was crying--her very very very loose tooth had finally fallen out, and she couldn't find it. She, Lucia, and I looked all over the beds and floor, but no luck. Then Greta said that actually she thought she'd swallowed it. She thought the Tooth Fairy wouldn't come because she couldn't find the tooth; I assured her she would still come, with a note and a gold coin. Tooth number two for Little Miss Grets.

Tues., 7/18

We started today off with a ride on the bike trail--and this time I rode as well! It was exhilarating! I can't believe I haven't ridden a bike since 2008--the last time was in Japan, when Andrew and I biked around to a few temples with borrowed bikes from the monastery we were staying in. I rode with L&G a good ways down the river trail. We ran into some problems--Lucia's training wheel flipped up, and she took a spill--and it kept loosening as we rode back. I took the girls' bikes to the bike shop a little later to get the training wheels tightened up.

Back home, we filled the pool Linda had lent us, and L&G were in the water for pretty much the rest of the day. It's a nice big pool--so much better than just a wading pool. They could really swim and play, and did, with gusto. Their Splashlings were constant companions in the water. It was a blisteringly hot day, so this was the perfect activity.

Mom and I wanted to visit Grandma and Florence but couldn't bear pulling the kids away from their fun, so we left them with Dad and made our visit. We did a quick Gabe's stop too, and I got some new sneakers for the kids. I always buy them before school starts, but there's no way we can make it through the summer--Greta's feet barely go into hers anymore. Gabe's to the rescue.

After the kids were in bed, I rode my bike all around the neighborhood. It felt like summer.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer: Sun., 7/16

A fun day in PA. Andrew left early this morning for FL, driving himself to the Latrobe airport, and Dad and I went to pick up my car later on. After that, I ran a few Greensburg errands (including Gabe's), the most fun of which was spotting my book in the wild at Barnes & Noble.

L&G had a blissful day of playing. They went to the playground, and played with water balloons and regular balloons. I gave them each a new pack of Splashlings, just for fun.

We went to East Park later in the afternoon. There are rich, rich people-watching opportunities on a weekend day here. L&G were wading in the creek near a pavilion where a woman was yelling at her very little kids (like 3-ish) incessantly. She may have been their mother, or the mother of some of them. Or maybe their grandmother. Another woman was there as well. One of the toddlers was wandering around barefoot, in a diaper. Some highlights:



Also overheard, defensively: "I mean, sure, I whup my kids upside the head sometimes, but who doesn't?"


We went to a different part of the creek next, where there is a large waterfall. L&G clambered down to the bottom of the falls, where they were walking around on some rocks. A young boy rode over to us on his bike, casually suggesting they may not want to play down there, because last time he was down there he saw six snakes, and one swam over his foot. We hustled the girls to safety.

Meanwhile, above the falls, a whole crew of kids were playing, marginally supervised by two people who may or may not have been parents of some or all of them. One of the boys--probably around 8 or 9 years old--was standing, barefoot, at the very edge of the falls, creeping ever closer, so close to the edge that we couldn't even stand to look at him. His mother (or whoever she was) was paying no attention. She walked to her car and got a cigarette, saying nothing to the boy. It was riveting and terrible.

Then Mom had an idea: "Girls, let's go to the tunnel and the graveyard!" Because this is Appalachia, and of course! The tunnel and the graveyard! The girls cheered. They were both very, very interested in the falling-over gravestones, wanting to know the names and ages, asking questions about the buried bodies, worrying that they were walking over dead bodies. Good times.

We rounded off our East Park adventure with ice cream at Dairy Queen. And more playing at home in the backyard before bedtime. A good day.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer: Thurs., 7/13 - Sat. 7/15

Thurs., 7/13

More fun for the kids at art camp--they're really enjoying it. They come home excited each day to tell me about what they did. It was a hot hot day, so we went to the pool right after lunch. L&G swam for well over an hour in the little pool, playing with their Splashlings, while I read a book. Things kind of derailed after that--Greta was in a clingy mood in the big pool, pulling at my arms and refusing to swim; then Lucia wanted to go back to the little pool but Greta didn't; and so on. We left earlier than any of us wanted, and picked up a few things at Target.

Andrew was supposed to be home by bedtime but his flight was delayed. I did the laundry only to discover that our brand-new dryer has ceased to work--we'll have to bring a trash bag of wet clothes to PA tomorrow.

Fri., 7/14

Last day of art camp. Andrew was back, and he and I packed up while the girls were out of the house. I met a friend for lunch and then picked up the kids, who were bubbling over with happiness about the fun they'd had on their last day. That was nice to see. We've been carpooling to camp with a friend (she takes the kids, I bring them home), and at dropoff time she surprised L&G with a blind-package of Splashlings.

They played with them for a good part of our hellish drive to PA--tons of traffic and downpours and detours. It was horrendous. Sigh. We made it eventually, much later than we wanted. I dropped everyone off at home and went to the St. Rita's Fair just to grab some cavatelli.

Sat., 7/15

Andrew and I met our contractor at the house this morning to see the progress and talk about the budget. It's looking so beautiful. We felt pretty good about everything after our meeting.

We mostly hung out at home until after lunch, when L&G went to the playground with Mom and Andrew. Dad and I walked past the Sycamore Street house (my ritual) and then joined them. Mom and Dad were working at the fair again, and Andrew, the kids, and I went there at 5pm to have dinner and play games. L&G had so much fun. They loved the cavatelli and manicotti, had ice cream, and won a bunch of prizes. Greta was on a streak of good luck, winning two of the long-odds games--she was nice enough to let Lucia choose a prize the second time, so they ended up with the same number of prizes. She can be such a sweetie when she's not wreaking havoc!

Unfortunately for us all, Lucia's proud prize selections are poop emoji pillows, which seem to have been made specifically for the second-grade demographic. Sigh. I suppose it was inevitable that they'd come into our house eventually.

We got fried dough before we left, and L&G both devoured it at home. "I love this fair!" Greta declared several times today. A fun day all around.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer: Sun., 7/9 - Wed., 7/12

Fell off the wagon with my blogging the past few days. Here's a catch-up:

Sun., 7/9

Our last day in NH. It's always a trial to get out of the house after being there for so long--lots of repacking and cleaning and closing up. But we did get in some pond time. L&G played "My Darling, My Love" for an hour and a half. I read in a chair. The pond was definitely the highlight of our trip this summer.

We had an early dinner at Pizza Chef and then got on the road. The girls watched The Descendents, their current favorite movie. They resisted going to sleep in the car. But eventually they did.

Mon., 7/10

Andrew left early for a business trip to CA, and I got back to my routine of getting up before the kids for some writing time. Today was the first day of their art camp--the only organized activity I chose for them this summer. Five days, 9:30 to 12:30, African art activities out of a local woman's backyard studio. They seemed to have fun. After lunch at home, we went to the library to catch up on redeeming their reading hours for prizes, and then went to the pool for a while. We ate dinner at the pool. Definitely calling it in this week with dinners. I'm on my own and it's just too hot to cook.

Tues., 7/11

Another day of early rising for me (which is amazing when they sleep till 8--I get two solid hours of work time), and then camp. Everyone, including me, was irritable today. The weather was humid and threatening storms, so we didn't go to the pool. We read books for two hours on the porch. The girls bickered. Not our best day of summer fun. I made turkey meatloaf in the slow cooker, and corn casserole, and of course the meatloaf they devoured last time wouldn't be touched with the tines of a fork this time. Cooking for my children is so fulfilling.

That said, we did rally after dinner, and I took them to the rummage sale down the road. It's the last time I'll be able to go (we're out of town for the remaining dates), and I'd promised to take them, and it was fine. We got some books, I got a miniature frame, and they chose a few extremely tiny toys. Everyone was happy with their purchases. I spent $7 total.

Wed., 7/12

A much better day today. Early work time (two hours!), kids went to camp, and we hung out at home a bit. I read to them on the porch. Then we made a concerted effort to find somewhere to buy Splashlings to take to the pool with us this afternoon. These are a new find--tiny, of course, a little set of a mermaid and some sea friends. I found them in stock at a nearby Toys R Us, so we had a little field trip. L&G were so excited. We went directly to the pool, where they played with their new things for an hour while I read in a chair. Money very well spent. Then we all swam together in the big pool, then they played again in the small pool with their toys (more reading time!), and then we had dinner there. A good day all around.