Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer: Wed., 8/16

Today was a pretty perfect summer day. I tried to get L&G to go to the zoo this morning, but they just wanted to play at home, which was fine. I'm not sure what the context was, but they both packed their small Hello Kitty suitcases full of socks and tights, and they were both wearing tights with socks over them and were sliding around the house.

Then Lucia said she really really wanted to make puffy slime (which we'd made once during the winter), so we went to Target to buy shaving cream and Elmer's glue. They also asked if they could buy a little box of blind bag Shopkins, with Lucia making grand promises of doing extra math workbook pages, and they were so excited when I said yes. (And she did do the math pages, as soon as we got home.) The new Shopkins are as tiny and cute as ever.

This purchase rekindled their love of Shopkins, which had waned for a while, and they got out ALL their Shopkins after that (which are now carpeting the floor of the living room). We had lunch, then we went to the porch to make the slime, which was super fun. It's a great result. When it was made, they brought out their Shopkins, sending them on adventures into the puffy slime.

At three, we headed to the pool with Splashlings. We'd arranged to meet up with one of Greta's friends, who's moving tomorrow to CA with her family--we brought her a pack of Splashlings as a going-away present, and the three girls had a blast playing together with their mermaids.

Then--finally--L&G decided they were ready to take their deep-water tests! I've asked them every time we go to the pool if they want to take the test (passing it allows them to go on the water slides), but they always say they don't want to. But today, when their friend asked if they wanted to go on the water slides with her, then assured them the test was easy when they said they hadn't taken it, they decided they were ready. And they both passed, yay. They were both so proud and excited. "I can't believe this is happening!!" they kept saying as they went on the slides.

They didn't want to take off their deep-water certification ankle bracelets and wore them to bed.

We also read some Heidi Heckelbeck today. I made turkey meatloaf and corn casserole for dinner. They watched an Elena episode. I had a drink with some neighbors after bedtime. Now Andrew and I are going to watch an episode of Silicon Valley. Summer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer: Tues., 8/15

I registered L&G for swimming lessons this morning--they'll be in Level 2 and Level 3. Greta probably isn't *quite* ready for Level 2, and Lucia is *almost* ready for Level 4, but this was the best I could do schedule-wise (and it's what their teachers from the last session recommended).

It was a rainy day. We played games in the basement (the family fun room, as we call it): two rounds each of Uno, Chutes & Ladders, and dominoes. Then I taught them Parcheesi. I'd forgotten how many rules there are, but they were getting into it. We finished The Runaway Dolls and read some of a Heidi Heckelbeck book. There were mentions of mimes and moonwalking in the Heidi Heckelbeck book, which led to me showing them YouTube videos of mimes and Michael Jackson, including the Thriller video.

After lunch, we went to the library, the post office, and Target. When we got home, I made a huge bowl of popcorn, and we sat on the couch for an hour and read the new library books. Then they watched an Elena episode while I made tacos. And that was the day.

It was pretty nice all around--no notable squabbling. I will say, though, that getting Lucia to do her math workbook pages is difficult. And I myself have trouble figuring out some of the math. Sigh.

I'm making progress on my 2017 resolution to get the best of my digital photos from 2009 to the present into photo books--hard copies, lined up on a bookshelf, that we can all look through. This is time consuming and somewhat impossible, since I feel like any picture I don't choose is being relegated to a digital boneyard, but it's important, and I WILL do it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer: Mon., 8/14

This morning I had a piano tuner come in to tune the piano, in preparation for the girls' piano lessons that start in September. L&G played on the stairs while he tuned. This has been their activity for the past couple of days--making elaborate setups on the steps with Calico Critter foods, eraser foods, Splashlings, Shopkins, Squinkies, and Num Noms. It's time-consuming and hazardous. Today it finally degenerated when Greta put a foot on one of Lucia's stairs.

We had lunch, read some more of Runaway Dolls, cleaned up the steps, swung on the swings, did math and handwriting pages, and then went to the pool. It was an overcast afternoon, and hardly anyone was at the pool--but L&G ran into one of Greta's friends, who ran into another friend, and the whole group of little girls played together with Splashlings in the little pool.

I made eggplant parmesan for dinner, using the friend eggplant Andrew made for dinner yesterday. Then the girls and I drove to Millburn to pick up Andrew at the train station, after other trains into Maplewood were cancelled. Then bedtime.

I'm quite tired despite the niceness of the day. I watched the final episode of season 3 of Catastrophe, and now I'm off to read.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer: Fri., 8/11 - Sun., 8/13

Fri., 8/11

Our last day at Bethany Beach. I went to yoga at 7:00 a.m. again--three times in one week. So lovely. Molly gave all the kids a set of Squinkies Do's when they got up, which they all loved. Then we put in another full beach day--lovely weather, despite the prediction of rain from earlier in the week. In the morning, the kids mostly played in the sand. "Remember when we were being chased by that baby?" Greta said to Luca. "Yeah," Luca laughed. And Greta said, "That was so fun." 

One notable part of our week--Andrew twice found a horseshoe / helmet crab in the sand. Huge and monstrous. Once he picked it up and threw it into the ocean, tail thrashing. The next time it was already in the water. Everyone hoped to see it on our last day, but it didn't appear.

After lunch, when the tide was further out, we all swam. Lucia, like in previous days, was in a new kind of watery, wave-jumping heaven. Molly carried Luca out a few times, and--at the end of the day--Greta finally let Andrew carry her out. I also swam, again pushing past my usual fear of deep(ish) ocean water. For dinner, we had pesto that Mom had brought. Then we went to the boardwalk for ice cream, and Mom and Dad bought the kids Beanie Boos at Candy Kitchen. Sadly, we had to pack up after the kids went to bed. Our last day at the beach. It was a perfect week!

Sat., 8/12

Drove home from the beach. Greta, in particular, didn't want to leave and said she wanted the beach house to be ours. The drive was easy. All of us got hash browns from McDonald's. L&G watched Descendants 2. Back home, we unpacked, I did a mountain of laundry (five loads of towels, sheets, and swimsuits), and Andrew made steaks and hot dogs for dinner.

Sun., 8/13

Yoga this morning (four times in eight days!!). Then we just relaxed at home. Andrew went for a run. I ran errands at Target and Trader Joe's. L&G played all day with various things--microphone-bubbles, Squinkies, Splashlings, Legos, Beanie Boos. They set up a Beanie Boo salon in the kitchen and combed the animals' hair with water and tiny Lego brushes. They swung a lot. We read a lot of Runaway Dolls. Back to regular summer now; our beach trip was the our final long trip.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer: Sat., 8/5 - Thurs., 8/10 (Bethany Beach)

Beach week! I’ve neglected to blog. I’ll try to capture the highlights of our week at Bethany Beach.

Sat., 8/5

Long traffic-y drive. But the beach house we rented for the week is beautiful--it’s two separate apartments on two floors, and we rented both, so there’s lots of space and bedrooms for everyone. One block from the beach and boardwalk. It couldn’t be better.

The four of us headed to the beach after we unpacked, and Mom and Dad met us there after they arrived. We got dinner from DB Fries and ate it on the picnic table in the backyard of our house. Then we went out for ice cream. A perfect first day.

Sun., 8/6

Beach morning. I went to yoga on the beach at 7:00 a.m., and then we all went out around 9. Molly arrived around lunchtime. The waves are really big here so we didn’t do too much swimming. Lots of digging, sandcastle-making, and collecting stones and shells. Obsessively collecting stones and shells. It was a beautiful day and we made the most of it, knowing the weather was going to turn the next day.

We made enchiladas for dinner (I made the chicken and red sauce at home so we just had to assemble and bake them here), then more ice cream.

Mon., 8/7

The day delivered what it promised: rain and storms and more rain. The morning was gloomy and rain-free, so we did go out to the beach for a little while. Luca arrived around 11:00 a.m., and as soon as he joined us on the beach it began to rain--we gathered everything up, rushed home, and then the deluge began. It rained for the entire day, mostly intense downpours. Just so much rain. We had lunch at home, and then the kids played spies, running around the house but quietly, because they were spies. A little while later, when there was a break in the rain, Molly, the kids, and I went out for a walk--and the streets around our house were completely flooded, up to the kids’ knees in places. The water was rushing up over the sidewalk at some points. It was crazy. Of course it started pouring again while we were out, and we all got drenched.

At 3:00 p.m., we put on Descendants 2, and then had dinner after that. Andrew and Dad went out to pick up BBQ from Charlie K’s--delicious. That brought us to the kids’ bedtime--successfully filling the rainy day.

Tues., 8/8

It was cool and gloomy in the aftermath of yesterday’s rain storms, but we managed to spend the morning on the beach, doing beach things. We ate lunch at home and then headed to Rehoboth Beach to go to Funland in the afternoon, which was pretty much the worst thing ever. The kids were all enthusiastic when we arrived, but the insanity of the close quarters, noise, and abundance of games with impossible-to-win prizes took its toll. Funland was not fun for any of us.

We made our escape, ditched our plans to find dinner in Rehoboth, and headed back to Bethany, where we returned to DB Fries for takeout dinners and ate on the beach, redeeming the day.

Tonight, after the kids were in bed, the adults played Taboo. It was lots of fun.

Wed., 8/9

I went to yoga on the beach at 7:00 a.m., which was lovely--sun rising, and dolphins leaping out of the water. So perfect it seemed staged.

We went to the beach in the morning and got out the surfer girl. Greta was enthralled and played with it more or less constantly for the rest of the day, tossing it again and again into the waves and running after it when it surfed back. Lucia discovered a new love of jumping in the waves--Andrew carried her out beyond the breakers. She even treaded water and swam a bit on her own. I went out too, with them and with Molly, even though the water was over my head at times--my comfort level with the ocean is generally knee-deep. But it was lots of fun being farther out--which, on this beach, isn’t even that far, because the water gets deep really close to shore. So we had our wave-jumping fun without having to go into shark territory (or so I’m telling myself).

Mom had brought stuffed shells, and she prepared those for dinner. Then we went out for ice cream. A pretty perfect beach day. Every day is fun as long as it’s not spent at Funland.

Thurs., 8/10

Absolutely perfect beach day. Molly and Luca went out this morning to get donuts from the Sky Pony donut truck, and then we all headed to the beach. We carry so much stuff there, but we have it down to a science by now. Greta returned to the surfer girl with as much obsession as ever. The waves were a bit too crazy first thing in the morning, making it hard for Andrew to carry Lucia into the water for wave-jumping, so she took an interest in Surfing Girl as well, which meant we of course had to go out to get another one. The toy store was sold out of girl surfers, but the employee arranged to have one delivered to the store later in the afternoon. (Andrew picked it up around 4:00 p.m.)

We had lunch at home, and then the tide was out, and we all got in some good swimming and wave-jumping. Lucia is just beside herself with joy when she’s out there. She’d stay out all day if Andrew didn’t feel like he’d collapse. Greta didn’t want to go out; she just wanted to play with Surfer Girl. Luca was reluctant but finally went out with Molly later in the day, and had fun too.

We’d planned to spend the entire day on the beach, and at dinner time we got pizzas from Pomodoro’s and ate on the beach (with some surreptitiously poured wine from our cooler). L&G played still more with their Surfer Girls--these things are the greatest beach toys ever. We didn’t leave the beach till nearly 8:00 p.m. It was a long long long beach day but so much fun. The kids are all having a blast, and so are we.

A highlight from today was at the very end, as we were packing up all our beach things and the kids were still determinedly playing and running around. A toddler ran over and began chasing the kids, and the kids began running around, screaming and laughing, yelling, “A BABY IS CHASING US! BABY: INCOMING!!!” It was hilarious.

Also, Lucia occasionally forgets a seagull is called a seagull and calls it a peacock.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Summer: Thurs., 8/3

A full, nice day. As soon as L&G woke up this morning, they wanted to go into the basement playroom to continue coloring in their metallic coloring books. Usually they play for a long time in their rooms, but this morning they had a single focus. We added metallic gel pens to the markers that came with the coloring books, which work splendidly.

With our beach week coming up, I spent some time getting things organized and packed. We read together, worked on our yarn wall hangings, and played a game. L&G swung for a long time outside. After lunch, they did their summer work (math, handwriting) and then we went to the pool. It was a good swimming day. Unfortunately, at 5:00 p.m., there were dark clouds and thunder, and everyone had to leave the pool. We were nearly ready to go anyway. At home, I "cooked" dinner (more random leftovers from the freezer--I was loathe to grocery shop since we are only here for three days) and the girls watched an Elena. A nice day all in all.

At one point today, they were involved in an elaborate game with mardi gras bead necklaces and plastic bracelets and rings--things they haven't played with in some time. Impressed with their endless capacity to find new ways of playing with old things, I said to them, "You know something I love about you girls?" Before I could go further, Lucia said, "We're creative?" And Greta added, "We're smart?" Clearly they don't lack for parental praise.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Summer: Sun., 7/30 - Wed., 8/2

Whew. Getting a little behind but I'm *determined* to note at least something about each day.

Sun., 7/30

A lovely day in NH. We went to the creek today--always a favorite place. A few Splashlings mermaids joined us, and L&G did their best to make them little boats out of pieces of bark. (This was only marginally successful.)

We went out for ice cream after lunch, and on the way home we stopped at Dollar General so I could buy a few supplies to make better Splashlings boats. The only thing I ended up really needing was a pool noodle--sliced into segments and then sliced lenghwise, they were perfect little boats. I also made some rounds, which were inner tubes. We used all of these things when we went swimming (with Splashlings) at William and Nelly's pool later in the afternoon.

We had a big dinner Sunday night--William, Butch (Andrew's cousin, staying in the house for the weekend), Andy, Cindy (both also staying in the house), and the four of us. Andrew made gazpacho and I made pasta with roasted peppers, feta, and grilled sausages. We ate outside. The girls made s'mores at the fire pit afterward. After they were in bed, the adults sat out back with the fire pit, watching the sun set over Mt. Ascutney.

Mon., 7/31

Andrew had to get some work done (gasp!), so the girls and I were on our own for some of Monday. We set out with Cindy to go blueberry picking, but the stars weren't aligned--the places we tried were either out of berries or not yet open for picking.

I read more of The Meanest Doll in the World to the girls after that, and then we went to the pond just the three of us. I've never been confident enough to take them in by myself, but with the life jackets and the rope and the rafts, I feel pretty well in control now--not afraid they'll drown, and able to navigate over to them if they get stuck in the reeds or algae or whatever. We stayed in for an hour and a half, just floating around.

We had another big dinner Monday night, the same group as Sunday plus Nelly. Andy made some pizzas, which were delicious.

Tues., 8/1

Andrew and I slept poorly because mice were scrabbling in the closet and walls of our room in the middle of the night, and then very clearly running around the room, under the furniture. Country life.

We'd all gathered in NH this weekend for a purpose--the memorial service for Andrew's grandparents, in Massachusetts. We all set out early Tuesday morning and drove to a cemetery in Shrewsbury, where the family gathered with the ashes of both grandparents. No one is religious, so there were some brief remarks and then we headed to a cousin's house for lunch. L&G will remember the cemetery, though, both for their presence at the burial and also the fact that they both found handfuls of giant turkey feathers--pretty spectacular, if I do say so.

The reception was very nice--mostly people I've never met, first-cousins-once-removed of Andrew, some second cousins. The house where some of these cousins live is actually the house where Andrew's grandmother and her five siblings were born. It was built in the 1700s and used to be a large farm. All the stories Nana always told us took place in that house. L&G were really captivated by the idea that this house was where Great Nanny (as they call her) lived as a child. They peered into every room, asking if the things they saw (like a bottle of hand soap) had been Great Nanny's.

We stayed for most of the early afternoon. The girls did well--there was a swing hanging from a tree, and a kind cousin to push them, and only at the end (overheated, tired) did Greta start to fray a bit. We left with Katherine, Patrick, and Thomas, and joined them at their hotel for a swim in the hotel pool. Katherine and Andrew's college friend Rachel joined us for a bit, and she brought cool metallic coloring books--black pages with metallic markers--for L&G. This was incredibly nice, and the girls are wild about these books.

Then we headed back to NJ.

Wed., 8/2

Home again, for just a couple of days before setting out once more for a beach trip. L&G played and swung and colored this morning. I dragged them on a very necessary trip to Target. I discovered that mice have taken up residence underneath our kitchen sink and chewed up all the paper towels (they must have traveled with us from NH.) We ate lunch and finished The Meanest Doll in the World. Lucia did some pages in her math workbook, and Greta practiced writing a few letters. We worked on yarn wall hangings. We dealt with some Greta whining. We ate dinner (random leftovers from the freezer). L&G watched two Elenas. I took outgrown socks out of their sock drawers while they combed water into their hair instead of brushing their teeth. Just another summer day.

NH selfie

Tables set for dinner in NH

Nana's childhood home

Lucia sitting on a wall in MA from the 1700s

Car selfie, with beloved animals