Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer Days 7/29, 7/30, and 7/31

Friday 7/29

Andrew worked from home and took the girls to the pool in the afternoon while I grocery shopped. Cheeseburgers and zuccini on the grill for dinner.

Saturday 7/30

A big day for us. In the morning, we went to a local Volvo dealership to test-drive Andrew's desired car, the XC90. It's a three-row car, much larger than our small wagon, and it's been clear for a while now that it's time for us to upgrade. So we test drove it and then L&G occupied themselves in the car dealership's kid-friendly waiting area (TV! Balloons brought to them! Snacks!) while we suffered through the ridiculous charade that is buying a new car. End result: we bought one. It's the third car of our marriage, and the first brand-new one. I hope we like it!!

L&G were freaking out during the test drive, beside themselves with excited proclamations of how much they loved the car, how we HAD to buy it, how they loved the white color (we're not getting white), how they loved being higher on the road, etc. They loved the sun roof, the AC vents, all of it. Dismayed to hear my hesitations over various things, Lucia turned to Andrew and said, "Daddy, can we count on you to buy this car?"

We'll see how much they love it when Andrew tries to enforce his no-food-in-the-new-car policy. Ha ha ha! (That's me laughing mirthfully at Andrew and his ridiculous plan, not at the kids.)

Saturday evening we gathered with some neighbors for a welcome-back party for other neighbors who'd been living abroad for the past two years. It was a fun way to end our rainy Saturday.

Sunday 7/31

Another rainy rainy day, but it didn't matter because this was my long-awaited visit to see the Diane Arbus exhibition at the Met Breuer. I went to yoga in the morning, showered, and then caught a train to the city while Andrew undertook the day's entertainment of the girls. The exhibition was interesting--early Arbus work that laid the groundwork for her later iconic images--and included one of my favorites, Xmas Tree in a Living Room. Then I walked across the park to the UWS, where I had falafel for lunch before heading back to the train, which I rode back to NJ with an iced coffee and a book. Lovely.

Andrew made an ambitious dinner--clam fritters, deep fried in a cast-iron pan on the grill, plus a plate of tomatoes and mozzarella. Even the kids liked the fritters, although toward the end of dinner Greta did say she was scared of her remaining fritter. Oh, and when she saw the fritters on her plate before she sat down, she said, "I don't want that. I'm outta here." Love that she's blossoming into such a demure, polite child.

And now the second week of our two-week at-home stretch begins.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer Day 7/28

Thursday was, yet again, a good day. I think we've reached a kind of turning point with little miss Greta. She's been pleasant and amenable to doing things like, you know, getting dressed and putting on shoes, with no wild whining that brings our day screeching to a halt. So, good. Maybe the whole Pinkie Pie Sweet Shoppe debacle will have led to something good in the end.

We didn't do too much Thursday morning, just hung out at home. Lots of playing with ponies, Shopkins, and Legos.

In the afternoon, one of Lucia's friends came over for a playdate. Lucia had been soooo excited, and they all had fun.

Some iPad time, leftovers for dinner, lots of reading (Princess in Black, Francine Poulet and the Ghost Raccoon, Stella Batts: Superstar), and we'll call it a day.

One thing I forgot about Wednesday. At one point during the day, L&G were happily playing downstairs in the basement with a bunch of toys they'd carried downstairs. I was in the kitchen, online-shopping for rash guards for our upcoming beach trip. Suddenly, I heard both girls screaming and sobbing. I ran downstairs, ready to break up a fight over a Shopkin or a penny or something, and found them both cowering at the far end of the playroom, sobbing, shrieking. "A BEEEEEEE!" they screamed. And, indeed, a bee was buzzing around one of the ceiling lights. It was big and scary and I wanted no part of it but, as the only adult in the house, was forced to deal with it. Finally it flew to the side of the room, allowing the girls to escape up the stairs, where they sobbed on the couch in my lap for a little while. Thursday morning, Andrew found a dead bee in the laundry area, and we thought that was it. But unfortunately it wasn't The Bee, which scared Lucia yet again Thursday, and this time it flew up into the mudroom, where it met its demise in the form of Lysol disinfectant spray and one of Andrew's shoes. Shudder.

Final note. Greta accidentally left two small toys in PA last week. She didn't know, and I didn't share the picture Gra and Pop-Pop had sent of them. Today, though, she was frantically searching for her prized blue pony, and I had to tell her it was in PA, along with her tiniest Beanie Boo cheetah. Some distraught crying and mourning ensued.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Day 7/27

Wednesday was a nice day, all around. The cleaners were here, which meant we had to be out of the house for most of the morning, so I took L&G to the mall with me to return some shirts I'd bought and no longer needed thanks to my super-deals at Gabe's last week. They were pleasant and happy at the mall and even tried on some rash guards, which I was hoping to find for our beach trip in August (no luck). There was no whining, no bickering, no silliness. We even went to Bath & Body Works and I sprayed the girls with their choices of body splash. (I'd gone there with the hope of finding some Sun-Ripened Raspberry products, which I'd heard they were bringing back--but alas, they brought back that scent only for June.)

When we got home, we had lunch and quiet time. A note on quiet time: it became clear early in the summer that the quiet time we've had all these years to this point--just playing in their rooms--was no longer going to work. The reasons are many. One: They already play a lot in their rooms and don't really need a separate time dedicated to this. Two: They don't want to play separately, and their joint quiet time was consistently become wild and/or filled with fighting. Three: I really really need an hour each day to myself so I can keep up with a summer-long freelance editing project I've taken on for the third summer in a row. So, quiet time is now their daily hour of iPad time. It works for us all and they get to just sit still in their air-conditioned rooms.

After that, we went to the pool for a while. They had a blast as usual.

For dinner, I made pesto with basil from my basil plant. After bedtime, Andrew and I watched the DNC. (An aside: I may or may not have been flipping back and forth on Tuesday between the DNC and The Bachelorette Men Tell All. Only I know the truth.)

NO WHINING TODAY FROM MISS GRETA. She still seems very aware of it and has even made a joke out of it. After the pool, when I remarked to the girls what a nice day we'd had, Greta gave Lucia a sidelong glance and whined "Moommmmeeeee! Mooommmmeeeeee!" then laughed--ha ha ha!--at her hilarious prank. Sooooo funny, Greta. It'll be even more funny when we don't have a daily conversation about shoving the fisherman and his army into the coffeemaker. (The fisherman meets his demise in all sorts of interesting ways when Greta reaffirms her pledge to no longer whine.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Day 7/25 and 7/26

Monday, it was back to normal here in New Jersey. Andrew went to work, and the girls and I had our day. It was a surprisingly good day all around. No fighting, no whining. We went to the library, had lunch, then went to the pool for a little while before going to gymnastics.

Going to the library has been really fun this summer, with the girls' interests expanding and deepening in new books and series. Lucia especially loves the Stella Batts series, which I like too. And yesterday we discovered our first Princess in Black book--really really great. I ordered two from Amazon because it's clear they'll be favorites for a long time.

Today wasn't as fully good as yesterday. Greta descended into some whining this morning, pushing me to my limit, but she eventually rallied. We had lunch and quiet time and then went to the pool for the whole afternoon. It's been in the nineties, so the pool has been a real relief since, of course, we don't have air-conditioning. Both girls had a ton of fun swimming.

I'll offer a bit of hope: though there were a couple of whiny episodes today, Greta does seem like she has an increased awareness of it and has been able to snap out of it faster. Let's hope.

Summer Days 7/23 and 7/24: Connellsville

Saturday, Mom and I took the girls to the Yough River Trail for a bike ride. They rode three miles with barely a blink of fatigue--Lucia rode far ahead, zippy; and Greta, too, pedaled fast enough so that I had to run to keep up. They had a lot of fun. Afterward, they played by the river, "not going in the water."

Andrew flew back from CA that evening, so I drove to Pittsburgh to meet him and go out to dinner with three of our friends. We had a great time--building the case for a move to Pittsburgh someday...

Sunday was the day of an epic Parenting Fail. As you may recall, we embarked on our week in Connellsville with a grand agreement: Greta agreed not to whine, and she and Lucia would receive the Pinkie Pie Sweet Shoppe set in return. Lucia's part of the bargain was not to bicker with Greta so much. Neither girl fulfilled her end of the deal for the entire week. There was a lot of whining. There was a lot of fighting. Requesting pristine behavior for a week was a rookie mistake, because the behavior was NOT PERFECT, but how could I not give them the set they'd been pining for? I felt hoodwinked. Totally hoodwinked. We compromised before getting in the car to drive home, and I let them have a few of the figures but not the shop itself. Anyway. I won't make a grand bargain like that again.

That said, they were both exceptionally good travelers on the drive home, which was great.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Days 7/21 and 7/22: Connellsville

Thursday, Lucia, Greta, and I started off the day with a visit and swim at the home of some of my very very old friends, along with another old friend and her daughter. It was so much fun to see all the kids in real life, not just Facebook life. Lucia and Greta had a blast. They'd swim all the time if they could. We were there almost two hours and they got out of the pool only once, to eat a donut.

Mom's cousins were in town so the girls played at home the rest of the day. They made a big mud puddle outside, in which their ponies played.

Today, I went for a walk on the Yough Trail first thing--if I could start off every day this way, I would. What a peaceful, beautiful place. When I got home, we all walked to a rummage sale at a nearby church. It was underwhelming. Unfortunately, Greta's disappointment at not finding a treasure propelled her into a downward spiral of whining that she couldn't break out of. So much for the Pinkie Pie deal. Mom and I got her to get into the car to take a trip to East Park, but she whined the whole way there, and we went the tough love route: I stayed at the park with Lucia, Mom drove Greta back to the house and left her, sobbing, with Dad, then drove back to meet me and Lucia.

Mom, Lucia, and I had a ton of fun at the park--Lucia waded in the creek and found an old bone (shudder), we walked through the scary tunnel, we explored an old cemetery. I tried to scare Lucia by telling her that if she sat down on a gravestone, a ghost would wake up and follow her home. She was eager to try it out.

Greta had bounced back to the world by the time we got home and was calm and pleasant (mostly) for the rest of the day. Whether the tough love had any effect remains to be seen. She was VERY UPSET to be taken home, and she's definitely able to understand why that happened. We'll see.

Tonight I went to Gabe's and found some great deals--clothes for myself, and some Equestria Girls on clearance for L&G for birthdays. Nice.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Day 7/18, 7/19, and 7/20: Connellsville

Monday, Andrew drove into Pittsburgh to work at the Pittsburgh office for the day. After our Idlewild outing, we took it easy at home, just playing here. We visited Grandma and Florence at Beechwood. Afterward, Mom had promised L&G some new Shopkins, so we went to Target to pick some out. Later, L&G and Mom and I took a walk/scooter ride around the neighborhood in the evening.

Tuesday, we all drove into Pittsburgh together to go to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Such a wonderful place. Andrew got to stay with us for about an hour, before Ubering to the airport to catch his flight to CA. Mom, Dad, the girls, and I stayed at the museum. L&G like the dinosaurs and the gems, but more than anything else they love the Hall of North American Animals--beginning with the gruesome diorama of the lion attacking the camel and rider. They also love the bears eating salmon, and anything that depicts a predator attacking or planning to attack its prey. Greta really liked feeling all the different animal pelts. They are captivated by these depictions of violent natural life. We had lunch at the museum, walked around a bit after that, hung out in the sculpture garden for a while, then headed home.

On the way home, we stopped for frozen yogurt at Trailside Treats.

Today (Wednesday), Mom and I took the girls to visit Beechwood again, and then we drove to Marcel's so I could select a new addition to my sculpture garden. I chose a seated angel, very large, about the size of my gargoyle. She's lovely. She's also extremely heavy--a burly man loaded her into the back of my car, which is where she'll have to stay till we're back in NJ.

This afternoon was an ill-advised attempt at a slip-in-slide I'd bought a few weeks ago and brought here. It didn't work properly and then Lucia landed on her knees, hit her chest, and knocked the wind out of herself. It's going back to the store.

Tonight Mom, L&G, and I went to play at Linda's. L&G were so excited about all the wonders of Linda's yard--the trampoline, the tree swing, and the playhouse. They had a blast.

All day they were in and out of hysterics because of an insipid Barbie video Greta stumbled across on YouTube. It's a short Barbie skit in which Barbie's sister Skipper and Skipper's friend Allegra wait in line to get tickets for a concert by a Justin Bieber-like heartthrob. The heartthrob turns out to be a spoiled brat and etc etc etc. But at one point, trying to get attention, he turns his baseball hat to the side and says he needs to get his "swaggety swag." The girls find this beyond hilarious and acted out the scene all day with their Minnie Mouse baseball caps. They laugh to the point of incapacitation each time they do it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer Day 7/17: Connellsville

We made a big plan for today: Idlewild. It almost didn't happen, because Greta succumbed to a fit of whining in the morning and refused each and every part of the preparations, including but not limited to putting on sunscreen, putting on her shoes, and putting on her clothes. We got her out the door, and by the time we got to Idlewild she'd rallied, and she was fine the rest of the day.

I hadn't been to Idlewild for thirty years, I'm guessing, but I have vivid memories of pieces of it, and it was fun to be back. We started off in Storybook Forest. L&G liked going into all the little houses and identifying the storybook figures along the way. They met Princess Lily in the castle at the end.

Then we went to Jumpin Jungle, which they loved. They REALLY loved the ball pit, and liked doing cannonball jumps into the balls. They both even climbed the huge rope-net climb thing, which is notorious in our family for an incident in which a young Molly got stuck in the middle, unable to go either up or down, and had to be rescued by Dad and Uncle Don. Shockingly, both girls scrambled right up. Lucia looked like a little spider zipping to the top.

We did a bunch of other things there as well--they liked it all.

Then we had a picnic lunch in a pavilion before heading to Raccoon Lagoon.

Raccoon Lagoon was also really fun. The girls did the hand-crank cars, teacups with Andrew (three times of insane spinning), the little ferris wheel, the boat ride, and got prizes at the fishpond. We were all amazed at how uncrowded it was, and how perfect for this age. Plus: lots of shade.

We made one misstep for the day: trying to go to the Soak Zone waterpark. It was blazing hot, stampedingly crowded, and way too splashy for L&G. They liked the lazy river, so we did that a couple of times, but then we high-tailed it out of there.

We got some ice cream after that, and rode the merry-go-round, and got more prizes from the fishpond. Our final ride: the hot air balloons. Andrew and I and the girls all went on together.

And then we made it back to the car and came home. It was a super fun day. L&G really had a great time. It was a big, active start to our Connellsville week, one of our fun to-do's to cross off the list.

Summer Day 7/14, 7/15, and 7/16: Connellsville

Went to the pool Thursday afternoon. Got rained out by a huge rainstorm. Went to the diner later for dinner.

Friday 7/15 we drove to Connellsville for the next big portion of our summer.

Saturday: Connellsville! The girls are so excited to be here, and so are we. In the morning, L&G asked us to leave them alone with Gra and Pop-Pop, so Andrew and I took a run/walk on the Yough River Trail and then went to Gabe's and lunch at Panera.

In the afternoon, Mom and Dad went to work at the St. Rita's Church Festival, and we met them there at 5pm for some delicious food. L&G loved the food as well and then had a blast playing down by the river. Our festival fare: cavatelli, meatballs, manicotti, pierogies, sausage sandwich, fried dough, ice cream. Food bliss.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Day 7/13: A Grand Agreement

Today was much better than yesterday. This morning, L&G played with their ponies for a long time, and then we went to the zoo. We rode the zoo train and the carousel, looked at the snakes and lizards, and Lucia touched lots of stingrays. Then we had lunch and quiet time. Then we went to the pool, which was less successful today because it was overcast and the water was cold and the girls were too chilly to stay for very long. They each had an ice cream there and then we went home.

We read a bunch on the porch today. We finished Stella Batts: A Case of the Meanies and read most of Daisy Dawson Is On Her Way, and Lucia read a few paragraphs herself.

Tonight a teacher from our preschool invited me to her book club--they'd read Each Vagabond by Name this month and I joined the discussion. Really fun to talk about the book and the inspiration for it.

Greta made a grand pronouncement today: she will NOT WHINE the entire time we're in Pennsylvania. In return, I will buy her and Lucia the Pinkie Pie Sweet Shop playset. I agreed to the deal. It'll never happen in a million years. Then again, she really really wants the playset. She refrained from having wild screaming fits at bedtime for four nights in June to get a Beanie Boo octopus; so, who knows? The sets are on clearance right now at Target, so I went out tonight and bought the last two, just in case.  She told Andrew that the "fisherman" will not be coming to Connellsville because he's stuck in her closet and his head has gone through the ceiling.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Summer Day 7/10, 7/11, and 7/12: Home

We drove home on Sunday. We'd planned to spend most of the day in NH but it was pouring rain and the girls were surly so we just called it a wrap.

Monday, we hung out at home, went to the library to get some new books, and then had gymnastics class. Of course Greta put up a fight about going, but then Ollie, her Beanie Boo octopus, suggested to me that if I gave Greta a hug she'd change her tune, and lo and behold, it worked. Sometimes I have serious worries that Greta is a schizophrenic.

Today. Oh, today was a doozy. The girls woke up in a mood and were attempting to kill each other at the breakfast table. I was able to jump ship to go to the chiropractor, but when I got back Andrew left for work and we had to forge ahead with the day.

Fortunately, they were in better spirits by that point and spent most of the morning riding things around the driveway and soaking each other with the hose. They were having a great time so I didn't intervene. We read a lot on the porch once they dried off. After lunch, we had some quiet time, and then we went to the pool. Oh, wait: there was a Greta interlude here, of her refusing to put on her bathing suit and screaming about how much she hated sunscreen. Then, the whole way to the pool, she went on and on about how she couldn't control the "fisherman" and how the "fisherman" made her have fits and she wasn't able to stop it. Am I supposed to be worried at this point? At what point does one worry?

They had a blast at the pool and I had to drag them home. While I made dinner, they sat on the couch and looked at some Look & Find books. That was nice and peaceful.

And then things completely fell apart. They were both immersed in sections of an Oriental Trading catalog during dinner, and neither was very interested in eating. There were some mild squabbles about who had the better half of the catalog (I'd torn it in half). Then Greta announced she had to go to the bathroom. At this point, Lucia jumped up, raced Greta to the bathroom, and elbowed her out of the way, sitting down on the toilet as Greta screamed in rage. Greta proceeded to PULL LUCIA OFF THE TOILET as she was peeing. Pee was all over the floor. Both girls were screaming. I was yelling.

And that is how Andrew found us when he got home. Sigh. Greta was still apopleptic with anger. She couldn't BELIEVE Lucia had elbowed her out of the way. She neglected to tell Andrew the part about pulling Lucia off the toilet. When he asked how pee got all over the floor, she said, "Mommy will tell you."

I have a headache.

On the brighter side of this day, I went to the big church rummage sale tonight and got several wonderful additions to my portrait gallery.


Saturday, July 09, 2016

Summer Day 7/9: New Hampshire

Our last full day in NH and it rained all day. We made it through, for the most part. Lucia wanted to work on "The Ghost of Mystery" right away--she'd even written a page on her own before we went downstairs--so we did that. We're marking up her sight word flash cards with key words she's learning for the story--ghost, mystery, spooky, scary, hunter. She's very motivated and excited about the project.

We read books and played Memory and the girls played with their Num Noms. Greta likes hers more today, mostly the Nom that vibrates and scuttles around the table. The others she sometimes wants and sometimes gives to Lucia.

We tried to get L&G to go for a rain walk, but they were uninterested. Later, though, after a little iPad time, we corralled them outside to the woods to check on the fairy doors. They got totally wrapped up in creating more elaborate fairy setups with fern leaves, sticks, and other found materials. They worked on those for a long time. In the woods we could barely feel the rain.

For dinner we drove to the Harpoon Brewery, which Andrew loves going to. The cooped-up girls had been running around the house screaming like banshees before we left for the restaurant, so we thought the whole excursion was doomed, but at the restaurant they busied themselves with their Equestria Girls coloring books and were good as gold. Greta, the day catching up with her, at one point nearly fell asleep at the table while we waited for our food.

We stopped afterward at our favorite ice cream place, one last time for the week.

Very sad to be going back to NJ tomorrow.

One more thing--yesterday, at the cocktail gathering of Littell Road neighbors, we learned about a creature that lives in our woods: the "fisher cat." People were talking about its viciousness and ability to hunt other creatures to the death, even porcupines. Doesn't that sounds terrifying--a fisher cat? I Googled it, of course, and it's a medium-size weasel-like creature a little bigger than a housecat. It makes a terrible screaming sound that (thanks to a YouTube video) Andrew and I realize we've been hearing outside at night. And here we'd thought it was a Sasquatch.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Summer Day 7/8: New Hampshire

Back in gear a little more today. I read lots of chapters of the latest Critter Club book to the girls this morning. Then we spray-painted some rocks with hot pink spray paint we'd bought at Walmart. While that dried, L&G did some batting practice with Andrew.

It was cloudy and seemed likely to rain all morning, so we squeezed outside things in while we could. We took our stone fairy doors and put them by trees in the woods by the house. They looked so cute--we'll hunt for them again when we come back next time. Then we had lunch, and then we went back to the creek. The creek magic was in full force today, and L&G played like crazy, sending their Equestria Girls downstream again and again, getting soaked in the process. They loved it.

The rain never came, but we took another trip to Walmart anyway so Andrew could get another plastic bin to finish his organization of the linen cupboard--a haven for mice during the winter. While there, we let the girls each buy a pack of Num Noms, which they'd seen on our last Walmart trip and freaked out over. I have to say, they're pretty cute.

They played with their new Num Noms solidly for the next hour when we got home. Sometime during that time, however, Greta decided she actually DIDN'T like Num Noms because of their smell. They do, indeed, have a strong smell--that's part of the product, like Strawberry Shortcake dolls. She went from kissing the package at Walmart to turning them all over to Lucia, who was, of course, thrilled but also confused as to how anyone could not like Num Noms. For the rest of the evening, Greta intermittently warmed to the Num Noms, then rejected them again, then warmed. We'll see what their relationship is like tomorrow.

The Num Noms really are super-cute. Greta's whims are a thing of mystery.

Before dinner tonight, we went to William and Nellie's house for a gathering of all the (very few) neighbors who live on Littell Road. We'd seen them all in passing but hadn't formally met, so this was a very nice introduction. While the adults chatted, L&G ran around the pool, "not swimming" but getting soaked as they threw their Equestria Girls into the water.

This morning, Lucia requested a new notebook so she could begin writing a chapter book called "The Ghost of Mystery." We got new notebooks while we were at Walmart, and, indeed, she began writing it tonight, complete with a 1 in a heart to denote Chapter 1. So far, it reads: "One day, long ago, there lived a ghost who lived in a barn." She'd been telling pieces of this story to Greta all day, and--testament to Lucia's burgeoning storytelling abilities--Greta is terrified of the "ghost." Greta, little baby, wants so badly to keep up and said she'll write a story too, called, alternately, "The Missing Fish" and "The Fish of Mystery."




Thursday, July 07, 2016

Summer Day 7/7: New Hampshire

Quiet day today. L&G are tired. We've been doing so much physical activity and today they were beat. It was cloudy, so we just had a low-key morning, reading Ivy & Bean and Critter Club books, coloring, etc. We went on an errand to Walmart. We had lunch.

Then we set up our rock-painting shop and painted a bunch of the rocks we've collected over the past few days. As usual, I was the most into it, but come on--how cute are my stone fairy doors? Tomorrow we'll hike into the woods and nestle them against welcoming trees.



Later, we all went to St. Gaudens, which was open for an event for the local hospital, and walked around the grounds. L&G are reeeeaaally excited about the idea of finding four-leaf clovers, and they both hunted around for them as we walked. Lucia actually did find a four-ish-leaf clover--a regular clover with what looked like an extra leaf growing out of one of the leaves--and we decided that definitely counted.




Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Summer Day 7/6: New Hampshire

Had a bit of a quieter day today after yesterday's hike. This morning we went on a wildflower walk in the large meadow. This was Greta's request, a great one that we were all excited about, so it was particularly frustrating when she threw a fit about putting sunscreen on and refused to go. On the bright side, Lucia and I had a lovely walk together, where Lucia picked some flowers and asked a lot of questions about things Molly and I did when we were little. I told her about Molly and Pop Pop's Gift--sighting four-leaf clovers--and she was intrigued. She wondered if she would get the Gift, since she was the oldest, but seemed troubled when I said I didn't have it even though I was the oldest. Time will tell.




Greta and Andrew joined us after a while and Greta made a wildflower bouquet as well. Then Lucia became determined to collect an entire bucket of red berries to turn into a "poison jam," so we got a bucket and returned to the field to collect. Greta opted to stay at the house and beg Andrew to pick all the tiger lilies.

We had lunch and some cool-down time inside after that--it was a blazing hot day--and the girls used the iPad for the first time since Friday while Andrew went for a run and I caught up on some work.

Later, we took a swim in William's pool. If we had a pool in our backyard in NJ, I don't think L&G would ever do anything but swim. Seeing how much they love it makes us want to install one. We won't, but we want to.

Once it cooled down, Lucia smashed up her berries and made poison jam sandwiches and tacos and toasts with leaves and stones. Greta collected some berries too and joined in.

Then they gorged on Doritos while I drank a glass of wine and looked out at the sunsetting fields. *exceptional parenting moment of the day*

Dinner: grilled stuff. Burgers and chicken and sausages. Corn on the cob. I cut the corn off the cob with a knife for toothless Lucia.

We're reading Ivy & Bean books like crazy, as well as Critter Club books. Both series are really cute. Greta so desperately wants to read and practice sight words like Lucia--this morning, Lucia was going through her flashcards on her own, and writing out the words she knows in her notebook. I really think it drives Greta crazy not to be able to do these things. She's going to learn to read super-fast, I think, just because she's so determined to keep up with Lucia.

Final note: both girls signed up for our local library's summer reading club, which gives out little rewards for each hour you read. This is fun, and the girls are into it, but reading is such a standard part of our day that none of us ever remembers to "record" our time, and our time is so absurd anyway that it really doesn't matter. Especially in the summer, we must read for two hours over the course of each day. I was reminded about the book reading challenge we'd always do during grade school--the prize was a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza for whoever read the most books. I was always one of the winners, with page after page of book titles written out on looseleaf paper.

Okay! Andrew's whipping up a batch of Bisquick biscuits so we can have some late-night strawberry shortcake. See you tomorrow.

Summer Day 7/6: New Hampshire

Had a bit of a quieter day today after yesterday's hike. This morning we went on a wildflower walk in the large meadow. This was Greta's request, a great one that we were all excited about, so it was particularly frustrating when she threw a fit about putting sunscreen on and refused to go. On the bright side, Lucia and I had a lovely walk together, where Lucia picked some flowers and asked a lot of questions about things Molly and I did when we were little. I told her about Molly and Pop Pop's Gift--sighting four-leaf clovers--and she was intrigued. She wondered if she would get the Gift, since she was the oldest, but seemed troubled when I said I didn't have it even though I was the oldest. Time will tell.




Greta and Andrew joined us after a while and Greta made a wildflower bouquet as well. Then Lucia became determined to collect an entire bucket of red berries to turn into a "poison jam," so we got a bucket and returned to the field to collect. Greta opted to stay at the house and beg Andrew to pick all the tiger lilies.

We had lunch and some cool-down time inside after that--it was a blazing hot day--and the girls used the iPad for the first time since Friday while Andrew went for a run and I caught up on some work.

Later, we took a swim in William's pool. If we had a pool in our backyard in NJ, I don't think L&G would ever do anything but swim. Seeing how much they love it makes us want to install one. We won't, but we want to.

Once it cooled down, Lucia smashed up her berries and made poison jam sandwiches and tacos and toasts with leaves and stones. Greta collected some berries too and joined in.

Then they gorged on Doritos while I drank a glass of wine and looked out at the sunsetting fields. *exceptional parenting moment of the day*

Dinner: grilled stuff. Burgers and chicken and sausages. Corn on the cob. I cut the corn off the cob with a knife for toothless Lucia.

We're reading Ivy & Bean books like crazy, as well as Critter Club books. Both series are really cute. Greta so desperately wants to read and practice sight words like Lucia--this morning, Lucia was going through her flashcards on her own, and writing out the words she knows in her notebook. I really think it drives Greta crazy not to be able to do these things. She's going to learn to read super-fast, I think, just because she's so determined to keep up with Lucia.

Final note: both girls signed up for our local library's summer reading club, which gives out little rewards for each hour you read. This is fun, and the girls are into it, but reading is such a standard part of our day that none of us ever remembers to "record" our time, and our time is so absurd anyway that it really doesn't matter. Especially in the summer, we must read for two hours over the course of each day. I was reminded about the book reading challenge we'd always do during grade school--the prize was a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza for whoever read the most books. I was always one of the winners, with page after page of book titles written out on looseleaf paper.

Okay! Andrew's whipping up a batch of Bisquick biscuits so we can have some late-night strawberry shortcake. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Summer Day 7/5: New Hampshire

Going to bed. A quick rundown of a busy, fun day:

L&G, miraculously, slept till almost 9am, after not getting to bed till nearly 11pm after our fireworks excursion.

Went to the creek in the morning. The Equestria Girls were floated, thrown, balanced, and othewise adventured in the water.

The girls got tired around lunchtime, so we took it easy for a little while and read some books.

Then we rallied and took them on a huge hike to the top of Mount Ascutney--they had fun, and the view was amazing. Lucia was like a tiny Gollum, running and jumping along the rocky path. We told her over and over again to slow down, but of course she didn't, and of course on the way down she fell. Lots of tears, but she's okay. We went out for well-deserved ice cream afterwards.


Girls collapsed in bed. We ate dinner after they were asleep, outside, watching the sunset. Lovely. Oh, and yesterday, since we were out in the yard long past our usual time, we saw two deer. And a skunk right by our car when we got home from the fireworks.

Greta has declared several times that when she grows up she wants to raise horses. I can totally see her doing that. Living in some remote location, raising horses, maybe having a farm stand, not interacting with other people too much. I like it.

Summer Day 7/4: Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a strange holiday for me to love, but love it I do. Maybe it's because for the past few years we've made a point of celebrating it in New Hampshire, and making our Fourth of July stay one of the longest of the summer. This is when we try to stay here for at least a week; sometimes, depending on when the holiday falls, we're lucky enough to stay even longer. That's this year: we're here for 10 days.

We started off the Fourth with a parade in Plainfield, as we do every year. L&G get so excited about this parade--it's the only one we go to each year, and candy is thrown in abundance. They collected a huge haul that almost made up for the blazing hot sun we were standing in. My favorite part of the parade: small bottles of chocolate milk handed out by a local dairy farm. This is small town America, right here.

After the parade, we had hot dogs and pulled pork sandwiches from the firemen's BBQ tent.

In the afternoon, we went swimming at our cousins' pool. The girls had so much fun. They love the pool at home, but inflatable toys aren't allowed there; it was new and exciting for them to actually get to swim with their giant donuts in a swimming pool.

We BBQ'd at home for dinner, roasted some marshmallows over the grill, and then killed a little time before driving to a town called Hartland, NH, for fireworks. It was time to blow bedtime totally out of the water.

We drove to the river where everyone had set out blankets and chairs, and settled in to wait. Greta began fading around 9pm, as we continued to wait, while Lucia's energy level sky-rocketed to the point where she was a thrumming, boinging blur of child. As it got later and later, with still no fireworks, we almost called it a failed experiment and headed home. But then, at 9:30, the fireworks began--a pretty fantastic display for such a tiny town. Worth the wait.

We had some encounters with aggressive, pickup-truck-driving humanity as the sea of cars in the parking lot pressed toward one tiny exit after the fireworks ended, but we made it out unscathed. The car in front of us was literally wrapped from bumper to bumper in duct tape, which made the driver's engine-gunning, cutting-us-off surprise move more impressive than angering. It was a car up for anything. Our undented, NJ-plated Volvo bowed its head in humble defeat and slight embarrassment.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Summer Day 7/3: New Hampshire

Another ridiculously early rising for both kids. They were both awake by 6:20am. They colored and played upstairs for an hour until Andrew took them downstairs. (He got to sleep in yesterday; today was my turn.)

Once we all reconvened, we traipsed down to the pond once more. I floated around in the inflatable boat we got last time, which is extremely peaceful, even if paddling around means dredging my hands through all the algae. It's fun to get up close to the little frogs floating around on the leaves.

While Andrew made lunch, the girls and I collected some rocks on the road. Forgotten in yesterday's post: picking bouquets of wildflowers, the first activity of any visit here. The black-eyed susans are in full force here now.

After lunch, we gathered ourselves and went to St. Gaudens for the Sunday concert. We laid out a blanket and spent the first half of the piano performance in surprising peace: Andrew and I laid down and listened, and L&G colored pictures in their notebooks and played with their Rainbow Dashes. We looked at some of the sculptures on the grounds during intermission and then headed out--the Rainbow Dashes were getting a little boisterous. We went out for some ice cream at our favorite spot and then headed home.

Dinner: steaks and baked zucchini for us, Annie's Bunnies (and attempts at zucchini) for L&G.

Everyone's very excited about the Fourth tomorrow. We can only hope they'll sleep in a bit more to make it through our much longer day.

Summer Days 7/1 and 7/2

On Friday, Andrew returned from California. It's always tough when he's away but it's even tougher in the summer, when there's no break for me whatsoever during the day and evening. BUT he returned, and brought plush Rainbow Dashes in matching purses for L&G, and after loading up the car, we set out for NH. It was the longest. drive. ever. Traffic warnings on whatever app map thingy Andrew' uses sent us a roundabout way that was lovely but looooong. And everyone kept having to go to the bathroom.

We didn't get to NH till 6pm, so we just stopped at our favorite pizza place for dinner before heading to the house. This made us all happy.

Lucia woke up at 5:30am on Saturday, and Greta followed at 6:30. This is not usual for them--they reliably sleep till 7am or sometimes even 7:30 or 8am these days. But up here, something changes--the light is brighter, the world seems to wake up earlier, and the birds are crazy-loud outside our windows. They played for a while upstairs and then the day began.

Fortunately, it was a lovely day. We started off with some pond-swimming. I'd gotten them girls giant inflatable donuts at Michaels, and they had a blast playing with those. After lunch, we went on our annual strawberry picking adventure at a nearby farm. It's always so much fun. L&G love picking any kind of fruit, and they were totally excited about strawberries. They each ate a million, dramatically biting into each one and swooning in exaggerated bliss. Lots of fun. We tried not to go too crazy this year, since we still have a lot of jam from last year's outing. But it was hard to leave the berries behind.

We made a big stop at the grocery store and then grilled chicken and ribs for dinner.

We're here for 11 days. We can settle in.