Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer and the livin' is easy

Each summer we send the kids down to Orlando where they get to spend lots of quality time with all the Florida relatives.  It's a win-win for all of us.  The family LOVES having them visit and I love the break it gives me.  Jeff and I enjoy the quiet in our house and get to the point where we really, really miss the kids.

I am especially proud of Ian and Sam.  They've grown so much in the past year and it has truly shown in their maturity and behavior this Summer.  My sister Lori took them with her to visit the parents of a friend from middle and high school.  My kids were exposed to a very upscale house and environment where a formal lunch was served.  As Lori put it, they even had chargers under the china.  Lori reported back to Jeff & me the kids were perfect and their manners top-notch.  Not only was Sam exposed to a lunch that was far from kid-friendly, but she held it together and politely ate a small amount of food served to her.  Lori had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches packed for Sam and Rachel as back-up, but didn't feel comfortable breaking that out of her bag at this fancy lunch.

Additionally during this visit, Lori and company hopped in two golf carts to make the 10 minute drive to their country club pool.  Ian very politely said to the host, "I know in a million years you might not answer yes, but my mom always tells me that it never hurts to ask, would it be ok if I drove the golf cart?"  Guess what?  She loved so much that Ian took a chance and asked, that she did say "Yes".   To say Ian was over-the-moon-excited is quite the understatement.  He couldn't stop thanking the friend for this wonderful gesture and couldn't stop telling his dad, me and everyone else that would listen that he got to drive a golf cart in a neighborhood with street signs, speed limit rules and other cars.  At one point, Sam chimed in from the background saying "Ok already!!! We get it.  You drove a golf cart!"   Ha!

Hearing of their afternoon at my sister's friend's parent's house makes my heart fill with joy.  It's one of those moments when you feel as a parent you are succeeding.

My sister wishes Ian and Sam could stay with them always.  I am not sure who is more in love; Rachel with her two cousins, or Ian & Sam with theirs.  It is very endearing to see them interact.  Almost makes me want to have another child...almost.

Meanwhile, back at home base, Jeff and I are making the most of our kid-free time and getting to do things that would normally require a babysitter.  We had a lovely night in Old Town, Alexandria and got to experience an Escape Room (so much fun!), dinner at a very yummy restaurant, sat by the waterfront, and got ice cream.   The next day, we saw a friend perform in the play "Music Man".   Its fun to make dinner only on the nights you want (just once so far!) .

Each night, we end our day FaceTiming with the kids and finding out what adventures they've been up to.  They've done a good job rotating and staying with all the different relatives. They don't get bored and it's nice they have this time to develop special memories without me involved.

Summertime is magical.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Our BIG Adventure!

It was the trip that almost didn't happen.   In an attempt to use my dad and stepmom's timeshare points before they expired, Jeff & I went back and forth many, many, many (did I say 'many' ?) times to find a destination we could both agree on.   Once we finally decided and found availability for the size unit we wanted (at least 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms), and the week we wanted to go, it became the trip that kept growing and growing.

We picked the Berkshires in Massachusetts because the surrounding radius offered so many activities for us to do.  And we knew we could do the drive there and back in a day.  Sunday to Sunday was when we'd be at the resort in Hancock, MA. Once that was booked, we thought it would be fun to do a day in Boston.  When checking out the baseball schedule for the Red Sox, Jeff and Ian got tickets for a game on Friday night.  Next thing you know, we are now spending two nights in Boston.  How fun!   Then I saw an article on the Top 40 places to show your kids and Plymouth was on the list.  How can we be so close to Plymouth (only 45 minutes from Boston) and not spend a day there?   Of course, we had to go!

We planned to leave by 7:30am on Friday morning (7/1/16), however, Jeff knew traffic was going to be bad driving to Boston (4th of July holiday weekend) so we decided to leave on Thursday evening.  We would drive to Delaware (therefore, bypassing D.C. and Baltimore traffic the next morning) and spend the night.  So our 7 night trip escalated to 10 nights. 

Wow!  What a trip!  What an adventure!  There were so many amazing things to be excited about.  I've never been prouder of my family.  Jeff and I planned a very 'outdoorsy' vacation.  Believe me, we are not an outdoorsy type of family.  I am most thankful for Vince Carrier and the invention of air conditioning.  I am pretty sure Jeff and the kids are not too far behind me in this appreciation. 

We wanted the kids to see what is out there.  I love showing them new things and seeing it thru their eyes.  We did it all!  Whitewater rafting, Aerial Adventure Park (ropes course), Zip Lining, Go-Karting, Bouncy Trampoline, Horseback Riding, rides like the Giant Swing, Mountain Coaster, and Alpine Slide.  It was one spectacular moment after another.   And I am so proud of how the kids and Jeff kept an open mind and gave it a try.  Besides being outside among the elements (you know, heat, bugs, sunlight), my people have issues.  Lots and lots of issues.  Sam is prone to meltdowns at any given moment.  You just never know when she is going to blow. And Ian has this fear of heights.   Somehow everyone kept it together and had a blast. 

We had a great time and truly felt like a family doing normal, family things without causing a scene wherever we went.  This is no small feat!

In Boston, we walked the Freedom Trail.  Yes!  Let that sink in for a moment.  The four of us walked a little more than a mile to the Bunker Hill Monument to officially start the Freedom Trail.  2.5 miles later, we all finished it and was still smiling.   Crazy, right?   We stopped along the way and took in all the famous landmarks.  Of course including a stop for gelato in the section that most resembles Little Italy didn't hurt either.  Could it be that my kids are finally starting to grow up and appreciate these really cool opportunities they are being given?  I hope so.  Sam logged 27,000 steps that day. 

The 10 days we were gone was some of the most active this family of four has ever been.  I do hope we can continue to do activities like this again without having to be in Massachusetts.  

Highlights:  Sam loved the street performers in the Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market area.  While Jeff and Ian were at Fenway Park, Sam and I walked around the shops.  But the street performances caught her attention and she was hooked.  It was pretty cool. 

Ian and Jeff spent the day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  It was just a 2 hour drive from where we were staying.  This had been a dream of Jeff's for some time to take Ian.  It was really cool that they were able to go. 

Both kids packed themselves!  I wrote on a piece of paper how many outfits, pajamas, underwear, socks, bathing suits.  They picked out everything themselves and put it in their suitcases.  Love this!

My family let me take as many photos as I wanted.  This was awesome!

Funniest video EVER of us on the Giant Swing:
Pay particular attention to Jeff and Sam asking for the swing to stop being raised, which can't be adjusted.  Then pay attention to Ian's face as the swing lets go and starts swinging.  Hehehehee.

Some of my most favorite photos:

Jeff and Ian at Fenway Park

Mayflower II in Plymouth

Beautiful sunset at the Pittsfield Suns Minor League game we went to on July 4th.

Ian, who is scared of heights, taking the "leap of faith" at the end of the zip lining.

Jeff and Ian at the Baseball Hall of Fame

That's Amy in the back of the raft.  She was our guide and very, very nice.

Sam enjoying a s'more!  Like really, really enjoying the s'more.

Starting the Freedom Trail in Boston