Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pardon the Interuption...

To take a break from the recap of our vacation, Miss Meredith started walking last night! She has been taking a few steps here and there without holding onto anyone or anything for a few weeks now, but last night she was racing across the living room!

We all get excited, she gets proud of herself and then we all clap. It's so funny. And no, we haven't gotten it on video yet. She may be better off than some other fourth-borns as far as pictures are concerned, but videos of her, there is very little. In our defensive, we haven't really taken much video of any of our kids. It's not something that I'm proud of because I know that it is something I will regret in the years to come. I just want to capture a little bit of their bodies, their voices, their words in each stage of their lives, and I'm sure video is the best way to do that.

Feel free to remind me to charge the camcorder and use it!

Day 3: 44 Anawan

After breakfast we headed into Hyannis to visit where Cape Cod Beer is made. It's a small business that was started only six years ago when a man started making beer in his basement and his wife would drive around delivering it in her mini-van. This was all told to me secondhand because luckily they had a train table in the front room of the building, because the kids were not interested in standing in a hot brewery! Afterward we had a nice lunch at a restaurant called Tugboats, overlooking the harbor.

In the parking lot of the restaurant is where we parted with Billy, Joe and Erin. They headed to Providence, Rhode Island, in their rented car to catch a flight home. It was such a nice weekend with them, we were sad to see them go.

As with many vacation sites on the water, there is limited access getting around in a car. There is a two-lane highway (Rt. 6) that gets you from one city to another and with the amount of cars on the Cape it takes awhile. However, I completely understand that you don't want highways overtaking your scenic landscape, and if I was a resident I would just tell myself to suck it up. (I just noticed that I haven't complained about driving lately and wanted to stick that in there.)

When we got back to the house we got the slip 'n slide out and the boys enjoyed the rest of the afternoon that way while Meredith napped. You can see how dried out the grass is in the yard. What you can't see is the gorgeous hydrangeas bushes. That was the first thing I noticed when we got on the Cape is how different their hydrangeas are: rich, deep blues and purples that you don't see in Cincinnati. Every yard had some and with it being my favorite flower I was extremely envious!

While Louie and Benny perfected their Pete Rose slides, Charlie wasn't having any of the sliding. He enjoyed jumping in the pool at the end, drinking the water that sprayed out and getting "surprised" by the sprinkling of water.

Aunt Joanie brought a new DVD along of all the highlights of the Reds, from the Wright brothers up to RedsFest '09. It's an amazing video and the boys--especially Lou--soaked it all in. He has memorized different players' batting stances and homerun trots. He wants to wear all his shirts like Ted Kluszewski (sleeveless) and loves the part dedicated to the wire-to-wire season in 1990 when they won the World Series. Specifically he says he likes "when the guys pour stuff on the other guys' heads!"

That evening Aunt Cassie, Uncle Paul, Katie, Billy and Sarah came over for dinner and while the meal was being prepared the boys all played a game of wiffle ball. My boys have a way of asking people to play with them that basically makes you feel like you'll break their hearts if you say no. Billy (my cousin) was suckered into pitching to them, but he insists that he loved every minute of it.

We brought out the dining room table under the trees in what the sign on the fence said "Seaside Garden" and had a very nice supper of hamburgers and pasta, and root beer floats for dessert to combat the heat, of course. (Thankfully Kevin took this picture for you to see!)

As I've said, the Cape was experiencing a heatwave that is not common in this area, or we picked the one week of the year that residents wished they had central air. The bedrooms all had window units, but the main parts of the house did not. They only had a few small fans, so we spent a good amount of time outside where it was cooler.

The inside was very nice, though, with multiple spaces to hang out, read a book or watch a movie. Often with vacation houses it feels somewhat generic, with bare minimum decorations and details. This was not the case with the house they call "The Retreat." Being seaside, almost all the decor was nautical with seashells and starfish, mermaids and boats placed around the house, without being overwhelming. I wish we had taken more pictures of the house!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 2: Fun Celebrations

The morning after the wedding we were invited to a brunch where the wedding party, the family, some out of town guests and, of course, the newlyweds were attending. It was a lovely morning at Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul's house they were renting.

Afterward, we headed to the bay, which was only a few minutes drive from where we were staying. At the bay there are numerous "pools" that are good for boogie board gliding...or whatever you call it. Not that any of us did that, but we saw some kids having a great time doing so.

We wanted to make sure everyone that was at the bay that day knew we were tourists. We walked the trek to be fairly close to the water, even though the majority of the people were close to the dunes. And then proceeded to move all our stuff three times. You live and you learn, I suppose.

The kids had a blast making sand castles. They really got into it. Here is Charlie wearing a candy necklace from the wedding's candy bar. I couldn't convince him that it was a good idea to take if off, so it just made his neck sticky while dissolving. Yuck.

The water was so shallow so far out, that people who went walking out there looked like they were related to Jesus. With it being so shallow it made the temperature fairly warm, which isn't what we were expecting for East coast waters.

We found out the following day that area of the country has been experiencing a dry spell and that's what accounted for the massive amount of flies. Flies from our neck of the woods wouldn't have been too bad. Massachusetts flies are a different story. They bite! Hard! They draw blood! Luckily, it wasn't bad until the end of the afternoon. We ended up leaving a bit before the others because Ben was bit three times and he flipped out. It's understandable, though, especially after getting bit myself.

After a nice nap, we all went back to Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul's for dinner, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. A delicious dinner with friends and family, we are so blessed to have been a part of their celebration, a part of their lives. They are such a great couple and we love them very much!

Congratulations Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul!

Day 1: Gorgeous Wedding

As I've stated before, I'm a procrastinator but I never would have guessed that I'd wake up on the morning of the wedding to finish the boys' ties. I found Meredith's dress a few months back and then found similar fabric to make ties for the boys. Thanks to my mom, I was able to have them done by go time.

Not a great picture of Diane and Alex, but all my pictures in the church were pretty bad. This was the best! What a beautiful couple they make.

The boys, happy to be outside, relaxed against this wall.

Then Mere-Bear joined the bunch. She adores her brothers.

The family picture--wish Gracie was there!

Contemplated making this our Christmas card pic (which I would not have posted), but I'm hoping that by December Meredith will have more hair. And look at the camera.

The brothers all wore the same tie--Go Reds!!!

These brothers, and their matching ties.

All the details of the wedding were perfect. When you came in your seat placement had a starfish (or a lobster sucker if you were a kid) and the table name--all authors. We sat at Jane Austen, and each table had a quote about love by that author.

They had a photo booth, which was a lot of fun, but the whole family enjoyed the dancing part. Below is Meredith with Aunt Cassie on the dance floor. Toward the end of the night the entire reception broke out into "God Bless America." Not as good as Ray Charles, but pretty neat, none the less.

The reception was at a resort on the beach and into the night there were fireworks over the ocean. All in all, a very good time.

Interstate 95, Oh How I Loathe Thee

Again, we planned to leave by 8am, but finally got on the road a little after 9am. We didn't think it was a huge deal because the trip to Brewster was only supposed to be seven hours. Why we'd ever think a computer could tell us how our trip was going to go is beyond me.

I'm curious as to if anyone who lives in the NJ/NY corridor ever drives 95. From what I've heard since, there's no way around it. But the thing that killed me was the tolls. How can people on a daily basis afford eight and nine dollar tolls that come seemingly every half mile? I naively thought that tolls would be something like eighty cents. What do they do with all that money?

Sorry. It wasn't all bad, I just think that when you're expecting one thing and then get something vastly different it can be hard to stomach. There were some good things that happened:
  • We got to see Camden Yards, one of our favorite stadiums, not long after we left DC.
  • We're pretty sure we saw the new Meadowlands field, home to the Giants and Jets.
  • Got very familiar with the different boroughs of New York, as we sat there and stared at the buildings.
  • The boys finally got into the Silly Bandz craze. At the end of the school year it was all the kids could talk about, even though my boys really had no idea what they were or why, necessarily, they were cool but they knew they wanted some. Before we left Cincinnati, I was at Kroger and picked up a package, thinking that it would be good to bring out at our breaking point. And it actually worked for a while. If they boys didn't fight/scream/throw tantrums (all things that I wanted to do during the three hours that we sat in traffic) I would give them one silly band after different time increments. Just as an fyi, the novelty wore off rather quickly.
For people who are familiar with this area, it is probably comical to read what I have to say about it. The few times that I've gone to the city to visit have been extremely enjoyable, so I'm not knocking the town by any means. But putting five people in a car, three of whom are ages six and under who find enjoyment in antagonizing each other, with no exits in sight, it makes for one tense trip.

But by 8 o'clock that night we had finally reached our destination and there waiting for us was some great local pizza, cold drinks, and one cute little baby!

Monday, July 12, 2010

DC Bound

I married a procrastinator and I, myself, am a procrastinator. Not a great thing, but we also don't get too upset with each other because we kind of understand how each other works. I'm leading with this because we had "planned" to go to bed at 9pm so that we could wake up to leave at midnight.

Yeah. That didn't happen.

I went to bed at 10:30pm waking in a daze to find Kevin sometime later because he hadn't gone to bed yet. He, I think, went to bed around 11:30pm, and I woke up at 1:30am to take a shower and Kev was back up at 2am or so. Meredith had left for my parents the day before and the boys went to bed fairly easily. I wasn't sure what they were going to be like when we woke them up about 2:45am, but they were excited and grabbed their pillows and blankies and headed for the van. They were up for a bit, but soon fell back asleep.

We were under the impression that this day was going to be the more difficult of the two, as far as driving was concerned. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in DC around before noon, no worse for the wear. I'm going to post some pictures now, so you don't turn me off too quickly.

Not a pretty picture, but I think it's the fault of the flash.

Nine hours later we arrived in Arlington and Uncle Jeff offered to take the boys to the park while Kevin and I took a nap. The boys found the sprinkler system in the grassy area next to Jeff's apartment and I could hear their screeching delight all the way up on the fifth floor! They were happy to be there.

We went to lunch at this great Peruvian restaurant called Super Pollo. It's a casual place where you carry your tray to your table. Kevin and I have been to a sit down Peruvian restaurant in Miami that was incredible. I don't know what seasonings they traditionally use, but I think we're going to have to scout out one around home because it's really good.

Jeff had been talking to the boys about going mini-golfing for a while now, so that was our next stop. I was impressed that there were no club or ball throwing in frustration. Not that they would ever do that...nor get that sort of behavior from their mother.

That night we packed sandwiches and headed to the National's game. This was a special treat for the boys because their beloved Adam Dunn now plays for the Nats. My favorite part of the game was the mascots race. I love a live-action mascot race and really hope that the Reds decide to do one in the coming years. The Nationals' version is hilarious. Four former presidents--Abe, George, Teddy and Tom--are included with their over-sized heads. The picture above is of Teddy and naturally became my favorite because he has never won a race. The overall standings are: Abe (140), Tom (91), George (86) and a goose egg for Teddy. Because of this there is a Let Teddy Win movement. It was awesome to hear the entire stadium screaming "GO TEDDY" while four people literally ran a race. This isn't a goofy trot around the field; the Presidents are running their hearts out and it was hilarious.

It's a nice stadium. There's not too much architectural detail to set it apart from other ballparks, but there isn't a bad seat in the house and it does have a nice water view where you can see a battleship and in another direction you can see the Capitol building.
The Nats won, by the way, beating the Mets 2-1.

We had left by that point, going to see the monuments before anyone fell asleep. It was too late for that, though. We drove by some of the major sites and decided to stop at the Lincoln Memorial to walk around. Charlie was out and Jeff stayed with him while we took Lou and Ben to see Abe.

They were so funny about it, asking all sorts of questions. Why is there this gigantic man sitting in a chair? Was he a real person? Does he live in there? How did he die? Is his body in there? I guess it does seem pretty bizarre, especially when you go at night and everything is lit up and you have people crowding around taking pictures of a giant made out of stone. Must be very confusing to be a kid. After numerous attempts to explain the situation, Kevin told them that all they have to do is remember that they were there and they'll learn all about it in school.

No vacation would be complete without some ball being played. The next day we went to a nice field with a batting cage that the boys wanted to try out that is across the street from Jeff's complex. Kevin and Jeff's cousin Dean was in town, having a weekend break from his time at a nearby Naval base, so he was able to play baseball with the boys and join us in our sightseeing.

The subway system was a real treat. I'm a big fan of public transit and I think DC's is one of the best. The boys were fascinated by the whole process, if not a bit scared at first of the speed of the trains. And then there was the time that Dean saved Ben's life. Jeff tried to explain to the boys that you have to stay on the right side of the escalators because people who want to pass you go on the left. It was rush hour and Benny was on the left side. I was carrying the stroller; Kevin had Charlie; and Jeff was with Lou. A stampede of people were rushing down the escalator and Ben's eyes widened in fear. Those people weren't going to stop! Dean swooped down and picked Ben up, high above those people who were about to step on my second born. What are they, cattle?

Our first stop was the International Festival they held on the Mall, with different countries having tents with entertainment, food, and demonstrations. That didn't hold a lot of interest for the boys, so we headed to the Air and Space Museum, which was definitely something they could get into.

I should mention that this particular day was Uncle Jeff's birthday and we were delighted to be able to celebrate with him! For lunch Jeff wanted to go to Clyde's in Chinatown, which has an old time feel to it with lots of woodwork and brass and large paintings of sports moments. This is the boys in front of "The Sultan of Swat."

Not far from Clyde's was the National Portrait Gallery. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of my favorite exhibit there, of Norman Rockwell paintings on loan from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (I have a lot to say about that if you want to chat with me sometime). The boys' favorite part was the "Hall of Champions," which held paintings, drawings and sculptures of icons in sports.

This is from when the six of us jammed into an ancient, tiny elevator in the museum. It was interesting--a security measure in this building was to wear the diaper bag on the front of me. I don't get how that is safer than on my back.

I would have gone into the museum just to look at the architecture. It is a gorgeous building.

I had Benny and Louie stand in the middle of the courtyard to take this picture. Such an interesting ceiling design.

Back on the subway. Ben and Charlie are wiped out!

Jeff grilled out for us before we went to his hockey game that night. What a treat for the boys to see their uncle in action on the ice--even getting sent to the penalty box!

The game didn't start until 9pm so we went to bed as soon as we got back. We needed a good night's sleep for our trip to the Cape the next day. We had no idea what we were in for!

(Whew. I guess with not having posted anything for awhile I've gotten extremely long-winded! I'll try to edit myself better for the upcoming recaps of the vacation.)

Vacation 2010

My cousin was scheduled to be married on the 4th of July on Cape Cod. At this point, I'm not sure exactly how many hours it is from our home, but I'll tell you how long it actually took!

We are very fortunate that my parents graciously offered to take Meredith on their flight to Boston, before driving into Brewster, MA. Taking the lil' one out of the equation definitely made things easier, although we missed her terribly.

Our first stop was in Washington, DC; then on to Cape Cod where we stayed in a house in Brewster. After a week there we left for home and went the Buffalo, NY, route. We saw Niagara Falls and then headed home. About 3,000 miles tucked under our collective belt. Stay tuned as I start uploading pictures and type up the memories of our family trip.

No Excuses


I have no idea what happened to the last month an a half. Sorry about that. I'm going to post about our vacation and then try to do some update of what's been going on since the last posting.

So much to talk about, so little time...