Friday, July 31, 2009

Vacation comes to an end

Aren't you glad I am done talking about our vacation? I knew you would be.

Friday - everyone got ready and left different times. Mat and I and the kids were the last to leave because we were only going back to the hotel for the night. We left after we fed the kids lunch and drove about 3 hours north to the Natural Bridge.

It was a nice place to stop and let the kids run around. The park was really nice and we had a lot of fun learning about the Natural Bridge. There were even salt petre mines there. We saw even where George Washington engraved his initials in the side of the bridge when he was 18 years old. Very cool.

Hey Teen - here is another quiz for you. Where is this from: "Salt petre - John!!" (10 extra points, if you know the next line of the song)

Anyway........We stayed at the state park for 2 1/2 hours and then continued our ride. We got to the hotel a little later than originally planned, but we just threw the kids in bed, and that was just fine.

Saturday - we headed home. Vacation was officially over. It took us a really long time to get home on Saturday because we hit a ton of traffic in Connecticut. But the kids did great on the trip.

We are still recovering from our week gone and getting back into routine. Well, we were getting back in routine before I left for Pennsylvania yesterday for a 5 day trip with the kids to visit my parents! So we are away again. But I am still keeping up with the blog, so you should be proud of me!!

I will see you tomorrow for another post. (Gasp!) But that will put me back on track.

Enjoy the last of the vacation pictures!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lake fun continued.....

Sorry I didn't keep my word to posting a few days in a row! I got busy!!

Missing from this photo are Mat's Aunt Betty and Grandma who were there with us. If you were counting and didn't get 19....

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday last week at the lake:

I forgot to mention that Monday night we had a yummy, Hawaiian style meal prepared by my SIL Jess and her husband Tom. It was great! She set the bar high for the next time we go to the lake! She themed it with decorations and music, and lais. It was a lot of fun. The kids even got to wear grass skirts. Dumb camera - I don't have any pictures!

But the next time we go to the lake, we thought it would be fun to do theme night every night, so thanks Jess and Tom for the idea!

Tuesday we went minature golfing in the afternoon. I think. The days are all starting to run together. We picked the hottest day of the week to attempt this. Who went - Mat, me, Arlington, Finley, "M", Jonathan, Teen, Frank, Sally, Ben. Everyone else stayed home. We went in the afternoon, and we didn't take Cainan just because that boy still loves his naps. Finley can take them or leave them these days.

We had a good time golfing. The girls were really well behaved. I was worried that Finley might get bored, but she never did. She hit the ball at every hole, and sometimes I helped her. She even got a hole in one! She was not in love with the last hole were her "ball was gone forever", but she didn't cry. (I warned her before hand. Being a "seasoned" mommy has taught me a few tricks) Sally, me, and the three little girls were on a team (not keeping score of course), and the other adults had their own team. We spent a few hours there, got a quick drink, and then went and bought our new camera.

We had enough of not getting many pictures on our vacation, and bought a small Sony CyberShot to get us through the remaining days until we could get home and send our camera in for repairs. It isn't as great as my SLR, of course, but it did the trick. Plus it will be nice to have when we go to amusement parks and such.

Anyway, after Golf, we came home and relaxed. Tuesday night I want to say was Frank and Teen's night to cook and we had a REALLY yummy stir fry. It was really delicious. I really need to learn how to cook.....

Wednesday - this was jet ski day. This is another favorite among the family. The guys REALLY love it and a lot of the women do too. We spent the afternoon riding the jet skis. All of the kids got a chance to ride, too. Finley loved it. She rode, of course, with Zac. Arlington got on with anyone that would take her - even got up to 50 miles an hour at some points.

Thursday - our last full day at the lake. It is always sad to come to this day. We spent part of the day packing and getting things together so we wouldn't be rushed on Friday. Mat and I were in charge of the meal on this day, and we did breakfast instead of dinner. We made pancakes with all kinds of "fixings" for our breakfast. It was fun.

We mostly relaxed during the day Thursday. Mat, Jess and his mom and dad did some house hunting in the area for our "own" lake house while the rest of us hung out at the house. Carrie, Jonathan and I were in charge of the 6 rugrats while they were gone, so we let them have a picnic lunch and watch a movie!! Worked out great. :)

Thursday night we ALL went out to dinner - all 19 of us. The restaurant probably loved seeing us pull up. But it wasn't busy, so it worked out great. We had a great time and all the kids behaved nicely. It was a great way to end the week together.

There are a ton of pictures below. I still have ONE more post to wrap up our vacation, and I will do that tomorrow! I promise!!

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Parties, Knuckle Sandwiches, and wild animals

Continuing on with vacation recap.......

Sunday the 19th - Today we celebrated the little one's birthdays. Cainan and Finley rarely get to celebrate their birthdays with this side of the family, so this was a special treat! We did their birthday party around lunch time.

They got a lot of amazing presents - thanks guys! They have been playing non-stop with them. It was fun.

After that party, Mat, Arlington, Finley, "M", Jonathan, Jess, and Tom decided to hit a local drive through zoo. This is a place where you could feed the animals from your car, and then get out and feed the animals around the park.

The kids loved it. I think the adults did too! Arlington and Finley loved feeding the animals. Finley even petted some of them, which is a big step for her. There were animals that stuck their heads in the car:

And all kinds of fun. They were gone almost the entire afternoon. I think they all had a great time on their little adventure.

In the evening, we had a surprise retirement party for Mat's mom, Sally. She retired from teaching this year, and what better way to celebrate than a bash! It was fun surprising her. She does so much for her family that this was the least we could do. The kids made the table cloth and decorations.

Carrie (my sister in law who seriously needs to open a bakery - she is that good) made a yummy Strawberry Cake. It was so good! And we had presents for her of course.

Mat and I also gave her a framed picture of the kids with their hand/foot prints around it.

Carrie is giving her mom the same with her three kids. Just something fun to add!

Sunday was a fun day.

Monday - the 20th. This was pontoon boat day. This is a favorite day, I would say, among the family. We have the boat for the entire day. It fits about 10-12 of us at a time, so we take turns. We drive around the lake - looking at the houses, and just enjoying the scenery. We usually anchor somewhere so that we can get off and swim around. It is a really fun day. We don't do anything else this day besides ride the boat.

I have a few pictures of our boat ride below courtesy of my SILs Carrie and Teen. Since our camera had broken and we had yet to get another at this point, I only have a few! Thanks, Carrie and Teen, for sending me those.

"Knuckle Sandwich" is Finley's newest saying. Her uncle Zac taught her that. She totally doesn't understand what it means, and that is what makes it the most fun. She came to me right before nap time one day and said:

"I need to give uncle Zac a knuckle sandwich and tell him goodnight"

It was hilarious. And she keeps saying it. She was singing yesterday saying "I'm going to give you a knuckle sandwich! Yes I am!" She is so weird. Or she will say, "Cainan, do you want a knuckle sandwich? Here you go" and hand him pretend food.


So that is the recap of the next two days of vacation. At this point Mat and I were starting to feel the effects of staying up late and getting up early, but did we change our ways? No way!! We can sleep at home. :)

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Lake House

We just returned from a week long vacation to Lake Norman, NC. We had a wonderful time. Every other summer, Mat's parents rent a lake house and his whole immediate family (and all of their significant others and kids) spend a week together on the lake. The last two years we have stayed in the same house. There are 19 of us now, so we need a big house to live in!

We had a wonderful time. We spent the week swimming in the lake, boating, jet skiing, minature golfing, and spending time together. This is a vacation where we don't go too many places, and bring books and sit in the sunshine.

But, to say I am feeling refreshed and relaxed would be a lie. It was so much fun, but because we are still responsible for our three little ones, we were up early every day and chasing them all around. Mat and I don't usually stay up late, but since we don't get to see our family as often as we like, we stayed up late each night visiting.

It was great, though. Let me start from the beginning. We left Thursday the 16th and drove half way there. It is about a 13 hour drive for us from our lovely northern state, so we decided to split the drive in half. We drove to Maryland the first day. We left late Thursday morning - not in a big hurry since we were just going to the hotel to spend the night. The kids did great on the drive. We are blessed with great travelers. We got in just in time for bed for the kids that night.

We left bright and early Friday morning and headed for Lake Norman. We got in around 3pm in the afternoon. It took a little longer than we expected to get there because we hit some traffic. But it wasn't terrible. We also did a grocery trip before we went to the house. Mat scouted out a grocery store via out GPS, and it ended up NOT being a grocery store, but a hole in the wall gas station with a little old man sitting outside of it on a stool. Not even joking.

We got to the house and Mat's sister Carrie and part of her family were already there and getting settled. We had our chance to meet our newest nephew "little E" (I have two nephew's with E as a first initial, so bare with me!) before everyone else got there. We settled in and got unpacked before Mat's parents, aunt and grandma and brother Zac showed up. They brought with them Carrie and Jonathan's older two children who were visiting them in Pennsylvania for a few weeks. My kids were very excited to see their cousins and they were off and running!

Arlington and Mat took a canoe ride while we waited for everyone to get settled. I didn't get a picture of it, unfortunately, but my SIL (sister in law) did, so I will show that to you when I get that. (hint, hint Carrie! LOL) They had a great time canoeing around the lake. When Mat docked the canoe, though, he wobbled a bit and fell in. Unfortunately he was in his clothes because he didn't listen to his super stellar wife who told him to put on his bathing suit. Ah well.

Next to arrive were Mat's sister Teen and her husband Frank. Teen is pregnant and looking VERY cute! We were very excited to see her and see her baby bump.

We had dinner of take out pizza this night since everyone was arriving at different times. Each evening a family is responsible for cooking. Friday night was Mat's brother Zac's night, so we had pizza take out. It was a perfect way to start our week.

Last to arrive were Mat's sister Jess and her husband Tom. They hit a ton of traffic on their way down, so they didn't get there until around 9pm. We were glad to see them and glad they arrived safely. Now we were all together - all 19 of us! We are growing by leaps and bounds. This is the first time the three boy children were at the lake - the last time we were there, we just had Arlington and Finley and Carrie had "M". This time we had added Cainan, "G" and "little E". Amazing!

We spent our first night playing the "Lake Norman Card Game". It probably has another name, but the first year we went to the lake, Mat's dad taught us this game, and the name just stuck. It is a lot of fun to play and we play it every time we were there. Tradition and all!

We watched the sun go down over the lake and rejoiced being together at last. The kids all went to sleep easily after a fun first day.

Saturday started early, of course, with all the kids up and ready to play by 7:15am. This was shopping day. Mat and I had brought just about everything we needed, but Mat's parents and some of his siblings needed to hit the grocery store. They were gone for most of the morning getting ingredients for dinners and lunches, and snacks. You name it! We had so much good food. Our tummies were very happy all week long.

We spent Saturday at the house - mostly in the lake. Arlington wanted to get in first thing in the morning. The mornings were cool, so we tried to put them off at least until 9-10am when the sun would come out. The lake water was warm as usual. So in she and Mat went. I did manage to get Finley and Cainan into the lake as well. Finley liked it for the most part, but she mostly wanted to float on the raft with us or her favorite uncle - Zac. She and Zac have a special bond. She loves hanging out with him and lights up every time she sees him!

Cainan- did not love the water, but got in. He smiled a time or two, but mostly he just sat motionless and waited for the torture to be over. Once he was out he wouldn't get back in that entire day. If we suggested it he would burst into tears. So we didn't push the issue. We also had a kiddie pool that we set up in the yard, and the kids had fun playing in there. And there was also a hot tub at the house that we used a few times as well.

The lake is fun to float on. This house that we have had the last several years has a nice view into a large part of the lake. We can watch boaters going by and we get the waves from the speed boats. It adds some fun to our floating around. The dock is great, and it even has a diving board. Arlington jumped off the diving board a bunch of times- really liked jumping in over and over. Of course. She even did a cannon ball or two!

We had access to all of their inner tubes, rafts, etc. They had some fun stuff to play with. Plus they had life jackets for everyone if needed. We had one life jacket with us, and the rest we were able to borrow from the house. We had use of their kayak and their canoe. It is great.

To tell you a little more about the house - it is a 5 bedroom home with 4 bathrooms and a loft. It is really huge. It has two levels, plus the loft. It has a boat house and it also has a really nice bath house outside. It is the perfect size for our large family. Even with so many people in the house, we didn't feel at all crowded. There are two pull out couches, plus a full size bunk bed set. So everyone had a place to sleep.

Anyway! We spend Saturday floating around. We had a surprise baby shower for Teen and Frank after dinner this night. We had a wonderful dinner prepared by Carrie and Jonathan and then had cake for the shower. Teen and Frank were really surprised and she got a lot of really nice things.

Okay - so that is where I am going to end this post. I am too lazy to put all the pictures through out the post, so here are the pictures in a slide show. Enjoy!

I will be back tomorrow with more lake news. Oh, and by the way - our expensive SLR camera broke on the second day, so we don't have as many pictures as we would like. Mat and I ended up getting a small camera to get us through the trip (and now we have it for backup), but it doesn't take nearly the nice pictures our SLR does. You will see. We are totally bummed.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Hi everyone! We will be leaving on vacation in a few days, so I will be taking time off from blogging. I don't even think I am going to take my computer along, so I will be returning to you soon! I will let you know!

For now - go outside! Enjoy the sunshine!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Six Flags -" More Flags, More Fun".....unless you are Finley

Saturday we went to Six Flags New England. Mat and Arlington have annual passes, and Arlington has been wanting to make another trip for awhile. So Mat decided we should do something fun this weekend, and I chose Six Flags.

Arlington Met some of her favorite super heroes.

Finley was not sure what to think of Wonder Woman. She was very facinated with her outfit. And her size.

We got up at a reasonable time and were on the road by 8:45am. We are only 1 hour from the park, and wanted to be there in time for it to open at 10am, so we left early. Everyone was up and excited and ready to go.

We got to the park and – because we were once Disney World junkies – we know to start at the back of the park and make our way forward to miss a lot of crowds. It works every time people – totally try it when you try amusement parks (or even Disney World) in the summer.

Arlington is a roller coaster junkie. There was one roller coaster in particular she wanted to ride that gets a little busy during the day, so she and Mat headed for that first. I was in charge of the little ones during this time. I USED to be a coaster rider, but I am too old now. (ha ha). I get much to dizzy on those things, so I just sit and watch. The coaster Arlington wanted to ride was a wild mouse type of ride, but the kicker was – it SPUN while it went around the coaster. I would have thrown up for sure. And when she rides – she rides for the thrill. Mat told me that you could spin the car to face any direction before you started the ride, and Arlington wanted to point it so that she and Mat were facing down, and she had her hands in the air. Crazy weirdo. She is fearless.

Arlington rode that coaster three times before Mat told her it was time for a break. But before joining us, they rode another spinning ride. Even Mat was feeling a little green after all that.

Anyway, while Arlington was thrill seeking, I took the babies to one of three kiddie lands that Six Flags offers. Now, we went because Mat told me how “young kid friendly” Six Flags New England is. He is right. There are three different kiddie lands with TONS of rides. Plus a few more outside of Kiddie land that the little ones are tall enough to ride.

Today I learned a valuable lesson. Just because a child is TALL enough for a ride, doesn't mean he or she will want to ride it.


Now, remember who my first child is. Arlington – aka fearless thrill seeker. At the age of 1 ½ she was riding rides in amusement parks with shrieks of delight. By three she was riding her first roller coaster. At age 6, she stands by the roller coasters with loops and sighs heavy with envy.

So, it was reasonable to think that Finley – aka crazy maniac – would follow in her sisters footsteps.

Not So.

While Arlington and Mat were off riding a roller coaster, I was left with Finley and Cainan in one of the kiddie areas. We walked around and looked at the rides, deciding what we would try first. We settled on a space ship ride – one of those rides that goes around and around, and – if you are strong enough – will also go up in the air while going around and around. We get in line (well, no line at all – we were the only ones there) and Cainan says he doesn't want to go. But Finley says sure. So I put Finley in the little ship, and buckle her seatbelt. The ride operator is very sweet with her and talks to her about the ride and what to do if she wanted to make it go up and down. Finley nods, and looks at me. As soon as the ride operator leaves her side and Finley is left all alone, she starts to cry. Then she starts to freak out. Then she starts go try and claw her way out of the ship – pulling and tugging on the seatbelt.

So that was that. No space ship ride for her. Nope.

So I apologized and we leave and we look around for something that maybe mommy can ride too, as to not freak her out. She and I and Cainan did ride a car ride all together, and that she loved. We rode it several times.

Then we went BACK to the spaceships. At this time, she has decided she wants to try them again, and now that Cainan had ridden a ride, and realized that they won't kill him, he is game to go with her.

Success! They ride together. They don't ever make their ship go up in the air, and they are clutching the side of the spaceship with dear life, but they are in it!! And they are riding it!

Arlington then joins us, and coaxes us to try this bus ride.

You have all seen it – the ride that goes up in the air, and comes down kind of fast (if you are an adult), or super slow, if you are in kiddie land. The three kids and I got on. Cainan loved it – he loves buses, and that is all he needed. Finley on the other hand – once it went up and came back down, she climbed onto my lap so fast and clutched the bar with white knuckles.

I was slowly scarring her for life.
But I wasn't finished yet.

We rode a few more things in the kiddie area, and then Arlington really wanted to ride the water ride where you sit in a circle boat – about 8 people around it – and travel down a white water type river. At Kennywood, near Pittsburgh, it is called Raging Rapids. Can you all picture it now?? Are you in disbelief that I took Finley on this ride? You should be.

But she WAS tall enough.

So we get on, and she is fine at first – things the whole “inner tube” looking thing is cool. Then we get a smidge wet.

It was all over. She was desperately trying to get out of her seat. And honestly, I couldn't blame her. It was much rougher than I remember – we spun and spun and got really, REALLY soaked. One time we were heading for a water fall, and I saw this being where Finley lost if for sure, so I leaned over her to keep her from getting soaked, and I was wetter than I have ever been on a ride.

Ah, the things we do to for our kids.

Finley was not pleased after this ride, so it was time to take a break and eat some lunch. That got her pepped up to go on to the next kiddie area. Here she tried a few rides, a few rides she tried to escape from and didn't ever go on them.

I did take her on the kiddie roller coaster. This thing isn't bad for a kid roller coaster. Cainan went too.

Finley did ride this twice. Why, I really don't know. I rode with her both times, and both times, once we were strapped in, and the handle bar came down across out lap, she said, “I wanna get off mommy”.

Too bad kid. Bar is down, we are going no matter what.

But she did okay – she didn't cry or scream. Two school age girls sat in front of us the second time and they just stared and stared at her. I am sure they were admiring how young and brave she was. Or they were thinking, “what kind of mother takes a three year old on a roller coaster?”

Like I said, she was TALL enough!! She should at least try it.

Finley and Cainan rode a few more kiddie rides during the day, and enjoyed a lot of good food. We had funnel cakes.

And french fries. And ice cream. And a lot to drink.

Oh, and real food too. We even had Chinese food for lunch! Arlington had said to Cainan:
“Cainan, you know you come from China, right? Well guess what! Six Flags has Chinese food!”

He was super thrilled to hear that. Let me tell ya.

He was thrilled to get to meet his favorite super hero, Batman, though.

He also got a little stuffed Batman to take home.

We took the kids on a Merry Go Round. Who doesn't like the Merry Go Round? Finley. That's who. She loved the idea of picking a horse, and sitting on it, and giving it a name. The ride started. She was fine at first. Up and down – thought it was funny (because I was standing beside her) that I would get smaller then taller. Then it got a wee bit faster, and she freaked out.

The first time Arlington rode a merry go around she wasn't even two. She clapped and shouted “again! Again!”

Finley tried to get off and clutch me around my neck. This made for an interesting scene because the horse was going up and down, and I am not very tall. I was really having to stretch so she wouldn't fall off. She was belted on, but she was leaning so far to the side she was basically on the side of the horse trying to get to me. I did convince her that I had her, and she wouldn't fall, and she settled a bit. But she was ready to get off.

I do think that the round and round motion may bother her a bit. Also the back and forth. And the up and down.......

We rode a Pirate Ship type ride that swung back and forth (it was a kiddie ride) and she didn't like that much either.

The funny thing was – she would ask to ride them, then once she got on, the anticipation would get the best of her, and she would get a little worked up. Sometimes I could keep her on the ride. Sometimes I couldn't.

But Arlington had a blast. We all did. Finley and Cainan didn't seem to mind much that they didn't like the rides. They have fun running around, watching the shows, and eating as much as they could. We left at 8pm, and before we were 5 miles away, everyone was asleep.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. I will see you Tuesday!