Friday, July 29, 2016

Cat Party

The kids came home from camp singing this catchy and completely annoying song, "Pop See Ko."  Of course I needed to educate myself about the song, so looked it up on YouTube, began to watch, and went down the rabbit hole. Linked to that video of two very strange-looking men dancing very badly to a nonsense song were more videos of the two very strange-looking men dancing very badly to other nonsense songs. These include "Milkshake," "Rollercoaster," and most importantly for us, "Cat Party."

First, let me say that I am a HUGE fan of bad dancing. Nothing makes me happier than bad dancing.  I LOVE to dance badly, even to nonsense songs.

Second, we LOVE cats.  Charlotte and I have a whole routine where we pretend to be cats. We own two live cats. And Charlotte collects stuffed animal cats, including her best friends White Kitty and Black-and-White Kitty.

Last night, right before bedtime, we watched "Cat Party."  The two strange men talk to pictures of cat heads (the cats are wearing party hats) with made up funny names (Esmerelda, Boris) and ask them about a cat party.  Then the chorus goes, "We are going to have a cat party. We're gonna have a cat paaaarty. We are gonna have a cat party, so bring your cat and something to share!"  I'm not joking, that is it.

About an hour and a half after bedtime last night, Asher woke up crying and said, "I wanna have a cat party! A cat party!" I assured him we would talk about it in the morning, and put him back in bed.  Two minutes later he was up again, crying that he "didn't like the cat game!" Again, I put him back in bed and said we would talk in the morning.

This morning at breakfast, Asher had no recollection of what had happened, but we all shared a good laugh, and then began to discuss our Cat Party.  First, the guest list:
Trouble, Peanut (our cats)
Max, Ian (my parents' cats)
Minky (my sister's cat)
Thor (the neighbor's cat)
The two kittens my sister picked up by the side of the road in West Virginia and who are now living somewhere nearby
NOT Muffin (my aunt and uncle's cat)
NOT Mean Kitty (aka Sophie, Eric's parents' cat)

Throughout the day, the conversation continued.  The kids decided that the cats at the party should definitely also wear hats like the cats in the video.

Next, the menu:
Cat food from a can
Mouse popsicles
Chicken liver ice cream

What the kids don't know is that Eric and I offered to foster two kittens, starting tomorrow.  So there might really be a Cat Party at our house.  I will keep you posted.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Travel

I do love to travel, and it seems summer is the best time for it. There are few things I look forward to as much as packing the van full to the brim, piling in the family, and setting off for an adventure.  Eric and I sit up front and talk for hours, or listen to podcasts, or music, or just drive while the other one sleeps. The kids are accustomed to car trips and know what to do, whether it is bringing books, watching movies on the DVD player, or looking out the window.  It is especially wonderful when they are asleep, though.

So far this summer, Eric and I have taken 2 plane trips- one to Galveston, TX for my friend Kelly's wedding, and one to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a conference.  Two trips a month apart is a pretty big deal for us, considering we went years without travel together.
Hazy morning sun over the Seawall in Galveston
It completely changes the dynamic to be away from the kids- we do what we want, when we want. We talk a lot to grownups, and we try to sleep late but don't always succeed.  I find that when we travel just the two of us, I get very anxious. I am anxious leading up to the trip, trying to make sure that I arrange everything the kids might need while we are gone.  While we were in Galveston, Eric's parents stayed at our place, and I had to make sure they had addresses for everything since they're not as familiar with our area. Then I stress about travel. Then I feel sad that we aren't with the kids.  Why can't I just let myself relax?

On our second trip away, to Puerto Rico, I actually did relax, and we had such a great time. We were in San Juan for a conference I attended, and I spent 2 days in seminars and at lunches, but we had plenty of time to relax and socialize. We got so distracted by enjoying ourselves one day that we forgot to call the kids!  Somehow we all survived.
Practicing our relaxation skills by the pool
On one of our fun days, Eric and I walked into Old San Juan from our hotel (2 miles). It was really hot and humid and I got completely soaked with sweat! But, it was exercise.
In Old San Juan 
The view from Castillo San Cristobal 
Selfie at San Cristobal
The cafe where we had coffee and I had Mallorca bread with guava butter that I still dream about
One day, while I was in the conference, Eric rented a bike and rode around town by himself.
 We socialized with old classmates and colleagues of mine, went out to dinner, had drinks at the swim up bar, went in the hot tub... It was amazing. The whole thing felt like a dream!

 One weekend at home, and then it was off to Washington, DC for my cousin Jess's wedding.  There was much to do about who would be attending the wedding- originally I planned to go alone with my parents, then Asher asked to come, then Benjamin asked to come, then it seemed silly for Eric and Charlotte not to come... There was a lot of rearranging of plans, and I rode down on Friday afternoon with my parents and the boys.  It was perfect weather and we got to take a walk in DC before we dropped the boys at my cousin's with a sitter and Elana and I went out to dinner.
3 across in my dad's car. My back was killing me!
Stoop sitting on a summer evening,
 My sister and I got to go for a run on Saturday morning while my parents took the boys to a playground and Eric and Charlotte drove down. We jogged past the White House, but I am a bad selfie taker so you can barely see it behind us.
See it?
Eric and I attended the wedding on Saturday night, and then we all headed back as a family on Sunday, in time for the boys to get to a birthday party at an ice skating rink.

Just a few days after we got home, we packed up the van again and took off for Maine!  This past weekend, I took Charlotte and Asher to New York City for the day, but other than that we have been at home, and we will be here until we end our summer with our trip to Cape Cod.
Asher on the balcony with the Empire State Building behind him. Eric's response was "Don't let him get too close to the edge!"
At a splash park in a bathing suit I bought at Old Navy in NYC. She now thinks she is fancy because she has a bathing suit from New York, even if I could have bought the same one 1 mile away from our house.
In a taxi. Hate that we have no car seats, but comforted by the fact that we go a max of 5 mph.
Me cooling off at the splash park

We are lucky, because the kids are adaptable and get excited about travel just as much as I do.  In DC they slept on air mattresses in my sister's room; in Maine the boys shared a bed and Charlotte slept on an air mattress in the closet.  They sleep well wherever we go, and are always curious to see new things.  I get a thrill out of exposing them to the world and seeing them interact with it.  Their joy is infectious and lets me be a kid again.  They were just as happy to be left at home with their grandparents the weekends we were away, and seem to barely miss us.  I'm sure a great deal of it is their temperament, but I can't help but feel as though Eric and I have done something right to have our three well-attached children.

Summer is half-over, but we've traveled the coast, and enjoyed ourselves here at home.  More summer pictures to come- we have been busy here, too.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer trip to Maine

We are back from our trip to visit Eric's parents.  Eric and I couldn't decide on the best time to go- around July 4th when there are many events happening, or in August after the kids are out of camp.  We picked July, since I wouldn't miss much work (I took one day off), and we knew the kids would be happy to go to the 4th of July events in Maine.

Our trip was one of the best yet!  We drove up after I got home from work on Wednesday, leaving our house at 6:30. We had the smoothest drive we've ever had and pulled into the driveway at Eric's parents' house at 1 am. The kids were exhausted from camp and slept almost the whole way, so Eric and I had hours of adult conversation, adult podcasts, and Eric napped. When we got there, the kids went to bed with no problems, and Eric and I jumped in bed ourselves.  We managed to sleep until 9 the next day, and when I got up, Eric's mom asked me where Charlotte was. I thought Charlotte was with her... turned out, Charlotte had slept until 9, too!  She woke up with a smile after all that rest.

 We spent our first day there taking it easy- I went for a run, we swam in the pool, Asher napped, and then friends and family joined us for swimming and dinner. Eric's mom's best friend has a daughter, Lisa, who is our age, who has a daughter of her own, Kaya, who is 6 weeks younger than Charlotte. They hadn't seen each other since they were 1, but became instant friends and had a great time together.
Taylor with Kaya and Charlotte in the pool 
Kaya and Charlotte after swimming
 On Friday, Eric's mom had bought us tickets to Funtown/Splashtown, an amusement park and water park in Saco, Maine. It was Eric, me, our 3 kids, Pat, and Eric's brother's 3 oldest kids. My niece Taylor couldn't wait for me to go on all the scary rollercoaster rides with her, so I made good on that. We had a great time!  Asher and Kiptyn decided they were brave and went on every ride they could.  It was a joy to get to share the excitement with my big boy!  Charlotte tried the log flume with Taylor and me, and her biggest complaint was that her dress got wet!
On the log flume. I can't look at Charlotte's face without laughing!
After a long morning of riding all the rides at the amusement park, we had some lunch and went over to the water park.  Again, Asher was eager to try everything, and we went on things over and over. Even Charlotte got brave and tried some water slides, with glee.  One slide we had to go on 5 times in a row!  Benjamin was more cautious and tried some smaller, slower rides, but we didn't push him to try anything he wasn't ready to do.
The cousins at the end of the day
Eric and Benjamin on the riding lawn mower
 On Saturday, we had plans for a day trip to White Lake in New Hampshire- all of our family, Eric's parents, and Eric's brother's family (and they have 6 kids!).  We packed our cars and hit the road. When we got there, it was extremely windy, and very cool. Compared to the air, the lake was warm, but I couldn't bring myself to get in.  It was absolutely beautiful there, with green mountains around us and the clear lake at our feet. The sand was soft.  It would have been the absolutely perfect spot if only it had been 10 degrees warmer and a little more sunny.
a panoramic that Eric took
Keeping warm with my cuddle bug
Charlotte playing with Chandler
With Taylor. She is a good 2 inches taller than I am, and she is 12!
Kerisa napping with Baby Serena
We left earlier than we thought we would since we were so cold, and went home in time for me to get in a run before dinner.

On Sunday, Eric and I took our kids to his grandparents' house on the pond, where we had stayed last July. The kids just love it there, fishing off the dock, going out in the canoe, splashing in the water. Next summer we will have to stay there again.  We got to see Eric's grandparents and Aunt Donna, and his cousin Mike and wife Missy.  
Canoe trip
Eric's mom made a big lunch for us that day, and the cousins all came over.  We had a big water balloon fight- the kids loved it!  
Water balloon fight begins
Sunday, July 3 was also our anniversary- 10 years! (I want to make another post about the anniversary).  For the most part, we didn't do anything special to celebrate, but I did pick up a bottle of Prosecco at Walmart, and Eric and I toasted to our anniversary at dinner time, using his parents' toasting glasses from their wedding in 1974.  As we poured the Prosecco and posed for our picture, we heard from the back bathroom,
"Come wipe my tushie!" Charlotte was on the toilet.  We had a good laugh at the way things are 10 years into marriage.  I don't think either one of us would have it any other way.
Asher holding his cousin Serena
We also made an attempt to capture all 9 grandchildren in one photo:
Dawson (4), Chandler (2), Kiptyn (6) holding Serena (7 months), Myah (10) holding Charlotte (3),
Benjamin (6) and Asher (6) on Taylor's (12) lap.  WOW!
 Then, we went to the fireworks in town.  Perfect weather, and we got a spot a fair distance from where thy were set off, but with a good view.  Eric's brother Ryan's ice cream shop had a tent and was dishing up ice cream, so everyone got ice cream while we waited.  The kids enjoyed the show, and the fact that we weren't right next to the explosions helped them tolerate the sound.

How old is she? 
 The following day was the 4th, another day of perfect weather.  We packed up the car and went to the 4th of July parade in town.  The kids got a thrill out of getting candy thrown at them, and they collected huge bags of treats.

Asher with his Pepere and Memere
Asher, Kiptyn, and Pepere
My 3 watching the parade and an antique fire truck
Memere holding Serena 
Waiting for more candy
From the parade, we hit the road. The ride home wasn't nearly as pleasurable as the ride up.  We were rushing home to try to make it to our local fireworks with friends, but what had been a cloudless and warm day in Maine was overcast and rainy at home. We had dinner with my mom, and then put the kids in bed without fireworks. The kids were exhausted from a jam-packed trip of excitement and new experiences.  We've been home almost a week, and they are still telling me that they wish they were back in Maine. I do wish we weren't so far, but it certainly was a treat to go.