Monday, September 15, 2014

Grandparents to the Rescue

Many of you have probably heard of a "Gap Year" when seniors in high school take an additional year before going to college.  But have you heard of the dreaded "Gap Week"?  It's the week working parents dread as it is the week between the final day/week of camp and the first day of school.  This final week of August could have been rough for us since the kids did not have plans and Dan and I both had to work, but it turned out to be terrific since Grammy and Granddad came up from VA for the whole week!! Phew!

The kids loved having their grandparents take care of them and I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual.  They certainly kept busy and had lots of fun.

They went to the new playground at the library in town and found the brick we donated during the fundraising process.
They also took the kids to their Popsicles on the Playground get together at their preschool and got to meet all their friends and teachers.

 Granddad created an amazing toy train track in the playroom and got both kids to fall back in love with Duplos (Finley had all but forgotten them since discovering Legos this summer) in the basement
 And my dad found a captive audience for this train photos.
The four of them also went to one of our favorite places, Drumlin Farm.  Finley hadn't been there since his two weeks of Drumlin camp earlier in the summer and my mom said he definitely took the reigns and led the way around.
 A hayride for all before heading home.
It was such a wonderful, reassuring feeling to be back at school, getting ready for my new class of kindergarteners, knowing that our kids were in such good hands.

One afternoon, I got home from school and we woke up the kids to hop on the commuter rail to meet Dan in the city.  I couldn't tell who was more pleased with the rail excursion - Finley or my dad!  We had a great ride into North Station and then walked to meet Dan on the Greenway.  Dagny and I rode the carousel which she has mentioned countless times since.
Then, we stopped to watch the fountains for a while before saying hi to the seals that swim in the big tank outside the aquarium.
We had dinner outside near the Greenway and the Harbor.
 A lady about town.
 Boys drawing airplanes and playing tic tac toe.
The next day, all six of us went to play mini golf at Kimball Farms and enjoyed fried food for dinner. 
An excellent way to celebrate the end of summer and the end to a very special week with my mom and dad.  We aren't lucky enough to live near either set of grandparents, but we are very blessed that all four of them go above and beyond whenever called upon :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shelburne Farms 2014

We love Shelburne Farms and went with some friends two weeks ago to pick peaches and enjoy the other fun the farm has to offer.

The peaches were ripe and juicy, Dagny couldn't wait to get her hands on one.
 Upside sunglasses are a purposeful fashion choice these days.

 Then, the kids drove around the hay bales for a while.

And had fun in the hay maze.
We finished up with a romp in the bouncy house.
 I love this karate jump I caught Finley doing just before we left :)

The Mud Kitchen!

I ran a successful fundraiser for our kids' preschool last spring to improve their natural playground.  One of the top items on our director's wish list was a mud kitchen so this summer, Dan got to work building it after I lucked into finding a stainless steel double sink at a consignment shop for only $20!!
 The kids loved seeing it come together over a couple of weeks.
And they were super thrilled to help us install it at school the weekend before school started.

Using the dirt from the dirt box that I had made and posted about earlier, 
the children can make mud because the faucet really works when connected to a hose from the side of the building and between my mom and I - we contributed a HUGE bin of cooking utensils, pots, pans, and other kitchen necessities from thrift shops and garage sales :) 

Since school has started, we have heard RAVE reviews from our friends, the kids' teachers, and our director about how much fun the muddy cooking has been.  We are still troubleshooting the drainage situation, but we'll figure it out! I think our two kids are some of the few who haven't been up to their elbows in mud, but I kind of saw that coming (they are my kids afterall!).  Maybe when it's a snow kitchen this winter, Finley will become an outdoor chef!

Between my crafty creativity and Dan's handyman skills - we are a pretty dynamite set of preschool parents :)

Maine with the Forseters

We spent a fantastic week in Bridgton, Maine with GG, Grandpa, Aunt Ellie and Uncle Donny in August.  The weather was a bit chilly and felt more like fall than summer, but we surely made the best of it.  Here's the front of the townhouse/duplex type house that we had rented.  It was great: three levels, three bedrooms plus a loft, nice kitchen, back deck with a Long Lake view, and three and a half bathrooms. 
Here was our view out back.  The grassy area was perfect for playing sports and just down the hill was the beach and the lake.
Finley and Dagny LOVED eating out on the porch and had most meals there.
There was also a tennis court nearby and Finley couldn't wait to get out there.  He had a blast playing with Dan and I one afternoon and then with Uncle Donny later in the week.

Not bad for his first time playing on a real court with a net (our driveway rallies have gotten pretty good, but I was impressed how well he did!).

The lake was chilly, but Dan, Finley, Ellie and Donny braved the water a couple of times during the week while the rest of us just enjoyed the sandy beach.

The $4 water squirters I bought before we left were a big hit!
The beach was also great for campfires since it had a fire pit, Dan is pretty solid at building fires, and I brought s'mores fixings!
We had two nights of campfires that began at dusk and we enjoyed into the early evening.  The sky was so clear, we could see so many stars.  After one campfire, most of us went back to the house for bed but Finley and Dan camped out in the backyard.
They had a great time camping and capped off the adventure with breakfast on the lake at a nearby restaurant frequented by fishermen and kayakers.  However, neither Dan or Finley got a ton of sleep so the next afternoon, they curled up together for a much needed nap in our bed.
Two mornings, the four of us hit the road after breakfast to hike.
Dagny enjoyed riding on my back and we were so proud of how well Finley hiked all on his own at a decent pace.
It was a gorgeous view at the top!
A nice family took our photo, which reminded us how few we remember to take of all four of us!
After this hike, GG, Grandpa, Donny and Ellie met us at a nearby blueberry patch where we had a blast picking our own berries and then enjoyed wood fired pizza outside.  The blueberries were delicious and we took several pints back to the house to eat for the rest of the week.

The next morning, we headed out again to hike.  It was great to be outside in the cool weather and Finley showed us his great stamina and positive hiking attitude once again.
Here was our view from the second mountain.

After this hike, we met the rest of the crew for some mini golfing where Donny reigned supreme and we all celebrated by eating lunch on the lake so the seafood lovers could enjoy a local lobster roll.

We drove an hour to North Conway, NH one day and road the scenic railroad.  The only photo I took was this one of Dan and Dagny who got out as the locomotive moved from one end of the train to the other to pull us back to our station.  It was about an hour ride in an open carriage and aside from the loud train whistle, it was super fun and right up our little engineer's alley.  Finley had loved it!
Then, we met everyone for a short hike to Diana's Bath (also in North Conway).  It was a nice flat walk to some beautiful waterfalls.  Finley and Dan changed into their bathing suits and braved the slippery rock terrain while Dagny and I tossed rocks in the pools and watched all the people coming and going.
Ellie and Donny stuck near us for a while, too.
Gilda ventured out and Dan invited her up to join them, but she declined.
A few minutes later, Murray rushed by Dagny and I yelling "Gilda fell!" So I called out to Dan to come down and help his mom and sent Donny to get Finley.  Turns out Gilda had slipped and broken her left wrist!  She was tough and was able to walk all the way back to the car with a makeshift sling using Dan and my extra shirts and a piece of bark as a splint.  We googled our way to the nearest hospital and  Gilda was very well taken care of there as an x-ray showed a dislocated break in her left wrist.
What a terrible way to end a great day, but Gilda was a real trooper and managed to enjoy the last few days in Maine despite her injury.

Oh and one afternoon we went to Freeport to shop and meet some college friends for dinner, which was super fun.  They even told us about the BEST ice cream place around: ice cream served out of an old train car on a working livestock farm.  So we saw a train car, live animals, and lots of neat farm equipment all while enjoying delicious ice cream!

To wrap up...we all took turns cooking dinner, enjoyed our different definitions of vacation, and had a terrific time as a family.  No all inclusive photos were taken but this "three generations of Forseter men" is quite good so I'll end with it :)
Family is the best and we are certainly more than blessed!