30 July 2008

Almost Done

Well, the month of July has come and gone yet again. We did our last round of touring and visiting over the weekend: four days in a lakeside cottage on Lake Winnipesauke. Well, Kurt and his parents stayed at the cottage. Megan and I made day-trips over since neither one of us can sleep with the resident allergens. Rain was off and on, but the sun shone enough to get in at least one swim a day. Saturday's swim was shortened, though, for Megan and I because a large fish tried to eat our feet!

On Monday I drove up through Franconia Notch to observe one day of a Poetry conference at Robert Frost's farm. I think I was the only meat-eating person in attendance. I was certainly the only one not wearing a stitch of black. Still, it was incredible to be listening to a Norton-published poet lecturing on a peer of Elizabeth Bishop (one of my favorites)...in the barn that Robert Frost used. Kurt watched the kids for the day. I think his mom will have to be available for babysitting before I can even THINK about going for a whole week!

Tuesday, I got busy trying to fulfill all my promises to the kids. You know, those activities you are sure you're going to do since you think you'll have loads of time. After dropping Kurt off at Manchester Airport, I took the kids to the bookstore for comics & drawing books (for the train ride). We then saw the Pixar movie Wall-E...after getting some Ben & Jerry's in waffle cones. I fished the neighbor's dog's collar out of the stream (Megan had taken him off his leash) before having dinner with our friend from the UK (another house guest of my in-laws...they should open up an inn). By 7:00 I was in my pajamas getting the kids ready for bed early so I could take migraine meds. God bless my mother-in-law for staying up with them and tucking them in!

So today we will close the penultimate leg of our vacation by shipping our New Hampshire souvenirs, taking trash to the dump, picking up the last ears of corn at the farm stand, and waiting for one last family dinner at the trestle table. Illinois, here we come...again;-)


Quotes of the Day:

Megan: (Under cross-examination surrounding the dog collar incident) I wasn't tugging McKabe's collar. Well, I did pull him back when cars went by.

Ian: (To the EBay agent at the pack & ship place) Sorry, I'm not bidding. I'm just browsing a bit.

23 July 2008


Wow. It has been a whirlwind two weeks. So busy, in fact, that I have rarely remembered to take pictures. Me. Forgetting to take pictures!

We've been wading in the ocean at Ipswich (Massachussettes), complete with our traditional take-out lunch at the Clam Box. Kurt and I soothed our futbol-withdrawl by watching Fox Soccer Channel during dinner at a British Pub in Portsmouth (NH, not England). We went to Sanbornton's Farmers Market and Old Home Days. We've gotten together with many friends and family. And we've played in the rain.

I love rain. I don't think I always did, but living in dry California has given me a new appreciation for precipitation. We even braved touring the Squam Lakes Science Center in the rain...without umbrellas! Our friend has been trying to get us there for three years. So this year we vowed to go, no matter what. Her boys knew the place well since they are members, which was great because they showed Ian all the best things to play with. It was laid out nicely like a walk in the woods, punctuated by live animal exhibits with interactive materials in covered buildings. A naturalist was walking around with a broad-winged hawk. The hawk wasn't too sure he wanted to be stared at, but the naturalist had a firm grip on the leather straps tied to the hawk's ankles. (I'm sure there's a name for these strips, but I'm too lazy to look it up.) There was no way I was going to risk my flash going off in his eyes. The bear was the best part. He was just sitting, like on a sofa with a can of pop, and staring at a glass window in the wall. Every so often people would walk up to the window and wave. It looked like the bear was watching the Human Cable Network. (You have to view the picture full size to see it.)

We'll be off to a lake shore cottage tomorrow--without computer access, so you might not hear from us for another week!


08 July 2008

Swim Lessons, Round 2

Some of you may remember posts on our old blog about Megan's lake-based swim lessons two years ago. The highlight of these lessons was not her new ability to get her face wet, but the leech that rode home on her leg. Both kids needed no reminders this year to stay well clear of leech-ridden lilypads that line the swim area.

This year, we signed both kids up for lessons. At $25 per child for a 10 lesson session, who could resist? Especially when it is the same patient and amazing (and young and cute) swim instructor! But this is a small town. We never got any kind of confirmation that the kids were in the lessons, other than a cashed check. So we showed up yesterday and crossed our fingers.

Sure enough, both kids were enrolled. The swim instructor even remembered Megan and promptly said he would test both kids to see if they needed to be bumped up a level. After seeing the classes, I could see why. Megan was a foot taller and 3 years older than all the other kids in Level 2. Ian was even more gigantic compared to the one other kid in Level 1. Thanks to my mom & sister's aquatic babysitting (there's a pool at my mom's apartment complex), Megan & Ian both tested out of the levels I had signed them up for; closing the size gap between them and their classmates--sort of.

We treated Kurt's parents to seafood takeout for dinner afterwards. I'm not sure we got enough food: a pint of fried clams, 3 lobster rolls with fries, a fish & chips, and a quart of chowder--not to mention a pasta salad I made and broiled summer squash spears. Actually, we're swimming in leftovers. So anyone who's hungry is invited to dinner tonight!


Quote of the Day

This is a joint one, said while the kids were hiding in the garage and spying on the Amerigas man when he came to fill the tank. The man was having a typical plumber's "wardrobe malfunction."

Ian: Look! His underwear says, "Fruit of the Loom."

Megan: It should say, "Fruit of the Moon!"

04 July 2008

In New Hampshire at Last

On Monday (30 June), we left De Kalb and meandered to our hotel in Lisle. First stop was Sycamore so I could show the kids the first place Kurt and I lived as a married couple. We drove along Lincoln Highway/Roosevelt Road/State Highway 38 until we got to the Fox River in Geneva. Ian wanted to eat in the Geneva Diner, so I've apparently sold him on the idea that non-chain places are best;-) We stopped briefly at Wheaton College, hoping for ice cream--but settling on a tour of the science building where Kurt & I studied. We finished our journey when the rental car agent dropped us off at the Lisle Hyatt.

The kids loved the Hyatt. Our room was on an end and included a 180 degree view of the Morton Arboretum, the I-88/IL 53 interchange, and suburban woods. It also had a pool. And pizza. And an in-room movie with popcorn. Oh, and a breakfast buffet with croissants and french toast. Megan said it was better than Disneyland (or at least better than what she's heard from her friends). It was certainly cheaper and more relaxing!

On Tuesday (1 July), the hotel shuttle took us to the Metra station. We rode in to Chicago's Union Station with everyone going to the Taste of Chicago. Instead of going to the Taste, we shoved our luggage in a locker and walked to the Hancock Building. Along the way, the kids learned about canal drawbridges, construction tunnels, homeless people, scam artists, busking musicians, the Great Fire, and the Chicago P.D.'s jaywalking-prevention methods (i.e. embarrasing people into compliance by calling over the loudspeaker their description followed by an order to get in the crosswalk--both kids were glad WE weren't jaywalking). I splurged and paid for us all to go the the top of the Hancock Building. I showed the kids where Kurt proposed, though the bench is no longer there. In fact the whole place has been renovated and kitted out with all kinds of activities and an audio tour. Ah, progress.

By Wednesday (2 July), we were on the train to Albany, NY. I'm sure at some point I will write a longer post specifically on train travel. But for now let's just say it is a crazy adventure, not for the faint of heart. After a fitfull sleep and a Lake Erie sunrise, we treated ourselves to breakfast in the Dining Car. We also celebrated Ian's birthday with lunch in the Dining Car, thanks to the terrific wait-staff that must have enjoyed the large tip I left at breakfast. (They gave the kids free Haagen Dazs ice cream in honor of Ian's 10th, then Megan drew them a thank you card.) We arrived in Albany 2 hours late (apparently not that bad) and caught the connecting train to Boston (held for our arrival). The Boston-bound engineer must have had a hot date, because we bounced and jostled like churning butter and arrived in South Station a mere 30 minutes behind schedule!

Yesterday (3 July), we slept and slept and slept. We washed our clothes. We went shopping for necessities we hadn't brought. And we had a real party for Ian's birthday: Star Wars cake & decorations + Indiana Jones presents. Lucas Films Ltd. would be proud.

And today (4 July), we scouted out a tree house location in Grampa's woods. It helped that Grampa was off of work for Indepence Day. The kids have preliminary sketches and Grampa has already begun clearing the site. Apparently Ian is about to drive the tractor for the first time to haul logs away, so I'm going to go. Gotta film this!


Quote of the Day

Megan: (Looking at water towers poking above the suburban woods) What is that row of bubbles out there?

Ian: (Waking briefly at 3 a.m. on the train) I'm not having fun.