29 July 2009

Hot Day, Cool Cruise

Junior Does Lunch

Today was the hottest, muggiest of our vacation. It was also the sunniest. So even though Kurt had to work, I took the kids to ride the M/S Mount Washington. The 2.5 hour cruise coursed through the hazy waters of Lake Winnepesaukee while boaters waved, honked, and raced us. Ian loved the lunch and talking with another boy about LEGO's. Megan loved taking pictures of the water stirred up by the ship. I loved the cool breeze coming through the window.

For those of you that missed my writer's blog post about Junior (the stuffed frog), he's become a combination muse/mascot. Megan, in particular, is quite taken with setting him up for photo shoots. As you can see in the picture above, she's quite good. What you can't see in the photo is the silliness that accompanies these endeavors. So I captured it on video for you:


Quotes of the Day

Ian: I'd love to live on a boat like this.

Megan: I'd love to work on a boat like this.

24 July 2009

Bricks and Breaks

On the way to our annual raspberry-picking extravaganza Monday, we stopped at the SEE Science Center in Manchester. It was a cute little place, tucked into one of the converted brick mills along the Merrimack River. We didn't even pause in the upper/entrance level, though. We'd heard rumors of a massive LEGO display downstairs, at mini-figure scale (55:1).


We weren't disappointed. Volunteers had built a recreation of the entire millyard circa 1850. Better still, a model train ran through the entire project with a camera attached so we could see it at mini-figure level. The kids even found the perfect place to stand so they could wave and make it on TV. There were other fun displays, but the LEGO's definitely stole the show. And admission was much cheaper than a trip to LEGOland!

Yesterday, Mum took the kids to the library and shopping so that I could have a "Grand Day Out" in Keene. Even though Kurt had to work, I wasn't alone in my travels. One of my writing friends (and first author for Heron) met me there for a laid-back tour. Mel was a great sport; braving my notebook with two full pages of amusements complete with addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, and admission fees with a smile and a shake of his head. In my defense, I never meant for us to hit it all. Just wanted to be prepared. And even he had to admit the Wyman Tavern Museum tour was a one of a kind experience. How often do you find a 20-something man dressed in breeches and buckled shoes who's excited to talk about rolled glass and antique books?

Otter Brook

The Otter Brook Recreational Area was another gem. Writers love solitude, and we found it. Though probably only because it was a Thursday. And overcast. And I guess technically it wasn't solitude since we were there together, but still. We were able to spend hours next to the river and reservoir without bugs (insect or human). Well, there was one family playing in the sand. Oh, and that short bus dropped campers off for a crazy game of soccer. But it still felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Alas, today is back to the grind. Kids to corral. Manuscripts to edit. Drafts to write...


Quotes of the Day

Ian: (while giving a 3 inch piece of his chenille yarn to his great grandmother) Here's something for you to remember me by.

Megan: It may have taken 50,000 man hours to build it [the LEGO project], but now they need to spend time dusting it!

19 July 2009

Portsmouth Encore

Banke Sunflower

This picture, though taken in Portsmouth, has nothing to do with my opening paragraph. But who doesn't like a nice sunflower shot? Kurt and I enjoyed our first trip to Portsmouth so much last year, we decided to take the kids this year. Since it was Saturday, though, we slept in. So by the time we arrived, lunch was the first order of business.

We walked down the main streets of town, looking for something we all would like. Ian begged for pizza. Megan just wanted to shop in the boutiques. Then Kurt and I spotted the Portsmouth Brewery, overlooking a row of townhome-style shops that could be straight out of England. Once we had our table, Ian sniffed the air and declared that it smelled like England. Megan said it looked like one of the pubs we ate at in London. My fish n' chips were very well done, I must say.

With FULL bellies, we waddled toward the Strawberry Banke Museum. This is a fenced off section of neighborhood in the now-filled-in Puddle Dock area near shore. Historic homes, one dating back to the 1600's, have been restored (or partially restored) and interpreters roam the streets dressed in period costume. The kids were "forced" to discuss the changes in coinage during WWII before being allowed to explore the 1940's candy counter. Kurt enjoyed the Victory garden and I enjoyed the William Pitt Tavern. And the kids enjoyed the hands-on center in the Jones House:


Quotes of the Day

Ian: (Exchange with Grampa after getting home)

Grampa, "What is it like to have an older sister?"

Ian, "Obnoxious, all capital letters with no strings attached!"

Grampa, "And what does obnoxious mean?"

Ian, "I don't know. But it sounds good."

Megan: Mom, you're not taking my picture next to that Union Jack! I'll take yours.

17 July 2009

Major Dilemma

Some of you may remember our near-death hike a few years ago. If not, read about it here. After this incident, Kurt promised that if I ever wanted to turn around on a hike, I could.

I took him up on that promise today. Kurt has always wanted to climb to the top of Mount Major, between his childhood home and the picturesque town of Alton Bay. It's supposed to be one of the easier ascents in the area, so we attempted it as a family. In our sneakers. With a faulty can of insect repellent.

I should have turned around within the first 0.2 mile when we crossed this:


The trail didn't get any better. Clambering up and around boulders and tripping over tree roots left Ian cranky and me sore. After 0.8 mile and squeezing between two boulders in a 45 degree angle crevice, I cried "uncle." Ian was thrilled. Megan was thrilled, too, when she saw Kurt hand me the keys. Megan and Kurt continued on. Ian and I headed back. Slowly.

So slowly, in fact, that Megan and Kurt got to the car a mere 15 minutes after Ian and I. They went all 3.2 miles (to the top and back) in 2 hours. Ian and I went a scant 1.6 miles in 1.75 hours. But we all made it safely, so we celebrated with Shibley's soft serve ice cream in Alton Bay before heading home for a salmon supper.

How do I know they really did make it in such a short time? The proof is in this picture of the summit's survey marker, taken with Kurt's mobile phone:


And this picture of Megan enjoying the view from the top:


They also presented us with one of their empty water bottles 1/4 full of wild blueberries they picked while they were up there. Craziness.


10 July 2009

Cottage Fun

With the house full-to-bursting with four generations living in (including Kurt's brother's crew), Kurt's parents rented a cottage on the lake for "overflow parking." Beautiful weekend for it, too. The sun actually came out to warm the water yesterday--hence Megan's company on the beach after her lesson instead of her retreat to the warm car like previous days.


Fortunately before the kids and I met up with the gang at the cottage, Kurt texted to alert me to a septic tank problem. Me without bathroom access is a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. So we stopped at the local McDonald's for a snack and facility break. Only this is no ordinary McDonald's. Since we're in an upscale resort town, there is a stone-front fireplace in the dining room. And there's a talking moose-head that doubles as a security camera. On my first trip to the loo, Mr. Moose reminded me of the benefits to purchasing a vanilla laté. Creepy.

Once we finally made it to the cottage, though, things settled down. Ian learned how to kayak. Megan swam out to the dock (farther than in lessons). Karl's family sunned on the dock without the biting flies that usually descend. And then the "8 & up" cousins enjoyed a lazy afternoon of fishing. Ah, summer.


Quotes of the Day

Ian: (after we shouted instructions so he didn't float out to sea on the kayak)
Oh uh, yeah. Ha ha. Thanks for the tip.

Megan: (after we took some goofy pix)
It's like I'm at Sunsplash with my friends, not my mom!

07 July 2009

Day to Day

lesson 1 2009
Yesterday the kids enjoyed their first swim lesson for the 2009 season. Their instructor from last year was back again--always a treat to watch Nick with the kids. The beach was busy due to perfect July weather.

Ian found a gaggle of boys to hang with; joining them in a game of monkey-in-the-middle with a water frisbee AND a swim to the dock without float supports (or his mother). Megan's little friend from last year didn't stay to play after lesson, so Megan sat on the beach texting and working on her tan.

favor for Nick

Today, however, a cold front moved in. Rain overnight left behind a gentle 62 degree breeze. But no lightning to call a halt to the noontime festivities. Megan reluctantly reported for duty. Even Nick breathed in that ice-stabbing -80F way.

But not Ian. He scarfed his PB&J sandwich then dove in--and continued to swim, even when Nick brought the class to shore to warm up. Ian, being the only person in the whole lake, agreed to play drowning victim so Nick could give instructions on shore-to-water rescue techniques. When it was Megan's turn to try saving her brother, Nick reminded her: Don't hit the victim in the face with the torpedo. She obeyed. But once Ian grabbed it, she yanked it so hard and fast that Ian got "sand burn" on his belly. Ah, sibling love;-)


Quotes of the Day

Ian: This water is "I dare you to step in" cold.

Megan: I can't even feel my feet, they're so white.

02 July 2009

Here and Happy

We've been in New England for 48 hours already and I'm feeling guilty for not posting. But I'm just having too much fun to write--as evidenced by this highlight from tonight's birthday bash: