<< June 2018 :: July 2018

moments from the week

mama and boys swimming in Cape Cod bay

calm sea bathing

Moments from the past week [added slightly retroactively, upon our return].

Zion guiding his bike over a small ramp

bike tricks

Lijah playing in the rain

playing in the rain

Harvey and Zion picnicing by their bikes on a grassy hill

mid-ride picnic

Zion running away from a big wave

the Atlantic ocean

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beach vacation

It got really hot the middle of last week, so we were glad we had a cool place to go: Leah's parents' house on Cape Cod. It has a private beach.

the calm waters of Cape Cod Bay

cool waters

We left home Thursday afternoon, and it wasn't hot then; it was raining. The rain made for a dreadfully long traffic-plagued trip there, but we didn't mind too much. Mostly, we enjoyed the chance to chat, play with the iPads, or sleep, as appropriate by age and maturity level. Then when we got there we were treated to a terrific thunderstorm that passed just overhead. Luckily we were all unpacked before it hit.

Friday day dawned coolish and hazy, but by mid morning the mist had cleared and the temperature was rocketing upwards. So we headed to the beach—the one just a couple minutes walk away, with no waves so even the littlest of us could feel comfortable swimming in the beautiful cool water.

Lijah chest deep in water, Harvey and Zion swimming beyond him

getting into it

The only problem was we got a little carried away enjoying the sun, sand, and water, and by evening all five of us were suffering from some combination of sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. Good thing we'd had so much fun, so it felt worth it.

The next day, after making solemn vows to drink water and apply sunscreen on a regular schedule, we split up: Leah and Lijah to spend more time at the quiet beach, the bigger boys and I on a cycling adventure to find some big waves. We drove a ways to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, with the thought of riding a segment to the National Seashore visitor center and thence on the bike path over the dunes to the Coast Guard Beach. I have fond memories of taking that trail as a young person myself, and wanted to introduce it to my own cycling boys.

Missing the turn off the rail trail meant we had a couple extra miles at the beginning of the trip that we didn't need, but never mind; it would have been too short otherwise. Then we enjoyed a picnic lunch outside the visitor center before taking to the roller coaster of a trail to the beach. It was every bit as lovely as I remembered.

Harvey and Zion cycling on a tree-shaded bike path

swoopy

Shorter, too. Those kids are better cyclists than I was at that age (Zion especially got lots of compliments as he powered his little bike up the hills). Before we knew it we were at the beach, where we joyously confronted the awesome waves.

Harvey and Zion standing in the wash of the big waves

wave hello

Actually, they were a little too awesome for the kids to engage with them fully. But they still had a lot of fun running and jumping in the wash of the breakers, and then making sand castles in a futile effort to hold back the fast-rising tide. Then to show that getting knocked over by waves wasn't so bad I put on something of a comedy performance, letting them have their way with me. I lost some skin but it was worth it!

The water was a lovely temperature and the oceanside breeze was charming (as long as we avoided the deadly burning rays of the relentless sun). But of course we got all hot again on the ride home, so it was convenient that right where we had parked the car there was ice cream available.

Harvey and Zion licking ice cream cones in front of a wall decorated with buoys

ice cream Cape Cod style

Back at the house we collapsed for a few hours: all that fun was hard work. But after dinner I had a little more energy and invited Leah out for a walk. That sounded good to everyone else too. The flies were too terrible to be anywhere but the beach, but the beach is always a fine place to be.

the boys playing on the beach at dusk

day is done

Sunday we met up with some friends who were also staying in the area (we know them from church, so it was appropriate plan to meet them just in time to skip church together). We thought we were going to do a hike, but it was so blazing hot we couldn't manage it. Just like last time! But this time we had friends to share our complaints with, so they didn't seem so bad; and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do to just sit down by the water and throw some stones. The kids didn't have swimsuits; of course that didn't stop them from getting wet.

Zion and Matthew wading in the ocean in their clothes

oh well

All that didn't take long, so we had plenty of time to enjoy a relaxed lunch of fried food together. (Relaxed for us; other patrons watching our crew of wild children seemed to be a little worked up. Come on, we were on the beach—deal, people.)

the kids sitting around a picnic table, Rascal lying in the shade under it

the lunch crowd

The best part was we had already packed up the car, so with lunch over we could head straight home to Bedford. The traffic-free trip was smooth and easy, leaving the boys plenty of time to play with their friends in the neighborhood before bed.

Now that's a vacation. It was wonderful. And exhausting. So now we're resting. Or trying to; it's close to 90° in the house right now. When can we go back?

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independence from the stove

We celebrated the Fourth of July in our traditional fashion today, with a full day at the fair in Concord. More about that later. But the fun didn't end when we got home—after an hour or so indoors in front of the fan to recover, we cooked hot dogs on the fire, and then smores. It was our second smores evening just in the past week, never mind all the other times we've made them this year, which got me to wondering... how did we become a household where such things are possible?! Clearly, building the fireplace helped.. but even before that we were toasting marshmallows over a wood fire in the kettle grill. Maybe it's just that we like being outside, and there's no finer outdoor dessert than smores?

All round, outdoor cooking is the best. Obviously when it's as hot as this it's great not to have to heat up the house; in weather like this even the vacuum cleaner feels like it's pumping out an unbearable amount of hot air, to say nothing of the stove or the oven. But the food is tastier too over the fire. The other day I made beans and as leftovers their noticeably more delicious than stovetop beans—delightfully smoky. I also made steak and peppers for fajitas, which was fine, and tortillas, which I felt was pretty impressive (they didn't taste particularly smoky, but I still think rolling them and cooking them outside was pretty cool). Today Leah—who doesn't eat hot dogs—grilled tofu and zucchini, stir-fried ground turkey, and made rice all over the fire. I didn't taste any of that, but I guarantee it was all wonderful. And of course fire-cooked marshmallows are infinitely superior to those prepared any other way. I hear some people even eat them raw! Not us, not when there's a fire going!

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moments from the week

the boys in the canoe on Spy Pond

exploring Spy Pond

A few moments from the past week.

the boys and friends under the pier in Welfleet

under the pier

Harvey and Zion sack racing

they're not winning, but they're having fun!

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fair on the fourth

Last Wednesday was Fourth of July, and we went to Concord for the Picnic in the Park. Like we do. It was super hot, which kept lots of people away; the crowd was noticeably smaller than usual. But we weren't bothered at all, because we have tents!

a pair of shade shelters in the grass

portable shade

The little one there is ours.. the big one belongs to our friends. They also brought along a hammock. Luxury! There was a bit of a breeze so sitting in the shade we were totally comfortable as we ate lunch and listened to music.

Of course, with so much going on around us we couldn't sit still forever. When we heard the announcement that the field games were starting we headed right over to compete in the sack race, three-legged race, and sponge toss. None of us won anything, but we had fun trying!

Zion and Lijah finishing the sack race, Harvey watching

made it!

All that competition was hard work, so we were glad that the fire department was their with their hoses to cool us down. After we all got wet enough Lijah and Zion took their turn at the spraying.

Zion spraying the firehose, with firefighter assistance

hosing down the kids

There was lots more fun after that: listening to music, riding the train around the field, jumping in the bounce house, playing on the playground, and just relaxing in the shade. There were also balloons to collect and play with.

Lijah with a balloon hat, sword-belt, and pet

balloon warrior

It took us five hours to start to feel done—just as well, because that's when things started to wrap up. So we rolled up our tents and hopped on bikes for the ride home. When you do things every year you notice how the kids are growing up: Zion able to ride the whole way himself and, unlike last year, Lijah even wore shorts for the occasion!

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taste the smoke

One of my favorite things about cooking on the fire is the leftovers. A couple years ago when we brought some leftover chili back from a camping trip I was delighted to find that, when reheated, it had a wonderfully smoky flavor that totally complemented the other tastes in the recipe. (I hadn't noticed the day we cooked it; then, everything was smoky.) Now that we have our own backyard fire that we use all the time we get to enjoy that smoky goodness much more often, and on purpose. Like the zucchini I grilled yesterday.

Last night we cooked some chicken and a little steak, and I also through some slices of summer squash on the grill. They were delicious, but since I was the only one who ate any there was lots left over. For breakfast this morning I chopped some up and put them in an omelet that Harvey and I shared; he was suspicious ("what are these green things?!") but when he tried one he agreed that they had practically no vegetable taste at all. Just smoke. Then this evening I made my half of the pizza with mushrooms and more of the zucchini, and feta cheese. So powerful was that quarter cup of chopped squash that Lijah almost keeled over from the smell when he came into the house just after the pizza came out of the oven. He didn't like it; to me it was just perfect. Tasted good too.

Who knows what all those smoke particles are doing to our system—probably cancerous or something. But right now, I'm going to say it's worth it!

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moments from the week

Zion jumping out of the canoe into the pond

boating

Moments from the past week.

Mama playing with the boys in the water

Sunday swim

the boys (in brimmed hats) eating lunch on a rock above Fawn Lake

adventure hats

Lijah watching the Party Band play

summer music

Lijah in his red life jacket almost chin deep in water

comfortable in the water

Lijah hitting a pinata

attack!

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<< June 2018 :: July 2018