Life got away from me a little bit. But while I didn't manage to get to the blog for the last month, that doesn't mean we didn't do anything; on the contrary! Here are some of the many moments from the past month.
At the end of September we took another trip down to Truro to stay at Grandma and Grandpa's beach house. This time it was just us; the Bernsteins were otherwise engaged and the friends we invited couldn't make it. So we had the house, and the vacation, to ourselves. Which was novel! We realized, as we sat down to supper the first night there, that it was the first purely family vacation we'd taken since Harvey was a tiny baby, nine years ago. I think we earned it!
Because it was well past Labor Day it wasn't only the house we had to ourselves, but pretty much the whole place. As soon as we arrived we headed right down to the beach, where we knew there'd be no trouble finding a place to set up our stuff.
One reason we were interested in hitting the beach right away was the forecast: the Wednesday we drove down was mild, but there was cold weather predicted for Thursday and rain for Friday. So we had to seize our one beachy chance! Of course, while the air was mild the water was not; it took some effort to get in, even for Mama in her wetsuit. The waves also made it a little challenging, at least for the kids. This beach is on the bay side and is usually as calm as a pond, so the two-foot breaking waves felt pretty big. Most of us did make it in at last, and Harvey and I at least spent a good hour or so playing in the water. Pretty good for September 26!
We needed some supplies for supper so after we dried off we drove into Welfleet to visit the wonderful grocery store there, with wood floors and shelves and a not terrible selection of things to eat. After stocking up we drove down to the harbor to take a walk. The evening light was beautiful, thanks to the gathering clouds.
The clouds had settled in to stay when we woke up the next morning, which is why I told the boys not to pack swimsuits for our trip to Provincetown. I thought that made sense; besides the clouds it was windy and cold. We wanted to go visit Race Point Beach, where I assumed we'd walk a little, be impressed by the giant waves, and then look for somewhere warm to visit. I should have known better.
You know how it is: they thought they were just getting their feet wet. It really was cold and windy, though, so we couldn't exactly swim, even leaving aside the fact that the waves probably would have killed us. Good thing swimming isn't the only fun thing to do at a beach!
(I really wanted to do a flip off that bank, but it turns out that at 41 I don't have it in me any more.) So we jumped and walked and collected crab shells until the roaring wind—which made any non-shouted conversation impossible—drove us crazy and away. Done with the wind but not yet with the ocean, we drove a couple minutes to another beach on the other side of the point, which presented a completely different aspect: calm, quiet, and mild. With no waves to speak of we watched the tide not creep but race up the beach, and the boys had fun playing real-life Forbidden Island (while I forbade them to get their second suit of clothes wet).
Next we visited Provincetown proper. The boys and I had a great time walking on the long long breakwater (pictured here) while Leah cuddled up with her book in the car to have a break from the wind. Then we tried to find somewhere to park to let us check out downtown, but even at the end of September the place was hopping. I don't go on vacation to battle for parking, so to the moans of the boys who had seen a plush Pikachu in a store window I pointed the car out of town. They were mollified when we found a quiet skate park to play in.
Then we turned for home, but I wasn't totally done exploring and asked the family if they would mind checking out just one more beach. And they were glad they said yes, because Head of the Meadows was the best one yet. The sun had come out by then (as may be seen in the picture that tops this post), and though the wind was still at full force there was a big dip in the beach that blocked some of its force. And even better, the dip held a considerable pond. Which spelled the end for the second suit of dry clothes.
I wasn't tempted by the pond, but while the boys frolicked I was watching the waves, and finally I couldn't resist. Fear of sharks kept me from really swimming, but I did go in enough to get my clothes—my only clothes, since I didn't think to bring spares—soaking wet. It was worth it. Then we headed home.
Friday we woke up to steady rain. Leah wanted to get the house clean for a prospective renter who was coming to look at it, so I took the boys over to Welfleet to go to the library there. We'd wanted to visit it ever since we first noticed it last year, but who has time for libraries when there are beaches to visit! Except in the rain, of course. I'm glad it rained, because the library trip wasn't just a passable consolation prize, it was one of the best parts of the vacation. There was a giant collection of comic books, including the long-sought-out Hilo book 4, which absorbed Harvey and Zion; Lijah was delighted by the toys. An assortment of old cooking gear was his favorite, and he and I enjoyed imaginary play with the various strange objects. It was very cozy with the rain pouring down on the skylights.
But we hadn't brought anything to eat, so at maybe 1:00 I dragged them away for lunch. Leah had packed everything up, so after lunch we said goodby to the house and headed home for real; stopping on the way, of course, for some ice cream. It's not a vacation without ice cream! Even Rascal got some.
It was a good time. Family vacations are nice; let's do one again some day!
Lately when Mama has been driving the boys in her car they've been listening to an album by the band Cake that was on heavy rotation in my life some time back in the '90s. I haven't heard any of the tracks myself this time around—when we all go somewhere together we take the van, and the CD isn't in it. And yet it feels like more than half the time now I have one of the songs stuck in my head, thanks to hearing the boys sing it. Their version aren't that good, but they're enough to trigger a pretty good recall of those tunes I last heard, oh, 20 years ago. So that's something I've been thinking about...
This past weekend we took... not a vacation, entirely, but a trip at least to Cape Cod. Like we've done in the past, our church ran a retreat at a hotel in Falmouth; as a staff member, it was my privilege to help run the child care. Which was complicated slightly by Saturday's nor'easter. Never mind, it's always fun to be at the seaside! With full knowledge of the forecast we made the best of Friday's sunny weather with a stop at our second-favorite beachside playground on the way down.
Our next stop was Woods Hole, where we met our best homeschool buddies at the aquarium. Last year the kids dashed through the exhibits in record time, but this time everybody was in the mood to really take things in, and we lingered for a while at each tank.
While in Woods Hole we also took in the museum where you can play in the replica Alvin's cockpit, and played on the little beach in the center of town. The mamas got coffee.
Then we all went to the hotel to check in. While the freshly caffeinated mamas took care of that, the kids and I explored the beach. It wasn't too cold to put our feet in the water—it never is, for us—but it was very cold. Numbingly cold. Luckily there was a tropically warm indoor pool nearby where we could warm up.
In past years the retreat has included dinner, but we cut that this year to save on costs. So we went out to eat instead. It was wonderful; besides the quantities of fried seafood and french fries the kids were delighted by the touch-screen drink dispenser, and took in a startling quantity of pink lemonade with lemon, cherry, and strawberry flavor shots. "Mixing is fun!" they said.
We woke up the next day to howling wind and spitting rain. Leah laughs at bad weather, and took off before dawn to run a half marathon. That left me to see to packing up, but the kids are big now: they did a fantastic job of loading backpacks with everything they would need for the day and cramming everything else in the duffels, all in plenty of time to get down to breakfast before almost everyone else. That meant we could get a prime seat by the window, for the first time in the three years we've been visiting this hotel. We enjoyed watching the wind and the light-ship on the horizon for a while; and also the buffet.
I kind of wondered breakfast by the window would be the closest we'd get to the ocean that day, it was that stormy out. Plus I was in charge of 32 elementary school kids. But while we did spend about six hours playing (very happily) in a windowless conference room, I did take a few brave souls out into the tempest to explore the beach and the secret pond. The pictures don't do the wild weather justice: the wind was blowing something fierce, but it was blowing directly out to see so it flattened the waves right out. They were probably something to see by the time they reached Connecticut...
Oh, and we swam in the pool too. But I was having too much fun to photograph that. All that, and we were still home by 7:00. Maybe not a vacation, but a delightful adventure.
Another Halloween has come and gone. This one was pretty succussful; the kids wore costumes and got candy, and after trick-or-treating our friends joined us for a lovely relaxed pot-luck dinner. The lead-up was a little stressful, since I'm not that good at sewing or organizing, but the costumes got made—today, except for Lijah's, which is a hand-me-down—the cookies got baked and packaged, and we even had time for one non-Halloween chore: finally planting the garlic, on what seems like the first almost dry day in weeks.
Leah asks if we'll get to relax a little now that Halloween is over. I don't think so... there's always something. Lijah (who had a hard time deciding on a costume and so picked out something for the next three Halloweens) asked, after supper, how long it was til Christmas. Wait, my son! We have to stress about Thanksgiving first!