posts tagged with 'cousins'
My parents traditionally observe New Years Day with a a visit to the beach at Plum Island. We've never gone with them before, but this year it was one of not so many chances for the boys to see their cousins, so we made it happen. It's not like it's ever too much of a hardship to visit a beach!
Because we can get out of the house quicker than some other people we made it up to Newburyport with over half an hour to spare, so we stopped at the Audobon visitor center at Joppa Flats. I'd never been in before—it's fantastic! We got to look through telescopes, play with shells and learn about birds, plus Lijah and I did some arts and crafts together. And there was a gift shop!
Then after a quick lunch in the back of the car it was off to the beach! It was pretty mild when we were leaving home, but with the breeze the beach wasn't mild at all—in fact it felt downright arctic. So I was dismayed to see that Lijah hadn't actually brought a coat, and we had a little lesson on the difference between coats and sweatshirts. Luckily, running with cousins is a warming activity so he survived. We took a nice long walk on the beach and admired the moderate waves. As cold as it was, many of us stayed comfortably away from the water.
But not everyone.
Harvey and Zion each got pretty damp, actually. But the wind dried them off very nicely as the walk went on! After they were done teasing the water the cousins enjoyed collecting driftwood and just hanging out together. It was a lovely time.
Then we finished up the afternoon by driving to Cambridge to go out to eat at a fish restaurant. Maybe we could have found one in Newburyport, but Grandpa had stayed back home in Middlesex County—he was nursing a cold—and he's the one with the money, so we had to find him before we could have dinner. All in all, New Years Day felt very well celebrated, and I'm glad we got to be part of the fun.
Before we said goodbye to Nisia and before all the snow melted (both today) we went sledding.
The light and fluffy snow of Saturday evening was much-stomped by Sunday sledders, so when he saw the hill Harvey was so discouraged he was about ready to head home. But I knew that some grass and leaves sticking up wouldn't slow us down any, because packed, sun-melted snow at 15 American degrees is about the fastest surface you could hope for. And so it proved.
Lijah stayed home with Grandma (and Cindy—thanks for the entertainment!) so I was able to concentrate on encouraging the bigger kids. And they all did great! Zion and Nisia stuck to the snow tubes (and the plastic toboggan with me), and took dozens of delighted runs down the big hill. They complained some about the walk up, but kept at it nevertheless. Harvey was fearless on both the plastic toboggan and the real one, which he got back on even after a ferocious crash into the stone wall at the bottom of the hill that left him with a scrape on his chin and a couple of sore teeth. If only we had been out after lunch instead of before it, we might have been there three hours instead of just one and a half.
Of course, I did some sledding too, and made it through the gap in the stone wall into the lower portion of the field by myself on the toboggan and with Zion on the plastic sled. I was pretty impressed with myself... I've still got it! Even Nelly took one run down, on a snowtube—she has video evidence if you don't believe it.
Nisia won't be back again til summer, but we hope the snow puts in another appearance—we had such a good time we'd hate for that to be our only sledding of the season!
We're still not back to our regular schedule—snow delayed Nelly and Nisia's flight out for a couple days, so we abandoned school work to go sledding with them. But the holidays are undeniably over, so it's past time to say a few words about how they went. For future reference.
We were a little distracted and scattered around the present preparation this year—most of us, anyways. After we got home from church at 10:00—from cleaning up and locking up, at a service where we also opened the doors and set up—I got to work on presents, as seems to be my tradition. New this year, Harvey joined me! The ship he was making for Zion wasn't done, so he wanted to put in some time to show he really does care.
Never mind how many things were unfinished, Christmas morning saw delight all around.
Of course, no one could be as delighted as Lijah after he got a gun and a giant candy cane in his stocking.
There were also lots of legos, the first batch of which had to be put together before breakfast.
After we ran out of presents for Lijah to open we packed up what we had left and headed over to Lexington. They had a few more there.
We spent a lovely relaxing day leisurely opening presents—the kids needed to pause and play with each new one extensively—and eating constantly. (We did take a little walk in the middle to keep from dying.) It was nice to get to spend Christmas with the Africa Archibalds for the first time in a few years.
The day after Christmas we celebrated Hanukah with the Bernsteins. It was also charmingly relaxed, as pictured previously. There were more legos, and more weapons for Lijah, so it was a success. Harvey handled the dreidel work with aplomb.
We hadn't planned anything for New Years Eve, but when friends asked us about it we told them they should just come over. Then we said the same thing to more friends, and some relatives. So we ended up with quite a few people and had a very festive evening—one which ended before 10:00, which was great. And some of the guests even helped to clean up, which meant we started the new year well-rested in a clean house. Expect great things from us in 2017!
Clean as it was on 1/1, we (which is to say Leah) put in some more serious cleaning time in advance of 1/2, when we threw a brunch party for relatives who had never visited us before—and one of whom cleans other people's houses as a hobby. There was some tension leading up to the event, but in the event it was fun and easy, and seeing nine Archibald cousins (well, second cousins... and some of them are DiBellas) running around was a great way to spend the bonus federal holiday day.
Then we just had a week of hanging out with Nisia and Nelly, which was super fun. And now it's now!
We had thoughts at the beginning of this week of getting back to routine, but it didn't entirely happen. See, Nisia—the boys' only first cousin—was still in town. Her Christmas visit this year marked the first time we saw her in a year and a half, and there's no way we could go about our regular school schedule with her around. And around she was! When someone comes to visit all the way from Africa you need to spend all the time with them you can. She capped off the visit with a sleepover here last night. Tomorrow she's headed back home to Dakar, but we have assurances it won't be quite so long before we see her—and her parents, naturally!—again.
To mark her departure we took down our Christmas tree this afternoon. A day ahead of liturgical schedule, sure, but it seemed appropriate. We also wanted to get it out of the way before we had folks over this evening. Harvey and Zion were ok with it going away, but Lijah found that he missed it when he came downstairs and saw the empty space (and all the needles swept up). Sure, he knew the cleanup was happening—even took down a couple ornaments himself—but the sight of the empty corner still made him a little upset.
To be honest, that wasn't the only thing that made him upset this evening. Maybe he's missing his cousin already. He's certainly missing the sleep and quiet time that he didn't get when he and his brothers were playing with her every day! Good thing it's the weekend—quiet day tomorrow, with no vacation to worry about. Maybe we can even do some school on Monday.
We survived an epic Thanksgiving week. Who knew sitting and eating could be so tiring?! After a warm-up dinner with friends on Tuesday we celebrated the real day as part of a party of 21 at my aunt and uncle's place. The boys were delighted to see their second cousins and their second cousins' second cousins, and were delightfully well behaved the whole time.
They did lots of running around together inside and out, miraculously without any damage to the house. Harvey and Zion were huge fans of the other boys at the party; they're sad to hear my feelings about the likelihood of reconnecting with second cousins' second cousins, especially ones who live in New Jersey. Lijah impressed in how much he was able to keep up with the rough play, and when he got tired out there was always the football to watch.
Yesterday we went to Leah's parents' house, where we had a delightful time hanging out with them and her brother, recently moved away to California. It was so nice we didn't realize how late it was getting and didn't leave until after 9:00. So this morning was slow, but by lunch time we were galvanized and ready for our last party, with the Archibald grandparents and friends. It was another bigish gathering, but a very relaxed one.
With all that fine dining, the only thing we made ourselves was a loaf of bread and a couple of pies. True, without a dinner here at home we miss out on the best of the leftovers (though both grandmas were kind enough to send home doggie bags), but we have plenty of desert to go around!
I took pictures of each of my four turkey-dinner plates this week. Here they are, presented without comment (those are just the first helpings—in all cases I had at least seconds).
Now I don't need to eat for a week.
This Labor Day weekend we were lucky enough to be offered an all-expenses-paid trip to a New Hampshire lakeside, in order to celebrate the wedding of our friends Sara and Josh. Uncle Tom and Aunt Nellie had a cabin in the wedding camp, and we didn't have to be asked twice to drop by.
Usually when they see water the boys jump right in, but here the boats were a potent distraction.
Harvey did great on his second time on a boat, and then also on his third, fourth, fifth... etc. I was glad to head out with him each time. Zion wasn't sure about being out on the water, but he loved the miracle of buoyancy, which let him push his big brother around.
Then it was on to the wedding itself, which was also outside.
It took some climbing to get up to the site of the ceremony, but the view at the top was worth it—as encouraging home-made signs along the way proclaimed.
Outside weddings are well suited to our children's temperaments. Harvey could get some private time when he needed.
Zion distracted himself by lying down and kicking his feet in the dirt. It was dry enough that the dust brushed right off.
The reception was back down the hill by the lodge. After a little acclimation (and a lot of hors d'oeuvres) Harvey jumped right into socializing.
Those two were well matched, and spent a happy hour carrying dirt, swinging sticks, and knocking each other down. But even new best friends were no competition for cousins.
After hours of partying we started to feel bad for Rascal and made an early exit, unfortunately before pie but just in time to get on the road to our hotel while there was still a bit of light.
Good thing because there's no cell reception up there so navigation was by paper map, and there were some wrong turns in the empty wild darkness before we found our way to refuge at the Best Western in Mt. Sunapee. Relative refuge, at least, because fireworks and a loud party—with bonfire!—right outside our window kept us mostly awake until about 1:30: in solidarity, it turns out, with the folks back at the wedding who similarly partied long into the night.
This prejudiced us against the place a little bit, but Harvey—who slept through all the commotion—was thrilled in the morning both by the big tv and the complimentary continental breakfast. I would have taken some more pictures but my camera ran out of batteries moments after the sunset shot above; and forgetting my charger meant that I couldn't document our second day of boating and lakeside relaxation, supplemented by a second breakfast-slash-lunch courtesy of the wedding establishment. It was all great fun, and it felt much longer than the 31 hours we were actually away from home.
Yesterday was full of delightful festivities. We started off with the Picnic in the Park in Concord (link to last year's for reference), for which I packed plenty of food. We could bring a goodly amount of cargo because this year was a cycling year, so we didn't have to worry about parking and carrying everything an unknown distance.
There was also music.
And, new this year, hula hooping!
Leah did some pretty good work with the hoop as well, which might be presented in video form at a later date.
We also enjoyed hanging out with friends at the picnic, which was also new this year: it turned out that half of our Watertown-based church small group was there, some at our invitation and other by pure coincidence. Much fun, except when Harvey hit Timothy with a hula hoop, an accident which necessitated the application of ice.
Such is the fullness of our social calendar that we had to leave a little early in order to make it to our next engagement, a party at Grandma and Grandpa Archibald's to celebrate the 4th as well as Uncle Tom and cousin Nisia's birthday. The kids had a great time playing together, especially when Grandma brought out the water.
Of course, when Zion sees water you know what's coming next.
The other kids each had a turn in the tub too, but they weren't as enthused: neither Harvey nor Nisia even sat down. I think Zion must have stayed in there for an hour.
And since it was Independence Day, we finished the evening in the appropriate fashion.