posts tagged with 'vacation'

back to our Cape house

The end of last week we were on vacation on Cape Cod. That's the sort of thing you can get away with when you have a house to visit there. We had two lovely summery days and one foggy rainy one, and we attacked all three with vacation energy.

Mama and Lijah walking on the beach

vacation

We got to Truro after lunch on Thursday, and spent most of the afternoon on the beach. Unlike last time, the water in Cape Cod Bay was plenty warm enough for swimming.

Harvey and Mama waving from the ocean

ocean wave

Besides spending lots of time in the water, Harvey also got to practice keeping the acrobatic kite aloft. Grandpa appreciated having someone else interested in it.

Ira helping Harvey fly the kite

grandfather-grandson bonding

Zion's role was to launch the thing again when it crashed, which he enjoyed. He and Lijah also made sure to take plenty of time to just sit and relax.

Zion lying on the beach, Lijah sitting wrapped in a  towel

comfortable

The next day was cloudy and drizzly, with serious rain in the forecast. Harvey and I brought our bikes; thinking we wouldn't want to miss better weather with the family later we figured a damp morning would be the perfect time for a ride and headed out. Our first big stop was Welfleet center, where of course we visited the toy store.

Harvey with the bikes outside of a toy store in Welfleet

we got somewhere

Then we explored a woodsy path that led us just about to Rt 6; seeing it we figured we might as well try the other side of the Cape and see if we could make it to the Atlantic Ocean. We did—not that we could really see much when we got there.

Harvey playing in the ocean waves on the foggy beach

who needs sky?

At least it wasn't pouring rain, though the drizzle that had started up as we approached the beach led us to change into our swimsuits a little early, to save our clothes from a soaking. We had the beach to ourselves, and we played in the waves and watched a seal swim just a few yards away, but we didn't stay long—I was a little worried the skies would open. Naturally, soon after we left the beach the rain dried up and started to get hot as we picked our way towards home. It ended up being a 14 mile ride—here's an approximation of our course—and Harvey did great, even with all the hills he had to walk up.

After lunch at home the torrential rain showed up, but by dinner time it was clearing up again. How about another walk on the beach! Rascal swam and swam, then decided he was done.

wet Rascal relaxing on the misty beach

he got all his exercise already

Saturday we started to get bored with playing in the house and going to the beach, so we went out for a hike. Unfortunately even the hikes on the Outer Cape are pretty beachy.

Harvey and Zion walking on a path by a dune

a new kind of hiking

Great Island in Welfleet is a lovely place, but it wasn't quite what our tired kids were looking for—especially when the flies started biting. So we beat a retreat, a little acrimoniously. Never mind, on the way back to the car we got to see two tortoises and five hundred fiddler crabs, and watch the tide race in, which cheered us all up immensely. Well, almost all of us; Lijah actually fell asleep in the carrier.

We had planned to meet Grandma and Grandpa in Welfleet for lunch—with our hike ending early we had some extra time, and while Leah relaxed with the sleeping boy and an audiobook the bigger boys and I set out to explore Welfleet Harbor. Only we didn't get very far, because we had to build a sandcastle strong enough to stand up the incoming tide.

Harvey and Zion working on a sandcastle

it's working!

(We actually did it, too; on the way back to the car later we saw we had built it right exactly on the high tide line. Beat that!)

After a lovely lunch we did explore the harbor, and Zion decided he was in love with the waterfront. I know the feeling. He and I at least felt pretty relaxed and vacationed at that moment.

Zion sitting on the rocks by the harbor watching the sea

he likes it

(Unfortunately then we had to go back to the house and pack up, which didn't go as well as we could have wished. But we made it home, and we learned some lessons for next time! Which might not be for a while... right?)

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first vacation of the (not-quite) summer

Harvey and Zion dipping their toes in the Atlantic

greeting the big ocean

We had a tough week last week, so it was wonderful to be able to get away to the outer Cape, courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein and their new house in Truro.

They bought it in early spring, and as summer neared they'd been working ever-harder at bringing it up to their standards and getting it ready to rent out come the high season in July and August. They invited us up for a trial run. It's a great place—plenty large but still cozy, with three separate clusters of bedrooms to make space for multiple families, and a wonderful series of decks and patios on all sides.

Zion and Lijah eating appetizers at the deck table

snacks with a view

Of course, as much as we loved spending time in and around the house the real draw was the beach. The closest one was on the bay side, about a four-minute walk away. We all headed down there pretty soon after arrival, and spent a delightful couple hours running on the beach, playing in the sand, and very occasionally dipping into the water (it's still kind of wintery, even in the bay). The sand there is too coarse for building up, so instead I dug holes. I got pretty deep!

Zion buried up to his waist in sand, Lijah looking on

he could get himself out

Grandma and Grandpa have a new puppy, as seen earlier, and we had fun playing with him and watching him romp and run (and lie in the shade of anyone sitting still). Rascal came along, and spent more time in the water than anyone else—and most of the rest of the time lying comfortably in the sand.

Rascal on the beach

he still loves a beach

He did give into the puppy's entreaties to play with him for maybe 45 seconds over the course of the afternoon, but that was it.

The air was turning chilly as we ate our hamburgers and hotdogs on the deck so we went inside for desert, but we couldn't resist heading out through the big sliding doors one more time in the fading light. The boys played chase with the dogs up and down the sandy dirt roads around the house before we all settled down to watch the sunset.

the sunset as seen from the house

day is done

We're not so good at sleeping when we're not in our house—and I guess not so much even when we are!—but we made it through the night and were restored to full energy with a pancake breakfast courtesy of chef Grandpa (with no baking powder in the house he just beat the egg whites extra hard). Breakfast was over by 7:30, but nobody had any trouble finding something to do as the morning inched on.

Zion and Harvey reading on the couch

content

Of course, we can read at home! So even though the boys would have been happy to sit around until the mini-golf place opened at 10:00 I galvanized (forced) them into taking off early for a look at Atlantic Ocean over on the other side of the Cape. We stopped first at Marconi beach, where the stairs down to the water were closed. But we could still see and hear the power of the waves down below the bluff, and the boys were energized by seeing them as we explored the site of the first trans-oceanic wireless transmission.

Harvey and Zion running down a path through the dunes

energetic explorers

Once we exhausted the possibilities there we headed a mile down the road to a town beach, where we experienced the waves directly (that's the picture at the top of this post). Harvey, Zion, and I were beside ourselves with excitement. But because of our golf date we couldn't stay more than a couple minutes, so we managed to drag ourselves away—not before making plans to come back soon! When we got to the golf place we found that, despite the published material, they actually opened at 11:00; never mind, the National Seashore visitor center was just down the street, and easily good for 45 minutes of entertainment. We visited the history museum, learned about shells, used the bathrooms, and generally enjoyed being tourists among other tourists. A pair of Asian tourists taking pictures with a selfie stick paused to watch me tell the boys to pose for a photo, and they fully approved of how the young Americans responded.

the boys showing off their silly poses in front of a salt pond

yes they're silly

Then we went and played golf. I took a turn to wrangle the kids so Leah could devote her attention to the game, and I got them through 18 holes in record time (I was worried we'd hold up other groups, but I shouldn't have—we even managed to play some of the holes twice through!). They all had fun, even though Harvey was a little frustrated with his level of play and Lijah only hit the ball maybe three times. The appeal for him is apparently carrying it and the club around as he climbed on rocks and waded in the streams; well worth the $8 we paid for him to "play".

We went home for lunch—so nice to have a fully appointed house as a convenient home base!—before the bigger boys and I got into swimsuits for a second attempt at the real ocean. Never mind the hazy overcast moving in as the wind picked up: we were going to do this! And so we did.

Harvey and Zion looking small wading in front of big waves

the Atlantic at its finest

We went to a beach in Truro this time, to save on travel time and avoid traffic, and the waves were even better there. Almost overwhelming, in fact! We did a lot of squealing. The cold was kind of overwhelming too, though the fun and delight carried us through for a while. There's something wonderful about splashing in the waves while the scant few other beach-goers huddle in winter coats with hoods drawn tight around their faces. It was very windy. Zion was the first to run out of internal warmth, and even two towels around him couldn't do much to bring his core temperature back up!

the boys sheltering in towels in the lee of a branch

some slight protection

But it was worth it, we all felt. As we got in the car and turned the heat up full blast, Zion announced: "that was the best ever!" It sure was.

As I write these words on Monday evening it's crazy to think that was all just yesterday and the day before. After all that excitement—and there's lots I didn't write about, like playing ball, putting together a hammock chair, playing eight games of Uno, more reading (Harvey and I each finished two books)—and a full day with friends here at home today, it feels like about a week's worth of activities in the last two days. We're all tired. We left Truro after dinner Sunday so the boys could sleep in the car. They did, but none quicker than Lijah: he was out within a minute of getting into his seat, before we could even buckle him up.

Lijah sleeping in his car seat with the doors open

like a light

And he slept the whole way home, and then all the way through the night (well, with one easy tuck-in around midnight). That's what a great vacation will do to you!

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wintertime and the eating is easy

There's a lot of food in our house. Between the leftovers we brought home from Christmas dinner and the bounty from pot-luck parties yesterday and New Years Eve our range of options is wide. Maybe not quite as bountiful as the week after Lijah's birth, but not so far off from that! The difference is that this time we made at least some of the cornucopia, but with the work of cooking long done that doesn't make any difference now: we can still open the fridge and choose between turkey, ham, two kinds of mac-and-cheese, and tortellini, to saynothing of a variety of appetizers and the sides that go with all those main dishes. Also pancakes, waffles, muffins, sausages, and donuts, one of the pot-lucks having been a brunch. There are some cookies too.

The bounty seems like just another marker of vacation. We haven't needed to plan meals for the past several days, just like we've been off the rest of our regular schedule. But it'll soon all be gone—we'll either eat it or it will go bad!—and we'll be shopping and cooking again. Just as well; today marks the end of vacation in all the other ways (though we're still enjoying one more week with cousin Nisia!). The great thing about vacations is how great they are both coming and going!

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beach retreat

Just like last year, we had an October church retreat to the seaside. This time it wasn't on an island, but the ocean was bigger.

Zion walking towards the gray stormy ocean

almost-november sea

The event was in Falmouth on Cape Cod, and since we're shiftless layabouts we were able to leave early on Friday to beat the traffic. That meant we had plenty of time to sight-see, so we met friends in Woods Hole to see some sights.

Zion, Harvey, Matthew and Sam looking at the research ships in the harbor at Woods Hole

young men and ships

I had no idea, but Woods Hole is full of free attractions, including an aquarium and a museum of oceanography. The latter featured a very realistic mockup of the cockpit of Alvin, a famous submersible that sails out of the port.

Harvey, Zion and Matthew in the mock-up Alvin cockpit

there's a 5 1/2 in floppy drive in there

There was also a movie to watch and lots of delicate displays that our energetic children needed to be warned away from occasionally. So when we got to the hotel where the retreat was being held the boys and I headed right down to the beach—with the gray sky, spitting rain, and whipping wind we knew we'd have the place to ourselves with plenty of room to run. Never mind the weather, the ocean is wonderful.

Zion running away from waves

don't let the waves catch you!

my feet, wading

feels nice

the boys playing in the waves

inevitably wet

As we settled into out luxurious hotel room a few minutes later—distracted only slightly from our unpacking by the littler boys dancing naked on the bed—the setting sun peeked from below the clouds, giving a promise of better weather tomorrow.

the setting sun peaking below storm clouds

promise for tomorrow

Of course, who needs good weather when you have a king-sized bed, a tv, and chicken fingers and fries served on fine china?

the boys and friends enjoying chicken fingers in 3-star surroundings

they better not get used to this

There were also cookies; a plate for each kid, adorned with a decorative flower. The adults had a Mexican buffet.

True to the promise of the previous evening, the morning dawned bright and fine. It turns out that tv is a wasteland—even the kids didn't find anything they thought was worth watching—but never mind, we had a balcony.

Harvey and Lijah on the hotel balcony watching the morning

watching the morning

At this point—maybe a little past 7:00—Leah was already out and about, on her way to running a half-marathon. Maybe she'll write something about it here... but probably not. So I was in sole charge of the kids for the morning. My own three were perfect angels at the delightfully complete breakfast buffet, although Lijah, with a waffle and chocolate chips on his plate (basically his favorite foods, and the latter not usually a breakfast choice), ate only a single packet of sugar. After breakfast I took charge of a group of 15 other kids (well, 12 others and my three), and about that the less said the better. It did not go so easily. But, as directed, I took them to the beach (not sunny any more—in fact, pretty chilly!) and, for variety, to a marsh behind the parking lot.

kids walking in a marsh

nature walk

They also acted crazy in a small ballroom for a while. In retrospect it wasn't so bad—they were all making the best of a tough situation, and we mostly had fun—but at the time it was pretty stressful. So I was glad to get outside for a picnic lunch with just a few close friends (including Mama with her fresh new medal!).

After lunch I couldn't dissuade the boys from swimming in the heated indoor pool, which was fun and all... but it didn't have waves. So after a bit I declared unilaterally that I was going out to swim in the ocean, and I got Harvey and Mama—and few other kids—to come along for the fun!

Leah and Harvey in the cold ocean

we're a hardy bunch

The water was only regular cold, but it was super windy, so we didn't last long. It was still lovely, though. Harvey and I made plans to try it another time with snow on the ground. Zion and Lijah are more sensible.

Lijah and Zion on beach chairs wrapped in towels

probably a wiser choice

Mid-afternoon it was back with the Kids Program, but less-programed: another volunteer and I just took everyone interested out to the beach. That was super fun. The wind was stronger than ever, so it was just the thing to play in a deep hole.

Harvey and Abby working in a deep hole

hole buddies

A little later I took a small group for a run down the beach. We found a breakwater and walked out along it, then turned around and walked the other way along an inlet and then under the beach-front road (we had to crawl!). On the other side we were all delighted to find a secret beach!

Harvey and friends walking on a secret beach

first footprints

It was out of the way and out of the wind, and we would have loved to stay to enjoy it fully... but sadly, our retreat time was drawing to an end and parents would soon be looking for their children. So we ran back—much easier with the wind!—so they could be delivered. It was hard to leave the beach.

pinkish afternoon light over the beach

some sun somewhere

At no point in the weekend did I or Leah get to participate in any of the many retreat activities planned for adults—well, except the spectacular meals! But that's ok, because I had a great time with some lovely people, which as far as I'm concerned is much more valuable.

Harvey, Zion, Elle, and Reed looking at a book together

comfortable together

Let's do it again next year! (with some minor changes, already being discussed among the church staff...).

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summer's last adventure

I said I was waiting until I had time to think, but that may never happen; so on a day when the temperature started out in the mid-30s it feels like a great time to revisit our last big beach trip of the summer.

Harvey and Zion on the beach

getting away

Leah's cousins(ish) Marcy and Joel live in Sandwich on Cape Cod, and a couple weeks ago they invited us down for an overnight. We've been before, but not for a while and never for more than an afternoon. So when we had an opening in our busy schedule, we went for it! Aside from getting to spend some time with lovely people, we do like visiting the sea. Or, you know, whatever's handy.

the rest of the family getting up close to a pond in historic Sandwich

we're drawn to water

Sandwich is closer than we thought, and we got there well quicker than we expected, leaving us time to explore before our hosts expected us. It turns out that the town is the historic center of the Cape, and plenty of that history has been preserved. Like the gristmill, which was too expensive for us to visit; luckily we could see pretty much all we needed from beyond the fence.

Zion looking over the fence at the mill

do they make sandwiches there?

Just as interesting to all of us was a big tree on a little town green, which looked eminently climbable.

the boys headed for a big tree with many climbable branches

they can get somewhere on this one

By the time we got done amusing ourselves there, the time specified in our invitation had arrived, so we piled back in the car and got to our hosts' home just in time to enjoy an enormous lunch. As we digested they offered us a list of entertainment options, but we had ears for just one: the beach!

Harvey and Zion heading down the boardwalk bridge towards the dunes

it's that way

It had been raining as we packed up in the morning, and clouds still lingered in half the sky as we made our way to the water—which meant that the afternoon light was just beautiful. I took about fifty pictures right there.

Zion with his net, looking for creatures among the rocks

looking for creatures

Of course, we also enjoyed the beach in more direct ways. Leah swam, and the bigger boys an I played in the waves which, while smallish, were enough to entertain.

Harvey sitting in the water, turning away from a breaking wave

right in there

Zion lying in the sand with waves lapping around him

the Zion way

Lijah is really not feeling the sea-bathing this year—"I don't like the ocean," he'll tell you whenever the subject is even mentioned—but he enjoyed digging in the sand. And even he eventually figured out a way to get into the water.

Lijah sitting in a big blue bucket on the beach

now that's how you swim in the ocean

After about 17 hours on the beach we headed back to the house for dinner. While Joel was doing the grilling we hung out by, and in, the pool.

Zion lounging on a lounge chair

relaxing

Zion eventually went in the water, but he needed to rest up a bit first. Just after I took that picture I asked him if this was the life. "It would be if there were some food here," he answered. Luckily in that house lots of good food is never far away, and mere minutes later we were treated to a delicious dinner of "something from the sea", as per Harvey's request.

lobster and grilled fish for dinner

sea food

Harvey's other request was to go mini-golfing, and after a tough night (in which Zion fell off the bed onto Harvey's head, among other disruptions) and an abundant breakfast, we we went to Pirates Cove Hyannis to reprise our delightful experience in Bar Harbor. For some reason I didn't take any pictures, but I have to note for the record that Leah won this time, convincingly.

Then we went to the beach again—well, a different beach. We shared a tremendous picnic—you sense a theme here—then took to the water. It was a hotter day and we were all pretty tired, so mostly we just lounged in the water or under the umbrellas. That and picked up rocks.

Zion on the beach picking up rocks

finding precious ones

The blue bucket came along again, so of course Lijah went in it again (if you're interested, Marcy and I probably have about 200 photos of him). As we were getting ready to go Zion got in on the act too.

Zion bathing in the blue bucket

he looks happy

It looked like so much fun we all would have loved to have a go... sadly, from Harvey on up we'd need a bigger bucket. Still, when that's the only thing that could be improved you know it's a pretty good time! Thanks Marcy and Joel for inviting us for one last wonderful weekend of summer—now to remind us of warmer days as we head into winter we've got these pictures, and our rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

shiny stones at the waters edge, macro

beach gems

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vacation recap video

I shot more video of our vacation this year than I took pictures. There's a part of me that wants to remember what they're like at this age, how they move and how they talk, apart from just recording their sweet blond cherub faces. While cutting this public video, I had a mind to include a five-minute shot of Harvey and Zion playing in a fountain, just to give everyone the idea of how simultaneously magical and boring it is sitting around watching children all day. But Dan asked me to cut it to the good parts. Here it is, highlights of our vacation:

update

The beginning of my vacation was marred slightly by illness and oh-too-hot temperatures. Still, we did a good deal of swimming and some heavy duty relaxing, not to mention picking a whole lot of strawberries, so it couldn't have been all bad. But today both of those problems were better and I celebrated by baking two kinds of bread and putting up three batches of jam. Leah worked hard too, getting us all packed up for our first out-of-state outing since last summer... and the first trip ever beyond the northern New England states for either of our sons. Upstate New York, here we come! More about that anon.

no sense of an ending

The school year ended in Lexington today, and thank goodness: it must have been at least 80°F in the classroom this morning at noon. I finished up the year as an assistant in a 2nd grade classroom, so it was a real goodbye to a group of kids I got to know well, but the many months of substituting that led up to it really changed the feeling of the last day for me. After all, there were so many endings this year! The kids—and the other teachers—were all curious about where I'm going to be next year, but I had nothing to tell them. I'm curious myself, truth be told.

As unusual as the last day felt, though, the day after the last day is going to follow true to form: we're planning on going strawberry picking, which seems to be becoming something of a tradition.

act now

We spent a wonderful summer day today hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and finished it off with a delightful concert on the town green. The weather was bright and cool, just how late summer should be (more days like this and we can forgive the climate for the dampness that seems to be overtaking our house). We're really good, as a family, at vacations lately; maybe that makes the fact that I don't yet have a job for next year a little easier to take. Hey, I just had an idea: in light of our expertise, I'm prepared to entertain sponsorship offers! For a reasonably sum of money—say, $20,000 per anum—the squibix family have a great time, and fully enjoy ourselves in a demonstration of the simple pleasures that can delight the human spirit. We'll even write blog posts about what we're up to, from time to time, at no extra charge. Any takers?

validating my existence

I left Dan alone with the kids for over an hour this morning, first so that I could run and then immediately following so that I could shower and drive down to town hall to pick up Zion's birth certificate. When I came back Zion was sleeping and Harvey was on the couch playing with Dan's iPhone.

"I'm going upstairs for a little bit" Dan said. "I need a break. From Harvey."

And then he paid me the best compliment a stay-at-home mother could ever receive. "I don't know how you do it all day."

As Charlie Sheen would say, it's called winning.