Best. Day. Ever.

Our trip to Old Forge last year was kinda lackluster. I can never say that a trip is a waste because we always seem to have fun regardless of the situation, so it wasn’t a waste and did rejuvenate. But, between the rather cool temperatures (for August), rain, and just general stuff like that, it wasn’t great.

So, we gave it a go again this year. We only took a handful of pictures, but it was a lucky happenstance that we hadn’t cleaned off our phones’ memory; we were able to enjoy the moment far better. Especially since we fit in so. Much. Fun.

We left early enough to grab some discounted tickets to Enchanted Forest Water Safari, extra cash and breakfast on the road. This was the first year we were going to try hitting up the park with the little guy, knowing full well that most of the rides weren’t for him. Being some of the first in the park definitely helped – we were able to meander around the storybook area (PERFECT for a kid his age), check out the petting zoo (the animals bummed us out), do the few “dry” rides (first time on a merry-go-round!), hit the little kid splash pad area, and try the Lazy River together by noon.


Bam. We could’ve eaten and headed home at that point and it would’ve been an awesome day.

But, nope. We went on a walk to try Nutty Putty golf (something Dave and I used to do as children, then years later when we started dating), which was probably the “low” part of the day. Hadley was clearly getting tired, which made for lots of tripping and falling on the uneven parts of the “course.” But, we all seemed to have fun, followed by some ice cream before heading back to our car to get the stroller.

So, the fact that the little man took a nap in the stroller mean a) he must’ve been EXHAUSTED and b) some sort of miracle must have occurred; he hasn’t done that in a long, long time. We had a chance to look around the hardware store (SO much more than a hardware store!), do some Christmas shopping, then wander over to rest and watch ducks swim around.

While naptime continued at the bench, a little dramatic duckling rescue ensued. We observed a mama duck with her three ducklings go to a chained-off area of the lake next to a drainage waterfall area…with two babies taking the leap. Off ran Dave (I wanted to, but had to stay with the little man), along with two young guys, before the mama duck attacked one of the kids for interfering. Before too long (although our hearts were in our throats, seriously), she showed them how to hop back up where they belonged.

Whew. After that, we hit up The Mill Restaurant, another place Dave and I visited in our dating days. By the way we headed home, we all were exhausted but happy. A rain shower even produced this view (that happens to be my school, LOL)…


I mean…seriously. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Not the most eloquent description on Earth, but it was an AWESOME day. Hadley’s asked several times why we can’t go to Water Safari EVERY day. Good lesson to learn.

Oh, and while we were still on the “having fun” kick, I upped the ante with some blueberry picking the next morning. Best. Weekend. Ever. (Even if Sunday was “let’s do some crap around the house” day. They can’t all be winners.)

ย  ย ย 
Knowing that next summer may look different (okay, definitely…it’s definitely going to look different) with another little one in the mix, we’ve totally been making this summer count.

How have you guys been enjoying your summers? ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Traveling with a Toddler

Since we’ve had some time to return to normalcy after our vacation and documented all the fun, I thought it’d be a good time to share a list of tips we picked up from traveling with our little 2-year-old Hadman. I already shared a fun list of items that help when traveling with tots, and all that stuff helped BIG-TIME with the trip.

Oh, and this was a road trip (no planes involved) and wasn’t super long (4 1/2+ hours, tops). I’m sure people who have traveled 8-12 hours in a car (or, God bless you, on a plane!) with a little one can come up with even better ideas. If you’ve got ’em, share ’em in the comments!


Tip #1: Let go of expectations. I went into this trip over-planning (on purpose; it’s how I roll), but knowing all the while that I should keep my expectations low. Would we make it to even a fraction of the places I hoped to visit? Nope. Will he enjoy the planned activities as much as I hoped he would? Probably not (or enjoy them for 5 minutes or less before indicating that he was done). Should I expect perfection from a 2-year-old? Never.

So, going into vacation with this more laid-back attitude was SO helpful. The places we ended up hitting were awesome and we made tons of family memories, with minimal meltdowns. The places that we missed, well, maybe we’ll go again when he’s a bigger boy and I’ll have a cache of ideas stored up to try.

Tip #2: Know thy child. Of course, you already know your kid. Who does better than you, really? It’s true, you rock. So, use that intuition and everything you already know about your munchkin to help you plan accordingly.

What’s your little one’s favorite thing to do? Art projects? Free play? Reading books? Running around like he needs a tiny, adorable straight jacket? Select activities that align with those interests. Our visit to the Eric Carle Museum was perfect because there was a story time (a short movie based on a book, while we were there) that he LOVED, a library with toys (books + a few great toys + a space to make a little noise = perfect for our monkey), a “very hungry caterpillar” sculpture that he could climb all over, and even an art project area that was structured in a very casual way, which helped with his short attention span but propensity for messiness.

This tip also applies to your tot’s schedule. We all know that it’s important to maintain some semblance of a schedule, with some allowance for flexibility built in, right? We tried to ensure that there was a nap time (he even took a morning nap on the long way to our destination, which was awesome and super rare) built in and that we didn’t over-schedule the day. Pick a handful of activities, but do them only if your little one’s in an adventurous mood; perhaps one active one and one chill one per day, depending on length.

And, if your kiddo does fine with eating in a restaurant, build plenty of opportunities to try some new places. Which leads me to my third tip…

Tip #3: Stay in. Never thought I’d hear myself say that. This totally doesn’t mean “give in to your naughty child” or “don’t have any fun on your trip.” Not at all.

What it DOES mean is that just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean you have to be “on the go” or that you HAVE to eat every meal in a super structured restaurant environment the entire time. Unexpectedly, after a very busy first day of driving, lunching, sight-seeing, and shopping, by the time we arrived at our hotel to regroup, we realized we were exhausted. Oh, and Hadley was in full-speed-ahead mode. A lack of playtime will do that to a kid. That’s a recipe for disaster, as far as dinner was concerned. Actually, as far as a lot’s concerned.

Hence, the above picture. We ordered dinner from a nearby Italian restaurant, didn’t have to “dress for dinner”, and Hadley was able to run around the hotel room and make as much noise as he wanted while all the other guests were out to dinner. It. Was. Perfect. We kept saying what a good idea it was to stay in. Then, we got to fit in a regular bath and bedtime (although he ended up sleeping with us; c’est la vie), so it really worked out great.

The next night, we encouraged our friends to order out (vs. eating out) since they also would have an infant in tow, so we didn’t really go out to dinner at all (aside from a couple of casual lunches). And, guess what. No big. We drank a little bit with dinner and after the kids were down, we enjoyed some “adult sundaes” (ice creamย + brownies + Kahlua), accompanied by wonderfully leisurely conversation. That wouldn’t have been very doable if we’d gone out, would it? Not with two kids along for the ride.

See? Stay in. It’s not a dirty word. Unless you’re a foodie. In which case, disregard.

Tip #4: Build in stops for everyone. This wasn’t a kid-centric trip, and no family trip needs to be. Sure, we built in specific stops to maintain serenity with the kiddo, but it was a pretty even vacation full of “stops for Mom, stops for Dad, stops for Child.” And when we could tick off two or three of those individuals with one activity? Jackpot!

There was a stop at one of Dave’s favorite comic stores and several friend visits for the hubby (although I like to consider his friends my friends; I’m not worthy, really) and some historical stuff and a stop at the outlets (purely professional; I needed school clothes) on the way home for wifey. Bookstores for all three. All happy.

Tip #5: Pack healthfully. Dude. Travel can be super unhealthy. And, that’s okay…to an extent. (See above “adult sundaes” reference, ahem.) But, it’s nice to have options while in the car, and never knowing where your next meal will be is a recipe for disaster. Ha. Recipe. Get it??

So, we stocked the heck up. I had one large reusable grocery bag full of our favorites: organic granola bars (for adults and tot), organic snack crackers, organic milk and juice boxes, organic fruit leather, a bunch of bananas, and a huge bag of those mini-oranges (thank you, orange hack video, for making the process a little less messy in the car — wish I could find the link again!). Oh, and I had a separate cooler bag with a ton of water and another insulated lunch bag with Hadley’s yogurt packets and stuff.

I also allowed myself some room in his lunch bag to throw in a granola bar or fruit leather so that, when we did eat at a restaurant, we could just bring the bag along to keep him satiated while waiting. Simple as that.

Tip #6: The simple things. Speaking of simple…an egg. A freaking cheap-o, neon bright plastic Easter egg. I kid you not, this thing was a game changer.

I packed a humongous bag of favorite toys for all possible situations (if you’re not getting a good mental picture already, yes, the car was loaded to the gills), and they definitely did the trick at keeping him relatively entertained there and back.

But what were the best, most entertaining things in the backseat? A cheap, plastic toy truck our neighbor gave him just before we left and a plastic Easter egg. Mind you, at our first rest stop, he saw a game where you put coins in and the egg (containing a far-too-old-for-him toy; ie choking hazard) pops out, so after we did our potty business, I let him put the coins in. The egg seriously mesmerized him (enough so that I could pop out the little monster inside and dispose of it properly without him giving two craps about it).

Sometimes it’s the little things for these little ones. Like running around the hotel room. Or popping up in your hotel crib every ten seconds to announce how HAPPY you are to be sleeping in a room with “MAMADADA!!!” Or meeting new friends only to discover you love redheads just as much as you love blondes. Or being able to finally say your distant-BFF’s name and to bear hug the heck out of him and to even display a mild understanding of sharing. Or making friends with the docents at a museum. Or being rewarded with an electronic Pink Panther ride at the outlets.ย 

And aren’t those simple, little things the memories we sometimes inadvertently forget…the memories that really make the trip what it is? And what it is, is awesome.

Summer Plans

Howdy! Now that the snow has sufficiently melted and we’re experiencing an honest-to-goodness springtime, I feel it’s safe to let my mind wander to the wonder that is S-U-M-M-E-R! Last year, I laid out a whole plan of what I hoped to accomplish and a few little “first timer” milestones I hoped to have fun with Hadley with. This year is really no different, although a lot of the stuff we’ll do isn’t a milestone; just “for fun.”

The biggest difference this year is Hadley. He’s so different, guys, it’s crazy. Last year, he was afraid of grass, wasn’t walking (hardly mobile at all, comparatively speaking), and couldn’t communicate. This year, he’s got a couple dozen (probably more) words and several gestures he uses to get his point across, walks/runs/trips/falls down/gets up/runs again, and enjoys dirt and grass and picking flowers (ie picking the heads of flowers off) and generally discovering the world around him with zeal. It’s exhaustingly fun.

So, you’ll notice some repeats from last year’s list. However, I think the actual experiences will be insanely different — for us AND for Hadman. Should be fun!

A touch more streamlined than last year, but still with a bit of an explanation (I’ll try to keep it concise):

1. We’ve all (adults, that is) got a lil’ family winter pudge going on. I need to be less vampirey/anti-social. Hadley loves bugs and dogs and dirt and saying “hi!!!” to big kids and attempting to run into the road. All ideal reasons to walk. A hike or two would be awesome, too.

2. T-2 1/2 months and counting until the monkey turns 2 years old (sniff, sniff). It looks like we’ve landed on a theme, which I’ll share soon. Our ultimate goal is to keep it low-key yet fun (I can’t NOT decorate, and I can’t NOT have a theme…it’s just not me. And he’s just too darn special.) It’s important for me to remember that we’ll have varied ages, and only a couple of little ones, so it’s not like we need much entertainment or giveaways or games. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m thinking, check out my Pinterest board for what I’m thinking. (Some are from last year, too. Speaking of which, here’s a link to how last year’s turned out!)

3. We went last year, and it was a blast. This year, Hadley recognizes animals, can point them out, makes tons of cool noises, and is generally a funner version of Hadley 1.0, so unless a crazy meltdown occurs, this should be awesomesauce.

4. Vague, no? We’re nailing it down, but Mama gets the itch to move every now and again. This could be one place far away. It could be several close-to-home trips. Who knows?

5. I’ve started bringing home some books for Hadley from my school library lately, but I thought it’d be fun to see if there are some family-related library events at our local book haven. If not, it’s cool. I’d just like to get there with him more often so he realizes there’s more than the overstuffed bookshelf in his bedroom. Plus, Mama can do a little more reading, too.

6. The sooner, the better! Maybe two!!

7. To simplify things, we’re not growing from seed this year. I’ve already made a garden plan, so at least I know what we need to go and buy. The Easter Bunny DID get the munchkin a little kit to grow one’s own basil plant, along with a cool little metal watering can and a mini trowel and cultivator, so he’ll hopefully be digging around, too. Yay, wormies! Oh, and I live in upstate NY, so it’s not really advisable to plant much pre-Memorial Day.

8. I’m not making any grandiose “I’m going to finish this monstrous project!!!” statements. Instead, I’m going to take a few of Hadley’s naptimes a week to get outside (or in the basement) to work on some organizing…and cleaning…and maybe painting…and stuff. My grandpa was a putterer, so it’s important to me to try to connect with that and have a hand in the care of the house.

9. Grilling, yes. Setting up and USING the outside table to eat, yes. Getting away from the TV set (regardless of how awesome Dick Van Dyke reruns may be), yes. I’m also hoping that our gate will fit at the top of our deck, so munchkin can eat up there with us and it’ll be a low-stress environment for all involved. Oh, and I’d also love to have a picnic. With pickles. ‘Cuz monkey loves a good pickle.

10. Don’t care where, this just must happen. We may have a picnicking day at a state park with my sis and her little one, so that may be our chance.

11. Last year, I mentioned writing a children’s book. I’ve got the ideas behind several simmering (and even outlined), but getting any of it on paper has remained elusive. This summer, I hope to change that. All I need is the focus…um, and an incredible artist to illustrate it. (I’m also mulling over chapter book. Loves me a good historical fiction.)

What’re you looking forward to most about summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime, summertime? Am I jumping the gun thinking about summer when it’s not even June yet? I think this school year has blown by so quickly (and Hadley has grown so much, so fast) that I’d rather take all the time that we can to hold on!

Massachusetts

A couple of weeks ago, we made our first family overnight trip to Massachusetts. We had a couple of goals while there: visiting some friends, specifically for a baby shower/house warming party (and being so lucky that those friends let us stay over with them! With a one-year-old in tow, nonetheless!! That’s what I call lifelong friends, folks), hitting up the Eric Carle Museum and outlets in Lee on the way home.

My main priority was how the baby would do. Would we be pushing his limits by expecting him to ride three hours? Stroll through a museum? Nap in a strange place (it did take him awhile to settle down in his pack ‘n play setup)? Get down and dirty in *gasp* the grass to socialize with strangers at a BBQ? Spend almost an entire day at an outside outlet mall? Then take a last-minute ride to Utica to celebrate a family birthday?

Whew. I’m exhausted just thinking of it. But, honestly, he was a freakin’ trooper! He’s at the age where he gets squirmy (he’d much rather be getting into everything) so there were moments, but all of our goals (and then some) got checked off the list and he remained a happy little guy.

So, here’s a rundown. We left EARLY Saturday morning to stop as needed (and we did) and in hopes of getting to the museum before heading to the barbecue. Done and done! While we didn’t dillydally at the Carle (Dave would’ve, I’m sure; I had to drag him from the first exhibit (the Eric Carle one) to keep the momentum going; they had an awesome scavenger hunt that had him quite occupied), we got to experience it fully. It’s one of those places where you could spend an hour (a rushed hour, but an hour nonetheless) or an entire day, easily.

The best part for us is pretty much a given: the Mo Willems exhibit. *squeals like a Beatles fan…’cuz I am one* Hadley waved at EVERY character he saw. Pigeon, bam. Piggie, bam. Naked mole rat, bam. It was like seeing old friends…in the rough…before they had a final snaz-up for publication. Just incredible! And fun. And funny. All the things that Mo is and does. (Side note: No pictures in the exhibits. We’re rule-followers. Most of the time.)

Next best part? The library. You’d think that, as a librarian, that would be my favorite part, but I’m weird (I’m a museum NERD). I was, however, wicked impressed that the whole place was organized by illustrator (vs. author) and the importance they put on the Caldecott Award. There were also play areas and comfy colorful seats where you could read to your little ones…which I did, until his attention was diverted to the Legos. I tell ya, he does the same thing at Barnes and Noble. He had a blast, even when an older kid (ANTHONY!) stole his toys. (And since I’ll never see Anthony or his cohorts again, here they be…)

Kids in old man hats? Priceless. I think Hadley wanted to go live with them.
(I actually think Anthony is MIA from this picture. Whew.)ย 

The NEXT best part? The tiles in the bathroom!!! So damn cool. Eric Carle artwork as accent tiles throughout the bathroom. That, and the awesome stuff in the jam-packed gift shop. We grabbed at least one book and an “H” painted in Carle-style and a couple of postcards to use for art later on.

I’m pretty darn sure Dave was secretly wishing I’d come up with an idea for the bolts of Pigeon cloth they had. He had scoped it out online before going and sent me the link. Mhmm. I didn’t get any. ๐Ÿ˜›

Oh, and I’m sure we’ll be visiting when Hadley gets bigger. When we do, we’ll a) spend more time (and maybe meet up with the little boy on his way!), b) bring a picnic (they have a cafe area to eat but just organic snacky-type stuff, no real service) and c) take part in the arts and crafts option, which is free with admission. Just sayin’.

We were just in time for the BBQ, which was a nice casual take on a shower; not dressy, not fussy, go-with-the-flow. The baby napped inside in his pack ‘n play for awhile, and when he came out and finally warmed up, he played A LOT with one little girl in particular. Um, yeah, they “kissed.” Adorable…and terrifying. One of the best memories was when that little girl took a break for it into the neighbor’s yard (these yards are awesomely-sized!) and, of all the adults, Dave was the one who chased her down. Classic moment.

We got out of the way to run a few errands (baby painkiller much? Teething sucks) and stopped by the cafe where Dave used to work to say a quick ‘hi’ and catch up with more friends, who had Hadley S-M-I-T-T-E-N. What can I say? He loves the ladies. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was great to see them and meet some new friends, if only briefly.

Then, inside the cafe there was a great open mic happening, so while Dave got his plain coffee and I my smoothie, we listened to the live music. Hadley was hooked, big-time. We knew he loved music, but he was enamored — rocking out (with his whole-body swaying and his arms up, very serious) and clapping when the song was over, then waiting patiently for the next song. We didn’t stay long, but the audience was taking notice. For once it wasn’t because he was crying or otherwise distracting negatively! ๐Ÿ™‚

When we returned to the house, we gave Hadley his first EVER bath tub bath, which he really seemed to have fun with. He didn’t know what to do with all the extra space around him! Then, we read to him and got him settled down for his bedtime. I hopped in the shower, then we got some awesome alone time with our friends. It felt so nice to chat and catch up, especially with all the good news swirling around our heads.

The next morning, the baby awoke QUITE early and we didn’t want to wake anyone up (we weren’t the only ones sleeping over) so we read more in bed until I finally brought the munchkin downstairs to eat his breakfast. We stayed a little while longer and chatted (and saw a horribly hysterical “adult” version of the Count from Sesame Street…I’m still disturbed and laughing heartily) before getting some gas and heading to Lee.

Between needing some new sizes for the Hadman and shoes for Dave, grabbing a thing or two for our niece, and hoping to find stuff for myself before returning to school, I’d call it a success. We even had wraps from a local franchise, “That’s a Wrap!” (which is better than the other stuff they had in their food court), which had some delicious options. Nom nom.

After a stop or two on the way home (what, it was hot? We needed ice cream), we headed home to do a quick dump-and-run before hopping back in the car to head to Utica. While we were absolutely exhausted, we were happy to be able to visit with Dave’s dad and family for a little while and to wish him a happy, happy birthday.

So, I’d say we fit A LOT into that weekend. And that’s two or three more items crossed off my summer to-do list! When I wrote the list, I was hoping that we could hit up Concord and maybe Lexington (if not Boston) sometime this summer, but we had some shifting happen and it just wasn’t plausible this year. But, that’s okay! We had a blast and learned that we CAN travel with a baby! We’re already excited to test it out this autumn… Stay tuned!

Summatime Update

Back at the end of June, I shared a list of my summer plans. I’m pleased with a buttload of what we’ve been able to do; I’m a tad disappointed (or even downright bummed) that a few, I won’t be able to do. At. All. Here’s the updated list:

1. I had already started this undertaking when I posted the list, and guess what! Still not done. Of course. I had done some clothing purging, but have more to do. I have yet to touch our coat closet. I did, however, tackle the toy situation, which in itself feels like a huge victory. But, y’know how pregnant ladies (sometimes) go through their period of nesting? Once the cooler autumn weather hits, I’ll start attacking this. Promise! And I’ll share my endeavors. (Oh, you lucky, lucky people, you.)

2. Bam! Done!! Hadley and I went for some time last week (with a break in the middle of the week, just to avoid meltdowns) to a camp my mom and stepdad rented for the whole family to use. It. Was. Awesome. I needed that. And Hadman even had fun! (I mean, what says summer like this picture?!)

3. *sigh* Okay. The Adirondack Museum trip didn’t happen. I’ll get into the why’s at a later date, but the plans that we had made to hit it up as a family fell through. And I wasn’t about to do that without my man; he’s never been. Eh, ya win some, ya lose some. We are planning to visit the Carle VERY soon. We’re ecstatic that the munchkin will be able to see the Mo Willems exhibit. I know he’s just over one year old, but he’s a F-A-N of all things Mo. He knows his books by illustration and picks them every single story time. We’re hoping that the exhibit’s a hit with him. I know it will be for us!

4. Yeah, I suck at keeping up with the “work” part of summer. I suck. We bought a relatively eco-friendly spray that I still need to use to clean OFF the front porch (and siding on the house). I still hope to at least clean stuff up, but I’m not sure if the paint job will happen this month or not. I’m not going to beat myself up, though.

5. See camping trip above. Sand. Done. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Two birds, one stone!! (Okay, wait. Horrible metaphor. I hit what we’ve deemed to be a woodpecker on my way back up to camp and still feel like a murderer over it.)

6. Make that one “grill”. We have grilled far more than last year, but not everyday…or even once a week. A handful of times. But s’all good. Here’s my infamous grilled pizza recipe if you’re feeling like cookin’ outside.

7. The asterisk means I’m still workin’ on it, but I have at least trimmed and gotten the rest of my tile down (sans the around-the-toilet stuff, since we’ve gotta move that first) and caulked around the tub. My next step is priming and painting the base moulding that we’re reusing. (It’s still poop brown.) It’s gettin’ there!

8. Just like grilling, we’ve done SOME of this. Not everyday, but it’s been nice to get out when we feel like it. We took a few while at camp, and have done a few throughout the summer (even back for my “day in the life” post).

9. It’s in the works. I always have two main reasons that I LURVE visiting Massachusetts; the first is to see some awesome friends (yay, we’ll be able to do this!!) and the second is to hit up Concord (boo, we won’t be able to do this). But, we’re lucky we’ll be able to go at all. Oh, and we’ll be doing some fall shopping (not saying the dreaded “BTS” words out loud) at the outlets, so that’s a cool perk, too. Even Dave is in need of stuff, so it’ll be a family affair.

10. My garden this year has been a bit of a dud. I just got it planted way too late, I guess. I need to be a better planner. BUT, my tomatoes are going like gangbusters! They’re all tiny ones, and many are splitting (I think we’ve got a blight goin’ on), but the good ones I’m hoping to make a nice balsamic salad for the hubs with. So, if I do, I’ll share the recipe. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh, and we also learned that the Hadman is totally into the ‘maters. I’m not pushing my prejudice on the kid (obviously; I hate them!!!), and I think it’s awesome that he likes them.

11. Thank you, camp!!! I shared with with Hadley and it. Was. Awesome.

12. Yay!! A few Sundays ago, Daddy, Hadley and I checked out the Utica Zoo. Dave and I went as kids, and it’s perfectly sized for a baby; not too big but just big enough to entertain. He was enamored with the zebras (and they were enamored with him), but all the animals were interesting for him. And apparently they all say “oof.” Even the snakes. (One totally wanted to eat my baby. Back off, scaley!!!)

13. Dave’s done this, I’ve done this, we’re both going to see our Massy friends and I’m working on a catch-up with another buddy this week. We’re gettin’ ‘er done.

14. *deep sigh* I’ve done this. And done it again. And still again. It’s weird; I’ve had waves of calmness followed by thrusts of anxiety-driven headaches. I guess I always get that way when September starts rolling around. But, yeah, I’m working on maintaining the calm. Also depends on Hadley’s level of crazy.

15. I guess I’ve technically accomplished this. I’ve read a few magazines (I lean towards “Real Simple” and hand-me-down “This Old House” mags, with the occasional Eating Well or DIY/house ones thrown in), but have re-started Walden and this rad short compilation of essays and papers on Transcendentalism. What? That’s my idea of a good time.


16. I’m actually following my inspiration on this one. Some days I feel like working on my non-fiction piece, others I feel like working on a *top secret* sumpin’ sumpin’ I’m passionate about…so the children’s books (yes, I said “books”) have fallen to the wayside. I’m not one of those “write about something if I’m not in the mood” types of people. Maybe if I assigned it to myself, I’d be better at it. But, yeah, by Christmastime I’m hoping to have finally at least flushed out one of these.

17. Been there, done that! Haven’t gotten to our local one as much as I’d like (I’d say once or twice?) but we’ve been to the Oneida County Public Market a few times.

18. Done and done. Post forthcoming!

19. Depending on the day and my little man’s mood, we’ve achieved this. If he’s cranky, the pokey little grass blades will annoy the hell out of him. If he’s in “adventure mode”, he doesn’t think twice about it. The fact that we got him to play in the sand (even while wet and a tad cool) was a miracle.

So, that’s where we are! We’ve done some stuff beyond the list, but seeing how many we have crossed off makes me feel purdy darn good.

What about you guys? Leave a comment! How has Summer 2013 gone for you?? I know it’s been rough for many of my local friends, but let’s think about the happy stuff. Anything fun to share? Have you basked in some sunshine? Discovered a new part of your town? Do tell!

Oddball

This past week, I schlepped the baby “up north” to the awe-inspiring Adirondacks for some quality time with my family and some ducks…and a deer head named Lois (although “she” was clearly a 7-point buck) which my son was sadly enamored with. I’m telling you, people, it was a good time.

Dave was only able to make it up for one dinner, so we missed our third musketeer horribly, but it was altogether a fun-filled, generally relaxing chance to get away from my daily summer routine of non-funness (boring ol’ everyday) and spend time with all three of my siblings (it’s rare to have us all together at once) and their respective families. We took walks, played some games, fed some duckies, illegally fished off the dock (oops…karma’s a bitch, I only caught seaweed), toasted a few marshmallows, mercilessly made fun of each other, and I even kidnapped my can’t-believe-she’s-a-teenager niece into canoeing across the entire lake. And, for the most part, I ate “normally.”

I had prepped myself mentally (if not physically, ugh) for this last piece. My mother, who is the ultimate planner/worrier, brought all the food (although my sister-in-law’s family brought a ton of goodies, too, since they were bringing up five people vs. two; I thought it was nice of them). It’s not that my mom eats crap; she buys the good cold cuts, the name brand yummy peanut butter, soda, bread, etc. Considering how much she has done for us over the years with an insanely low budget (HUGE Sunday meals, always healthy in the meat-and-potatoes sort of way; technically lots of “real food”), she still makes it a point to buy less but save for the best, even though we’re not under her roof anymore. It kind of brings a tear to the eye, really. Heck, maybe she thinks we’re not doing a good enough job of feeding ourselves. Could be.

But, I know that she and the rest of my family are, for all their strangeness, normal. I’m the oddball. Which is why I prepped, mentally, for the food, but more so for the comments.

I wasn’t about to drag out a week’s worth of my own natural food options. Didn’t want to disrespect the cruise director, plus she had brought more than enough food for everyone. I figured that, for a week, I could put my massive amounts of research and reading about the benefits of an organic, “real food” diet (or, at the very least, HFCS-free eating) aside and just be “one of the group.” No weekday vegetarianism, no looking at the label for naughty things. The one place that I differed was when it came to the baby. It’s relatively easy to keep that under the radar with his jars and pouches of baby food, but the organic cheese sticks, applesauce, apple juice and yogurt I tried to conceal in the fridge gave me away…and the bunch of bananas sitting strangely next to the ones Mom had brought.

The second I put a chip in my mouth, Mom made mention, sarcastically, of her “organic girl.” It actually didn’t hurt my feelings since I knew what she meant by it and it was one of the first times she had really ever made mention that she knew how I ate. She has eyed my grocery store cart when we bumped into each other at Hannaford, and she may or may not read the blog. She knows. The snide-yet-harmless comments (from a sibling or two, as well) continued in drips and drabs for a few days, but mostly they were about the stuff Hadley was eating. Whew. Bearable. For the most part, folks didn’t say anything at all; the chiding I did get was just a continuation of what I’ve heard since I was a little girl.

See, I’m used to the comments, for the most part. Our family is a group of teasers; always has been, always will be. I fall victim to the “Let’s gang up on Bill” mentality at times, myself, too. (Always remembering that I’ll probably be at the center of the next bout.) There was a time that my too-sensitive (not to mention dramatic) nature took them to heart. But, not seeing much of these close family members helps most of the comments bounce off one’s back and remember childhood fondly.

And it’s not like I’m not used to being the oddball, anyway. We’re each pretty weird in our own ways, but apparently I was a tad more “off” than the rest of them. It was the same way in school, so by the time I had weirded my way through high school, I had grown into my skin. Monkees-lovin’, tennis-and-oboe-playin’, non-drug-doin’ hippie as I was.

And, y’know what? In a weird way, this trip helped to remind me of who I am. I’ve become such a worrier of what others think of me that I had forgotten how comfortable it was to just be myself. Sure, I’ll probably always be a tad self-conscious around others (especially when in volatile situations…well, doesn’t THAT sound mysterious?), but the occasional reminder that it’s okay to be an oddball is refreshing, isn’t it?

At least, it’s what I hope to teach Hadley. After all, who’s more in touch with who they are than babies? Don’t lose that, son! Don’t you let it go.

What about you? Are you proud of your weirdness? What makes you especially crazy? Go ahead, let yo’ freak flag fly!

Summer Lovin’

Psst. Not to blow the roof off the joint or anything, but…it’s summer. I’ll wait for the hooting and hollering to subside……..

Alrighty, it may not LOOK like I’m jumping up and down on my exterior (my exterior is still finishing up inventory today), and even my interior is going through the strange let-down of the usual end-of-year blahs, but let me tell you, I’ll get over that quickly. I’m ecstatic to be able to stay home — no summer school for me this year — with the little one and enjoy a slower pace.

So, while I finish cleaning up at work, allow me to share with you some of our summer plans. I’ll be back to explain them (I know they seem self-explanatory, and most of them are, but you know me…I like to elaborate!) next week.ย 

Until then, let me know — What are your plans for the summer? Will you be slaving away, or will you have a chance to take life a little slower? Traveling at all? Getting in touch with nature? Do tell!

Unexpected Farmers’ Market

Just writing a quick entry to let you know I didn’t fall off the planet. I’ve got a larger entry in the works, but don’t have the time to get my pictures uploaded quite yet. Ever since my wedding shower last Saturday, I’ve felt more of an urge to work on wedding planning. If you’d like to know how that’s going, check out our wedding web site at www.momentville.com/daveandmeg2010.

Last Friday, Dave and I made our annual trip to Old Forge, specifically to go to Enchanted Forest/Water Safari. As tradition, we go there for a little over half the day, then wander the town, play putt-putt golf, and stop in to some shops and incredible little cafes. This year, we bought Beardslee an organic cotton collar at the hardware store, Dave “got it in the clown’s nose” for a free game (Happy 50th Anniversary to Nutty Putty!), and we had what we like to call a “casual gourmet” meal at one of the cafes on Main Street.

While walking through town, we spotted a sign for the Old Forge Farmers’ Market — which, wouldjyabelieveit, was happening that afternoon. What luck! Plus, it was incredibly close to where we had parked the Kia. Nice! So, our final jaunt of the day would be to a backstreet parking lot filled with all types of vendors.

I think I noticed at least three Amish tents, two local wineries, several farmers selling eggs/meat/veg, and a random maple syrup seller. We ended up coming home with:

– Two bottles of wine (one “Cranberry Bog” (great for the holiday season) and a Riesling (Dave’s fave, and I do like my white wines) — both from the North Country)
– Some maple BBQ sauce (which, FAIL, has ketchup in it — 2nd ingredient, HFCS…CRAP! And they were such a nice old couple, from quite near Herkimer)
– Incredible Amish bread
– A head o’ broccoli
– 5 or 6 pounds (I think the 6th was free) of grass-fed beef (from another familiar name, a Little Falls farm close by; they even gave us tons of ice so that it’d make it home safely)
– And I’m sure something else. Dave would remember; he was the one who had to stop me from purchasing so much. *ahem*

And, it’s a good thing I didn’t get any zucchini because the next day at my shower, my lovely aunt brought enough for everyone to take…