Saturday, August 29, 2009


I interrupt the Canada blog to share a story with you. For the last week or so, three of the girls have had mild colds, and at least one bedroom has had a Vicks strip plugged into its wall at night. As I was making dinner Thursday evening, Bryn came down the stairs and told me that she loved the smell of the Vicks pads. I agreed that Vicks was good stuff, but I was preparing dinner, so I kept my back to her. Several minutes later, Jacey said, "Mom, you have to see Bryn." I turned and looked at Bryn. She had half a Vicks pad stuck to her nostrils with Scotch tape. The tape held the pad in place, but it also pulled her cheeks into a creepy, Joker-like smile. I tried my best to sound stern as I instructed her to take the Vicks pad off her face, eventhough this was one of the funniest stunts any of my kids have ever pulled. I'm kicking myself for not snapping a picture, but I was shredding meat off a turkey leg for my faux pulled pork sandwiches. We told Todd about it at dinner that night and he, too, laughed. However, he wanted to drill the "don't do it again" message in to her head, so he played the fear card. He told her that the fumes of the pad would burn her lungs...forever. We could see Bryn's face changing as she thought about her lungs collapsing under the heat of the menthol, so we told her that her lungs would be okay since she only did it this one time.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Canada: Sunday and Monday

While driving to Canada, we passed a sign that said something about a cheese factory. Todd and Mom each made a mental note to find more about the factory and go there as soon as conveniently possible. We also read about a regatta that was to be held on Lake Rideau the weekend of August 15 & 16. Both activities were fairly nearby, so on Sunday we planned to go to the cheese factory in the morning, go back to the house for lunch, and check out the regatta in the afternoon.
We arrived at the cheese "factory" and learned that they no longer produced any cheese on site, but they did show a video on a small TV demonstrating how it was made when it was made there. It was kind of disappointing, because it would have been really fun to see the process. While they may not have made cheese on site, they certainly sold it! We bought a variety of cheeses and ate them.

We didn't get to the regatta until very late in the day, which was just fine with me because we were able to park very close to the action and pay a heavily discounted rate. We saw 2 very cool hydroplane races..

and posed for a family pic....

My little fish spent the rest of the day in the lake back at the house. They showed Todd the various kinds of jumps they had created with their friends during the summer, such as the "butt slam". Of course, Todd had to try and replicate them, but couldn't quite get the correct form. I don't think I have laughed as hard in a very long time. There's nothing like watching one's usually serious husband act like a fool with his daughters.

After breakfast on Monday, the girls and I played air hockey and Foosball in the basement. Tori suggested that we have a "Mother - Father Championship". She ran upstairs to get Todd and then the games began. I don't like to boast or brag , so I'll simply say that I won. Both games. It was awesome. I don't have a picture to commemorate the event, so I Googled and found one.
There were enormous waves in the lake during the day, so we were in the water for hours. So long, in fact, that when I went to bed that night I felt as though I was still rocking. Tori attached a boogie board to her wrist and spent the entire afternoon struggling to climb on top of it, standing for 1 to 3 seconds before crashing back in to the water. She had the time of her life. Jacey, Devin, and Bryn rode the waves on double wide noodles. I tied a tube to the back of the pontoon boat so I could float along with them. Each wave brought screams of delight from each girl (and occasionally me). It was a fantastic, glorious afternoon and the day they still talk about most.

After dinner Monday night Todd built a campfire so we could roast marshmallows and make smores and smoes (a smore minus the graham cracker). Todd whittled some sticks for us while we enjoyed the fire and sang songs.

Devin was exhausted by the end of the camp fire and wanted to go to sleep. While I brought her to bed, Todd took the other girls down to the dock to gaze at the stars, which were breathtaking! Before I joined them, Gwen told me about a camp game she knew called "Ha". To play, each person lies on the ground (or dock) with his or her head on another's tummy to form a circle. Each person takes a turn to say, "ha", thereby bouncing the head of the person who's on that tummy. Get it? Simply saying "ha" wasn't good enough for my silly, overtired, sugar-filled family. "Ha" led to "hohohehehaha" and escalated from there. I had the unfortunate experience of resting my head on Bryn's rock hard stomach. The girl doesn't have an ounce of body fat on her so her giggles shook my head as if it was affixed to a jackhammer. When I pointed that out to her, she laughed even harder and nearly catapulted me to the moon. They were absolutely hilarious, as was my husband.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Canada: Friday and Saturday

We just returned from a week on the sunny shores of Lake Rideau in Portland, Ontario, Canada. My mother-in-law (referred to as Mom from here on) found an amazing house while scouring the internet months ago. It was directly on the lake and big enough for all 10 of us. Todd, the girls, and I left at 6am on Friday, August 14. The girls slept in the their clothes the night before, so when they woke up all they had to do was brush their teeth and jump in the car (which was, of course, packed the night before). We stopped 2 hours into the trip for breakfast at Friendly's and again about 4 hours later for lunch at Applebee's. We arrived at the house around 3:15 and ran to the back of the house to see the lake.

We explored the house, unpacked, swam, and went for a pontoon boat ride while we waited for our fellow travelers to arrive. After a late, but extremely delicious grilled chicken dinner, we went to sleep.

The sky was blue and the air was hot, not just "hot for Canada", but downright muggy, sticky, New England in August hot when we awoke Saturday and we were all still worn out from the trip, so we spent the day at the house. The basement was a kid's dream, complete with an air hockey table, Foosball table, and ping pong table, as well as a huge CD player, so we hung out down there for a bit. Even Todd's grandmother got into the action.

Then it was time go outside! Jim went for a hike, Todd, Mom, Devin, and I canoed around the lake, and Gramma, Gwen, Jacey, Tori, and Bryn took the paddle boat out for a spin.

We spent the remainder of the day swimming...

...and frog catching.

It was a momentous day for Devin because she caught her first frog - ever! All by herself!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rock on

What's better than a fun craft? A cheap, fun craft! I found a six pack of cardboard guitars at Michael's - for $1.60! The Halloween decorations are already on display so the summer crafts have been put on clearance.
On Wednesday, the girls painted them.

On Thursday, we opened the best door in the house - the craft closet door - and pulled out the embellishments. They used jewels, sequins, tassels, pom poms, stickers, and buttons to customize their guitars.

On Thursday night they demonstrated their air guitar skills.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beach day

The girls and I were looking forward to a beach day, but we wanted to try a new spot. We wanted one that would not be crowded since I was going to be on my own with them and I wanted to be able to see all of them at all times. I also wanted small waves and shallow water. A good crab catching area was also a must. I Googled and Googled and found the perfect spot - Gooseberry Beach in Newport, RI. The sky was overcast when we left, but the Weather Channel promised that the sun would shine, so off we went. When we pulled into the parking lot, my heart sank. The lot was deserted so I thought the beach was closed. A teenage attendant approached the car and I asked if the beach was open. He assured me that it was, but a thick fog had rolled in so there weren't many people there. He also said that there was a lot of seaweed "for, like, the first time ever". We didn't care about either of those issues. We had food and toys and we were ready to have some fun. There were only 2 other families on the beach, which made me very happy. Throughout the day, more families arrived, but the beach never became crowded like other Newport beaches usually are.

We dropped our gear in the unbelievably soft sand and I let my feral children loose. Bryn and Tori immediately went to the water while Jacey and Devin stayed on the beach to build a volcano surrounded by sandcastles and a moat. Then we ate.

After lunch the girls wanted to catch crabs. We walked along the beach towards some rocks and I stopped to admire this magnificent summer cottage.

At first, the girls couldn't find any crabs, but Bryn thought to flip a rock. Sure enough, the crabs emerged and ran as fast as their legs could carry them. Bryn "the brave" was the only one willing to actually touch the crabs. Each of the other girls cried, "Over here!", "I see one!", "Bryyyyyynnnnn - hurry up!"

They were all very happy and could have continued crabbing for hours, but I was ready to stop. I knew what I had to do. "Who wants ice cream?" I asked. Four heads snapped up and and 8 legs flew across the rocks with the speed and agility of the crabs they had just caught. We went to the snack shop, stopping at the outdoor showers to rinse off along the way. When we arrived at the beach in the morning, I noticed a boogie board lying in the sand a few feet from our camp. When we were eating our ice cream, it was still there. No one had come to claim it, so I declared it to be abandoned and asked the girls if they wanted to use it. They were thrilled because they never had a boogie board before- and it was free. Upon further inspection, I knew why it had been abandoned. It had holes, peeling paint, and was in rough shape overall. Like I said, the girls never had one before, so the holes and peeling paint went unnoticed. They each had their turn "catching a wave", even though there were no waves. Devin tried it, but once she rolled off and face planted into the water, she decided that catching a wave was not for her.

We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, surfing, terrorizing playing with their crabs, and chasing seagulls. Devin particularly enjoyed this. She raised her arm in the air and bellowed, "for Narnia!" as she charged the birds. She has never seen the movie Narnia, but she must have seen that part on a commercial, because she often says it when charging at a sibling with her foam sword. Or seagulls on a beach with her clenched fist. The birds have clearly seen many kids in their days, because they stared at Devin, cocked their heads, and didn't move until she was inches away from them. They then took off and Devin squealed.

When it was finally time to go, we dragged the newly acquired boogie board to the car . We brought extra clothes to change into after showering and coasted home with Michael Buble.

Here's a short clip of Tori working up the nerve to hold a crab....