Friday, September 20, 2013

We love Cape Cod!

This past weekend we took a mini-vacation (read: one-night stay) in Eastham, MA, right above the "elbow" of Cape Cod.

Rick's aunt and uncle we nice enough to let us stay with them at their vacation house.  We had such a great time!  Fantastic weather, plenty of beach-ing, a little people watching in P-town - all fun stuff!  Dashiell kept telling me how much fun he was having, and you could see on Aurelia's face that she was just in heaven!  Win!

We drove down on Saturday morning, stopping once at McDonald's for a little lunch.  Traffic was surprisingly not bad, so we were there in a couple of hours.  After stopping to drop off our stuff and change into swimsuits, we headed right off to First Encounter Beach!

Beach-ward Bound!
Breezy, sandy BLISS! 
 I don't know what this pose was, but it's too funny not to post!

First order of business: Digging!

The tide was out so there was plenty of beach to play on, and the water that remained was warm and lovely.  Aurelia took to the water like a fish and spent most of her time wading.
Looking for hermit crabs

Dashiell did a lot of digging, some wading, and a ton of "collecting".

Dig, dig, dig...

Most of his time was spent in this position - 
crouched over, searching for the best shells and rocks

Just the beginning of the collection...

Creating "pools"

I have to say I love this little series of pictures - Aurelia mimicking everything Rick does:

Two peas in a pod!

There was a lovely breeze that day, so we busted out our kite!  It caught the breeze immediately and was a cinch to fly!

Rick nearly fell asleep while the kite was in the air.
(note Dashiell crouched in the background, collecting more shells...)

Bringing the kite back in. 
It's flying strong, a mere 3 feet over my head.

It was a great afternoon at the beach!

That night we drove up to Provincetown (the very tip of the Cape) to look for some food and wander through the crowds.  Rick yelped the best family restaurants, and found the Mayflower Cafe.  Now, I'm sure we've walked right past this restaurant a million times and never once thought to stop in.  It's directly in the center of everything, but it honestly isn't much to look at.  However it was the perfect choice!  The food was great, the staff was friendly, they had crayons for the kiddos, and everything was reasonably priced.  Since we weren't sure if the kids would actually eat seafood, we ordered them the old standby, grilled cheese.  We also ordered ourselves a plate of fried calamari as an appetizer.  As soon as the calamari arrived, Aurelia was ON IT.  She ate just as much calamari as Rick and I did!


Didn't touch her grilled cheese, which worked out okay since Dashiell was still hungry after eating his, so she graciously shared.  Dashiell tried the calamari but was not impressed.

After dinner we wandered a bit more, marveled at a green sparkly pants suit on one of the drag queens we saw, did a little shopping, and ended the night with some yummy ice cream. 

The next day we woke early (of course), grabbed some breakfast, and made our way to Thumpertown Beach.  The tide was just going out again, so there was plenty of beach to explore.
My new favorite picture of Aurelia.  
She was walking toward me as I was trying to take the 
picture and I thought for sure it wouldn't turn out!
The kids on the beach!  I had to crop the photo from this:
Stranger's bum photo bomb!  Doh!

My guy!
Seriously - in heaven. This girl loves the beach!

After spending a lovely morning on the beach, it was time to clean up, pack up, and drive back home.  We made one quick stop at a store in Orleans - Snows - because we knew they had a huge train display set up.  We were too early to see the Christmas train display, but Dashiell was still thrilled with the year-round display.

Entranced.  This was just one small corner of the set up.

The drive back was not as quick as the drive there, but we got home just in time for bed!  It was a whirlwind mini-vacation for sure, but one that we hope to repeat soon!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Birthdays and sass and school!

Happy Birthday Rick!

Last Saturday was a big day at our house - RICK'S BIRTHDAY!  Rick had to work the overnight before and came home early on Saturday morning.  Dashiell had decided that daddy needed a surprise party, but we had to wait until he was napping before we could go out to get our party supplies.  D was a little confused and thought we were going to wait until Rick woke up so we could all do a "family errand" to get the requisite birthday swag, and kept telling Rick about it so, well, it wasn't much of a surprise!  But it was nice anyway - we bought a cake, a balloon and some flowers and Dashiell drew a couple of pictures for him.  And we had cake for breakfast - yum!  Happy birthday, Rick!  I hope you had a great day!

Little Miss Sassy

Aurelia is so plum-full of personality these days that all I want to do is take pictures of her!  While trying to get a good picture of her in a Slim's t-shirt (Slim's in a bar in Bemidji that was owned by a friend of mine who recently passed away), she kept on giving me this funny "duck face" look.  Should I be worried?  Already so sassy at such a young age? 

She is also turning into an accessory fiend!  Always has to have a hat, and LOVES putting on her shoes.  Possibly because she knows that hats and shoes usually mean going outside, which is always more fun than inside.  But it could just be that she looks good in a hat.  Who knows what her motivation is!

She also learned a good knock-knock joke from her older brother:

Knock knock?
Who's there

(for those who don't have a 5-year-old, that's the "interrupting cow" joke, with the "interrupting cow" part of it removed for brevity).  She tells this joke over and over and over again.  Hilarious!

School adjustments
I think Dashiell is finally adjusting to this whole kindergarten thing.  Last week, after a day or two of the new school, you could tell something was just off with him.  He's a sensitive kid to begin with, but he had become even more sensitive, crying at nearly nothing, more tired than usual, complained of stomach aches every night, etc.  He did come down with a little, low-level virus over the weekend, so that could have been part of it, but the bigger issue seemed to be school.  When trying to suss out what the problem was, a few things came to light:  First, school breakfast (free for all Lowell Public School kids) never serves anything he likes, and he was feeling pressure from his teacher to eat something every day.  I think he was feeling like it was a rule.  That he had to eat something every morning (fyi, he already eats breakfast at home).  I had to explain to him that they want him to try to eat something so he doesn't get too hungry before lunch, but if he doesn't want to eat no one will force him to eat!  I suggested taking something every day, trying it, and if he doesn't like it he doesn't have to eat it.  I suspect that since the school system is receiving a grant to provide these breakfasts, they want to be able to show that the program is being used, therefore just by taking the food he's "helping" to keep the program going.  So now that's what he does, and I think it's less stressful for him.  He is a bit bummed that the muffins that they serve aren't "safe" (no one can verify that they are always nut/peanut free and they don't want to take any chances).  My boy does love a good muffin.
The second problem that came out was the drop-off.  Dashiell was so nervous about the drop-off that it was making him sad every time.  That problem has worked itself out, now that he's been in school for almost 2 weeks.  He's more comfortable with it and we haven't had any tears for a few days now.  Whew!
The third problem is all about the "rules".  He told me last night that he was having a hard time remembering all the rules (sit up straight in your chair, sit cross-legged on the rug, play on the blacktop outside, etc.) and that his teachers had to remind him of the rules all the time.  Now, for my little rule-follower, that's a big deal.  He wants to follow the rules.  I think he thinks he's being judged harshly for not following the rules.  So we had a good talk about it.  I assured him that he's teachers don't think he's a bad kid, and they know that it sometimes takes kids a long time to remember all these new rules every year.  When they are reminding him of the rules, that's all they are doing - reminding him.  At some point he'll remember the rules and they won't need to remind him, but until then they will help him out by letting him know what they are.  He seemed relieved to hear that, so hopefully he's now a bit less stressed out about that, too!
Glad my kiddo is feeling better about school!  I know he'll love it once he's really in the swing of things, and it seems like he's finally getting there!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kindergarten here we come!!

Dashiell is in the Big Time, baby!  All day, 5-day-a-week KINDERGARTEN! 
Who has two thumbs and started kindy this week?  This guy!

"Say 'toilet!'"  The one thing that will get him to laugh/smile every.time.

Today is day three of school.  The first day we parents were invited/encouraged to go into the classroom with our littles and say our goodbyes there.

In the classroom.  He decided to do the "this guy" pose here, too.  Sort of.

Dashiell did great, though he did seem a little apprehensive as we were about to leave.  But he said he had a great day and liked his classmates.  His favorite part was the brownie I packed in his lunch (he skipped the sandwich and went right for dessert!  A boy after my own heart!).

The school has a separate drop-off door for the kindergartners, so the next day we tried that out.  Drove up with no problem, stopped near the door, and let him out of the car.  He got out and promptly started walking to the wrong door, so I rolled down the window and tried to stop him before he went in.  He turned around to look at me with big tears in his eyes, so I had to jump out of the car (leaving it running with Ms. Aurelia in the back seat - yikes!), give him a big hug, and lead him to the Principal, who was waiting outside to help with the drop-off.  It was a confusing drop-off, and I was so sad to see my little guy in tears.  But when I picked him up he said the Principal brought him to the gym to wait with some of the other kids, then another teacher led the group of kiddos to their rooms.  Which is better than thinking of him trying to find his room all the way at the other end of the building all by himself!  He then told me that the school drop-off was kind of like the waterslide he went on with daddy in Minnesota - it was scary the first time he did it and he didn't want to go, but after he did go he realized that it was fun so he wasn't scared anymore.

Today's drop-off was much better for Dashiell - he still looked a little shell-shocked but he gave me a big kiss and a hug from the back seat and was helped out of the car by a school employee, so there were no tears!  But as we were driving away I hear Aurelia from the back seat say, "way-ah Da-cho?" (where's Dashiell?).  Poor thing didn't get a goodbye from her brother, and didn't realize he was gone until it was too late!  We definitely need to find some fun morning activities for her pronto so she has something to look forward to and has other kids to play with!  She misses her big brother for sure.

As for what Dashiell does in school all day, I can honestly say I don't know.  Despite my asking, all I've gotten from him is that they did an art project yesterday, they have to lay their heads down on their desks for rest time every day, and they had to play on the blacktop instead of on the playground (which seems odd to me - I might have to ask his teacher about this).  Oh, and that he gets to sit at the awesome ROUND table at lunch that is exclusively for kids with allergies.  Everyone else has to sit at boring RECTANGULAR tables (and he sounded genuinely pleased with this, like he was part of some amazing, special club). :)  I don't yet know the names of the other kids in his class, I don't know what they're currently learning about, I don't know their daily's kind of weird!  I'm sure once we get a chance to sit down and chat with his teacher we'll get more information, but I'm also sure that if Dashiell was a girl I'd already know all of these things.  Girls seem to be much more forthcoming about such information!

Here's to a great school year, Dashiell!  I hope you love school as much as I think you will!  And don't forget, you'll always be my little guy, even when you're a big guy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Minnesota Madness 2013!

 Grandpa, Dashiell, Grandma and Aurelia

We're a week back from our trip to Minnesota, and I finally have a free moment to report on our fabulous trip!  I have about 500 pictures to post, but I'll try to limit myself and only post 1/25th of them.

The kids did surprisingly well on our travel day - we flew out of Boston at 11 am, landed in Minneapolis at 1:30, and drove all the way up to Bemidji that afternoon.  We knew we were pushing their limits, but we borrowed a portable DVD player from Rick's dad so the kids could veg out in the car, and it worked like a charm!

The play area in Terminal A is always a hit!  And we met another Dashiel (sic) there!

Rick and Aurelia enjoying the flight

It was HOT in Minnesota the day we traveled.  We made a planned stop at the rest area outside of St. Cloud because we knew there was a nice play structure there for the kids to climb on.  That lasted all of 10 minutes - both of the kids were too lethargic to actually play outside in that heat! 

The day after we got into Bemidji we took it easy - a nice walk down to the park where the kids could burn some energy and play with other kids.  Thankfully it had cooled down and was lovely outside!  There's a little beach at the park so after they were bored with the play structure they dug in the sand and wadded in the water.  Aurelia did not want to get out of the lake - that girl is part fish!

That evening mom and dad hosted the whole family for dinner - my sister Lisa, my sister Terri, her husband Glen and their two kids, Craig and Abby.  I'm so glad we got to see Craig before he headed off to college the next day!
Terri and Dashiell snuggling in the living room

Lisa playing with Aurelia (while Terri unintentionally photo bombs in the background - sorry Terri!)

All the grandkids!

The following day (Friday), Rick and I took the kids up to Animal Land and met up with one of my BFFs from school, Jenni.  She has 3 boys, two of which are right around Dashiell's age (5 and 6, in fact).  The boys got along swimmingly, and Aurelia kind of did her own thing.  But we all had fun, and once again it was especially fun to feed the deer (Animal Land has turned into a yearly ritual for us...).

 "This little girl smells like she could have food..."

 Dashiell has definitely gotten bolder with the deer - no hesitation to feed them at all!

Aurelia really liked the kangaroo!

After the zoo we all picked up lunch and headed over to Diamond Point park for an impromptu picnic followed by some swimming.  Prior to swimming Dashiell discovered that he could scale the rock wall without any assistance from me!

If I remember correctly he was able to do it the last time we visited, too, but he needed me to be right.there or he lost his nerve.  This time he did it without me even realizing it until he was up!

The next day mom and I had a lovely morning shopping (I totally scored an awesome suede jacket that fits me perfectly for $20 at the thrift shop she volunteers at!) while Lisa took Dashiell back to the park to search for treasure!  She has a metal detector, which of course D thought was the coolest thing ever!  D found some change which I'm totally sure was not at all planted there by Lisa's girlfriend Ami.  I'm sure of it. ;)  Then later that afternoon mom, Dashiell and I headed out to Abby's soccer game.  It was against a really good team from Wayzata who just don't lose.  They didn't lose this time, either.  But while it was a bummer that we didn't see one of Abby's winning games, it was fun to see her play nonetheless.  Dashiell wanted me to take a good action shot of Abby, but of course I was using my crappy phone camera so "good" didn't happen.  Of all the pictures I took, this was probably the best one:
It's not clear, but she's the girl under the ball in the center of the frame. 

After the game Abby taught Dashiell a few moves with a soccer ball Aunt Terri gave him, which led to a bunch of running around in the back yard:

Aunt Terri also gave Dashiell a NEW fishing rod, and Uncle Glen was more than happy to show him how to cast!

 Glen and Dashiell working on his cast

It wasn't long before he was an old pro!

The next day Dashiell got to use his fishing pole to catch actual fish!  It was very exciting!  He, Rick, Glen and Lisa all went out on Lake Irvine to fish, stayed out there for 7 hours (!!!), and Dashiell caught 3 walleye!  One of which was 22" long!  He was so excited.  They also went swimming on a sand bar in the middle of the lake, which D was super impressed with.

On Monday we visited with another childhood friend of mine, Erika, and her son Jasper.  Jasper is almost exactly one month younger than Dashiell.  We had lunch followed by a trip to the Headwaters Science Center.  The boys had a great time, and it was great to be able to catch up with Erika again.
 Dashiell in the echo tube

He just can't get enough of the kinetic sculpture!

We also made our yearly visit to Paul and Babe - always fun to play around a gigantic lumberjack and his big blue ox!  Of course Aurelia thought it was a cow, but that's close enough for now!

 Not wanting anything to do with posing for a picture
 Dashiell was "camouflaged" - can you find him?
I finally got the kids to slow down enough to take a picture with Paul...
unfortunately Paul's head is a big ray of light, but I'll take it!

On Tuesday we drove back to Minneapolis, stopping at my cousin Sherry's house to visit with her and her kids.  We stayed with my aunt Diane that night, and left super early the next morning.  The flight back was not as pleasant as the flight there (holy squirmy kids!), but we were all tired and wanting to be home in our own beds, so I can hardly blame them!

All in all we had a great, fun-filled trip.  It was so good to see my family again, and the friends who I hadn't seen in so long, too!

Bye, Bemidji!  Thanks for wearing out my kiddos!