It's cliche, but it's true. You simply never know what your kids are going to say.
While canoeing on Friday, we were discussing which dance costume the girls were going to wear in the parade the next day. L. couldn't decide and started to drift from the original topic at hand to a costume idea she had for her dad.
It involved wearing a brown hat, brown pants, brown shoes and having a wooden cut out.
Do you have a guess where she's going with that?
It's an L. idea all the way, which is why I'll leave it to her to explain.
And after seeing this grin once she shared her dad's costume idea in the video, I realized she helped me to live up to the LOL costume suggestion this morning.
But when it came time for her sister to suggest a costume idea for HER, it was a whole new story. She decided it was time to stop the brainstorming session.
The mesh material has straps that slip on to form a chair so the kids can float around.
Of course, they're kids so they're not typically 'floating' for long.
The thing I like about them is that they're easy to carry and break down to drag to and from the beach (the noodle itself is a bit of a hassle because of its length but it is light-weight and easy for the kids to carry).
And the mesh chairs still keep the regular noodle options open.
So I've mentioned we have had family visiting for 2 weeks. And man did we cover a lot of ground while they were here (they headed home to California yesterday amidst a very tearful goodbye for all the younger girls).
As you can see, we were REALLY on the move these past couple of weeks and took so many photos -- and had so much fun -- that there was no way to get it organized every night to blog about it all.
No one was a lobster fan but they all loved New England clam chowder at the chowder house in Old Port.
We took the crew hiking and geocaching near Diana's Baths in the White Mountain's National Forest in NH.
And no one remembered to wear their bathing suit. Of course it didn't stop L. from enjoying the chilly mountain water.
We took several trips to swim in the Saco River (and remembered the bathing suits!) which was a lot warmer.
We managed to get some crafting time in between adventures and the girls made little backpacks for their Webkinz. They wore those packs - along with their specially designed (by them) silk-screened t-shirts all around Boston. At least we could spot them from a distance...
We did a lot of archery in the backyard.
And played some volleyball.
But my brother-in-law and oldest niece spent all their extra time fishing. C. caught the most - >and biggest - fish during their trip.
And Fino used those fish as an opportunity to have multiple campfires in the backyard.
Our visitors didn't want to leave Maine without at least a quick stop to Old Orchard Beach to see the sights (including the Canadian license plates they wouldn't normally see in southern California), play the arcades and taste the pier fries. And a soggy afternoon wasn't going to stop them.
But as usual L. was true to her messy nature when eating fries.
The girls and their Los Angeles area cousins have been spending a lot of time in the wooded area behind our house. There is a trail from our backyard that leads to a small stream and the girls dubbed the area the "Enchanted Forest."
They visit at least a couple of times a day to make up stories, cool off in the stream and climb around the logs.
But Fino does require the kids to carry a walkie-talkie whenever they go to "The E.L." (their new nickname for the forest), and it makes everyone happy. The kids have the E.L. to themselves and the parents can keep in regular contact to know they're safe (and it isn't far from the house anyway).
With the exception of the bugs (the kids have used nearly a full bottle of spray in two weeks), all the kids have loved the E.F. and will likely always remember playing with their cousins there.
Yesterday we took my sister-in-law and her family to Boston to see some of the historical sites. The four younger girls in our group decided to wear their newly made backpacks (they each made their own the day before) because it seems that L. and G. have spread their enthusiasm for Webkinz to their California cousins (it was our New York cousins who got my kids hooked). So each of the girls (except for G., she was more reasonable about the whole thing and had a smaller pack anyway) had to carry their Webkinz stuffed animals on their backs ALL over the city.
That would end up being a 7-hour walking tour.
Of course carrying junk around is nothing new for L. She HAS to have her 'special' something(s) with her wherever we go (from biking trips to hiking).
But L. wasn't content to simply carry her beloved stuffed animals in her pack like the other kids. Nope, she had to have one in her hands at all times.
On the T with CheChe the monkey (just like in Dr. Doolittle) and her cousin's Peanut Butter the pug.
The monkey climbed all 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument in L.'s hands. And might I just add that we were all dripping sweat and panting by the time we got there....
... because that is one tall monument!
I think bumper stickers about climbing this monumement would be more worthy a feat to advertise than the Mt. Washington car climbs. (And sadly we looked but found no stickers for climbing Bunker Hill so we've decided to make our own.)
After a snack - we needed the energy boost! - we walked several blocks to our next chosen stop, the USS Constitution.
But the really over-the-top thing was that L. decided to rotate the animals she carried in her hands with what she had in her backpack so each of her special friends had a turn to see everything.
Note the swap to the duck posing with the cousins.
Exploring the USS Cassin Young WW2 battleship after the Constitution with Patty the duck.
The duck apparently liked the navy yard.
And the jellyfish we saw in the harbor.
Then it was back on the Freedom Trail to Faneuil Hall. And even though you can't see L.'s hand (she's in front of G. in the blue shorts), believe me that she had a stuffed animal in her hands then too.
And when we got to Haymarket Square, she had swapped the duck out for the monkey again.
But the duck was back by the time we made it into the hall to learn about its history.
I grew up just outside of Boston and am familiar with the sites along the Freedom Trail (I even spent some time following it to my workplace just after college) but I still found the www.thefreedomtrail.org a helpful resource in planning our day trip to the city. I knew we couldn't walk the entire trail with our big group yesterday so the detailed map helped to estimate how much our group of 10 could realistically see in one day.
Fino took his brother-in-law and his older neice and nephew fishing the other day.
They found a quiet spot off Route 114 in Standish.
It turned out that C. caught the fish.
They caught two small fish on this particular trip and our nephew V. decided to fillet one of the fish for dinner that night. Unfortunately for him, he had to contend with not only the fish, but his two youngest sisters along with G. and L. begging him to 'save the other fish' so they could keep it.
But they didn't win that argument and suprisingly, all of them decided to stay and watch V. fillet the fish.
While sitting at the counter with V., G. decided to recount a video clip she had seen on TV about a man about to eat a fish head before he noticed the fish's gills still moving (it was an animated telling with arm gestures).
There were a hefty number of "EEEEEEWWWWWWS" and shrieks during the fillet process and all but our niece S. ducked when V. chopped the head off (with a dull knife so it took a couple of tries to do it - not a pleasant sight). S. was basically horrified with how that happened.
Then L. had an idea about what to do with the headless fish.
And I wonder if you can guess who ended up with the head in the end ...
[NOTE: This video is graphic and not for weak stomachs.] The Unfortunate Fish
Earlier this week my friend and I took our girls camping in Richmond on Pleasant Pond. The kids had a blast (and the moms had fun too).
The beach was really muddy where we were staying but the kids didn't mind.
The mud was shin-deep in places and by the end of the trip each one of the girls had painted themselves - intentionally - with it.
It was however a bit tricky with the mud and all the fresh water clams (or whatever kind of shellfish they were) in it. The kids, L. in particular, had little razor-like slices all over her feet. It was hard to predict where the clams would be when you stepped into the mud so they were hard to avoid.
The kids loved sleeping in the tent and settled down at a reasonable hour. But even after the kids were asleep the moms kept chatting into the night so we were more tired than the kids the next morning.
When I first saw this buzzing around, I thought it was a butterfly. I wouldn't have guessed it was a dragon fly without this one staying still so I could zoom in with my camera.
The girls planned and prepared shish ka bobs for dinner our first night. They were tasty!
Cooking shish ka bobs was easy for the girls on the grill and it was great to eat so well on the trip.
The kids have built camp fires before but got a few pointers from their friends' mom.
No camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows and making s'mores.
L. wasn't the only one setting her marshmallows on fire. They all thought that was the best way to 'roast' them - well, it certainly was the quickest way to melt them.
But L. got a little carried away 'roasting' several marshmallows at a time on her stick and ended up wearing some.
She had it streaked through her hair and all over her face.
We saw a beautiful sunset our first night and the kids couldn't resist doing another silly photo.
The second day was rainy and foggy but we decided to keep to our plans of canoeing. The girls just stayed closer to shore and didn't paddle too far down the pond.
It may have been a short camping trip (just 2 nights) but the kids won't forget all the fun they had on the pond!
We stopped by an animals for sale exhibit where we've purchased our ducks in past and had a moment of realization about our own Victorian lady.
We thought our duck may have had a parent that was a cross-bred from this one.
The stray head feathers for our duck make a little more sense to us now.
We loved this one's fro.
We also had to look at the bunnies and L. took yet another opportunity to argue her case for getting her own (something she has done for several years now). She wants to incorporate it into her yearly 4-H projects but Fino keeps turning down the idea. He thinks we've got enough going on in our yard with the chickens and ducks.
L. is working on new negotiation tactics.
The kids tried out the bumper cars for the first time this year and I was a little frightened with L.'s driving.
After seeing this devilish look I started counting how many years I had to learn deep breathing techniques in anticipation of her getting her license (6 1/2 and counting now).
The kids also really enjoyed the bungee jump with their cousins.
They had a big thank you for their tio and tia for buying them tickets to try it!
The kids put the finishing touches on their 4-H projects this weekend for the Ossipee Fair (we always have fun at this fair). It opens this Thursday but their stuff needs to be delivered to the 4-H exhibit hall tonight for judging before opening day.
Both girls are entering projects for sewing (L. is sad she has to live a week without her fairy quilt), knitting, crafts and art. L made a poster about being a member of the Trail Blazers and G. put together a YouTube poster about her videos on our channel. Since she couldn't enter an actual video (not a category option at this fair for 4-Hers), she opted to make the poster instead with screen snaps of the videos she personally took and/or edited (which would more than 1/2 of what's on our channel). She also tallied how many views her favorite videos received. It was a nice little practical math lesson that she enjoyed.
So yesterday Fino came home from the store with a special treat for the girls.
They thought they deserved a good rest after finishing up all their projects and fair paperwork.
We spent less than 40 minutes picking and managed to net a little over 20 pounds of strawberries. They were ripe and plentiful last night!
We were told that there were also some ripe cherry trees at the orchard and we couldn't resist picking some of those as well. We had never picked cherries before.
After eating one right off the tree and feeling like the enamel on my teeth was going to come off, I let the kids know the cherries were REALLY sour. And although my kids love sour stuff - including sucking on lemons and limes - I wasn't sure even they would like them.
But they had to try them and both agreed that they were in fact pucker-face sour.
It took L. nearly a minute to recover from the sourness of the bite she took.
We only picked two pounds of cherries and that was just enough for a cobbler. I had never made a fresh cherry cobbler before and decided to add some sweet wild blueberries to offset the tartness of the cherries (and to avoid having to add so much sugar - the recipe called for a cup and a half but with the blueberries a single cup was more than enough).
The kids and Fino gave the dish a big thumbs up and suggested we go pick more cherries today.
I guess we've got another favorite fruit season in our house now. I just wish it wasn't so time consuming to pit the cherries ...
CHERRY BERRY COBBLER Recipe
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
3 cups sour cherries (pits removed)
1 cup wild blueberries
Add all above ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens then transfer to baking dish.
In a separate bowl, add the following ingredients and mix just until combined.
3 Tablespoons shortening
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the warm cherries and then bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes.
Do you have a favorite berry recipe? Post it below!
Drawing nature, creative license and staying still
Yesterday was a quiet morning for us so the girls and I decided to sit in our backyard and draw for a while.
L. likes to draw so I try to encourage her as often as I can.
G. thought the flowers were too hard to draw and she was tired of the drawing trees (after drawing one) so she took some creative license with the daisies and drew "pretty purple flowers because they are prettier." Apparently she felt the same about our white ducks too.
G. enjoys drawing too but more from her imagination that what she's looking at.
L. decided to draw the chickens but it was hard to capture much detail because they kept moving around or sitting in their holes.
So she asked her sister to help.
G. caught a hen and held her still while L. and I tried to draw her.
Next time the chickens will likely run away a little faster. L. wanted a full wing view and her sister helped the hen accomodate her.
And as I've mentioned many times, chickens are really entertaining to watch especially when they're digging their holes.
I guess the difference between dogs and chickens is that dogs don't lie around in their holes all day. The chickens use their holes to take dirt baths and sleep. Or maybe dogs do the same?
I'm thinking maybe it's a little weird that I don't know ...
L. and Fino have been enjoying shooting arrows with a couple of used bows they picked up recently. So when one of her friends came over yesterday, L. wanted her friend to try it too.
After reviewing the safety rules of the activity (i.e., don't go after arrows until everyone's bow is on the ground and don't point arrows at each other), Fino sat back and watched them try to hit the target - which wasn't very often he told me later.
With L. being a lefty (actually both girls and Fino are, I'm the oddball being right-handed) can be tricky with some activities (like trying to teach the girls to knit!), it's taking her a little while to learn to aim her bow correctly (no groove on the bow on her shooting side). Since buying specialized equipment designed for a southpaw is not typically in the family budget, Fino usually tries to find a way to make what we have work for him and the girls.
Neither of the girls hit the target much but they had a good time trying.
At one point L.'s friend came close to hitting a chicken and that was cause for a lot of laughing and bad jokes about dinner and the intelligence of poultry. Well, it was funny until G. heard about it. She was distressed at the possibility that one of her beloved chickens could have been injured. The archers were getting tired anyway so opted to stop shooting and give the chickens free reign over the yard again.
L. reports today that she's hitting the target more but now she has a blister on her thumb from "practicing too much."