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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Well, I’m sure there’s nothing like a 3-week break to chase away all my readers, but I really didn’t have much of an option. The cottage had the slowest dial-up in the history of the internet. Generally speaking, this is probably a good thing. I had a technology vacation.

We went up to the cottage with our kids and two of my nephews, who are 10 and 12-years-old. This meant everything we did, we did with five kids instead of three and I have to say, I didn’t really notice a huge difference, except for the food thing. Man, can those kids eat.

For the last week, J’s cousins moved in next door, turning our 5-child posse into an 8-child posse. Meals were epic. Oh, and I can’t forget the friends across the road, whose 9-year-old spent most of her time at our house. That was okay. They also have 6-year-old twin boys who followed Boo around like puppies, but she spent most of her time at their cottage, evening things out.

During nice weather, all of use could be found at the beach, and since we have a much broader definition of nice weather than normal we frequently had the beach to ourselves. Basically, it had to be not raining. Although truthfully, we often stayed when it rained too, as long as it wasn’t heavy, simply denying that rain was coming down.

We did do other things. One day, everyone went on this cool obstacle course that snakes down the mountain. It takes several hours. I do not do this. I did take Boo and her boyfriends (she hates when we refer to them as that) to the littler kid version.

I brought my soapstone paraphernalia and had all the kids working on small soapstone pieces on the beach. It is soft stone and can be worked with files, so kids can do it with a minimum of injuries. Only my older nephew, A, showed any real affinity for it. The rest behaved as though I was the ultimate judge and would return frequently to me to ask, “Did I file this enough already?” I’d point out that while the piece was looking more whale-like, or bunny-like, they still had to file this part and that if they really wanted it to look as they said they did. Once cousin pestered me so much that once A, who was happily doing his own thing, snapped, “It is filed enough when you think it is filed enough! Why do you keep bugging her?”

So the truth was, except for A, I pretty much shaped every piece, but they did most of the sanding to make their carvings smooth and were very happy with the results.

Here are Asher and Maya, working hard at theirs:

Another day, someone brought water colour paints down to the beach and we all had a lovely time painting each other.

I also created an enormous scavenger hunt that amused the kids for hours before they discovered the treasure – a pile of golden chocolate coins.

In the evenings, we frequently played huge games of Texas hold ‘em poker. The kids are starting to become good players. My FIL was appalled that we were teaching them all how to gamble, but I’m hoping they’ll become sharks and put themselves through university.

Now I have 2 days to get Asher and Maya ready for sleep-over camp. They leave Wednesday morning, my birthday.

Here are some bonus pictures. This is what I found when I came in to go to bed one evening:

The diving board broke on the raft that is normally swimming distance from the beach, so J towed it in and a couple of the manly men fixed it. Then the kids had fun pushing it back out again.

The necessary Jasper shot:

And finally, a shot of the nape of my boy’s neck. I sat and took about 20 of these one afternoon because I think he has the most adorable, delectable nape ever. I thought this was my particular mother quirk until one of J’s cousins commented on it too, unsolicited. So now I’m sharing it with everyone.

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Well, we did it. We drove 8 hours (give or take a few pee/food breaks) down to New York on Wednesday and then 8 back on Monday.

The weirdest part of the trip was the weather. It reached the high 20s (Celsius) every day and didn’t get much cooler at night. It was so hard to convince ourselves that we were there in October. We feel blessed by the weather gods.

We stayed on the Upper West side in a friend’s apartment. He was kind enough to vacate it and stay with his girlfriend so we could take over. I have to admit, I could totally see living in New York if I had buckets of money. We walked to Central Park, which we all just loved. They have a carousel there that costs $1.50 per ride – the best deal in the whole city.

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Even the big kids liked it.

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We went back two days in a row.

The kids also lived climbing on the rocks (and giving me heart failure) and just watching the action. Here’s a picture of them at the top of the rock, silhouetted.

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We also stumbled across people practicing their rock-climbing skills on the more sheer parts of the rock. Our friend, S, ever up for a challenge, climbed it in his street shoes. As he got higher, they dragged the mattress they had to break falls over and placed it underneath him. Then, as he hoisted himself over the lip at the top, every hand went up to catch him as he fell, which he didn’t.

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They then swore they weren’t a club, just random people who show up, conveniently with a mattress and gear, but we think there were just jealous and didn’t want S to join and show them up.

We also got Boo’s face painted.

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Here’s the final product. She has a dopey expression on her face, but it was the best I could get. She’s in the ‘lame smile’ stage right now.

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Another good deal was the little zoo in Central Park. It is very lovely and well-kept, and just beautiful.

We’ve been going to New York since J first took me 15 years ago, and I have to say, the place has changed. We took the kids to gawk at 42nd street without a moment’s concern, and had lots of fun checking out a 3-floor M&M store, amazed that a place with 3 stories of M&M stuff could stay in business.

When I first saw 42nd Street, I stood and gawked like the hick tourist I was and J nudged me and said, “Stop looking like such a tourist! You are going to get us mugged!” He based this on his experience of being mugged on 42nd Street a few years earlier. There were strip clubs and peep shows everywhere and a large black guy with a wild look in his eyes was up on a stool preaching about how the ‘so-called white man’ had ruined the world.

No more crazy people and peep shows there now. Never at any point in New York, even when it was just Maya and me walking in the dark, did we feel a moment’s concern. In fact, several times, when we were having trouble figuring out exactly how to get where we wanted to go, people just came up to us and asked if they could help us out. It was a really nice experience. It seems New Yorkers have mellowed.

Another fun thing was the shopping, thanks to our equal dollars. A lot of stuff, like clothes and books, are cheaper in the States, plus there is no tax on clothes, so we went a little nuts. I bought $50 worth of underwear. (Woo hoo!)

We, of course, had to take the kids to FAO Schwartz.

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We fed them at the little cafe there, which actually had healthy food for kids (plus ice cream – there are limits) . Here’s a happy Maya after a day of shopping.

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The place we really lost our minds was the bookstore. The book situation is ridiculous. One book I got was $14 if you bought it in the States and $21 in Canada. As a result, it just felt to us like everything was on sale and we all got several books. Then, on the way home, we stopped in a Borders for a pee break and walked out with 5 more books and 2 magazines.

We also did various museums, of course. A huge hit was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as The Lightening Thief begins there, plus, it has a section full of Greek statues of the various gods. Here are Maya and Asher ‘posing’ with a young Hercules.

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I know I’ve already raved about this book, but really, it was so remarkable to follow my boy around as he said things like, “Look, he’s holding the skin of the Nemean lion he killed,” and “This sarcophagus has carvings of Theseus fighting the Minotaur on it!”

We then sat on the steps outside the Met, relaxing for a bit. This is Boo’s idea of relaxing:

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We then got to witness something else typically New York: a performance art piece. These women, dressed to the nines, kept crossing the street, pausing in the middle to wave and pretend to flag down taxis. Frequently people who were crossing with them would get into the act, blowing kisses to the crowd and such. Very funny.

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And now we are home. The weather has turned cold, it is raining and the routine has returned. Sigh.

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