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July 23, 2016

It's a Family Thing (Finally!)

Since the girls learned to ride their bikes without training wheels, we’ve been contemplating whether Baby B needed a new bike.  She was still riding a 16”, in comparison to Baby A’s 20”.  Our A seemed to get places a lot faster with those bigger wheels, and little B seemed always to be telling us how tired her legs were.

Hubby told B we’d get her a new bike when we got back from vacation.  So of course the first words out of B’s mouth the morning after we got home from Maine were, “We’re getting my new bike today!

Late that Saturday afternoon, we made good on our commitment, taking the girls to the bike shop downtown where we bought their original bikes two years ago.  We found a great bike for B, and A was [mostly] patient while her sissy got lots of attention.  B agreed to let A ride her bike, so all was relatively well.

Hubby and I had been talking about getting bikes ourselves, but I hadn’t planned on making the splurge that day.  It was no time, though, before we’d each picked out bikes.  It’s a good thing we recently straightened up the garage…our family of bikes is quite formidable!

I’ll admit it took me a few minutes to feel comfortable on my bike.  (It had been quite a few years…30, perhaps???...since I’d ridden one!  And I’d never had a bike with hand brakes and gears!!!)  We tooled around a bit that first evening, and then – helmets on – we went for our first family bike ride the next day!

Over the past two weeks, we’ve logged as many family rides as we could…early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, or first thing when Mommy gets home from work in the afternoon.

This mama is having a super-fun time whizzing through the neighborhood, and it’s such an awesome sight to be surrounded by the family.


I’ve long talked about Mommy milestones, and certainly the girls’ milestones are huge.  This is one Family Milestone that will stick with me for a long, long time!

July 13, 2016

Maine: Days 3, 4, and 5!

Day 3: Wednesday

On Wednesday morning we trekked to breakfast at a diner on the other end of Old Port.  It was a hike, but it was a nice way to start the day.  After breakfast we set out for Kennebunkport to go to the beach.

We didn't know what we'd find, exactly, so we neglected to get a parking pass.  We got incredibly lucky to find a parking spot at the beach AND a lady who'd accidentally gotten two passes.  We paid her for the pass, and we were set!

In hindsight, I wish I'd brought the girls' swimsuits to the beach -- or at least a change of clothes.  The deal was that we would walk in the water, getting wet up to our knees.  The girls got SOAKED to their tummies pretty quickly, surprised by the waves coming in, though.  

The water was COLD, but the view was breathtaking!


I love toes-in-the-sand pictures!


Here's an old-fashioned selfie (with the big camera!) of Hubby and me!


(I reluctantly turned the camera over to an older couple to ask them to take a family photo of us.  [I say "reluctantly" because we were surrounded by water!  Ack!!!]  It didn't turn out so swell, though...and my arms are not long enough for an old-fashioned family selfie.  HA!)


 We'd planned to have lunch in Kennebunkport and walk around there, but the girls were too wet.  We drove back to the hotel for a quick shower, and we ate lunch there.

That afternoon, while Hubby watched a soccer game, the girls and I trekked to the Promenade again, this time to the playground.  The ocean made such an amazing backdrop for their frolicking!!!



And of course we had to pause a few times to take in the view on the way back to the hotel.



We ate dinner at a place call The East Ender.  I got an appetizer of sea snails, and the girls were hooked.  One of my favorite lines of the trip was surely, "Mommy, may I have another snail, please?"  HA!!!

Day 4: Thursday

Thursday morning, after finding a different diner for breakfast, we walked about a block from our hotel to the ferry terminal.  We bought tickets for a trip to Peak's Island, the largest and most-inhabited island off the coast.  After a relatively short ferry ride, we hopped off the ferry and headed for the golf cart rental.

Pretending to drive!
Hubby didn't have his license with him, so the driving was up to me.  It was a COLD day, especially zipping around in our cart, but we enjoyed the ever-present ocean view as we made our way around the perimeter of the island.

We made frequent stops, one here where many before us had balanced rocks on the jagged coastline.



The girls wanted to try their hands, of course!



We took one detour (after stopping to ask for directions) to visit a house that sells honey.  A local couple was out for a walk, and they snapped a family picture of us...one in which everyone is actually looking at the camera and smiling!


The honey was sitting on a table with a bucket in which you could deposit $5 per jar...all on the honor system.  Kind of cool!


We ate lunch on the island and headed back to the hotel.  By the afternoon, it had warmed up a bit, and the girls and I headed for the narrow gauge railroad museum.  We took in a few sights inside before we boarded the train for a trip most of the way around the peninsula and back.


The train stopped at the halfway point, and the kiddos got to ring the bell.  The girls were all about it!  In this picture you can see the swing bridge that's no longer in operation.


After a good dose of Portland history on the train ride, we headed for a little shop I'd been eyeing since Monday, Vena's Fizz House.  I was super excited to introduce the girls to what I thought would be a great treat!


The inside of the shop was super quaint.  I love this picture taken from inside where we sat.


I had a delicious ginger soda, and I ordered a raspberry lemonade and a cherry limeade for the girls.  They were NOT fans, though.  "This burns my throat, Mommy!"  Oops!  Their first ever taste of carbonation was a flop (but I'm really OK with that!).

We had a fantastic dinner at Duck Fat.  We had incredible poutine with cheese curds, the fries having been cooked in -- you guessed it -- duck fat.

Day 5: Friday

Friday morning we found ourselves at a donut shop boasting donuts that are made from Maine potatoes.  They're the best donuts I've ever eaten.  Seriously.  We got a half dozen sampler box.  My favorite was the maple bacon, while Hubby and the girls loved the sweet potato best.  It might sound a little on the different side...but it was nothing but delicious!


After packing our bags, we headed for the Portland Observatory, our last must-do.  We got there early and decided to pay a visit to the fire station that's just next door.  We met three wonderfully kind firemen who invited the girls to sit in the fire truck.  They were just a little bit excited.  :)


We still had a little time, so we showed Daddy to the playground at the Promenade.  It happened to be Daddy's birthday...what a great place to celebrate!


Lastly, we made it to the Observatory and climbed the 104 steps to the top.  (We only counted 103, but I'll take their word that we missed a step somewhere.)


The view from the top was beautiful!


And I love this picture of the docent, a lovely retired school nurse, pointing out the sights to the girls.


I snapped one last picture on our way back to the hotel to start our way home.  

Buoys hanging on a fence in a residential area.
We had a wonderful trip, one we'll remember fondly for many years to come!!!  Thanks for the memories, Maine!!!

July 11, 2016

Maine: Days 1 and 2!

Last week we took a vacation to MAINE!!!  Neither Hubby nor I had been there before, so this was the first big adventure that the four of us experienced together for the first time as a family.

I took lots of pictures, and I could hardly wait to get home and go through them.  I keep just flipping through, still kind of in awe of the beautiful scenery and the new adventures we had.  Here I'm including a small representation, just enough to document our trip for the sake of posterity.  :)

Day 1: Monday, the Fourth of July

We arrived in Portland just in time for lunch.  (If you're keeping track, that means we left home EARLY.  I got up around 1:30 for our 5:30 flight [the airport is an hour away from our house]!)  We got a quick recommendation for a seafood place right on the water.

Our first picture in Maine!  Looking out over the water while we waited on our lunch!
We had our first lobster roll of the trip.  The girls were quite taken with it, along with calamari and crab cakes.  


After a family nap of 2 1/2 hours...which was BLISS!!!!!...we headed east along the ocean to claim a spot to watch the fireworks.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the trip...so picturesque!!!


We had a really great dinner at a place called The Front Room.  (Baby A was super excited to see a dish of Brussels sprouts with goat cheese, two of her faves!)

Ahead of the fireworks, the Portland Symphony Orchestra played.  There were lots of patriotic tunes, of course, and I could hardly believe my ears when they played the Alabama fight song!  I have no idea what that was about...but I loved it!

At last, darkness fell and it was time for the big show.  These were the girls' first fireworks (outside of what they've seen on TV).  They actually didn't love them.  They weren't scared, but they enjoyed about five minutes and then declared they'd had enough.  


We trekked back to the hotel and got a great night of well-deserved rest.  

Day 2: Tuesday

The next morning we got up and headed for breakfast.  We found ourselves at a place that featured Syrian wraps.  The owner got a chuckle when Baby A called out to me as I placed our order, "Add spinach to mine!"  Hee hee!

We stopped for a few pictures in Old Port as we headed back to our hotel.  I love the cobblestone streets!



And as I was taking a picture of the girls here, a cab driver stopped to speak to us, saying he wanted to take a picture of me taking the girls' picture.  Kinda sweet, huh?

Sisterly hugs!
 After breakfast we headed to Cape Elizabeth to the Portland Head Light, said to be the most-photographed lighthouse in the country.  I took a ton of pictures as we hiked around the cliff (as it was labeled), and here I handed the camera over to someone to snap a family pic.


I couldn't get enough of the interesting rock formations long the coastline!


And here we paused when Hubby actually requested I take his picture with the girls.  Yes!!!


We hiked around an old fort, and then explored the beach area.  We picked up a couple of rocks to bring home with us, too.


After our lighthouse adventure, we had a fantastic lunch.  It wasn't lobster, but pizza...provolone mac and cheese pizza, to be exact...but it was amazing!  And I must confess that I took this picture on the morning drive.  We were stopped at a traffic light and I rolled down the window to snap this pic.  Hubby chided that I was "such a tourist"...but as luck would have it, that's where we ate lunch.  The last laugh was on Hubby, I say!  :)

Filling-station-turned-pizza-parlor...yum!
Tuesday afternoon we drove up to Freeport, Maine, to visit the L.L. Bean headquarters.  My grandmother was a huge fan of L.L. Bean, and she always fantasized about going to Maine because of it.  On one hand I felt silly going shopping on vacation, but it was a special trip with her in mind.

The campus was beautiful...and HUGE!
The girls even scored some cool new shoes!


And what trip to L.L. Bean would be complete without a picture in front of the giant duck boot truck???


We worked up quite an appetite shopping, and we ate a delicious meal at an outside table at a nearby cafe.  In our short stay in Maine, Baby B had already mastered her standard order, "I'll have a lobster roll and a cup of clam chowder.  And I don't want to share."  HA!  This kid is no cheap date!


Baby A and I shared a shrimp and pasta dish.  It was delicious, too!


More to come as I sort through the rest of my pictures!  It was such a great trip!!!

June 30, 2016

Not Much Has Changed in Six Years...

Six years.  Wow.  In some ways, not much has changed.



Readers are leaders.

And I can't wait to see what the next six years holds!!!

June 27, 2016

Bad Words

Two years of big-kid school under our belts, and I haven’t encountered many “bad words” from the girls.  Here and there I’ve gotten a report about someone saying a particular word at school.  I remember “butt” and “OMG” being discussion points at our house, but the girls have generally been very smart about asking us if they think a word or phrase seems out of place.

We’ve reinforced with the girls that they will never get in trouble for asking us a question.  We talk about what a word or phrase means, and why it’s not appropriate.  We remind the girls how hurtful words can be, and how people will sometimes try to garner power by the words they use.

Often, when I read to the girls, I edit text here and there.  I don’t like the words “fool” or “ugly”, for example, and I rarely say them.  Now that they can read so proficiently, the girls will sometimes call me on my omission.  We’ll talk about why I changed the text, and discuss words the author could have used in their places.

A few days ago, I was reading the sixth Little House on the Prairie book to the girls.  I’d edited the word “stupid” a few times, but I decided to say it for the purpose of discussion.  Of course it was used in a different context as to what might be heard on the elementary school playground, but I thought it would make a good point of conversation.

The girls’ reaction was one of seven-year old innocence.  “Laura’s fingers felt numb and stupid,” I think the line went.  Both girls’ mouths dropped open.  They both gasped slightly and looked at me with big eyes.

I couldn’t help a little smile.

I was glad for the opportunity to discuss the use of the word.  And I was proud that they recognized that word as one we do not use.


May they always recoil when they recognize something inappropriate, and may the ways of the world not numb them to what is right.  

June 26, 2016

Look, Mom...No Wheels!

...no training wheels, that is!

It's been incredibly hot here the past couple of weeks, so I haven't gotten to see the girls ride their bikes very often.  Friday afternoon, we all decided to brave the elements when I got home from work.

The girls were ZIPPING up and down and back and forth...getting onto their bikes by themselves...stopping with precision...and making only one or two [unplanned] trips into the grass.


Baby A is quite the "leaner".  It almost makes me a little nervous...but she seems to have the hang of it!


And I love this picture of B.  She was showing off her excitement (and being a bit daredevil-ish) as she headed straight for Mommy.


I'm so proud of these girlies!  Next step...taking it to the streets!  The big hill in front of our house (relatively speaking...when your seven-year old is riding a bike...) makes me nervous, but I know the girls will be fine through the neighborhood.  That's one we might have to do individually, though.  I don't know that my nerves can take keeping up with two of them just yet.  Baby steps (for me!)!

June 22, 2016

Anniversary Plans

Today is our wedding anniversary.  Seventeen years.  Wow.

I was thinking last night about previous anniversaries.  Certainly I can’t remember each one, but several come to mind.

There were a handful of years where we seemed to be moving right on/around our anniversary.  Our first anniversary, we’d just moved to Mississippi, for my first job.  We celebrated with dinner at a new restaurant in a new town.

Our second anniversary, we were still in Mississippi.  We ate dinner at a restaurant we’d never been to before.  I remember ordering an appetizer off the specials menu, and we were both shocked when we got the bill to learn how much it was.  (HA!  I don’t remember what it was, or if it was good, but it was expensive!)

Our third anniversary, we’d moved to North Carolina.  I remember the restaurant where we celebrated.  It was one of our favorites there.

Our fourth anniversary, we’d just moved into our house in Kentucky.  We had a hot and sweaty day of unpacking, but we cleaned up to enjoy a wonderful meal.

It’s funny, looking back on those years.  We worked hard, and we played hard.

I think we celebrated some later anniversary in New York, but I can’t quite remember which. 

The next anniversary I can remember is when I was newly pregnant…maybe 8 weeks along.  Heading out to dinner, I put on a dress that was getting a little bit tight, and I felt so proud of that fact.  I wondered if anyone would notice.  I remember the wonder we felt as we talked about our life together and dreamed of what was to come.

The next anniversary – our tenth – we took our 5 ½ month-old twins to dinner.  We went to one of our favorite restaurants for a very early dinner.  I remember where we sat, at the very front of the restaurant, the girls in their carriers.  I think they napped during our dinner.  I remember we ate pretty hurriedly, for fear they’d wake up.  I felt almost giddy that we were “sneaking” in that dinner with our twins in tow.

The next few anniversaries are more of a blur.  I seem to remember take-out from our favorite sushi restaurant one year.  And a couple of years ago, we had a sweet family date…breakfast out, and hiking at our favorite park in town.

This year, I’m heading off to work today.  We’re planning to go out for dinner, the four of us.  I’m hoping I can coax the girls into wearing a sundress.  We’ll head downtown and have a nice meal.

The girls were whispering last night.  I expect they’ve made us a card of some sort, and they are super excited to give it to us.

We’re not going to enjoy a romantic getaway to NYC, or let go with wine and live music for an evening of fun.  But I’m really excited for the four of us to go out…to fully share this occasion with the girls and to celebrate as a family.



To everything there is a season.  And I am thankful for this season we’re in.


Happy Anniversary to my love!
 
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