Sunday, July 28, 2013

Green Heron Sighting

Green herons are shy birds.  They are also really good at being camouflaged.  So being able to find one in the trees surrounding our creek is pretty tricky...and very rewarding once you see one!
 See the stick in the heron's beak?  They drop sticks in the water to lure fish or frogs to the surface, and then they swoop down and catch their dinner.  We never saw what this guy caught for his meal, but we were pretty excited to see him (her?) in hunting mode.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Car Wash

Julia and I make a great team when it comes to washing the car.  She loves to spray the hose.
 While I clean the high parts, she gets all the spots down low.
 Even the running boards.
 And she's even happy and smiling while she works!

Monday, July 22, 2013


Bluebirds are supposed to live in meadow habitats.  So imagine our surprise when we saw one in our (foresty) backyard this afternoon!  There was no denying this cute little guy was an eastern bluebird.  He (She?) hung around for several minutes, checking things out, then catching a bug and eating it.  It was all very fascinating for us to see this little cutie!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rocky Beach

When the beach gives you rocks, you have to get creative.
Julia enjoyed digging holes, and trying to fill the holes with water.
Evelyn made rock sculptures, which I must say were quite impressive.
Today we visited a beach with friends who live in a harbor town south of Boston, planning a "regular" day of fun in the sun.  It wasn't quite what any of us were expecting, but we made the best of it and stayed in good spirits.  However, on the drive home this evening, the girls requested that we not go back to visit those friends in summer any more.  I have to say I concur.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Cat

Rosie and her buddy, Julia

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plimouth Plantation

Even though it was hotter than blazes today (sunny and humid, too), we headed over to Plimouth Plantation today.  We had friends visiting from Maryland, and they wanted to see something historically unique to Massachusetts.  This location definitely fits the bill.
 There are three main areas to visit at Plimouth - the Wampanoag (Native American) village, the (pilgrim) settler's village and the indoor exhibits.  We started outside with the Wampanoag village.  Here's Julia, standing by a dugout canoe and paddles.  The girls couldn't believe how big the canoe was...and how big the tree was that they used to make the canoe!
 Then we saw some fish being smoked over a fire.  We were also able to walk through several Wampanoag lodges, which the girls thought were quite spacious until they realized how many people lived inside one.
 After a hike through the woods and the marsh, we came upon the pilgrim village.  It is surrounded by a tall fence, much like it would have been in the 1600's.
 We saw a man planking wood.  He asked where we lived, but he had never heard of our town, Norfolk, even though it's only 50 miles inland.  This is a living history site, so everyone pretends like it's the 1620's.
 This man was whittling a wooden spoon.  Julia wanted to take it home and eat with it, but the man said he needed it for his family.
 We walked through several pilgrim houses.  The girls had fun guessing how rich or poor the inhabitants were, based on the furniture.
 The girls were real troopers, walking through the outdoor exhibit in the heat.  After exploring as much as we could, we headed to the indoor exhibits (and lunch!).  We plan to come back on a cooler day, when sightseeing will be more enjoyable.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Swan Boats

Over the years, Julia and Evelyn have read Make Way for Ducklings (written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey in 1941) several times.  How excited were they to find out that the park Mr. and Mrs. Mallard chose to raise their ducklings was a real place in Boston???
 And how cool is it that the Public Garden looks the same as it did in the book?  The girls were in heaven.  They've never been to a place where it seemed they were walking through the pages of a picture book.
 Since the day started out cloudy, there weren't many people in line for the swan boat rides when we got there (thank goodness!).  And the line moved pretty quickly, too.
 Here's Julia and me on the swan boat ride . . .
 . . . and here are Troy and Evelyn.  We knew the boat ride wouldn't be very long - just under 15 minutes - so we savored and enjoyed every moment.  We saw turtles, (real) swans and lots and lots of mallard ducks.  Just like in the story!
 After our boat ride, we went on a scavenger hunt for the bronze statues that depict Mrs. Mallard with her babies.
 Julia claimed that this is her park and her special place in Boston.  I can't say I blame her!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Painting Julia's Room

Julia's room is the first bedroom to be painted.  Here's our little Sunshine in the "before" picture -
 Evelyn enjoyed taking off the outlet and light switch covers, and Julia pretended to tape off edges.
 Trimming took quite awhile because Julia's room has an entryway that's almost like a miniature hallway.  So that means there are basically eight walls to trim.  Good thing I had help!
 Before rolling on the first coat of paint, I painted a message on the wall.  Naturally, our 5-year-old reader knew what it said.  It was fun for her to know that secret message will always be on her wall.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Julia's Swimming Lessons

About three weeks ago, on our last day in Maryland, Julia began swimming completely by herself.  Shortly after moving to Massachusetts, I signed up the girls for swimming take place this week.  Julia's "class" only had two girls, and Julia really took off.
 By the end of the week, Julia had mastered every skill - front float for five seconds, back float for at least five seconds, jumping into the water, climbing out of the pool, getting objects from the bottom of the pool and supported front crawl (pictured below).
 I can't believe how quickly Julia progressed with her swimming abilities!  She has no fear of the water and is ready to move up to the next level.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Little Red Car

Once upon a time, in the year 2006, my parents got Evelyn a little red car for her 2nd birthday.  She loved driving it around our driveway in Dallas, as well as tooling around the basement of our Maryland townhouse.

Then along came Julia, who also enjoyed driving the little red car around the basement.  But she, too, outgrew the little red car.

Who would get the little red car next?  How about the girls' little Colorado?  Now, how to get it there?  Well, with a lot of planning and driving help from both my parents and Troy's parents, Lindsay got her little red car a couple of weeks ago.  Yes, Lindsay enjoys playing with her car...but the family cat (aka Chessie) gets in on the action, too.  Looks like there are two girls in Colorado who like the little red car!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Author's Tea

And now, the real reason we came to Sackets Harbor this weekend...the author's tea with Kathleen Ernst!  The girls (and their dolls) put on their tea party finery, and we headed over to the state historic site, where the tea party was set up under a tent.
 First on the agenda was the author's speech.  Evelyn and I enjoyed hearing about how she was asked by the American Girl company to develop a character who lived during the War of 1812 - what an honor!  Kathleen Ernst chose Sackets Harbor because it played a very important role on the Great Lakes during that war.  I must say, I learned a lot by reading her historical fiction books.
 After Ms. Ernst spoke, everyone was served beverages.  Naturally, Julia and Evelyn chose lemonade.  We do not own the "real" Caroline doll - her hair is too high-maintenance for me - but our miniature Caroline thoroughly enjoyed this morning's tea party.
 Each table was called to the buffet line for refreshments.  Evelyn enjoyed the little finger foods and couldn't wait to go back for seconds.
 Here's a shot of the spread, including the table setting -
 The icing on the cake was the girls getting to meet Kathleen Ernst and talk to her.  Evelyn was one of just a handful of girls who had read all seven Caroline books, and she and the author talked about their favorite parts in the different books.
Kathleen Ernst personalized her autograph in each book.  Evelyn's favorites were: "It was lovely to meet you in Sackets Harbor!" and "To Evelyn - Who loves history as much as I do!"  Visiting Sackets Harbor this weekend, and bringing historical fiction books to life, was very special to the girls.  I know it's something Evelyn will never forget.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Historical Sackets Harbor

We started our day waking up at the Marina Inn and Suites.  This inn is a real, live historical building on the water.  It was fun staying in the military barracks of Sackets Harbor - the navy is what kept this town prospering from the War of 1812 through World War II.
 This year marks the 200th anniversary of a major War of 1812 battle that was fought at Sackets Harbor.  We spent the entire day exploring this historic site.  Today was all about learning what Caroline would have experienced in this town during the war.
 We spent about an hour going through an exhibit that helped us understand what a navy sloop from 200 years ago was like.  The girls enjoyed finding answers to their kids' scavenger hunts...
 ...and there were a lot of hands-on activities for everyone.  In this picture, they are trying to lift various weights/sizes of cannonballs.  This really gave Evelyn an idea of how hard it was to work on a naval sloop.
 After all that heavy lifting, Evelyn took a break on a hammock.
 After exploring indoor exhibits for a couple of hours (and heading back to our room at the inn for lunch-time sandwiches), we headed outside to check out the battleground trails.  But first, a picture by Lake Ontario.
 The trail encircled the entire battlefield, with informative displays and signs along the way.  The girls got all excited whenever we came to a sign, especially when an artifact accompanied the sign.
 In all, I think we leisurely spent about five hours checking out everything at this historic site...and we all enjoyed it!