Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day Out with Thomas - Edaville

Thomas is visiting Edaville (less than an hour from our house) this weekend and next weekend.  With today's weather picture-perfect, we decided today was the day to visit Thomas!
 This is the fifth Thomas venue we Lusters have attended, and this one just might rank first place.  In addition to all of the fun Thomas activities that are included with Day Out with Thomas, Edaville has several carnival rides that are included with the price of admission.  That's code-speak for there's always something to do, like riding this carousel (a favorite of the girls).
 Our train ride was scheduled for the afternoon, so that gave us plenty of time to wander around and take in the sights.  Or visit with Sir Topham Hatt.  At six years old, Julia was finally brave enough to stand with him on her own . . . but notice how far away she's standing from him compared to Evelyn.  Ha!
 After a tasty lunch at Edaville's on-site restaurant, it was time for our train ride with Thomas.  Julia was ready, with her train hat and whistle.
 The train ride was a scenic one, starting at the train depot . . .
 . . . through the Edaville park, and also through cranberry bogs (of which, apparently, I didn't take a picture).
 At any time during the day, you can have your picture taken with Thomas.  Our family ritual is to pose with Thomas after our train ride, which is what the girls did today.  Because of the age difference, Julia enjoyed her Day Out with Thomas more than Evelyn.  However, Evelyn is a long-time train fanatic, and she had a good time, too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Packing for the Gym and Pool

Today was the last summer day that we would spend close to six hours at the gym and pool.  The girls hung out in child care while I exercised for an hour.  Then we got all sunscreened up before heading to the pool.  A cooler filled with lunch and snacks meant we could stay through the afternoon, which is exactly what we did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Three Things

The weather has been rather toasty lately, which means the pool gets crazy-busy in the afternoons.  We girls opted to be morning pool rats today, leaving before lunch.
 After lunch, the girls did a little reading - Julia proudly reading this book on her own.
 And we rounded out our summer day with popcorn and a movie.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunny Summer Day

A warm, sunny afternoon in August?  You know where to find the girls . . .

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Morning Trains

The girls decided to bust out their Thomas train set this morning, building a monster track on the basement floor.  Well, Evelyn built while Julia played.  Then they both got into their pretend play with the Island of Sodor.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Backyard Visitor

When we saw this furry critter munching on greens by the side of the creek in the backyard, it took us a while to figure out what it was.
 Yes, we've seen groundhogs before, but not in our yard.  This pudgy fellow ate his share of leafy greens and then sauntered on into the forest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweet Dreams

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to (Summer) Normal

Julia is enrolled in swimming lessons this week.  Evelyn has passed every level of lessons, so she was my reading partner while sitting pool-side.  She's looking forward to her latest book - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Last Day at Block Island

We were kicked out of our rental at 9:30 this morning.  Our ferry ride was at 5:00 (we needed to get to the ferry dock at 4:00).  That meant we had over six hours to do more sight-seeing on Block Island before returning to the mainland.

For the third time on this trip, we tried to visit the beach at Mohegan Bluffs.
 After going down allllll those stairs and scampering down the rocks, we made it to the beach.
 I had checked the tide schedule for today, and I knew that we would have plenty of time to walk along the beach before high tide.
 I think this picture is worthy of a tourism brochure . . .
 After spending close to an hour on the beach, it was time to scale the rocks, climb the 150 stairs and mosey on through the brush, making our way back to the parking lot.  Whereas Mansion Beach was our favorite playing beach, Mohegan Bluffs was our favorite adventure beach.
 Not far from Mohegan Bluffs is the Southeast Lighthouse.  This rock shows where the lighthouse originally stood - with the Mohegan Bluffs on the left.
 The picture below was taken at the rock, and you can see how far the lighthouse was moved (in 1993), to keep it safe from the eroding shoreline.
 For a small fee, the four of us went on a short, 25-minute tour up inside the lighthouse tower.  The girls noticed how short this lighthouse was compared to other lighthouses they have been in.  Evelyn figured out why it didn't need to be very tall - it is perched high above the ocean on a bluff.  Even though the tower is only 52 feet high, the focal plane of this lighthouse is 261 feet above sea level.
 After eating lunch in New Harbor, we visited Abrams Animal Farm.  This little farm/zoo has an eclectic mix of all sorts of animals - tortoises, kangaroos, llamas, emus, ducks, rabbits and even a one-eyed zonkey (aka, a cross between a zebra and a donkey).  Since we had time to spare, we spent about an hour and a half wandering through all of the animal exhibits.  Evelyn found a creative way to feed the donkey - pour the alfalfa pellets into its open mouth.
 After checking in with the ferry, we girls ran over to the Dell's Frozen Lemonade stand to get a treat.  And what a treat it was!  While on Block Island, we had seen signs for Dell's everywhere.  But we didn't get a frozen lemonade until today.  Had we tried one sooner, that might have been all we ate!
 Our mainland-bound ferry departed promptly at 5:00.  Evelyn watched the shoreline get smaller and smaller, chatting about all the fun things she did in the past week.  Julia, on the other hand, gave Block Island a quick wave and then cuddled with Troy because she was sad to be leaving the beach.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Return to Mansion Beach

Today was our last full day on Block Island.  We all talked about which beach we wanted to spend the entire day at, and it was a unanimous vote for Mansion Beach.
 Since we got there early, we had our pick of places to set up camp.
 The girls enjoyed playing in MONSTER holes that had been left behind by yesterday's beach-goers.
Evelyn built sand cities, as usual.
 And she even braved the little waves with her pint-sized boogie board.  She got pretty good at riding the waves - it was the highlight of the day for her.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What to Do, What to Do . . .

Our initial plan today was to go to Mohegan Bluffs beach in the morning, followed by another beach in the afternoon.  I forgot to check the tide schedule to see if that would match our plans.  If you look past the girls in the picture below, you can see there's hardly any sand on the beach.  That's because the tide was coming in, and it wouldn't be high tide for another two hours.  Once we figured that out, we headed back to the rental house to work on Plan B.
 Troy and Evelyn wanted to explore the northern-most tip of the island, which included a walk to the North Lighthouse.  It was a good day for a stroll along the beach, and they enjoyed themselves.
 Julia and I weren't feeling up for a walk (my knee needed a rest, and Julia was just feeling lazy), so we stayed at the house.  Julia took advantage of the sidewalk chalk she found in the rental house, and wrote directions for all the foot traffic that passes by.
 She and I also hung out on the porch, watching all the people go by.  Julia really enjoyed listening to the comments people made about her sidewalk chalk signs.
 After lunch, we walked over to Kid Beach.  I played with one of the filters on my phone . . .
 . . . Evelyn built cities in the sand . . .
 . . . and Troy had some cuddle time with Julia.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sunset Walk on the Beach and Jetty

After eating a delicious, grilled dinner at our rental house, we walked over to the Ballard's Beach area - about a ten-minute walk.  Both girls were good sports about posing in the waning daylight.
 Sweet sisters . . .
 . . . the sun setting between two of Block Island's ferries . . .
 . . .  Evelyn and Julia walking along the jetty.

Mansion Beach

We very may well have found the best beach on Block Island today.  We had heard the Mansion Beach was gorgeous and sandy (aka, not many rocks).  We packed up snacks and lunch, along with everything else we bring to the beach, and headed to Mansion Beach.

The waves today were still fairly large; leftovers from yesterday's stormy day.  Evelyn wasn't too sure about the waves, though, especially since she has had a two-year break from playing in the ocean.
 Julia thought about the water, but she wasn't quite ready to get wet this morning.

 Lunch time!  Our usual beach fare consisted of sandwiches, chips, grapes and yogurt, along with Capri Sun or water to drink.  We timed our lunch break with sunscreen re-application time, so the sunscreen could soak in while we ate lunch.
 After lunch, Julia was all about splashing around in the water.  She didn't want to dunk her head, but she was braver than we thought she would be when it came to frolicking in the waves.
 Sand castle creations, mostly Evelyn's doing.
 Toward the end of our day, we took a stroll up the beach, heading north from Mansion Beach.   Clearly a lot more rocks (even boulders) were up this way, but that provided new places to hunt for shells and critter.
We spent a little over six hours at Mansion Beach today, and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute!