Tuesday, July 22, 2008


While Ken and Kim were here, we decided to take a trip to Burlington, Vermont to visit friends (Katie and Dave) and do some sightseeing. Well, ok. . .so it just happened to coincide with the Vermont Brewers Festival, but that was accidental! No planning involved! Well, maybe just a little planning on the guys' part.
But Kim and I stood our ground and made sure that if beer was going to be drunk in large quantities by the guys, we had rights too! So, just outside of Burlington, Vermont is Waterbury - Home of Ben and Jerry's! Guess where we stopped on our way there?

So, what's good at Ben and Jerry's? Well, Kim and I sampled a new flavor in honor of Elton John's first ever Vermont concert - Goodbye to Yellow Brickle Road (yum!), Tom had Coconut Seven Layer (he was in coconut heaven, but it melted really fast!), Melanie had Sweet Cream and Cookies, Kylie enjoyed a Strawberry Cheesecake milkshake and Ken had (ready for this??) Vanilla! It was fun taking the factory tour and seeing how the ice cream is made and visiting the flavor Graveyard where all the retired flavors are gone and buried, but the best part was the actual ice cream eating!

Next stop, Burlington and our hotel. I have to say it was the best hotel stay we have ever had because our room opened right up to the pool. At first they put us in a non -pool room, but because of some rowdy beer guzzling neighbors and the fact that our reservation said "pool side" I asked to be switched. I'm so glad I did because the girls had a blast and half the time had the pool to themselves. While having fun, they also worked on their swim skills. Kylie put her head ALL the way under for the first, second and third times and Melanie learned to be more confident with taking breaths while swimming without stopping to put her feet down and jumping into the deep end.

The view from our room

Our personal poolside porch

Dave and Katie did a great job finding us a babysitter so we could all enjoy the beer fest. Her name was Brianna and she is working on being a lifeguard - so perfect. She brought her suit and swam with the girls, got them ready for bed, turned on a movie and they were both asleep by 9:00. Amazing! And she cleaned our room - straightened our shoes, organized the movies and untangled the portable DVD player cords that I have been ignoring for months! I wonder if she travels to babysit????

I didn't take my camera to the beer fest, but here is how it works - you paid one flat fee and got a souvenier glass and 10 drink tickets. Then you go stand in line after line after line. You get one drink and get in the next line and drink it while you wait. By the time you get up to the front your last drink is gone. I tried many different kinds of brews, none of which I really remember the names of. Spuyten Devyl comes to mind (sour apple flavor), Pomegranate Ale was another one. Tom took a ton of pics, so you'll have to wait until his blog update for those. I left my camera behind. Luckily the drink glasses were small enough that 10 drinks really only felt like 2.

Sunday we went to breakfast with everyone; Ken, Kim, Dave, Katie and their two kids - Grace and JD. Here are some breakfast pics:

We said goodbye to our friends and then went on to do our own family activities. First up: The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. It was a fun, informative trip into how they make teddy bears and of course after the factory tour, we were let out into the gift shop where the girls were very eager to be able to take home their own genuine Vermont Teddy Bears. But at $49 each, we were strong and led them to the smaller $10 Bear-O-Gram versions of the Vermont Teddy Bears and left with a few dollars.

After the Teddy Bear factory, it started raining, so we took a break and headed back to the hotel for some pool time and naptime (Tom). Once we were refreshed we walked through the rain to the ECHO Aquarium and Science Center that sits right on Lake Champlain. We had fun digging for Beluga Whale bones, learning about the formation of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains, seeing a variety of marine animals, making a weather report, learning about Champ, the Lake's mythical creature similar to the Loch Ness Monster and making a music video (may appear on Tom's blog).

Then it was off to dinner at the Vermont Pub and Brewery. Unfortunately this was our least favorite dining experience of the weekend. Melanie was freezing cold after being in the rain and then the air conditioner, so she shivered throughout the meal and our sweet potato fries were cold. Oh well, it can't all be great. Another swim Sunday night, then to bed for us. It was a long day!

Monday we woke up early, had ANOTHER swim and then packed up to leave. Before we left Burlington we enjoyed breakfast at a cute little diner and then browsed up and down Church Street.

I had to take a picture of the table and chairs at the diner because I think we had this same set when I was a kid - maybe in a different color, right Mom?

Church Street

The Red Sqare - a place us grown ups went after the Beer Fest

After leaving Burlington we headed to Shelburne Farms. What had been a pretty nice day turned into another rain shower, but not to be deterred, we went to the farm anyway and toured the facilities. It would have been better had it not been raining because there are miles and miles of walking trails around the farm's beautiful landscape. The kids enjoyed the indoor stuff, though too. They got to pet some cows, goats, sheep and chickens, play in the farm kids' area and witness cheese making.

All in all, it was a pretty low budget (for as much as we did) and educational trip. The kids learned how to make ice cream, teddy bears and cheese (and almost Magic Hat beer, but we ran out of time for that tour).

The Fair is the thing. . .

We visit the Barnstable County Fair every year. This year we had friends from out of town join us for the day. Ken and Kim came up from Florida and usually their trip coincides with the 4th of July, but this year, they came later and were able to experience the fair. Ken's been there before, but this was a first for Kim.
Enjoying fair food

Nascar here we come!

The view from the Ferris Wheel

Kylie brave with Daddy on the Super Slide

Another view from the Ferris Wheel! (Yikes!)

Always a fair favorite - holding the baby chicks

Calling All Heroes

Last week was our church's annual Vacation Bible School. I have helped teach VBS for the last 5 years and this year was co-in charge of Bible stories and snack for 30 first through fourth graders. There were over 20 preschoolers and kindergarteners, so the oldest kindergarteners got moved up to the first grade class - Kylie included. So I had both my girls in my class, but at different times.

This year was the Veggie Tale theme - The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. These unassuming, not real piraty pirates were called on to be heroes, so the week was based on bible stories every day about unassuming heroes. The kids rotated through four different stations each day - science, games, bible story/snack and crafts. The bible story was enforced and reiterated through each of these fun activities and all you have to do is name a day and my girls could name you the bible hero, the snack and the pirate craft they made.

Monday - Moses and the burning bush
Tuesday - Gideon fights the Medianites
Wednesday - Shadrack, Meshack and Abendego and the fiery furnace
Thursday - Peter walking on water
Friday - Paul and the shipwreck
(I could remember them all off the top of my head too!)

It was a lot of work and supplies to get - the teachers had to wear costumes each day and have elaborate props as well as involved snacks, but it really was worth it to see how the kids got into the stories and enjoyed them. It was the first year that kids actually listed the Bible Stories as one of their favorite stops in the day!

The girls in their pirate gear - Booty bag (day 1), pirate bandanas (day 2), treasure chests (day 3), treasure maps (day 4) and message in a bottle (day 5)

And the underlying theme of the week was that even we can be heroes - in the way we treat people and being honest and fair. Good messages we should all remember!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Some brief updates

We have been busy of course, but I wanted to update everyone on a few little items. I did have my throat stretched last week and to sum up in a few words - He said he found 3 rings on top of each other that he stretched. I have done well recuperating and I ate steak tips tonight. Enough said.

Melanie had her long awaited GI appointment on Friday (it got moved up from August) Bad news - she's not going to have a normal functioning system for at least 3 years by doctor's estimatation. AND if it is the spinal cord causing the problems she may never have normal function unless we have it fixed surgically, but she was hopeful that it has nothing to do with the spinal cord. Good news - we can get her on a good schedule with a little bit of effort and meds.

Goodbye (for now!) to Good Friends

Friends of ours are moving to Ohio this week for the Coast Guard. Gracie has been in the same classes as Melanie ever since Kindergarten and has been in our Browine troop for the past 2 years. They've had many a playdate and really get along well. Her mother, Marti and I have become good friends as well, serving as Brownie leaders together. They will be very missed! BUT the good news is that they will be back in two years.

Another friend hosted a very fun going away party for their family over the weekend. I forgot my camera (AGAIN!), but here are some pics of Gracie at the end of school family picnic dancing with the girls.

The girls like to send emails to each other already, so I hope they can stay in touch. Everyone will miss them! Have a safe trip guys and keep us posted what's up in your lives (you'll know what's up in ours!).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy 4th!

What a great couple of days we had as a family. We did our traditional 4th of July activities starting with Tom running in the annual road race, followed by marching in the town parade, then having a picnic lunch with our friends, participating in some of the field events, then heading to the best part of the day for the kids - FOAM!

My friend, Wendy had the creative idea to have her daughter dress up as a firecracker for the parade and made costumes for Melanie and Kylie too. They sure got a lot of attention and comments. Cute!

Since Jayhawk was such a great dog all week at school, we included him for the first time in the festivities. We figured, now that he's old he should be calm enough to handle it. He started out reeeeealllly wild and energetic and several times I almost turned around and took him home, but once he got acclimated to all the people and had some exhausting running with Tom, he settled down.

We lost Kylie for a few minutes in the foam and people, but she was very brave and found a firefighter to stay with her until I found her. What a good girl!

My girls are in red - that's Sydney in blue

The first school bus in Sandwich

Whew! What a tiring day!

Ready for the egg toss

Running for foam!

Where are my kids?????!!!!????

Jayhawk gets into the fun.

There they are!

Nighttime arrives. Time for some Dale and the Duds, dancing and boat parade

No 4th of July would be complete without our annual cookout. Too bad I couldn't remember where my camera was for the party to get any pictures, but let's just say even without pics it will be a night to remember for a LONG time. Right girls?