Monday, December 8, 2014

Joyful July

July is my favorite month of the year: school's out, life is a lot more relaxed, it's high summer, it's my birthday month, and we're usually in Massachusetts. We started the month out with a fun vacation in Hershey, and then the kids and I spent two weeks at my mom's house in Massachusetts, and then we spent the rest of the month at our house on Cape Cod. It was a month of special milestones: our first summer staying in our own house on the Cape, and our tenth summer in a row summer vacationing on the Cape. My children have spent time every summer of their lives on the Cape. Also, on the last day of the month it was my birthday, which is a great way to wrap up my favorite month of the year.

I'm not going to include very many pictures in this post because I plan on writing blog posts about our summer in Massachusetts within a few months, so I'll include pictures from July then, as well as more detailed posts for things that deserve posts of their own.

  • Movies I saw: Planes 2: Fire and Rescue in the theater with Sam (it was good); Contact (good and thought-provoking; my dad couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before); Gone With the Wind (I finally saw it; I can't believe I hadn't seen it before!); Eat Pray Love (the book was better).
  • Best book I read: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Biggest loss and (thank goodness) recovery: The boys' iPads were lost for a few days, somewhere beyond the boundaries of house and car, and then they were found. More about this to come!
  • Best discovery: The Wrentham Premium Outlets, not too far from my mom's. I've been to these a few times since my high-school days, but it wasn't until this summer that I realized how much I've been missing by not going there more. They've got Fossil! Kate Spade! and so many more great stores. Shopping there will now be a regularly scheduled part of my summers. 
  • Best discovery on Cape Cod: The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History does these great summer day camps for kids. Now that we have our own place and can stay on the Cape for more than two weeks, I signed the boys up for a week of camp. I was very pleased with the high quality of their programs. The kids learned so much from being out in nature, hiking out to the sea, and doing some really unique and fun activities. It was very educational and fun for them (and me, as I got some nice time to myself). 
  • Fun places I went: Hershey, PA; Southwick's Zoo; Rhode Island to visit my sister; Cape Cod.
  • Something special: I visited my grandma in her nursing home with my mom and the kids. I hadn't seen her in a few years and it was really good to see her again. Pictures and more about this to come.
  • Best get-together: Annual party with my cousins/aunts/uncles in my hometown.
Me and a few of my cousins from my mom's side.

Cousins, cousins' kids, aunts, uncles...and this isn't all of us! 
If everyone had been there this picture would be twice as big.

  • Another fun get-together: dinner with some of my best friends from high-school. We started doing this every summer after I moved halfway across the country.   

We also got together for a beach day on the Cape at one of the best beaches not only on the Cape but in the entire country, a beach that I hadn't been to yet because the parking lot is always full. I finally got to go and it was awesome! (A lot more to come about that!) 
  • Most special day for me, personally: My 34th birthday, which I'll just go ahead and blog about now. It involved lots of good things. It was a quiet, peaceful day with just Sam and my mom (John was in Rhode Island staying with Peter's parents for the week, and Peter was still in Iowa). We ate breakfast on the outdoor patio at the Keltic Kitchen. We went to my favorite (haunted!) bookstore on the Cape. Peter sent me a beautifully delicious Edible Arrangements bouquet.

Sam made me the absolute sweetest "birthday cake" I've ever received. He made this for me all on his own out of little toys and things he found in the house. See how he designed it as a tiered two-layer cake? It totally melted my heart and was my favorite thing about the whole day.

We ate dinner at Yarmouth House (my favorite restaurant on the Cape), where I ordered my favorite entree, Lazy Man's Lobster. So delicious!

After dinner we went out for ice cream...

...and ended the day with a stop at "our beach," the one near our house. I love it there.


Someone had made a sea turtle out of sand and lined its back with seashells. It was so cute and it felt like a gift of good karma. 

It was a good birthday and a good month!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Things for Friday

1. It's been a weird, busy week. For some reason I've been really tired, disorganized, unfocused, forgetful, and clumsy. A number of little things haven't gone right, day after day. It's disconcerting and I've felt very out of sorts this week. Adding to this is the fact that one of our dogs is seriously ill and I'm very worried about him. And of less significance but still bothersome is that I feel behind because we don't have a Christmas tree yet since we weren't home last weekend to get one. I don't like not having a tree up yet. It feels like there's a big void in the house. I have managed to get the house mostly decorated but not before our living room looked like this almost all week:

I really do think that sometimes we just have tough weeks or months and that's the way it is. Maybe it's cosmically appointed (I'm not totally skeptical about astrology, much to Peter's dismay), maybe not. But once I just accepted that this wasn't going to be an easy week, I've been able to deal with it better.

 2. Another downer about this week is that I had the post-vacation blues. This almost always happens to me the week after we get back from vacation. Every day I think about what we were doing on that day the week before. I've been surprised by how much I've missed Universal Studios, where we spent three days. I miss the rides, the food, the fun, and the Harry Potter butterbeer. Today I'm missing SeaWorld, which is where we were at this time last Friday. I miss our California king hotel bed and the huge jacuzzi tub that the boys had a blast bathing in. I miss not having to do housework. I guess this is something that I just need to expect and accept, that vacation withdrawal is going to happen but it only lasts a few days and it's the sign of a good vacation that's worth being nostalgic about. #firstworldproblems

3. I really miss having a formal dining room. #firstworldproblems

4. I've been CRAVING dark chocolate sea salt caramels this week. I ordered a box from Crate & Barrel on Monday and I can't wait for them to get here. They're on clearance for only $18 right now and quantities are limited so click on the link and buy a box! They are soooo good! Am I sounding like a (badly written) commercial? Sorry. I will be ripping into that box with happy abandon when they arrive, which I hope will be today, or tomorrow at the latest. After the week I've had they aren't going to last long. 
5. I've taken to wearing my loungey house pants out in public, tucked nice and snug into my comfy old, black Uggs. I don't know what's more troublesome, the fact that I'm doing that or the fact that I don't care that much that I'm doing that. I swap my house pants for nicer-looking jeans or cords for things like doctor's appointments or when I'm getting together with other people, but other than that, my collection of black and gray house pants is seeing the light of the world outside of my house more and more. They're just so comfortable, and it's just so cold outside. I love my house pants! 

Tomorrow we're going to get our Christmas tree (hallelujah!), and I'm hoping to get caught up with things and get back on track. Peter and I are planning to go see the new Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay. I'm glad this week is almost over! 

Halloween 2014

For their Halloween costumes this year, John wanted to be the Hulk, and Sam wasn't sure what he wanted to be until we went to Costco and he looked at their costumes and decided he wanted to wear the Jake and the Neverland Pirates costume. Fortunately Costco also had a great Hulk costume, so their costumes were easy to find and get this year. The only snag was that there were no pirate costumes left in Sam's size, but we found a 3T/4T, so I got it since he still wore some 4T clothes. It fit him, but it was a little tight. But it worked and he was happy!

I took Sam to a few different Halloween activities in the area that he had a lot of fun at. He's at the perfect age for things like that. John is starting to outgrow them, and he was busy with other things anyway.

We went to a party at the community center where Sam had a blast finding this way through a dark maze and playing games and picking out little prizes.

Such a sweet little pirate!

We went to the Children's Museum, where they were doing special Halloween activities and the kids were encouraged to wear their costumes. 

A rare treat (get it?)--the train room to himself!

I told you he was a sweet little pirate (despite the previous picture!).

And we went to the Halloween-themed indoor gym playtime that he always has a fun time at. One of his favorite friends from preschool was there and they had a blast running around and playing together.

I went to Sam's preschool costume parade and Halloween sing-along, where cuteness abounded.

Sam and I went to John's school parade, where you'd never know it was John behind the mask... least from the front!  

I'm so glad that schools still make the time to do fun things like this. I remember doing Halloween costume parades when I was a kid and I have a very happy memory of going to school dressed as a pretty princess, and I loved every minute of it. I'm glad that my kids get to do that too. Not the pretty princess part, but the rest. :-)

The kids can't have all the fun!
I seriously crack myself up sometimes! #funwithselfies

This was my favorite purchase of the season.
A cute little witchy owl perched on a stack of books, AND mention of a haunted house!?
So perfect!

I think our neighbors need to call an exterminator...
They do this every year and it's really cool!

I didn't have giant spiders, but I did have what I think was a good idea for when the trick-or-treaters came by. That week I'd cleaned out our playroom closet and I'd found a tube of orange glitter that we'd had for awhile. I decided to use it up by sprinkling it all over our front stoop and steps. It looked really cool and glimmery, and it stood out especially well at night. The kids who came by loved it! They left a sparkling trail of glitter up the walkway from some of it sticking to their shoes. This might become an annual tradition. Fun, festive, and most importantly, easy!

It was very cold out on Halloween and I was so glad that Peter and my dad were taking the kids out for trick-or-treating. I will always prefer staying at home to give out candy.
Sam was such a happy, excited little pirate!
John was a grumpy Hulk, which was fitting, I guess. He was excited to go out too, though.

Peter happened to get a Hulk t-shirt at work that week for being some kind of a work superhero or something, so he wore that to match with John. It was a cute coincidence. 

 We had a happy Halloween! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Visiting the Graveyard

In September for book club we read Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray, a story that is set in my city and features a graveyard and a legend that are also here. The author is local and lives nearby too. It was a good book and I recommend it. It sparked my interest in visiting this graveyard, which is only about two miles from my house. So on a beautiful fall morning (the day after we met and discussed the book), I went out to find this big historic graveyard that I didn't really even know about before. I had driven by it many times before but I had no idea how far back it stretched and how huge and historic it was.

First I went to a cemetery that turned out not to be the right one. It was small and pretty.


Then I google-mapped Oakland Cemetery and found that it was less than a minute away. When I got there I couldn't believe how big it was! It's been hiding back there past the main road this whole time, taking up many blocks worth of space. Those tricky graveyards!

I was searching for the Black Angel that is featured in the book, and I didn't have too much trouble finding it. If you want to read about the Black Angel, (and you should because it's really interesting and involves supposed curses and evil), you can here and here.

I don't think it's a beautiful statue. It's pretty creep actually. The wings are weird and the fact that it turned black is strange, and it doesn't have a kind face. But it didn't feel ominous on such a beautiful fall morning, and daring woman that I am, I DID touch it!

It was neat to see the details on the grave that were talked about in the book.

 She doesn't look like a very nice angel! But who knows, maybe she's just misunderstood?

It does look a little strange amidst all of the "normal" graves, doesn't it?

From this angle it looks like her wing is shielding a grave, perhaps her son's grave/memorial (assuming the angel is Teresa Feldevert), which is the engraved tree stump right next to her. That's a nicer way of thinking of it, isn't it?

The cemetery is HUGE and I spent a little while exploring other parts of it. 
I love the history that is in graveyards. 
I find them to be very informative and peaceful places (at least in the daytime!). 

A family of small gravestones.
 It blows my mind that we live our long, richly detailed lives and then end up like this, all contained on a stone and in a box under the ground. Of course there's much more to death and life after death than this, but as far as the earth and our bodies go, this is what remains as proof of the life we lived here.

This reminded me of the Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon.

 Oakland Cemetery is so large that it has "neighborhoods" to help keep things organized.

There's the Black Angel in the background.
I like the statue in the foreground better!

I really enjoyed going there and I plan on going back again. What a hidden gem!