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family, travel

Summer 2016 – Cooperstown, NY

It’s been so long since I’ve written that I temporarily forgot my login to WordPress!  When school got out in early May, I had no idea how little I would end up accomplishing.  This summer has been very busy with camps, baseball, softball, traveling and one more traveling adventure to come.  And then school starts!!!  There have been very few days when we have had a long summer day stretching out before us with nothing to do, so when those days have come along, I have embraced them.  Which means I have very little sewing or decorating or organizing to share on the blog but I do have some summer adventures.

Three weeks ago, we set out on our summer road trip.  We drove to Ocean City, Maryland for a week at the beach.  We also decided that this would be a good summer to go to Cooperstown, NY and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Both of the kids got into baseball and softball and were on all-star teams, they started collecting baseball cards, they’ve been watching baseball on TV…the great American pastime has been alive and well at our house this year.  We don’t know what the next two summers might be like with Pat’s schedule so this was the year.

We arrived in Cooperstown mid-afternoon and enjoyed walking around the main street.  I have been to Cooperstown before (about 13 years ago) but those memories seem to have disappeared and it was all new to me.

We parked beside this crookedest of doors…

Crooked Door in Cooperstown NY

In one store, we waited out a passing thunderstorm, browsing through shirts and books and posters and pennants and everything else baseball related.  These places make you consider decorating your whole house in “baseball chic” but I resisted the temptation.

We walked along the main street with its red brick buildings.  Over our two days I’m pretty sure we went into every shop on the street, some more than one time!

Main Street Cooperstown NY

The kids spent a lot of time looking at baseball cards.  Every shop had cards and they loved finding their favorite players and wondering if the gum would still be good in the packs from the 80s and 90s and  deciding what cards were worth their money.

Baseball Store in Cooperstown NY

We walked by Doubleday Field…there were no games the first day but we caught most of a game on the second day.  We were only chased out by another thunderstorm.
Doubleday Field

We saved the Hall of Fame for the second day so we’d have as much time as we wanted.  We probably spent five hours there with a break in the middle for lunch – ball park franks of course!

Baseball Hall of Fame

You could spend days in the museum and still not read everything or take it all in.  5 hours is a long time for 8 and 10 year olds but there was always something interesting around every corner.

Babe, Ted & Casey

The kids had bats made with their names engraved on them and we caught the game at Doubleday while waiting for them to be finished.

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One of the more interesting parts of this trip was the hotel/inn where we stayed.  I pictured it a little like the lodge from Dirty Dancing.  It didn’t quite live up those expectations.

Baseball Hotel

Breakfast Room at Baseball Hotel

It was rustic and quaint and we all appreciated the ample reading material found everywhere but not necessarily the squeaky bed and loud AC unit in the window.  The kids settled down with an encyclopedia and teacher’s edition of a life science textbook for bedtime reading.

Bedtime Reading

But there was a lot of room to have a catch in the backyard and picnic tables to eat our grocery store sandwiches when we just couldn’t handle another restaurant.

Playing Catch Behind the Baseball Hotel

And fire pits…where great effort and gasoline couldn’t overcome wet wood but the kids enjoyed their marshmallows even if they weren’t roasted.

Huge Marshmallows

Overall it was a great trip and we hope to go back in a few years with a team to play some games.  I remembered how much I love upstate New York and the gorgeous country scenery.  You forget about hills when you live in the flat land of Florida!

Now that we’re back, the kids have added their new baseball cards to their collections, are working on their renditions of Who’s on First?, and we’ve started watching a few of the baseball movies that got added to the list.

 

 

family, travel

A Beautiful Summer 2015

Summer is almost over (school starts in two weeks!) and while I planned to write a lot more in the past month, I’m so happy to say that I gave in to summer and have been enjoying it completely.  That bucket list?  We’ve checked off almost everything on it and then some.  (We still haven’t gone hunting for shark teeth or checked out a new park.)

We have travelled a lot so far.  Our first trip was a drive up the east coast to Ocean City, Maryland and then several stops on our way back to Florida.  Our second trip was to Maine and we just returned this week.  And while I wasn’t blogging, I was inspired and found so many beautiful things around me that I want to share.  Maine especially inspired me – gorgeous scenery, fresh clean air, warm days and cool evenings, family and even some history.

My parents spend their summers at their cottage on the St. Croix River.  They built it about 7 years ago in place of an older cottage where I spent many summer days exploring the same places that Jack and Casey are now exploring.  Every year I go back, it is more beautiful in my eyes.  There are many beautiful places I have lived in this country, but I’m always comparing it to this:

St. Croix Island from the beach at low tide

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or this:

Meddybemps Lake (no editing – that’s pure beautiful color)

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family, travel

Maine 2014 – First Days

So…this summer after school got out we moved to Tampa, Florida.

Then we drove to Virginia and spent a week there.

Then we drove to Ocean City, MD and spent a week there.

Then we drove back to Tampa.

Then we flew to Maine.  And this post is a little bit about Maine.

One of the great things about our new city is that there is a direct flight from here to Bangor, Maine, and it is not at 6am!  And it is a great deal.  The drawback was a 40lb weight limit on our suitcase and they (Allegiant Airline) charge for carry-on bags that fit in the overhead.  My suitcase weighed in at 40.9…if it hits 41, they charge you extra.  (I knew the weight was close to 40 and I had some things I could have thrown in my “personal item” to avoid the over weight fee.)

Three hours of iPad and kindle time and we were in Maine by supper time.  Mum picked us up at the airport and we stopped in Brewer and dined with a great view of the Penobscot River.

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Casey couldn’t wait to show Grammie all of her gymnastics moves and soon enough she had hopped the railing to flip around in the grass.  Jack joined her and then they started playing like kids who were cooped up in a plane for three hours.

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The next day we finally got to meet Miss Cora T Brown.  I am lucky to be her Auntie and Casey and Jack are excited to have a new cousin.  Casey wanted to hold her and play with her and take care of her, in her own special 6 year old way.

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Cora doesn’t like it when she is sitting still, so Casey is working on her “mom bounce” so she can hold Cora a little longer before she starts crying.

Cora came out to lunch with us and then hung out in the Wal-Mart parking lot while I purchased some “necessary” items for Casey.  About half an hour before we left Tampa, Casey told me she really wanted to learn to crochet and she wanted a crochet hook to bring to Maine.  I own one, but I had no idea where it was so it didn’t make the trip with us.  Luckily, Wal-Mart provided us with the hooks and yarn we needed and Casey learned to crochet, despite her left-handed teacher.  She even brought it to the concert in the park that evening and kept on working on her really really long chain.  One day we’ll figure out how to make the second row!

That chain came in pretty handy on our last day in Maine, as Casey insisted on wearing pants that were way too big.  We wrapped her new “belt” around her about three times and she managed to keep the pants on all day!

 

 

family, travel

Fall Break – St. Louis

Last week the kids had a week off from school for fall break.  We didn’t have any big plans at first but then we decided on a few days in St. Louis.  I figured I might be ready to get out of the house by Thursday!

We left Memphis Thursday morning and made it to St. Louis for lunch.  Then we went to the City Museum.  This museum made me wish I could be a kid again.  I don’t think I could have imagined a playground better than this.  I can’t even come up with the words to describe it but it was a really fun combination of tunnels, slides, hidden passageways, and ladders.  We stayed until closing time and the kids weren’t anywhere near bored.  We almost missed a whole section of the museum (with a 10 story slide!) that was in a cave like area that we hadn’t explored yet.  When we left, Casey said it was the most awesome place she had been.

View of city from top of City Museum

On Friday, we explored downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch.  We couldn’t go up in the Arch because it was shutdown with the government but it’s pretty amazing to just look at it from within the beautiful park surroundings.  You could also walk right down to the edge of Mississippi River which turned out to be pretty fun for the kids.  They were pretty happy to throw sticks in the river and play in the random bits of sand.  Even I was excited to actually put my hand in the mighty Mississippi.

At the base of the Arch
Touching the Mississippi River
Getting ready to build a raft a la Tom Sawyer
Had to find a bigger stick than Jack’s
Red fountains near stadium
Next we toured Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.  I wouldn’t say this was the kids’ favorite part, but it was fun to check out the dugout and all the posh places people with the good tickets can hang out.  We learned quite a bit of team history and St. Louis has a lot of pride in their baseball past.  

We originally wanted to go to St. Louis in the summer and catch a Cardinals game while we were there.  (Pat generally likes to plan our trips around sports events.)  Since it was post season, we didn’t think we were going to catch a game this trip.  But…turns out the Cards made it to the NLCS and the first game was in St. Louis on Friday night.  After our stadium tour, we could see fans starting to stream into the city with their red shirts.  And also after our stadium tour, Pat wanted to see this game more than ever.  There were scalpers on every corner but Pat was able to get two pretty good tickets for him and Jack through the Cardinals ticket site on game day.

We headed to the St. Louis Zoo in the afternoon but the kids were tired so it was a quick trip.  They seemed to have plenty of energy for the pool after though.

Baby elephant bum in the middle

I promised Casey that she and I would go on a date and go shopping if Pat & Jack went to the game.  She had fallen in love with a cute little Cardinals shirt and skirt in the team store so I told her we’d find an outfit on our date.  Even when it was possible that Pat could get four tickets, Casey wanted to go on our date instead.  We went to Trader Joe’s, World Market and then Target.  Casey loved looking at all the clothes and I loved some of the bargains we found.

Fashionista!

Pat and Jack ended up at the longest League Championship Series game ever!  They didn’t get back to the hotel until 1am…but they had a blast.  Pat said there was an 11 year old boy beside them and he and Jack became fast friends and helped each other stay up so late.  It was an awesome experience for both Pat and Jack.  Jack wanted to know if we could fly to Los Angeles to watch Game 3.

When we left town on Saturday morning, Casey was crying she was so sad to leave.  Our hotel turned out to be great – the Drury Inn Union Station.  It had free breakfast and dinner, was only a mile from downtown and was right beside the beautiful Union Station.  We could see the old train tracks out our window.  (Also, I was impressed that our room had windows on 2 sides…we had a great corner room.)

On our way out of town, we stopped at Grant’s Farm and saw some Clydesdale horses, fed some camels and enjoyed the tram ride around the park.

 

family, travel

A Trip to Shiloh Battlefield

One of my contributions to our summer “bucket list” was to make the trip to the Shiloh Battlefield.  A few months ago, I started reading A Blaze of Glory by Jeff Shaara about the Battle of Shiloh and realized that it is only 2 hours from us.  (Still haven’t finished the book though.)  And since we might not live in this area of the country again, I decided I wanted to go there before we leave.  For a week or two our weather was unseasonably cool – meaning not 100 degrees! – and we had a free weekend, so I decided we should make a little trip last Saturday.

In the Battle of Shiloh the Confederate Army (the Army of the Mississippi) under General Johnston attacked the Union Army (the Army of the Tennessee) under General Ulysses Grant, with fighting starting near Shiloh Church.  The Confederates almost surprised the Union and made great gains the first day.  However, the Union Army of the Ohio under General Buell arrived and the Union was able to overwhelm the Confederates on the second day.  It is one of the bloodiest battles on American soil with over 26,000 casualties.

Shiloh Church (rebuilt)

This is the first Civil War battlefield that I have been to so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I was impressed.  I knew that I might not be able to read and look around and absorb as much as I wanted to with the kids (and Pat) in tow but it was very easy to figure out the layout of the battlefield and figure out where the different armies were at what times.

I guess Casey was mid-sneeze here
Around the park, states have erected monuments to those who served in various regiments or to commemorate all of the soldiers from the state.  The type of monument that Jack and Casey are posing on above marks the location of headquarters for various brigades or divisions.

There was a Junior Ranger Program for the kids and they had to fill out 8 different activities from their booklets.  Some of them they could do themselves, but by the end Pat and I felt like we were doing homework.  There is a driving tour of the park with different stops and we had to stop at various ones to answer different questions.  I think I was the only one hopping out of the car by the end.

The monument above is the Confederate Monument and was one of the first stops in our driving tour.  It is full of symbolism and was really very interesting.  Thanks to the Junior Ranger Questions for making us stop and learn more about it.  There is a woman in the center who represents Defeated Victory and she is surrendering the laurel wreath to Death and Night (on her right and left.)  There is an infantryman holding a flag as a symbol of defiance to the Union Army and a calvaryman spreading his hands in frustration because they were unable to penetrate the dense woods during battle.  Underneath the women in the center is General Johnston (who died during the 1st day of battle).  The profiles of the soldiers on one side are happy as the Confederates were winning after the 1st day of battle.  Their heads are bowed and defeated looking after the second day when the Union army of General Buell reached the area and along with General Grant pushed the Confederates back and they eventually left for Corinth, MS.

Confederate cannons lined up firing into the “Hornets Nest”
Also on Saturday, there was a special cannon firing demonstration.  There were re-enactors and a park rangers talked through all the steps of firing a cannon and what everyone’s job was in between the 3 firings of the cannon.  The kids both seemed to enjoy watching how it all worked and I learned how it all worked too.

After our walking and driving tour of the park, we headed to Pickwick State Park to check it out.  Pat had heard that we could rent a pontoon boat and we make a half hearted attempt to find the rental area, but it was getting kind of late in the day.  Instead, we found a swimming area in Pickwick Lake and a playground that interested the kids so we went in that direction.  Jack didn’t want to swim – he said to me a few days ago that “I only swim in pools and oceans, not lakes and rivers.”  But Casey had a blast swimming around and I almost wished I had put my bathing suit on…it was nice and warm.  The people watching was very entertaining as well.

A couple hours later and we were back home, filled with new Civil War knowledge and a couple ticks we picked up along the way.  Now that I’ve seen the battlefield, I’m going to finally finish up the book!