Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Catskills

I made Matt pull over so I could take a photo of this waterfall. It was along a small road through the Catskills park off the beaten path.

This past weekend we went camping in the Catskills. We camped at a beautiful and secluded campground. The Catskills region was our 2nd stop on our tour of the 3 potential places we are researching to buy a vacation home. Of course, the purchasing of a vacation home is some time off (like a few years) but we want to get an idea. I think after our weekend that the Catskills region is officially the winner. There is hiking, mountain streams to swim in, lovely mountain views and skiing. We can also get a few acres and compared to our other two options, the price is right.

We spent the majority of the weekend with a realtor looking at places for sale. Right now, it is hard to find a house that is not for sale. There are plenty of options out there. Chloe was such a trooper spending her weekend with her crazy parents looking at houses. Eventhough we aren't ready to buy we got a great idea of the options available to us, areas we want to look in and what we want in our retreat.

This could be our view from our vacation home.
On Sunday morning, four thunderstorms came through in the early hours. I have never in my life heard such commotion. I couldn't sleep and kept getting up and pacing the RV. It literally sounded like there were giant cymbals being smashed into our RV. Oddly, Chloe slept through 3 of the storms and only woke up during the slightest thunder clap during the last storm.

The day after the storms. Chloe and Matt are giving their "sun & moon" salute.

We are planning on returning back to the Catskills in a couple of weeks to actually hike and enjoy the area. Its our new favorite.



Friday, July 25, 2008

"Na-loe" and my dead insulin pump



Chloe modeling her soccer shirt. This was a gift from some of Matt's co-workers.

Chloe is back to camp this week. Our neighbor's son, Nate, who is Chloe's age, is also going. In an effort to conserve gas and time, we decided to carpool. I take the kids in the morning to camp and my neighbor picks them up in the afternoon.

Carpooling this week has turned out to be the funniest and most tiring event ever. Sitting in the back, Chloe and Nate are like an old married couple. Every day this week they start up with the same conversation they had the day before. Chloe declares that the princess seat is HERS, Nate could care less. They then begin talking about animals and which animals would then make the best monsters. Thursday, however, Chloe wanted to listen to Hi*gh Scho*ol Musi*cal on her I-Po*d. She immediately turned it on as soon as we left the house. Nate, obviously not a HSM aficionado, looked dumbfounded for a minute then began talking to Chloe just as he had every morning before about elephants as monsters. Chloe was engrossed in the I-Po*d and wasn't listening to Nate. Next thing I hear is Nate saying, "Hey, you're not listening to me...put that away and listen to me!". I had to intervene and turn it off.

As any of you who have carpooled kids before know, every afternoon on the way home Chloe and Nate would devise a play date and declare that they were going to one or the others house to play. This week has turned into a Chloe and Nate love fest. I think they might possibly ask for a sleepover next! So, it was Nate's dad that came up with "Na-loe" for the pair. That's how we have been referring to them. They are inseparable this week, which is really funny because we have a weekly playgroup together and they don't get along there. Can't wait to see next week's playgroup.

In other news, my insulin pump decided to kill itself off yesterday afternoon and perform a "fatal error" while I was priming it with more insulin. I immediately called my insulin pump provider and they overnight-ed me a new pump. But, let me tell you returning to shots for 18 hours while I waited for my new pump does not a happy camper make. I am on a quick-acting insulin which is the closest man-made insulin to what our own pancreas produces (well, at least your pancreas dear reader, I got a fatal error with my pancreas some time ago and it stopped producing insulin--hence the juvenile/type I diabetes). This means that when you go back to sticking yourself with needles of insulin you have to do so every couple of hours which makes a full night's rest impossible.

To add insult to injury, U*P*S could possibly have developed the dumbest & most useless tracking system known to man. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. I received a computer phone call from said carrier that an important next day air package had been mail from my pump provider and someone needed to be home to sign for it. The very important package (which was my new pump) would arrive between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and to remain home. I could also press 1 for the tracking number. I did so, got the tracking number, went to website, entered the tracking number to find out what I already knew, that it was en-route and would be delivered some time today.

Now, I knew from my pump provider that they spent the big bucks for delivery and that my pump should arrive at my doorstep before 10:30 a.m. so U*P*S info of before 5:30 p.m. wasn't the most useful. I went about my daily morning routine which was interrupted every 30 minutes with the same "update" telephone call from U*P*S. Is this system a joke? Do they like to harass their next day air customers with this useless update? I am fairly certain that U*P*S had that phone call update system devised by the same person that completed the service reminder phone call for my oil/furnace provider. Seriously, other than blurring their logo, erasing our address, all I got was this....
Apparently, they are coming to my house anytime between now and eternity. Convenient for you?

Nevertheless, the package arrived at 9:50 a.m. When the U*P*S man arrived bearing my new pump I was elated if not exasperated by their constant phone calls and I began singing the Hallelujah chorus! I was so happy until I went to program my insulin rates (basal rates) into my new pump and realized my old pump took all my rates with it when it died. So, I am still on the old-fashioned injections until my doctor calls me back with my basal rates. UGH!

There is one person enjoying all this, Chloe. Every time I go to test my blood sugar and take an injection she comes running, "Wait for me, wait for me!" and she must watch the entire procedure. She told me yesterday afternoon that she wants an insulin pump. "What for?!" I asked. "Because I do," was her response. "No you don't. That would mean you would have to get diabetes and you don't want that," I told her. "Why not?" she asked. "Because you don't," was all I could muster.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Entertainment for a 4 Year Old

Chloe returns to camp next week so I will not be continually scrambling to entertain her. We did have a good week together but all the planning I had done for the week went out the window thanks to the hot weather. I had many outdoor excursions planned but had to scrap them as the temperatures were in the mid-90s and the ever-present humidity made it feel even hotter.

I wrote about going to the movies on Monday in my last post. Tuesday I went to my bootcamp workout and Chloe played in play care. Wednesday we went to the pool with friends and Chloe had a blast. Thursday was another bootcamp workout and listening to Chloe beg and beg to go to the park to play. It was only 95 degrees outside. We drove to a nearby park to discover it was deserted and so we returned home with the promise that we would go to the playground at the park first thing Friday morning. So, Friday morning found us at the park and the pool in the afternoon--this was Chloe's favorite day needless to say.

Even though my plans did workout, I did have fun with Chloe at home all day. We played together and colored together. It was great bonding time that we haven't had a lot of since the start of pre-school last fall.

Chloe showing off her Little Mermai*d press-on nails during "dress up" one day.

This weekend was also a scorcher. We went to breakfast as a family on Saturday and then headed into Matt's office in NYC to hang the portraits of Chloe he got for Father's Day. They were way too big to carry on the subway, so we made a day of it and went into the city in the morning before it got too hot.


The walls of the office where Matt works is covered in artwork. Some of it quite famous. Chloe loves wandering the hallway and giving her 4-year old critique of the artwork. Let's just say she like modern art, especially the art with the "blobs" of paint all over them---"it's funny" is her commentary. But, with all the art on the walls, she can focus in on the "famous" painting, dragging me down the hall to show me a painting she remembered and liked from her last visit to Daddy's office. It was a Ja*sper Jo*hns.

After our art tour at Matt's office we walked a couple of blocks over to this place. It was Matt's first visit. He didn't get it but he was a trooper and looked with Chloe as she picked out outfits for her dolls, Ivy and Kylie. The visit was courtesy of Nana in England. So, Chloe thanks you Nana for the outfits. It kept her entertained for hours dressing her dolls.

When it started to get really hot we escaped the city and headed to the movies to see Ku*ng F*u Pa*nda. We had promised Chloe that we would all go to see it. I have to say, I loved it. One of the best movies I have seen all year. Can't wait for it on DVD. Oh, Chloe enjoyed it too.

Matt had autocross the weekend. He is vying for one of the 10 spots in the Por*sche Club race for "best driver of the year" honors. Chloe and I brought him lunch but as there was no shade around we didn't stay for long in the heat of the day. Once Matt returned home from racing we aired up an inflatable slide/pool for Chloe to enjoy in the backyard. She had fun sliding and splashing and I took tons of photos of her having fun.








Our garden is coming along nicely. We are growing a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes. In a short time I should also have more eggplants than I know what to do with. Below are the most up to date garden photos. I post them so PaPaw can tell me what needs to be done.
The garden.

The onions, which I haven't pulled up yet because it is so stinkin' hot outside.
The cherry tomatoes. They are still green so it may be hard to see them.

The roma tomatoes. Still waiting for these to ripen too!

The eggplants.

The bell peppers, which we are still waiting on.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Camp Week


Its day one of Camp Mommy and I am already out of ideas thanks to the rain. Chloe has no camp, no doctor's appointments, no nothing this week so it is up to me to keep her entertained. Several weeks ago I made a list of each day's activities. Today I had planned that we would go to the U-Pick farm for berries. Well, we managed to squeeze that in last week. So, I thought we could spend the day doing one of Chloe's favorite activities, swimming. Unfortunately mother nature was against swimming.

After tackling the piles of laundry this morning (and stalling for time) I suggested Chloe and I spend our rainy day at the movies. Because Matt wants to see K*ung F*u P*anda with us, Chloe and I chose to see W*all*E.
Now, before we went, I did my homework, read reviews, went to the movie site, showed it to Chloe told her the synopsis of the movie and some of the trailers on line. I wasn't dissapointed in the movie, the movie was great. It was sweet, entertaining, funny, etc. Unfortunately, I learned some valuable lessons today from my movie-going experience-
  • Going to the movies now rivals the cost of a child-themed amusement park once you factor in snacks. Lesson learned: never go to the movies at lunch time.

  • Taking a four-year old to the movies can be hit or miss. I thought Chloe could handle an hour and a half long movie but failed to factor in the 30 minute child-show created by the theatre at the opening, the 15 minutes of movie trailers and the 5 minute animation prior to the movie starting. Lesson learned: Chloe was ready to go as soon as the movie started. We hadn't even met the main character when she asked, "When is this movie over?"

  • The majority of animated movies made nowadays are made for adults with humor in them that has nothing to do with the content of the movie. Children can follow along well-enough and get site gags, but the majority of the humor is aimed at adults as it is over kids heads. Lesson learned: Be prepared to explain to your child why you are laughing at the movie.

Chloe says she liked the movie (even though she told me she wanted to go home and play 15 minutes into it) and that she wants to go to the movies again this weekend as she really wants to see K*ung F*u P*anda. We'll see how that one goes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NJ Camping


We decided to stay a little closer to home this camping season and this past weekend was no exception. We went to campground in northwestern NJ in the Kittaninny Mountains. One thing I can say for certain about NJ is that it gets a bad rap. Sure there are parts that are shockingly ugly but I find there are more parts that are stunningly beautiful.

Our campground was in the mountains and had picturesque views. The campground is also a working farm and there was plenty of farm animals to pet and look at, which kept Chloe entertained. Of course, the pool won Chloe's affection, even though it was very cold.
The campground was full of seasonal visitors who keep their park model RV's on site permanently. Most were snowbirds who went south for the winter and returned north for the summer. The park model vacation homes intrigued me and so Saturday morning we went to tour some of the models. Matt and I decided that were not done with the RV roaming yet, but if we ever find a piece of property we like (not in a RV campground) the park model option could be a cost effective way to go until we can build to suit.
During our get away this weekend, we swam in the pool (of course), visited a nearby ski resort and terrain park and toured the scenic countryside. We decided the area is on our list of places we would like to have a vacation/retreat home. We have two more areas to visit this camping season---one in NY and one in PA, so we shall see which of the three make it to the top of the list.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Berry Picking


On a whim, Chloe and I went raspberry and blueberry picking today. Eventhough Chloe would say she prefers eating raspberries to blueberries it didn't take her long to figure out that she preferred picking blueberries to raspberries once she met the scratchy raspberry bushes.
We went to the same U-Pick farm we went to in June. When we went in to the farm store to tell them that we were going to pick berries, they handed us around 8 containers for the berries. Chloe was determined to fill everyone with berries. It was hot and we managed to fill 2 of the containers in 45 minutes--one with blueberries and one with raspberries.

We had grand plans of picking berries and making jam. To get enough raspberries I would be out picking for hours. Going out and picking your own truly makes you appreciate the sweat equity that goes into farming.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Back From an Awesome Vacation

We've just returned from our week long sojourn to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We went to the Outer Banks last year during the same time--you can read about that trip here. The trip is organized by a long-time friend of Matt's. Last year we had two houses and many people. This year we only had one house and about 9 families. In total, about 35 people stayed in the house--15 of those people were children. The house is always awesome. This year the house had numerous bedrooms, a game room, its own pier to the beach, pool, 2 hot tubs, sauna and outside cabana.





Photos of the beach house.


The vacation began on Friday afternoon. Chloe and I dropped Lizzie off at doggie camp and rushed to pick up Matt. After a rain delay we were on our way to Matt's friend Tom's home outside Fredricksburg, VA, to stay the evening. We arrived late in the evening and after some nightcaps we all called it a night. In the morning, we toured the farm and took a stroll in the woods to the Rappahannock River.


Chloe and Matt meeting "Pete", one of Tom's horses.

Chloe and one of the farm cats.

Chloe and Tom discovered a turtle along the trail on our walk in the woods.

Surviving the walk in the woods---notice how ill-prepared I was with my "fit flops" on.

Around lunchtime on Saturday we left Tom's and headed to the Outer Banks. Because of traffic we arrived around 7 p.m. Everyone else had arrived at the house and the party was on.

One of the great things about renting the house with so many other families is what we term "community parenting" while we are on vacation. We know all the children, they get along great and we all step up and take shifts watching the kids in the pool, around the house or at the beach.

Looking down from our pier at the group on the beach.

When we arrived, Jen took Chloe out to the pool while Matt and I unloaded the car and unpacked. Chloe announced her arrival to everyone, said her hellos and was off playing with the other kids in no time. The week was so relaxed and fun.


Most days we woke up, all met upstairs in the main kitchen for breakfast, dressed in our bathing suits and headed to the beach for a couple of hours. When the kids tired of the beach we walked back up our own private pier and went into the pool where we had lunch poolside. Every other day the men would play golf in the morning and by lunch they would return to play with the kids in the pool. Most afternoons were spent playing in the pool and listening to music. During the late afternoon the adults would play in the water volleyball tournament and the kids cheered their parents on. Every other evening after dinner we would make an ice cream run with the kids.


During the week the ladies went out to breakfast and hit the outlet mall. It was nice to get out of the house and have a morning out with the girls. Also during the week Matt took up kite flying. We went to the sand dunes one day and Matt tried out some tricks.

Chloe and Matt flying her kite on the beach.

Also during the week the entire crew rented a boat and went out for a dolphin watch in the sound. The dolphins would swim in pods right by the boat. We also took the kids to bumper boats, which was a hit.

Chloe and Jillian playing in the sand at the beach.

On our last night, July 4th, we descended on a very nice seafood restaurant which turned out to be one of the best nights of the week. Each child was given the task of drawing their favorite activity of the week. Chloe's was the fireworks (which hadn't occurred yet) and swimming in the pool. After dinner we went back to the beach house and watched fireworks from the beach as we had our own personal fireworks show.

Some of the children as we waited by the sound for our dinner table on July 4th.

It was a great week. We wished we could stay longer.

The family shot.

 
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