Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family of Happy Campers!

Five days of camping. Five kids. One car JAMMED to the roof. Now that's a vacation!

We decided to go camping this summer and chose our location SOLELY on the benefits of these photos: A pirate ship water slide at the campground pool! We were lucky that David agreed to come with us and he was AMAZING at helping out and making everything possible, especially after Chris had to go back to work and I was left with only two hands and four small campers! For the first four days of vacation, Eamon REFUSED to go in the pool past the stairs (his usual) and simply COULD NOT be enticed to try out the water slides. But by the last day, somehow David wielded his magic and Eamon finally went down! He still looked fairly terrified clutching onto David's neck the first few times but he asked to go on over and over all day which was a big deal for him!

I couldn't seem to wrap my head around tent camping with newly crawling Sadie so we rented a cabin instead. It provided a safe place for her to play rather than eating all the pine needles, rocks and twigs she so desperately preferred! It also proved to be invaluable the night it poured ALL NIGHT LONG! The bunk beds, fire and hammock proved to be the most fun for all the kids, though I was amazed at how much they enjoyed playing with some cheap toys I bought... Barrel of Monkeys has withstood the test of time, I guess, it was the biggest hit all week!

Our first adventure was up the Tramway at Cannon Mountain. We took the "Mustard" tram in the middle! It was VERY foggy at the top but we did hike around the loop and managed to come down with all the kids which was impressive considering how often we had to remind them to get away from the edge of the sheer-drop cliffs! Sadie had a cushy ride in the backpack where she spent most of the day! I don't know WHAT possessed the boys to exhibit their best "Rockstar hands" in every photo, but that's pretty much the way the whole week went. Every once in a while Eamon would mix it up and give me the thumbs up instead!

Our next adventure was hiking up Flume Gorge which was beautiful, although it was an overcast day and not the best for taking photos. After a couple hours of begging the boys to stay on the trail and not climb over anything that would lead to certain death, we were more emotionally drained than physically tired, but they all made it up and down in one piece! Liam, in particular, was obsessed with climbing up any rock face he could find and with all the glacial rock formations around, he was in heaven!

The boys very much enjoyed exploring the "Bear Cave" but weren't lucky enough (in their minds) to find any furry inhabitants this time. When we left for vacation, we had a bear in our own backyard so seeing a bear wasn't exactly a novel occurrence at this point in the summer!

After a night of sleeping like the dead, we trotted out to Clark's Tradingpost for the day. First stop: the bear show and circus acts. Apparently they train their bears by giving them ice cream (that day it was black raspberry). Bears and boys must be pretty similar because I kept their behavior in check all day with the promise of an ice cream later in the day! Sadie was her usual happy self even though it was pretty chilly and rainy all day. After an entire night of downpours, we were happy that the rain slowed to a mist and actually made for a better day since it wasn't nearly as crowded as usual.
Eamon's absolute favorite part of vacation was the train ride at Clark's which took us out into the forest... inhabited by none other than the angry pirate-patch-wearing trespasser-hating Wolf Man. The boys (even Colin) really believed he was a Wolf Man that lived in the woods and jumped every time he exploded a bomb or shot off his rifle in our direction. Mostly, Liam enjoyed yelling "Scram, you old goat" as per the train conductor's instructions! They boys also tried their hand (and feet) at the Old Man of the Mountain climbing wall and the Spraying Bumper Boats. Colin had one moment of despair when he discovered he was a fraction of an inch too short to ride the Segways, but David took a few turns on them and had a ball.

Eamon didn't weigh enough for the big climbing wall so he took on the little one instead. In the last photo, you can see he climbed up to the top, then got stuck. I, of course, took my sweet time getting him down because I wanted to take a picture first! He didn't seem any worse for it at the end!

We wrapped up the day getting our photo done by channeling our inner Davy Crockett. The boys are in love with this song from They Might Be Giants so they insisted on this set up. Mostly, I think, they just wanted to each carry their own gun! We left Clark's with a bunch of "smoking" cap guns and Eamon got a cork-popping rifle. There has been a LOT of cowboy encounters around here ever since!

The entire of the next day we ventured to Storyland where the kids rode every single ride in the park and loved every minute. Thanks to David, who took Eamon on all the rides while I had to stay on the ground with Sadie. I forgot the camera in the car, but here they are on the Bamboo Shutes water ride! The rest of vacation finally provided a little bit of relaxation around the campground. Lots of swimming, arcade-playing and playgrounding abounded! We're happy to be home, getting organized and recharging our batteries a bit before school starts next week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How are we doing? Just beachy!

Summer has been SO busy that I haven't even found a moment to update our goings on. In the biggest news, Little Miss is now crawling around like crazy, necessitating the vacuuming up of crumbs, tiny Legos (she tried to eat the helmet off a tiny Storm Trooper), bits of leaves, paper and anything else she can shove into her little bird mouth multiple times a day. Here she is the first day she moved from the Combat Crawl to full-tilt up on her knees forward-moving mobility!The rest of the month of July was taken up trying to get in as much beach time as possible. We got to visit with lots of friends all over... at the ocean, at the State Park, kayaking on a lake. Anywhere you can find water and sand, the Arnold Clan can be found too!
Sadie loved the beach from beginning to end! She would have stayed in the water all day if I let her. It was a nice protected cove with very few waves (much to Colin's chagrin--next year we may have to venture out to a beach where he can use his boogie board for more than bobbing around in waves smaller than he produces in a typical bath with his brothers! Eamon, as usual, went up to his belly and called it good and spent the rest of the day digging and building and playing in the sand. Liam built a very hard-wrought concoction that involved a lot of seagull feathers that he scoured the beach for... and he also learned to swim entirely underwater which he practiced all afternoon!
Here's a few photos of the rest of our beach time... some at the local state park where Liam tried his hand at snorkeling (minus the snorkel, of course!) and the rest at my friend Stacy's house on a lake where the boys were THRILLED that she let them borrow her kayak. Ever since last summer, they have been BEGGING for a kayak. I even convinced Eamon to take a quick jaunt out around the lake with me which is big news because he does NOT love the water. Not one bit! Sadie showed off her ability to nap ANYWHERE, which she does pretty much EVERYWHERE we go. Eamon and I had time to build a sand castle since his brothers were otherwise disposed most of the day which we both enjoyed, even though he knocked the towers down faster than I could build them up. The boys even found time to WORK TOGETHER (can you believe it?) to construct a levee that they let Eamon flood over and over with glee. It suddenly occurred to me today that school starts in a week and our beachy days will soon be over, but we've enjoyed them while they lasted!