Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things (Still!)

My little 2-year-old has taken to saying every night at bedtime (as I am trying to slink out the door), “Mommy, guess what?” (which sounds more like “Mommy, guessa Hwhat?” And because it sounds SO adorable, I respond every time, “What, baby?” And then she rattles off some mumbled unintelligible string of words as a response (partially muffled by her “binky”). This goes on at least 3 or 4 times a night as I close the door ever so slightly until it is finally closed, and then after a few minutes she drifts off to sleep. Not sure where the Guess What thing came from, but I love it!

My 7-1/2 year old was drinking a bottle of Poland Spring water over the weekend, and we bought the kind that are shaped almost like the old Coca-Cola bottles and they claim to be more eco-friendly because there is less plastic. Anyway, she says to me, “Mommy, what does echo friendly mean?” And before I can answer, she holds the bottle up to her mouth and she says into it, “Hello? Hello?” – listening for the echo! Classic!

My littlest one constantly says things with a panic stricken voice and occasionally has her two little hands pressed to her cheeks (think Macauley Culkin in the first “Home Alone” movie) – she says things like, “OH NO!” and “OH GOSH!” But with the sweetest little voice! She also says this a lot at the store if she hears a baby crying – and she seems to have finely tuned radar for crying babies! She’ll say (with the hands on her cheeks), “Oh no! Baby’s cryning!” (With the extra “n” in there – very sweet!) For her birthday, Grandpa and Gramby gave her a baby and a baby doll cradle. The baby has a battery pack and it will cry when it is hungry – when it’s crying she does the same routine as if it were a real baby “cryning” in the store – thankfully, this baby has an on/off switch! The other night she was putting her baby to bed in her doll cradle and for some reason, once she tucked the baby in under the blanket, she stepped into the cradle with both feet and stood over the baby! I said, “Oh no, sweetie! You are the Mommy – you don’t go in the cradle! You never see Mommy climb into YOUR crib, right?” Fortunately, at least for the time-being, she seemed to follow that logic!

The morning of our trip to Long Island, my littlest one woke up sick – I mean, throw up in your bed in the middle of the night sick… I made an appointment to take her in to the doctor that morning, and while I was getting her ready, my older girlie was bouncing off the walls excited about our trip. I told her, “Honey, don’t get too excited yet, because your sister is sick and if the doctor says she shouldn’t go…” And I kind of trailed off so that she could come to her own conclusion. And she did – she said (in all seriousness), “You mean, it would just be the three of us that would go?’ Um, yes. Yes, it would. We would leave your sick, 2-year-old sister home by herself all weekend – just her and the cat, celebrating her 2nd birthday! Fortunately, her fever was down and a rapid strep test came back negative and her ears were free from infection, so the doctor gave us a stamp of approval to go – and she was great, didn’t get sick at all! Thank heavens we didn’t have to leave her home alone! ;)

Last one – this afternoon my little girlie woke up from her afternoon nap and she called to my husband, “Hi Daddy! I’m back!”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Twinkle Toes

In an effort to get our 7-year-old out of the house and doing fun things this summer, we signed her and her little sister up for a "Me and My Sister" dance camp at her dance studio. We were all excited for class to start tomorrow night, and we had our newest little dancer's ballet slippers and dance costume all laid out and ready to go! Unfortunately, their teacher and the studio owner, "Miss Denise" called me at work today to say that she had been holding out hoping for more interest in the class, but sadly there were not enough dancers to hold the class!

She did, however, let us know that she had a 2 to 3-year-old class starting tonight for four weeks (like the other camp) and invited our littlest girlie to join in. As I said, we really were signed up to get our older daughter involved this summer, and had pretty low expectations for our little one to be interested in the class if her sister was not there. I talked to my older daughter this afternoon to make sure that she would not be too upset if her sister went to class without her. She was disappointed that they wouldn't be dancing together, but she was ok with with the little girlie going to class without her. When I got home tonight, both girls were all dressed in their leotards and ballet shoes and all four of us hopped in the van and headed over to class.

Miss Denise was wonderful -- she saw our older daughter in her leotard and asked her to be the class helper (helping to put shoes on the little dancers, demonstrate the dance steps, and frankly, my girl even volunteered to step on a little spider that was scaring one of the little girls!). My littlest one was a little shy at first, but she warmed right up, never cried once (there were a couple other girls crying in the beginning), and I could see through the studio window that she followed most of what Miss Denise taught them. And, although I was worried that she wouldn't want to dance without her big sister, she brushed off all "mothering" attempts that her big sister made toward her -- she was just fine on her own!

At the end of class, all the little dancers got a stamp on their hand and the cutest little "tiara" to take home. It was something fun and different for my little girlie and heck, maybe she'll even learn a dance move or two! And, her big sister gets to feel like the "old pro" showing off her moves to the little girls!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Great Kid's Party Ideas

You know that I pride myself on being the Party-throwing Queen of America (ok, Upstate NY), but I have to say that I was very impressed with my cousin’s wife, Kristine, when we attended their little boy’s first birthday party this past weekend. She had a jungle-animal themed birthday party (she LOVES monkeys!) and she carried the theme (gotta love it) from the monkey invitations, to the hanging paper cut-outs of cartoon jungle animals, to the jungle animal sippy cups filled with goodies which she used in lieu of goody bags. Loved that! Age-appropriate for the birthday boy, went with the theme, and something useful for the kids and the parents! She filled the little kids cups with age-appropriate snacks and the bigger kids received candy and stickers / temporary tattoos.

She had lots of food and beverages for the adults, who entertained themselves by sitting and visiting with friends and relatives, and she had great entertainment for the kids. It was a super hot day and she had two kiddie pools out for the kids to splash in (one was actually from Fisher-Price and it was about 1-2 inches deep and was more like a round sprinkler mat – great for the littlest kids to get wet in (or my father’s dog, who was not at the party, but my father was mentioning how wonderful that would be for him!). She also had lots of colorful balls out for the bigger kids to play with, and she brought her son’s pack n’ play out and put those small plastic balls that they use in “ball crawls” for the littlest kiddos to sit in the pack ‘n play and play with – cute idea!

And another great idea for kid’s entertainment on a hot day – water balloons! She set up a water balloon game for the kids – who seemed to break them as soon as they picked them up, but they had a great time – including my oldest who was SOAKED to the bone by the time we left – I literally had to wring her shirt and skort out before I let her in the van! My littlest girlie had fun with bubbles and tried to play with the water balloons, but sadly, with all that fun stuff to do she longed to go and play in the neighbor’s yard because they had a big wooden playset and a Little Tykes playhouse. My cousin and his family had their home built last year, and they don’t have a fence up so my girlie would make a run for the neighbor’s yard and I would chase after her before she crossed into their property. My heart broke when she said, “I wanna pay house – PUHLEEZE!” (Ok so her grammar is not perfect, but her language skills are increasing rapidly – she lets you know what she wants!) It’s the “PUHLEEZE” (please) that always gets me – SO sweet, and yet always as though she’s asking for the most important thing in her life – which to her at this age, these probably are the most important things!

My favorite idea, that I was kicking myself that I didn’t do at my girl’s birthdays – Kristine had a Dr. Seuss book called “Happy Birthday to You” and she left that out with a cup full of markers and asked all of the guests to write a message in it to the birthday boy – LOVED that idea (and don’t think I won’t use it!)!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Speed of Life

Friday night, after a fun-filled evening of popcorn, 3-D glasses, and Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel (the concert/movie that we saw a few months back was televised…), I put my oldest girlie to bed only to have her pop up four different times with four different excuses… One of them actually did strike a cord with me (not enough to let her stay up!) and that was, “(Sob) Mommy, I don’t want to be 20 and move out of the house! (sob)” This was a slight twist on when she periodically tells me that she doesn’t want to grow up and always wants to be my little girl – but I don’t recall my husband or I ever indicating that 20 was the cut-off age for living in the house! To get her to go to sleep, we had a (SHORT) talk about how we don’t need to worry about something that is so far away. I told her that she’s not even 8 yet, and that before she’s 20 it will be another whole 8 years (her entire life so far) plus another 4 years (half of her life so far), so this is not something that needed to keep us up that night! I also told her that while she loves being a little girl now, I am sure that she will love being an adult. I said that I have a wonderful husband and two precious daughters that I love, and that now as an adult I get to make my own decisions. If I don’t want to clean my room, no one is there to tell me that I have to. If I see something at the store that I want to buy, I have a job and I can buy it! See, there are some benefits to growing up! ;)

Anyway, I wanted to get her to go to sleep so we wrapped that up pretty quickly, and I certainly would not want to add to her anxiety level, but as much as I think she was saying that as a stall tactic – it definitely hit home with me. Time seems to be racing by faster than I care for it to move. (Now is when you should click on My Playlist to play “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney!) I cannot believe that my “baby” is already 2 years old and that my "little girl" is going to be 8! AND in the second grade in a month! And I’m going to be 37 next week – when did THAT happen? This summer is flying by so quickly, but life also seems to be moving at a quicker than normal pace. I’m sure it’s impossible to slow it down, but I’d like to try and relish the good stuff more often – and let go of the things that seem to try my patience. Something I’m always striving for – someday I’ll master that!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Name That Tune

We're back! We had a wonderful time at the family reunion in Long Island and it was a worthwhile trip, if for no other reason than that we discovered our older daughter's talent for KARAOKE! The reunion was held at my husband's cousin's home (BEAUTIFUL!). In addition to the playground for the kid's, the gorgeous heated pool with the waterfall running into it, and the dunking booth (both hubby & his brother tried that out, of course!), they also had a dj there Sat night from 6 - 11pm and he had a whole karaoke set-up available. My girl and her cousin who is the same age started out with "Life Is A Highway" which Rascall Flatts sings in "Cars." We could only hear my niece (who sounded fabulous, by the way!), and my girl was moving her lips but we couldn't hear her -- I thought she was being shy, but later I decided that it was a faulty mike. She sang 4 other songs during the evening including "Happy Birthday" (a month early to me...) and "Feliz Navidad" (this was the last one and the one that made my husband and I decide that was enough for one night!).

But by far, the best of the bunch was seeing her and her 5 year old cousin get up and sing "It's the End of the World" -- they thought it was REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It" which is in the movie "Chicken Little." Actually, it turned out to be that song, "Don't they know, it's the end of the world, it ended when you said goodbye..." or something like that -- totally an easy-listening song that I am SURE my girl has never heard before. But, she could read the karaoke screen and she followed the tune and she belted it out and sounded GREAT! We were so proud!! I took some pictures -- the one time I did not bring my video camera!!! And my sister-in-law was standing next to me crying, because the two of them were SO adorable!

SO, my girl has informed me that she would like a karaoke machine, and wouldn't that be great fun at her Webkinz birthday party that she is planning (for January...)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Packing - Again!

Yes, I know it seems as though it was only two week ago since our last vacation (oh wait, it was!), but we are off again! Hey, that's how we roll here! ;) Not really, but it does seem that we will be confined to the house for the majority of the year, and then all of the big events in our lives are crammed into two months time...

Anyway, after racing home from work and picking up my girls from Grandpa, we were off to fill the tank, pick up last minute birthday gifts, snacks and groceries for the trip, and then back home for dinner (thanks for the leftovers, Cath -- they were great!) and packing! Oh, did I mention my little one seems to be coming down with something? Right before we leave to drive 8 hours to a family reunion? Yeah. Oh, and did I also mention that Friday is her 2nd birthday? We may be squeezing a trip o the doctor in to the mix tomorrow morning, between packing the car and stopping to grab a bagel for the road!

But we are very excited to hit the road again and especially excited to see our Long Island relatives -- many of whom we haven't seen since February! We have a very busy weekend planned -- birthday party for my girlie with the family on Friday afternoon, then off to my husband's cousin's house for dinner and the reunion "opening ceremonies". Then back over there at 11:00am on Saturday for a full day of swimming, games, eating and catching up with relatives. The festivities will last until about midnight (I'll be taking at least my little one back to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house well before that!) with the evening ending with with a dj and dancing. The finale will no doubt be a rousing "kick-line" (this A Chorus Line or the Rockettes) to Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York" -- a long-standing tradition in my hubby's family. We will miss the farewell breakfast the next morning because my husband's employer (Lowe's) in their infinite wisdom has scheduled him to open the store on Monday (day after his vacation) at 4:00am -- which means he will be waking up at 2:30am!

But all in all, we are looking forward to a great weekend spent with our endlessly fun and entertaining family. My older daughter is about giddy (that was her new word today, by the way) with excitement over getting to see her cousins! Have a wonderful weekend, and we'll catch up when I get back!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confident Smile!

Big excitement at our house yesterday! My older daughter went to the dentist and got her smile fixed! Actually, it was just one tooth, but having that one tooth fixed has given her back her beautiful and most importantly - confident - smile!

When my girl was a toddler, she had an accident where she was running to get something (toy Elmo figure, I believe) and she tripped and fell mouth first into a glass-topped coffee table. Her two top front baby teeth went through her bottom lip and there were lots of tears and lots of blood! We all went to the ER and she got a couple of stitches (terribly traumatic for my husband and I -- she doesn't remember, fortunately!) in her lip. We then took her to the dentist and while her teeth felt a tiny bit loose, he did not think she would lose them prematurely (which was correct).

Well, years go by, she has a scar under her bottom lip (which she loves to tell the kids at school about, by the way), but everything else is fine. Until her two top front adult teeth come in and one of them looks like it has a yellow-y/brown popcorn kernel stuck to the front of it! Well, it never seemed to bother my girl -- she never mentioned being upset about it. When we took her for her last dental appointment, I spoke to the dentist about it, and he said that more than likely it was caused by the accident -- that the baby tooth had probably "died" and an infection was in the gum, and when the new tooth came out, this was the result. The best thing that he said, was that he could easily paint a permanent sealant over it in 6 months and it would make that tooth look like her other teeth.

When we mentioned this to her, she was so happy and excited -- come to find out, while she never mentioned this to us, a child in her class told her that her tooth was "ugly" and other kids had mentioned it and questioned her about it from time to time. And just in the past week, I heard another child ask her if she had forgotten to brush her teeth and asked what was on her tooth. I think for the most part the kids were just asking innocent questions (possible exception, the ugly comment...) and although my girl did not mention these things to us, they obviously bothered her. To be honest, through this I learned that I will need to be a bit more of a detective and look a little harder for clues, because one thing I hadn't really noticed was how often she has kept her lips together when her picture has been taken.

Well, no more of that! We were fortunate enough to be able to have her tooth fixed yesterday and she has barely stopped smiling since! While shopping last night, she kept running up and smiling into mirrors, and this morning, she bounded out of bed and told me, "Mommy! I didn't get to see my tooth at ALL while I was sleeping!!" I'm thrilled that my girl has her confident smile back, and I'm happy that she is looking forward to showing her new smile off at school in September!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Elmo Birthday Party!

Sunday, we had an early birthday celebration for my sweet little (almost!) 2 year old girl! It’s funny, I wonder if my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have the same thoughts about their beach party for their son as I have for a pool party 2 years in a row for my littlest one… My older daughter’s birthday is in January, and my sister-in-law’s other 2 children (both girls) were born in December and March. I think we have probably all been tapped out on ideas for fun, indoor, winter-y birthday parties and decided to enjoy the warm weather birthdays outdoors! Although, I have toyed with the idea of a sledding birthday party sometimes for my girl…

But I digress! Between my husband’s work schedule and our vacation schedule, we decided to have my little one’s birthday party early this year, and we were blessed with a gorgeous, warm & sunny day for a birthday pool party. My theme (and of course I had one!) was “Elmo” and I found the cutest photo invitations that I ordered online from Sweet & Sassy Ink – they had lots of different characters to choose from! I also found at Ty’s Toy Box online the cutest shorts outfit and bikini bathing suit for my little girlie to wear (both with Elmo, of course) – and for my frugal friends, I will say in my defense, that my girlie needs clothes, so this wasn’t just extraneous spending for the sake of a theme (although, admittedly, that is not out of character for me...)! I also ordered a cake from our local grocery store – with Elmo on it, of course. It was very cute and delicious, and not nearly as expensive as last year’s Pooh’s Hunny Pot cake from the fancy bakery!

It was a lovely birthday party, with lots of family - from 8 year old cousins all the way up to her two great grandmothers! A whole bunch of people went into the pool to cool off, including my birthday girl, who enjoyed sitting on the pool steps with her Gramby and "holding court" for her cousins and her sister -- all of the older girls seemed downright enchanted by my little one and she just ate it up! And she was equally as charming (I'm gushing, aren't I? Sorry!) when she opened all of the wonderful gifts that everyone gave her. Honestly, she was the first 2 year old I've ever seen hold up clothing to her chest (like a mom -- probably got it from me!) to show it off, all while oohing and aahing over it!

It's so nice to have a simple, outdoor birthday party -- especially if the weather is on your side! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the birthday girl had a great day, and there was not a lot of fuss & muss!

Oh, and my oldest, in the spirit of birthdays has already started planning hers -- it's in January... never too early, I guess -- she came up with a cute idea on her own. She would like to have a Webkinz-themed party, and wants to invite her friends to bring their favorite Webkinz to join in on the birthday party fun. I wonder if party-theming is a hereditary or learned behavior...

What are your favorite kid's party themes?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Birthday at the Beach!

Happy Birthday to my little nephew in Long Island, who is 5 years old today! When he had his first birthday, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law (pictured with my nephew) started a tradition where they head to the beach in the early evening, have a picnic and enjoy the ocean as a birthday celebration each year. We live too far away and have not been able to make it out, but the rest of the family joins in the fun each year, which I think is a great idea for a summer birthday party. My nephew has a great time playing in the sand and the surf with his siblings and cousins, and it really makes for some special memories for the birthday boy and the rest of the family.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Simple Pleasures

A little more than 5 years ago, we moved to our current house in a new (to us) town. Our house is walking distance from the town hall and every year our newly adopted town throws a large 4th of July celebration. There is always a parade early in the day, there is a large arts & crafts sale with vendors set up all over the lawn of the town hall, there are games for the kids, tons of food vendors, and live music. They also have entertainment for the kids in the afternoon.

My daughter had the opportunity to march in the 4th of July parade with her dance school, but she marched with them in the Memorial Day parade and had a great time! My husband marched with her, and my dad, stepmother, my little one and I all set up our chairs in front of the town hall (where the parade ends) and watched and waited for her. This was the second time she marched -- the first was the year I was expecting her sister, and she and my dad marched with her preschool. My stepmother (who grew up in our house, we were lucky enough to buy it from her mom) said that growing up in this town, our girls will have about a hundred opportunities to march in the parades over the years! And sure enough, by the time the parade ends, you are certain that everyone in town is either marching or watching! Anyway, this year my husband was working and we did not make it up in time for the parade, but we have enjoyed it in the past.

From the first year that we moved here, we got right into the festive spirit. We made a new tradition to invite a few friends over for an upscale 4th of July bbq. Usually everyone brings their own lobster and we all chip in for clams -- hey, it's once a year! Anyway, we spend the day swimming in the pool, going up to the town hall's celebration, bbq-ing our fancy dinner, and at the end of the night we count ourselves especially lucky, because we are able to see the great fireworks display from our backyard! Some years we have even watched while floating in the pool -- quite fun!

This year, our usual gang of friends were all out of town and unable to come to our annual bbq. Instead, the four of us took a walk up to the town hall and enjoyed walking around to see all of the different crafts and my girl played lots of games and even won a few small stuffed animals for herself and her sister. We bought dinner there and we sat on a shady patch of grass and enjoyed our 4th of July picnic while listening to the music of a local band playing at the festival. We got to visit with a few people that we know, and afterwards we walked back home and got ready for the fireworks. I had thought about putting my little one to bed, but was unsure of whether or not she would be able to sleep through the noise! We decided to keep her up and the four of us bundled up under a blanket on the swing in our backyard and thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks display. It was such a simple, peaceful day, but it was truly special sharing the time with just our little family!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Wishing you all a Happy 4th of July -- from my family to yours! I hope you were all able to enjoy a wonderful 4th of July celebration with your family and friends!

One Final Thought re: "Fussy Eater" Post

I was meaning to pass along this one final thought in connection with my "Battle of the Fussy Eater" post below, but lost track due to camping preparations...

In talking about the situation with my father the next day, he pointed out the importance of our following through and being consistent when trying to discipline our older daughter, in particular, because as he pointed out -- our little one is right there observing. She will be watching to see what her older sister can "get away with" and if we aren't careful and consistent, she may very well try to put what she has observed into action!

My friend Catherine has an interesting situation as well -- she has two children, one who is 19 and one who is 7-1/2, like my girl. Her youngest watches what her older brother does and then turns things around on her mom and dad, "Well, he didn't finish his dinner!" Or, "He doesn't have to go to bed at that time!" It's funny, because clearly, a 19 year old and a 7 year old will have different privileges, but it just shows how observant children are!

I wanted to share that for any of you moms or dads who are in the same situation as we are, but also I wanted to make a note of it here so that I can continue to remind myself that little eyes are always watching! ;)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Signs of Love

As much as I love my girls, and would like to be with them all the time, there are times when I (as all moms, I'm sure!) can't be with them around the clock. As a working mom, there are many mornings -- especially now with school being out and my girl getting to sleep in -- that I am leaving for work before the girls are awake. And, although I don't go out as often as I probably should, I do belong to a garden club that meets one night a month and occasionally my husband and I will go out for a date.

During one of these evenings out, several years ago, my girl was disappointed that I wouldn't be there to tuck her at bedtime, and I told her that I would come in to check on her when I got home. Well, she seemed skeptical about this, I guess thinking, "how will I know, if I'm asleep?" So, when I came home that night, I grabbed this little pink Care Bear "Baby Hugs" and tucked that into bed with her. When she got up in the morning, she asked how Baby Hugs got into her bed, and I said that I tucked her in when I came home. This seemed to make her happy, and so it became a routine. If I am out and unable to tuck her in, I still tuck Baby Hugs in next to her, and when she wakes up she knows that Mommy peeked in on her at night.

Another little "sign of love" that I have left over the years, is some mornings when I am leaving for work before she is awake, I will leave a little "lipstick kiss" in the palm of her hand, so she knows that Mommy kissed her goodbye before leaving. It started as kind of a spontaneous gesture as I was leaving one morning, and it's turned out to be one of her favorite little surprises!

It's hard to leave my girls (although don't get me wrong -- it's great to get out with my husband or with friends!), but it's helpful knowing that I can leave a little sign to let them know that I'm thinking of them. My littlest one is a little too small yet to get the signs, but I'm sure we'll have especially for her!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Something to Strive For...

This morning as my 7 year old daughter was getting dressed, she said to me, "Today is Wednesday, and I am wearing Thursday underpants. Monday, I wore Tuesday underpants. Someday, I just wish that it could be Tuesday, and I could be wearing Tuesday underpants!"

The girl cracks me up!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

And We're Back!

We're back from our camping trip to Lake George! Lots of fun, lots of rain, and more than our fair share of whining (our oldest daughter's...)! My aunt was already talking to all of us about doing the same thing next year, and my husband said that he was sure by next year he would be ready, but don't ask him in the next month!

Don't get me wrong, it was great to get away, great to get to see the family, but it's always difficult to break your routine when you have a little one. Our littlest one is a WONDERFUL sleeper -- at home, in her own bed, in her own room. VERY difficult time sleeping in the pack 'n play that we brought! It's definitely smaller than her crib, and our first night back at home, I peeked in at her and she was sleeping with her legs stretched out prefectly straight, and her arms out straight over her head -- she was certainly enjoying having more room! We rented a 30' RV and it was DEFINITELY the right decision for our little family! My aunts had teased me about not tenting, saying that they had taken their kids tenting when they were small, but I had dreaded the thought of us being rained on all weekend, and stuck in a tent with two energetic kids! Talk about a premonition! It rained -- HARD -- every single day we were on vacation. (And my poor aunt and my cousin and his girlfriend who were in tents were SOAKED at least two of the nights!)

Fortunately, it didn't rain every minute of every day -- the kids were able to go swimming, run around with their cousins (squirting each other with water pistols -- honestly, they were SO waterlogged by the end of this trip!). We had campfires almost every night, and got to sit around and entertain each other with funny stories -- my girl LOVED that! We toasted marshmallows and made S'mores -- I was having flashbacks from my Girl Scout days! I even brought stuff to make "Banana Boats" on our last night, but the rain washed out our campfire. Banana Boats are another campfire recipe I learned in Girl Scouts, where you take a whole banana, with the skin on, and cut a slit through the skin into the banana. Then you open it up slightly and stick mini marshmallows and chocolate chips inside the banana, and wrap the whole thing in foil and stick it on the edge of the campfire until the marshmallows and chocolate melt. We didn't get a chance to make them, so I'm not sure if I would still find them as yummy as I did when I was a kid! (If we try it this summer, I'll let you know the verdict -- I'm thinking putting it over vanilla ice cream would be delicious!)

On our second day there, the four of us hopped back into the minivan and drove an hour or so up to Lake Placid, site of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" when the US Olympic hockey team won against the Russian team. My husband was 13 when that game took place and he still gets goosebumps when he sees a clip of it. It was a dream come true for him to go to Lake Placid and to see where it all took place. I was the only one who fully grasped the importance of this moment for him, unfortunately, so we all had to endure some whining on the part of our 7 year old -- she was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her cousins, who were getting in later that day -- but she eventually got in the spirit. Hey, we are a hockey family, and this was the greatest hockey game in history!

One of the days my husband, cousins, and the older kids all went tubing (kids in life jackets, of course!) on the river that we were camping on, and that was quite an adventure -- they were doing great until a sudden lightening storm came up and the guys quickly grabbed the kids and jumped out of the water and onto the embankment. At the first clap of thunder, my aunt and my cousin's wife jumped into their cars and went on a rescue mission -- my girl was a little scared at the time, but after a warm shower she was writing a story about her adventure. That will definitely be one for our end of summer collage! Every time our phone has rung since we've been home she says, "Tell them about the tubing!!"

On our last afternoon / evening, there was a terrible downpour and the kids were all getting antsy (my two and my cousin's two -- 5 & 7), so I invited them all into our trailer and popped some microwave popcorn (I know, I know -- really roughing it!! But hey, we didn't have a phone, tv, or computer so that's roughing it a little!) and broke out our new game of Apples to Apples Kids (for ages 7 & up). The three older kids and I played, while my little one sat at the table with us coloring and laughing along with the rest of us -- really feeling like one of the big kids! This is a fun word game for anyone who isn't familiar with it. I had played the adult version (which I brought along and played later that night with my aunts and cousin-in-law) and while shopping on vacation I found the Kids version. We also had crayons, markers, paper, coloring books -- all sorts of things for rainy day entertainment! I was definitely mocked for the amount of stuff that I brought with me, but I find (especially with kids) that if you have room for it, you might as well bring it because it's better to have too much than too little! (I was that way with groceries too, by the way -- I shouldn't have to grocery shop for at least another week!)

We're settling in for a couple of weeks and then we are off to Long Island for my husband's family reunion -- it's a busy month!