Sunday, August 14, 2011

High-flying adventure

In spite of keeping pretty close to home this summer, we've had some great adventures in and around Boston.  This Friday we took a little drive to Kimball Farm in Westford with a few friends from Cambridge.  Three moms, six kids, and a crazy amount of fun!

First on the agenda was a hot air balloon ride!  I've never been up in a balloon and this was quite an experience.  As the kids and I drove up to the parking lot, our friends were already there and waiting in line.  The plan was for Hilary and myself to take the 4-year-olds up in the balloon while Sarah stayed down with the three toddlers.  I didn't have much time to prepare River or myself for the experience, which was for the best since it didn't give me a chance to get nervous. 

 River hopped into the doughnut-shaped bucket willingly, we got all the kids hooked onto their safety lines; then, before we knew it, the tether was loosening and we were floating up into the sky.  My stomach dropped out from under me and I looked over to River, who showed no signs of stress.  Personally, I felt much better knowing we were tied to the ground and wouldn't be going higher than 300 feet.

The other kids did amazingly, and also showed no signs of fear.

 We got some video of the adventure.  I was terrified I was going to drop my phone, so it's pretty short and sweet.

 And here's our shadow as we were pulled down.

Next, we wandered through the farm to see what was available and discovered a fantastic mini golf course.  I was drawn to the bumper boats, but the logistics just seemed too difficult to work out.  Instead we got three balls and clubs for the big kids, extra balls for the toddlers and we set them loose.

 What followed was pretty unrestrained chaos.  Everyone was on the green at the same time.  The little ones kept stealing the big kids' balls; which didn't actually matter that much as the game they were playing could be considered "golf" in only the loosest of terms.

Basically we'd let them knock their balls around the course until a group came up behind us, then we'd move on.

 Here's a typical moment from our game.

 It was by far the best mini golf course I've ever been on.  There was a little river running next to the course, with bridges, waterfalls, and little gullies.   The course went up and down hill and in and out of caves.  The kids were never bored, and we wore them out plenty.

 A brief moment of calm with River and his friends.

 Lila already had a sense for how to hold the club and was desperately trying to play along.  (After a short t-ball session yesterday, I can say with near certainty that she is going to be the jock of the family.)

 We made it about 2/3 of the way through the whole course before hunger and fatigue took over.  We ate at the little outdoor grill nearby while the kids watched the chickens, goats, and ponies play.  Of course, some special treats were involved, and River picked out some candy buttons that were a big hit with the whole gang.
Tired, happy kids, at the end of the day.

We had such a great time.  I'm so glad to have made friendships like these in our time in Cambridge.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A day in the sun

One of the really lovely things about where we live is our proximity to the ocean.  We haven't spent much time on the water this summer, so we were thrilled to have an invite from River's pre-school teacher to visit her and her husband at their cottage on the cape last Sunday.  Thom was out of town on a ridiculously short trip to Europe, so it was just the kids and I (and I could imagine nothing better than to spend the day with a pre-school teacher while doing the solo parenting thing!).

Toni and Derek's house is right on the water, and when we weren't under the shade of the porch snacking and chatting, we were down on their tiny beach enjoying the sand and gentle surf.

 Derek has a couple small boats - one that is designed for teaching kids to sail.  River went out with him solo before some other guests arrived (another family that goes to River's school), and he just loved being on the water. 

 Given River's history with boats, I wasn't sure he would last long (he's always been slightly afraid of the water).  Whether it was Derek's reassuring demeanor or the boost of confidence from wearing a life vest, River was happy and secure the whole time.

 After the little sailing expedition, we all took a walk up the beach to a little inland river created by the tides.  River and Derek walked quite a ways, exploring the creatures in the shallow water.

 Lila loved chasing the swarms of crabs which made their home on the beach.  I wish I had gotten a picture of them all together - there were so many it looked like the sandy beach was rippling.  By the time Lila got close, of course, they had scattered.

 She did manage to chase one around for a while before he too escaped the reaches of the terrifying toddler.

* Edit: That's funny.  I just reread the text here.  It's supposed to say "Her Cuteness MUST Be Stopped" but I'm too lazy to change it.

In spite of being forced to skip her nap entirely, she was adorable and happy (with only a few momentary lapses) the whole afternoon.  She loved the sand and rocks, but steered pretty clear of the water.  She was especially disturbed by the squishy feel of the seaweed on her toes.

 After a fantastic lunch, we headed back out to the beach.  Before it was their turn to go out on the boat, River and his friends waited excitedly for the guys to set up a little skiff for Daniel (the boys' father) to take out on the water.

I think River has new best bud - he was pretty much attached to Derek the whole day.

 Derek got Daniel out on the water while River bravely trudged back to the shore.  Once the second boat was ready, River and his friends went out with Derek to a little island across the way.  Apparently, River swam for a long time (his bravery boosted by that life vest).

Back on shore, the rest of us enjoyed some more time in the sun and sand.  Our pale skin was all pink by the time we left around 5pm, and Lila sacked out on the car ride home.  What a memorable, fantastic day!