Monday, July 31, 2017


We're on our way! Stop one: Philadelphia area! 

We left Sunday morning and got the greatest of birthday presents: no traffic between Boston & Philadelphia. We made it in 5.5 hours including a bathroom stop. Awesome! 

We got in early enough that the kids could hit the pool before we head off to Bryn Mawr to see the campus & meet up with some friends. Both were great. 

Note: no one skinny dipped in the cloisters. 

I told them BMC looked like Hogwarts, and then we found the Room of Requirement. 

Friends! (Not the dude on the left. He just tagged along). 

We had dinner at Snap Pizza, followed by Hopes Cookies. A delicious end to a fun birthday. 

Yum, cookies! 

Today was our big Philadelphia day. We started at Eastern State Penitentiary, which was both very cool & huge. It was sobering to think about prisoners then and now. 

Hopefully the closest they'll come to solitary confinement. 

It took two guys a year to dig this tunnel out. 12 men escaped. All we're caught within 3 weeks. 

First penitentiary to have a dedicated synogogue. 

Graph of American rate of incarceration. Something is very wrong here. 

Outside of Eastern State Penitentiary (children for scale). 

After jail, we went over to Reading Terminal Market where we met a friend for lunch. Everyone's lunch was good, and seeing an old friend was awesome. We ended our trip there by picking up some chocolates from a very pun-heavy chocolate shop. 

Our best angle for sure. 

We then walked over to independence hall, about 8 blocks away. I had wanted to take the kids to see the liberty bell, but instead we saw the _line_ for the liberty bell and just noped on outta there. We did have tickets for independence hall itself, however. 

Birthplace of the Revolution AND the Constitution! Wow! 

Yeah, not gonna lie, it was boring.  But as I said to the kids, now they've done it, so they won't have to do it again until they have kids. And I won't tag along on that trip. 

The guide hadn't even started talking yet and he was bored. 

We then made our way back to our hotel, stopping at Whole Foods to get some dinner. More swimming followed by chillin out rounded out the day. 

He didn't want to watch Tiny House Hunters with me and Lea. 

All in all, a good time. If we had one more day here I definitely would head to the art museum. Alas, we do not. Thankfully we have reasons to return. At least we'll be back when we drop lea off for BMC Customs Week in 2023. 

Today we had an easy drive to VA and have already had much fun with friends. But more about that later. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017


The whirlwind continues!

So every year the Murphys have a family reunion in Wells Beach, ME.  However, as all of the cousins have gotten older and jobs have changed etc, beach week has changed too.  And we definitely own our part in that; we missed the whole time when we were traveling cross country.  Unfortunately, with another big trip coming up we just couldn't swing a week in Maine too.  This is a bummer because we not only miss fun Murphy time, we miss traveling with the kids' friends who have been coming with us some summers.  So we tried to combine the best of both worlds - a day with the Murphys on Wells Beach, and a couple days in the Portland area with friends.

Since John is the resident photographer, the only picture I have from beach day is this one taken of the kids and their friends after some serious time boogie boarding.  For ocean water the temp was lovely, and we had a warm-but-not-too-hot sunny day to enjoy it. 

It was really a bummer that we didn't have more time together, and I would definitely plan it differently next time.

We did have a good time in Portland, though.  Our first night there we had Otto Pizza, which is definitely worth going out of your way for.  And, since it is vacation, we had to get ice cream.

Ice cream selfie at Beales!
 Our plan for the next day was to go to Peak's Island.  However, the weather Was Not cooperating.  At all.  So we head up to Grey and checked out the Maine Wildlife Park


My new best friend
 Ok yes, it wasn't out in the wild.  But I have literally traveled across this country AND into Canada and have never seen a moose.  FINALLY MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE.

He is currently happily residing in our backyard.

Actually, I saw TWO moose.  Here is my lady moose.
 Just kidding.  The children would not let me kidnap the moose.  And so reluctantly I left my new friends and we saw a whole bunch of other animals too.  Although the pre-teen girls wouldn't admit it even if tortured, we all had a pretty good time and saw some pretty cool animals.

Albino raccoon
Child humoring me
Another child humoring me
 The afternoon continued with freezing rain, so we knew when we were beat and we went to the movies.  Wonder Woman was even better the second time.  A good dinner at the Great Lost Bear was just what the exhausted children needed to push through til bedtime.

It was a selfie-ful weekend.

The next morning we packed up and head to Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach.  By the time it opened the sky was clearing, and by the end of our time there it was warm and sunny and beautiful. 

Getting ready to go have some fun
View from the ferris wheel at the end of the day
  The kids had a good time going on many rides, a number of which they hadn't been on before. 


Riptide (duh)
Trying his hand at the bumper cars
About to swing
Oh, this doesn't look so bad.
My partner on the Ferris Wheel
Neither of them is crazy about heights, clearly
 Best part - no one threw up after a lunch of fried food and followed by lots of spinning.

Chicken fingers, fried clams, fried pickles, fried dough, french get the picture
 We head home and hit virtually no traffic; a true miracle.  We were home for dinner with Pete, who we had missed a bunch.

A few days at home finishing up some stuff on the bathroom remodel, hiring a morning babysitter for the school year, and packing up for our next trip!  That one is finally feeling real and we're getting super excited.  We're so looking forward to seeing friends we haven't seen in far too long, exploring cities that the kids have never seen, and generally having a good time being together.  Political shenanigans (to keep things family friendly) have really been getting me down and it's hard not to feel hopeless.  I certainly don't have the antidote.  However, we've been finding joy in a lot of places too.  Hope the same for you.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

New Hampshire

We've been off having fun since we returned from NS.  We've been swimming (of course) to the MFA and Larz Anderson and the Arnold Arboretum.  We've been fishing with a friend and gone for a very hot hike.  During all of this we've also been having our bathroom refinished; a "simple retile" job turned into a "down to the studs" redo.  But it's so close to done and it's going to look great.  I have been feeling like a bit off a smidgen more than I can chew this summer, but generally things have been good.

Lea, with the dress she's going to wear for her Bat Mitzvah.  It's a classic!
At the Arnold Arboretum
Learning to fish
The bravest one - she was willing to hold the fish first.  Jax, not so much.    

Hence why I am holding the fish in this picture.

The weather was on-again off-again, but cooperated for most of the day!

At Callahan State Park

 A good day to find toads!

So. Hot.  She didn't even mind getting a bath after we returned.  What a good dog

One of the "quick trips" we took in the midst of all of this has been up to Gilford, NH.  Right on Lake Winnipesaukee, mom has had a condo there for the past five years.  It's going on the market in the fall, so we wanted to make the most of the time that we had during our last summer there.  Pete had to work (booo) so he didn't join us, but the kids, my mom, and my sister and her family were all there for a few days and we had a great time.

One of the best things about the condo is that it has a private beach right on the lake and it also has a pool right up the hill from the beach.  The pool is unheated, so it is freezing.  So freezing, in fact, that the lake is warmer.  We arrived on Saturday and went swimming and took a walk down the nearby "scenic drive."

Scenic indeed

Sunday we head over to Gunstock Mountain.  Gunstock has fun skiing in the winter, but they've done a lot the past few years to make it a summer destination as well.  Last year they added a "mountain coaster" which is super fun.  It's basically a cross between an alpine slide and a roller coaster.  It's about a 3 minute trip being pulled up the mountain, and then a 2-3 minute trip back down.  You can control your speed because you can break your individual car.  Thankfully we got an all day pass because the kids just wanted to go again and again. 

Immediately upon getting off: "that was awesome!  Let's go again!"

Even Elliott had a great time.  I got a lot of "go faster!" when he rode with me. 
 They have some other stuff too, like boating on a little lake, and inflatable climbers and slides, and a slackline course, etc.  We had done that stuff before, and we did take a little break from mountain coastering to do some of it. 
Water balloon fight!
And, of course, we had to take our annual pilgrimage to the top of the mountain for our picnic lunch.

Not a bad place to have some lunch.
  All in all, it was a really fun day and we were all pretty cooked by the end of it.

Monday morning Gail and Fred took us someplace new - Heritage Farm - for pancakes.  This place was awesome.  It would take too long to describe breakfast, but suffice it to say that for a very reasonable price you can get a couple of huge and delicious pancakes in just about any flavor, and eggs, bacon, and homefries.  So yummy.  But the best part is that it's an actual farm, so when you're done with breakfast you can take your leftovers and feed them to the goats, chickens and pigs that they have around.  It was a very fun and delicious way to spend a morning.

Perhaps you can see the size of the pancakes?  Check out Elliott's plate.


Butterscotch, the adorable calf I did not kidnap. 

Baby goat!

I also got to hold the goat.  Definitely a highlight of the trip.
 The afternoon brought more swimming and hanging around and low-key cousin fun.  And Sawyer's for dessert after dinner, of course.

It's really a shame they don't get along.

Ice cream selfie!

I wonder if Elliott can see me?

I didn't kidnap this cow either.
We all left on Tuesday, so in the morning we went for a hike that proved much longer than the trail map read.  Like twice as long.  The children were a little kvetchy.  But we had a couple of nice views and it was good to explore the trails that we had driven by for 5 years but never walked. 

Sure the hike was long, but at least it was damp and incredibly humid? 
 The kids watched a movie and I packed up before we left mid afternoon to hit the outlets for some back to school shopping.  We were marginally successful there, but, much more importantly, we then had dinner at the Tilton Diner.  We stop there every trip to NH and it never disappoints. 

So good.
 It was a short trip, but a very fun one.  It was great to spend the time altogether.  It's sad that we won't be together in that particular place anymore, but I am hopeful for more joint adventures in other locations in the future.

And now, we're off to Maine!  We leave tomorrow for a day with the Murphy family and then some time with friends in Portland.  Once we return from Maine we'll have a couple of days at home before we take off for our big road trip in August.  Wheee!  So much to do and so many adventures to be had!