Monday, August 25, 2008

The Catskills, Big Indian and the Bear that never was

Monday we left Bennington, headed for Big Indian in the Catskills. Our friends Gloria and Judy have a cabin there that we have been fortunate enough to stay at for the past few summers. It is sooo quiet there - they don't have a TV so it's REAL quiet! But the kids adjust, they love running around outside, looking for "treasures" and stuff to pick up. We had to go grocery shopping in VT before we left because there are no big grocery stores anywhere near the cabin. We couldn't even get cell service unless we were in the parking lot at the lake 10 minutes away. But that was OK, sometimes it's nice to be removed from the outside world. I did miss watching the Olympics though. Thankfully the little local deli/market had a nice selection of newspapers so I could snag the NY Post and NY Times every morning. We did have to watch out for the bears that may run wild around the area. We saw more than a few deer, but thankfully never a bear. Although Francesca (and me too I will admit) kept watch over our shoulder making sure there were none!

We spent most of our time at the Pine Hill Lake/Belleayre Beach. This is a state-run, manmade lake. They basically poured concrete on one side of the lake and dumped a whole lot of clean sand on top of it. $7 a car to get in and stay all day. Which we did. We had sandwiches, drinks, snacks and sand toys. Francesca and Scott tanned (naturally), Gav got a little pink and then tanned, and of course I still have a sunburn on my chest and legs even after using sunblock. One day we even rented paddleboats and paddled around the lake. Well Scott and I did most of the paddling, the kids sort-of helped. They insisted on having 2 seperate boats ("the boys and the girls") and kept telling us to try to bump the other one.

One morning we went to Sweet Sue's, which is this awesome place in the middle of nowhere (actually nowhere is Phoenicia, which could be considered urban nowhere because it has a main street, a gas station, a bank, a few restaurants and a library - BUT STILL NO CELL SERVICE). Sweet Sue's has fabulous breakfasts and strong coffee. This is what we had for breakfast -

Dineen - chocolate chip pancakes - yum yum yum
Scott - huevos rancheros - mucho bueno
Francesca - french toast
Gavin - fruit (naturally because that's Gav for you, but the fruit was fresh and sweet)

Our family did a few things this year that we had not done in the past. We drove up Belleayre Mountain, hoping to find the Belleayre Chair Lift ride open. It was not. Instead, we found the Catskill Mountain Nature Center. We were the only ones there that day. It was free and fun! The kids loved it! They explored the room, looking and touching all the exhibits. Which was OK because they were there to be touched. They put on a puppet show, pretended to be birds collecting worms, climbed inside a tent, and completed giant puzzles.

The other really fun thing we did was on our way home. We went to the World's Largest Kailadoscope (I know I spelled this wrong but you know what I mean) in Mount Tremper. It was in this hoity-toity complex of gift shops that was next to a hoity-toity spa and resort. IT WAS SO COOL. I can't even begin to tell you how cool it was. We were the first group of the day. The guide brought us into the windowless room and told us to either stand up against the back supports or lay on the floors with a pillow (provided and since we were the first people of the day I did not worry so much about lice - my brain runs wild sometimes, I admit). Francesca and I got down on the floor with our pillows while Scott and Gavin stood. The lights went out and the show began. The kailiedoscope (trying a different spelling this time, still wrong I think) is in an old silo. It is an electronic show that is beamed to the top and set to music. Our kids are still talking about the coolness of it all, days later. If you are ever in Mount Tremper or Ulster County you have to go to the Emerson Spa and see the World's Largest K (I won't bother botching the spelling this time).

We got home Friday afternoon. It was a fun vacation but all good things come to an end. Plus the cat really missed us. Even the kids noticed that Picky Picky was in an especially pleasant and meowy mood when we got home. She nuzzled us instead of trying to bite us! We unpacked, rested for a little bit, went through the mail and then went out to dinner since we had no food in the house! A great end to a fun vacation! Stay tuned for more LaDore adventures. Be sure to keep reading, because we are planning to return to Bennington in October, when the town plans to host a "Thriller Dance-a-thon" which purports to be a large gathering of people doing the Michael Jackson "Thriller" dance moves, along with other cities across the world, in order to try to break a Guinness Book of World Records record. I am not making this up, I swear. Scott and I decided that this is an event not to be missed!!!

Vacation Wrap-Up

OK, I am really too tired to post right now, but it has been a while and before my dear SIL Joelle sends me an email telling me she has not read anything new on my blog I figured I'd better sit down and let you know about the LaDore's vacation.

We started out on 8/16 heading up to Bennington, Vermont. For those of you not familiar with Bennington, it is in the southwestern corner of Vermont. Robert Frost is buried there. Grandma Moses painted there - she may be buried there too, I forget. It is where my dad was born and raised. It is also home to the Battle of Bennington Monument, which actually took place across the state line in Hoosick, NY. Whatever! Anyhoo, we always go to Bennington around this time of year because it is "Bennington Battle Week". This year I had other ideas, as in Lake George. Scott put the kibbosh on that real quick, telling me it is "tradition", that we have gone to Bennington in August every year since Francesca was born. He's right - she attended her 1st Battle Day parade at the tender age of 3 months. So off we went. The kids were sooooo excited - they love love love Bennington. Not sure why. Maybe it's the clean, fresh-air smell. That's my favorite. Maybe it's the apple cider donuts we get at the Apple Farm. Maybe it's the Hampton Inn pool (a close second). Nooooo, bet you can't guess. I'll tell you. It's the Bennington Monument. Why, you ask, are my kids so fascinated with this Mini-Me version of the Washington Monument? I couldn't begin to tell you! But I do know that as soon as we hit a certain part of VT Rte 7 and they could see the monument they were jumping around in their seats and pointing. Francesca has always loved the monument. In fact, she has a little wooden replica of the monument that she would carry around with her, until we had to confiscate it after she started using it as a weapon against her then-infant brother.

So we stopped at the Monument, walked around the grounds and then went up to the top (it was free that day). Yikes, I did not like it last year and I did not like it any better this year. IT WAS HIGH AND I HATE HEIGHTS!!!! But up we went, and I started to freak out as soon as the elevator door opened. Gavin had his camera and wanted to go right up to the OPEN (but barred) windows and take pictures. I almost started hyperventilating. I kept trying to pull him back towards me but Scott would not let me, trying to tell me that the open (but barred) part was higher than even Gavin could reach. Gavin is like Harry Houdini, he can get out or wiggle his way into, anything! I thought Scott may actually punch me, because once Francesca saw me freaking out she decided to follow suit. We were probably only up there for about 10 minutes but it seemed like a lifetime! I was soooo happy to get down back down on the ground and vowed never ever to go up it again.

Then we went and checked into the Hampton Inn. It is the biggest (but still only 3 floors) and one of only 2 chain, hotels in Bennington. In the past, we have stayed at the Best Western, the Paradise Motor Inn and even Darling Kelly's (when F was a baby - I felt like we were staying in one of the rooms at my grandparents' house). The Hampton Inn has 24-hour fresh coffee (a plus for the parents), afternoon cookies, a hot continental breakfast and most importantly an indoor pool!!!! We CANNOT stay anyplace that does not have a pool! The LaDore children must swim. We ate at Carmody's that night, a local bar and grill where you instantly feel welcome even though it's been a year since you last set foot in the door. The kids and I walked up to the local chocolate/candy store and bought fudge and goodies while we waited for a table.

Sunday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and then went to put our chairs out along the parade route. We can do this in Bennington and not worry that they are going to be stolen, as they would be if we did that at home. In fact, you can kiss a good viewing spot goodbye if you don't put your chairs out by 9 or 10 am the latest! We got ours out by 9:15 or so and then went for a ride. Then they dropped me off at church and Scott and the kids went to the VT state fish hatchery. My parents and grandparents used to take me and my brother there when we were little. For a nickel, you get a handful of stinky fish food pellets to throw in the fish ponds. The kids love this. They go throw several handfuls and watch to see if any fish jump up to ge the treats (the fish always do). Then it was time for the parade.

Oh the parade. We pretty much always sit in the same spot, right near this cute little antiques store called "Junque" and across the street from the big white-trashy family. Granted, there are alot of people who could fall into this category in this town (I still love you Benningtonians but I speak the truth). 3 years ago we sat in front of their house and shared the sidewalk with 1 guy, his 2 girlfriends, a gaggle of kids and someone's mother-in-law. At one point, one of the kids got some red lollipop stickyness on his face. To be nice, I pulled out a wipe and handed to his mom (at least I think it was his mom, it may have been his auntie or his dad's baby momma #2). But I digress....No, she didn't need my wipe, she just took off his tee shirt and wiped his face with it. Ewwwww...Do you see why we sit ACROSS the street from them now??? Anyway, my day isn't complete until I see "our friends" at the parade. Then there is the 35 year old still getting around town on his BMX bike. I should shut up now because if Scott and I ever hit Powerball we are buying land in Bennington and building a log cabin and these people could be my neighbors!!! But the kids love the bands and picking up candy that is thrown and of course the fire trucks, because the parade is sponsored by the fire department.

We swam in the pool Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday morning before we left for the Catskills. Catskills coming up in the next post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grumpy Checka

This daughter of ours is a real grump. I can't even begin to imagine what the teenage years are going to be like. I imagine there may be alot of alcohol involved (on me and Scott's part, not hers; we will need a stiff drink every night) and probably a belly piercing or maybe a tattoo (her not us). Yesterday I asked my mom to meet me at the library with the kids after I got out of work. She obliged and even took them a little early to choose their books. Well of course Miss Grumpy a bug up her butt about something, not sure exactly what. She huffed and puffed like the Big Bad Wolf over some (imagined) injustice committed by me unto herself. When we got to the car, my mom asked the kids for hugs and kisses. Gavin was more than happy to give Ma his cheek but Checka gave a humpf and got into the car. My mom said "Checka are you going to give me a kiss?" to which she answered with a humpf and a sigh. Gavin looked at my mom and said "I think that's a NO Ma!" We laughed and laughed and even F giggled a little at her own sillyness. I love Miss Grumpy but boy am I tired of her moods...

Tag Sale, Part 2

I forgot to mention Gavin's favorite (and first) tag sale "purchase" of the day - his old comforter off of "his" bed at my mom and dad's. He was HORRIFIED that my mom would even THINK of selling it. He actually dissolved into tears and hid in the basement after we told him that he could not keep it. Scott found him about 20 minutes later still crying. So after looking at his sweet tear-stained face we all said "OK Gav you can keep it". He was so happy that he dragged it upstairs to his room and put it on his bed. Neatly. He has proceeded to make his bed (with 2 comforters on it) for the past 3 mornings. So I guess I can't complain too much about it...Now if I could only find something that would make Francesca make HER bed!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Tag Sale

Saturday was our tag sale. As much as I enjoy getting rid of things, I absolutely hate having a tag sale. The haggling, the touchy-feely kids with their moms, the just drives me crazy. But it was time to do it, so do it we did. We were not as successful as in years past but we did get rid of our stuff. Whether we sold it or it went to the Salvation Army store it wasn't coming back into our house. Well there were a few things that made it back into the house, by way of Francesca and Gavin. They each "bought" a few things at the tag sale. Actually Gavin did - he rustled up a few quarters and handed them over to pay for his purchases. Francesca just blatently grabbed items off the table, huffed at us and walked away. These are the "treasures" that they each saved from the tag sale table:

GAVIN: a Boppy pillow; a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt (which was too small); a book or two; my brother's old dartboard and darts (Scott was actually in favor of that one)

FRANCESCA: a cosmetics bag; a shirt; a wooden cutting board (by that point she was just looking for anything to take)

We were exhausted by the end of the day and tired of trying to hide things from the kids. Thank goodness it will be another year before we do that again!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Sweetness that is Gavin

Well, sometimes...Last night he was so tired he fell asleep on the couch at 7:30. Thankfully he was already in his pj's. I was able to transfer him up to his bed and he slept until 6:15 this morning! So nice...He woke up in such a good mood. Happy and sweet and full of kisses and hugs. He got dressed without complaint and bopped downstairs, ready to start his day.

He watched me make Francesca's lunch and then told me to get out of the kitchen because he had to "do something". So I left. I went upstairs to wake up Scott and Francesca. When I came back downstairs, avoiding the kitchen of course, he had pulled a chair into the pantry so he could reach the cookie cutters. Then he got the bread and the peanut butter and proceeded me make me lunch! Exactly as how I make Francesca's. This is what my lunch bag had in it:

-2 peanut butter sandwiches, one in the shape of a star, the other in the shape of a heart
-a bottle of water
-Goldfish crackers
-fruit snacks
-a note written on a napkin that said "I love Mommy. From Gavin L."

Plus he wrote "MOMMY" on the paper bag and drew a happy face and a heart on a piece of paper and taped it to my lunch. I felt sooooo loved at that moment. When I ate it later for lunch it was truly the best peanut butter sandwich (sandwiches actually) that I had ever eaten. He was so happy when I called him later to tell him that I enjoyed it. It was a nice mommy moment!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tag Sale Woes

We are having a tag sale this Saturday. We do this every year, usually somehow on the hottest day all damn summer. This year the weather report is forecasting a high of 77, which is not bad. Last year it was so hot we sold water! And sold out of that! Francesca is selling lemonade this time around. Our problem is that the children do not want to sell any of their stuff. We have tried being rational..."Come on if you sell some toys you will have more room for new stuff". Doesn't work. We have tried being stern - "You ARE selling some of your toys!" We have tried appealing to their love of money (especially Gavin) - "Selling some old toys will fill up your piggy bank..." - nothing is working. They see items in the boxes and they take them out, telling us that whatever it is "is my faaaaaaaavorrrrittttte toy, Mommy how can you sell that, I play with it every day" - as I brush the dust off of whatever that toy is. Gavin has gone so far as to march upstairs holding things behind his back. They wear me down. Grammy Carol if you are reading this could you come over and amuse the children in the backyard on Saturday? My mom will be helping me with the hoardes of hagglers -"Oh this is marked a quarter, can I have it for 10 cents???" - NO says my mother. I need to make sure my children are otherwise occupied so I can sell their "treasures", ha ha ha...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The President's Job, According to Francesca

Last night, after all the wedding hoopla, we settled in to read some books. I read Francesca "Otto Runs for President" about a boy/dog who runs for class president. I told her that this year, our country would be electing a new President. She was very curious about why this was happening:

ME: "You know, this year the people in our country will elect a new President."

F: "REALLY??? Why?? Did the other one die or something?"

ME: "No, but after 4 years, or sometimes 8 years, we have to find someone new."

F: "I understand, he has a hard job. He has to go on TV a whole lot and go to a bunch of meetings. He wants to rest now."

ME: "Yes, I guess he is tired."

F: "And his daughter got married, I saw it on TV. He had to plan the wedding, I bet. He needs to retire. Planning a wedding is really tough."

Well that, in Francesca's option, was W's greatest contribution to the United States; helping to plan Jenna's wedding.

The Belle of the Ball

Yesterday was a busy busy day. It was Barbara and Pat's wedding day. Barbara is one of my co-workers, also a pediatric nurse. Pat is Scott's cousin (actually his dad's cousin but who's counting). They have been dating for 5 years and yesterday got married!! They met at Francesca's 1st birthday party, over strawberry shortcake. It's very sweet actually (the 2 od them I mean, not the cake, although that's good too). We were all in the wedding -

Me - Matron of Honor (or special person as I call myself, I hate the word MATRON)
Scott - Best Man
Francesca - Flower Girl/Fairy Princess/Belle of the Ball
Gavin - Ring Bearer/Mini Stud Muffin

The kids performed their parts beautifully. Francesca tossed lilac flower petals, and then later picked them back up, only to re-toss and re-pick all afternoon. She had her hair curled especially for the day and could not stop bouncing her curls, a-la-Shirley Temple. Gavin "carried the pillow" as he called it, WITH THE REAL RINGS!!! I told Barb she was taking a chance with that one but they held tight (so tight I almost could not get them off the pillow). They stood still throughout the ceremony and even walked back down holding hands. It was so cute. The kids knew they were on display, so to speak, and smiled from ear to ear the whole time.

The reception was fun, we all danced alot, and we got home by 4:30, exhausted and ready to collapse. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon but we were beat! After quick showers all around we got our pj's on and relaxed for the rest of the evening! It was a special and fun day!