Henry, Nana, Sophie, Daddy, and Jack
I cannot keep up with this blog, but perhaps that’s appropriate, because I cannot keep up with these kiddos, either! They are growing so fast and moving so fast and talking up a storm. Some of our favorite mispronunciations and grammatical mishaps are “Hangurbers” (hamburgers), “Panio” (piano), “I right be back!” and “All of thems.”
This summer we enjoyed our first round of summer camp, trips to visit family, dipping our toes in the ocean, collecting stones, swimming, digging in the sand, and hitting up every playground, zoo, and museum we could find. Oh, and potty training. At least for some of us. A little less enjoyable for the rest of us.
Phase 1: Camp in the City
Henry, Jack, and Sophie had their first separation experience at summer camp this June and July. They went for two hours in the morning twice a week to cycle through art, music, and gym classes with several other playmates. This was a big deal for them! It took a while for H and J to adjust, but soon enough all three were saying, “Bye! See you later! Go get a coffee?” and waving us out the door as soon as we stepped off the elevator. Pictures are limited since they spent most of their time in those classes without us, but here they are waiting for the bus:
Riding the bus to and from camp was its own adventure. Jack thought it was like the merry-go-round, and he would say, “Again?” every time the driver stopped. Three toddlers on the city bus is still a two grown-up job, but fun to have more transportation options than triple strollers and wagons!
Summer days in the city also included a lot of time at the park. Raising three toddlers in the city certainly has its challenges, but boy, are we grateful for our proximity to Central Park. There is SO much to do. So much to explore! Here we are hitting up The Carousel, The Central Park Zoo, and the newly refurbished (do you refurbish a playground?) Ancient Playground. Sprinklers in general are a HUGE hit.
Lunch at the zoo:
And if we get tired of playgrounds and carousels, there’s always hide-and-seek. Hard to believe this is in the midst of a bustling city like Manhattan. Can you tell I love Central Park?
Weekend in Norfolk
The first part of our summer also included some time visiting Grammie and Nonno (and Pheobe) in Norfolk, where we enjoyed “riding” the train at “Grammie’s library,” “swimming” in Tobey Pond, and a visit with Grandma (Great Grandma).
Visit with Grandma:
We also enjoyed running down the hill at the Norfolk library and playing hide-and-seek in the windows.
Other highlights included a trip to The Farmhouse (that’s now the second restaurant we can add to our list), chalk graffiti on the new stone patio, and of course hanging out with Aunt Addie.
Mmmm….grilled cheese and french fries!
Our First Week at Nana’s
The Wengers Come to Visit
In addition to fireworks, summer camp, and countless hours in the park, July brought our annual cousin visit with the Wengers: one week at Nana’s house with ALL FIVE GRANDCHILDREN. That’s six adults and five children under the age of four. In what is technically a three-bedroom house. For EIGHT days.
Thank goodness for the big backyard.
And the bubble machine.
And the beach.
We spent a lot of time negotiating (and renegotiating) sleeping arrangements in an effort to establish at least a couple of hours when all five children would sleep at the same time. This is harder than you think. Or maybe it’s not if you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds nearly impossible.” It doesn’t help that our kids already treat bedtime like a slumber party every night. Poor Lily. Their attempts to soothe her, “It’s okay, Lily,” and “Don’t cry, Lily,” were rarely effective, but adorable nonetheless.
If negotiating sleeping arrangements with five under four was tricky, managing a *good* family photo of the cousins was impossible. Getting the five of them to sit in the same place was its own sort of struggle.
Four and a half?
Managing a decent photo once they were there proved even more difficult. Adorable matching outfits? Check. Adorable children? Check. Looking at the camera? Check/check minus. Smiling? Check minus.
There were MANY cookies involved.
We did end up with several hilarious outtakes. Scroll through to get a glimpse of what our photo shoot looked like.
This one makes my heart melt a little though:
On cloudy days, we were glad to have the Children’s Museum nearby.
And we were always glad to have big cousin Noah leading the charge.
Phase 2: Setting up Shop at Nana’s House
Ok, Grumples lives there too (and Dorothy), but if you ask Henry, Jack, and Sophie, they’ll tell you it’s Nana’s house. Sorry, Grumples! As July came to a close, we set up shop at Nana’s house for three full weeks of beach days, concerts in the park, swim practice, and various backyard shenanigans.
Here we are getting ready to go (plus a gazillion other bags):
Summer in the suburbs has a whole different feel from summer in the city. Traveling around by car (well, minivan), walking outside in bare feet (and with bare bums!), going to Target…these are all perks of Suburbia. A five minute drive to the beach? Yes, please.
Grilling, driving, mowing, snacking, cooking, reading, digging, swinging, running, sliding…endless hours of fun in the backyard.
Sorry, I just had to. This is SUCH a Sophie face.
Two (six?) thumbs up for sand. And Nana’s house has sand in the backyard AND at the beach (ocean side and bay side). There’s digging to be done, sand castles cakes to make, and feet to bury. When it comes to the water, Sophie and Jack enjoyed the ocean, while Henry was more interested in the bay. We all developed an affinity for collecting stones, though none of use were too discerning when it came to choosing our favorites. I’m pretty sure Nana still has thirty to forty rocks scattered about her house. And her backyard. And the patio.
Other highlights from Nana’s house?
We finally experienced Play-doh.
This is Jack. Clinging to his play-doh. Three containers of it.
They are kind of obsessed. It’s a little unhealthy.
Potty training. The short version: Henry is totally into it, Jack wants to be into it sometimes, and Sophie couldn’t care less. We’ve got one potty covered in stickers and another growing a bit dusty in corner. So…winter break?
Trying out our underwear in NYC
Target and Shop ‘N Stop!
In the city, EVERYthing is delivered. In Suburbia, we do the shopping ourselves. I swear these carts were designed specifically with us in mind.
Swimming Pools, Scooters, and Ice Cream
Ok, that last one is in Islip, but we went there during “Phase 2” of our summer. So nice to have so many family members nearby!
Challenge: Can you tell who is who in the picture on the left above? Hint: That’s me in the middle.
They liked it. I swear.
And best of all? Adventures. Loads and loads of adventures. We have those in the city too, but long summer weekends and laid back summer days meant even more time for frolicking about as a family. Our days at Nana’s were so full of adventures that the minute they woke up in the morning, Jack would ask, “Where we goin’ today, Mama? What we doin’ today, Mama?”
Our adventures included the aquarium, the game farm, the children’s museum, the ducks at the lake, and of course, the usual playground hopping.
The Aquarium in Riverhead
A HUGE hit! Even the shuttle to and from the parking lot was a success. And yes, there were monkeys at the aquarium. Go figure.
The Long Island Game Farm
Not gonna lie: this place was a little creepy. But everyone had their favorite part. Henry’s was the alpaca pen. Sophie’s was the ostrich. And Jack’s was probably the puddle. Let’s be honest. They all really liked the puddle.
Our days would often end with a concert in the park or dinner at the beach.
Phase 3: Maine!
This began with a 10-hour drive. Enough said.
I’m pretty sure this a mash-up of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Musical genius? Perhaps.
The drive included a stop at the Children’s Museum in Portland:
When in Maine…
Our week in Maine included SUPping (well, land SUPping if that’s a thing), hiking, drawing, and of course, popovers. JoPoHo. ALMOST worth the wait and the incredible lack of parking. ALMOST. Sorry, Aunt Addie!!!
Top of Cadillac Mountain
The biggest hit was probably the beach. Every afternoon at low tide we would venture down for some stone collecting, cake making, and toe dipping. No ocean is too cold for these kiddos.
We also caught a parade (“I don’t like these friends!”), went swimming in Echo Lake, and had our first guitar lesson. And a trip to the 5 and 10 was a fun (and inexpensive) way to kill some time. So was hanging out with Pheobe.
Whew. Up next? These kiddos are headed to school tomorrow!
The days are long, but man, the summers are short.