I think I say the same thing every summer, but it really has all been rushing by. So let me hit the high points so far for sometime this winter when I will be tired of drab and dry and gray and brown...
We went east much earlier this year for Mom's 80th birthday celebration. Here I am with the birthday girl:
And here's nearly everyone (save for the brother who took this shot) who assembled for the momentous occasion:
Here's a nice picture of the family:
After the party, things start to become fuzzy. The weather has been fantastic, but cool. So we went to the Zooquarium one day, and to the beach another -- actually two beaches that day, and my niece found a whelk which, post cooking and bleaching, makes a beautiful addition to her shell collection:
We made our annual pilgrimmage to Beebe Woods (nearly dead link, there), the beautiful conservation land up behind the Falmouth branch of the Cape Cod Conservatory, on the most perfect day imaginable -- clear blue sky, no humidity, not a mosquito in sight (although I insisted on insect repellent for everyone, remembering previous trips into these woods.) It's not so much a hike as an enjoyable ramble, with a snack at the Punch Bowl, the little kettle pond at the end of the mostly-easy path.
The way back was more nature-walkish, as I was finally able to get the kids to slow down enough to look at the dessicated lady slippers, the wild pink orchids formerly impossible to find, but seemingly everywhere this year. We saw indian pipes and smelled sassafras leaves and roots, found nests in trees and avoided poison ivy.
The weather warmed up a bit and we went to Good Will Park, where the kids can both swim and exhaust themselves on the playground equipment.
Road trip! We all -- Mom included -- piled into two cars and drove up to the New England Aquarium, where we saw Deep Sea 3D at the IMAX (you wouldn't think there would be much difference from theater to theater, given the IMAX format, but there is, and the NEA's IMAX is awesome), then wandered around the aquarium for a while, had a snack, plundered the gift shop, and then braved the rush hour traffic to head to my brother's house for dinner. That was a day... if I thought I would ever forget the details of its myriad stresses, I'd write them all out, but no one should have to endure such things, even second hand. Gorgeous things to look at in the aquarium, though:
Back on the Cape, the weather continued to warm up and so we tried out Wood Neck beach -- a great beach for combing, but not for the kind of play the kids like, and so back we went to our favorite, Chapoquoit, where we all had a blast jumping in the humongous waves. I was, in fact, in the water having fun myself, and so have no pictures to show for it.
And now I'm here, finally having a chance to blog. This summer things are very different at my Mom's because my sister-in-law is there with her two kids. The positives far outweigh the negatives, namely that my brother and his wife permit their kids to do all manner of things I forbid or strongly discourage in my own. I wondered how that would go, but it's been great because my sis-in-law doesn't expect me to keep my mouth shut when her kids get uppity, and she has taken many pages from my book (nearly literally -- I printed out a copy of Mrs. H's class rules for her, and she loves them).
It's fantastic having another grown-up around, too, as neither me nor my sis-in-law wants to burden Mom with anything, so it's great to have someone who can watch the kids while one of us runs an errand or something -- and it's just very nice to have someone around to have a cup of tea with in the evening after the kids are in bed, to review the day and just chat. This living arrangement gives me a good idea of what living in a traditional extended family must have been like. I'm sure it could be hellish if the wrong people were involved, but when we're talking about someone as nice as my sister-in-law, it's pretty awesome.