Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Elmo Birthday

Wes turned two! AND I'm finally posting about it!

Wes is one of the youngest of his little group of friends, so over the last six months the anticipation for his birthday has grown as he's gone to each of their birthday parties. He'd also been planning out his own party in in his head, so that when I asked him what we should have at his birthday the response was, "Cake pops. Birthday cake--two candles... Wes blow it. Presents. Wes open them." I would try to follow up with what he wanted in those presents but he didn't know. As the day got closer he started adding in "Pizza" and "Balloons."

I struggled with what do for the theme since wes has such a wide variety of interests. I considered sports, or Thomas but then one of his friends did that. And then one day I realized it simply had to be Elmo. 

So here are Wesley's requested cake pops... Elmo-ified:
A little creepy? Admittedly. A hit? You Bet.

For Pizza we had a little mini-pizza bar (on english muffins). I even found mini pepperonis at Winco, which were awesome. It started out on a low table, but moved to the kitchen counter when we discovered we had a roomful of cheese-snatchers.

While they baked, we did an Elmo plate "craft" i.e. I cut out the eyes and noses and didn't want to have to glue them all myself.

Once Wes had his food, he parked at the kitchen table and remained there eating for the next 45 minutes. His table buddies changed several times, but my super-eater kept right on going. When it was time for his "cake-two candles" I brought it over to the table, he stayed there to blow them out... and then continued to sit there to eat the cake. And that's okay because it was his party and he can eat if he wants to. 


And the bribe I had ready for parents to help them get their kids out the door at the end:

Wes had a great time. I know, because he re-hashed the party to me as he was going to bed that night. "Blow out candles, eat elmo cake pop..."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Portland to Portland

Here's Day 2 of our Hasty New England Tour!

Portland, Maine (7:30 AM)
Had breakfast at the hotel and hit the road! We thought we'd keep cool by checking out downtown early, but we were already too late. It was in the 90's by 9:30. It was still fabulous though. Portland's downtown was really cute- still has some cobblestone streets and sits right on the coast. In fact if I had to briefly describe the differences between the Portlands it would be:
Portland, Maine: Quaint, colonial, clean, coastal (like Boston except with fresh air and a chill pill)
Portland, Oregon: Funky, eclectic, artsy, and green (like nowhere else really)

We decided by 10:30 that it was quite frankly too hot to be downtown, and headed towards Two Lighthouse State Park. We saw a sign just before the gate with an arrow to the lighthouses going a different way, so we followed it and found this:

Wes wasted no time in getting to exactly what he does at the beach back home. 

We were there for probably half an hour when some divers popped up out of the water and came to shore.
We chatted for awhile and asked if the lighthouses are out here, what's at the state park? They said nothing really, and directed us instead to the Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth. And away we went.

Cape Elizabeth, Maine (12:00)
We went to the Portland Headlight which is surrounded by the cutest little park, that also has the remains of Fort Williams and some other sweet "ruins." (Can I just note this park was free? We've discovered how hard that is to come by out here. It was provided by the citizens of Cape Elizabeth... so thanks guys, we loved it!)

Then it was back through 18ish miles of New Hampshire to...

Salem, Massachusetts (4:00 PM)
We were hoping for some fun history stuff but were generally disappointed. The streets were lined with hokey witch-memorabilia shops and palm readers. Someone had tried to make a Boston-like trail at one point but it stopped & started and branched, and was utterly unhelpful. In fact, it seemed like everyone we passed asked for directions. The visitor's center seemed embarrassed about the whole witch thing and pretty much ignored it talking about the area's rich history in commerce instead.  
Here's us taking an AC break in the visitor's center. That's Laine holding Wes, he's still alive and managing a smile. We had dinner and headed out to our final destination!

Concord, Massachusetts (7:15 PM)
Our stop here was at Walden Pond (made famous by the transendentalist, Henry David Thoreau). My New England Guidebook only mentioned it, so our decision to stop was based entirely on my memory of reading E.B. White's Essay "Walden" in High School. 

The park actually only allows 1000 visitors at a time, in order to preserve some of the feel of Thoreau's Walden. When we called at 5 they were too busy, but by the time we got there enough people had cleared out that we were able to get in. It was Cam's official favorite stop on our trip (probably because it involved trees).

Here's Wes checking out the replica of Thoreau's cabin. Just about the right size.
And then we long-sprinted home and slid in exhausted, sore, burnt, swollen, and thoroughly pleased at 10:30. Not bad for a two-day trip!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Hasty New England Tour

Last weekend we got a pleasant surprise: all the doctors at Cam's clinic were out of town Friday, so he got the day off. With exactly one day's notice, we planned a crash-bang whirlwind trip to check out all the cool things we could think of to the general northeast of us.

Cam mentioned our sweet plans to his fellow-intern at work, Laine, who had no clue what to do with his day off aside from his ironing. So Laine came along... on what turned out to be a 10hr road trip with a nearly 2-year-old. In the Fiat. What a trooper.

Friday 8:30 AM
Pick up Laine and hit the road. Wes and I say, "Hey, nice to meet you!"

Providence, Rhode Island (10:00 AM)
Online, we found a handy 1 mile walking tour that hit up some historical buildings and took us through part of the campus of Brown University. What we didn't anticipate was that it would be straight up the side of a hill, and that it would already be over 90 degrees out.  Here we are after sweating up to Prospect Terrace Park, which overlooks the city. Wes saw a bird on the other side of the fence.
Check out this nearly 400 year old (1638) Baptist Church that still manages to look fabulous. I hope I look this good at 400.

I loved this building- so eclectic. I'd like to live in a house like this someday... except perhaps in purple. 

We ate our lunch in a park (hot, and sticky!) and popped in the car with the AC on high at noon.

Plymouth, Massachusetts (1:00PM)
I had to switch shoes because it was so hot my feet were swolen. We saw the famed Plymouth Rock, and tried to explain to Wes who the Pilgrims were (came to America on a boat) he thought real hard and decided they were Nephites. Close enough.

We checked out the site where they think the first Thanksgiving probably happened.

And then meandered through the Pilgrim Burial Ground (where 45 of 102 of the Mayflower passengers were buried after the first winter... only 4 women survived, talk about lame odds). We found this pair of grave stones and thought it was quite sweet (they say "Parted Below" and "United Above").
We stopped in a store for their air conditioning, and bought some overpriced water because we were completely out. Back in the car at 3PM!

Cambridge, Massachusetts (5:00 PM)
Owing to the fact that it was rush hour, the heat, and our satisfaction with our tourist experience in Boston the last time around, we decided to skip our way around Boston altogether and check out Harvard's home in Cambridge.

I had to switch shoes again because my feet had swollen up even more. We walked around the campus a bit, although the big fat bummer was that we were there the weekend of graduation, so campus was a mess (quite literally, there was trash EVERYWHERE. Wes was appalled.) Although they did have cool flags up.

 It was so smart of us to bring along a captive family-picture-taker. We should do that more often. Here's us with good old John Harvard.

At this point we were starving, and quite luckily found ourselves at Crema Cafe *I want to give them a shout out for the sweet potato sandwich that Wes and I both loved. I know it sounds crazy, but I asked the guy for the best not-warm sandwich they do and that's what he told me. I tried to recreate it at home this week and had to settle for tasty, but not nearly as awesome.* Cam nearly missed the meal due to parking difficulties, (which should not happen in a Fiat, but did, which goes to show how terrible parking is).

Then we popped back in the car for a drive through the rest of Massachusetts, 18 miles of New Hampshire (check that off), and on into Maine. Much to everyone's dismay, Wes was not tired yet, and sang a good portion of the way. 

Portland, Maine (9:30 PM)
We checked into our Hotel and called it a night. The other half of our trip will have to continue in the next post!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lobsterfest

At a library booksale that we went to two and a half years ago I picked up a copy of Eyewitness Travel: New England thinking, "We may have just moved back to Oregon from New York, but what the heck? This may come in handy someday and it's 10 cents."

Oddly enough, here we are a few short years later, and I've note-taken, dog eared and memorized passages of that book. One section of particular interest to us was the one that talks about different festivals and when they happen. And it just so happened that our first weekend in New England was the start of Mystic, Connecticut's Lobsterfest.

So we popped in our tiny white car (with incredible gas milage!) and drove 2 hours to Mystic. Wes was less than thrilled about it and kept asking "mommy [where are we] going?" and we would tell him we were going to see lobster, which satisfied him, although he had no idea what they were.

Mystic also has a pretty awesome Historic Seaport (and the world's largest maritime museum) where they have exhibits on whaling and clamming and such things as a seaport would be into. We got to climb on an 1840's whaling ship that was undergoing restoration and check out some sweet old-school "schooners" too.



And then there were lobster. Not necessarily New England lobster, as my book pointed out (so many lobsters are consumed during Lobsterfest that they have to import some from Nova Scotia), but at least they were real live lobsters IN New England.

Wes is a little excited and a little afraid of it. He didn't actually touch or eat any of the lobster.

Confession: I've never actually had lobster before and had no idea how to... er... deal with it. I had to ask an elderly couple sitting behind how one should attack a lobster. They were more than happy to explain and demonstrate. I eventually got it figured out, although probably half of my lobster was left uneaten because I couldn't get over thinking about what duties that organ had recently been performing.

The highlight for Wes was the 1930's wooden ferry that takes you from one side of the seaport back to the other. It's only about a 5 minute ride, so when we got there we asked him if he had a fun ride and he replied "No, still workin' on it."

He told me that he and Dad want a boat. I'm pretty sure Cam put him up to it. Sorry guys, but I can't think of any reasonable way to buy a boat in New England and get it to Oregon when we move back in October.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Arrived at the blue house

We did survive the flight! I've had several concerned phone calls due to the digital silence over here - sorry to leave you all hanging. We've been busy...

Since Cam had to start work last Monday, Wes and I did the 2hr flight to 3hr layover to 5hr flight on our own last Wednesday. To sum it up briefly, if I ever fly solo with a small child again I'll be flying Virgin because they were fabulous. I found out the night before that they check all baby gear for free, so the stroller and pack and play made the trip after all. Also, if you're flying with a lap child and there's an empty seat on the plane they automatically put it next to you, so for one leg we had another seat and for the other we had a whole row. It was also nice that we found an empty gate during our layover, so we played some music and had a dance party.

Meanwhile, already in Connecticut, my brother (who lives a half hour away) was kind enough to lend Cameron his bike to get around. He went to look at a car that he wasn't thrilled about, so he called up the rental company and worked out a pretty sweet deal on a long-term rental that will cost us about what buying would have, only instead we get to drive this:
A cute little Fiat that Wes affectionately calls our "tiny white car." 

Wes also has dubbed our house "Wes-ey's  Blue house" although it is actually a white house. I couldn't figure out why he saying it was blue and brown at first, until I realized that the door is blue-grey and there are 3 wooden steps up to it, which is probably about all he sees. We live in a 3-story house that's been sub-divided, so we have half of the first floor. It's almost the same-size as our townhouse was in Oregon, except unstack the top floor and line all the rooms up with one extra long hallway down the side for running while going "AH-uh-AH-uh." 

So thanks to Virgin checking the pack 'n play, and Amazon for delivering our bed, we had half of our essential furniture. On Thurs and Fri, we spread out a blanket on the kitchen floor and had a picnic for each of our meals, which severely impacted what we could eat (Wes+spaghetti+sitting next to his plate+14inches floor to mouth=mess). Finally I found a table and 4 un-matching chairs on craigslist for $40 and offered the lady $50 if she'd drop them off (Fiat=itty bitty storage space).  I had no idea how much our quality of life would improve after having a table. Wes was so excited he made us all sit in chairs around the table just to sit there. He assigned the 4th chair to my brother's wife Katelyn should she come visit us at mealtime. 

So there you have it. We are very much alive and adjusting. We've even had a couple adventures, and depending on how long Wes keeps napping I may get to tell you about them!