Monday, July 6, 2015

Fabulous Fourth!

What a lovely weekend we had.  Of course it wasn't without its moments, which happens with two active boys, but the big stuff went well and it was a very good 3+ day weekend.  Which means that going back to work today was pretty stinkin' hard.  Sigh.  I don't know if I just got spoiled when I was off work for almost three months, or if it's just hard because my job still isn't super busy (and this week will be exceptionally slow), but weekends have been extra sweet and Mondays extra tough ever since I have been back to work.  I think I'm just exceptionally tired and work weeks signify more tiredness.  Maybe someday I'll learn to go to bed earlier.

Anyway, having a full three-day weekend to look forward to after our half day off Thursday for the daycare tours was really nice.  I was determined to check a few summer bucket list things off this weekend, and Friday morning I somehow motivated myself to get the kids and myself ready to go to the playground while Craig worked on Friday morning.  Jacob rode his bike (still not going outstandingly well, but I can't tell if his bike is crappy, or the training wheels are making it hard, or if he's just not destined to be a bike rider), and Carter rode in the stroller.  I was tempted to do the wagon, but as much as Carter likes it, he seems to tire of it quickly sometimes and I knew the stroller would probably be more comfortable for both of us.  We took the 15 minute walk/ride around the corner, and Carter went right to the playground while Jacob played some basketball. 

Carter had a lot of fun on the playground, climbing and walking around by himself on the equipment and sliding down the slide a few times.  He even climbed the "rock" stairs by himself once I got him started, and I helped him across a very challenging obstacle that you'll see in a different picture below.  But how cute is he after climbing a ladder all by himself?

Eventually Jacob joined us and I helped him up to the zip line...
Jacob liked this a lot, but it's getting hard to lift a 52-pound kid up there! can see in the background of this picture the "rocks" Carter climbed.

Jacob also climbed his way across the obstacle I helped Carter on...and he posed for good measure...
Hard to see, but they were u-shaped bars, and I held one of Carter's hands while he stepped on them one by one.  He did great.  Jacob did pretty well, too, on his own.
 Carter wanted to climb this one, too...but I drew the line!

We moved on to a set of swings, where I tried to teach Jacob how to swing properly.  He's not quite there yet, I guess that is in the same category as bike riding!  Carter enjoyed a swing ride himself, and then we moved on to the bigger basketball court, where both boys attempted to play together.  It didn't go particularly well, but it was getting close to lunch time anyway so we headed home when things got too crazy.  Still, it was a fun little diversion for our morning. 

Craig came home mid-afternoon, and after dinner we headed out for ice cream!  We have to pick places with soft serve out of a machine, since scooped ice cream probably has traces of gluten from scoops touching cones and scooping other gluten-containing ice creams.  I'll take the small risk of letting Jacob spice his up with sprinkles, just to let him feel normal.  Both boys enjoyed their ice cream, with Carter enjoying the cone part of his more than the ice cream itself!

Saturday was a very low key morning.  Both boys were up early and yet Craig and I managed to hang out (mostly) dozing in bed until mid-morning.  I'm not sure anyone got dressed until at least 11am.  Sometimes you need mornings like that!  I think we were simply saving our energy for a busy end of the day!  Carter napped on schedule and I tried to nap, too, which didn't go particularly well because I woke up feeling crappier than I did before.  That's what I get for taking the lazy route, I guess.  Jacob and Craig played some lacrosse outside, and once Carter woke up, it was all systems go! 

First we went to McDonald's for dinner.  I know that seems like a depressing dinner on the 4th of July, but we found out they have talking Minions in Happy Meals right now and the boys LOVE them.  After dinner we drove just down the road to our local mini golf place.  We had some passes left over from another visit and Carter was free, so we had a nice free round of golf, Carter's first!  We took Jacob around the same age so I knew pretty much what to expect!
Carter checking out the alligator and Jacob looking ready to go!
Carter did a lot of the same stuff Jacob did--picking up the ball and putting it right by the hole.  He'll get it eventually!  Jacob still makes up his own rules sometimes (lots of "practice shots"!), but he actually did pretty well!  He did really well with his putts a couple feet out from the hole.  I was impressed, and he only finished a few shots behind us!  Craig and I battled back and forth the whole match, and I only had two holes where I had problems...but in the end they cost me the game!  I lost by one stroke!  Oh, well.  We had fun!  Here are a few shots...
I think this was on the first hole and Carter was figuring out where his ball went!

Jacob lining up a putt while Carter waited near the hole

Carter is pointing to the giraffe on the course, which we pass by in the car all the time!
After golf, we headed into the arcade.  We had some tokens to use that I think came from a birthday party Jacob went to a couple years ago.  We had fun and managed to rack up over 90 tickets, which was enough to get Carter a toy truck and Jacob a mini squirt gun, plus a couple pieces of candy.  Not too shabby! 

Among the leftover tokens was a larger one that we figured was for the batting cage, so Jacob got his first taste of "real" pitching!  He seemed to get a bonus on his 30 pitches (60?  They just kept coming!) and he only made contact with about three of them.  The bat was a little heavy and he's used to easy pitches from his coaches, so it was a challenge.  Even when he faces pitches from a pitcher they'll probably be considerably slower than the "slow" machine here.  He was a trooper, though, and didn't get down on himself at all, which was good to see!

After that, we sat in the car and debated whether we were going to go home or tack one more activity on to the evening.  If you look back in this blog (as I just did), you will see a major lack of proper 4th of July activities over the years.  We've hosted a couple parties and gone to a couple more, and I was surprised to see that we did the mini golf thing on the 4th when Jacob was three (click here for cute pictures!).  However, the refrain in each of those posts is that we hadn't done real fireworks on the 4th since the year before Jacob was born!  And every year it bugged me, since I have great memories of going to them as a kid, battling sandflies by the river, begging for a glowing necklace, and hiding from the booms in the car!  I know, sounds great, right?  But really, I loved the family picnics in the afternoon and spending the evening staking out our viewing spot, laying out on a blanket, eating cherries and candy and drinking pop, and waiting for the show to start.  It simply *was* the 4th of July for me.  And we hadn't done it as a family since we had a family of our own.  It's too much of a hassle to go downtown, and for a few years our town didn't do a display.

I was determined that this year was going to be different.  Carter really seemed to like the fireworks at the baseball game a few weeks ago, the town was doing a display, and we decided to stick close to home and have a nice, quiet weekend with no travel.  Without other activities to spice up the weekend, I really wanted to try.  Still, right up to when we got in the car after golf I got a little hesitation from the boys, but I insisted that we try it this year since it was a nice night.  If it was terrible, we didn't have to do it again, but I wanted to try once.  So off we went.

The event was on the grounds of the town hall, library, and courthouse.  It's a pretty big complex with a playground, brand new spray park, pickle ball courts, a large event pavilion, and lots of parking and green space.  We were encouraged to park at the high school and shuttle over. Some people parked at the Wegmans a little bit down the road and walked, but the shuttle seemed fine so we took that.  Carter loves buses so of course he was excited about the bus ride!  In fact, I think that may have beat out the fireworks for him!  The ride was quick and once we got there we wandered around a bit.  It was busy but not overwhelming.  The lines for the handful of food trucks and vendors were long, so we just walked a bit and ended up running into Jacob's baseball coach and his family.  We chatted with them, and eventually we all picked a spot in front of the library where the kids played while we waited for the 9:45 start time.  It was a nice night, though slightly cool by the time we settled in, but really pleasant.  Carter filled up on a few snacks, and we watched someone's rather impressive backyard fireworks display over the trees toward the lake.  Shortly before our show started we started noticing little lights in the sky, and we realized they were those floating lanterns.  It was so pretty!

Finally the fireworks started, and now I know where our tax dollars go!  What a great display it was!  Here are a few of my favorites (and have I mentioned how much I love my camera?)...

I was still a little worried about the shuttle ride back, but we got on a bus right away.  We did have to stand as we were some of the last on, which is a little harrowing with two kids to hang on to, but it was only a short trip and we did pretty well.  The kids fell asleep on the 10 minute ride home and went down easily when we got there.  What a great night!

Yesterday was a pretty low-key recovery day.  After the late night and Carter sleeping until 9am, we opted to stay home from church (sometimes the battle offsets the good) and I spent my morning in the kitchen.  I trimmed up a big pack of chicken, portioned out five pounds of beef, made a batch of meatballs, and made banana oat chocolate treats with a couple overripe bananas.  After a late lunch, I put Carter down for a nap a little after 2pm and quickly headed out to BJs to buy much-needed diapers and a few other things.  I needed to stop at Walmart after that for a couple other things and made it home a little before 4 to the news that Carter had only fallen asleep about 15 minutes earlier.  I guess sleeping in left him too well-rested to nap! 

I ran out to the yard and did some trimming to work up a sweat before attempting to go into the pool.  Despite having it open earlier than usual, we haven't been able to go in it.  We've had pretty cool weather in general, so the pool was having a very hard time warming up.  It got warm a few days before Jacob's party, and Craig got to go in once then, but then it was very cool and rainy for a few days so it got cold again.  But after a few days of sunny, warmish weather over the weekend, I really wanted to get in one pool day!  Fortunately it was warm enough (a few cool spots, but fine once it got churned up) and the three of us enjoyed our time.  Eventually we went in to wake up Carter (guess his pool time will have to wait--maybe an evening this week!) and get dinner ready.  We grilled some burgers and then settled in for the Women's World Cup final match...and the U.S. Women won!  All of us in Rochester are extra proud since team star Abby Wambach is a hometown girl!  In fact, someone Craig and I worked with is her cousin, and she and her family even drove up to Montreal last week to see the semi-final game!  It was nice to see Abby finally get a World Cup after years of trying, and we couldn't help but smile watching everyone celebrate!  It was a great way to end a fun holiday weekend! 

Now it's back to the grind.  I have a quite boring week ahead of me because we're waiting for the books to close before we can start any real work.  I'm doing some planning for my conference in a couple weeks, and that's about all I have right now.  I booked a lunch for Thursday and I'm leaving early on Friday, hopefully to give us a head start on a trip to the drive-in (Carter's first and Jacob's first in memory) to see Minions!  We're planning on stopping at our favorite gluten-free pizza place on the way there, and depending on which drive-in we end up going to (waiting on schedules and all that), there might be more mini-golf or other fun on the horizon!  It's nice to have something to look forward to, but this past weekend might keep me smiling for a while.  For the first time in eight years, my fireworks quest was a success!!


Unknown said...

I have some overripe bananas to use. Do you have a link to the recipe for those treats?

AmyRyb said...

I just found it on Pinterest and there's a ton like it there, but I can just tell you's really easy. Take a cup of oats (I use gluten-free ones), two mashed ripe bananas, and as many chocolate chips as you want. I usually do about a quarter cup and throw a few more in. Mix it all up, and spoon out little piles (I just use a normal spoon) on a very lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Sometimes the bottoms get a little more done, so keep an eye on them depending on the pan you use. They don't seem to brown much on top or anything; they just tend to "set" a bit. Let them cool on wire racks (wait a couple minutes to move) and store in an airtight container. They *will* mold after a few days, so don't be shy eating them! The texture is a bit odd (spongy?), I'll admit, but I find them satisfying with the heartiness of the oats and the touch of sweetness with the chocolate. Hope that helps!

Unknown said...

Thank you!!!