Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Three Hour Tour

We took Lilly and Mike out for lunch to BSpot, the Michael Symon restaurant where Natty works. It's a casual burger joint whereas his other restaurants are more along the lines of fine dining. We assume this is intended to eventually become a small chain and make all the money. The big window was open to the sunlight and available for us to take a group photo on.
There are laminated rules on every table. Michael Symon must be very uptight. I like that.
There are six different sauces on each table. There's also a pickle bar.
His wife designed the decor. It's, um... let me just say that all of the separate elements are nice. I don't quite understand them together.
Natty checked her schedule while we waited for our order.
After lunch, we'd intended to go on a hike, but we got started so late that there wasn't time before Natty had to work, so we just sat outside in the sun and walked around Barnes & Noble next door. I bought a Janice Vancleave book for the boys and a new journal for myself with a gift certificate Natty had given me for Mother's Day.

The boys played on the lazy guardians to the mall.

We left Natty and took Lilly and Mike to see Squires Castle. Since it was Saturday, there were tons of people there, including folks setting up for a wedding. We explored inside, then went for a hike on the long trail behind the castle.

Lilly requested that Bastian give her a piggy back ride.

Up the trail, Lilly got to see our gnarly tree in person.
Just off the path, we spied this, but weren't sure at first what it was as it looked like a snake with really long front arms. For a second, I got excited with recognition that it was a skink, but then I realized that wasn't right either. It was a snake with a frog or a toad in its mouth. We all looked at it long and hard. Eventually, the kids misstepped and the snake got scared and dropped its meal and darted under a tree trunk.
The frog didn't look good. We decided to take off and hope that the snake came back to finish its meal.
The boys led us off the marked path, along a shortcut straight up a steep incline instead of meandering around the side.

We discovered giant mushrooms.

At one point, we looked back and discovered Bastian had given up. Eventually, he decided to rejoin us.
We took a rest for a bit, trying to catch salamanders under fallen logs and to get photos of larva that didn't come out clear. We discussed whether we should turn around or keep going as we'd reached the furthest point in the trail the boys and I had been before. Some women came along and asked about where the trail we were following had come from. We told them then asked about where they'd come from. They said they'd come from around the same place and that they'd been on the trail a long time - that it twisted and turned a lot. We asked about how long and they estimated 40 minutes. That didn't seem too long, and the way they'd said it made it sound as though the path went in a big circle somehow, so we decided to forge ahead.

We took a few more breaks to climb trees.

I climbed this big tree first and then started walking again. I looked back over my shoulder to discover Bastian halfway up, further even than I'd made it. I had to go retrieve him. Then Aleks followed us both up and I had to be very careful to get us all down.
On another brief break, we looked down to see fur coming out of the rocks in the path. I pressed on the spot with my foot and saw there was some give to it. We thought there might be a dead animal there, though that didn't quite make sense. Then we looked around and saw the fur in multiple different places. It seems that it's some kind of fungus or moss growing on the roots of the trees there. It was very strange.
After a long while on the trail, the boys got tired and hot and took their shirts off. They also started complaining heartily.
We saw what looked like lightning strikes between the complaints.

After what was definitely much more than 40 minutes, we came out of the trail in a place not at all where our car was. In fact, we were quite far away. We crossed the road there and found bathrooms and a water fountain near a shelter where people were having a birthday party. We sat and rested for awhile, then consulted a nearby trail map. We discovered a shorter path than the one we had taken that went back to Squires Castle and decided to take it. The children at this point were very impatient with us, but made the hike anyway.
We weren't totally convinced that the path wouldn't still take quite awhile as it was hard for us to judge distance and time. Luckily, it turned out to be quite a short path and cost us only another half hour on the trail. All in all, we'd been hiking for about three hours. Everyone was pretty spent and we went home to dinner that Jon had prepared for us.

Second Birthday

In a long tradition of spoilt children (read the best possible meaning into this, whatever it is), Aleks decided he would have two birthday parties - one at the grandparents as we traditionally have and a second at home with friends. He called it a "Friend's Birthday," naturally. We agreed as we are in love with our son and he is getting older and this makes sense. He wanted the theme to be mythological, so I made up an invite, sent it out, and did not much else theme-wise.
Aleks decorated gift bags himself, however, all with different creatures, people, or gods from greek myth. I didn't get a chance to photograph them all. We invited many friends and neighbors and spent the day indoors eating pesto and eggplant Parmesan. I swear we have parties just to rid ourselves of excess CSA vegetables.
Of course, there was cake (chocolate beet cake with chocolate ganache and powdered sugar).
To satisfy the "meeting Poseidon" bit on the invite, we had a water balloon toss and a slip and slide. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it rained most of the day. I will say a water balloon toss in a rainstorm with a bunch of 5-8 year olds is pretty amusing. Also, very wet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lilly's Visit

Lilly came to visit with her new boyfriend, Mike. We liked Mike quite well. He gave Aleks a piggy back ride on the way to sushi for lunch. Aleks ate raw salmon, which he likes almost as much as cooked salmon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer Camp, Day 2

On the second day of camp, Bastian would have none of it. I got him ready with Aleks and we went to drop Aleks off together and I convinced him to come in, but once we got to his classroom, he was not interested in staying without me. So I sat with him awhile and then I assisted while he put a puzzle together. When it came time for the class to do their thing, however, he really still just didn't want me to leave.

Bastian is not much of a joiner. He needs to feel comfortable. He needs a very familiar grown-up or older child (read: Aleks) or at the very least, a familiar context, before he's excited and able to do all the fun things. This is fine with me. It's just who he is. I was told that he should be able to be alone without me. I informed the speaker that he is perfectly capable of such given certain circumstances that make him comfortable and anyway, he's five, so what-the-eff-ever.

In the end, I stayed for the whole two-and-a-half hours instead of going home and baking apple cake for City Fresh customers. We did a stupid craft, listened to a stupid story, and were chastised for not sitting still while children behind the back of the "teacher" got away with hitting one another freely.

Then it was time for a walk, which was very good because a room full of four and five-year-olds need to MOVE. Seriously. We stopped by the butterfly garden, checking the milkweed for bites out of it and searching for caterpillars. There were none.

Then we moved on through the forest and I took photos, as usual, to occupy myself. Bastian hung very close to me, initially. I spied little things, like burnt bits of paper laying near the fire pit... Spider webs in the sun...
leaves reflecting on the water...
Minnows in the stream...
And finally, there were monarchs, not eating milkweed.
And Bastian and I were together...

I inherited his name-tag for the remainder of the walk while the "teacher" repeatedly asked him to stop running ahead. By the end of the day, I didn't like her. She wasn't awful, and I'm sure other parents thought the camp was fine, and I'm sure that really, it was just fine, but my standards must just be really high because I just don't do busy work with my kids and see no use for it in a summer camp. Sigh.
Afterward, we took Bastian to get his hair cut.