Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First day of school

First day of third and fifth grade! Woo!

The kids couldn't have been more opposite this morning. Liam was excited to see old friends and to make new ones. Thea was full of dread.

Understandably, since her home room teacher last year was a semi-literate bully. But this year is starting out much better.

Liam asked multiple times if we could leave yet, can we go already, is it time, now? When we finally were ready, he practically ran to the car.

This was going to be the first year I didn't cry on their first day, until a school greeter called after us, "Don't blink, because it'll be over before you know it!" Thanks a lot, lady.

To celebrate (or maybe "commemorate" is a better word), we went out for sushi and talked about our days. The kids both gave the day 6 out of 10 stars, which really isn't that bad!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Somebody missed me

Whenever I sit down, there he is. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Vacation: Last day, heading home

Liam and I took the dogs back up the Dolly Sods for one last trip to the wild blueberry bushes. Thea, a night owl like Mike, has long since bowed out of the morning walk.

Nothing left to do but give into the Dramamine coma for the drive home. That's Augustine in the middle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 7

Mike very sweetly took the kids horseback riding one last time so I could go to the Dolly Sods and explore a little on my own and then just walk down the mountain about two miles back to the cabin. Once they dropped me off, though, I realized I probably wouldn't be able to explore too much. I have a horrible sense of direction and hadn't thought to bring water or anything besides my ID, in case I fell down a ravine and they needed to identify my body. Here's a map of the paths that's posted outside the entrance.

I decided to explore just a little, especially after I got a couple texts from friends asking how the GPS was on top of the mountain. (Spotty. Very, very spotty.) Sure was pretty, though, if a bit chilly. On the walk down I got to call my sister, who I hadn't talked to in almost a week, and I was blissfully, fully alone for the first time in as long. Definitely a high point for me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 6

We managed to squeeze in the dogs' morning walk before the rain came, but just barely. This was the fastest walk we've ever had. I was petrified that we were going to get caught in a thunderstorm, but we made it back to the cabin about 10 minutes before the skies opened up, and we still managed to explore the nearby forest a little.

Since it was raining, we decided to head out to the Seneca Caverns about 30 miles away. Some of the rock formations are 4500 years old, which is pretty amazing. At one point, the guide turned off all the lights so we could get an idea of how very, very dark it is when there's no ambient light at all. It was also there that I realized Liam is a little claustrophobic.

When we got back to the cabin, Liam, Mike, and Tina watched a baseball game while Thea and I watched shows on our computers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 5

On our morning walk, Liam and I met three other groups of people with dogs, mostly free-ranging but there was one nervous whippet on a leash. It was a lot of fun for us all. Two of the groups -- the ones with dogs off-leash, oddly enough -- encouraged us to go to the Dolly Sods Mountain to pick wild blueberries, and even better, they told us the ways to get there. It was a little tricky to get up the mountain, easy to find but a very steep climb, and totally worth it. Check out the view:

You can even see the lake we walk around every morning. The wild blueberries grow all along the trails.

It's a rough terrain for the almost-blind Hank, but the dogs still seem pretty happy:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 4

Blackwater Falls is less than 10 miles from our cabin and has an actual black waterfall. It also has well-maintained stairs leading to a viewpoint close to the falls.

You can't see the falls in the background very well, but it's pretty cool.

After the falls, we went on the ski lift that will take you up to the top of the mountain near our cabin. Thea and I got carsick last year, probably because Mike and Liam were in front of us swinging in their car. We kept muttering, "Please don't die, please don't die." Oh, the anxiety that comes with being sort of control freaks with free spirits in the family. This year we were in front and it was much better.

There's a forest up there that is really gorgeous and weirdly immaculate, like it's a movie set.

The view coming down is pretty fantastic, too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 3

Horseback riding day! We requested Thea's favorite horse from last year, Easter.

Liam got his favorite horse from last year, too, in a crazy coincidence. He had forgotten the horse's name until they told him he was riding Socks. Both were great horses, very sweet and plodding.

Mike rode Jolene. I begged her, please don't take my man.

There's also a petting zoo that has a kissing llama, somehow rescued by the owners, though I can't quite imagine how or why a lama would be abandoned in West Virginia. What weird-looking animals. I kind of want one!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 2

This is the second year we've been to the Canaan Valley for summer vacation, so we know the area fairly well. There's a lake in walking distance from the cabin with a well-marked path. We take the dogs for a morning walk every day.

The weather is nice, with the temperature about 20 degrees cooler than it is at home.

The dogs have so much fun. We can let them off leash, and they get to run as fast as they can for a pretty far distance before they race back to check on us. Hank has this expression on this face pretty much the whole time, dashing a short distance ahead and then racing back for us to tell him he's a good boy.

Tina spends most of her time running full speed, chasing wildlife or playing tag with Liam, and sometimes running into Hank when he gets in her way.

Last night around 1:00 am Mike saw a bat chasing bugs in the porch light, and tonight I saw a shooting star from the hot tub around 11:00 pm. So cool!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Vacation: Day 1

Summer vacation time! Mike drove the whole way from our home to a cabin in the Canaan Valley, West Virginia. It's actually pretty close, only about three and a half hours, depending on traffic. We can bring the dogs (and hamster), and since it's a ski resort in the off-season, we can get a whole three-bedroom house for not a lot of money. 

Mike's beat, so he's chilling out while I make us martinis from the travel bar I got him for his birthday.

The kids immediately hit the hot tub.

The dogs are .... Where are the dogs?