Can you even believe that it’s the end of the summer? It absolutely flew by, and now we have an entire year’s worth of French and several vacations under our belts. We’d have liked more rest and less work, but we did our best to compensate over the past week.
The kids had no preschool this week, so I entertained them with their Kindles in the morning and then led them on a different excursion every afternoon. I took my camera along to every activity, swearing to get pictures for you, and failing every time. In the end, we went to all our normal spots–three different parks, the frog pond, the library, and the natural history museum–and every time we arrived, nothing seemed novel enough to warrant a picture. Plus, at each park, I was busy reading a biography of Leonard Arrington. So, you know.
I did manage to snap a picture at the Frog Pond, amazingly. Here.
Perhaps the most fun excursion was to Harvard’s natural history museum on Friday. I got Rebekah in the habit of making comparisons between different exhibits–she was quite the little observer by the end–and Jared had fun reading all the placards. I first noticed him doing it in the prehistoric mammal exhibit. I snuck up just in time to overhear him sounding out a five-syllable species name. And he got it right! He also sounded out the word “pelican,” which was exciting, because it was an animal he knew, but hadn’t been able to identify by sight. And then, because the kids have been watching cartoons all week, they were especially excited by the pteranodon skeleton, thanks to the show Dinosaur Train. I love having kids old enough to engage with museum exhibits! This parenting gig just keeps getting better and better.
And I know you’ve already seen these quotes on facebook, but they deserve recording on the blog, too. We had the following conversations during a family night lesson on the scriptures:
Mike: These numbers are verses.
Rebekah: Look! More verses!
Mike: No, those are footnotes.
Rebekah: What are footnotes?
Mike: They’re beyond our borders. Never go there, Simba.
Mike (showing a picture of Lehi): Who is that?
Mike: No, it’s Nephi’s dad. What’s his name?
Jared: Nephi’s Dad!
Mike: No. Try again.
Rebekah: L… Leotard?
I’m still plugging away on PhD applications and Mike is still plugging away on his PPI course. The only change in my work schedule this week was that I helped one of my visiting teachees pack up her house before their big move out West. Now I understand why every apartment I’ve ever moved into has been filthy: it’s because no one moves like I do. I pack up several days in advance and then spend the next two days deep cleaning the apartment. Normal people pack up in the 48 hours prior to their move and don’t have any time left over for cleaning. And you know what? That’s brilliant. Less cleaning! Maybe I’ll have to try that trick next time around. Of course, I suspect that living in an apartment three times the size of mine also contributes to the complexity of the project. At any rate, I was happy to help, not least because I don’t have to move this summer!
And now for the event that we did get pictures of: our day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Remember how I was going to run a Ragnar but we ended up not being able to compose a large enough team so we settled for a 5k instead? That ended up being exactly the right decision. It was kind of expensive to rent a car for a day and drive down all for a measly 5k, but we knew that we’d probably never get out to Martha’s Vineyard without just this sort of excuse. So we woke up at 4:30 am yesterday and headed out. The morning was fairly nondescript: a long drive, awe at the efficiency of steamship authority’s parking, and a ferry ride to the island.
While I was purchasing ferry tickets, Mike was trying to get change for a $5 bill at a vending machine. We were hoping to stock up on quarters to use riding the bus, but instead the machine unloaded about $4.00 of nickels on us. We stashed them in our bag and used them for bus fare anyway, but ended up really annoying a couple bus drivers in the process.
A breakfast of teddy grahams on the ferry. This was also the last time we saw Jared’s sunglasses on the trip.
We landed on the island just in time to narrowly miss our bus, so we took a taxi to the registration spot instead. I initially only signed up for myself, but once the kids learned that there was a kids’ run, too, we went back and bought them a spot. After getting them registered and showing them the course, Rebekah said “Um, mom, I heard the lady say if you win there is ice cream.” Ah. Yes. This is my child. Now I know why she was so eager to run! I did my best to gently explain that there were much bigger children who would win, but that I would definitely find her some ice cream in the course of the day.
At 8:45 am, the kids lined up for a short dash between some parking cones, and it turns out that my children are either really fast (… not likely) or really serious about competition. They put on their game faces and took second (Rebekah) and third (Jared), although since the winner was a six year old boy, Rebekah was technically the fastest girl. It also turns out that the twins have hilarious game faces. Have you ever seen two preschoolers try to run at a dead sprint? They furrowed their brows and took off at a quickish waddle. It was amazing. And then they were each awarded with a participation medal (which Jared also promptly lost).
At 9:00 we saw off Tory and Rachel, who were part of the walking group. My race didn’t start until 9:30, so we stood around talking with the other runners (Blake, Austin, and Zach) until it was time to line up. And then we were off!
My strategy was mostly to not think about it too much. Every time I wanted to walk, I told myself “no” and then tried to distract myself. It was a really hot morning for a race, and my pace was much faster than I was used to, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sustain it, but I promised myself that I would run the whole way. I’m still quite slow, so it was somewhat discouraging to be passed up by people who did a mix of running and walking, but in the end I outpaced a few of them and since I didn’t come in dead last, I’m really proud of myself. The best part by far was, of course, crossing the finish line. I knew it would feel wonderful, but I hadn’t anticipated just how good it would feel! Wow. Super proud of myself! I took 111th overall with a time of 35:07. Nothing impressive, I know, but considering that I only started running in April, I’m going to keep riding a wave of self-created glory.
I drank some water, ate a banana, and then took the kids with me to the bathroom where I sponged down with antibacterial wipes and got dressed. Come to find out there was the option of a coin-operated shower across the hall, but oh well. No one else smelled particularly good, either.
We hung around in the park for a few more minutes while they announced awards. Blake and Austin got second and third in their age division (because they’re fast) and Rachel and Tory won first and second in their category (because there were no other female walkers age 20-29).
We cheered raucously and then set out on the rest of our Martha’s Vineyard adventure. First stop: the “gingerbread cottages” – aggressively cute cottages that started out as the tents for Methodist revival meetings and then became settled homes and then became icons of the “American carpenter gothic” style. They were fun to see, of course, and I adored walking around the church space in the center of the village. We also got to see inside one of the homes while Rachel and Austin played “I spy” with the kids outside (since there were so many colors, you see). It was basically like a miniature version of the Beehive House, though Brigham Young would have hated the exterior aesthetic.
Then we went in search of ice cream, but along the way decided we’d better eat a real meal first. We settled on Mexican at Sharky’s Cantina, marveled as Zach charmed his way into getting us a private room in the back, and chowed down on nachos and tacos. Then we found our way to the best-rated ice cream (Mad Martha’s), negotiated a taxi ride all the way across the island for the nine of us, and wound up for the rest of the day at South Beach.
Let me just say: this beach converted me to beaches. The water was warm, so I got to swim in the ocean for the first time and bob in the waves off shore. I laughed manically every time a wave crashed into me and washed me up, I laughed manically as I dug an enormous hole in the sand, and I giggled my way through being buried by the kids. Eventually my euphoria wore off, but I think the kids and I were the only people who spent the entire five hours playing nonstop. Instead of napping or reading like all the other adults, we dug holes and built walls and moats and giant basins to catch the water. I got an arm workout to match my run earlier in the day, and came home rubbed completely raw by all the sand. Also a touch sunburned. ‘Twas exquisite.
Trying out “drip castles” at the suggestion of the Slate Culture Gapfest (a regular podcast around here)
Then we navigated buses back to the ferry terminal (have you ever tried to get exact change for seven adults when everyone’s cash sources are depleted? We were the tourists everyone hated) and rode back to the parking lot, enjoying a gorgeous sunset on the ferry deck.
We met up for one final 9:00 pm meal at a seafood place recommended by Austin. Zach, Mike and I talked religion and philosophy while everyone else dozed off into their clam chowder. The kids, by this point, were completely zonked out. We carried them into the restaurant and let them just sleep on our laps. Not even the promise of french fries would wake them up. And then to get us home since our phone batteries were depleted, Zach loaned us his phone (which he had charmed several people into charging for him all throughout the day), which we dropped off in his mailbox on the way to our house. How did people get anywhere before Google Maps and GPS?!
And then we all crashed, of course, because what else do you do after 15 hours of straight travel and running and play? We woke up to beds full of sand and heads full of memories. Thanks, summer, for all the fun.