Tag Archives: kids

The Long and Winding Road

Our trip home took us across Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Jackson, Gadsen, Leon, and Jefferson counties (and that was simply along Interstate 10). Then, we headed south following U.S. 19 to avoid traffic nonsense on I-75 so we hit up Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties before arriving in our home county of Pinellas. 17 Florida counties (out of 67) on our return trip for a wild 8+ hour car ride. We are happy to be home.

We did some adventuring along the way with a visit to Falling Waters State Park in the Panhandle (Washington Co.) to see the tallest waterfall in Florida. Yes, you read that right – a waterfall exists in Florida. It is 73-feet tall and descends into a sinkhole in true Florida style. There are multiple sinkholes to see along a nice boardwalk trail, and wikipedia tells me that they were used as hideouts by Native Americans fighting against Andrew Jackson during the Seminole Wars.

My kids loved trying to throw rocks and leaves into the sinkholes when Keith and I weren’t looking (don’t they know that we are always watching?), running down the boardwalks, and fighting to be the leader of the hike. The other highlight was getting to see a fox squirrel build its nest, and simply being out of the car and not at a rest area/gas station along the highway.

Throwing sticks and leaves

While we were looking for lunch, we got alerts that a tornado warning had been issued for our county and given the previous weeks’ situation with tornadoes and the fact that there is literally no where to go to hide from tornadoes in Florida, I low-key panicked. Luckily, they were spotted about 45 minutes west of us so we quickly ate and got back on the road, refusing to stop for the kids until we were out of the panhandle. I don’t think any tornadoes touched down in the area where we were, but it was still scary. The rest of the car ride home was uneventful. We ate dinner in Crystal River and brought food to Keith’s parents (who were staying in a hotel there for the night), and then finished the long trek home.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I would go back to Gulf Shores again (even though it’s the same Gulf of Mexico we have here in Pinellas). It’s nice to enjoy a change of scenery that is reminiscent of home.

Henry’s Book List 2020 – Age 6 years 8 months to 7 years 7 months

Henry loves reading so much, and it makes this mama proud. He is rarely found without a book (or several) nearby as he has discovered that the time is always right for a good book. He definitely is most into graphic novels, but also enjoys adventurous chapter books. It’s difficult to find a sweet spot for a 7 year old reading at a higher grade level – he wants pictures to accompany the text. I don’t really deny him any books he wants to read due to content but some I make him read with me. His favorite series last year included The Bad Guys, The Last Kids on Earth, Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles, Dream Jumpers, Olga, InvestiGators, Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, Hilda, Super Sons, Big Nate and Max & the Midknights, Dog Man, Cleopatra in Space, Harry Potter, 5 Worlds, Wings of Fire, Baby-Sitters Club, Hilo, Secret Coders, and Science Comics.

Here’s the full list of what he read, in alphabetical order by author’s last name (I think it’s complete – it’s been hard to keep up with him!):

  • Giants Beware! (2012) by Jorge Aguirre [DID NOT LIKE]
  • Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! (2019) by Cece Bell
    • El Deafo (2014) by Cece Bell
    • Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir (2019) by Julie Bertagna
    • The Bad Guys – Dawn of the Underlord (#11) (2020) by Aaron Blabey
    • The Bad Guys – The Baddest Day Ever (#10) (2019) by Aaron Blabey
    • The Bad Guys – The Big Bad Wold (#9) (2019) by Aaron Blabey
    • The Last Kids on Earth & the Midnight Blade (#5) (2019) by Max Braillier, Douglas Holgate
    • The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond (#4) (2018) by Max Brallier, Douglas Holgate
    • The Last Kids on Earth & the Nightmare King (#3) (2017) by Max Brallier
    • The Last Kids on Earth & the Zombie Parade (#2) (2016) by Max Brallier
    • The Last Kids on Earth (#1) (2015) by Max Brallier
    • Star Wars: Jedi Academy (#1) (2013) by Jeffrey Brown [DID NOT LIKE]
    • The Sign of the Black Rock (Three Thieves #2) (2011) by Scott Chantler
    • Tower of Treasure (Three Thieves #1) (2010) by Scott Chantler
    • The Last Firehawk – The Ember Stone (#1) by Katrina Charman [DID NOT LIKE]
    • The Weirn Books, Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods (2020) by Svetlana Chmakova
    • Zantana & the House of Secrets (2020) by Matthew Cody
    • George’s Marvelous Medicine (1998 edition) by Roald Dahl
    • Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles – Dungeon Crawl (#5) (2019) by Nick Eliopulos
    • Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles – Ghast in the Machine! (#4) (2019) Nick Eliopulos
    • Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles – Deep Dive (#3) (2019) by Nick Eliopulos
    • Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles – Night of the Bats! (#2) (2019) by Nick Eliopulos
    • Minecraft Woodsword Chronicles – Into the Game (#1) (2019) by Nick Eliopulos
    • Glitch (2019) by Sarah Graley
    • Olga – Out of Control! (#3) (2019) by Elise Gravel
    • Olga – We’re Out of Here! (#2) (2018) by Elise Gravel
    • Olga & the Smelly Thing from Nowhere (#1) (2017) by Elise Gravel
    • InvestiGators (#1) (2020) by John Patrick Green
    • Dream Jumper – Curse of the Harvester (#2) (2017) by Greg Grunberg
    • Dream Jumper – Nightmare Escape (#1) (2016) by Greg Grunberg
    • Carmen Sandiego & The Fishy Treasure Caper (#2) (2020) by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    • Carmen Sandiego and the Sticky Rice Caper (#1) by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    • Mighty Jack & Zita the Spacegirl (#3) (2019) by Ben Hatke
    • Mighty Jack and the Goblin King (#2) (2017) by Ben Hatke
    • Mighty Jack (#1) (2016) by Ben Hatke
    • The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (#3) (2014) by Ben Hatke
    • Legends of Zita the Spacegirl (#2) (2012) by Ben Hatke
    • Zita the Space Girl (#1) (2011) by Ben Hatke
    • Sal & Gabi Break the Universe (#1) (2019) by Carlos Hernandez
    • Roller Girl (2015) by Victoria Jamieson [DID NOT LIKE]
    • Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker (#1) (2017) by Shelley Johannes [DID NOT LIKE]
    • The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) (2008) by Kazu Kibuishi
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Deep End (#15) (2020) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid – Rowley Jefferson’s Journal (2019) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of An Awesome Friendly Kid – Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure (2020) by Jeffrey Kinney
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Wrecking Ball (#14) (2019) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Meltdown (#13) (2018) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Double Down (#11) (2016) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Old School (#10) (2015) by Jeff Kinney
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul (#9) (2014) by Jeff Kinney
    • Captain Awesome Takes Flight (#19) (2017) by Stan Kirby [DONE READING THIS SERIES]
    • Bug Boys (2020) by Laura Knetzger
    • Cleopatra in Space – Queen of the Nile (#6) (2020) by Mike Maihack
    • Cleopatra in Space – Fallen Empires (#5) (2019) by Mike Maihack
    • Cleopatra in Space – The Golden Lion (#4) (2017) by Mike Maihack
    • Cleopatra in Space – Secret of the Time Tablets (#3) (2016) by Mike Maihack
    • Cleopatra in Space – The Thief & the Sword (#2) (2015) by Mike Maihack
    • Cleopatra in Space – Target Practice (#1) (2014) by Mike Maihack
    • Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat – Enemies (#2) (2020) by Johnny Marciano, Emily Chenoweth [DONE READING THIS SERIES]
    • Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat (#1) (2019) by Johnny Marciano, Emily Chenoweth
    • Frank & Bean (2019) by Jamie Michalak [DID NOT LIKE]
    • Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (2007) by Davis Miller
    • Olympians – Zeus: King of the Gods (#1) (2010) by George O’Connor [DID NOT LIKE]
    • Magic Tree House – Narwhal on a Sunny Night (#33) (2020) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Magic Tree House Super Edition – World at War, 1944 (#1) (2017) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Magic Tree House – Night of the Ninth Dragon (#55) (2016) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Magic Tree House – Hurry Up, Houdini! (#50) (2013) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Magic Tree House Merlin Missions – Summer of the Sea Serpent (#3) (2010) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Magic Tree House – Monday with a Mad Genius (#38) (2007) by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Hilda & the Mountain King (#6) (2019) by Luke Pearson
    • Hilda & the Stone Forest (#5) (2016) by Luke Pearson
    • Hilda & the Black Hound (#4) 2014) by Luke Pearson
    • Hilda & the Bird Parade (#3) (2013) by Luke Pearson
    • Hilda & the Midnight Giant (#2) (2012) by Luke Pearson
    • Hildafolk (#1) (2010) by Luke Pearson
    • Super Sons – The Polarshield Project (2019) by Ridley Pearson
    • Super Sons – The Foxglove Mission (2019) by Ridley Pearson
    • Max and the Midknights (#1) (2019) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate Blasts Off (#8) (2016) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate Lives It UP (#7) (2015) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate: In the Zone (#6) (2014) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate Flips Out (#5) (2013) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate on a Roll (#3) (2011) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate Strikes Again (#2) (2010) by Lincoln Peirce
    • Big Nate: In a Class by Himself (#1) (2010) by Lincoln Peirce
    • The Postman from Space (#1) (2020) by Guillaume Perreault
    • Knights vs. The End (#3) (2020) by Matt Phelan
    • Knights vs. Monsters (#2) (2019) by Matt Phelan
    • Knights vs. Dinosaurs (#1) (2018) by Matt Phelan
    • Aster and the Accidental Magic (#1) (2020) by Thom Pico
    • Dog Man – Grime and Punishment (#9) (2020) by Dav Pilkey
    • Dog Man – Fetch-22 (#8) (2019) by Dav Pilkey
    • Captain Underpants & the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot (#12) (2015) by Dav Pilkey
    • Captain Underpants & the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 (#11) (2014) by Dav Pilkey
    • Super Diaper Baby – The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers (#2) (2011) by Dav Pilkey
    • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha Monkeys from Mars (2007) by Dav Pilkey
    • Captain Underpants & the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People (#8) (2006) by Dav Pilkey
    • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus (#3) (2001) by Dav Pilkey
    • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitos from Mercury (#2) (2000) by Dav Pilkey
    • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot (#1) (1999) by Dav Pilkey
    • Anti/Hero (2020) by Kate Karyus Quinn
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) by J.K. Rowling
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) by J.K. Rowling
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) by J.K. Rowling
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) by J.K. Rowling
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997) by J.K. Rowling
    • Sidekicks (2011) by Dan Santat
    • Frank Einstein & the Antimatter Motor (#1) (2014) by Jon Scieszka
    • Doodleville (#1) (2020) by Chad Sell
    • 5 Worlds – The Amber Anthem (#4) (2020) by Mark Siegel
    • 5 Worlds – The Red Maze (#3) (2019) by Mark Siegel
    • 5 Worlds The Cobalt Prince (#2) (2018) by Mark Siegel & Alexis Siegel
    • 5 Worlds The Sand Warrior (#1) (2017) by Mark Siegel & Alexis Siegel
    • Mr. Wolf’s Class Mystery Club (#2) (2019) by Aron Nels Steinke
    • Mr. Wolf’s Class (#1) (2018) by Aron Nels Steinke
    • Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novel – The Sewer Rat Stink (#1) (2020) by Geronimo Stilton
    • Wings of Fire Graphic Novel – The Hidden Kingdom (#3) (2019) by Tui T. Sutherland
    • Wings of Fire Graphic Novel – The Lost Heir (#2) (2019) by Tui T. Sutherland
    • Wings of Fire Graphic Novel – The Dragonet Prophecy (#1) (2018) by Tui T. Sutherland
    • Yorick & Bones (2020) by Jeremy Tankard
    • Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel: The Truth About Stacy (#2) (2016) by Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin
    • Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel: Kristy’s Great Idea (#1) (2015) by Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin
    • Ghosts (2016) by Raina Telgemeier
    • Guts (2019) by Raina Telgemeier
    • The Hobbit (1937) J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Action Presidents – Abraham Lincoln! (#2) (2018) by Fred Van Lente
    • Action Presidents – George Washington! (#1) (2020) by Fred Van Lente
    • Dragonbreath #1 (2009) by by Ursula Vernon (DID NOT LIKE)
    • The Boxcar Children – Journey on a Runaway Train (#1) (2017) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
    • Kerry & the Knight of the Forest (2020) by Andi Watson
    • Mia Mayhem Steals the Show! (#8) (2020) by Kara West
    • Mia Mayhem Gets X-Ray Specs (#7) by Kara West
    • Mia Mayhem vs. The Mighty Robot (#6) (2019) by Kara West
    • Dragon Masters – Fortress of the Stone Dragon (#17) (2020) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Call of the Sound Dragon (#16) (2020) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Future of the Time Dragon (#15) (2020) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Eye of the Earthquake Dragon (#13) (2019) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Treasure of the Gold Dragon (#12) (2018) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Shine of the Silver Dragon (#11) (2018) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Waking the Rainbow Dragon (#10) (2018) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Chill of the Ice Dragon (#9) (2018) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Roar of the Thunder Dragon (#8) (2017) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Search for the Lightning Dragon (#7) (2017) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Flight of the Moon Dragon (#6) (2016) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Song of the Poison Dragon (#5) (2016) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Power of the Fire Dragon (#4) (2015) by Tracey West
    • Dragon Masters – Secret of the Water Dragon (#3) (2015) by Tracey West
    • Hilo – All the Pieces Fit (#6) (2020) by Judd Winick
    • Hilo – Then Everything Went Wrong (#5) (2019) by Judd Winick
    • Hilo – Waking the Monsters (#4) (2018) by Judd Winick
    • Hilo – The Great Big Boom (#3) (2017) by Judd Winick
    • Hilo – Saving the Whole Wide World (#2) (2016) by Judd Winick
    • Hilo – The Boy Who Crashed to Earth (#1) (2015) by Judd Winick
    • Secret Coders – Monsters & Modules (#6) (2018) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Secret Coders – Potions & Parameters (#5) (2018) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Secret Coders – Robots & Repeats (#4) (2017) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Secret Coders – Secrets & Sequences (#3) (2017) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Secret Coders – Paths & Portals (#2) (2016) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Secret Coders (#1) (2015) by Gene Luen Yang
    • Science Comics – Cats: Nature and Nurture (2019) by Andy Hirsch
    • Science Comics – Dinosaurs: Fossils & Feathers (2016) by M.K. Reed
    • Science Comics – Volcanoes: Fire & Life (2016) by Jon Chad

    Day 17 – Rockville MD to Santee SC

    E: I miss the houses. I miss all the houses.

    L: I miss all the houses, too, buddy.

    E: I feel sad.

    L: I feel sad, too. It’s okay to be sad.

    My conversation with Elliot yesterday morning sums up how I feel about being on the tail end of a wonderful vacation. Clearly, he misses the people who live in the houses. Who he can’t keep straight because he is three and there were so so many loved ones we visited with over the past two and a half weeks.

    As we drove home, I just wanted to be home already. If we couldn’t be en route to a loved one’s abode, then I just wanted the trip to be over. Especially when we were stopped in traffic in Maryland and Virginia and the we were all achingly sad with leaving our final friends’s house. We all dealt with our feelings in different but typical ways. Henry kept scratching his brother. Elliot threw things around the vehicle. Then Henry would throw things back. I anxiously tried to ignore everything, but did a terrible job because of the confined space. Keith stayed level-headed until all the other mess happening in the car got to him and he exploded once.

    These bad behaviors occurred so briefly on our vacation that they stand out in memory as exceptions to the overall awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, they often occurred when we rode in the car for an extended period of time. But then laughter would fill the air as Henry decided to make Elliot laugh instead of hurt him because that was more fun. Or we’d all listen to an audiobook waiting to hear how things would end for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Ugly Cat and Pablo.” Or a kid would fall asleep mid-sentence bringing the car to a peaceable silence. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions. I love them all the most.

    We stopped at Santee State Park on the edge of Lake Marion before checking into our hotel for the night. A last-minute decision, its beauty at sunset filled the sky with warmth. We stood near the docks enjoying the cool breezes the end of the day brings, and then raced to the playground for the kids to burn off their sitting-all-day energy. We’ll have to return another day to conquer its several hiking trails. On our way out of the park as darkness surrounded us, we discovered 7 deer alongside the road including a fawn. The boys found them especially delightful. I forget how rare it is for suburban kids to see wild animals outside a zoo. I think I’m going to work on finding the wonder in the ordinary and see what happens.

    Day 16 – Rockville MD

    A nice way to close out a fantastic vacation is to not really have anything planned and to simply enjoy our friends’ company.

    Kate and I (and all the little boys plus Keith) took a walking tour of two playgrounds and a trail. The littles liked climbing the rocks more than the actual playgrounds, as they should. Keith loved the large trees towering over the trail. We could have hit up a third playground to complete our play triangle, but our hunger for second breakfast persuaded us otherwise.

    Swimming wore out the kids and created a meatball monster in Elliot. We calculated that he ate at least 10 meatballs as part of his lunch that included pasta and peas. During nap time, Henry pulled out his first tooth! It was a bit of a production before he got it out; ibuprofen plus a special placebo concoction created by Jon helped make the pain go away.

    We finished the day was some blue bear ice cream sandwiches and loads of running around. Fueled by dessert or just full of energy, it was a joyous end to our day.

    Day 15 – Rockville and Gaithersburg MD

    When did I become the kind of person who attends church services while on vacation? Sometime during between Keith graduating Seminary in 2011 and now. I think it’s because it’s just so rare for all 4 of us to sit together during worship that I want to take advantage of it whenever I can. Also, it definitely helps to attend our friends’ churches where they’re preaching and presiding. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a close friend give you the bread of life for communion, but it’s an indescribably special moment that keeps me smiling all week. It makes me happy just thinking about it, and I typically receive communion from my own husband.

    We worshipped at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland yesterday, and Kate gave an excellent sermon. The band played some of my favorite songs, and we noisily sat with the Costas (although Elliot moved up a row so he’d have more dancing and playing space).

    Afterwards, we swam and enjoyed each other’s company. And ate tacos. A great day on a vacation full of great days.

    Day 14 – Jamestown RI to Rockville MD

    Beavertail State Park in Jamestown got its name because of its shape – people thought it clearly looked like a beaver’s tail. I didn’t really see it like that, but it’s possible. Before we headed off the island, we visited this park because it’s Hudson’s (Cindy’s dog) happy place. Not only that, it’s incredibly beautiful with its rocks jutting out into the sea and a lighthouse overlooking the southern tip of the peninsula.

    We climbed some of these giant rocks that were mostly safe for kids to be scurrying over, and walked along the coast. I’m so happy we made it, because it’s such a peaceful place. Especially when contrasting it with driving among the vehicles on I-95 (our main portion of the day).

    We took a break in Metuchen, New Jersey to see our good friend Chris (we hope you feel better soon, Lisa!) It had been eight years since he and Keith graduated from seminary, so you can imagine the catching up that occurred. On our southerly drive, we ticked off the last few new states for the kids – Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware – so now the only ones left are ones we’ve traversed before.

    Arriving in Maryland, we received Costa love and Henry relished his big brother role by reading to the three-year-olds at bedtime. More fun and hijinks to ensue in the next couple of days here.

    Total miles driven = 412 Miles

    Day 13 – Jamestown and Newport RI

    The boys did an admirable job of walking all over the town of Newport, Rhode Island. We spent our morning hiking the Cliff Walk and imagining ourselves residing in the mansions along the way. We hopped over the rocks, traveled through tunnels, built (and knocked over) stacks of rocks, and watched crabs scuttle along. We walked over 3 miles, with Henry going the whole way and Elliot being carried for a good portion of the trail. We drove past the mansion-fronts afterward and headed home for a lunch of ice cream and pizza (because vacation).

    We rode the ferry from Jamestown back over to Newport for dinner. The boat was packed like sardines because the majority was headed to the Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams. Since we were not, we snagged a table without a wait at one of Cindy’s favorite places. We keep getting relegated to the corner with the kids, but I like it because it allows for more mischief (and this time a window-seat to people gaze). We capped off our day swimming in Cindy’s neighbor’s pool and hot tub, which was exceedingly kind of Joe. I love hot tubs (and so did the boys)!

    Day 12 – Wolfeboro NH to Jamestown RI

    A big driving day means saying goodbye to loved ones, but also saying hello to other people we love. Hen had been clamoring to hit up Black’s gift shop the ENTIRE time we were in Wolfeboro so we stopped on our way out. He and Elliot bought treasures: a set of rocks and a red car. The thrill was real, and they still have money to spend the last few days of our trip. We also stopped by the Yum Yum Shop because no one can leave Wolfeboro without first eating a gingerbread cookie from there. Happy to oblige, the kids chose ones with frosting, Keith ordered a gingerbread donut, and I ate a praline cookie (& the rest of El’s).

    We had the brilliant plan to drop by Maine on our way to Rhode Island since none of us had ever gone, and we were so close we felt we just had to go. Our plans unexecuted; we didn’t make it to the art museum or the beach in Ogunquit, but we did eat a wonderful lunch and hang out at the library. We made the executive decision to return to Maine and do it up right the next go-around.

    After being stuck in Massachusetts traffic for forever, we made it to my cousin Cindy’s home. The wild littles needed to run off their energy so we visited the best park – huge things to climb, a zip line, and tall slides – the kids loved it. And the adults spent so much time catching up that I forgot to take photos. Jamestown is beautiful (I feel like a broken record saying it so much on this trip, but it’s the truth!)

    Total Miles Driven = 207 miles

    Mostly our route; we took 495 around Boston and 295 around Providence

    Day 10 – Bristol VT to Wolfeboro NH

    Elliot woke up this morning wanting to visit the Village Creeme Stand. Immediately. It tasted that amazing. Too bad it doesn’t open until 10am, or we’d be eating it for breakfast.

    Our last morning in Bristol was delightfully spent doing the same things we did yesterday. We ate at Snaps, played in the town square (this time at its excellent playground), and visited with Tom and Claire at their home. Elliot and Henry fed the horse (bye bye Lil’ Sebastian) carrots.

    Driving through the Green Mountains, Keith and I marveled at their heights and hidden wonders like waterfalls and walkways. We broke for lunch at Rollins State Park in New Hampshire. Henry called it “amazing” and thanked us for taking him to this park. He also said we should come here every time we visit New Hampshire.

    We got back on the road, and swiftly made it to the Petersen’s home in the Waumbeck Woods. We love them, including their new puppy, Tucker. We headed to downtown Wolfeboro for dinner, but since there was a long wait we just had to have our dessert first (mom, you’d be so proud). Ice cream as a first course is always a good idea. The Mexican food we had afterwards was also delicious. Wolfeboro looks way different in the summer than the winter, which is the last time we visited. I love it now!

    Total Miles Driven = 181 miles

    Day 9 – Bristol VT

    I’m officially chilly. On this rainy, grey day in Bristol, as we take refuge in the town square under the whitewashed gazebo, I feel like I’m in Gilmore Girls. And it’s wonderful. Of course, it would be so much better if the weather was clear, but temperatures in the 60s with a view of the fog rolling in over the mountains is beyond good enough.

    We ate breakfast on Main Street at Snap’s and shopped at Art on Main and Recycled Reading. Both shops are packed full of items I want for ourselves. The first contains art created by Vermont artisans including pottery, jewelry, and paintings. I got us some hand printed designs from A Revolutionary Press to decorate our home. I seriously wanted to buy all of them, that’s how cool they were. The second shop was a mix of music store (guitars, ukes, and more), art shop, and bookstore. Its selection of kids’ items was particularly cultivated with LEGO books, picture books, small toys – really anything my kids may want on a rainy vacation day.

    Keith spent some time searching for Louie around Bristol.

    My first cherry tree sighting!

    So we’re relaxing under the gazebo playing with our newfound treasures and listening to the rain fall. We walked here from cousin Kelly’s home where we are staying in her cute airbnb, and are headed to her mom’s house (cousin Claire) next. It’s delightful walking everywhere seeing robins hop about amidst the spruce and maple trees we never see in Florida.

    We spent the remainder of our day being surrounded by cousins! We were taken out to lunch at the Village Creeme Stand, where the cheesesteak was close to Philadelphia standards, the onion rings melted in my mouth, and the kids loved their chicken nuggets and tenders. Cousin Claire’s home was full of beautiful collectibles, including antique toys for the boys to play with. Elliot loved feeding the little horse, Peppi, all the carrots. We rode with Claire on a tour of the Green Mountains, and ate even more at a cookout with a contingent of Wallace cousins (Tom, Claire, Kelly, Lance, Reese, and Piper).

    The boys loved Reese so much, and started the day asking when they could see her. She walked with us back to the Village Creeme Stand for creemes. We now know that creemes are superior to soft serve, and maple ones are beyond amazing, especially when dipped. Now to figure out a way to bring some with us back to Florida.