Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Plymouth Vacation pics

We conquered Plymouth! We took a few days off last week to get a nice change of scenery and ended up doing almost everything there is to do in Plymouth, MA. We had great weather- cool and overcast the first two days and then sunny and warm the last day- perfect for the beach. The first day we checked out the Plymouth Harbor, which had beautiful views of the water and tons of boats protected by a long breakwater and also Water Street, which was filled with ice cream shops (we enjoyed Ziggy's homemade ice cream- twice!), a hotel, the required t-shirt stores, restaurants, and the like. Towards the end of the street on the Harbor is a replica of the Mayflower, which we went on. It was really interesting; there was an interactive exihibit on shore about the Pilgrims' diet at sea (lots of sodium; no vitamins), their navigational tools, and some of the mechanics of the boat. I eat that stuff up, so I was in heaven. We ate dinner overlooking the harbor and then took a sunset cruise on a paddle boat called the Pilgrim Belle to finish up the day. While on the boat, we called my parents and told them they weren't the only people in the family going on cruises and Michaela thought that was pretty funny. The next day we visited Plimoth Plantation and saw a recreated 1627 Wamponaug homesite and a Pilgrim village. The Wamponaug homesite had actual Wamponaug people in native dress cooking, gardening, etc. and you could ask them questions about their culture and history. On a sign approaching the village, it cautioned visitors to be culturally sensitive: "Do not say 'How!' to them nor do any war whooping at them." It makes you wonder how many hormone driven teenagers have visited there on field trips and driven those poor people crazy. (On a side note, as we were leaving, we passed an employee parking lot and I said to Dan, "I wonder what kind of cars the local Wamponaugs drive to work?" and he answered, "Probably Jeep Cherokees.")
We went into Hyannis on the Cape- a 45 minute drive- in the afternoon and evening and went on the Hyannis Harbor cruise (a Libutti vacation tradition... I think we have paid for about half of that boat), ate outside on the Harbor at Baxter's Fish and Chips, and went miniature golfing, which was a blast with the girls. Michaela played a hole ahead of us because we are obviously too slow and then would yell back her score to us as she whizzed to the next hole. ("I got a four!") Jenna had an interesting technique of dragging the club rather than swinging and eventually just carried the ball in her pocket (her "pock") and would walk over to the hole and drop it in. She's very practical that way.
On the last day we squeezed in a quick visit to the beach in Plymouth and ate lunch at the Cabby Shack, where there were multiple outdoor decks overlooking the Harbor. It was beautiful and delicious. Then we embarked on the highlight of the trip- the Pirate Excursion aboard the Lobster Tales boat. For $16 apiece (even Jenna!) we joined other families with kids, mostly boys Michaela's age quivering with excitement, and pretended we were a pirate ship looking for treasure. We sailed out to the Harbor, following our Treasure Map aboard the ship, where we found a very cute, highly decorated boat (see picture above)that had stolen our treasure and we had to shoot the pirate aboard that ship with our water cannons until we could haul the treasure ashore. We celebrated with Buccaneer brew (or root beer as we land lubbers call it), and then played the Hokey Pokey and the Limbo on the way back to the dock. The captain also pulled up a lobster trap which was filled with different crabs and lobsters that the kids were able to touch and pass around. All the kids wore paper pirate hats or skull caps (available for $5) and got their faces painted. The whole thing was such a blast... a brilliant idea and a memorable part of our trip.
As we were pulling into the dock, the captain on our boat announced that fishermen had caught a huge tuna and were hauling into a truck on the other side of the dock and encouraged us to check it out, which we did. It was a 586 pound tuna and completely unbelievable in size and girth. It was about 7 feet long and twice as big around as a large-boned man. I took pictures of it in the truck, where it can be sold to Japanese merchants on the Harbor, trucked on ice to Logan Airport and flown out on the next flight to Tokyo. We learned about this in town from one of the merchants... the fishermen used to get about $25 grand for tuna that size but now they can earn about $5000-$6000. No wonder the fisherman's wife was so excited on the dock!
We were exhausted from our trip but it was so good to get away and have some really nice family time together. The girls were very well-behaved and seemed to enjoy most of the things we did, especially being on the boats, and we had a glimpse of how fun and easy family vacations can be in the future.
So for now it is back to reality... we are preparing for school, buying supplies, shoes, boots, clothing, and getting back into routines and starting ealier bed times. Michaela's first day back is Sept. 6th and we are all emotionally ready for her to return. Soccer starts next Friday, choir will start again for her in a few weeks, and we are looking forward to that stuff as well. I am going to sign Jenna and I up for a few little classes- storytime at the library and a music class in town- so we can do some fun things together while Sissy is in school. We are ready for fall!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Off to the Fair

Last night was a beautiful night... clear and cool and so we decided to visit the Altamont Fair, which is all this week. I have always loved the Altamont Fair, which is like a three-county agricultural fair with animals, attractions, music, a midway and lots of food.
There is a funny family story about the Altamont Fair... as a child, at the end of the school year we would practice addressing envelopes by writing our own name and address and the school would send us tickets to the Fair during the summer. Every summer I would be sooo excited to get a piece of mail and would beg my mom to let us go check out the fair. But, having the Dickins-esque childhood that I did (ha ha), the Fair was declared off limits for being too hot and "FILTHY!!" by my grandmother. I finally did make it to the Fair (insert swelling background music and a gentle tear rolling down the cheek here) with my parents when I was college age and loved it, but it was kind of filthy.
I have dragged Dan several times during our marriage and he is totally out of his element there. I, on the other hand, have always had a secret dream of being a farmer and absolutely revel in it- the animals, the people, the farm machinery, the smells, and the "this is the highlight of my summer" atmosphere. I really can't explain it except that I have great respect for people who can care for animals and work hard and enjoy simple pleasures in life... I think I enjoy the unpretentiousness of it all.
But Dan is a good sport and comes along. We went after Dan came home from work and first enjoyed some fair food and then started walking around. We saw lots of animals and vendors and even listened for awhile to a great live rock band. Both girls were dancing and clapping and having a great time. Jenna is particularly fun to watch as she dances by stomping one foot and waving her elbows around like a chicken. Michaela has a lot more style and claps well to the beat.
We came upon a small circus tent and a show was starting in ten minutes. People were pouring into it and we decided to check it out, thinking it would last about fifteen minutes or so and be kind of hokey. Well, it was AWESOME!! It was called the Zoppe Family Circus and they are a real old-fashioned Italian circus family that travels around the Eastern US. It was a fantastic show, with a great clown and dogs and horses and different family members doing circus-y stunts. It was also really funny and Michaela was roaring with laughter. They have a website where you can check them out. After the show they mingled with the crowd and you could hug them and get your picture taken with them. I knew how much Michaela liked it because she wanted to hug Nino, the clown who was the main character, and that would generally terrify her. Heck, I even hugged Nino and told him how much we enjoyed the show.
After the circus, we enjoyed some fried dough (a fair isn't a fair without it) and went on a quest that only parents of small children could understand. Earlier in the evening Michaela had spotted kids wearing a hat of loop of paper with a feather stapled to the back, sticking up, like an old Indian headdress. It was an ad for a water purifying system vendor that was there giving them out. Let me say this: it was brilliant marketing because we spent about 45 minutes searching for this booth, with Michaela asking approximately every five seconds where we could get a hat, can we find it, can she get one, etc. We asked three different families if they remembered where it was and finally the last mother and her tween daughter took pity on us and offered to give Michaela the hat they had. I thanked them profusely and saw the understanding in the mom's face of parents desperate to appease their children.
After spending the 20 bucks to get in, watching this circus show for an hour, seeing all the sights, and enjoying yummy food, it was the three-cent hat that made the night a hit. That is the joy of children.

This is an excerpt from an actual conversation I had with Michaela this afternoon. In the spirit of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.
We were driving in the car home from my parents' house. Jenna was low-level whining because I had given her a few broken pieces of an Oreo cookie there and she wanted more and I said no. She continued the whining throughout the conversation, which contributed to my lack of patience.
Mommy: Jenna, stop whining. That's enough.
Michaela: Why is Jen whining?
Because I gave her Oreo cookies at Gam's and she wants more.
Where did she eat them?
In the kitchen.
But where were they?
In the pantry.
In the package near the other treats.
Can I have some?
No, we're going home. And there are only crumbs left.
Why can't I have any?
Michaela, there are none left. There are other treats besides the Oreo cookies you can have there.
What's an Oreo cookie?
It's a chocolate cookie with white cream in the middle. (At this point I begin to really wonder if my brain will explode and how people can have the patience to deal with this and not scream.)
Oh... I don't like those cookies.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quick hits...

Lots has been happening here at the Libutti house... here are some highlights:
1. I am just recovering from my second, and hopefully last, bout of mastitis. For those of you who may not be familiar with this, it is an infection of the boob that becomes systemic and makes for one very sick, very miserable mommy. Somehow one or more of the milk ducts gets clogged and infected and make the boob hard as a rock (like a bad implant job) and also brings along fever, puking, and unbearable fatigue. I have been on the couch for three days and am finally back up to speed. I am on a nice antibiotic which is helping. The lone funny moment to come out of this was Jenna inspecting the infected boob and saying, "No, Mommy... other side." She wanted nothing to do with that red, swollen boob.
2. We booked a vacation for next week in Plymouth, MA for a few nights at the beach. We are very much looking forward to a change of scenery.
3. I am planning a little baby celebration for my friend Sara next week. She is having her second baby, a boy, so I have enjoyed buying blue stuff. A few of our girlfriends are coming over to have some cake and shower her with gifts and good luck. How fun!
4. Michaela went to Vacation Bible School last week and had a great time. It is a fantastically well-run program and a joy to send her. In a related note, a two page letter to the town about the other camp experience is on our counter about to be mailed out.
5. Jenna has learned some new words, including "wight here"... as in "where to you want your cup?" "Wight here!" Very cute.

Well, Jenna has just fallen off the bed and Michaela is sculking around acting very guilty. I better get to the bottom of what happened.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Scenes of summer