On a sunny fall afternoon we all took a trip to Russell Orchards, a local farm to go apple picking and buy some pumpkins. Amy and Joe brought the boys, James and Chrissy brought Alice, Peter and Maria brought the girls and Mom joined us too. We went on a hayride out to the orchards and picked apples and then returned to the farm to pick out pumpkins. Justin, Brian and Alice took a few rides around the farm in Amy and Joe’s wagon and visited the farm’s animals. We snacked on warm cider donuts and apples. This year’s new favorite for apples were ginger golds – we had never seen them before. It was one of those great New England autumn days, we were happy to spend it outside with family.
The weekend after we got back from the shore was Amy and Joe’s 10th wedding anniversary. Aaron and I volunteered to watch the boys for the weekend so that they could get away. Amy and Joe spent the weekend on the Cape and we spent the weekend doing all sorts of fun things like going to a local truck show, hanging out at the playground and of course stopping by the Lego store. We had a great weekend – the truck show was put on by our town’s public works department and I think they literally brought out every piece of equipment the town and local businesses own and put them all in a park and let the kids climb in them, play with the controls, ask questions. It was great. Justin and Brian are pretty easy to be with, and it was really a treat for us to have this time with them, but I will admit we were totally exhausted come Sunday night when Amy and Joe returned. We totally respect all you parents out there – no idea how you manage it, but we do love being aunt and uncle, so thanks for making it work.
As most of you know the family cottages took a vey hard hit last September from Hurricane Irene. It was unclear for most of this past year if either of the cottages would be habitable this summer. However, Aaron and I along with most of the immediate family and some extended family did all get some time their last month. We all stayed together in the big cottage, and despite the sometimes close quarters and the fact that the property is an active construction site, we had a good time. I was simply so happy just to be there at all. The affects of the storm on the area are apparent all around. Several cottages on the beach have been demo-ed and are simply empty lots, the beaches have eroded in some places and then there are huge piles of sand in places that were never sandy before. Despite it being late in the summer season it was still warm enough to swim and sit out in the sun. We had fun playing with Justin, Brian and Alice the first weekend and then spent the ret of the week visiting with Uncle John and Peggy, Nonnie and Becki and Jeremy and Crissy. Check out the album of photos from our week.
In August, Amy and Joe threw a party to celebrate Justin’s 6th birthday and Brian’s 3rd. They brought back the Toy Story bouncy house from last year which everyone enjoyed, including the adults, after the kids went home of course. They also hired a caricature artist as a surprise guest who did drawings of all the kids. We had a cookout lunch and despite it being a rather gray day, the weather held and we were able to be outdoors all afternoon. The kids enjoyed/destroyed a dinosaur piñata and Amy made another fantastic cake – this year’s theme was dinosaurs. Joe’s brother Jami and his wife Jen came up for the party and it was great to have a visit with them as well as some of Amy and Joe’s friends who we’ve gotten to know over the years. It was definitely an enjoyable afternoon.
In late July we spent a day with Justin, Brian, Amy and Joe at the Boston Museum of Science. We checked out the dinosaur exhibit and looked at model trains. Then we went to the butterfly room – a rather humid conservatory filled with exotic plants and filled with live butterflies. We also spent a lot of time in the more interactive exhibits on light, energy and motion. We walked through the exhibits on New England habitats filled with taxidermyed animals (some of which have been around since I was a kid) and another one on Egypt that featured mummies and facts on pyramid building. We had a great day and its fun for us to see what new things the kids will be interested in each time we go.
James, Chrissy and Alice spent an afternoon with us back in July. It was a low key afternoon of play both with Alice and of board games during nap time. We had lunch at a local sub place and it was here that Alice developed a unique way of eating her fries. In this series of photos you’ll see should would insert a single fry into the empty bottle and would then tip the bottle up and eat the fry from the upturned bottle. It was pretty funny.
Aaron’s sister Lisa and her husband Josh have been building a house down on the Cape. The house is almost done and so for July 4th, we went down to visit and stayed in the house for the first time. The photo above is of me and Lisa’s dog Lindy on the back patio. Both Emily and Andrew were around, as well as Rita – we all spent the weekend swimming, sailing and enjoying the house. It’s a fantastic place and Aaron and I are looking forward to spending time there in the summers to come.
I’m working my way through the backlogged photos that accumulated while I was posting all the Venice photos. This small album is a collection of random photos we took during June. They were all taken with our phone, so the quality is not quite the same. There are a few of us with Justin and Brian and a few with Lia and Ella. There is also one of me with my Meghan and Louis’ little boy Huck. We spent a weekend with them in Portland Maine and had a blast. And for those of you missing Alice photos…don’t worry, there is a coming post dedicated to Alice that will feature this great sequence of photos of her from an afternoon we spent with her and James and Chrissy in July.
In May Aaron and I traveled to Durango, Colorado for my cousin Jeremy’s wedding. Durango is beautiful and we had a great time exploring the area with Mom in the days leading up to the wedding. We took a long drive in the San Juan National Forest on Highway 550 and enjoyed amazing vistas of the San Juan Mountains, groves of cedar trees, and a geothermal hot spring. The wedding ceremony was fun and special and involved many of Jeremy and Chrissy’s friends. All the unique elements like Jer’s suit, their getaway scooter with sidecar, the bike ride from the ceremony to the reception, the ribbon dance, etc. etc. made the event seem true to Jeremy and Chrissy and those are my favorite kinds of weddings. It was a great weekend with family and a celebration of Jer and Chrissy’s life together.
As many of you know Justin has been taking art classes, and loving them. Back in May, one of the paintings he did in his class was selected to be included in the Annual Young at Art Show at a local town library. The featured art was of kids ranging from age 4 to the teens and was on display for a month. These photos are from the Young Artists reception that was held for the kids and their families. Unfortunately I was out of town for work and unable to attend, but Aaron went and took these photos. Justin’s painting was of a cake and looked good enough to eat.
Well, here are the long overdue photos from Lia and Ella’s first birthday party from back in April. Lots of family was there from both sides and we had a great celebration at Maria’s parents’ house. Plenty of good food, conversation and of course cake. The girls had two different approaches to eating their cake, as the photos illustrate. It was a pretty funny scene. A fun day for all of us. In looking at these photos I realize how much the girls have grown in the past four months. I’ll try to get some more recent photos up soon.
Also you will notice when you click on the photo above to look at the album that we’ve started using a new gallery for the photos, Smug Mug. It’s a little different – if you have any problems or questions, drop us an email.
So this will be the last Venice post…Day 11 was our last full day in Venice. We started at Museo Storico Navale or the Naval History Museum, which we had discovered previously while it was closed. The museum houses various exhibits on the Venetian and Italian navy from the mid 1800s to present day. There was a large exhibit on WWII including weapons, torpedoes, boats, diving equipment, etc. After the Naval Museum, we took a quick trip across the lagoon to the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. Once there we visited the Chiesa di San Giorgio in Isola and went to the top of its campanile (bell tower) and got great views of Venice and all the different districts we had visited. We didn’t plan it, but it was a cool thing to do at the end of the trip and have a bird’s eye view of the city we had spent the past 10 days exploring. Afterwards we got back on the water bus and traveled to the island of Giudecca to see a few more churches before heading back for one last gelato and then back to the hotel to pack. The next morning we packed up, said good-bye to all the great people we had gotten to know at the hotel and took a water taxi to the airport. Back in Boston, Peter was sweet and picked us up, after a long flight it was nice to see a familiar face at the airport. Aaron and I had a fantastic trip and would highly recommend vacationing in Venice. So many people visit the city for a day or two, but it really has tons to offer. We didn’t run out of places to visit or of things to see and looking back, we are so glad to have had the time to be leisurely and explore at our own pace. We hope to return someday.
As our time in Venice was winding down, there were a few places left that we wanted to hit before leaving the city. One of those places was Chiesa di San Barnaba or the Church of Saint Barnabas. So on day 10, we headed to the Dorsoduro district to find it. As some of you may know, this church was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie and this was the main reason we wanted to see it. However once we got there, we found the church houses an exhibit, The Machines of Leonardo da Vinci, which we were both interested in seeing. This exhibit was comprised of copies of sketches from da Vinci’s notebook and with each sketch was a model of the machine. It was a pretty interesting exhibit, and I enjoyed seeing it. Aaron LOVED it – he spent hours studying each machine and the notes accompanying them. Just another great day in Venice…
Day nine we ventured east. The first site we stumbled upon was the Venetian Arsenal. The entrance was fairly imposing and ornate. Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside as it is still a functional government owned military area. It is a huge complex of buildings – shipyards and arsenals. Venice was one of the first places to mass produce ships and this enabled the city to have both a huge navy and lots of merchant ships. Nearby we came across the naval museum. It was closed, but we noted the hours so we could come back another day. We continued on to the southern portion of the Castello district. The Arsenal is in the northern part of Castello, while the southern part is residential with shops, homes and churches. Additionally, there are several parks in Castello and it was the most green we saw the entire time we were in Venice. We walked through the parks, relaxed on benches and wandered for the rest of the afternoon.
On day 8 we decided to head for the northern district of Venice, Cannaregio. We crossed the Rialto Bridge and wandered through outdoor markets of fish and produce of every shape and size. We looked in the windows of meat and cheese shops and bakeries. We wandered most of the day, stopping at churches and shops along the way. We found this great little print shop and bought a map of Venice to bring home. The shop was just big enough for one person to fit inside between the stacks and stacks of art. Later in the afternoon we explored Il Ghetto – the Jewish ghetto of Venice. Towards the end of the day we headed back for the hotel and of course stopped at our favorite gelato place.