Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July wrap-up

July is the month our summer heated up both literally and figuratively. We spent the weekend of the 4th up with family to celebrate a birthday, headed to Rhode Island for our anniversary, took a trip up to Leesburg to visit more family, Chris was gone for a week for a work conference, and had several visitors over a couple weeks to help us watch Eleanor while I picked up a couple shifts and daycare was closed for vacation. In the midst of that, Red Thunder (Chris' car) finally gave out after many years of loyal service and we obtained a new vehicle. Still, we had a lot of normalcy in our day to day operations.

Eleanor is registered for a summer reading program at the library this summer, where she gets prizes for reading books and "discussing" them with library employees. She got a bag to carry her books in (her favorite part) and sometimes coupons for ice cream! It has been fun for both of us. They also have craft activities once a week and Eleanor has made a jellyfish cloud animal and a superhero mask.

The local movie theater also offers $1 movies for kids on Tuesday mornings, which we have gone to once or twice. So far it turns into Eleanor watching for a few minutes and then running around the theater for the rest of the time, but she still has fun with her friends!

Eleanor got to go to the National Zoo in D.C. with her grandparents and aunts when we were in Rhode Island. She apparently loved it, particularly the sea lions. She also got up to lots of other fun activities, including riding the train at Burke Lake Park

Friends invited us over one evening to grill out and despite some rain, it was a great and relaxing evening. 

Auntie Erika was one of the people who came down to watch Eleanor this month and they had a great outing to CW. They saw sheep, horses, and watched a speech (the Declaration of Independence), which Eleanor has continued to talk about weeks after the fact: "Peech wit Eh-kah!"

My mom also came down to help watch Eleanor for a couple days the following week and they took walks around the neighborhood, trips to the park and Target, made new friends, and (my favorite) did some cleaning!

VBS happened at church in July and we were too busy to go, but I did take Eleanor to their social event the night that happened. She got to sing and dance with her friends to songs and eat ice cream. Basically every morning she has started shouting "V-B-S!!!" to me (it was initially "B-S!!" so I had to correct her). I will have to work on getting that week off next year so she can go. 

Goodbye, July! Hello, August!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Park with Maynard

The other day, none of Eleanor's friends were available in the afternoon to play, so I told her she could bring Maynard to the park with us. She pushed him in his stroller the entire way there, and home (though she was tired and got a little upset on the way back).

She put him on every single swing and pushed him, she took him on the slides, and she bounced him on the bouncy see-saw, all without any assistance. I've got to be honest, I'm not sure she didn't have more fun with Maynard than she does sometimes with her friends! 

It was very adorable, she just kept saying, "C'mon Mayman. Slide, K? Okay" and then would pick him up and take him to the next activity. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Leesburg and the pool

We visited Grandma and Shug up in Leesburg last weekend and had a very fun time heading to the pool every day! The first time Eleanor had been to the pool up here she wasn't the biggest fan for the first hour or so until she got used to it. This time she remembered and loved it! She did lots of slides (until they kicked her off of all of them except the baby one because she couldn't swim to the wall unassisted). We also spent lots of time in the lazy river and played in the splash pad.

Still, she was entranced by Duncan, Uncle Eric's cat. When he had to leave the next day Eleanor spent the entire day walking around saying, "Duncan go home wit Eh-wic."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Newport, Rhode Island - Part 2

After we rested and showered after our ridiculous amount of walking, we headed out to a slightly early anniversary dinner at the Canfield House, which is apparently a renovated old casino in Newport. It was absolutely delicious, which is also good because we were starving after so much activity.

Since it still wasn't too late, we decided to head out to the Castle Hill Lighthouse to see if we could watch the sunset. It was gorgeous and well worth the trip.

Overall, we had an awesome anniversary and we still had another day of our trip left! Our host (we stayed with AirBNB) offered us bikes to borrow for our last day in town and we decided to take him up on it. We decided to start out by heading to a local beach called Gooseberry. The weather was awesome (not too hot) and the water was crystal clear. There were tons of hermit crabs crawling around, though!

After the beach in the morning, we hopped on the bikes and decided to tour The Breakers, which is the mansion of the Vanderbilt family and perhaps the most famous mansion (of which there are many) in Newport. I had seriously debated back and forth about whether I should wear tennis shoes because we were biking, or if I could get away with flip flops. I wore the flip flops and sure enough, sustained the first and only injury of our trip. Thank goodness it looks worse than it was (very minor), though I did have a pool of blood to clean up in The Breakers bathroom in my sandal once we arrived.

The Breakers was incredible. Everything was so ornate and designed just for the family. They didn't want anyone taking pictures of the inside, but it was worth the trip.

The scale of everything was probably the most incredible part of everything.

After the Breakers, we had dinner at the Gas Lamp Grille downtown. We got to sit in one of the street-level open window seats, so it made for some excellent people watching.

That night, since it was our last evening, we wanted to just bike around a bit to explore the rest of Newport. On the way home, we happened to ride by King Park while the sun was setting again. We decided to stop and watch the sunset again before riding home.

We skipped rocks and just enjoyed to rest of our anniversary weekend away. 

The next morning we woke up and headed back to the airport. It was a great trip and a wonderful place to spend a couple days away! We were excited to see Eleanor when we got home, but she had a wonderful time with family while we were gone. Now that another Strat will be coming (likely in less than 10 weeks!) this is the last trip we will be taking without Eleanor for awhile...though I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Newport, Rhode Island - Part 1

Chris and I decided to try to get away together for our 7th wedding anniversary, and also our last trip before baby Strat #2 comes. Our original plans didn't work out (a cruise - they wouldn't let me travel as far along as I was), so we brainstormed and decided to go back to Newport, RI. We had visited very briefly five years ago on our summer of travel and loved it, so decided it would be a great place to explore a little further. We left Eleanor with Chris' family and took flight.

We met up with some friends in Connecticut on our way there and got to meet their new baby.

Once we got to Rhode Island, we hit the ground running. The thing I wanted to do most while we were there is walk the whole cliff walk. The cliff walk is a 3.5 mile walk/hike along the coast with gorgeous views and mansions all along it. Since we were staying downtown and parking is fairly difficult, we decided to walk from where we were staying. The entire thing was too much for one day, so we split it in half and did the first part the evening we got there. The weather was awesome, but the walk was long. The first day we ended up walking around 5 miles round trip on mostly rugged terrain.

That evening we headed downtown for dinner (getting a ride with Uber) and then walked back to our place, adding another mile and change to our daily total.

The next morning we "slept in" until 8am and then found a delicious breakfast place. After breakfast, we headed back out on the cliff walk and walked what ended up being another 5ish miles.

This part of the cliff walk included the 40 steps, which is an area that allows you to climb down to the water.

Overall, the whole thing is beautiful, but by the end of this part of our trip, I was dragging. All together we had walked well over 10 miles, probably closer to a half marathon, in just 24 hours. My feet were tired! We grabbed some lunch and then headed to the next activity on our list, which involved sitting...sailing! Neither Chris nor I had ever been sailing before, and sailing is pretty huge in Newport, so we decided to go on a sailing trip.

Obviously there were real sailing people driving the boat, but Chris didn't hesitate to take a turn.

There was also no shortage of Wedding Crashers quotes bantered by (mostly) Chris and myself ("We're tacking back 'round." "Ease the sheet, swing the jib starboard!")

While we were sailing around the cliffs, we got to see lots of interesting houses including this little gem, which you can rent out and stay in (as long as you sit on the wait list for 2-3 years):

The house is isolated on a little rock island, self-sufficient, and completely off the grid with it's own waste management system, solar panels, wind turbine, and composting system.

We also saw the childhood home of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, as well as her "dollhouse" which you can see to the left of the picture below.

The trip around Narragansett Bay was absolutely amazing and a great way to spend the afternoon of our actual anniversary. We then walked back to our place and relaxed a bit (or napped in my case) before heading out to an anniversary dinner. I'll try to post the second half of our trip later this week!