There were lots of colors to be found on Kite Day.
Colton got to choose the color of his kite and tail. He chose green and orange.
Papa helped decorate it . . . and then taught Colton how to fly it . . .
Colton loved flying his kite . . .
And he loved seeing all the other kites . . . the many colored kites . . .
What a wonderful way to celebrate summer!
My brother is already rolling his eyes. He pointed out long ago that for some reason Andrew and I visit animals a good deal. He is right, if you want to see random pictures of random animals we have plenty of them from various adventures . . . visiting the Houston Zoo, a place in Texas ironically called Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, and almost monthly visiting the alligators in Brazos Bend State Park. We have visited plenty of zoos as seen here, here, and here. Our favorite place thus far has been Bayou Wildlife Park in Texas. Whenever people visited, we brought them . . . as seen here, here and here.
So we are embracing it . . . we like to visit the animals. So we checked out Virginia’s Safari Park on our road trip.
It was a drive through experience where we got to feed the animals from our car . . .
We all enjoyed the animals. Colton is a true member of the Sharpteam.
I grew up doing local theater. From the age of nine I was in this opera house about three days a week May – October.
The theater has a hand-painted proscenium curtain, painted by a Vermont artist, Charles Hardin Andrus, in 1911.
Every show I was in sat guarded by this curtain and when it lifted, a new adventure began.
For years I had no idea what the painting was of . . . but then in college my boyfriend’s car broke down in Natural Bridge, Virginia and I saw this place in person and it is stunning. Hardin, the artist said it was one of the seven wonders of the world . . . and that Vermont was the eighth, so he he painted Natural Bridge, with Killington, a Vermont mountain, in the background.
On our road trip I got to share Natural Bridge with my boys, and how happy my heart was that they both loved it. Honestly, pictures do not do it justice, it is magnificent.
Legend is that George Washington carved his initials into the rock, there is a white box around it. Thomas Jefferson bought 157 acres including Natural Bridge and built a cabin here. It is a beautiful and historic place.
It was a great stop for all of us, and with your ticket one received entrance into the butterfly exhibit, the indian village and the wax museum . . . so we explored everything!
We loved visiting Natural Bridge, Virginia.
One last note . . .
My favorite blog is Young House Love. It is the first blog I started following and I am convinced that we would enjoy hanging out with its two authors, Sherry and John.
Well when we arrived home from our Road Trip, I saw this post on their blog . . . we were there around the same time! Oh my goodness! Now that would have been my celebrity moment, meeting Sherry, John, and there little Clara . . . almost serendipitous . . .
We did a lot of driving, including into and through New York City . . .
But we did stop and play along the way. We believe in the philosophy of “Adventure & Retreat,” so we did a good job of balancing those two joys . . .
When we saw this sign as we headed out through Amish Country in Pennsylvania, we couldn’t pass it up . . .
Buggy after buggy drove by us on the road. I told Andrew I wished someone would do a documentary on what it was like to grow up Amish. He told me he thought someone had . . . got to find out the name of that.
I always think of myself as connected to the Amish . . . because I was an extra in a movie in high school (not a very interesting movie; I am in it for under 1 minute movie called The Wizard of Loneliness). The movie is not about the Amish, but it stars Lukas Haas, who was in a movie about the Amish, called Witness . . . I digress
We went on a buggy ride. Colton loved it.
What a lovely road trip.
We did a LOT of driving on our five day road trip. We drove 1500 miles . . . with our two year old.
Here is what our trek looked like
We stayed in three different places, and we LOVED them all . . .
Our first stop was in Coatesville, Pennsylvania where we stayed in a KOA Kabin.
Cole loved it, and loved having his own room.
Our second stay was in Charlottesville, VA, where we rented an apartment from homeaway.com, this is our second time with homeaway and we highly recommend it. It was so nice to have a kitchen and living space. It was very private and had a great back deck.
Here are Andrew and Cole reading . . . loved staying here together.
Our final stop was in Somerset, New Jersey. We decided that since it was just a stopover (from 11:30 pm – 9:00 am) we would go with a hotel. We also decided that it is now easier for us, as a family to have a suite, so we went with Homewood Suites. It was a great place to stay and because of an issue on their part, we stayed there for under $55! So great!
So fun to stay in three different places. And even more wonderful was that our little guy did great in all three.
Our little family vacation this summer is a road trip down to Charlottesville, Virginia. After crunching the numbers and thinking about what would work best for us we decided on a ROAD TRIP!
I was nervous about all those hours in the car for our little guy . . .
Cole is infamous for NOT sleeping on a trip when you want him to. When we flew to California for Christmas he was up at 3:00 am Eastern Time and did not sleep until we were in a car in California at 8:00 pm (that is 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, that is 17 hours of not sleeping for an 18 month old).
But thankfully he did sleep . . . almost three hour naps every day he was in the car.
We did prepare for the many hours on the road . . . and it helped. Our little guy only cried a couple of times (when he was tired and couldn’t sleep) and rarely said “I want to get out!” which he usually says when he is in his car seat.
Here is what we had on hand:
2 Canvas Baskets of books+:
A couple of months ago I put together this canvas basket that we keep in the car by Cole’s car seat. I love how it contains all the things I love to have in the car for him. For this trip, we had it along with us, but only used these things at the very end of the trip . . .
We added a whole new canvas basket in front of his seat, so that everything I pulled out was new to him.
Included in the two canvas baskets:
- Numerous books
- including 6 library books
- 4 new little books from my mom
- 2 Stuffed animals
- Teddy is always in the car
- We brought Olivia and a new Olivia book
- 2 Coloring books
- we only used one, pulling out a page each time we ate out
- A new pack of triangular Crayola crayons
- not necessary, most restaurants gave Cole crayons
- though they do not roll and that is nice
- 1 Bulldozer from Uncle Brian
- actually in that over the seat holder that is always with us I have a number of little toys that Cole can play with any time
A Diaper Bag of surprises:
I also packed this diaper bag with other toys, some that Cole had not seen in a while, some new hand-me-downs and three new things that I bought . . .
Included in Diaper Bag:
- A hand me down vtech Tote ‘n Go Laptop
- this was a big hit
- he is still to little to understand, but he enjoyed it
- toy truck for outside
- never used it
- a ball
- 3 new things from Target
- an alphaberry
- this was a huge hit, he played with it a good deal
- it plays music that he sang along to
- he likes finding letters on it
- a nerf football that was on sale for 89 cents
- a big bubble stick that he loved
In addition we had a cooler with lots of healthy snacks, a diaper changing “station” (a box that is always in the van with diapers, wipes and other possible necessities). And we did bring our ipads with “shows.” I thought he would “need” those more, but he did not watch all the new shows and really just liked the first two we showed him, they would have been enough . . . Richard Scary’s Best ABC Video and Mr. Rogers on “Airplanes.”
He was a great traveler, and that made our road trip so much fun!
It is boat week, and there is a big boat that lives around the corner from us, the Friendship. We have walked by it a number of times, but never have boarded it . . .
Until now . . .
Colton and I headed out, just the two of us . . . when I head into new surroundings together I will often contain him until I get the lay of the land, so it was stroller-time for our little guy, while we journeyed to the Visitor Center for tickets. I patted myself on the back, as there was a lot of waiting while tourists asked questions. Having him in the stroller was brilliant . . .
Once we boarded the ship we were met by four young park rangers, who gave Colton his own junior shipmate pin . . .
He was not sure how he felt about it . . . me either, a pin on my two year old, but we smiled and held hands and ventured on board together . . .
I am doing a better job these days of letting him walk around on his own.
He is recognizing when it is ok to run, he is doing better and better at exploring appropriately . . .
And I have decided to embrace the next challenge, trying to photograph him in the spaces in between . . . I am not as successful yet, but we are having fun exploring together.
Cole LOVED the Friendship.
So scroll through this blog, and you will quickly find that these days are unapologetically revolving around this little guy:
In the midst of providing him with theme weeks, daily adventures, three meals a day, clothing on his back and all that it takes to orchestrate his days, Andrew and I took one night away.
It was just over 24 hours and it was such sweet, quiet time together that I need to pause and note that adventuring with Andrew is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
We headed up the coast to Maine. We ventured by ferry to Peaks Island and then toured on foot and by golf cart discovering an island with history and interesting architecture.
We paused for our greatest dinner ever (as blogged about here), and stayed in a lovely Bed & Breakfast in Kennebunkport. We explored and rested. We played backgammon and ate entire meals without anyone throwing anything.
One day away was so filling and so realigning. We are a family who believes in adventure and retreat. What a joy when I get to do both with the love of my life.
Thank you to Mimi and Skip for making it all possible.
Russell Orchards is a wonderful destination. It has yummy cider donuts and a little barnyard with animals kids enjoy seeing.
We went to Russell Orchards with friends.
This is Will, he is a year older and a head taller than Cole, and he is one of the nicest little boys in the world.
Will and Cole enjoyed interacting with all kinds of animals . . .
But even sweeter was the time spent together . . .
Thank you friends, for a lovely Animal Day!