Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kids 101

Lessons Mark and I learned during our week with borrowed children:

1. Pack an extra change of clothes wherever you go. Not for them (that's remedial) but for yourself. A surprising number of their spills and drips will end up on you.
2. Anything sticky will be returned to you half-eaten. I now break out in hives at the mention of lollipops or ice cream cones.
3. They like to share. Quote from Kelsey, who summoned Mark across the room to give him something: "Here. It's from my nose."
4. Having eaten (or having refused all offers of food) 30 minutes prior will not stop them from asking, "What's for lunch?"
5. They have no sense of irony. Caitlin carried and cuddled Bailey (their cat, on sabbatical with us for a few more months) against his will several times a day, but was quite concerned that our dog Sandy was "bothering" the cat.
6. Four-year-olds are literal thinkers. I had a lot of explaining to do when there were no fairies on the ferry boat. (After all, there were pirates on the pirate boat.)

Sewing Class

Before the girls left with Jen and Pete for the beach, we sewed pillows. Caitlin, especially, had been looking forward to this project since I mentioned it a few weeks ago. She even added "SEW A PILLOW SHANNON" to Mark's to-do list she found in the kitchen. On Friday, we went to the fabric store, and the each girl picked out fabric for her project. This morning, with Becky's help, we cut them out, pinned and machine stitched the pillows, then stuffed them and hand sewed the remaining opening. I was amazed by Caitlin's precision with both the machine and hand sewing, and her sticking with even the more mundane steps. In the interest of time, I sewed Kelsey's pillow, but she stuffed it beautifully. Note also that Caitlin is modeling one of her tie-dye projects from earlier in the week.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Harbor Night 2006

An AnnapoCAMPolis tradition is Harbor Night. Ben and Jen (with their nieces and dog Buckley) sail Outre Mer to the Annapolis Harbor, pick up a mooring, and spend the night. Last year, they invited us to join them, and we were hooked.

This year, we borrowed a friend's sailboat, Pylasteki, and Mark rowed us, Caitlin and Kelsey, Sandy, and Jen and Pete (rested and sunburned after their time in Atlantic City) out to the boat on its mooring. Mark had quite a workout ferrying all of us to Outre Mer for dinner, teaching an eager Caitlin how to row, and braving a water gun attack by Jen, Sarah, and Hannah. After the gorgeous sunset, it was back to the dinghies for a gelato run. The Dinoias gamely braved the summer heat and humidity and rolling boat overnight, and enjoyed the Naptown tradition of breakfast at Chick & Ruth's Delly. This diner has great breakfasts, the second-generation owner Teddy doing magic tricks at the table, and a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

MORE PICTURES COMING - Check back soon!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tie-Dye Thursday

Thursday, we joined up with AnnapoCAMPolis founder Jen Pope and her nieces, alumni Sarah and Hannah. These seasoned pros showed us how to tie-dye t-shirts, socks, and underwear. Then while the dye set, we bleached our stained skin in the swimming pool for several hours. Jen, Sarah, and Hannah showed Caitlin the "noodle jump," and Kelsey got braver in the water, loosening her death grip on my neck after a while. While Jen and I made dinner, all four girls got a rare dose of TV time (Wallace and Gromit and Veggie Tales.) Captains Ben and Mark joined us after work for a delicious dinner (thanks, Jen!) and we headed home to prepare for Harbor Night.

PICTURES COMING-check back soon!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Smith Island Excursion

On Wednesday, I took the girls on a trip (organized by my church) to Smith Island, Maryland. It's the only inhabited offshore island in Maryland. Like Tangier Island, Virginia, it is populated mostly by watermen and their families. The island has unique traditions and even its own dialect. The girls and I really enjoyed the boat ride across Tangier Sound from Crisfield, Maryland. Kelsey and Caitlin made friends with a 5-year old girl named Lanaigail, whose grandmother was on the trip. The three girls had fun spotting jellyfish, osprey nests, blue crabs, and schools of fish from our sunny perch on the top deck of the boat.

After a family-style lunch, we explored the island (well, mostly the playground and adjacent cemetery, since I now had three kids in tow.) Lanaigail's grandmother gave the girls a ride in a rented golf cart, and we ate half of two chocolate ice cream cones and wore the other half.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ARRRRR Pirate Adventure

On Tuesday, we had a pirate adventure. Dressed as pirates, and armed with plastic swords, we stormed the office where Mark (aka Marcus Hook) works, and kidnapped him. We joined the fun crew at Pirate Adventures of the Chesapeake, where Caribbean Caitlin and Keel Haulin' Kelsey got pirate tattoos and instructions in pirate-talk, before boarding the Sea Gypsy IV in search of treasure.

Captain "Ruby" and First Mate "Scuttle" told of a hidden treasure on the Chesapeake Bay, and a map that marked the location of the treasure. Forgetful Captain Ruby thought she remembered hiding the map on a ship called the Sea Gypsy IV. Once the kids pointed out that THIS was that boat, the search for the map began. Once it was located, they plotted our course toward the treasure. But Captain Ruby remembered that the treasure was locked. She searched for the key, but couldn't find it. Just then, we found a message in a bottle floating in the Bay. It was from Pirate Pete, telling us he'd stolen the key! We soon located that scurvy dog on his boat Scallywag, and blasted him with water cannons. As he fell off his boat, he threw the key and WE CAUGHT IT! We found the X in the water that marked the spot where the treasure was hidden, and pulled up a treasure chest full of "gold" dubloons, rings, and other booty, which the kids all plundered. (They are polite pirates; they took turns.)

We found some grog (tasted a lot like cream soda) floating in the Bay, and the kids had a party with that and a limbo pole as we returned to the docks. We'll be talking about this adventure for a long time to come!

Charm City

Caitlin, Kelsey, and I headed to Baltimore on Monday. We went to see the "Australia:Wild Extremes" exhibit at the National Aquarium. That turned out to be a small exhibit, but we enjoyed the rest of the aquarium very much. The tropical rain forest exhibit is always a crowd-pleaser, with many colorful birds. Kelsey had fun finding Nemo and Dory among the tropical fish. The sharks and rays are always amazing. Caitlin really enjoyed the dolphin show (and I loved the chance to sit down.)

After the aquarium, we rented a dragon-shaped pedal boat for a while. But what will we remember most? Caitlin and Kelsey LOVED the Aquarium gift shop, and their souvenirs (pink-jewelled seahorse necklace for K, dolphin-motif mood ring for C.) I got into and out of Baltimore with no major traffic, and was never lost (a first for me in Bal'mer.) -S.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Saturday at the Cove

Saturday, we took the Dinoias on the boat, into the Rhode River. We met up with Mark's sister Andrea, her husband Rick, and their friends Joe and Heather, and their dog Dakota. We all had a blast, playing in the water and on the beach of the same island we visited last time. Thankfully, this time the jellyfish stayed away, as did the thunderstorms that were predicted.

Sandy begged to be let off the boat, and swam for the first time ever, before begging to be let back ON the boat.

With so many other grown-ups around, Jen actually got to take a much-needed nap!

"Marky Sparky" was kept quite busy.

Joe, Heather, Rick, Andrea, and (YOU KNOW IT!) Dakota.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bear Creek Lake

We went camping this weekend at Bear Creek Lake in Virginia. We joined Shannon's mom Becky (the Martha Stewart of camping), brother Bart, sister-in-law Tracy, and neice Sara. With the pop-up camper, a tent, and a shade tent over the picnic table, we had quite the spread.

We discovered the interesting "fungus among us" at a nearby campsite. We're hoping to go back in the fall and get to hike more.

Saturday, after a large breakfast, we finally motivated to get to the lake. Mark and Sandy and I kayaked over to the beach. Bart, Tracy, and Sara rented a canoe and everyone took turns playing with Sara in the lake and on the sandy beach.

After a yummy dinner, s'mores, and after-dinner drinks, we were glad to hit our bunks early.

Sunday we picnicked at the beach before breaking camp and heading home.

Spending time with Sara was such a delight. She is three, and has a curious, gleeful, and sweet nature. She drank a lot of "slocolate milk," said "I LOVE you, Uncamark" a lot, and informed us that pirates say "ARRR...Walk the plank!"

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Our New Baby

It's a boat! You may be shocked to learn that it's a POWERboat. Sometimes you want to be able to get out on the water quickly, and be able to get to any destination, with or without wind. We decided this on a Tuesday, and by the following Thursday, Mark had identified and bagged his quarry, a 20-foot Key West dual console bowrider. It doubles as a fishing boat and ski boat, and has lots of seating for just poking around and picnicking (Shannon and Sandy's favorite.)

The night Mark towed it home, we celebrated with a seafood dinner on the boat (in the yard, because it was too late to put it in the water.) And then it rained for forty days and forty nights. Or so it seemed. We finally were able to get it in the water last weekend. We went up to Annapolis and saw friends, then down to lunch at the Tysons' (our former neighbors at the beach house.) Then we anchored in the Rhode River and snoozed with Sandy in the bow.

The name is still in negotiations. These weren't at all heated, until Caitlin came to visit. She listened to the names we're considering, then said, you could name it "By the Bay." She's casually brought it up about 30 times since then. She's even tried giving us a choice, between "Princess of the Waves" and "By the Bay." Kelsey merely said that the boat was "marvelous." We couldn't agree more!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Crabby Cruise

If you're going to experience the best of Maryland, you've got to take a boat to a crab house for dinner. That's what we did Thursday night. With Caitlin and Kelsey begging Mark to "go fast!" we motored up the South River to Mike's for crabs. Caitlin did an amazing job picking crabs, and Kelsey really liked banging with a mallet, but overall preferred her crabcake.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July Cruise

Jennifer, Caitlin, and Kelsey are visiting from Iceland, and joined us for the Fourth. We were so happy to have crew for the boat we just bought, and they were so happy to have heat during the day and dark at night. We loaded them and Sandy into the boat (don't worry, the girls donned life jackets as soon as we took the pic showing off their matching dresses) and explored the nearby Rhode River. After a picnic on the boat, we landed at a little island in the river, where the girls played in the sand and threw sticks for Sandy, and we floated in the tube. (We haven't yet convinced them to ride in the tube behind the boat, but give us time.) Caitlin got stung by a jellyfish, but recovered quickly, and we headed to Galesville on the West River.

We docked and made it into the restaurant just before the downpour, and afterwards, enjoyed the fun small town parade (the pic is of the girls stuffing their dress pockets with candy thrown from the tractors, fire engines, and decorated bikes that made up the parade.) Captain Mark found a mooring in the river for the boat, and festooned the girls with glow necklaces to bide the time until the fireworks. There was a great fireworks display right over our heads, and then we were able to see some of the Annapolis fireworks in the distance, as we motored north towards home.