Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Trip to Missouri

A couple days after we got home from our big road trip--enough time to do some laundry and visit the doctor to make sure Baby Girl Oliphant was growing right along-- Joseph and I went for a two week summer visit to St. Louis. We took an airplane which was a real treat (how will I ever go back to the 14 hour drive again?).

Everytime we go to Missouri it is such a big, fun party. This time was no exception. Aunt Joanna and Aunt Nanitzi drove up from Texas and Oklahoma & Aunt Ayanna drove in from Kansas City so during his visit Joseph got to see every single one of his cousins. It was our first time to meet cousins Thomas and Shaia. Both were so very cute and made us more excited for our next baby to join us.
Grandma and Grandpa treated us all to the Circus Flora, a one-ring, European-style circus. It was outdoors under a big tent (with air conditioning) and we had seats a couple rows from the stage. It was really fun.

Afterwards, Grandma treated all the cousins to pony rides. This was Joseph's first pony ride, and he was a big fan!

Aunt Catherine holding baby Thomas.

Uncle John is an EMT. He drives an ambulance. He is a big hero! He thrilled Joseph by arranging to take him to his work and let him climb in and explore a real ambulance.

See Joseph in the driver's seat? He also got to turn on all of the lights.

Afterward, we went for frozen custard at Ted Drewes and then a picnic at the park. (If you're passing Ted Drewes, sometimes you just have to have dessert first). John, Catherine, Andrew, Hannah, Joseph, and I were all along for this fun day.

We also had barbeques and popsicles and lots of fun playing in the slip and slide and pool in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard.

Joseph and Carter

Joseph got Marc's daring genes with no fear on the slip n slide.

Ellie, Joseph and Carter having popsicles. Grandma had a never-ending supply of popsicles.

One of Joseph's favorite things to do in Missouri is go to Sno Biz for snow cones and sit in the back of Uncle Dan's pick-up truck with his cousins to eat them.
We ate and ate good food--barbequing in the back yard, a full turkey dinner complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce, chicken "Julian", and going out to eat at Sweet Tomatoes two times for their delicious salads (and strawberry lemonade). I was really on a poultry binge since Marc is allergic we don't eat it at home. We went to Wapelhorst waterpark three times, had dinner at John and Catherine's and then explored Forest Park, went to Zachary's Park at Joseph's special request, and Joseph got to play, play, play with his cousins in Grandma's toy room and eat chicken nuggets and pizza with them. She also had strawberries and watermelon--Joseph's favorite fruits. Did I mention the never-ending fruit popsicles?
I got to watch movies like North and South and Leap Year and have late night chats and take naps. I loved the freezing cold air conditioning of my parents' house. Mom and Dad watched Joseph while I went to see Hamlet at the Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park with John and Catherine.
I also went shopping for maternity clothes. I don't like shopping. I know I'm kind of strange in that way, but I just don't. But I knew I needed to do it so I asked Mom to help me. She's a get-it-done woman. She pushed and prodded and made me try on things and return things when I decided I didn't love this one or wanted a different size--all the things I really hate about shopping. Anyhow, I've been thrilled with the results. We got some great deals, and I love all my new clothes! Anyhow, I am planning on a Mom-forced shopping excursion once the baby is born too so that I can make myself buy a non-pregnant wardrobe that I actually like.
Finally, I have to mention the fun spa party my mom threw for all the sisters and sisters-in-law. Mom is a BeautiControl consultant and gave us a spa party complete with facials, pedicures, and relaxation. We had friends from our old St. Charles Ward church days and all the sisters and sisters-in-law. It was really fun. It was great to see everyone, see babies and pictures of babies, laugh and get pampered. Grandpa and Uncle Dan took all the kids to Uncle Dan's house so Joseph was having a ball, too. He loves "the cousins," as he calls them. He'd really like to marry Ally; I made the mistake of telling him you can't marry your family and now he asks me "why" regularly. I finally told him today that I'd discuss it again in a few years (because I'm going to go crazy if he doesn't quit asking me questions that I can't answer to his satisfaction!)
What a great visit. The only bad news is that I don't know when we're going back. We'll have a newborn at Christmas, and last year the roads were so bad that I don't think we're going to try it again. Maybe next summer....
June 9-23, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Way Home

On our last day of the trip, we broke camp in the rain one last time. At 7:30 am, we were in the dry car heading out. We entered "Home" on our GPS unit and were surprised that the estimated time of arrival was 12 hours later. What we had planned as a leisurely two day trip home turned into a one day marathon trip. You should know that a twelve hour estimation by your GPS does not include driving in heavy down pours of rain, bathroom stops, food stops, even stop lights I might add. It also doesn't include a detour through downtown NYC--just because it seems a shame to drive around such a wonderful city (I only wish we'd stopped for food at a street vendor), or a detour to include the state of Rhode Island since we've never been to Rhode Island (those maps you color in 5th grade to document what states you have visited continue with you for many years), or a two hour stop in Princeton, New Jersey to visit family. However, we did, indeed, make it home from Maine that day (or technically the wee hours of the next morning). After leaving New York City (which I drove through) we realized had hadn't taken any pictures so we snapped one just after leaving the Holland Tunnel.
It was really fun to visit John and Gwen in Princeton. They showed Joseph to their playground where he had a ball playing as we visited, and then they took us on a tour of the beautiful campus.




Joseph had a wonderful time running through campus, putting his feet in the fountain, and chasing a squirrel (see video below).




June 5, 2010

The Best Purchase of the Trip

Joseph was a great trooper for our meandering explorations in New England. At a stop at a Super Walmart along the way, we bought Joseph a Lightning McQueen car. He used to have one and lost it several months back. He always talked longingly of his lost Lightning McQueen. Joseph was beyond excited to have a new Lightning--and insisted we take pictures from the various angles.
At another Wal Mart along the trip, there was a family loading into an open top Jeep in the middle of the rain. They put jackets and blankets around the toddlers, and Joseph openly stared in awe. Finally, he said to them, "I wish I had a Jeep like you."

Acadia in the Sunlight

Our second day in Acadia was sunny and beautiful. After a rainy night, we woke up to a whole new place! We visited a couple of the same places (including this beach) and wouldn't even recognize it as the same spot as the previous day. We had a picnic breakfast at an overlook (where the highlight for Joseph was when a construction crew showed up to do some maintenance work) and were off and running right away.
Joseph's leg took a wonderful turn for the better during our trip. Up until the trip, he had still be significantly limping and favoring the leg he had broken. I'd taken him back to the doctor who told us it would take time. We were pretty worried and got quite a few comments from friends and family who knew it was so uncharacteristic for Joseph to be slowed down by physical activity. It broke my heart to see him tell kids at the playground that he couldn't play chase with them because of his limp. However, maybe it was the timing or fresh air or hiking or biking or just being with Dad all day, but whatever it was, his limp completely cleared up. We brought home a Joseph ready to run and bike with the best of them again.We found a spot off the beaten path and explored for tide pools, which turned out to be a real highlight of our trip. The pictures don't do them justice, but we found tide pools with mussels, sea urchin, seaweed, and barnacles, and more. Joseph was hoping for a sea star, but it wasn't to be.



Don't you love how Joseph poses just like his Dad?

We took a drive up Cadillac Mountain with this gorgeous view of Bar Harbor down below--complete with an incoming cruise ship.
Joseph loved meeting up with the Corvette club at the top of Cadillac Mountain.
Remember the rainy lunch spot from the day before? Well, here it is today--the same boat only add an artist doing a watercolor of the scene. Marc explored a sand bar that goes out to one of islands during low tide while I sat with a rare napping Joseph. Then we all walked around the cute town of Bar Harbor and ate ice cream cones with all the other tourists.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated much of the land that is today Acadia National Park. After making his fortune in the oil industry, Rockefeller decided he did not want the land spoiled by motorcars so he built an extensive system of Carriage Roads throughout Acadia that was off limits to cars. Today those carriage roads are open to pedestrians, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We had a great time biking along the beautiful carriage road.



For dinner, we sought out "Beal's Lobster Pound" that I had found recommended in a guide book. A Lobster Pound is a casual, shack-like restaraunt that sells the seafood it catches right on sight. You walk up to a tank of lobsters, pick one out and they cook it right there for you. You take it out to the dock and eat on wooden picnic tables while you watch the fishing boats finish their day's work.


June 4, 2010

Acadia National Park

We arrived late in Acadia National Park and set up camp in the dark. It was rainy and misty all the next day.
We went to a lighthouse that is still in operation--and occupied by a Coast Guard family.
We spied deer on the scenic trail.

Thunder Hole was a really neat spot where the waves crashed in this craggy rock cave and made a huge boom.


We watched a video of beautiful vistas at the visitor's center, but when we drove the Park's scenic loop, you could mostly see the fog--which is pretty in its own way.


We ate our picnic lunch in our car, looking out at the pouring rain and these beautiful boats in Bar Harbor.



There's nothing like finishing off the day roasting marshmallows in the rain! Joseph loved getting to play with the campfire. I think Marc and I are great complements of each other in parenting. If I had to write a book about parenting, I think I would title it, "Just Close Your Eyes." There are many times that I just have to close my eyes when I see what Marc is letting Joseph do. I know that he'll be fine and that I'm just being overprotective, and that Joseph will learn a lot from the exploration or trial and error. The campfire on our trip was an example of just such a "just close your eyes" situation.

June 3, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mt. Washington

"Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft (1,917 m). It is famous for its dangerously erratic weather, and long held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, 231 mph (372 km/h) on the afternoon of April 12, 1934," according to my scholarly source, Wikipedia. The last time Marc was at the top of this mountain, he had hiked it.




They literally chain the buildings to the ground so they don't blow away!



We drove up the winding path, and that was terrifying enough for me. When you paid the entrance fee at the base, there was a sign that warned that if you didn't like heights, sharp turns and severe drop offs without guard rails, this might not be a pleasant experience for you. Marc conveniently avoided eye contact with me when we drove past this sign.







There were signs suggesting you pull off every once in a while and cool your brakes down. Also, this water provided at several points along the way.

On the way back down, you can see we've come back below the tree line again. We stopped to let the car have a rest and also to snap some pictures of Marc at the Appalachian Trail entrance.



After Mt. Washington, we headed back on the road--leaving New Hampshire and entering Maine!

Our first stop in Maine was this little place. In honor of Grandpa Bill, Joseph and I had genuine Dole Whips (pineapple soft serve). Marc had a snickers concrete.

June 2, 2010