28 June 2015

Nuns Having Fun

Except they were monks. 

Our tour boat was a veritable United Nations with these monks, a woman in a sari, people speaking French, Chinese and Japanese. 

My kids were snoozing so I had plenty of time to ponder spiritual analogies of an international assemblage gathered on this small boat in the no man's land between nations. As if we were sailing the River Styx, instead of the St. Lawrence or something. Yeah I don't know that wasn't well thought out. 

27 June 2015

Alpacas Were the Point of this Trip

And mission accomplished. We're staying with family friends from way back at: 

Home Again Farm
37098 Schell Road
Theresa, NY 13691-2226

26 June 2015

I Took My Kids to Canada

Baby on board! 

Chris and I applied for the kids' passports early this month, before I knew when or if we would be this close to the Canadian boarder. Well, they hadn't arrived before we left, so I was bummed. 

Until we went on a boat tour of the Thousand Islands that sailed us across the border into Canadian waters! Both kids slept through it. 

But Eloise woke up in time to drive the boat and get her captain's license. Isaac slept through that too. 

Eloise says, "If I can get an Officer of the Deck letter, Dad, YOU CAN TOO!" 

Boldt Castle (NY)

At that lake in Pennsylvania, my dad got a good tip for the couple of days we had between PA and the alpacas: Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands. 

George Boldt, who owned part of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as well as six of the Thousand Islands, built this soaring castle for his beloved wife, Louise in 1900. He dynamited the island into the shape of a heart, carved hearts into the construction, and planted gardens in heart shapes. 
Six weeks before he planned to present her with what was to be her Valentine's Day present, she died suddenly. 

Boldt ordered construction halted at 96% completion. It was never finished, and he never returned to the island. The house fell apart. 

The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought the ruins in the 1970s and have partially restored several rooms. 
Exploring the island and castle is completely fun. Chris, am I soooooooo beloved that you need to build ME a castle??? I promise not to die when it's 96% done! 

25 June 2015

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (PA)

"The town felt very European, I'd say. It was cool. Loved seeing that tunnel. It seemed very un-peopled. That $250,000 house there (with 23 rooms, a former B&B)---that was kind of amazing. The train was much beloved by Isaac. Running along the tracks. The sheer drop off was exciting." 
---my mom's thoughts on the town of Jim Thorpe
"I thought it was small and intimate. Extremely picturesque. It was small." 
---all my dad could come up with
"They call it the Swiss Alps of Pennsylvania. There are some hippy shops and tourist traps." 
---Uncle Rhett 

"They have a great Oktoberfestival. Beautiful leaves." 
---Aunt Janet 
"Look at the TRAIN! Are we going to have some MORE fun now??" 
Then we popped over to Lehigh Gorge State Park to walk through a dark and breezy out-of-use train tunnel as a thunderstorm rolled in. And drove up to the 100 Mile View to take in the view before heading over to that awesome ice cream place. 

24 June 2015


So here's what happened. We're all loaded up, sitting in my driveway, about to back out. The car is running. Kids are strapped into car seats. Grandma is squished in between. We'd mapped our route through Baltimore and Pennsylvania to get to upstate New York. 

And it's at this moment the friends we planned to stay with in Baltimore say, "well here's our old address in Baltimore, but you're coming to visit us in North Carolina, right? ....where we live now...?" Epic miscommunication. 

Three and a half hours in the opposite direction was not in the cards for my little people, so with much head-smacking we begged forgiveness and proceeded to Annapolis. 
On the way, we paid the $13(!!!) toll to cross the Chesapeake, then stopped at Chatham Vineyards and Winery on Virginia's Eastern Shore for a lunchtime wine tasting. Later we stopped to get Eloise some greasy chicken. 

In honor of Chris on Father's Day, we walked around the Naval Academy and harbor area. Adorable, just as everyone says! Happy Father's Day, Chris! And happy Father's Day, Dad! I'm so lucky to spend Mother's and Father's Day with my folks this year! 

Long live the road trip! 

Beltzville State Park (PA)

It was barely warm enough for us Southerners to swim in the chilly (to us) waters of Lake Beltzville, but we did it! Mountain lake swimming---how novel! And you don't even have to worry about sharks. Or box jellyfish. 

We enjoyed a beautiful day at this picturesque Pennsylvania lake. I even got a tasty cheese steak from the snack stand for lunch. 

I have the cutest kids in the history of mankind. And the world's most glamorous mom under the umbrella! 

23 June 2015

Roadside Pennsylvania

We are watching out for Amish buggies and staying out of the corn fields here in Pennsylvania!  

My Uncle Rhett and Aunt Janet and their kiddos, Savannah and Cade, were the picture of hospitality hosting five houseguests who arrived a full day early. That would be my parents, my kids, and me. 

I remember coming here when we were liiiiiiiiiittle. My sis and I convinced everyone to let us tromp back into the corn fields for a picnic. "Don't go too far. You'll get lost," they told us. We went too far. We got lost. 

Eventually we found a tree and climbed it to search for a sign of Uncle Rhett's house, but all I could see was hills and hills of corn stalks. Hannah started to cry. We changed direction and found some train tracks, which we followed back to his street. Here we found everyone in a panic and on the verge of calling the police. The corn field has long since been paved over for houses, but my mom said every time we passed those train track, she could still remember that panicked feeling. 

This visit, we engaged in more relaxing agricultural pursuits: sampling the extremely atmospheric Premiere Maid ice cream and candy shop with thunder rumbling overhead, and Pennsylvania wine tasting, of course. All wines are made with grapes grown on these rolling hills! 

Grilling out, coffee all together, seeing the local tourist spots, catching a bird that got caught inside, and scattering toys to all corners of their house---thanks for a fun time!! We love you! 

19 June 2015

Stories and Songs at the Hermitage

It was hot, but we're so cool we still had fun. Nearly 100 degree weather couldn't keep us away from June's Stories and Songs at The Hermitage Museum. Free admission and tot-tertainment! Every third or fourth Tuesday of the month at 10:30am, in the shade along the river with a nice breeze. Looking forward to going next month with the entire NewPenn Compound Crew! 

17 June 2015

News From the Atlantic

ATLANTIC OCEAN (13 JUN 2015) - V-1 Divisional Officer LT Chris Krueger, from Houston, performs laser range finding on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are participating in ARG/MEUEX, a scenario-based amphibious integration exercise, in preparation for a future deployment. 
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael R. Gendron. Released.) 

Also pictured: Osprey, Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), H-60 helo, and a fired rolling airframe missile (RAM). 

09 June 2015

Today is a Good Day

Life is so much better with sleep. Now Eloise is free to stay this size forever if she wants. Isaac too, if he promises to stop licking everything. 


So many reasons we love the zoo. 

06 June 2015

We Settled.

Jamestown Settlement. Historic Jamestown. What's the difference? Shrug. We arrived at Jamestown Settlement first Friday morning, so that's where we went (AFTER getting Dunkin Donuts for National Donut Day, of course, which started as some kind of war effort).
Jamestown Settlement is a state park. Historic Jamesown is a national park, they told us. "It's just some ruins. Archeological stuff," said the hostess at Jamestown Settlement of Historic Jamestown. The Settlement is like $16 per adult. National parks are free with our annual pass. 
The Settlement is a big recreation of the Jamestown sight, complete with people in costumes telling me not to let my kid climb on stuff with silly old fashioned accents. What's the point of wearing authentic deer leather Native American clothing if you're tall, blond, and blue-eyed? Oops, I'm revealing my deeply ingrained prejudices against people in period costumes. There was a very well done museum but museums are not easily incorporated into our current phase of life: Eloise's baby biscuits got The Big Eyes not once but twice, and Isaac scaled a life-sized statue of Native Americans...also twice. 
Anyway, we walked through the Native American village replica to the ship replicas, then up to the recreated fort. Isaac was melting down a little so we got lunch at the cafe (creamy Virginia peanut soup for me). 
It was right around nap time, so we figured a quick stop and a photo at Historic Jamestown would suffice. NO WAIT THIS IS AWESOME. 
Deer grazed serenely among the ruins of some of the first buildings in British America. We walked through North America's first Protestant church, where someone you may have heard of got married: POCAHONTAS. Old burial plots. Statues of John Smith and our Native American princess. Monuments. 

This is where all the stuff you've heard about actually happened. It was more interesting than Williamsburg. Obviously they are very complimentary, and somehow our sweet kiddos soldiered through BOTH: "Are we going to have some fun now? That was boring." (So we chased some geese). 
Then we caught the FREE Jamestown-Scotland Ferry and drove home with some drive-by tourism of Chippokes Plantation State Park and Bacon's Castle (the oldest brick house in America and important part of Bacon's Rebellion). 
Here's what was cool about the ferry: seeing Jamestown from the river, like the settlers must have. Deep, leafy greens appearing out of the still water and gray mist. 
Here's what's cool about Virginia: this is all the historic stuff! Where everything started here! At one time "Virginia" was the word for all of known America. For the British anyway. Just so cool. I'm not so keen on recreations, but the history and archeology at Jamestown is something I could be persuaded to investigate further. 

03 June 2015

More Flying Fun

The mist turned into rain as we looped around the Busch Gardens exit and spotted the "parking $15" sign. We almost turned back. And if we had, we would have missed out on the shortest lines in the history of theme parks! 
It ended up being the perfect day to introduce Isaac to roller coasters. We could have been better dressed---I forgot to bring a hat and Isaac's sweatshirt was a bit snug. Rain boots would also have been appropriate. But it was cool, breezy, and completely uncrowded. 
Isaac wanted to go on the Battering Ram for his first ride. Eloise and I cheered them on from the sidelines. Isaac almost immediately tucked his head under Chris' arm and refused to look. He was a little traumatized. He didn't even respond when an excited 13-yr-old girl told him he was brave (although hours later, at home before bed, he told me, "at battering ram, that other girl talked to me. But I didn't say anything a'cause I was looking at the ground a'cause I was scared. That ride was really scared."). 
It took some convincing to get him on some more tot appropriate rides after that, but Chris and I got to take turns riding with him. We flew flying machines. He went around in a hot air balloon. He flew a plane. He swung in circles. He drove in circles in the bumper cars. We went around in a dragon egg. We rode the train and the gondolas. Chris went on a really big roller coaster. Isaac was mesmerized. He had a really fun time. We had just measured Isaac for his passport Monday and were surprised to find he is tall enough for all but the biggest rides at 42 inches. 
The real trooper here was ELOISE, who was a totally good sport in the car, hanging out in her stroller, taking a nap, eating all the food, and generally being the prettiest awesome baby you've ever seen. This is a different baby from the grouchy, hungry girl who wouldn't eat two months ago. Everything has changed for the better. 
So we get there, I buy a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes, we get some coffee and a cookie, and Chris pops Isaac up onto his shoulders. There was a weird pause while Chris and I turned to each other in slow motion. Over 10 years ago, before we were dating, when Chris and I first met, he told me over AOL instant messenger his dream for the future: couple of kids etc etc. And it was the weirdest thing. It was like seeing a photo: Chris, me, older boy (brown hair), younger girl (blond hair), heading into an amusement park. The girl was on Chris' shoulders. And he and I were not serious at all at the time. That's what made it so weird. 

Anyway so Chris lifts Isaac onto his shoulders, and here we are at an amusement park for the first time in four years, with our boy and girl. I was actually speechless. It was weird. Chris was like, "hey, are you thinking what I'm thinking?!" And I WAS, so that made me speechless for a second time in the same minute because that never happens. 
So we had an awesome time, complete with German sausages and beer for dinner with a show, and a quiet ride home with sleeping kids. Best rainy day yet.