Genius or Doofus?

Last night, my husband was very conflicted. He stood in the kitchen at times aghast, at times giggling, and, occasionally, intrigued.

It was late and I was trying to figure out bottling my first ever cordial. I wanted to use my lemon balm since I get it often with my CSA and we got a double box this week due to our vacation. TWO bunches of lemon balm? What to do?

Gooseberry and lemon balm cordial:

Nervous but excited

I was hopeless at figuring out the intricacies of bottling. My husband watched and offered advice. I boiled some plastic soda bottles (he giggled), I poured the mixture straight onto cheesecloth (he suggested a sieve first), I spilled here and there (he supplied paper towels). But by the end, we had a delicious cordial. I think mostly he was in awe that I could think up such a delicious treat, but at the same time be so incompetent in its completion.

Still. Genius.

I’m Busy

Our new coop is tempting us with bulk berries. We are unable to resist.

Blueberries and gooseberries ahoy!

Never mind that I’m still getting back on my feet after our trip to Minnesota… One cannot ignore the prospect of jam. And pies.

Boston Harbor Islands

My friend Una was visiting Boston this past weekend, newly engaged, and therefore I needed to pull out all the stops. Freshly back from Minnesota I didn’t have time to get some bubbly on ice, so I did a whirlwind tour of the supermarket to cobble together a picnic (sparkling cider has bubbles!) while Papa took the boys to swim class. Off we went on a train and ferry adventure. We had a disastrous commuting experience and had to run from the train to the wharf but somehow we managed to catch the ferry to George’s Island and I caught my breath enough to congratulate Una and Roger. Don’t you just love meeting somebody’s significant other for the first time in full freak-out mode and out of breath and you still have to collect tickets and run to catch a ferry?

George’s Island was SO cool. It was so refreshing to get out on a boat and see the city from a new angle.

Looking back to the city

The boys had a blast with Una and Roger.

We had to drag Conor around a bit with the promise of more cannons, and the dark tunnels were too scary, mostly because of a screaming school group. It was really fun to walk around the walls and look for pirates, until a fog bank rolled in and everything turned mystical.

The city is disappearing in the mist

The pirates are hiding in the fog!

The ferry back was crazy. We couldn’t even see the airplanes taking off and landing right beside us. (I’m sure that was very encouraging for Una and Roger who were flying back to Ireland that night!)

What an awesome day.

Congratulations Una and Roger!

 

Minnesota Lake House

After Minneapolis we went down to Bronwen’s lake house in Southwest Minnesota. We were so lucky to be able to go again this year. The boys had a blast with theirĀ  cousins and we had a bit of a rest, some fantastic food, and a lot of water sports.

High Fives

Your Turn!

We got both boys out on the jet ski and in the fishing boat. Eoin even went on the speed boat twice (still can’t get Conor to go)

Eoin’s first jet ski ride

Conor got the jet ski up to 62mph!

When the weather was cooler (polar vortex anyone?) there was a fair amount of time spent on iPads

Or in the hot tub

All 9 kids

Mummy and Daddy took out JT’s Corvette on the straight Midwestern roads.

Life in the fast lane

While the boys got Kellen’s fourwheeler going pretty fast too!

Vroom

On our last full day we made a final attempt to catch some fish. We have been trying for three years with no luck so far! Brennen was up for joining us so off we went.

Finally! I caught my first ever fish! Our first ever fish at this lake!

I might look happy but this was torture and took many tries to hold. I was extremely freaked out.

Papa caught the biggest

Brennen caught two!

A victorious return

Ready for fillets

Minneapolis

Papa had a meeting in Minneapolis, so we joined him later that week. I flew on my own with the boys for the first time. It went really well!

On Saturday I brought the boys to two museums, after waiting in line for 1.5hours at Al’s breakfast. Bacon waffle was worth it (I think…) The Bell Museum of Natural History was close to us on the university campus so that was a lovely stop after breakfast. They have fantastic dioramas (I now know what that words means…) and a wonderful Touch and Feel room with dead and live things to explore.

Discovery

When we got back to the hotel room the boys changed the beds into a wrestling arena yet again, so a nap was out of the question. Off to the Children’s Museum, on the Train!!!

The Children’s Museum of Minnesota is excellent. There were areas where the boys were so engrossed that I was loathe to drag them away too soon to another area that they would become engrossed in. There was a Thomas the Tank Engine room with a huge train table and an excellent interactive Percy that you could change his wheels etc and load him up with coal (and a lot of teamwork).

Conor painted Thomas with a fresh coat

The younger kids area was well done, with a seasonal theme that included some ice fishing!

I’m better than my parents at ice fishing…

I didn’t get any photos of their favorite area – a warehouse where you could use conveyor belts to move blocks to a waiting truck or upstairs for more processing etc. I tore them away from it for long enough to explore the great water room with pipe systems for moving ping pong balls and creating suction and much more.

It meant the bed was used for its correct purpose that night…

Portland Weekend

We took a short trip up to Portland, Maine on July 5 and 6. It was lovely to have something nice planned as we sat through storms and rain on July 4. Our primary objective was to see the Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Choo choo check

We caught a Sea Dogs double-header and a fireworks double-header, since everything had been postponed from July 4 due to the weather. Conor was pleased.

The trip back took in a stop at the Portland Head lighthouse.

Family photo

Avast

Ding Dong

We then stopped at a Lobster Pound in Scarborough for Daddy’s 3lb-lobster experience of the summer (I doubt it will be the only one!) and on to the beach for a wonderful afternoon of sand and waves.

Beach bliss

Lego Discovery Museum

I felt compelled to fill the week of July 4 with activities since our Y classes did not take place. I ordered some tickets for the new Lego Discovery Museum in Somerville. My initial reaction was “I need to queue even though I already have tickets?”, followed by “Am I in a cattle herd?” as we were ushered through picking out a Minifigure and a (fun) shoot-em train ride. Once we were through the initial herding we were on our own to enjoy Mini Boston.

Fenway Pahk

We all really liked Mini Boston. Fenway had a pinball aspect where you could try and hit a “pitch”, you could press buttons at the airport and other areas to make trucks move etc, and you could race row boats down the Charles River.

After that you enter a large room that is cut off into sections. I was unimpressed with the size and scale. It was also very loud. The Duplo area was very small with one slide and some large foam blocks in a pit, the pink area was uninteresting unless you like karaoke and cooking without pots, Conor was the right size for the bicycle-powered ride but needed an adult, who couldnt leave Eoin, who was not the right size.

We got the most enjoyment out of the race tracks, once you fought your way through to the bricks and found some wheels. We also liked the earthquake towers, of which there are also too few.

Duplo doesn’t fall down…

There is a fairly big play structure that I didn’t know you need to wear socks for, so Conor got a $1 pair at the cafe while Eoin had to stay outside because the only size socks they had were just way too big for him. Bummer.

There are 3 15-minute movies running in the 4-D theater. We saw the medieval one. The boys got pretty scared by the 3D rhino horn and other things, but were troopers really, even through the snow falling on us!

Eoin’s first movie

All in all I will hold off on this experience until the boys are somewhat older. I will also not pay the full price if I can help it.

It’s Certainly Not Herbert Park…

Fred Green Memorial Field

For the past six weeks I’ve been playing recreational soccer in a local women’s over thirty league. Our team is the dregs of the submission process, and we always have to cobble together players. We usually figure out what each other is doing by the second half. Last night we played 8-on-8 on a full field – exhausting!!! I’m really enjoying it and will really miss it when it finishes mid-August. I’ll have to ask around about a Fall league.

Defeating Our Arch Nemesis

“WHAT? What did you say??? I can’t HEAR you!!!”

A little sound bite from our kitchen, nay, our whole house, when the microwave was on…

Papa finally had enough on Sunday and our life has improved immeasurably.

I defeat you

Utterly defeated

Good riddance to an extremely loud microwave that didn’t even work well. It’s vent fan wasn’t even connected to the outside!!!

Hello Shiny Savior

We brought back our old microwave from Tucson into the light. Papa installed a shelf for it while the boys played with trains

and napped…

Papa also got some shelving to improve the space above our fridge while he was at the hardware store.

Not just a gaping hole anymore

Pirate Treasure Hunt at Spot Pond

We got a free boat rental pass for Spot Pond from the library. This year we went with a canoe – MUCH better and easier for Papa. The boys were excellent mini buccaneers.

Selfie

Pirate sword at the ready

After passing Skull Rock and managing to avoid the Tick Tock Croc we went ashore at Treasure Beach to look for an X.

Lead the way

We were unsuccessful, so we tanked up on Oreo treasure on the beach.

Oreo coins

On our way back

A little bit more exploration, then back to the dock. The pond is lovely, with little islands, little coves, big rocks, and it’s quiet, even right beside the Interstate and with planes flying over… We saw some excellent fish too, most pan fish, but one was a foot long.

Idyll