Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rych Fam: Summer Dadcation

Most summers, Matt takes a week off from work and we fill our time with lots of family summer activities and projects around the house. This year we pretty much knocked it out of the park! We're already missing having him around all day, but we're all so happy to have collected so many fun memories last week.

Here's what we were up to! (Buckle up, t's a long one!!)

Day 1 (June 29th)
Work has been BUSY for Matt, so while he ended up working a full day (it was a Friday), I cleaned, packed, cooked, and did laundry for hours and hours! It ended up working out, though, because by the time he was finished up, the van was packed and there wasn't much to do but hit the road! With Galli off at overnight daycare, we set out for Keuka Lake. (You might have heard me mention "the lake" in the past - my in-laws have a cottage there near Penn Yan.) It was a little late when we arrived, but I was able to catch an amazing sunset and we got to chat with everyone for a bit before bed.

Day 2 (June 30th)
The next morning, we tried our best to enjoy the beautiful part of the day. The forecast for our time at the lake was well over 90 both days (98 on Sunday!) and not only is there no air conditioning, but the sun hits the cottage at juuuust the right angle to turn it into a hot box from about 4-9pm. It's INTENSE! And I don't do well in heat. Knowing this, I made sure to get a good spot to read and take in the lake while it was comfortable out!

Jake was dying to fish, so he asked his big cousin Emily who was visiting from Arizona to help him. How cute are they??

Matt asked around for takers to go on a walk, and his sister and I took him up on it. We walked for 3 miles, and it was already getting pretty toasty outside!!

We decided to spend the day doing a hike that seems to be kind of a "thing" for the area - it's like a secret little treasure that you just know about if you've been visiting for a while. (Here's a quick listing of it, and an article by someone who tried it. Most things you google warn you that it's private property and to hike at your own risk.) I hiked this with Matt yeeears ago, when we were just dating (maybe 2005 or 2006? 2007? Somewhere in there, haha) but this seemed like the year that all the boys were big enough to tackle it, and they LOVED it!

It's such a gorgeous area, and it reminds me so much of the walks we'd take at my Grandpa's cabin in Salamanca, NY when I was little. I lived for visiting that creek! The boys really loved it. I have some videos in my Instagram stories that I saved under my "rych summer" highlights that are worth seeing!! They loved sliding down the mini falls on our way up.

At the top of the hike is a little water fall and a pond surrounded by really steep embankments that the kids insisted on climbing! Although it was totally their Dad's idea, and I had to keep looking away so I didn't have a panic attack watching them. But believe it or not.....Luke + Henry are wayyyy up at the top of this crazy slope in this picture!

We took some photos together, had a snack, and the kids played with salamanders for a bit before we turned around to hike back down.

Though the hike definitely tired us out and involved a little work, the heat actually wasn't too bad beneath the canopy of trees - not to mention getting sprayed by the waterfall and splashed in the creek bed along the way. It wasn't until we emerged that we realized how incredibly hot it was!

When we got back to the cottage, I took a shower and did my makeup, and Matt and I went on a teeny-tiny date that involved driving to The Olney Place (also mentioned in that article above) so he could get a beer. I like beer, but only if it's gluten free, so I didn't participate. I grabbed a Starbucks frappuccino instead (you know, just those bottled ones) and we noticed some gluten free cookies at the register so we grabbed a couple and taste tested them on the car ride home. It was maybe a 45 minute date, but it was so needed! We didn't have our own room to shut myself in this trip (too many people!), and I was feeling it. It was a perfect little escape.

Here's real life for a second: I really like a lot about the lake (especially in the Fall when it's gorgeous and cozy), but I don't like extreme heat, I don't swim, I don't like water-related anything summer at the lake, when it's fully-loaded with guests and soupy-hot air is not my favorite. It was particularly hard this trip because we didn't have our own room to ourselves. Usually when things would get overwhelming, I'd shut myself in our room to read and cool down and we were stationed in a communal area this time, so I had no where to go to be completely alone other than our van. Woof, it was rough. I'm like the textbook definition of an introvert so I need time to be alone to get by, and it was nearly impossible on this trip. We still obviously had tons of fun, but to be fair it's not all sunshine and roses!

When we got back, I sat under a canopy tent on the grass next to the lake chatting with my sisters-in-law and one of their friends while we waited for dinner to be done. It was still unbearably hot, but it was easiest to take here - there was some shade and a little breeze to catch. Mercifully, it cooled off as the sun went down - and I caught its beauty at a couple different points.

I sat on the upper deck with Jake to eat - we had grilled sausage with peppers and onions, salad, and fruit. Jake had two plates full!

During dinner, I had rare sightings of my big boys - they spent the whole time with their visiting cousins. We only see them this one time every year, and the rest of their interactions are over Xbox headphones, so they were loving all the time together!

Day 3 (July 1st)
While the previous day had been rough at a humid 93 degrees, we were all buckling up for our 98 degree day. I spent as much of the morning reading in cool, shady areas as I could, knowing that I would likely not be comfortable again for the rest of the day.

We really didn't do much this day - the kids swam and played video games with their cousins, and I just kind of moved around the place, looking for comfortable spots. I worked on a puzzle and read a lot. In the afternoon, when it started to get unbearable, I literally sat in front of a fan, just trying to get a little relief. It was rough!!! I felt a little queasy all day. I don't have many pictures because it was just a matter of survival! lol

Day 4 (July 2nd)
This was our last morning at the lake, and it was a beautiful one. I got to sit and read some more, and then I packed up all of our things while Matt took all the kids out for a boat ride.

When they got back, we did a little cousin photoshoot in a few places since we don't normally get them all together like that. Cuties!

Our final lake "thing" was to stop at Oak Hill on our way out - it's not a trip to the lake without a stop there!! Everything is in affordable bulk packages, so we get things like curry powder and cumin for like $2 in a huge tub that would normally cost a lot more at the store! The kids are in it for the bags of candy, and I don't blame them - they have everything! We totally took over the candy aisle!

And a family dab was our parting act - haha!

When we got home, we were all reeeally beat, and thankful to be back in air conditioning. So we spent the rest of the day doing laundry from our trip and lounging around not doing much of anything!

Day 5 (July 3rd)
We didn't wake up with a plan for this day, but we knew we wanted to do something from our list of summer goals. We also had to get Luke's violin before they were all rented out for the coming school year, so we came up with a game plan and suddenly we had a whole adventure ahead of us!

We loaded up the van and I filled a backpack with necessities, and our first stop was the violin shop. We really didn't know what to expect in renting an instrument, but it was so quick and painless, and the guy helping us was SO friendly and informative. You could tell he does this a lot! Luke was in awe...taking in all of the details of caring for a violin, and he was so excited to bring one home with us!

I had no idea what it would be like, but it's actually not all that expensive to rent a violin. For us, it was only $24 for the summer - we'll have to renew it through the school year, but what a great idea if you want to give a child a summer's worth of lessons to see what they think. Not bad!!

Next up was a family bike ride! We road to a patch of the peanut line (a walking/biking trail that runs through Clarence) that's right in Clarence Center and set off on our tour. I was in the back, making sure our little guy kept up with the group while all the big boys took off in front of us. Jake couldn't help but stop and ask questions was the most stop and go bike ride I've ever been on, haha. There are little memorial benches along the trail with dedications to people from those that donated them, and he wanted to know what every single bench said!

We stopped at a playground at the soccer center for some water and shade (it was hot and sunny again!) and the boys took a trip up to the bathrooms. (Does "everyone go to the bathroom before we leave!" ever actually work? lol)

We passed our van on the return trip so that we could continue on to a little ice cream shop we hadn't been to in years. They have a great covered patio to get out of the sun with, and ice cream was VERY welcomed after our hot ride! They have these super cool "sno balls" there that are basically like shaved ice or snow cones, but they stuff them with soft serve and have TONS of flavors. Henry was the only one who was adventurous, but we're already talking about the combinations we have to try when we go back!

The rest of the day was just a bunch of cleaning, grocery shopping, and getting ready for the rest of our fun week!

Day 6 (July 4th)
We were what I called "4th of July orphans" this year - all of our family and friends were out of town, and the few that weren't had plans. This happens every few years, but we're usually able to find at least a family member or two to share grilled chicken and sparklers or catch the fireworks with. There was seriously NO ONE around this year! But we made the best of it.

I'd gotten some plates and napkins from Target the day before to make our day at least a little bit special. It was WAY too hot out, but we powered through a picnic for lunch anyway. We had BLTs (on GF bread of course!), watermelon, chips, and iced tea on the back patio. We didn't last a minute beyond eating our food, though...back in the AC we went! lol (Maybe it was good no one was around!)

The rest of the day was another epic laundry, cooking, cleaning, and packing day. We had plans to see the fireworks, but also to leave for our second trip of the week the next morning, and we knew we'd be tired so we tried to get as much done as we could. For dinner, we grilled BBQ chicken and baked beans, and had a yummy flag cake for dessert! (I was cutting into it when I remembered I didn't take a picture yet, lol)

In the evening, Matt decided to text a friend to see if we could meet up with them for the fireworks, and hilariously enough - they were camped out in the same area we usually view the fireworks from every year! So we settled in, and the kids read books and played frisbee for a while.

These next few of Henry playing frisbee cracked me the little boy in the background. It's almost like he's mirroring Henry's movements a strange! lol It's not exact or anything, but it was enough to make me notice!!

As the sun started to set, they became obsessed over glow bracelets until the fireworks started (naturally).

Jake counted down the minutes until the fireworks would start, and his enthusiasm was soo cute!

The grand finale was SO GOOD!

As usual, it was a mad dash back to the van, and then a slooow ride home in the dark. They estimate that 40K people view the fireworks where we do - seriously!! It's crazy.

Day 7 (July 5th)
Matt and I tried to get up super early (like, alarms set at 5:45), but it didn't happen. I think we finally pried ourselves from our pillows sometime after 6:30. It was just such a late night with so much heat and activity that getting up that early felt impossible! Once we did, though, we shared coffee on our patio swing and took in the quiet morning which was soooo nice.

Shortly after 7, we got to work. I packed the last of what we needed for our next trip and got the house ready to be without us again. I took a shower and got ready while everyone got dressed and loaded up the van. After dropping Galli off with my aunt, we were off on our next adventure!

I've written about this before, but going to Long Beach for a week in the summer has been a tradition since I was in high school. And before that, we went to Crystal Beach for a couple years. So we've been vacationing on Canada's beaches for like 20 years now!! Crazy.

I wish the timing worked out a little better so we could spend more time there, but my mom's week there always seems to overlap when our Arizona family is in town, and throw in the complication of having our #1 dog sitter (my mom) unavailable, and we are only able to fit 2-3 days in lately. It's still plenty, really!

We had to stop at a Tim's to use the bathroom (omg these boys and their not going to the bathroom before we leave lol) and I was shocked to see that they had poutine! I'm oooobsesssssed with poutine (yes I realize how horrible it is, and we actually have poutine restaurants here in Buffalo but it's kind of a "when in Rome" thing). So I HAD to get it, of course - it wasn't bad!!

The trip to the beach is only a 45 minute - an hour drive depending on the bridge/customs traffic, and we went straight to the beach as soon as we arrived!!

The water was SO warm, and the kids were obsessed with jumping the waves with their little kick boards. They would have stayed in there all day long if we didn't make them take breaks for water and sunscreen. Despite our efforts, they got quite a bit of sun (though no real burns thankfully!)

I spent the day reading under beach umbrellas with the awesome Lake Erie breeze (so good!), sipping drinks and chatting with my mom.

These boys were sunkissed and sleepy!!

We walked to get ice cream in the afternoon, and then came back to make tacos for dinner. We went for a walk along the shore after we ate, and then came back for a beach fire. The fires on the beach with the sun setting in the background is my FAVORITE part of long beach! The only thing is - there were storms rolling in this night, so we didn't get a very good sunset - but we did catch distant lightening.

Once we'd all gotten a s'more, we started to feel sprinkles and the wind was crazy, so we packed it in and went to bed.

Day 8 (July 6th)
We knew going into this trip that we'd only be spending one night there (it's usually 2 or so), and we wanted to make the most of the time we had left. Matt and Luke made pancakes for everyone, and I spent every moment that I could outside!

We went back down to the beach for a bit after breakfast, and we found that the lake was MUCH colder! The storm really churned things up, and it went from feeling surprisingly warm to surprisingly cold - the kids didn't even want to be in it! So we decided that we'd just stay on the beach until noonish, and then walk to Concessi's and The Hungry Putter for lunch.

Fun fact - when you vacation at Long Beach, pretty much everyone there in the other cabins is also from the Buffalo area. It's kind of an iconic vacation spot for us, and so everyone who's ever been there knows what Concessi's is. It's this little market within walking distance from the resort that also has a little cafe and free wifi, Canadian candy (we have it in Buffalo, now, but it's where I fell in love with Coffee Crisp) and the highlight for my kids: Kinder surprise eggs. We only have the Kinder Joy eggs in the states, so they loose their minds over these! We grabbed a couple and then snapped a pic on our walk over to the hungry putter.

Luke and I got poutine (this is the first year anyone showed interest in it with me - Jake liked it, too) and so did Tim (my step-dad), while everyone else got fries and chicken, and my mom got a burger. It was all SO GOOD!!! The kids wanted to play putt-putt, but we'd forgotten a coupon for a free player back at the cottage, and I wasn't really feeling like it. I wanted to spend the rest of our short time there at the beach! So Luke, my mom, Tim and I walked back to the cottage while Matt and the little guys stayed to finish eating. Then Tim walked Luke back with the coupon, and all the guys played putt putt and got ice cream when they were finished. My mom and I sat on the beach to read.

When the guys got back, the boys wanted to try swimming again despite the cold water, so I went in to pack up while they did that. We had everything put together and piles and piles of sand swept up, and by the time they were done we just had to change them into dry clothes, pack up a few last minute things, and say our goodbyes. It was a little sad - how fast our trip was - but we really enjoyed the time we did have!

Day 9 (July 7th)
Back at home, we had A LOT of unpacking to do - we never completely unpacked from the lake knowing that we were just going to take off again soon, so it was kind of overwhelming in here. I unpacked tons and tons of bags and suitcases and did laundry basically all day long while Matt cleaned the garage and patched a crack in the floor. It wasn't a particularly exciting day, except that Matt had the great idea to make dinner a little more interesting.

We grilled pizzas and baked some gluten free chicken tenders that we then doused in franks and butter, and mixed a ceasar salad kit together. It was SO GOOD! (By the way, I'd kind of put my dairy limits on hold for vacation to make it easier when eating with a lot of people. I get rashes when I eat gluten now, so I never cheat on that, but throwing gluten AND dairy restrictions into group meals makes it really complicated. Since I don't react to having dairy, I decided to be lax about it during our vacation together...but as of this posting that's over now!)

After we put the kids to bed, Matt surprised me with slices of gluten free cake that he'd gotten at the store (when we realized we didn't have bleu cheese for our typical Buffalo feast, which is blasphemy!!!), and we shared those like a mini date-night with cups of mint tea and a few episodes of Angie Tribecca. Simple, but my kind of night!

Day 10 (July 8th)
Our last day together was another productive one. Matt was set on getting the garage in order so he could check that off his list of summer tasks, the boys had swimming lessons, and between blogging and researching books to fill the rest of my summer with (recommendations welcome!), I power washed the front patio and helped him with the crack in the garage floor. We also weeded and watered the gardens - they needed some love! This pumpkin plant is killing it....I can't get over the size of its leaves already!

Crazy pants!

We finished the day with showers for all (even the dog!) and ice cream from Pautler's. Gotta sign off Dadcation with something special!

Could we have fit any more summer into last week?? So crazy. It was HOT nearly every single day, we were low on sleep, living out of bags, using our bathing suits over and over again, brushing sand and stones and dirt off of everything, went for lots of walks, caught some amazing sunsets, and indulged in foods we almost never eat. That's what I call a vacation!!

Here's some summer fun from recent years:
4th of July 2017
Long Beach 2017
Keuka Lake 2016
Long Beach 2016
Keuka Lake 2015
Summer Roundup 2015

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