Thursday, August 29, 2013

Staycation 2013

Since moving from our little hometown in Illinois over six years ago, we have ventured back to visit family and friends every year....usually at least twice a year.  This year though, we decided to stay put!  Several reasons....1.  Money 2.  Money 3. Money  And so, with those reasons in mind, we planned a Staycation for our family vacation this year.  Living in the Northeast made the planning for this week pretty simple and yet overwhelming at the same time.  There are SO many things to do up here and we are close to it all.  We had no problem filling up the week with sites and activities that we had not yet experienced.  We have a bucket list of items that didn't make the cut this time but that's what lists are for, right?  Before we made definite plans for the week, we asked our three children what they would like to do.....our little guy said New York City and specifically the M&M store, our middle child wanted to go whale watching or something boat related, our oldest wanted to go to a water slide or The Cape.  We made a few modifications to a couple of the suggestions and thankfully everyone was agreeable.

Our Monday venture was NYC.  We said we'd aim for 7:00 a.m. to leave our house, knowing that it would be 7:30.  It was more like 8:30 by the time we got ourselves out the door.  But, that's the joy of a "firm" schedules.  After a couple of pit stops and a quick run into Target, we got to our parking deck by Central Park around 11:30.  We had a coupon for this place, it was perfect....right across from the Time Warner building and we got to see several really, really nice cars there - one was a  Lamborghini (which "L" called a Zucchini).  It was lunch time so I asked Suri if she had any suggestions.  She directed us to Merilu, the highest ranking pizza joint around our location.  We ranked it high too, delish!

Here's our foodie eating her mushroom slices.

After getting fueled up, we headed to Times Square for our visit to the M&M store.  We only spent $25 there this time....with the purchase of our annual Christmas ornament from a vacation spot and a little over a pound of M&M's.  

While at Times Square we saw a scene from the TV show Cold Case being taped and we also saw Robert John Burck, otherwise known as the "Naked Cowboy".  Thankfully our kids were too focused on all of the police around, both real and actors, that they didn't ask why there was a man in only his whitie-tighties, cowboy hat, boots and a guitar on the street corner.

We then hopped on the subway, which made for a very happy four year old, and headed to Battery Park.  We stopped on some park benches to relax, sip some Starbucks, observe the Statue of Liberty from afar and figure out our next stop.  It was here that we also got to see Evan Strong in action.  He is the 2012 Para Snowboard Cross World Champion and 2014 Paralympic Snowboarding hopeful.  Check out his story, very inspirational!

Our next stop was Chelsea Market.  We shopped around a bit, taste tested a few specialty foods, had dinner and grabbed dessert to go.  "F" had a giant stuffed ravioli for her dinner.

We headed back to Central Park to let the kids eat their desserts and to play for a bit before the drive home.  Always a fun and exhausting time in New York City!  Staycation Day 1.....check.

Tuesday was kind of a dreary, rainy, coolish sort of day.  We had walked about 75 miles the day before and got home really late, no, more like really early on Tuesday morning from our city visit.  So, we slept in, had a lazy morning, ate a late breakfast and Jeremy worked a bit.  We decided to head to Providence, RI for the afternoon.  We did a little shopping at the Providence Place Mall and then went to our 5:00 pm reservations at The Melting Pot.  We have a family tradition of fondue on Christmas Eve but we've never taken the kids to a fondue restaurant.  It was a huge hit with everyone, especially dessert!!  Staycation Day 2.....check.

Wednesday was gorgeous! We filled our Camelbaks, packed lunch and put on our hiking shoes.  We headed to Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire.  The hike took four hours round trip and was a little under four miles to the Summit and back down.  It was challenging and beautiful all at the same time.  Even though the trek down was full of complaints, we were proud of the kids.  "L" did the entire thing with his own two legs, impressive indeed!  Staycation Day 3.....check.

Thursday was another perfect August day and we had another groupon to use.  It was for kayak rentals at Hopkinton State Park.  I didn't get great pictures because we didn't want to chance the boats tipping over and our camera sinking to the bottom of the lake.  I'm happy to report that no boats were tipped and it was such a blast!  And even though we didn't see any whales, "S" was still satisfied with this outing as a slight modification to her ferry boat idea.  She loved helping paddle.  "L" was a great paper weight of sorts in the middle of the row boat.  "F" didn't need an ounce of help, could have kayaked the whole lake alone if we'd let her.  Staycation Day 4.....check.

Friday was another travel day.  Just a side note first....we decided to NOT turn on the DVD player but instead had the kids listen to Adventures in Odyssey on-line instead.  It was awesome!  If you have kids, give it a try sometime.  They have to use their imagination as they listen to the stories and they learn some good lessons along the way.  Anyway - back to the trip....We headed south, back to Rhode Island.  This time we went Newport.  It is our new favorite place in New England.  Such a quaint, clean, beautiful, fun town!  Because we had become the "Physical Fitness Family for the Week" - we decided to continue our exercise-cation by walking all over creation yet again.  We started on one side of Newport, then walked to the Elms and did a mansion tour there.  We then walked a little further and did a second mansion tour of the Breakers.  These tours were fantastic.  Not only are the houses gorgeous, but that era of history is fascinating.  If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, these homes bring that show to life....the wealth, the lifestyle, the servants.  We walked around with headsets on, listening to the details of the rooms.  The kids enjoyed it all too.  Next, we walked the Cliff Walk for a bit, which is located in the back of many of the mansions and overlooks the ocean.  We walked back to the harbor and had dinner at the Landings.  After that, we walked to Ben and Jerry's for ice cream and then walked around the harbor checking out yachts (the 21st Century picture of extreme wealth!)  We walked through some cute little shops and finally walked back to our car.  Staycation Day 5.....check.

Saturday was our "catch up" day of mowing the lawn, doing some laundry, cleaning the house, etc.  We then headed to Patriot's Place later in the afternoon.  We did a little shopping, ate dinner outdoors at Tavolino Pizza Gourmet and then headed into Gillette Stadium for an MLS game between the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire.  It was the perfect night for a game and the Revs won 2-0!  Staycation Day 5.....check.

Back to reality now, but what a fun way to spend a week of vacation time!  We created some wonderful memories with our kiddos, had some really great laughs throughout the week, got to experience God's creativity and beauty all around us and burned lots of calories along the way!  It was a win-win-win-win kind of week!  

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