Category Archives: Family

Learning to Fly

Doesn’t it feel like with your first child, you’re always just a little bit behind the curve?  Everything that happens is brand new, and we have to write those chapters as we go.  When the younger ones get to that age, we think, “Oh, yeah.  We’ve been here – we know what this is…” but with the oldest kid, we’re constantly guessing and wondering and thinking and hoping.

One thing that we constantly bump up against with Jacob is the idea of nurturing his passions.  When he was little, his passions were pirates, and then Thomas, and then Star Wars… easy.  Now that he’s going on 14, his passions are fewer, more private, and harder to facilitate.  But one that we recently discovered was flying.  Our local middle school hosts an extracurricular flying program.  You have to apply to get in, be in academically good standing, and be willing to devote an afternoon every week for 12 or so weeks.  There is book learning, lectures, and few field trips, all culminating in “Flight Day”.

Jacob started out interested in the science of flying, and was unsure if he’d even be all that crazy about flying an actual plane, but as his knowledge increased, he got more and more excited about the idea of going up.  Flight Day happened a few weeks ago… students flew with a certified instructor in groups of two.  The pilot takes off and lands, but the students did all the in-between flying.  They went from our tiny local airport to another tiny local airport about 40 miles away, flying over the middle school in between.  After landing, they switched students so that the other one could fly back home.  I, of course, was there with camera in hand!

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Pre-flight… slightly nervous smile.

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At the controls.

 

 

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Coming in for the landing!

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So proud of himself!

Jacob’s first words upon exiting the plane and hugging his very relieved mother were, “I want to take private lessons.”  So – we’ve found another passion that we can start to nurture and see where it goes.  I don’t think it necessarily means that he’ll end up being a pilot any more than I thought his love of Thomas would drive him to be a train conductor, but we’re excited to support him and see where it goes.  Jacob is signed up for a week-long intermediate flying camp this summer, and we’ll be looking into private lessons after that if he’s still enamored.  We can’t wait to see where his next passion goes… up, up and away!

 

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This and That

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Aaahhhhh.

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Aaarrrghhhh!

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Flowers…

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… and trees.

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The ocean in our backyard…

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… the Arctic in our backyard.

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Shall we grill up some salmon on this fine Hawaiian evening?

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Maybe not. (Yes, that’s the grill).

It’s been a harsh winter this year, made all the more harsh by a blissful week in paradise.  All anyone wants to do is hibernate, yet work and school and band and piano and appointments and life keep getting in the way!  But never fear – Spring is around the corner.  Each day the sun shines a little brighter and a little longer.  I think we can make it!

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The Town Where We Live

Having lived in our Western Massachusetts town for about 10 years now, it’s hard to believe we had never hiked Mt. Skinner before.  The Summit House, a beautiful white building that used to be a hotel sits atop the mountain, visible for miles and miles around.  You can drive up, of course, but this fall we decided to hike up – now that everyone is old enough to do it with a minimum of complaining.

The elevation is about 1000 feet, and you’re climbing the whole way.  I found it challenging, but the kids were total troopers.  Luckily, we brought snacks and water.  The view from the top was absolutely worth it!

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Our little town at the height of fall colors.

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The Connecticut River winding it’s way up toward Mt. Sugarloaf.

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We decided once we were hanging out at the top that we should make this a yearly ritual, and we also came up with other potential area hikes that are more advanced than we’ve attempted before.  We’ve got a list going for the Spring!

 

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Tanks

 

What is it about boys and tanks?  I don’t know about the men in your life, but my men are all about the tanks.  And military weaponry in general, I guess.  Before we went to Washington DC last summer, Aaron said that his top priority there was seeing a tank.  And, if possible, he’d like to get in one.  Well, we researched and couldn’t find any tanks in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

But I did find the Military Museum of Southern New England.  It’s in Danbury Connecticut, a few hours south of here, but totally do-able for a day trip.  The best part, once a month, they have what they call “Open Turret Day”, where they open all the tanks and let you get inside them!  In fact, you can climb all over and through them.

The museum itself is a little kitschy, and the tanks are all crammed into a tiny parking lot (somehow I had pictured them spread out in a field in mock battle).  But none of that mattered because Aaron could GET IN THEM.

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That’s one happy boy.

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It’s hard to take a picture of the inside of a tank.  It’s dark, and your seven year old is shoving you out of the way.  Let me describe it – first off, it’s tiny in there.  I have no idea how they crammed so many people in.  Secondly, it was a hot day, and it was sweltering inside there!  Again, what?  No air-conditioning?  And third, there is nothing really there – just a couple of uncomfortable seats, some levers, and a steering wheel.  I guess I wasn’t really expecting a mini-bar and bucket seats, but come on.

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I did a lot of this.

If you’re going to go, make it on an Open Turret Day – you won’t be disappointed!

 

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Weekend Meanderings

Sometimes it seems like we only have a handful of weekend haunts… we go to the Quabbin, or Bear’s Den, or the Chesterfield Gorge.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided that we really needed some fresh places to explore, so we pulled up a website of Massachusetts State Parks, and looked for a waterfall we could visit.  There are actually a couple that looked promising, so we chose the closest one and set sail.

We ended up going to Sanderson Falls in the Chester-Blandford State Forest.  There was a mile-ish uphill hike to get there, and there was a beautiful waterfall with plenty of rocks and trees to climb around, on, and in.

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It’s so hard to see the scale of a waterfall in pictures! What we need is something to add perspective.

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Much better!

The kids all ran right up to the edge and started climbing rocks.  I played the role of photographer and sent my trusty sidekick, Nate, to make sure no one fell to their death.

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Here they are still at the bottom. My heart rate hasn’t increased yet.

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And here they are working their way down from the top. My heart rate has already peaked and is now starting to slow to a more reasonable, but still highly unhealthy, rate.

We had a nice time exploring, and then a pleasant downhill hike back to the car.

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This shot was taken from a bridge above the stream.

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The only downside to this area is that there’s no good place to picnic.  We ended up spreading our picnic blanket between our car and another in the parking lot.  Klassy.  But it worked.  Next time we’ll try to find a nearby campground or something that’s likely to have picnic tables available.  And there will be a next time – we’re thinking in the Spring when the river might be running higher and the waterfall even prettier!

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New England Parades

A few weeks ago, we went for the first time to the Strolling of the Heifers in nearby Brattleboro, VT.  What is that, you ask?  Well, I asked the same thing to my Vermont friends.  I said, laughing, “What?  Like cows really stroll down the street?  Ha!”  Well, it turns out that yes, that’s what it is.  But it’s not just that.  There are cows, and jugglers, and dancers, and more cows, and marching bands, and more cows.  It’s hilarious.

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Brattleboro is such a cute, quaint little town… it somehow doesn’t seem odd to see cows strolling down the middle of Main street there.  We had a great time and plan to attend again next year!

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Baseball

Unlike Lydia, Aaron had absolutely no interest in playing baseball this year.  He played Coach Pitch last year, which was basically just a bunch of kids who lined up behind home plate, took 45 swings, finally hit a bunt, and ran all the way around to home plate.  He had seen Lydia’s Farm League games the past few years, and was just not interested in any way, shape, or form.

So I pulled out the big guns.

“Aaron!  How’s about signing up for Farm League this season?!”

“No, thanks.”

“I’ll give you twenty dollars.”

“Hmmmm.  What else?”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Ice cream whenever the ice cream truck comes to the ball field.”

“Done.”

“And Friendly’s ice cream whatever I want.”

“Done.  BUT you have to go to every game and practice WITHOUT COMPLAINT or you get nothing.”

“We have a deal.”

Maybe not my finest parenting moment, but it really worked.  He kept his end of the bargain, and ended up having a great time.  One of his good friends ended up on his team (a fine bit of finessing on my part), and his coach was a really nice older man who is the grandfather of another of the kids on the team.  All of the kids listened well and behaved themselves and they had a really fun season.

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This is Aaron’s “ready stance.” Hilarious.

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When I saw this shot, I immediately thought how great it would be next to his catcher’s uniform in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Lord help me.

When I asked Aaron at the end of season picnic if he’d like to play again next year, he gave me an enthusiastic “Yes!” and then proceeded to beg me to take him IMMEDIATELY to Friendly’s for his “anything you want” ice cream.  We held him off for a few days, but he got his payoff in the end!

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