Boston Public Gardens

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Today we parked on Beacon Hill, crossed Charles Avenue, and waddled right on into the Public Garden, where Ada and Annabelle met Mrs Mallard and her eight well brought up ducklings: Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack!

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The Public Gardens were enormously lovely and we had the nicest time!

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We strayed off script long enough to dunk our two little frogs and one tadpole in the frog pond:

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Berry Picking in New York

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Between Buffalo and Schenectady, the lovely couple who own Abbot Farms let us spend the night on their beautiful farm, complete with farm animals, apple and cherry orchards, and U-Pick raspberries and blueberries!  After a french toast breakfast made with today’s eggs, provided by the chickens we fed last night, we went berry picking.  That was a mistake.  We should have gone on an empty stomach because there’s no charge for the ones you eat off the bush!

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Peaceful Interlude

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After a whirlwind of travel and transition, our first peaceful day hit us a couple of weeks ago in Ohio and reminded us to slow down once and a while:

We woke up in the parking lot of an AAMCO in a tiny town, got our transmission looked over, then drove to the nearest supermarket and on the way saw a sign for a free drive in movie at the rec center that evening.  We did some errands, then went to the rec center and parked in the area where the drive-in would be.  Walked to the lake and David and Ada worked on skipping stones and making whistles out of grass.  Ada and Annabelle climbed up one side of a big boulder and slid down the other…again and again.  Then to the rec center playground which was the nicest I’ve ever seen and where we played for a long time.  Then back to Benny in the parking lot to make noodles and yeast for dinner and sit down to watch Despicable Me on the big screen.  The local police gave us the go ahead to spend the night in the rec center parking lot so as each child nodded off, we laid them in bed and continued the movie, after which we tucked ourselves into bed.

And in the morning, back to the playground for David and the girls while Cassidy and I trotted down a hill to the library to print out some documents that had been emailed to us.  Perfect!

Rec Center Playground

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West Virginia with Robby

We reached the beautiful mountain state and, more pertinently, our beautiful friend Robby.  Yay!

Robby is smiles and sunshine that claim to have moods, he talks with his hands, and his hands speak in mixed media.  His house looks like the Metropolitan and an antique store had babies, and then those babies exploded.  His yard looks like his dad keeps it well manicured, and Robby lovingly waters and beers and otherwise coaxes curling green tendrils up and out and into bloom in the shadow of a good climbing tree and by the light of a good bonfire.  Shiny objects dot his garden like lint, but prettier.

Robby in his Yarden

And, Robby has kittens! The girls were enchanted!

Kittens!

And Robby had a mother and father who were very nice, and fed us home-cooked meals, let us use their laundryroom, supplied us with swings and slides, gave us gifts, and otherwise spoiled us.  He has a mother and a father, but I only captured the one of them on camera:


At Robby’s house we saw my friend Chris, had a bonfire, introduced the girls to their first smores (we talked Ada into trying them even though she protested that they were unhealthy–Annabelle was willing from the start), had a party and met some folks, climbed a tree, toured Tamarack and saw a bunch of art.  Most of that happened in the dark though, so all I have is this picture of the girls discovering crab apples from Robby’s tree (Annabelle was cuckoo for the crab apples):

The girls pick crab apples.

Robby found us a horse so Annabelle could meet one in person–she was much impressed and one happy girl!

David and Annabelle meet a horse

Annabelle looking for daddy:

Looking for Daddy

Robby and David trot over to the local pub looking for work–here’s David playing at Fosters in Beckley:

David at Fosters

West Virginia – Fayetteville

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We took Robby with us to Fayetteville to see my friend Darlene and check out her store, Swirl.  “It’s like you’re a grown up,” I told Darlene.  “You won’t say that when you see it,” she answered.  Swirl is a vivid, tiny, swirly, colorful, place like a room in Willy Wonka’s factory.  Swirl has followed in the tradition of all those combo Pizza Hut/Taco Bells by combining some of America’s traditional favorites into a one stop ice cream parlor, old-style candy shop and vintage toy store.  Swirl is astonishing and fun for all ages, much like Darlene, who treated us all to ice cream cones and gave Ada too much free candy.  I haven’t seen her daughter, Alexis, since she was five years old, and now she’s sixteen!  And Darlene’s son Jackson is brand new to me and good company for Ada!

Ada and Jackson show off their slap bracelets.

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Carly finally shows up and shares with us the packages of junk mail her friend in Seattle sent her.  Good times!

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West Virginia with John and Christal

So, part two of our West Virginia trip was a visit with John and Christal, Nicky, Nathan, and big brother Victor.  Victor and Ada were born just about a month apart, so Christal and I had our first pregnancies together, three kabillion miles apart, and we have seen ridiculously little of each other in the mean time.  This was our big opportunity to meet each others’ two youngest children (each).

We began by exploring the totally cool sciencey (what’s the matter, spell-check, am I too playful for you?) stuff at the Clay Center in Charleston where the kids had lots of hands-on fun:

Water Balls at the Clay Center

Barton Boys at work

Clay Center Fun

Ada on the chairs at the Clay Center

Riding the chairs at the Clay Center

Giant Bubble at Clay Center

Then we followed our friends almost home, but detoured to an RV park instead where they very graciously paid our way for the night, and spent hours hanging out, eating, and playing with us.  It was perfect.  There was a creek yards away that we fully intended to investigate, but somehow forgot because we were too busy running around in the grass and making burgers.  Here’s my dear friend with my dear daughter:

Christal and Annabelle

And we couldn’t leave without running around somewhere wet, right?  Check out the super cool dragon at this park!

West Virginia Spray Park

We love and miss this family, and hold you in our hearts as we go:

Our Families

On the road again in gorgeous West Virginia, en route for Ohio:

West Virginia Road

One Week Deep

Last time I posted we were one week out, and now we’re one week in.  No blogs because that last week was SO CRAZY BUSY and this past week, well, we haven’t quite worked out traveling fulltime, parenting fulltime, being a fulltime touring musician and baby wrap retailer AND getting onto the computer.  I think we’re starting to get into a groove, though.  Because here I am, blogging at last!

Can I say that I am in love with traveling?  I love being by David’s side day in and out, I love the mountains we finally reached, I love having no money or time for restaurants…

Since we left home we have visited:

  • Athens, Georgia, which is an entirely charming place and I quite fancied it.  David played at a lovely Farmers Market and I missed it and got no pictures because we were in desperate need of a laundromat and I took the girls to a very nice one except that they make children quite welcome so long as they sat quietly in chairs with their hands folded meekly in their laps.  Luckily, we had our home with us, and hung out in the living room instead.  (It is the living room when you read books in it, and the kitchen when you are cooking and eating in it.  At night it is the girls’ bedroom).  David played again that day in a cozy bar with comfortable furniture, deep colors, and a couple of noisy kids in the back (mine).  It would have been a beautiful place to photograph but I left my camera in Benny, and I couldn’t wrestle all those kids in and out of there by myself!
  • Waynesville, North Carolina, where we visited our dear friends who are really family, the Porters.  A couple of long-haired parents, a bright and calculating eleven year old boy, and quickly-moving, largely-grinning seven year old twin girls are the Porters.  What a fun visit!  What a beautiful town, and a perfect farmhouse home with fields of crops, herb gardens and chickens.
  • Asheville, North Carolina, where David played on the street for the disinterested and interested alike, and befriended other local street performers.
  • Horseshoe, North Carolina, where we visited the Ewok villiage that is really an intentional community of yurts where our wonderful friends Dana, Eric, and Jocelyn have recently relocated themselves, and for whom we are really happy because this place was like a fairytale, only muddy and with less certain cell phone reception.
  • Beckley, West Virginia, where lives Robby with a Y, who let us live in Benny in the driveway of his house that is spilling art out the windows and trickling it through the amazing and beautiful yarden where we played and cooked out and made smores.  He took us on adventures every day, and also introduced Annabelle to her first horse and where we also saw other old and dear friends from when I was in college, and found my old house in Princeton and the children played on a grassy knoll on my old campus in Athens.

North Carolina

Our family in the hills, on a farm, chickens and sometimes cattle or a little donkey.  Two girls (seven years), one up and coming gentleman in a dollar bow-tie and two long-haired parents with a sense of humor.  Shouts and grins and home cooking and a flowering garden in a Blue Ridge Mountain frame.  We had such a good time and miss you already and are so happy for the spot you found and the life you’re making and all the dancing, fun, and frolic–and thanks for lending us your hat:


Busking for our daily bread in daily Asheville, rippling with street performers and they invite you to join their guild for one evening only and families are out wandering and the streets are lined with shops.

Visiting with Dana and Eric and Jocelyn in their intentional village where they live like Ewoks in the trees and up the hillside in round huts using ancient Mongolian technology and intentional innovations.  Stone steps set in the hills, bunnies hopping, shaped clay and clay-clad feet, a creek leading the way to their front door, beautiful wooden patterns in lattice like a pie, and a kitchen decked out with functional art:

Back to Waynesville for an evening gig in comfortable Blue Ridge Books, while attendees dine and candles flicker:

And a Waynesville tradition, the four times a year clog and dance and everyone joins in:

Lake Junaluska and the geese and ducks and swans and Porters:

Rose lined walk with my beautiful blossom, scent of Summer wafting over the lake, enticing bees:

Swinging way up in the children’s weeping willow:

And just because Waynesville is small enough to find your family at the lake on the way home from errands, you can sneak onto the path ahead of them and hide on the hillside to surprise them:

Athens, Georgia

Outdoor Farmers Market, long skirts and necklaces made of holy seeds, playing in the sun, then a drizzle, paid in tips and the farmers’ bounty:

Athens Bounty

Back room in a hip bar, orange curtains and stuffed animals that used to be alive.  Cool college cats in overstuffed furniture that was loosing its stuffing, noisy kids (mine) in a carved wooden booth, David’s intense lyrics and chords and an atmosphere that seemed smoky but wasn’t.  Wish I had my camera to capture the music and the laughter…this is after:

Kids Crashed

Apollo Beach and Lithia Springs Park

Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County Park)

Yes, it’s taken us a month to get away for our first weekend in Benny!

This was our first time really using Benny as a home.  We’ve turned on the lights now and then, and the toilet’s been used several times in my weekday activities with two kids.  But we really needed to get away and use all the systems in order to learn how to use them.

We started out with a trip to Apollo Beach to see the manatees that hang out in the warm waters of the TECO plant during the winter months:

TECO smokestacks
TECO smokestacks--surprisingly aesthetic on this beautiful day
TECO solar panels
Part of Tampa Electric's largest solar panel array.

manatees at Apollo Beach
Millions of Manatees!
TECO manatees
Us girls in front of the manatee viewing.
David and Ada at the manatee viewing
David and Ada at the manatee viewing

happy passengers
Happy Passengers

Florida Mesa
I didn't know we had mesas in Florida?

Then we drove to a county park to spend the night:

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Benny hooked up to a campground for the first time.

Lithia Springs Park trail
Exploring the Park

Lithia Springs Park Trail
Exploring the Park

Family at Lithia Springs Park
I LOVE THIS MAN!

He made my weekend.  He did all of the man stuff–propane, hookups, driving, navigating–and most of my half of the work too–carrying children, cooking dinner, washing dishes, reading stories, sweeping, etc.  I got a much needed break, even though he probably needed one just as much.  David, you are my valentine 😉

At dusk we were back at the campsite:

Hooking Up the Water Hose
Ada helped David hook us up to the campground water.

one year old eating watermelon
We enjoyed some watermelon.
dinner in motorhome
David made dinner (our first time cooking in the RV).
Dinette Bed
We made the dinette into Ada's bed for the first time.
motorhome bed
Our Cozy Bed in the Morning Sunlight
Toddler Walk
Setting Out on a Morning Walk

walking

Waldorf Doll
Ada takes such good care of her littlest sister!
Lithia Spring
Natural Warm Spring is 76 degrees, year round.

Lithia Spring
Not warm enough on this chilly morning!
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Poor Caged Children

My favorite part of our short stint living in the RV was how easy it was to focus.  Instead of going looking for Ada to come brush her teeth in the morning, potentially getting sidetracked by an emergency diaper change or potty trip, a spilled cup of water, the ringing phone, and Annabelle’s finally being unable to wait to nurse any longer . . . instead of all that, I just said, “Ada, come here–let’s brush our teeth.”  And there she was.  And while we were there, I brushed my hair and hers.  Then we prepared breakfast, and cleaned up breakfast.  And keeping an eye on the children was built in because they were RIGHT THERE interacting with us.

One thing at a time.  Easy peasy.

In a moment of too much honesty, I will report that mine and Ada’s hair don’t necessarily get brushed every day because the children get hungry and I have to start cooking, then we’re late for wherever we’re supposed to be first, and I haven’t sliced apples and prepared other snacks to bring with us, and Annabelle needs to be redirected away from the oven, and someone gets hurt and needs comforting (even though I need to be stirring the scrambled eggs), and on, and on.

Having all of our family activities in 176 sq ft (and that includes beds, cabinets, engines and drivers seats), brought a level of simplicity (although it reeked slightly of randomity) that I appreciated.

Ada with Winnebago
Ada and Benny