Hunting Tigers in Princeton

I told them we were going to hunt tigers, but they just wouldn’t believe me. Sean finally conceded, but asked if they were aggressive or tame. Mikey caught on once we bought the book ‘The Tigers of Princeton University: A Campus Safari & Photo Essay‘.

You don’t find much nicer places to walk than the grounds of Princeton ~ it is iconic and inspiring. Hunting for ornamental tigers was fun, and in the mean time, we learned a lot about architecture as well. The grounds also have many varieties of well-labeled trees – a little lesson in itself. My favorite was the River Birch.

We have many more tigers to find and I can’t wait to walk these grounds time & time again. You coming?

Miracle on the Delaware

If you’ve read this post, and several like it, you know that sometimes traveling with my crew is hard. Really hard. Honestly, there is no pattern or rhyme or reason. Some days are ok and some ARE NOT. So, what makes Dennis and I continue to try and trips that could potentially land us in trouble? Why in the world would we think that it would be ok to launch rafts, full of all of us, and float peacefully down the Delaware River?


Our reward/failure threshold must be very high – or low – whichever way that works. We just need a few awesome trips and we keep hoping. We wait for the miracles. And sometimes, they happen.

Ethan is definitely our toughest customer. He had to wait in the sun, and in a long line for a bus. We took a bumpy, over-crowded & hot ride to our destination and the whole time he was quietly anticipating our impending floating experience. He had to walk down a rocky, slippery path, and pop himself into a tiny raft with 2 other Costellos. It was hard to anticipate how long it would be until he announced that he was ‘done’ – and he’s serious when he says that.

But since this is entitled ‘Miracle on the Delaware’, I guess you know how it ends. (These pictures were taken with a cheap, water proof, real-film camera and remain unedited – and that’s what you get.)

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When it’s this good, I sometimes can’t believe it. But I REALLY like it :)

We got an inner tube
We got a trailer hitch
We’re near the river and far from rich
But we have got each other and gas in the tank
And it’s a beautiful day.
We’re laughing all the way
To the river bank

~ Brad Paisley


Our Back-to-’School’ Supply List

I know people are working on collecting the supplies their kids needs to go back to classes in September. Here’s a list of some of my essentials.

~ A subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime & Audible.

~ An endless list of documentaries for our viewing – Life of Mammals, Life of Birds, Raccoon Nation, How It’s Made, Going Deep with David Reese, The Ancient Life, Going West, The Blue Planet & many more. My kids never tire of them.

~ A list of movies to watch, discuss and think about – like these.

~ An extensive list of places to go and things to do before the stupid weather changes :( A list of indoor places to go when the stupid weather changes.

~ A GPS, a cooler, reusable water bottles and a picnic blanket. Totally. Required. Supplies.

~ Free Museum Passes from the Somerset County Library System. What’s better than sharp crayons? Free museums.

~ As many State Theater tickets as my budget can handle, because this, this & this look great.

~ A public library card and huge lists of books to read ~ pick a list, any list and we’ll read them.

~ Memberships to several places that we will visit time & time again. Right now we have Liberty Science Center and Turtleback Zoo.

Therapeutic music. Seriously, yes. Yes, that’s what I said :)

~ Games. Because I’d rather make them smarter than fill them with useless facts. (If I make them smarter, they’ll fill themselves with facts that they need ;)

~ Classes held at museums, the county college, nature & environmental centers, planetariums, & libraries in which to glean the facts they may want to have.

There are other things that we will have. We might even have the occasional textbook or use some workbooks – really, we might. But these are, by far, my most important ‘supplies’.

GMA Summer Concert Series – A ‘How-to’ Guide

Another (brave) mom and I, along with some of our kids, trekked out to Central Park at 5 a.m. for one of GMA’s Summer Concerts. That necessitated a 3 a.m. wake up call for us, but we were highly motivated by the prospects of a crooning Luke Bryan. We were told it was the most highly-attended GMA concert of the season.

Transportation is a matter of preference – we chose to drive – but somehow you need to get yourself to the 72nd & 5th Avenue entrance of Central Park to enter the venue at Rumsey Play Field.

We entered the park at 5 a.m. and that worked out for us. There was a large line forming, but it was manageable and well-organized. We were corralled through barriers and security stops – most people we encountered were excited and nice.

Then we waited. And waited. We saw the sun rise over Central Park – now I’ve got bragging rights to that :)

We were let in around 7:20 and most people rushed pretty quickly to the front of the stage where you might get a good view, or not, depending on how many people back you are from the stage. Some of the girls that ended up in the front row had waited out since 2 p.m. Thursday. If you need to be the first one in…go ahead.

We sat in bleachers and we had a nice view and were pretty comfortable. There was plenty of room for walking around and there were Port-a-Loos (my friend is British :). I was really pleased that it was so easy.

Ultimately, Luke Bryan was awesome – unlike these pictures!

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~ There are bathrooms and seating.

~ The GMA website says to be there by 6 a.m. In my opinion 5 a.m. was a good choice.

~ A bag with all your regular stuff, a water bottle and a snack will get you through the morning.

~ The concert is really for the TV viewers, but you will get to see your favorite act rehearse, do several sound checks, interact with the crowd, the morning show hosts and their band. Basically, it’s neat to see your favorite singer in such a casual setting. You’ll hear bits and pieces and the totality of about the same 4 songs, but it’s not boring.

~ You can totally do this! For 2014, there are still 3 dates to go :) I might see you for Brad Paisley.

Sean Was an Only Child

For 63 hours last week, Sean was an ‘only child’. Dennis, Gavin and Mikey were away at Boy Scout Camp and Ethan continued in his summer school program. From 7:30 to 3:45 it was only Sean and I and we took full advantage of that.

We visited the local spraypark. Three times. We baked cookies every time he asked. Twice. We NEVER cooked dinner – grilled cheese, bowls of cereal and frozen pizza were fine for the three of us. We walked around the block, shopped in the thrift store, visited the chiropractor and played board games – each time his choice, without having to compromise with any brother :) He watched several ‘G’ rated movies and set up his ‘guys’ and blocks any way HE wanted to.

Ethan enjoyed a few perks as well – trip to ‘eat in’ at the pizza place and an evening at a local ‘cruise night’. We all enjoyed the slightly quieter evenings. I don’t think Dennis’ evenings were as quiet :)

I decluttered the entire upstairs bathroom – every drawer and cabinet was emptied and wiped and restocked. I gave the the dining room closet and downstairs linen closet the same treatment. The fitted sheets were all folded – and put away properly. I culled the upstairs bookshelves and cleaned off the ever-dumped on stairs.  Laundry was practically non-existent, so sheets and curtains were all washed and hung. ‘Command Central’ was cleared and organized.


Is it really just me or can cleaning your desk make you feel like all is right in the world?

I invested in two things. Sean and my house. Can’t imagine how the return on investment could be anything  but awesome.

Sunday Scenes – at Yestercades

Our whole family was happy to hear that Yestercades was bringing their vintage, video game fun to Somerville, NJ – a mere 20 minutes from our house. Part of Sunday was taken up shooting asteroids, running from ghosts, jumping over barrels, kung-fu fighting and the likes of Quiet Riot, Ratt, Prince and Bon Jovi emanating from the speakers :)

A day late, but just as good.

Gavin Talks

Gavin has been away for the better part of two weeks. He is really helpful around the house, picks up some slack for me now and then, can babysit Sean for me occasionally and other valuable tasks.

So why, while he’s away, is mind my experiencing a little vacation of its own?

Because Gavin talks. A lot. Like a lot.

He wants to talk, in depth, about the books he is reading, the ones we are reading together and the books he might read in the future. He does not have ‘summarize’ mastered yet or doesn’t prefer to convey the stories in that was. I get ‘the whole story’.

He wants to discuss current events and wants to discuss the history of the Gaza Strip, what happened during the cuban missile crisis and how HIV causes AIDS. He wants me to know how many men died during The Battle of Antietum and how it tied into the Civil War. He asks me what pasteurization and homogenization are and are they ‘good’ or ‘bad’. He wants to discuss what “Kosher” means. He asks me how grass seeds are spread and then wants to know if I want to watch a documentary called “Hitler’s Children” with him.

He asks if we can go to the arcade today, the beach tonight, and when can I find him another class where he can dissect something. He wants to know if I know of anywhere he can see cows butchered. He recounts facts, tons and tons of facts. Some vital and interesting and some – not so much. He asks me to guess how many calories are in a cup of Cheerios.

I call him factoid boy.

Most conversations include him letting you know the strongest, longest, oldest, and fastest…..whatever. If Gavin starts a conversation with you by saying, ‘I’ve been wondering…’ or ‘I was just thinking…’ – brace yourself. It’s going to be long.

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

― Catherine M. Wallace

I know, I know. I am trying my best. Besides, I learn a lot from Gavin.

Thank you to Mariya Kovalyov at Happy Family Art for this photo!