Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Farm & Waffles

We’ve planned for some time to go to Howell Living History Farm. Although they run very nice programs, we just went for the visit. It turned out we picked a good day, since we were practically the only people there, along with our friends.

The farm is a completely bucolic setting and you feel transformed to another place and time – but remember, we are the Garden State! We were greeted by a large pasture full of beautiful, wooly sheep and a pond with ducks and geese off in the distance.

I love the opportunity that we often encounter when we are at a place during a down time and the docents/employees have time to speak with the kids. This time they had the chance to do ‘farm chores’.

The day was filled with the expected animals and some unexpected finds.

It was wonderful to see the boys in this setting with each other and their friends!

We had lunch at a place called Nina’s Waffles in New Hope. What a nice, sweet place to eat. The kids were totally thrilled to have breakfast/dessert for lunch. Mmmmmm – get there if you can. Gavin had his with Mango & Cream Ice Cream, Mikey with Strawberry, mine was with cannoli cream, and Sean’s with 1 marshmallow on-the-side.

This is the kind of day that makes me so happy to live in NJ. I feel like we have such a premium spot to see all types of landscapes and enjoy tons of great towns. I can’t think of much my kids won’t see at some point – from working farms, to broadway shows, beaches, lakes and rivers, to big cities and everything we can find in between!

42 – Break the Recipe Rule Book

“Hi Auntie, can we do some ‘Dangerous Things’ today?”
That’s how the ‘Breaking the Recipe Rule Book’ entry got started. One of the first things Gavin and Sam decided to make was ‘tea’. Out in the backyard they chose some leaves from my herb garden and some other things they know to be edible from the lawn – clover & dandelion. When they found out the I owned a mortar & pestle, they were thrilled. They also chose to use some spices from my cabinets and the concocting began.

Gavin chose a tea ball and Sam the boil and strain method. Both teas were creative and tasty.
They followed the directions in the book of collecting ingredients and preparing the pan. It was interesting to hear them negotiating what would go into their ‘cake’. I was merely a spectator and photographer. They agreed that flour, milk, oil and eggs were necessary. Then the ‘big idea’ came to them – a S’mores cake – so chocolate chips, marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers were added. They also both agree that baking soda was necessary although neither of them could articulate why. They discussed measurements and amounts.

It was totally edible, fairly spongy, and very sugary! Recipes rules were definately broken – several times I wanted to tell them that they would need some salt or that is waaaayyyy too much vanilla – but that would have ruined the exercise.
Dangerous? These kids are competant at loading stuff into the oven, so I think it was pretty safe. I will admit that tasting it required some bravery from the rest of us. You will definately get mom (or dad) points for giving your kids free reign of the kitchen for a little adventure in cooking.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 

Back in Time to Allaire State Park

We took a trip back in history to Allaire State Park. We visit a lot of state parks and the boys participate in New Jersey’s Passport to Adventure. Allaire and it’s historical village has been on my ‘list’ for a long time.
The whole Costello Clan went on this expedition. We all have different travelling requirements, and Ethan’s not going far without a Coke!
With that taken care of, we moved on to the beautiful grounds the park has to offer. Allaire is a preserved, 19th Century Iron Making village. We visited on a Sunday and the artisans and docents were in full effect. The blacksmith was very talented and really impressive and very hot – you know, like, sweaty!
There was live hearth cooking going on and the carpenter gave the boys are really good spiel about what his job would have really been like back in the day. While making a point about kids’ lives in those days, he asked Gavin how many days a week he had to spend in school – and Gavin signed a big “0”. Later he asked Gavin if he liked Summer or Winter better (expecting that he would say summer because there is no school) and Gavin expressed that he enjoyed all the seasons. “Ah, that’s right, you’re the homeschooler, you can be arbitrary.” I love that my kids can love it all 🙂 and be ‘arbitrary’.
The grounds and the buildings are tremendous. They are beautifully preserved and you really feel like you are right there in the 1800s.
Mikey and Gavin got caught up in a ‘role playing’ scavenger hunt that was going on. They learned a bunch about a real mystery related to the Allaire Estate. It was a great way to put some historical facts into their repetoire!
After the scavenger hunt, Gavin scavenged a snack of wild raspberries for himself and Mike. Doesn’t get better than this!
Allaire is also the home the The New Jersey Transportation Museum and the Pine Creek Railroad, both of which we enjoyed, as well.
We really like Allaire State Park and think you will too – so get out, and get going!
“It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

While Gavin’s Away, The Kids Will Play

Gavin left for a much awaited week of Boy Scout Camp. He was eager to be out in the woods with his friends, working towards his first merit badges and conquering his own anxiety about being away from home. He did all those things…while I mostly worried.
I didn’t worry about him getting hurt, as I knew that he was in good hands. Now that I think about it, there was nothing in particular that really worried me, it was just the separation that rarely happens in our family and we were both a little anxious about it. I’ll bet Dennis was too, but it’s not his style to share that.
Gavin worked through nervous episodes and some sleeplessness with his scout leaders and the teenage patrol leaders. I am sure they bestowed upon him a different set of skills than I have – and that’s good stuff!
He did fantastic, earning his first *4* merit badges, his Totin’ Chip (ability to use a knife, ax and saw at scout events) and an optional patch for Duty to God for participating in religous services.
The dynamic in the house changed drastically with Gavin away and Ethan at his summer program for most of the day. Mikey and Sean had only each other all day and that set us up for some really fun activities.
Sean asked to make his own cookies. With Mikey off reading for his summer reading minutes – it was just him and I. He donned his little apron and mixed and cut them all by himself!

Sean attends a library program for preschoolers on Tuesdays. Mikey and Gavin usually stay home, but this time Mikey came along! Story and a craft can be fun for everyone 🙂 (I suspected Mikey could have a good time here when an older brother wasn’t watching!)

Another day, we went and picked up Mikey’s sister for a day of playing and sibling bonding. It worked out really nicely for her and Mikey to only have to mostly deal with each other. They easily fit into a rhythm with each other and it is always fun.

We also took a chance to visit Land of Make Believe, without someone who may or may not have implied that LOMB is not ‘cool’. It was totally cool – if your about 9 and under!

It was stressful for me to have Gavin at camp, but I used my time wisely to have a little 2 on 1 time with my youngest two children. Although Ethan happily joined the fray in the afternoons, it was a really different experience. So today – I blog for 2 boys!