Upper Valley Homeschoolers

We finally got to go on a field trip with the homeschool group today, to the Montshire Children's Museum, about 10 minutes from our house. It was a great little museum with more packed into it than the museum in Baltimore or Hot Springs, Arkansas. Very impressive. Even better was the chance to finally get plugged in to the local group. The INCH group in the Hershey area was truly the best part of our first two assignments in Pennsylvania, and we made many friends - some very good friends that we still talk to nearly every day and the boys still Skype with several times a week. This has of course made us skeptical that we'll find such good friends in other groups, but we love meeting new people. The group turned out to be HUGE, but we did meet some really nice people, and the boys got to explore and play quite a bit with the other kids. 

The group went on this day specifically because there is a temporary astronomy workshop at the museum. After a short lesson on basic astronomy, one of the curators took the kids into a giant inflatable planetarium and spent about half an hour pointing out various constellations and explaining the orbits of the earth and moon. After that, we all ate lunch together and the kids played some more.



Last week, we headed out with an idea of an outline of a plan, and here's where we ended up:

LOTS of addition/renovation going on here. The cooking/baking
school seems to be growing pretty fast.

Lots of yummy pastries and coffee, and more baking trinkets
than Martha Stewart could use in a lifetime. I wish we could
have Christmas shopped here.

These are some shots of the road to Vermont, which is about ten minutes away. The pictures do very little justice to the landscape. Beautiful mountains capped with snow, wide valleys with frozen lakes. I'm really glad we came here in the winter because everything probably looks very different in the fall.

Waterbury, VT. This place makes it's own fresh apple cider every day, as well as a huge variety of cider-based jams, compotes, mustards, syrups, and dipping sauces. We sampled a bit of everything, and ate a breakfast of cider donuts, apple cider, apple turnover, and pumpkin bread. 

You'd think they'd never been to Krispy Kreme before (I guess they were
too young to remember), but they were fascinated with the donut machine.

We wandered over the gift shop where they had a hard cider tasting (YES). I happened to notice some CD's by "Elizabeth Trapp" on the shelf by the register. Elizabeth Trapp is actually Elizabeth Von Trapp, the grandchild of Captain Georg Ludwig and Maria Von Trapp, of Sound of Music fame. Having grown up on a steady diet of this movie, visited some of the movie and historic sites as a teen in Austria, and given my undying admiration of Julie Andrews and the whole Von Trapp story, I ashed the clerk if Elizabeth actually lived nearby. Turns out, the Von Trapp family farm (now lodge/resort) was about 30 minutes up the road. Apparently, the family retired to Stowe, VT after touring the states for a few years following their dramatic escape from the Nazis. We headed up the mountain.

The main lodge. Though the children portrayed in the film have all
passed away, the children and grandchildren still own this property
and live somewhere on the grounds. 
In an effort not to be all stalk-ish and creepy, we took some pics
of the vista and moved on. The cabins all looked like the little
chalets I used to see in Austria and Germany. It really
felt like Europe there for a few moments.
Back in Waterbury, we hit the Ben & Jerry's Factory. It looks just like you'd imagine. A really cool hippie/farm vibe with lots of funky colors.

The short tour was lots of fun, but no hands on ice cream making that day. 

We all had ice cream at the end of the tour. We all sampled the new Late Night
Snack which features chocolate covered potato chips. It was...interesting.

Daylight hours are short here at the top of the world, so we drove back to Lebanon and ate at a local place called Jesse's. Doesn't it look cozy? The meal was INCREDIBLE. Very surprised at how good it was and we'll definitely be going back. Plus, it was the first time we ate out since arriving that didn't end in an ER visit for Dad.


Lebanon to Boston

Christie has been working mostly days, leaving me and the boys homebound for the first week or so here. That's been good in a lot of ways since December was so insanely busy and we needed so time at home to defuse. We haven't gotten quite as much snow as we thought we would at first, but it's been more than enough to play and sled in. (These videos seem particularly grainy when enlarged, and I'm not sure why...)

When we finally did get out and around, we were pleased to find that Lebanon is a fairly quaint little New England town just like you see in the movies. Many of the buildings, especially around Dartmouth college, are nearly 200 years old. It's actually the oldest medical college in the U.S. and going down to the square in Lebanon feels like a trip back in time.

We also went to Boston last Wednesday, marvelling that we could actually do that and be back home on the same day. This was supposed to have been a 2-3 day hospitalization for me, but turned out not to be, so we celebrated with dinner at Durgen Park, a famous Boston pub at Fanuel Hall. We're loving Boston even more now that we've learned to navigate the T-rail system pretty easily. It's cheap and fast to travel all over the city and see exactly what we want without the hassle of traffic. I'm glad we got to see Boston at night too, because the Market was still dressed up for Christmas and it was absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to come back here in warmer weather with the Foley's so they can point out all the best places to eat. There's too many to choose from for a newbie like me.

This isn't the actual bar Cheers was based on, more inspired by it.
The real deal is elsewhere in Boston. It's on our list of places to see.

They even had the wooden Indian out front.

Quincy Hall. You can't see it well here, but there's a different
food place between each set of pillars. Everything from Italian
to Greek to Indian, and more candy and pastries than you could try
in a lifetime. Heaven!

I'll post tomorrow with video and pictures of some other places we visited in the Lebanon area and in Vermont. We're a bit overwhelmed with how much there is to do and see in the area and there's no way we're going to get it all in, not to mention we're trying to make time to visit with friends as often as we can. The big challenge is getting the necessary school work done in between it all, but the boys are usually ready for a few days at home after our outings, so I think it's going to work out well. 

It's snowing again!


Timberwood Commons

As most of you know, I've spent some time in the ER for atrial fibrilation in the last week, so I didn't get these videos up as soon as I'd hoped. Suffice to say, New Hampshire is beautiful and we're really excited to be able to explore the area a bit more as soon as possible. There's no snow yet, but the locals are confident it will be here soon, and lots of it.

In the meantime, here's what our new apartment looks like.


Happy New Years!

As I mentioned in our last post, our trip to New Hampshire brought us through Anneville, PA, close to where we lived during our first assignment in Harrisburg. We became close friends with the Foley family through the local homeschool group while we were there, and also during our second assignment in Danville, PA.

The thing you need to know about the Foleys: They love celebrations. They make the most of significant days with food, fun, and family traditions - so many that it almost makes your head spin trying to keep up with them all! They even celebrate Pi day on 3-14 every year (they have Pi decorations and even a Pi pizza cutter - get it?  A Pi cutter?) My kind of geeks.

So New Years Eve was filled with eating at our favorite Anneville/Hershey restaurants, then preparing food for the New Year celebration. Mark hand-made sushi - our favorite was the "Folsen Roll," which combined ingredients both families love - shrimp, Mexican spices, and peppers. It was like a little fajita all rolled up into one mouth-watering piece. We all pitched in and made everything from 7 layer taco dip to stuffed mushrooms, to buffalo dip. We like to EAT.

Mark also made a "Chik-Fil-A" roll. Backstory: There are no Chik-Fil-A's to speak of in Pennsylvania so our guilty love of CFA is a little curious to the Foleys (I think...). I was texting Mark from a Chik-Fil-A in Arkansas when the woman in front of me in line told the manager that she loved this CFA location because it (and I quote): "Oozes Jesus." Having no idea how on earth a fried chicken place could ooze much of anything except diabetes, I quoted her to Mark. We have been making jokes ever since about things "oozing Jesus." To commemorate this, Mark Foley presents: The Chik-Fil-A roll. 

We also realized it was the first time our family had been in the Eastern Time Zone for New Years, so it would be our first time to see Dick Clark and the Times Square ball drop live. Fun New Years for everyone and we went to bed late, exhausted, and full. It was great to be able to spend New Years Eve with friends, even though we had traveled so far from family. Happy 2012 everyone!