Sunday, July 31, 2011

Field Hockey Camp

As if the children Elliot did not have enough sporting events to keep them busy, for the second summer in a row, Georgia and Josie gave Field Hockey a try.  Believe it or not, there is a dearth of sporting options for the female under-12 set in our town.  There's soccer (and trust me, we do like soccer) and there's softball (no one has any interest) and then there's the  always present ballet or gymnastics if you are so inclined, but the team sports that older girls get to play do not start until, well, until you are OLDER.

This is not the case for little boy sports in our town.  Now I know that my girls COULD play hockey with the boys, if they wanted to (they don't) and I suppose we could fight to let them play boys lacrosse, but boys lacrosse is a completely different game then girls lacrosse so playing for three years on the boys team seems a little futile.  Georgia and Josie would both love to be playing lacrosse for our town, but it's not offered for girls until late elementary school age.  The same thing applies to field hockey but our town doesn't offer field hockey until middle school.  The boys have baseball, basketball and football teams that they can join.  What about the girls, you ask?  Lucky them - they get to be on the Pop Warner Cheerleading squad and root for the boys.

Is this 1956?


Neither Gordy nor I want our girls to be cheering for the boys - at least not in an organized manner with uniforms and everything.  We want them to be on the field, chasing after the balls and being cheered themselves.  If our town can't provide our girls with athletic teams and skills, then we decided to look elsewhere.  That's why Georgia played lacrosse on a neighboring town's team this spring.  And that's how we found this field hockey camp - run by the Women's Field Hockey coach at a nearby university.

This particular camp wasn't a long one - only an hour and a half for four days, but the girls managed to pick up the basics.  They learned to use their sticks and how to run while pushing the ball along in front of them.  And they got much-needed exercise and fresh air.

I'm not sure if the coach has little girls of her own, but she sure acted like she did.  On the first morning of camp, the girls arrived to find Goodie Bags with their names on them and child-sized hockey sticks in pinks, yellows and purples.

My girls already had their hockey sticks from when they attended this camp last summer, but you could tell that Josie wanted to trade her baby blue stick for one of those spiffy new sticks REALLY BADLY.

This picture below shows Josie, coveting her neighbor's green hockey stick.

I arrived early on the second day of camp, armed with my camera and telephoto lens, ready to take some pictures.

Unfortunately, the girls were practicing drills facing away from where I sat, so I ended up with a whole mess of pictures of their backs.

Some shots were at least better than others:

You get the idea.

Look at all those girls!  Granted, they aren't all from our town but the point is still there to be made:  These girls loved field hockey.  And they loved being part of a team and trying something new.  Maybe it's time for our town to rethink it's refusal to introduce sports to younger girls.  They seem ready, to me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spectacle Island

The day after our trip to Canobie Lake Park, the Elliots and the Southerns took an afternoon trip to Spectacle Island - one of the Boston Harbor Islands.  Although it has been around forever, the current Spectacle Island is made up, in part, from landfill created by The Big Dig and it is the remnants of this history-filled dirt that make Spectacle Island a really fun destination.

The beaches of Spectacle Island are COVERED with sea glass and sea pottery and I have yet to meet the child how doesn't love hunting for sea glass / pottery.

To get to Spectacle Island, you have to take a 15-minute ferry from Boston Harbor.  It was another extremely hot day (104!), so we were looking forward to getting on the water and enjoying the feel of some sea breezes.

Alas, the sea breezes seemed to be suffering from the heat as well and the boat ride was just as hot as the walk from the parking garage.

The view was better, though.

Henry had sailing in the morning, so we went on our excursion in the afternoon.  The boat there was not crowded at all but it was also not air-conditioned at all.... and have I mentioned that it was really hot?

The ferry drops you off by the ranger station / restaurant.  After a quick break to use the facilities, we started our search for beach treasure.  

We didn't have to go very far.

Josie found this piece of broken tea cup right away:

And Georgia found pieces of sea glass and a section of an old tile wall:

Spectacle Island has only one rule about the sea treasures you find on the beach:  They have to remain on Spectacle Island.  You can decide whether you want to leave the glass / pottery where you found it, or you can bring it up to the Ranger Station where it will be displayed for all other visitors to see.

Some people also choose to leave their discoveries on this old boat piece:

Whatever you decide to do with your glass, it still is fun to look for and find.  We can go an entire day searching in Maine and not find a single piece of sea glass, and here on Spectacle Island, you can't take a step WITHOUT finding one.

When you buy your ferry tickets at Boston Harbor, you have to choose the time of your return boat.  Meredith and I decided an hour and a half would be long enough, so we bought tickets on the 4:00 ferry.  This ended up being the perfect amount of time on an extremely hot day.  The bathroom stops, the purchase of water, the time spent in the Ranger Station looking at other people's treasures and reading about the history of Spectacle Island, and the treasure hunting used up our 90 minutes pretty easily and if we had stayed any longer, we surely would have melted.

If it wasn't for the scorching heat, we could have taken a leisurely hike around the island or bought dinner at the outdoor restaurant, but going back home to an air conditioned house seemed to be a better idea.

The trip back was just as beautiful... and just as hot.

We were ready to call it a day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canobie Lake Park

After making their way up the Eastern Seaboard and spending some time with Granny and Grandfather, Southern Sister and Southern Cousins arrived at our house for a few days of fun.  We try to do different things with the Southerns each year and having done the beach and various museums in the past, we decided to introduce Meredith, Lily & Avery to a venerable New England institution:  Canobie Lake Park.

It was an extremely hot day - I think it hit the high nineties back at our house.  But being next to the lake and under mature shade trees helped with the heat at the amusement park.  We felt hot all day, don't get me wrong, but the heat wasn't unbearable and the kids were having so much fun that I'm not even sure they noticed the heat at all.  

Canobie Lake Park is a real treasure.  It's clean, well-run and full of the nicest college-aged employees you will ever meet.  It was also strangely empty but that was probably due to the excessive heat.  We've been to Canobie many times and this was the first time we ever got on rides without at least a brief wait in line.

Since it is closest to the parking lot, the kids started out on the log flume.  

I should take a minute to tell you that until this day at Canobie, Henry has never been a fan of the roller coaster.... or of anything that has a drop .... or a spin.... or a twirl.  You could even say that Henry wasn't really a fan of amusement parks at all.  But he was feeling brave and he climbed into the front of that hollowed-out log and gave it a try.

And it was a success!  It took him a few more hours, but eventually, Henry was riding the old-fashioned wooden roller coaster and the Boston Tea Party water ride.  

And what's more, he actually was enjoying them.  

Good for you, Henry!

Josie encountered the usual problem with her height.  She is too small for many of the rides that she would like to try and she is too old for the rides she is tall enough to do.  Luckily for her, Josie has two very nice cousins (and occasionally a brother and sister) who joined her on some of the more "kiddie" rides.

She was not, however, able to go on the upside-down, spinning roller coaster called the cork screw.

Henry and Avery were tall enough, but they have common sense.

Only Lily and Georgia gave it a try:

That's Lily, third from left, smiling at the camera as the ride began.

And here are the two family daredevils at the end of the coaster, alive and well:

Josie was tall enough to go on the Boston Tea Party - another water-flume that is geared for the more mature guest.

These pictures are from early on in the day, when Henry was still uncertain about whether or not he was ready to try this kind of ride.  If you stand where Henry is standing and the ride goes by you, an enormous wave of water splashes up and soaks you.  

Here is comes, Henry!  The water felt VERY good on such a hot day.

We took a break in the afternoon for some sweets.  

Josie got a caramel apple which instantly melted and had to be placed in a cup to keep from landing on the floor.

Everyone else got ice cream that melted almost immediately.

Southern Sister got nostalgic and had a soft-serve.

I was there, too!

After snack, Josie went on a flying pirate ship.  It was the cutest thing to see her little head pop up and wave.  She looked like she was having so much fun that the rest of the kids joined her on the second ride.  You could take a second ride because there was literally NO ONE else waiting in line.  On some rides (mostly the kiddie ones), we felt like we had the entire park to ourselves.

We tried to swings (that's Georgia in the middle there).

Josie did the bumper cars:

And I even went on a few spinning rides:

There was one ride which I did not want to do.

In fact, after watching it for a few minutes, I didn't even want any of my loved ones to do it:

It was new and called Untamed and it was FRIGHTENING!


Lily debated going on, but Georgia was all ready in line when I had to pull her out.

There was no way, I was going to let my 30 pound 8 year old get on something with a vertical drop.  

Georgia was not pleased with me.

Lily couldn't make up her mind (who could blame her) so we moved on and tried the old fashioned cars. I let Josie drive the car we shared and I'm glad to know she has a few more years before she will legally be allowed to drive on the actual road.   I'm not sure if Josie ever broke 1/4 mile an hour and she was pretty heavy on that break pedal.

Those of us who aren't scared of heights, went on the tram ride across the park which gives you a wonderful view of the lake:

And of Lily:

And of Henry, if you were luckily enough to be riding with him:

And that's when Henry decided to throw all his fears to the wind and try that Cannonball roller coaster.

The Cannon Ball is an old, wooden roller coaster similar to the Cyclone in Coney Island, New York.  The main part of the roller coaster goes through the parking lot and there isn't a spot to watch the ride and take photos.  The above shot is of our kids on their way up to the start.  Henry loved the ride so much that he went back two more times and then went back to the Boston Tea Party and tried that.

Who would have ever guessed?

Little Miss Short-Statured and I went on the tea cup rides while we waited for the roller coaster to finish.  

The Tea Cups are my favorite of all rides.  What a dignified way to be entertained.

We arrived at Canobie Lake at 2:00 and we didn't leave until 8:00pm, so it's safe to say that we tried everything.  

And I do mean EVERYTHING...  Lily even went on Untamed....

Bye-Bye, Lily!  See you at the bottom!

Maybe next time, Georgia!  But you might want to start eating your meat and veg!

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