Thursday, September 29, 2011

10 - Play with the vacuum cleaner

Playing with the vacuum is just not something the boys have thought about doing before. That might be because I love that vacuum dearly and have told them that it is probably the most expensive thing I own. They had alot of fun and were able to make crazy sounds come out of it!

One of the sounds was a high-pitched humming sound and the other was a terribly annoying buzzing. Then the broke out the shop vac to test out Mr. Bernoulli's Principle.

 Dangerous? Only to my vacuum. Not remotely for the kids. It was still fun and keeps us on the track of doing all 50 'dangerous' things.

A Good Walk

We make great use of an area called The Great Swamp located near us. We visit the birds at The Raptor Trust, play in the nature centers and take long walks on the boardwalks constucted throughout the swamp. On our last visit, we utilized the park's "Self Guided Trail Booklet for the Orange & Red Trails". The booklet tells you how to follow trails and covers a little bit about 'Leave No Trace' guidelines.

The booklet uses numbered trail markers to show things along the trail such as specific trees, pond life, deer enclosures, and even helps you identify poison ivy. There are 14 stations along the trail and the trail itself is just a nice walk. Just like everywhere else in NJ right now, it is heavy on the mosquitos :(

We will visit again and again, getting a chance to see snakes, hawks, looking for owl pellets, view the fall foliage, chase chipmunks, watch turtles, listen to the birds and spend some good time walking. Good for kids, good for moms.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Conversation with the Imaginary Bathroom Inspector

(otherwise known as "I Might be Losing My Mind")

The boys have their own bathroom, upstairs. Yes, ma'am - two days ago.
4 boys. Yes, God bless me.
Yes, I do own Clorox. And a toilet brush.
I hardly see how this is my mother's fault - she did the best she could.
I swear - two days ago!
I do know there is sand, rocks and shells on the floor. Mikey says they fell out of his bathing suit.
I do think there should be a basic standard of clean - I kind of thought I was meeting that.
No, Huh?
You know, I feel like I am on some type of work-release program and have been sentenced to clean a fraternity house.
No - I don't think this is at all funny.
I agree, towels should not smell like this.
Yes, we do plan on replacing the broken towel racks - I just see chin ups and 'gymnastics' happening on them.
Yes, we have told them they should not do it.
Oh that? It's glue from where we attached and *detached* the Touch and Brush. The blue stains on the floor are where the toothpaste plopped out of the Touch and Brush. See, we tried.
Yes, I understand what needs to get done. Yes, I found your visit particularly helpful although very disheartening.
Noooooooo, I don't need anything else inspected.

As I was wrapping up my imaginary conversation (yes, I know that it's not normal) Ethan yelled upstairs for me to come and fix him a bowl of ice cream. Do you think he can eat it with a toilet brush???

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stop and Smell the Flowers

We recently visited the New Jersey Botanical Gardens in Ringwood, NJ. I was informed by one of the gardeners, that we visited at the end of what is considered the best of the season and post-Hurrican Irene, and it was still exceptionally beautiful.

Parking and entrance was free. They usually charge on weekends and holidays, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bring your picnic lunch and you're only out for gas. The grounds are expansive, but easily walkable. There was lots to look at and many things were labeled for easy identification.

I don't bug the boys to come look at signs or read what is posted, but I often find them doing it anyway. On trips like this, I take the stance that more is 'caught' than 'taught'. You never know when  a reference to something will come up and they will have learned it or seen it here.

Picnicking is usually not permitted, but since it was practically empty, coupled with the fact that I usually view rules as loose suggestions, we spread our blanket in front of this 'memory' bench and had a nice afternoon siesta.

The website lists the times that certain gardens are in bloom. I see more than one trip coming our way next season. In proximity, it is close to The Highlands Natural Pool, which has been on my 'go to' list for two years - and will be added for a third attempt.

Who wants to make a day of it with me next year?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ethan Surf's Revisited with Professional Pics

The original "surfing" post is here.

I am so excited to present...The Costello's....from a professional angle. I'd like to thank Anthony Trufolo for these great shots.

That last one is really epic! The following pictures were shot by Donna Green Photography. I am equally as excited to have such great, candid shots of our family.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surfer's Healing for Ethan

Thanks to Dennis' quick typing and form-submitting skills, we were able to secure a spot for Ethan at a Surfer's Healing surf camp. It's a coveted spot - camp was filled up in 2 minutes. 

Surfer's Healing brings some of the world's best surfers who work tirelessly to get each and every kid with special needs out and over the waves, hang out in the ocean for a while and then bring them in - surfing!

We suspected that Monday might be a lighter attendance day, and we don't mind taking Ethan out of school so that's the day we picked. It was predicted to be 81 degrees and sunny - and delivered.

When we arrived, many kids were already out in the water and we found friends of ours who had already surfed. The beach was essentially empty, barring the surf camp and the waves were nice enough.

For a kid who usually wades as far as the tops of his feet, it is hard to picture him getting out there. But, there is something to be said for the energy these surfers exude. There is not alot of talking and it is really hard to put your finger on what you are seeing. I will tell you, it is amazing.

I did not get great pictures and I am hoping that the professionals who were on the beach will soon post theirs' and I can get permission to use them. Dennis also needs to view and edit and video footage he was able to get and hopefully we can post that soon.

It's just surfing, right? Not on this day. Ethan knew he did something fantastic, he was shaking and happy and proud. I'm a sap - I cried. Happy tears because he got do something so out of his typical skill set and seemed to make him feel so good. I also liked that his brothers got to see Ethan do something so cool.

We stayed at the beach late into the afternoon (of course!) and had a great time. I treasure magical moments like this one, and I thank Surfer's Healing for giving it to us.

Professional pictures of this can be found in this post. 

Check out The Swell Life on the Oprah Network. It's a show about Surfer's Healing and the Paskowitz Family.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time for Hockey

It's that time again! From ages 4 to 18, both boys and girls, will enjoy the upcoming hockey season at GBHC.

If your interested, come on down and visit on a Saturday afternoon - especially if your kids are looking for a new sport to play! One practice and one game a week, great coaching and 'reasonable' parents. If you are involved in sports, you will probably know what that reference means. It's just a nice place to be.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Space Farms Zoo & Museum

A recent trip took us to Space Farms Zoo & Museum. It is located in Sussex, NJ. What Space Farms truly is a "collection of collections" acquired by Ralph Space, including the 'collection' of animals. The items housed at the Space Family's property range from teapots, to arrowheads, hearses to indian artifacts, clocks, anitque cars, rifles, antique toys, antique farm equipment and endless other items. Many are marked as the largest or only collection of that type in the country or world.

If you want to see  something old, chances are that Ralph Space owned it! The boys were most interested in looking at the stuff, I was most intrigued by the fact that man would feel compelled to own, catalogue and display all this stuff. I came across this article, and now I definately need to know more. I should have picked up the two books Dennis offered me in the gift shop :(

There is a play park in the middle of the zoo that suited us nicely. It was old (you know, metal and nice and dangerous) climbing equipment and swings. There is a picnic area and coolers are welcomed. We didn't need to bring ours in since we ate our sandwiches on the way up. Dessert was a 'Summer Smash Pie' with 6 forks purchased at a roadside stand.

We knew we were in good company when spotted this sign.

The collection of animals housed here is listed here. One animals I had never seen before, but heard of recently due to making a natural comeback in New Jersey, was a Fisher.

This is Fred Space, Ralph Space's son. He was very pleasant to talk to. He told us that his son and grandkids are all involved in running the farm & museum.
I love day trips, all of us spending the day doing something together and funky & interesting New Jersey sites with history. Thank you, Space Farms for a great day. Get out and see it for yourself.