Archive for July, 2008

More Vacation Thoughts

Posted by laura on Jul 31 2008 | Holiday, Uncategorized

Before we went to New Hampshire, the kids and I had 11 days in Needham.

The first couple of days were a bit surreal – we were all bowled over by the humidity. It was hot out here in June – unseasonably so. Up in the high 90’s, which is always a surprise when you’re accustomed to freezing the summer away. But even though we’re not used to the heat, it’s a dry heat so you’re just hot. Humid heat, as we all know, is a different story altogether. I’ll never forget Hot Wheels just sitting in my parents’ kitchen with this amazed expression, saying, “I’m fweaty!” It never occurred to him that you could sweat without even moving.

After we got our summer legs under us, though, it was tons of fun. The kids were so excited to see their cousins and their grandparents. We went to the always spectacular 4th of July parade with extended cousins and had a blast. We hit Rosemary pool, where my sister’s and cousins’ kids take swim lessons, and where we all had our swim lessons growing up. Truly odd to be back in that place, with the same overenthusiastic lifeguards, as a grownup. It still sends a shot of fear down my limbs to hear those lifeguard whistles. I think they’re all junior marines or something.

We had wonderful dinners over at my cousins’ houses – I’m pretty sure our kids think life is just one big party back in Needham. (And it IS, isn’t it?) Wow it was nice to be back. We had a humdinger of a thunderstorm over at my cousin Eileen’s house – and that was awesome. We never get that – the sunny day that suddenly turns dark grey, the rolling rumble and the crack! followed by a torrent of rain. Unbelievable. 

It was amazing to see everyone’s kids – all so much bigger, so nice, so cool. I wish we were closer. One of the first things I did when we got home was to copy my cousin Mary’s diagonal table set up (she tells me it was Martha’s idea) – I love how it gives us better access in a tiny space:

So thank you, Mary and Martha! Cross-continental interior design.

Another great day was when the kids and I slept over at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Norfolk. We had a beautiful night together, and the next day Kristen took us over to swim at Pearl Lake, not far from their home. We went to Sweatt beach – which had me snickering to begin with, but then Mum told me that when she was in school in Franklin, one of her teachers had married into that family. Can we have a moment of appreciation here? Mrs. Sweatt, was, you guessed it … the PE teacher. 

But I digress. The beach was absolutely lovely, if unfortunately named. (I’m sorry – maybe the Sweatts were lovely people, but seriously.) The water was stunning – clear and warm. We all loved looking down at the fish all around our feet – in fact it really helped my daughter learn how to just glide around in the water. She was so preoccupied with looking at the fish through her goggles, that she just drifted around instead reverting to the dog paddle. The lake was calm, the beach was incredibly relaxing – it was a perfect morning.


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Vacation’s Got It Together

Posted by laura on Jul 29 2008 | Holiday, Uncategorized

There’s this incredibly sharp memory I have from back in middle school or so, of a grey slushy evening in winter, probably late February or March. My body was slumped over some eye-crossing homework assignment and I can still hear my old fluorescent desk light buzzing over the pages I had to finish before bed. Every feeling from that night is as clear to me as if it were yesterday. I was dying. I was going crazy! I was somnolent. (I was not melodramatic. At All.)

In my misery, I did something any self-respecting, homework-hating, fed-up-with-winter Virgo would do. I started a packing list for the beach.

Yup. I loved those two weeks my family took at the beach each summer with such an intensity, just planning for them could pull me out of the winter doldrums. The beach was the antonym for March. It still is. We’ve gone to the same beach every summer since I was a baby, and now I take my babies. In fact, we just got back a week ago. 

It was amazing. The whole family was there, in three cottages. The six young cousins got to play together in the sand every day and sleep together almost every night. There was a morning somewhat-constitutional up to Dunkin’ Donuts with their grandparents. The beach was just four houses down the street and ridiculously well equipped with fine soft sand, low-tide pools, freezing water and a jetty with crabs sneaking around in the rocks. In the afternoons, they worked on their ski-ball technique at the arcade. It was beautiful.

There’s a slice of practically every life visible at Hampton Beach – every ethnicity, age, occupation. You can hear all different languages and some very hardy New England accents. It’s familiar, noisy and often incredibly beautiful.

When we were little, they’d release a bumper sticker each year, and they’d say things like:

Hampton Beach, NH – It’s a shore thing.

or, Sea for yourself

Summer better than others

Water way to enjoy

I’m sure Joe and Claire can think of more. Someone – my Beautiful Aunt Mary or my cousin Rosemary maybe, used to thumbtack the bumper stickers to the ceiling of one of the bedrooms in the back cottage. If I ever slept inside (instead of on the porch) I would stare up at them as I fell asleep. I wonder what I would have thought then if I could have had a look into the future and seen my youngest niece in her crib in that same spot? There’s a great photo board in the front cottage with beach photos from when my dad was a kid in these cottages up to today. It’s amazing to look at all my great-aunts and uncles out under their umbrellas and think about all our memories of the same place.

Dad and I took a walk one night over by the docks:

Hampton Beach, NH. What a setting.



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