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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fun Time With Cousins!

While we've been doing a lot of hard work around here, between Floortime/DIR, Occupational Therapy, Hippotherapy, and pre-school based OT, Speech, Special Instruction, and now, finally, Physical Therapy, we've also managed to provide the kids with an extremely fun-filled summer. One of the reasons we decided to do Hippotherapy at ARCH is because it's located a few minutes away from both Grammy's condo and Aunt Laura and Uncle Bryan's house. To avoid shore traffic, we leave right after dinner on Friday nights and spend the night at one or the other of their homes and drive the ten minutes (usually running late) to Hallie's session on Saturday afternoon. Then, most weekends, we hang out with the cousins at Aunt Laura's house or the pool to which they belong and the kids get to play with one another. This is a vast improvement over the once a month or so (and sometimes less) that we were able to get the kids together last year.

The first week we did this, upon our arrival home in Philadelphia on Sunday night, Hallie spontaneously turned to us and said "Fun time with cousins!" She keeps saying this every time she sees them but now sometimes recounts what it is that they did together, be it swimming, swinging, going on rides at the Ocean City boardwalk etc.

Here's one nice picture of the little girl cousins:

And here's one of all the little cousins:

And here they are on the Ocean City boardwalk (with big cousin Sarah's legs and part of her torso in view, too...sadly we can never get a shot of all six of the cousins together in one place at the same time):

In this one, Hallie is making eyes at Adam, with Hannah in the background, at Mack and Manco's Pizza on the boardwalk.

It turns out that Hallie really enjoys Mack and Manco pizza. We've been giving her some regular dairy products lately (just watching to make sure she does not overload her system and that the reflux is in check) and she definitely is grooving on pizza, cake (chocolate cake is her favorite...we mostly opt for Amy's quite tasty Vegan Chocolate Cake which is moist and yummy and readily available at Whole Foods and Essene market, but we have been pretty willing to have her eat any chocolate cake at all...more on this in the next post), and some ice cream. That night on the boardwalk, Hallie ate a little pizza and enjoyed licking a soft custard cone with jimmies.

She also had a great time on the rides at the boardwalk. Driving the firetruck and riding the carousel were her favorites.

Anyway, all this fun time with cousins stuff made this past weekend a bit sad. The cousins were off camping and there was no one with whom we could play (our other Jersey-based friends and siblings all being spoken for, too). So we were going to just go down for Hippotherapy, spend the afternoon with grammy doing something fun, and then head back up to Philly. Or so we thought...

Saturday afternoon, we had a nice time at the Castle Park in Egg Harbor Township. Both kids enjoyed swinging and Hallie enjoyed climbing up the wooden structures to the tall 'curly' slide.

By the time we got back from the park to Grammy's, it was clear that major storms were heading our way. After wading (no other word works) through the flooded roads from the shore to the Princeton area to visit our friends Anne and Eliza Grace a few weeks ago, we weren't really willing to brave this again. So we decided to have dinner and stay the night at Grammy's.

We're really happy that we did. As it turns out, Aunt Laura, Uncle Bryan, and the cousins experienced a lot of storms themselves while camping. The first night and day were fine, but the second storm came on suddenly while they were away from their tent, which was open to the elements so as to prevent the internal temperature from reaching sizzling proportions. All of their stuff was flooded and needed to be dried out thoroughly. When it stormed yet again on their penultimate vacation day, they decided to cut their losses and head home (and in the process experienced flooded and closed roads that scared the bejeezus out of Aunt Laura, who was doing the driving of one of the cars---they needed to take two to accommodate all four kids, both adults, and all their stuff. Poor Hannah will probably never settle for less than a five-star hotel with 500TC sheets and a jacuzzi on future vacations).

Anyway, they came home on Saturday evening and were available to play with Hallie (and Lea, who slept more than played) on Sunday.

We decided to take the brood to Storybook Land for a fun afternoon. I had no idea that the rides were going to be so kid-friendly and the venue so comparatively uncrowded and appropriate for ages 3-6). The kids had a grand time.

They drove a classic car around the park:

They enjoyed the ferris wheel:

Hallie, Adam, and Hannah really liked going up the Jack and Jill hill and sliding back down again.

(Aside: Hallie was just peering over my shoulder looking at the pictures as I inserted them into this post. She named the rides and attractions and her cousins and then said "Tea Cups". The thing is, that I don't have a picture of the "tea cup" ride that she took, over and over again, on Sunday with her cousins. She just remembers that she did this with them and that it was fun. Hallie's memory and attention for detail never cease to amaze me).

Speaking of tea cups, Hallie, Adam, and Hannah also posed as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland:

But as much fun as all that was, the trio REALLY grooved on the dragon roller coaster. Hallie thought it was hilarious and the sound of Hallie's scream morphing into uncontrollable laughter was enough to quell Sharon's nausea at accompanying Hallie on the ride (though she did add that Aunt Laura, who loves roller coasters, gets to join Hallie when her roller coaster needs advance to something more challenging).

And, speaking of Sharon, the whole visit to Storybook Land was kind of a walk down memory lane for her. Back when she was in high school, both she and Aunt Laura worked at the site, operating rides and such for the kids. The amusement park (which is family run) is open from Memorial Day through Christmas, and hosts events like Hallowe'en trick-or-treating and Thanksgiving and Christmas Pageants for the kids. Given the theme of the park--children's stories and nursery rhymes--they require well-suited human stand-ins to act out the parts in parades. Sharon's complexion and dark hair made her perfect for this part:

She was slightly mortified that I made her pose for this shot and that I promised to blog about this. But what I cannot wait to do is figure out if we can find a digitized version of the Atlantic City Press's article covering her appearance as Snow White back in (gasp!) 1988.

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