Here we are in PA!
Yesterday's July 4th was as Americana as it gets, minus the corn-on-the-cob. We rode the first train tracks ever used in the U.S.A. commercially, from Honesdale to Hawley PA, on Stourbridge Line. In Hawley we saw a genuine small-town 4th-of-July parade, got ice cream, and then enjoyed a staged train robbery on the ride back to Honesdale. At home, we ran with sparklers and Uncle Ronan set off a bunch of legal (in PA) non-explosive fireworks.
Today it is a major heat wave, and though no one felt like doing much, it didn't stop the boys (5 of them, including Uncle Andreas and Uncle Ronan) from spending hours playing field hockey on the blacktop driveway. Blacktop, in this heat!!
Katrina spent most -- nay, all of the day playing in two kiddie pools that Papa Paul set up. It's incredible to believe, but she was in the cold water so long, her lips were blue and she wanted a sweatshirt for a while. As soon as she was back up to 98.6, she was right back out there. She spent at least 6 hours playing in the kiddie pools today, no kidding.
In the afternoon, we all took a big dip in the pond, which has no beach -- that is, you're either sitting on a dock, or you're in the water swimming or being held up by an innertube or noodle (which means no Katrina, she wouldn't get in the water with a noodle). I gave all 3 boys something of a swim test, mostly to see how they'd react if they lost hold of their noodle in the murky water, and quickly realized that for all 3 of them (my boys + my 8-1/2yo nephew Aidan), it's mostly practice and confidence they lack. All three boys have the skill to recover their flotation aids if necessary, but they all also needed to know they can get to the dock or noodle if they need to. To my surprise, the most relaxed and confident of the three was Aidan - not cocky Gabriel, mostly because Aidan really listens and accepts advice and instruction. Julian was too low on the confidence scale, and though he's physically capable of rescuing himself if he falls off a flotation device, it's not clear he'll know that.
Uncles Ronan and Andreas left tonight to go back to New York face the real world tomorrow, but Aunt Stephanie and I and our collective five young children will continue our stay at Bonne Maman and Papa Paul's rural Pennsylvania house this week, through a nasty heat wave. Meantime, we'll fill the time with lots of hanging around, preparing food, playing, helping, arbitering the occasional disagreement, and almost actually having a vacation.