Philly & “Nerd Camp”
Gracie had her “Nerd Camp” right after school ended. It was supposed to be last year – but was delayed, like everything else in 2020, because of the coronavirus. I think she was expecting a bit more from the program and was a little disappointed. She did well – being separated from us for 5 or 6 days – and for that we were very proud of her! It did feel very strange to have just the other 3 kiddos for the entire week.
We tried to make the most of our week down in Philly – and the other 3 kids definitely enjoyed their cousin time with Melani’s sister’s kids. But the cousins were only there for a couple of days – and then we were on our own. We went to Lancaster – but the weather didn’t co-operate. We also spent a little time at the King of Prussia Mall – which was nice – but it focuses more on just shops – as opposed to activities and entertainment venues like the Destiny USA Mall up in Syracuse. So it is BIG – but there is not as much fun stuff to do there.
Gracie’s nerd camp was originally supposed to be at Villanova University – but was moved to the Alloy Hotel @ the King of Prussia. This was supposedly because Villanova University couldn’t accommodate the program’s COVID-19 protocols. Gracie was disappointed to learn that the venue had changed – so on our way out we did stop at Villanova and toured the campus a little. I am a little familiar with the campus – since I did an internship down there (in a building which has since been purchased by Villanova University) when I was in law school and had done some research at the law library.
A couple of weeks after getting back from Gracie’s nerd camp – Dominick & I were off to Camp Tuscarora for a week of camping with the Boy Scouts. I was very proud of Dominick! He didn’t seem to miss his devices (gaming devices) at all – and seemed to have a really good time! He went swimming on the lake, boating (canoe), threw tomahawks, did some bow shooting, a 5 mile hike and everything in-between! We weathered a pretty intense electrical storm the one night and dealt with a LOT of mud for most of the week.
Dominick, also, really enjoyed the final campfire and all the silly skits the scouts and staff perform. I haven’t seen him laugh so hard in a while!
It was really good to see him enjoy a lot of the timeless activities that boys his age have enjoyed for generations.
While we were away at camp – the rest of the family (i.e. read that “the girls”) had girls week! Don’t ask me what they did – because I really don’t know. All I do know is that it cost me quite a bit. Oh those pesky texts from my Fidelity VISA every time it is used….
The kids are DEFINITELY getting to be more independent! Right before we were to leave for Lake Placid, Gracie & Dominick had the opportunity to go to Niagara Falls on a church sponsored youth group excursion. We had been up there just a couple of years ago (2019) as a family – and spent most of our time on the Canadian side. You can read about that trip here: Family Travel Tips: Niagara Falls 2019. This was a one day bus trip for the kids – and they stayed on the American side. When we went in 2019 we took the Hornblower boat ride up to the falls – which is basically the Canadian equivalent of the Maid of the Mist. Well, last year we saw in the news that the Maid of the Mist boats were upgraded – and are completely electric now! The kids were excited (and I was jealous) to ride on them and experience the falls so closely again. It was a looOooong day for them for sure – as we had to drop them off @ 5:30 AM and pick them up at about 11:30 PM.
It was also momentous for Melani & me – as it was the farthest away any of the kids had ever been from us! However, we all survived – and the kids had a wonderful time!
We were able to sneak up to the Lake Placid area for a few days this summer. It wasn’t a trip that was planned much in advance – so the accommodations were a little less than desirable. Oh, and the weather didn’t really co-operate much either…. Regardless, it was nice to get away and out into nature a little!
It has been many years since we had been up to the Lake Placid area! Way before we had kids!
Usually it is me that gets to do all the activities with the older kids while Melani watches the little one. However, I had done a ropes course with the kids a few years ago in the Carousel Mall (Destiny USA) – so it really was Melani’s turn. And she got rewarded for waiting! The setting of this ropes course (Experience Outdoors) was waaaAaay better than the one I got to do in the Carousel Center!
So Annie, Sophie & I watched from the ground as Gracie, Dominick & Melani OWNED the ropes course – and completed all 3 levels. I was very impressed with all of them – but ESPECIALLY Melani. It’s skills & abilities like this, as well as Melani’s remarkable marksmanship with a paintball gun, that give me pause and some credence to the rumors I have heard for years from her extended family members of Russian descent that she has received some kind of super advanced special operations KGB spy training back in the day…. It sure seems irrefutable to me!
So the only question that really remains is whether Melani is aware of such past & hides from me – or whether she has had a mind-wipe and truly possesses no recollection of such events or past….
High Falls Gorge
With such a significant age gap between the oldest and youngest kid in the family – it is tough sometimes to find a hike that is both challenging & interesting, yet within the abilities of all. So we settled on a hike @ High Falls Gorge right outside of Lake Placid. It is private property park – so it was not cheap ($70 for the whole family) – but was worth it because of all the bridges & waterfalls! Take a look at the pictures below to see what I mean.
The property was very well maintained and the gift shop was quaint. It reminded me a lot of Natural Bridge State Park – which was actually also a private property park for a long time (and even owned by Thomas Jefferson for a while) – before it became a state park in about 2015. We thoroughly enjoyed High Falls Gorge and would go there again when we find ourselves in the Lake Placid area.
Beach on Mirror Lake
There was a nice little public beach that was on the far-end of Mirror lake that the kids really enjoyed. It was a sandy beach and it was really close to the town. It was very easy to spend some time at the beach – walk back up main street and get some food & souvenirs on our way back up to the hotel.
Main Street, Lake Placid runs down the side of Mirror lake. Of course, the Williamson children found a lot of great souvenir shops to peruse and find some irresistible treasures that they just had to bring home with them. We were also impressed with the Lake Placid Public Library – which is also located right on Main Street adjacent to Mirror Lake. It is a very cozy library that has a lot of interesting nooks & crannies!
Alas – another trip to the Adirondacks in which we really didn’t have a lot of luck spotting a moose. We will keep trying! Last time (2020) we saw something – which I firmly believe to be – a baby moose around Thendara / Old Forge. Some dispute it, but I know what I saw…. You can read all about that adventure here: Family Adirondack Adventure #3
Someone Turned 5!!!
We can’t believe the littlest one is 5 now! Wow! You can see my birthday post for her here: Happy Birthday Sophie! Here, I feature all of the best pictures of Sophie throughout the year.
Sophie’s Lotion-Potion #5!
Sophie is showing a keen interest in concocting lotions lately. She will mix various toiletries – and food products – to make some AMAZING holistic lotions! Hum… Mom – didn’t I used to make POTIONS when I was a kid?? Maybe there is some genetic component to all of this.
One of Sophie’s lotions burned/stung Melani’s skin. So if you notice some patches on our skin – don’t be afraid that it might be something contagious. It is probably just a mild chemical burn from one of Sophie’s lotions. Why test cosmetics on animals when you have family members that just find themselves powerless to resist all that cuteness and can be easily duped into being your test subjects….
I think she might have her own line of cosmetics soon. What do you think of Sophie’s Lotion-Potion # 5 …. It does seem to have a certain ring to it!
With summer comes more free time for the kids – and they have definitely spent a LOT of time making artwork! Below are some of the highlights of their endeavors!
I’ve been busy writing posts for some of the other niche websites that we have been building. It is exciting to see the number of visitors growing pretty dramatically over the last couple of years!
We’ve also begun to sell some t-shirts on Amazon as well. We are just starting – but it has been fun to design the t-shirts with the kids! Check out some of the designs here: Merchandise