Growing Out On A Limb

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Old Orchard Beach V

Oliver spent most early mornings and right before bed doing this… puzzles! 

And here is a shot of our cottage.  It was a little small but it worked really well for us.  It was tucked just far away enough from traffic that you didn’t hear it constantly but close enough that it was a short walk to the beach.  All week Oliver said “the beach is right across the road” when talking about going back to our cottage and beach. 

On our last day of vacation, we decided to go to the pier and hang out for the morning.  It’s on the same stretch of beach and just three minutes down the road but I thought it would be nice to say we spent some time and have lunch at the main attraction of Old Orchard Beach. 

So we set up our umbrella and beach chairs and hung out at the pier. 

More running and splashing and sand play! 

Emery really liked running underneath the pier. 

By the time lunch rolled around, we had people within ten feet of us in all directions so it was quite a bit more crowded than our beach.  Good for people watching though! 

We had to have lunch at the pier one day.  The pier fries were calling my name (and they were oh so good)!  The boys didn’t seem to mind the pizza too much…

We took a drive because it was nap time and ended up at Crescent Beach State Park.  It was a nice beach but the water seemed colder than our beach and it was a bit weedy. 

Can’t a mommy get a little sun without being used as a jungle gym?! 

Then we headed home and went for one more swim at our own beach.  We took some time for some fun family pics.  Here are just a few. 

Sticks can write in the sand?? 

I love this pic of Oliver running at full tilt.  He was pretty much in high gear anytime we were in the water. 

So all in all a really great family vacation and a spot we have both said we would return to.  It’s such a beautiful area, there are so many things to do that don’t cost a lot, and so many things to do within a short drive of wherever you are staying.  Oliver is still talking about everything we saw and did, which is a great sign that it impressed him as well. 

I miss the beach already!


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Old Orchard Beach IV

On a beautiful Thursday morning in beach town, we headed to Cape Elizabeth.  We found it best to get out the door and doing something quite quickly in the morning or the boys got antsy and on each other but they don’t need a lot to distract them at this point – wide open spaces and an imagination will do it most times.  But I knew there was a lighthouse, fort, and a couple of beaches in Cape Elizabeth so it seemed like a good destination on an early morning. 

Fort Williams is a beautiful spot.  There are a few old forts on the grounds, at least one that you can get into and explore.  Oliver thought the lighthouse was pretty neat, even though we couldn’t go in this one.  This spot has beautiful scenery too.  There are a few short trails as well, although the boys got antsy to get to the beach so we didn’t explore them.  Next time. 

And a beautiful lighthouse shot. 

Then we went to Willard’s Beach.  It wasn’t the nicest beach we had been too – a little bit rocky and weedy – but it’s not a typical tourist destination and it’s always neat to check out where the locals hang out.  And the scenery was nice, with the boats floating in the background. 

We went back to our beach for the afternoon and just hung out.  Lots of swimming, kicking the ball around, and sand play.   

They were playing nicely together at this instant.  I think.  I guess it’s typical for siblings (of any age?) but they are so sweetly playing together in one moment, making my heart melt, and then bouncing things off each other’s heads the next.   

Oh and pushing too. 

Every day, when it was almost supper time, we would return to our cottage and turn on Sponge Bob.  It’s really not age appropriate but it was new to the kids so it took their attention just enough that we could easily get supper ready and on the table.  Then it was a shower (challenge) and bed. 

Not a lot of pictures on this day but we wanted to end the week fairly low key and just hanging out outside.  And that we did. 


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Old Orchard Beach III

During my pre-vacation googling I found a place called York’s Wild Kingdom.  It’s part zoo and part amusement park, with many of the rides geared to young children.  After seeing some 70s-looking ads on TV, I was worried it might turn out to be a stinker but we decided to at least go to the zoo and go from there.  After all, their site said they have an elephant!

We drove around a bit while we waited for the zoo to open and discovered that York also has a beautiful stretch of beach, not to mention crazy big impressive houses.  We stumbled across the Nubble lighthouse so got out and climbed around the rocks for a bit.

Oliver loves to climb and jump.  He was testing out his new Lightning McQueen sneakers.

Then it was onto the zoo!  It wasn’t terribly big and we never did find an elephant but there were lots of birds, monkeys, a tiger, alligators… lots of fun things to look at.


Emery liked to climb the fences.  See the tiger laying in the back?  


Oliver was so excited to feed the ducks, the goats, and the deer.  He was a little hesitant once they actually started coming up to him (aggressive little punks) but he was brave and especially loved the little baby goats.


Emery wasn’t too taken by the animals but there were plenty of puddles to splash around in so he wasn’t bored!

The rides looked kind of old but Oliver was excited to try them so we upgraded our tickets.  I figured they have to be up to some safety code, even if they look a bit old… right?  I love fair rides so I was excited to go on a few with him (even if they were pint-sized) but some of them had a height/weight restriction and he had to ride himself.  He impressed me so much by jumping right on without any hesitation.

He had no fear on the roller coaster (but hung on pretty tightly), even through the quick, jerky section.  His first ride on a roller coaster was such a success that, when I later told him he was allowed one more ride before we left, he chose to go on it again!

We got on the bumper cars and laughed the whole time.  He kept pointing out who we should bump next.

Most of the rides were too big for Emery but these little bumper boats were perfect.

Daddy and Oliver got in the go-karts.  I’m not sure who had more fun!


So York’s Wild Kingdom was a nice surprise and a fun time for all of us.  We left early afternoon and took a nice drive up the coast to get back to our cottage.  It turns out there are beautiful beaches all the way up the coast… York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport… and every town has beautiful homes, scenery, and shops.  I’m not sure how prices compare but those areas have been more recently built up into tourist areas so things look newer and fresher and more quaint, so definitely piqued our interest as a summer destinations another year.

We spent the rest of the afternoon … at the beach!

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Old Orchard Beach II

It was a little sprinkly on Tuesday morning (the only rain we saw all week during the day) so we drove into Portland.  I found the Children’s Museum on a google before the trip and knew it would be a perfect way to spend a few hours on a rainy day.

We walked a trail along the waterfront while we waited for the museum to open.

Or we tried to – it just happened that the trail was along train tracks (a narrow gauge train organization that does daily tours along the waterfront), which were a total distraction for the kids so we didn’t get far.

That was fine too.  Emery got on board the train that is used during the waterfront tours.

Oliver thought it was so neat to get on a real train.  He was pointing out the couplings and looking for the buffers.

And then there was this:

All of those new things around them and they sat down to marvel at a loader.  Boys will be boys, I guess!

The Children’s Museum was … incredible.  The boys were engaged immediately and were mesmerized the whole time, running from station to station.  Oliver might not yet be taking away all the teachings they intend for the activities, but I still love to see him so curious and interested and taken by the displays and activities.  And just when I think I have him figured out, he takes interest in something I thought would completely bore him.  Like turning a wheel to make a conveyor belt move play blocks of hay around.  He stood for the longest time, just captured by it.  I guess that makes it a learning day for both of us.

These are just a few pics of the many things that kept them going.  First, the ball room… ramps and slides and tubes that sucked them up and moved them across the room.

The play kitchen.  (I looked at all these stations with the small toys and thought, “Aren’t they finding plastic bananas all over this place all day long?!”).

Pretty awesome for two little guys (and one big one?)… a huge fire truck, complete with fire hats and fire coats, flashing lights and sirens.  I’m quite sure Oliver was in heaven.

Emery liked the toddler play area.

There were aquariums of turtles and fish with cameras that the kids could run and a touch tank that Oliver wasn’t at all interested in.  I thought he might be because, after prompting him to touch seaweed, shells, etc at the beach, his new thing all week was to say, “Look at this… do you want to touch it?  It’s really smooth!” and he would wait for your reaction to touching it.  But still no go on the touch tank, maybe because of all the other distractions.

Then we went for lunch at a place called $3 Deweys in downtown Portland.  It was just a place I saw on a tourist brochure and thought sounded interesting.  It was a quaint little pub, pretty typical pub atmosphere (and they sold Keith’s… awesome).  Then I noticed the explanation for the name … $3 Dewey’s … on the back of their menu.

We had a pretty good laugh at that and thanked goodness that our kids weren’t old enough to understand.  Not a big deal when your kids are 3 and 1 but it would bring up some interesting questions from older ones!

Decent food though and they welcomed the kids so I would go back.  Especially with this smiley little guy!

By the time we got back to our cottage the sun was back out in full force so we spent the rest of it … at the beach, of course!

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Old Orchard Beach I

Ahh.  Vacation.

Here we are in Old Orchard Beach.  We are renting a little cottage, just across the road from the beach.  We’re in Pine Point… not right in the heart of it and actually far enough away from the pier that the boys wouldn’t make the walk there.  It’s perfect.  The pier is too bustling for the kids (and us, to tell the truth) and most things are not for their age group anyway but it is only a 4-minute drive when we decide we want to visit the crowds.

Our little cottage has (almost) everything we need.  We were a little worried about the boys sharing a room but we stagger their bedtimes and Oliver is surprisingly accepting of it.  As much as I love to camp in a tent, if I had to tent for a whole week with kids that young I might jump off the pier.  It’s definitely one of those things that’s good in small doses at these ages.

Brian and the boys have started the last two early mornings at the beach while I clean up from breakfast.  It’s us, the dog walkers, and the joggers.  These pics are from yesterday, our first full day here.  We mostly spent it at the beach with a quick trip to the pier in the morning to wander around and get coffee.   Does this look like the face of a kid that likes the beach?  I think so!

Emery has been to the beach but it’s all new to him.  He loves getting dirty in the sand and has little fear of the water (which means we have to watch him closely).

I’ve always liked playing in the sand so it’s fun to sit and do it with the kids.  They don’t care too much about fancy sand castles yet but we build mountains and Oliver makes roads on them with his trucks.

Snack time at the beach!  I love this picture because they’re eating their snacks out of their hats.  Hey… whatever works.

Today we did the beach thing in the morning and then headed to Ferry Beach State Park.  It’s just down the coast from where we are, on the same beach.  I know it won’t always be this easy to occupy the boys but $12 for a change of pace, a different beach, and an afternoon of fun?  I’ll take it.

We started out with a picnic.  Mmm… peanut butter and jam.

Then we had a “walk in the woods”.  There are a few short trails here so it is perfect for the kids.  Oliver loved the bridges and “water systems” (a term he used several times today?!).

The “let’s appease mommy and smile for a picture” shot.

I might have to frame this one.  Handsome boy.

The beach is a small walk from the car but it’s really easy to take when you round the bend and see this leading you to the sand…

I think they were getting along in this picture.  Emery really just wants to do everything Oliver does but manages to get in big brother’s way a lot.

Oliver could spend all day at the beach, no doubt.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy but we have a few ideas so we can make the most of it.  More to come!