Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let me explain "Lobster Day" - a primer for the clueless...

A photo of those in attendance for Lobster Day, 2010:

Seldom a dull moment, the theme of our lives here in Purcellville, was questioned about 9 years ago.  Katie was one week old.  It was a HOT day in early July - right after the 4th. Don and I were going stir crazy with a 2 year old, a one week old and a crazy dog.  We decided to leave!!

We couldn't go far....we packed up everything we would need for the day (which is a lot when you have a newborn) and headed southeast.  An hour later we were at my parent's house in Springfield; Rocky and Rina knew we were coming and greeted our carload of apparatus (for a day's visit) with open arms.

Prior to our arrival, as we were driving through Gilbert's Corner - taking the scenic route - Don announced that we would stop at the Great Maine Lobster truck that we had seen numerous times before on our travels.  Why?  Don't know...we were sleep deprived, it sounded like a good idea, and we needed to do something we hadn't done before. We pulled up and bought two huge lobsters, and a bag of oysters. Why? I hate seafood, Carleigh was 2 and wouldn't eat it, and Don had never really tasted, or eaten much of it either....but it sounded like a good idea.  Who knew.....9 years later.  It was a rather costly purchase, but we didn't care...

So I called my dad from the road, and explained the purchases we had just made and did he have the supplies and the know how to prepare this stuff?  Yes, yes and more yes were the we headed on.

The day in Springfield was the first relaxing day we had had since Katie was born. They had a baby pool for Carleigh, Jack was being taken care of, Don took a nap and I was able to just hang out with extra help for the baby.  Everyone had a great time.  Just us and my parents. Prior to preparing the dinner, we had the swimming of the lobsters.  We released them into the baby pool - Carleigh and Jack got a kick out of that. The Lobsters and the oysters were consumed by mom, dad and Don.  Hamburgers were put on the grill for Carleigh and I, and we all had a great dinner.

We left to drive home that night, after dark and felt refreshed and relaxed.  It was a great day and we remembered it for a long time.

So long, that we decided to recreate the day a year later.  Katie's one year birthday came and another hot July day.  We decided to do "Lobster Day" again.  This time, my sister and her husband came over to mom and dad's.  Another stop at Great Maine Lobster, another full day at Rocky and Rina's house.  This time there was more fun, and less relaxing.  Lots of silliness with Carleigh and Katie and lots of  family time.  Seafood for those that wanted it, and picnic food for the others.

A tradition was born! "Lobster Day" became our summer holiday.  It would be a day of gluttony!  Lots of food, seafood and picnic food for any that entered.  Silly games and activities would be included.  We basically stuck to family members - but over the years, the attendees have changed and the numbers have fluctuated.  Everyone looks forward to Lobster Day and over the years we have started accumulating decorations and apparel.

Lobster Day was offically the first weekend after Katie's birthday (unless the 4th of July was there).  We couldn't mingle Lobster Day with another holiday.

For the 3rd Lobster Day - we decided to organize a surprise Retirement celebration for my dad.  We invited my uncle and his family from Slippery Rock, PA to come down to surprise his brother.  It was a great Lobster Day - this time celebrated in Purcellville, with dual celebrations occurring.

The Slippery Rock contingent has been at every Lobster Day since! 

The Location of Lobster Day has changed over the years.  It is a summer holiday, but location is to be determined.  

One year, my sister had relatives in from Rhode Island for Lobster Day she sponsored.  Ev's cousin and her family, including two young boys had a great time celebrating Lobster Day with us. We had moon bounces, kiddie pools, sprinklers, water baloon tossing, and of course the obligatory Lobster and LOTS of food.

Another year, we celebrated mom's retirement with lots of surprises.

So there you have it, Lobster Day is our summer holiday.  It is a day to spend with family and close friends eating and acting silly.  You never know what games or activities will appear.  You never know what additional celebrations might pop up on the day. And you never know who will be there. But you are guaranteed to laugh, eat and relax!  With Don in charge of games and activities, there will ALWAYS be something amusing going on.

Pics from Lobster Days past:





This year was no different! This year Lobster Day became a movable holiday.  We were in Hawaii for the annual weekend, so we chose a weekend in August when everyone would be home.  My uncle from Slippery Rock came solo this year. New attendees were Dave and Tammi (Don's cousins who live close by). 

Lobster Day, 2010 included:
The decorations
A watermelon seed spitting contest
Happy Chrissy
Katie eating Oysters
Jack enjoyed meeting the live lobster.
The ladies enjoyed running to the ice cream truck.
The men enjoyed the food inside.
The token lobster - only one to eat it was Don. 
Seldom a Dull Moment!  Always finding ways to make our own fun!  Summer is about over and our focus will shift to a new school year, fall activities, schedules, routines and homework!  It's okay - we've had our fun adventures...time to buckle down and get serious!  
Yeah...right.....who knows what will happen in the next few weeks, but I'm sure it won't be serious and I'm sure it will include some sort of chaos and fun!
Stay Tuned! 


Friday, August 20, 2010

Our last hurrah! Stepping back in time...

So...our last hurrah of Summer 2010 was not decided until about a week ago.  After much discussion about amusement parks, overnight adventures, and browsing the webs for places that we haven't yet been to...we decided to go for the educational! Yep, we're teachers and Carleigh fell in love with U.S. History this year, so we decided to head back in time.  Not to be forgotten that our lovely National parks and battlefields are relatively inexpensive!!

Don and I had been to Gettysburg and Antietam many times.  In fact, Gettysburg was the fifth grade field trip for our students in Sterling, but we hadn't returned in 8 years.  Antietam was another stop that we had happy memories of exploring together, before we were married.

A destination was chosen, a date was picked and the planning began. Not much planning was necessary for this adventure:
  • program the addresses into the GPS
  • determine driving distances to each and the distance between the two 
  • figure out any hidden fees and what lunch would consist of
  • give Katie a crash course on the Civil War prior to the trip, so she could get something out of it
    • She really didn't need much. She had read, Magic Tree House - Civil War on she already had a basic knowledge
  • decide what time to leave and who would let out our dog midday
  • gather some snacks and a cooler of drinks for all 
And we were off.....

Our first stop was at Gettysburg.

(The night before, Don had talked to his sister, Chris, and she decided to join us for the day - it was a great surprise for everyone!)

We awoke at 6:30 a.m., on the road by 7:30 and at our first destination by far, so good.

Well, you know we can't do anything like the normal person.  The Rahns can't just "tour" a Civil War battlefield.  We can't just read the signs and look around......NOoooo.....we have to "become the Civil War Battlefield."  We have to act it out, and find a way to live it.

In order to achieve that goal, our first stop was at the gift shop to purchase these:

The girls were very excited to use the hats throughout our day to "act out" the battles - and we knew they would be great for some photo ops....

The Gettysburg Visitor Center has been remodeled over the past year or so and is BEAUTIFUL!  We chatted with President Lincoln for a while before entering.

We bought the hats and wandered around the museum and then we were on our way to the battlefield. We found a cannon right away.
We found the Virginia Memorial and stopped to visit there.
The girls had a fun time at each stop, trying to figure out where the North and the South were positioned - then they had to reenact it.....
We made our way to Little Round Top. They had a great explanation of how the North used the rocks on the mountain to create barricades, which they would use to protect themselves from enemy fire. We found one.

The story of Devil's Den intrigued the girls - we headed there next.  They had fun playing on all of the large rocks and boulders.
While we were on this journey, Chrissy took on the role of "Bonnet Girl."  She was our token civilian for the day.

Our drive around the 24 mile battlefield was complete. We found lunch and then we were on our way to Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Once we got familiar with the area around Antietam, we headed out to explore the battlefield area.

First stop: Dunker Church - actually survived the battle, to be burned down in 1921 (and then rebuilt).

We then headed to "Bloody Lane."  A narrow road that saw way to much action on the day of the battle in Antietam.  Without a lot of graphic detail, the girls got the picture and thought it was interesting to walk on the exact spots where all of this happened...beneath their feet.......

They had to position themselves....and then the final outcome...
The south actually won this tiny skirmish - only about 3,000-5,000 dead here.

Along the tour of both battlefields, we explained to the girls how they honored the fallen Generals by creating a monument of an upside-down cannon to show the exact location where the general was mortally wounded, or killed.  The parks will tell you how many to look for, but not necessarily give you a location.  It is sort of like a scavenger hunt.  We didn't find them all, but did find quite a few at each park.

At the end of Bloody Lane was a watch tower, we climbed it and enjoyed the view.
Looking out on Bloody Lane.

Next stop...Burnside Bridge.  We had the most fun here.  It was our final stop before heading home.
Once on the other side of the bridge, we found a wall....and from behind, looking out at us....

These "strangers" decided to show themselves, and pretended to be surprised...

They then promised not to share what they had seen...
And we sent them on their way back across the bridge!
What a fun day! It was a great way to end our summer adventures, and gear up for another school year.

School starts for teacher in 5 days, and before we know it we will be on another road trip to northern New York, on the St. Lawrence River for my cousin's wedding.  That adventure is in the middle of September, and the girls are excited because they are both Junior Bridesmaids.

But first...LOBSTER DAY!! Our ninth annual Lobster Day is tomorrow!  What is Lobster Day you ask?  Well, stay tuned and you will find out.....with the just never know......