We're Moving Up to Kindergarten


Today was Lewie's first day of Kindergarten...  It was tough bringing him to a new school and starting a new routine.  Still, after all my anxiety, his first day was a SUCCESS.  He reported that his first day was "GREAT."  He likes his teacher, he likes his classmates, and he loves being able to warm his food in the microwave.  (Oh, it's the little things in life...)

He didn't have any homework for his first day, but I'm sure that will change as we progress further into the school year.  For now, I'm just happy that both of us made it through this milestone...

Dear God, I pray that you take care of Little Lewie on his first day of kindergarten.

I pray that his teachers show him empathy, patience, and grace...

I pray that he acquire a love of learning and a desire to try his very best...

I pray that he makes new friends and always has the confidence to be himself.

And I pray that he is loved, nurtured, warm, and safe in his new environment.  Amen.

It's hard to let go.... It's times like these when I'm thankful for the quiet comfort that comes from answered prayers.  Here's to wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, positive, engaging, and fun new school year!

Profile of My Six Year-Old


Last year I started a tradition of "interviewing" my five year-old and writing down all of his milestones.  Now another year has come and gone and I find myself writing about my (gulp) six year- old.  Oh, watching my son grow up is bitter-sweet for me.  I'm so proud of my little guy--his sweetness, his enthusiasm, his joy, and his empathy.  He's my best buddy, and we have lots of special and even "deep" conversations when we're together.  Still, I miss the baby days of grabbing his hands to help keep his balance and having him cuddle with me until he falls asleep in my lap...  I try to savor the moments, but they still seem to go by much too fast!

Drying off at Veteran's Memorial Park.

Lewie, you are a people person to the max.  You enjoy talking, and you want company wherever you go.  If you're watching a cartoon or even one of your train "YouTube" videos, you ask Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, or all of us to join you.  If you're playing with your Legos, you'll often exclaim that you're "missing" a piece--your secret ploy to get someone to sit by your side and be with you.

You are thoughtful and kind.  This year we started taking you shopping to pick out presents for your friends and family, and it turns out that you're really good at choosing the perfect gift.  You told Daddy to buy me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day (how did you know?), and when we shopped together for Father's Day, you saw the fireworks display at the supermarket, and said, "Mommy, I want to get him this!"  (You know Daddy way too well!)

You are passionate.  Your love for trains only seems to grow stronger each year, and we're now realizing that your hobby is not a fad.  While you're slowly starting to grow out of Chuggington and even Thomas (though you still like movies like "The Blue Mountain Mystery"), you have not stopped playing with trains.  Now your interests have switched to Lego trains and Lionel trains (which are harder on our wallets) as you see them on YouTube and exclaim that you'd love to get TRAIN X for (insert holiday).  Your love of trains have even prompted us to make special trips near railroad stations--two of which are happening this fall--the Stasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania and the Green Mountain Railroad in Vermont.  It seems that your excitement has now gotten the entire family involved :)

You are inquisitive.  When Uncle Terry passed away, you had so many questions to ask about God, Jesus, and heaven.  Your innocent questions forced me to ponder deeper answers to "the meaning of life" and "why are we here?"  The birth of your youngest cousin Lily also prompted questions like "where do babies come from?" and "why can't daddies have boy babies and mommies have girl babies?"  You've admitted you would like to have a baby yourself, but I reminded you that 1) you're too young, and 2) boys don't have babies.

I suppose I can go on and on...but now, it's time for your list of favorites:

Eating strawberries at March Farm.

Favorite Book:
The Little Engine that Could

Favorite Cartoons:
Thomas the Train--sometimes
Sponge Bob
Paw Patrol
Peppa Pig

Favorite Colors:
Pink and orange

Favorite Dessert:
Chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream, and Oreo cookie crumbles on top

Favorite Food:
"Well, it's dairy, but my favorite food is macaroni and cheese."

Favorite Friend:
"I like everybody, Mommy"

Favorite Game:

Favorite Movie:
The Lego Movie
The Polar Express

Favorite Number:

Favorite Pastime:
The Lionel Polar Express Train

Favorite Place:
The Shoreline Trolley Museum
The Danbury Railway Museum
The Naugatuck Valley Railroad
Mommy's and Daddy's workplace
Any parks (where there's kids to play with)
Any hotel (especially ones with elevators)
Any pool or beach

Favorite Sayings:
"Daddy, are you going to lawn the mow?"  (We're to blame for this one.  We never corrected you.)
"Mommy, you're never gonna a believe this."
"Mommy, you made my day by saying that."
"Stop interrupting my good time."
"Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy."
"On aboard." (Instead of "All aboard.")
"Mommy, can I watch train movies?"  (YouTube train movies...)
"Let me show you the details on this train.  Also, you can hear the crew talk sounds..."  (This is you creating your own train YouTube video just like you watch from Eric Siegel from http://ericstrains.com/.)

Favorite Songs:
"Best Day of My Life" - American Authors
"Happy" - Pharrell Williams
"Let it Go" - Idina Menzel - Frozen

Milestones (from Age 5):
First time "jumping" off the swings
First time parasailing
First time swimming underwater with a mask
First time getting dressed by yourself
First time putting a 100 piece puzzle together
First time making a  Lego car, camper, train, boat, etc. by following directions (all by yourself)
First time writing your full name
First time playing soccer (although you've decided this is not your thing!)

Lewie, every year it's a joy to watch you grow.  For the first time this year, you've already surpassed Mommy.  When we bought you your Lego train set for your birthday, in no time at all, you had the train wired and moving around on its train tracks.  I don't even think you looked at the instructions. (Not having a mechanical mind at all, I was amazed by your genius;  even daddy was impressed!)

I don't know where next year will take us little guy, but your first day of kindergarten is coming up next week.  As always, I look forward to many more new and exciting adventures with you.  Just do me one favor--don't grow up too fast!

Forever yours,


Meeting a Dear Bloggy Friend for the First Time


Since I started blogging back in 2009/2010, I've been an avid reader of my favorite blog, Mama's Little Chick.  It didn't take long before we both noticed that we lived in the same state, and so we vowed to meet up one day.  Well, yesterday, after a four-year long, bloggy friendship, we did just that!  (You can read her post about our get-together here.)

We became instant friends online because we both shared the same values--a love of family and friends, nature, God and all of God's creatures, and, of course, our little ones.  She is a very sweet, spiritual, and inspirational person, and perhaps, my favorite part of her blog is her uplifting quotes that remind us to live in the moment and be thankful for our blessings. 

Yesterday brought the "online" world to life.  While I had the chance to finally meet my long-time bloggy friend, Lewie had a chance to meet her daughter, Little Chick.  It was such a happy, exciting moment!  Since we decided to take our little ones swimming, we met at a wonderful hotel that provides day swim passes for use of their outdoor and indoor swimming pool.   As we approached the pool, Little Chick was the first one to spot us: "Miss Annette and Little Lewie are here!" she said excitedly.  Her warm, cheerful enthusiasm set the mood for the rest of the day.

Both Little Chick and Lewie "hit it off" from the start.  While Little Chick is a few years older than Lewie, they are both born in August and have the same extraverted, friendly, and warm personalities that are known to be characteristic of "Leos."  They both enjoyed swimming together, and Little Lewie left proclaiming that Little Chick was his "new best friend."

While the kiddos were in the pool, my dear bloggy friend and I also had a chance to talk, reminisce about happy posts on our blogs, and learn more about each other.  We were amazed at just how much we had in common, and we both ended the day knowing that we would enjoy many more visits. 

In my four short years of blogging, I am sad to say that I've seen many bloggy friends come and go.  Many have stopped their blogs or moved on to other things, and I would be lying if I didn't say that I missed them dearly.  I suppose "real" life is very much the same way.  Still, I'm happy to say that I have one long-time bloggy friendship that's survived "the test of time."   Now our online posts to each other will be complemented by real life get-togethers.  To use Mama Hen's very own quote:

"God blesses us all with special friendships.
It is up to us to nourish them and watch them grow."
~Mama Hen

Happy 6th Birthday Lewie!


Dear Lewie,

Today you officially turn six.  We celebrated your birthday a bit early this year (since we couldn't reserve the Veteran's Memorial Park Pavilion for a weekend in August), but you certainly didn't mind.  All your friends, family, and even two teachers were at the party, so you were in your glory. 

Still, your original request was to celebrate your birthday at the Danbury Railway Museum and the Shoreline Trolley Museum. So, we promised you that while your "big" party would be at the park, we would have a smaller party on your real birthday at your beloved museums.  Thus, on Saturday, Daddy took you to the Danbury Railway Museum (we have season passes) and on Sunday--Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, and Aunty Kiki celebrated your big day at the Shoreline Trolley Museum with lunch at Nellie Greens.

Aunty Kiki, Mommy, and you waiting for lunch...

You and Daddy checking out the marina

You and Grammy

Your birthday surprise - a flourless chocolate cake

Checking out exhibits at the Trolley Muesum

Daddy pretending to push a trolley

The three of us waiting for our trolley ride...

You pretending to fix trolleys in the train yard...

Lewie, each year I become more and more impressed by you and amazed at the person you're becoming.  You are sweet, sensitive, friendly, smart, and good natured.  You love being the "funny guy," and will do just about anything to make us and your little friends laugh.  Still, you have a big heart, and you never say a mean thing to anyone.  In your mind, everyone is your friend, and everyone is worth saying "hello" to, no matter their age. 

Just recently, you've learned the fine art of manners, and everyone, including your teachers, seem to be in awe of your maturity.  You tell people to "Have a good day," or "Have a nice summer," you hold doors for girls, politely saying "Ladies first," and you never chew with your mouth full.  Even more, you greet everyone, especially your teachers, with big hugs, and you're always thinking about what will "make their day."  On one particular morning, I dropped you off at summer camp, only to find that a little boy couldn't wait to give you a hug.  Then, all of a sudden, all of your little friends (I think there were eight in total) decided to stop their play and give you hugs.  It was amazing to watch, and I just wanted to "bottle up" that moment forever.

I am ever-so-thankful, that even at age six, the most important people in your life are still Mommy and Daddy.  If given the chance, you would prefer to spend a day with us instead of going to school or summer camp, and every day that we drop you off, you still ask if we can pick you up early and smother us with farewell hugs and kisses.  "Just one more hug," you'll request as I start walking for the exit.  "Of course," I'll answer, delighted to know that I'm still your "number one."

Lately, even on play dates, you request that I be part of the action.  Twenty-four seven I am requested to play tag, to jump on the trampoline, to push you on the swing, to watch a movie, to swim, to run next to you on your bike, or to play a game with you.  At times, your requests can be tiring, but recently a parent reminded me how lucky I am... "I think it's so sweet that he wants to spend time with you.  Now that I have two, my children have each other, and I often feel left out of the mix."  Another parent of an only child, echoed the same sentiment:  "You're lucky that he wants to play with you.  My son seems to be bored with me. I think he's starting to show more interest in his daddy."

Lewie, I LOVE that at this age, I can still see the little toddler in you.  There are times that you still ask us to carry, cuddle, and sleep with you, and although we are constantly reminded at school to teach you "self-help" skills, I am reluctant to make you grow up too fast.  What's the harm in carrying you to bed or pushing you on the swing?  At first I thought it was a sign that you were being lazy, but now I realize it's your way of wanting to still stay close to us.  "If you don't push me on the swing, then who will I have to talk to?" you ask me tearfully.  "I don't want to be by myself."

Still, for the "toddler" I see in you, there is also a little boy that is emerging ever so quickly.  At the beginning of age five, you were playing with your wooden trains.  Now they have taken a back seat to your Lionel Polar Express Train, your Thomas Trackmaster trains, and even more recently, your Lego trains.  More and more, you have an interest in building, and electronics seems to come naturally for you.  When your first Lego train set arrived, you immediately wanted to see the "receiver," and before building the actual train, you already had your own version hooked up and going around and around in circles on your train track.  "Did you teach him how to put this together?" I asked your Daddy.  "No.  I only put in the batteries.  He did the rest," Daddy replied.

Your favorite past-time (gulp) is watching "YouTube" videos.  When you first turned five, you wanted to see train pictures on the Internet, and so we looked up pictures through Google Images and saved them to the desktop.  A few months later, you watched your first train video on YouTube, and you were hooked.  Today, you enjoy learning about Lionel trains from ericstrains.com, watching silly Thomas the Trainmaster episodes from "Ramahfool Productions," and watching Lego videos of Chase McCain.  You have also developed an interest in "crashing," and so on a weekly, if not daily, basis you are asking me to type in "Lego trains crashing into...water, each other, off bridges, etc."  I've been assured by Daddy that watching Lego trains crash is a very healthy "boy thing."

Now I often see you pretending like you're creating your own YouTube videos.  You'll sit in the living room for hours talking to a pretend audience about your trains.  Like ericstrains.com, you will tell us about the features of your Lionel Polar Express or your Thomas Trackmaster train and then do a demonstration of how it runs.  You never forget at the end of your video to say..."If you'd like to learn more about this train, go to Lewie's trains dot com." 

Lewie, I suppose I can go on and on about your antics this year and the many reasons why I both love you and am proud of you.  You are growing up so fast, and yet, you still, at the moment, want to spend every waking hour with us.  What a gift!  I hope you know that I'll always be your number one fan. It is a joy to watch you grow up, and I am grateful for every new day that you greet me in your happy, chipper voice, "Good morning, Mommy!"  I feel truly blessed.

I love you forever and ever and always.


The Fine Art of "One-Upmanship"


My girl friends and I like to support each other; we faithfully give each other compliments like "You look beautiful in that dress," or "I love your blog," etc. etc.

Men, however, are different with each other.  How so?  Well, my husband explains that he and his friends engage in the fine art of one-upmanship.  You know, the practice of outdoing one another or trying to get an advantage "by doing, saying, or having better things than someone else."

At first, I didn't understand how that could work.  "Wouldn't that person be your enemy?" I asked naively.  After all, not many women like to feel in competition with their friends.  Even more, not many women like women that "tell them" that their (fill in the blank) is better (i.e. Your blog is okay, but you should really check out mine because I have beautiful pictures and the most adorable kids; plus, did I tell you how many followers I have?)  You get the idea.

I took my husband's wisdom and tucked it in my brain along with all the other items I've marked as "useless, trivial knowledge."  Still, I didn't forget...

Last week, my good friend Sue and I decided to make our annual beach trip with the boys--same beach, same routine.  (There's something to be said for traditions...)  For the past few years, we're used to our boys playing nonstop until the back seat looks something like this on the ride home:

This year, however, the back seat wasn't quiet anymore.  It seemed that no matter how much swimming and playing they did, they just kept on getting reenergized...perhaps by their imaginations or perhaps because they were too busy entertaining each other.  I listened in and heard this:
                                           (Unfortunately, my video taping was discovered...)

Yes, there you have it folks--the fine art of one-upmanship between friends.  I never heard it before, but it seems that my five year-old and his six year-old friend are learning how to "talk the talk," so to speak.  There was no anger or hostility.  In fact, their back and forth bantering seemed natural...even fun.  They're still too young to know what the word one-upmanship means, but evidently, they're not too young to master this very delicate art form of guy bonding.

I still don't think I'll be practicing one-upmanship with my girlfriends any time soon...but at least I now understand how it works and can even get a chuckle out of it :)

Have you heard any interesting one-upmanship conversations lately?

Missing Our Beloved Uncle Terry in Delaware


Last weekend, we made our annual trip to Delaware to visit with friends and family.  My aunt and uncle moved to Delaware close to 20 years ago, so we make this trip every year or twice a year if possible...  My best friend Mary Ann also moved from Connecticut to Southern New Jersey about twelve years ago, and so if time permits, we usually try to see each other during the trip too.

This year, however, our little "family reunion" visit was missing a beloved family member--Uncle Terry.  He passed away the day after Easter this year, and so it was hard not to feel genuine sadness for his absence.  When we arrived, Little Lewie immediately started looking at pictures of Uncle Terry in the house and asking about him and God. 

"Can Uncle Terry hear us in Heaven?" my son Lewie asked.
"Sure he can," I answered.  "We can say a little prayer to him right now."
"Can we hear Uncle Terry?"
"Well, it's a little harder to hear our loved ones in heaven," I answered, "but sometimes they show us signs that they are with us."
"Where is heaven?" my son continued to ask.
"It's up there," I said, pointing to the sky.
"So you mean Uncle Terry can fly?"

As you can imagine, our trip was filled with these types of questions, and Lewie asked them every day during our short stay.  My Aunt let Lewie pick out a race car from my Uncle Terry's NASCAR collection, and Lewie picked out my Uncle Terry's favorite car--lucky number 10!  Still at the end of our trip, Lewie insisted that the car be left at my aunt's house.  "That's my Uncle Terry's car," he proclaimed, "I can't take it." 

This year, we took lots of pictures of our trip, including my aunt's house and her motor home.  The motor home, sadly, is for sale since she can't envision herself camping with it anymore, and although the house is not on the market, my mom seems to think that it's only a matter of time before my aunt decides to move to a smaller house.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, Little Lewie insists that we buy the motor home.  I sure wish we had the money to keep the family tradition!

My mom (on the left), my Aunty Irene (my aunt from Delaware), my Aunty Kiki (back) and Aunt Karen

My handsome husband...feeling a little outnumbered by all the women in my family.

Lewie sleeping in the campervan.

Another rare sight.  (Usually he's the first one up.)

Swimming in the pool...

Mason--a friend of the family.  (Lewie loves spending time with her each year.)

Cousin Frankie  (He just turned 13!)

The three kiddos at play...

My Aunt's camper van

My uncle's last name was "Gillette."  (There's an actual Gillette's Castle in Connecticut.)

My Aunty Irene in the campervan.  She made this trip wonderful for us.


Lewie and Frankie chillin out on the side porch.

A much better picture of the two cousins!

Lewie lost his second tooth on this trip.  We think it may be in the pool somewhere...

A view of the field across the street

A last photo of Lewie and me before we leave to go home...
My aunt, in her usual style, made the trip to Delaware wonderful for us.  There was always plenty of yummy food to eat and fun things to do... Her home will always be a "home away from home."  I sure hope she decides to stay here, but if not, we'll always have many wonderful memories of our special visits.  My Uncle Terry, along with this home, will be missed but never forgotten.

Celebrating Lewie's 6th Birthday a Bit Early...


My son's birthday is on August 11th, but this year we celebrated it a bit early...  

A few months ago, we decided to celebrate Lewie's birthday at this gem of a park close to our house.  The park, Veteran's Memorial Park and Lakeview Lodge, has a new pavilion with clean, air conditioned bathrooms, a large playground, and a little beach along a spring-fed lake.  Quite honestly, it's the best place we know for children of all ages, so we knew Lewie's 6 year-old friends (along with their toddler siblings) would all have a good time. 

When I made the reservations back in May, I was surprised to learn that there were no more weekend days left in August.  My choices were July 12 or September 6th, so after a little consideration, we finally decided that it would be better to celebrate Lewie's birthday earlier instead of later...

So, this weekend, we packed up to celebrate Lewie's birthday at the park, and we couldn't have been happier.  We had a beautiful 80 degree day with low humidity, and most of our friends were available to come celebrate in the festivities.  (Even two of Lewie's teachers from preschool joined us!)  We ordered pizza and a cake, and last minute, I was able to find someone to drive an ice cream truck to our event.  (He only charged $20 plus the cost of Good Humor ice cream.) 

My favorite part of the day, of course, was watching Little Lewie enjoy himself with all of his friends.  However, a close tie was being able to treat all of my friends and family members to ice cream.  The minute they saw the truck, I heard a lot of people mumble, "Oh, I don't have any money," or "We can't buy anything today."  When I told everyone that the ice cream was on us, however, their facial expressions changed.  Even parents were excited to pick something out!  All of our friends and family were so appreciative, and it made me thrilled to know that such a "small" gesture (in my mind) could bring so much happiness.

Yes, Little Lewie's Flip, Flop, Splash Birthday Bash was a success.  He may not be six just yet, but we agreed to celebrate his birthday one more time (on a much smaller scale) in August too when it gets closer.  In the meantime, we had a chance to spend time with many people that we haven't seen since last year.  There's nothing better than rekindling those special friendships that make life so sweet.

Little Lewie enjoying some sun before his party...

Little Lewie and Miss Kristen, one of his teachers from preschool. 
(Miss Kristen even allowed Lewie to pick out his present on her smart phone during recess one day.)

Our special friend Debbie with her two cute kiddos.

My cousin with his daughter, Crystal.

My mother-in-law with cousin Lily, our newest family addition.

Lewie and his preschool teacher, Miss Vicki.  (She bought him a special train book.)

Lewie and his two cousins, Sarah and Brooklynn

The ice cream truck has arrived!

Sponge Bob is the best!

Chillin' out in the truck.  (No pun intended.)

Testing some cake first...

Proof that my husband and I were really at this event.

LEGO candles for Lewie!

"That's a funny joke, Sarah."

"Make a wish!"

Very good cake!  Could my husband have cut the piece any larger?

I love this pic.  The true essence of being a six year old boy.

More presents...

A bow for Lewie...

Playing with LEGOS after the party because we're just too excited.

Playing with LEGOS again first thing in the morning.  (It took a day and a half to build his entire LEGO train station.)