Seven Days Until Spring


It's ironic and kind of funny that I'm posting a snowy picture like this for Spring.  The reality is that March has brought us higher snowfall totals than Dec., Jan., and Feb. combined.  In the past week, Connecticut, along with the rest of the Northeast, has been hit by two Nor'easters, which means lots of snow, lots of accidents, lots of fallen trees and branches, lots of power outages, lots of flooding, and quite a few snow days--like this one!

This was a Christmas Tree that we planted in our yard when I was twelve years-old.  It was only four feet back then.

Still, there's an end to this snowy weather in sight; signs of spring are all around us.  Robins have been visiting our yard daily; crocuses, daffodils, and tulips are trying to peek from the ground, and days, especially after we just set our clocks ahead, are longer.  Insects, unfortunately, (especially those abhorred deer ticks) are still around, too.  Evidently, our winter never got cold enough for long enough to kill some of these pesky critters off.

So, in the midst of our second Nor'easter, I'm daydreaming about all that makes spring great.  Here are just a few of the many activities and events I hope to enjoy, and if I visualize them enough, I think they're bound to happen!

1)  All Things Easter  I've already decorated our house with pastel colored eggs, bunnies, and chicks.  Next weekend, we've been invited to an Easter Egg Hunt, and we usually host one of our own--but usually in late April when it's a little warmer.

Our family will go to our typical Easter Mass and then celebrate with family at the Matabesett Canoe Club.  We'll exchange flowers and chocolate and then fill up on more candy until late April or when we've decided it's time to begin dieting for the summer.

A picture of Lewie and his Great Aunt/God Mother at the Canoe Club - Easter 2016

Since Easter falls on April Fools' Day this year, we may just drum up some pranks to pull on family members, too.  Maybe the Easter Bunny will deliver a fruit basket instead of candy or Tootie the Elf on the Shelf will make an appearance instead...

2)  Bike Riding   Little Lewie and I started taking morning bike rides last fall at a greenway near us.  Once the days became shorter, we had to stop, but when the snow melts, we'll be getting prepared for more rides--this time with the promise of warmer days and budding trees.

A Fall Bike Ride - Sept. 2017

3)  Festivals   Spring brings the promise of art fairs and craft festivals.  The best ones, in my opinion, are those that set up outside to enjoy our local parks, town greens, farms, and other outside spaces.  In years past, we've gone to the Meriden Daffodil Festival, The Fairfield Dogwood Festival, and the Milford Artisan Market.  New ones to explore might be the May Market in Farmington, the Gallery on the Green in Litchfield, and the Branford Craft and Community Expo--all taking place in May and early June.

Lewie at the Daffodil Festival - Spring 2013

4)  Day Trips    My mom and I love to visit places in the spring.  Day trips combine our love of shopping along with our love for nature, flowers, and gardening.  This year, we hope to take two special weekend trips.  The first is to the Hildene (The Lincoln Family Home) in Manchester, VT.  The tour boasts a chance to learn about the history of the home while touring its beautiful garden that overlooks the Battenkill Valley.  The description says, "Then suddenly as if on cue, as they did 100 years ago, the peonies 'pop' and the garden is awash in more than 1,000 blooms."   The second trip would be our annual trip to the Newport, Rhode Island Flower Show at Rosecliff Mansion.  The flower show, one of our favorites, happens every year in June with new and interesting themes.  Our day is usually divided with the first few hours at the show and the last hours shopping and dining in Newport.

A display at the Newport Flower Show - June 2016

5) Mother's Day    Mother's Day is a favorite because I usually get a chance to celebrate with a nice dinner at the Hopkins Inn in Warren, CT with hubby, Little Lewie, and my mom.  During some years, the weather has been warm enough for us to actually bask on their patio while overlooking Lake Waramaug.  This year, however, will be different.  Little Lewie will be making his First Communion, which means we'll 1) have to stay local, and 2) consider having some type of family party.  The details haven't been ironed out yet, but I'm starting to see that May will be coming sooner than we think.

Mother's Day at the Hopkins Inn - 2015
I can't help but be thankful for all our happy Spring memories and new ones to be made in 2018. What plans do you have for spring?

WIP Stands for "Work In Progress"


As two full months have already ended in 2018, I'm already taking notes and assessing my progress.  Am I following my New Year's Resolutions?  Am I making time for me?  Am I finding balance?

Strangely enough when I mentioned the phrase "work in progress," my son already knew what I was talking about.  "Mommy, you mean WIP."

"WIP?" I asked.

"Yes, Work In Progress," he answered.

The phrase, admittedly, didn't enter my vocabulary until I was well into adulthood, but somehow it's part of my son's everyday lingo.  In fact, he assuredly let me know that pretty much everything is "a work in progress."  How did my son become so wise?

As I look at my resolutions for 2018, I'm realizing that they, too, are a work in progress.  I've done well in assuring that I find some time for my son, my friends, and my husband each month, but as work responsibilities increased around mid-February, my blog writing (once per week) took a toll.  The walking, hiking, and exercising in general also stopped.  When those stop, the daydreaming stops, and then my carefree attitude of silliness, wonder, and excitement turn to worry, fear, anxiety, and frustration.  Last week, I felt the symptoms of a cold resurfacing along with my neck, shoulder, and back pain.  If I was looking for a sign to see if my life was in balance, I surely got my answer: NO!!

At work, there were papers to correct, emails to send, reports to analyze, and difficult decisions to be made.  At home, there were mounds of laundry to be done, clutter to be organized, mail to be sorted, and unexpected bills to be paid.  In Cub Scouts, there were den and pack meetings to plan and a fundraising project to implement. And then, out of nowhere, there was a death in my husband's family, an accident (his mom fractured her arm after slipping on ice), and an unwelcome realization that my in-laws may need to move out of financial necessity.

Then, there was one more tipping point.  Lewie's beloved camp director called to tell me that Lewie's summer camp would be closing--permanently.  I cried.  How could this be?  I had already filled out the registration form and put down my deposit!  Lewie was already counting down the days to camp, for it had become his second home!

The last of my free time was spent researching new camps, speaking with directors, and even visiting one.  We "think" we made the right choice to experiment between two different camps this summer, but there are still registration forms to complete and deposits to be made before March 1!

This week, I'm trying to reset my priorities and get back on track.  I won't lie.  I still feel totally overwhelmed, but I'm taking a step back to breathe.  It will all get done.  It will all get done.  It will all get done.  (That has to be my new mantra.)

This is my happy place.  Thinking about hiking with my little boy.
I'm blogging tonight instead of filling out Lewie's new camp registration forms.  I still have papers to correct, too.  I have to shift the balance, and the balance starts back to finding time for me.  It's all a WIP.

Valentine's Day Week


Last week went by quickly, but it was full.  Somehow between our hectic work and school schedules our family managed to visit our beloved friends, make Valentines, sneak in a fun trip of snow tubing, and for hubby and me, go out on a classic date (after Valentine's Day, of course, so we didn't have to spend top dollar).

The week started out with visiting my closest friends--my college friend on Saturday and my oldest grammar school buddies on Sunday.  Little Lewie and I didn't have a chance to bake, so instead, I bought a few items to place into care packages for them.  My friends remembered the tradition right away: "Oh, you brought gifts for us for Random Acts of Kindness week!"  I enjoy celebrating my friends, and since we hardly ever get to celebrate each other's birthdays, R.A.K. week seems to be the best time for me to remind them how lucky I am to have them in my life.

Since I didn't have time to make my care packages all at once, I'm still delivering them to friends this week, too.

For V-Day at school, Little Lewie and I made quick, fun, heart Valentines using glow sticks.  I found a fun template at The Teacher Wife, The Blog, and the Valentines came out fantastic.  I am so grateful for all the creative moms out there that are willing to share their talents with us.  In this case, I am thankful to Lindsey, the artistic mastermind of this blog.  You can get her template here.

On the Friday after Valentine's Day, Lewie's February vacation began.  A snow storm swept through the area, and we decided it was the perfect time to go snow tubing at Ski Butternut in Massachusetts. 

After a day of snow tubing as a family, hubby and I planned an actual date for the very next day.  We found a movie theater still showing The Shape of Water and then went out to dinner at a quaint, rustic restaurant near us called the Milestone Inn.  Meanwhile, Lewie spent a day with Grammy and will be ending his short five-day weekend with a visit to a friend's house.

Yes, during this very busy Valentine's Day week, I am most grateful for both my friends and family.  Love and kindness were certainly all around us.

To Be Nine...


Little Lewie is 9 and a half years-old, to be exact.  He was born in August, so February is his half-year mark.   I'll be honest.  I didn't know what to expect as the mom of a nine year-old.  For one, he's more independent now.  Gone are the days of having to put on his shoes, hat, and gloves before going to school.  Gone are the days of having to buckle him into a car seat, strap him into a swing, or pick him up to get onto our trampoline.  Gone are the days of putting him in a shopping cart to give him rides around the grocery store or placing him on the car ride at the local carnival.

I get teary-eyed remembering Lewie's toddler days.  They were full of giggles, wonder, and excitement.  Lewie was the little boy that never stopped smiling (and never stopped talking about trains either).  But, do you know what?  I LOVE Lewie at this age, too.  Okay, so there are hints of him growing up (and entering the soon-to-be tween stage).  For one, he's become more interested in friends (and showing off).  He also does what he can to swindle his way out of homework and chores.  His classic response to my daily request is "Not now."  (He knows that if he puts me off long enough, I will get too tired to remind him and fall asleep on the couch.)

Still, for all the moments that he seems more grown up and more independent, he's still a little boy.  Here are the things I love about NINE.

1)  He still needs me. 
There are plenty of nine year-olds that take their own showers and pick out their own clothes, but when given the chance, Lewie still likes to take baths and prefers that I pick out his clothes for him.  In many ways, I'm not ready to relinquish all of the motherly responsibilities I've grown accustomed to throughout the years, and so I still take great pleasure in making him breakfast, packing his lunches, and picking out his snacks.  Thankfully, he doesn't mind me doing these things for him either.  I gladly tuck him in at night, sleep in his room when he's afraid, cuddle with him on cold snowy days, and pamper him when he's sick.  He told me one day: "Mommy, you're not just a mom and an English professor.  You're kind of like a doctor, too."

2)  He's playful.
This boy still loves playing hide-and-go-seek, tag, and catch me if you can.  Yes, he's better at it.  He runs faster and has lots more strength.  (He can easily hold me back if he doesn't want to get tickled.)  Still, this kid is playful and adores being chased.  His giggles (much like when he was a toddler) can still be heard throughout the house, and he's ready to play with us at a moment's notice (even if it means putting down his xbox for a while).

3) He's a boy.
Nine, thank goodness, is still the age of fantasy.  He's not thinking about girls and dating.  He's thinking about Star Wars, the Avengers, Minecraft, Roblox, and video games.  He LOVES to watch Star Wars and the Avengers movies with Daddy, and when we go for walks, he enjoys telling me about the latest video games he wants to create.   His characters have clever names and magical abilities.  They have swords, armor, guns, gems, potions, dynamite, and lasers.  I remind him that I don't like violence, and so to keep me happy, he always reminds me that his video games will not have any blood or gore.  "My characters are robots, Mommy.  They are not human."

Potty humor abounds, too.  There are plenty of fart and toilet jokes to go around, and somehow he's learned how to burp and fart on command.  Since my husband enjoys all of these things (at age 47), I suppose this is one area that will never go away.  Whether he's 9 or 50, he will stay a boy at heart forever.

4) He's still little.
At the end of the day, Lewie is still a little boy.  While his vocabulary is expanding every day, he and his friends still make mistakes.  They pronounce words wrong, they say the wrong words, or they make inexperienced guesses (all based on their own naivete and innocence).   For example, during a Cub Scout den meeting, we spoke about important numbers to have in case of emergencies.  When we talked about the number for Poison Control, the boys quickly asked what it meant.  Then one boy said he knew the answer:  "It's for when you get things like Poison Ivy."

On Friday this week, Lewie woke up hoping he would get a day off from school.  When I told him it wasn't snowing, he said, "Well, it might not be snowing, but it's frosty."  (He really meant to say "icy.")

5)  He's magic.
Every day is a new adventure with Lewie.  We tell jokes, then have deep, meaningful discussions.  We talk about Santa, then learn about historical figures like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr.  (By the way, his 2018 Santa request is to wake up knowing how to code and make video games--when I told him this was impossible, he stated, "Mommy, didn't you hear of something called Christmas magic?")  We jump on the trampoline, then take long hikes through the woods.  We play Chutes and Ladders, then games of strategy like Uno and checkers.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that nine is kind of a mixed bag.  There is evidence of Lewie being both a little kid and a big kid at the same time.  He's both innocent and wise; silly and serious; young and mature; cute and well, still cute. 

I know the "little kid" in him will continue to dissipate with each passing year, but for now, the little kid is still alive and well.  I cherish this age.  I've promised myself to relish and savor every moment of these next six months.

First Hike of 2018


It seems like every January, we wait for that break between snowstorms to get outside and enjoy some sunlight and fresh air.  Four years ago, our January hike looked something like this...

Today our January hike looks like this...

Besides Little Lewie growing taller and getting older, our hikes have changed in other ways, too.  Friends are often invited, and thus, there's a lot of silliness to be had...

I had friends, too--my hubby, of course, and my bestie, Sue.

Finally, there was the reason for the hike in the first place...

As much as I'm not a winter person, I LOVE the changes in season.  Even among the barren trees, there's still so much beauty to be found.  Yes, this winter hike was just what we needed; it also satisfies my New Year's resolution to add more outdoor time to our sometimes very hectic schedule.  We'll see what the next few weeks bring...more snow?

The Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation)


Being raised by a mostly Hungarian family, I grew up Catholic.  Just like my great grandmother and great grandmother before her and great grandmother before her (you get the picture), I was baptized into the Catholic Church, and my grandmother (that lived right next door to us in the same house) saw to it that I went to church every week and learned my prayers.

Growing up, I always felt like I needed to go to church because if I didn't, I would be breaking one of the Commandments.  Unfortunately, my grandmother grew up with a fire and brimstone mindset, and she passed that along to me.  For that reason, I went to church out of fear that if I died, I might go to hell.  (I pictured myself living in a fiery cave for eternity, surrounded by multiple devils with pitchforks--you can have a wild imagination as a kid.)

Today I go to church with a different mindset.  Over the years, I started praying to God on my own--in the church, outside during walks, in my home, etc.  I have learned to have faith, and not because I thought I would be punished if I didn't, but because I believe life is extraordinary and I have witnessed the power of love, prayer, and forgiveness.  I also believe in the Golden Rule, namely, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," which is supported by one of the greatest Commandments, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  Thankfully, we live during a time of Pope Francis--a Pope that focuses on love, kindness, compassion, charity, and equity.  He may not be perfect as he still has to hold onto certain traditions (such as women cannot become priests), but he preaches the message of love, acceptance, and peace.  In a world full of turmoil, his message is needed now more than ever.

Following tradition, Lewie was baptized into the same Catholic Church where I was raised.  In elementary school, he started attending CCD, and now, last week, he made his second sacrament, Reconciliation or Penance.  He learned his prayers (the same as my grandmother taught me), but this time, I focused on the ideals of love, kindness, and forgiveness.  He learned the Ten Commandments through a softer, child's version (not the old-school way that I did), and I taught him that above else, to be thankful to God and to be kind to others.

This is the same church where I made my Sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation, & Marriage.
As Lewie grows up, he may choose to stay Catholic or follow a different religion.  For now, while he is young, I want him to understand our faith through a softer lens and develop a relationship with God.  Reconciliation last week was special because Lewie met with the same priest that baptized him, Father Kvedas.  Father Kvedas also married Lew and me and was there for my sacrament of Confirmation (in high school).  (He's also the same priest that performed funerals for my dad and my father-in-law.)  To say that he's been a part of our family for many, many years is an understatement.

I know my grandmother would be proud to see that I'm passing along our family's faith and tradition.  I suppose I'm proud, too, to be "passing the torch," so to speak.  In the end, I hope Lewie learns to be a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate person because of it.

A Year of Cub Scouts - Bear


In first grade, Little Lewie joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger.  The following year, he became a Wolf, and now he's completing his third year as a Bear.  It's hard for me to believe that in just two short months, Lewie will be crossing over to a Webelo (an acronym for We'll Be Loyal Scouts).

His years in school are certainly going by fast, but for some reason, his years in Cub Scouts seem to go by even quicker.  His year as a Bear flew by, but we managed to accomplish some exciting things--from his first camping trip, to using a pocket knife for the first time, to planning a "carnival," to learning about safety, history, and wildlife.  Unfortunately, I don't remember to take pictures during all our den or pack meetings.  (It's hard to squeeze it in when you're running the show.)  Still, here's some of our few camera worthy moments....

First Camping Trip
Lewie's First Camping Trip was a two-nighter at Matthies Memorial Park in our town.  Since our family is not very good at camping, the location was perfect!  We pitched our tent for one night and still had to drive home twice (five minutes away) to retrieve things we forgot!  My husband refused to poop in the outhouse, so he drove home again for a third or fourth time.

The kids did a nature walk, they fished, they played tag, they made s'mores, they sang campfire songs, and they watched Return of the Jedi on a big inflatable screen.  The most memorable part for me, besides sleeping in our tent, was little Lewie falling asleep on the movie.  This kid rarely falls asleep on movies at home, but a full day outside hiking and fishing was the perfect sleep sedative.

Scouting for Food
For three years now, every Oct./Nov. we collect cans and non-perishable food items from our neighbors for our local food pantry.   When we did this with Lewie as a Tiger (seven years-old), he thought we were collecting food for the pilgrims.  Now, at age nine, Lewie understands we do this to help people in our community who are struggling.  Each year, we donate more of our time, and this year, I'm proud to say that we not only collected the food, but we sifted through 100+ bags to check food labels and helped stock the pantry.

Pinewood Derby
This year's Pinewood Derby was fun!  Lewie did not have the fastest car, but he won the most colorful award.  When he was a Tiger, he held back tears for not winning.  This year, after he lost, he happily cheered on his friends, and in fact, two of his good friends came in first and third place.  My husband, as Assistant Cubmaster, had the joy of handing out all the participation awards and certificates.

The three winners:  Erik (First), Jack (Second), Hunter (Third)
This was a GREAT year for Cub Scouts.  Thankfully, even once Lewie becomes a Webelo, we'll still have two more years left...  I hope to cherish every moment.