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, 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, 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.)