Mother's Day Recap

5.19.2017

Mother's Day was perfect this year; my mom, Lew, Little Lewie, and I went to our favorite restaurant, the Hopkins Inn, and then went to visit Lew's mom (Ninny).  As I grow older, I realize that every Mother's Day that I have with my mom is a blessing.  How could I not be grateful!  In her seventies, my mom still works 20+ hours per week, helps me pick up Lewie from school, and is constantly outside watering our plants and taking care of the yard.  She's nothing short of amazing.


Since there were a few rain showers on Mother's Day, we couldn't bask in the sun on the patio, but we could at least eat in one of our favorite rooms inside the old inn.  We admired the old post and beam construction and, of course, the old plank floors.  The best part, of course, was the company and food. We enjoyed our meals so much that, at times, they became the focal point of our discussion. The funniest part of the afternoon is when Lewie looked at his dessert, a frozen chocolate eclair, in horror. "Why are you making that look?" I asked.  "Is the dessert too big for you?"

"No," he replied, "but why does it have salad on it?"  We inspected the dessert and noticed they garnished it with a mint leaf.  We burst out laughing.  Lewie still didn't appreciate the mint leaf.  (He's one of the few kids I know that doesn't like the taste of mint.)  Still, we made it into a learning lesson--right along with him having to put his napkin on his lap and keep his button-down shirt tucked in at all times.  "Oh Lewie," I sighed, "we're just trying to teach you a little culture.  One day, you'll be sitting at a fancy restaurant like this with a girl friend or on a job interview."  Of course, mentioning these ideas in no way means I'm wishing away his childhood.  On the contrary, on Mother's Day, I wish I could wave a magic wand and keep all of us the same age for a very long time, possibly forever.




On Friday, my son brought home a fill-in-the-blank sheet called "All About Mom."  I was surprised how in just one short year, Lewie's answers changed from cute to sophisticated.  He knows me inside and out, even my age.  I can't fool him into believing I'm twenty-something anymore.

 Let me tell you about my mom.
My mom is 41 years old.
She likes to walk.
The best thing she cooks is chicken nuggets.
Her favorite food is chocolate.


Her favorite thing to do to relax is walk.
We like to walk together.


She is really good at the Atari 2600.
As you can see, my mom is special because she's the best mom in the world and the best thing that's happened to my life
(Those were exactly his words...how lucky am I?)

The History Hike

5.07.2017

This weekend we welcomed a slower pace.  After three weeks of back-to-back events (Easter, the Massachusetts Cheer Competition, and then the annual egg hunt), we were excited to have a weekend with nothing planned.  On a whim, I went to the Ansonia Nature Center website to gather ideas for our next Cub Scout meeting when I saw they would be offering a free "history hike" this Sunday. Unfortunately, none of the other Cub Scouts could join us, but Lewie and I made a plan and luckily, the weather held out.


The hike, led by Ranger Dan, focused on historic sites like stone walls, old roads, and even places where arrowheads had been found.  We learned about Colonial times (dating back to the 1500s - 1800s) and the early American Indian Wars.  We also learned a lot about native Americans and how they lived.  We learned that they used bark and cattails to build their wigwams, and they often used fire to clear land to grow crops like corn, beans, and squash.  Clearing land also opened areas to plant more berry bushes and to assist with hunting, traveling, controlling pests, and warfare.  (There's an interesting article here: https://www.na.fs.fed.us/fire_poster/nativeamer.htm.)

On our hike, we also talked a lot about different plants and animals.  We learned about native species vs. invasive species, and we all learned how to spot and protect ourselves from poison ivy.  The best part was admiring the beauty and the wildlife.  We saw a couple of interesting birds, took pictures of a Box turtle chilling out in the woods, and saw some animal tracks and habitats.



Robins built this next right under a picnic table.

Can you see the Robin eggs when you look down the hole of the table?



Cattails

Skunk Cabbage--it really does smell "stinky"




A "hidden" spring...the perfect place for Native American settlements.


Although the weather was overcast and cloudy, the rain, thankfully, held off.  The "one hour" hike lasted an hour and forty minutes, and even then, our little group still kept on asking questions.  The Ansonia Nature Center has many more themed hikes planned throughout the year.  With over 145 wooded acres, which connects to Naugatuck State Forest, which contains over 5,000 acres, there are plenty of hikes to take.  We look forward to our next visit!

The Annual Egg Hunt

5.02.2017

Every year, I try to hold an Egg Hunt at the house for Lewie, his cousins, and his "extended cousins" (a.k.a. children of my childhood friends).  This year we had nine "littles" at the house searching for eggs--three eleven year-olds, one eight year-old (Lewie), one six year-old, two five year-olds, one four-year old, and one three year-old.  They all were given different egg colors that were hidden with varying complexity.  Obviously, the eldest children had to search in more places, and I did not make it easy.  In fact, some didn't find all their eggs, and forgetful me couldn't find them either.  Oh well, I suppose they will be left as treats for smaller critters...

Lily, the youngest, searching for pink eggs in our flower patch.
An Egg Hunt may sound a little redundant after we had Easter two weeks ago, but there's a method to my madness.  1) Having an egg hunt after Easter, allows me to buy leftover candy on sale--some marked down as much as 90%; 2) our egg hunt doesn't interfere with other Easter activities that take place before the holiday, and 3) having the egg hunt late in the season gives us a better opportunity for warmer weather.  Unfortunately, this year, the weather pattern shifted.  Easter was an 80 degree day; whereas, our weather this Sunday (exactly two weeks later), was in the high 40's/low 50's.  We all wore jackets and sweatshirts.  So much for my weather theory!

My grammar school friends with their husbands. (Notice the winter gear!)

I had a photo opp with my friends, too.
I tried taking pictures of all the little ones searching for eggs, but I learned a valuable lesson.  Candy is important business for all the kids, and they were not going to let pictures interfere with their valuable candy-finding time.  So, needless to say, I have random action photos of kids running around looking for eggs--no cute closeups or frame-worthy smiles.







The second valuable lesson I learned is that when kids have a chance to pick prizes, candy will always win out.  The cute Dr. Suess eraser set,the colorful package of rainbow pencils, and the pretty princess pencil sharpener went virtually unnoticed.  In fact, they are left-overs to be offered as prizes next year...
We've never had so many children on a trampoline at one time.  Luckily, they all decided to play tag
and exit before I had to start asking kids to get out and patiently wait their turn.
At the end of the get-together, we were pleasantly surprised to see how well all the kids played with each other.  All nine were on the trampoline until they decided to play tag and hide-and-go-seek.  They also helped each other find eggs by announcing, "Hey, I see an orange one over here."  Nothing could make me happier or prouder.  Honestly, I live for planning days like these.

I'm a Proud "Cheer" Aunt

4.26.2017

This weekend, Lewie's cousin Sarah participated in her last cheerleading competition of the year.  We learned that her division of USA Wildcats (Sassy Cats) was undefeated and decided to support her. Since the competition was in Worcester, MA (about an hour and forty five minutes away), we decided to make the competition into an all weekend event.  We stayed over at the Clarion Hotel and Aqua Lagoon Waterpark in West Springfield, MA on Saturday and then left at seven in the morning to take Sarah to her last competition at the DCU Center in Worcester.

On Saturday, we spent the day at the hotel water park, which was FILLED with kids.  My sister-in-law and her husband brought their three children (Sarah, Brooklyn, and Lily) and their grandnephew, Elijah.  My husband and I, of course, just brought Little Lewie.  The kids had a blast swimming in the pool, going down water slides, and playing on the splash pad while the adults mostly rested at tables on the side.

Cousin Brooklyn in the pool


Aunt Missy and Uncle Moises

Lily

Sarah and Lewie
The waterpark closed at 8 p.m., and we headed to our adjoining rooms on the first floor.  The kids LOVED that they could walk between both rooms at their leisure.  At one point, my husband and I looked around and saw that all FIVE children (ages 3 - 12) were in our room.  It was all out mayhem. (Don't forget that we're used to ONE child; FIVE is a big deal for us.)  They were playing games, eating candy, watching videos on tablets, and talking up a storm.   Little Elijah (five) was so excited to be staying at the hotel that he kept on showing us "his bed."

Lights out was around 10 o'clock as we had to wake up early the next morning to bring Sarah and Aunt Missy to the DCU Center.  She had to be there for practice at 8:30 a.m., and her performance was slated for 10:20 a.m.  Awards wouldn't happen until 1 p.m., so we knew we were headed for a fairly long day.   I didn't know how Lewie would handle all the waiting, but to my surprise, he was great.  He loved listening to the music and watching the performances.  Only twice did he request to go home, which prompted me to remind him that we had to wait until after the award ceremony.

As for the "Sassy Cats"... well, they won first place!   We were so proud of Sarah.  We already knew she could do these amazing flips and tumbling, but nothing could replace seeing her live performance. We were allowed to go to the front stage when it was their turn, and the girls honestly took my breath away.  It was a very proud moment for this aunt and a very proud moment for Lewie who absolutely adores his cousin.







Best Sassy Cat Friends (cousin Sarah is the second on the right)

One proud aunt!
Lewie getting to have lunch with all the girls
 This weekend honestly flew by.  We were so happy we made it a priority to see Sarah's last competition this year.  I have a newfound respect for cheer, especially for all the practices, time, and commitment made by Sarah and her mom.  I am awestruck.

The Easter Bunny Delivers the Magic 8 Ball

4.22.2017

Easter brought summer weather this year.  Instead of searching for warm sweaters and coats, we were scouring for short sleeve shirts and sundresses.  I would have considered wearing a sundress except both my legs and arms haven't seen the sun since Oct; my feet and toenails have seen better days too.

We followed our usual tradition; we went to Easter mass at 11 a.m. and then to the Mattabesett Canoe Club for dinner.  (The restaurant is exactly half way between my aunt's home in Danielson, CT and our home in Beacon Falls; it also serves a delicious Easter brunch overlooking the Connecticut River.)  Our aunt from Delaware, her son, and her four year-old granddaughter also joined us this year.  It was nice to have most of our little family with us for the holiday.




Dinner at the Mattabesett Canoe Club




I think they were trying to do Easter Bunny ears.

My beautiful mom.


The most entertaining part of the holiday, however, was the Easter Bunny's arrival.  He brought 12 plastic eggs for Lewie to find (I think one is still missing), and an Easter basket filled with candy, two gift cards, and toys like the Ja-Ru Glow Saucer Flyer, Zuru Bunch o Balloons self-sealing water balloon set, and you guessed it...The Magic 8 Ball.  





The Magic 8 Ball was the biggest hit.  (It was my favorite toy from the 80's--after Barbie, of course.)  At first Lewie wasn't sure how it worked.  I took it out of the box and told him he needed to ask it a "yes" or "no" question.  "Let me show you," I said.  "Magic 8 Ball...will we have a nice Easter dinner this year?"  I turned the ball over, and viola, the little triangle appeared:  "Signs point to yes."

Immediately, Lewie started asking questions to quiz it.  "Magic 8 Ball, do I like YouTube?"  "Do I have a cousin named Sarah?"  "Will Xbox come out with a new console?"


I had to intervene before the Magic 8 Ball made a wrong answer and would be dubbed a phony.  "Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball makes predictions about the future; it doesn't answer questions you already know."  Here, ask it a question like, "Will I get married?"  The Magic 8 Ball answered, "Yes."


Finally, Lewie was on the right track.  He's asked it questions about whether he will become a video gamer or whether he will have a good day at school.  Everyday since Easter there has been a question, and the Magic 8 Ball has always reliably provided an answer...even if it's "Ask again later."  


"Mommy," he asked on Easter Sunday, "how do you turn the Magic 8 Ball off?"  He had been speaking "into" the ball as if it could hear him and provide a reply.  


"Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball doesn't have a speaker, and it doesn't rely on battery power.  You don't have to turn it off," I replied.


"But then how does it hear me without a battery?  Isn't this like Alexa?"


"Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball runs on magic."


He thought about it for a second, and then said, "Well if Santa and the Easter Bunny are magic, I guess the Magic 8 Ball is magic too."

In the 80's, I liked relying on my Magic 8 Ball to make predictions for me.  Sometimes I think my life would be easier if I just let it continue to make decisions for me.  "Magic 8 Ball, will I live happily-ever-after?"  Answer: "Outlook good."   (Now you know I was going to shake it until I got a good answer...)