The "Secret" Playground

5.21.2015

Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived, our family has been making outdoor time a priority around here.  If we're not going for walks around our neighborhood or jumping on the trampoline with Little Lewie, then we're taking him to our town's recreation center to ride his bike. 

On a recent bike riding adventure, I pointed to stairs that lead to a playground at the top. 

Me:  "Lewie, do you want to check out the playground at the top of the stairs?  I used to go there all the time as a kid.  I think they have swings up there..."

Lewie:  "Sure Mommy.  Let's go!"

I took him to the playground and immediately got swept away in a flashback from the early 1980's.  From age 7 to age 12, my mom used to drop me off at this very playground for summer camp.  Here I would make crafts under the pavilion; play kick ball, dodge ball, Red Rover, and Steal the Bacon with the other kids at camp, and then swing on the swings until my mom came back at noon to pick me up.  They were fun memories even if I learned at an early age that I wasn't particularly good at sports--I was usually the last one to be picked for a team.

As we climbed up the last stair, Lewie saw the swings and immediately ran to them.  They were still as big as I remembered them to be.  The monkey bars and the two metal slides were still there too.  It was as if I was taken back to my childhood from a time machine.  The playground had not changed in the last 30+ years!

"I love this playground," Lewie blurted out as he pumped himself higher and higher on the swings. 

On our next visit to the Pent Recreation Center, Lewie asked if we could go to the "secret playground" again.  This time Daddy was with us...  Lewie headed straight for the swings while my husband was brave enough to try the monkey bars.  (Let's just say that my 44 year-old husband is not as limber as he used to be...)

Posing next to the stairs that leads up to the "Secret Playground."




This is where I would wait for my mom to come pick me up...I would watch the road for her car...



Our visit was fun, and now Lewie asks to visit the "secret playground" every time we go to the rec center.  I never asked Lewie why he calls it a "secret" playground, but I suppose it's because you can't see it from all the ball fields down below and because no one seems to use it.  It's as if it's been forgotten about.  All the other kids use the much smaller playground near the tennis courts (that doesn't have any swings...)

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest.  I loved this playground as a kid, and now my son loves it just as much too.  I hope it keeps its 70's and 80's charm!

Mother's Day 2015

5.12.2015

This year I had the joy of celebrating Mother's Day for an entire weekend instead of just for a day.  My celebration commenced on Friday afternoon when I had a chance to visit my son's "Mother's Day Party."  All six moms from Lewie's kindergarten class (there's only six children) were invited to attend, and I was lucky enough to get the time off from work.  It was so special to join him for lunch and be greeted with his special homemade card and plant.  (They potted the plants themselves.)

I must admit that I teared up at the end because all of the children didn't want to see their moms leave.  Lewie didn't want to see me leave either...  Oh, I still struggle with being a working mom...the guilt can be crushing at times...



On Saturday, I had the joy of spending the day with my mom on one of our famous bus trips.  We left at 7 a.m. to go to the Tulip Festival in Albany, NY, and there we had a chance to visit rows of craft booths and, of course, to see their famous tulips in Washington Park.  I learned from our tour guide that Albany plants over 150,000 tulip bulbs every fall with the goal of having them bloom just in time for Mother's Day.  At the end of the Tulip Festival, they dig up some of the bulbs and sell them the very next weekend.

I must admit that our day didn't disappoint.  The tulips were stunning, and I, for one, was really impressed by the variety.  I've tried planting tulips numerous times in our yard, but the deer love to eat them...




These tulips were aptly called "the blushing lady."




One of my favorite tulip displays.  The purple flowers around the tulips are grape hyacinth.



On Mother's Day, Little Lewie had a chance to deliver his gifts to both of his grandmothers--Ninny and Grammy.  Then, we took my mom out to dinner at the Hopkins Inn in Warren, CT.  Since we've come to the Inn for three years in a row on Mother's Day, it has officially become one of our traditions.  I must admit that taking my mom out to dinner here is just as much a treat to myself as it is to my mom.  The view of Lake Waramaug and the Hopkins Vineyard is just heavenly.  Oh, and the food isn't bad either...

Daddy and Lewie...

My mom, Lewie, and me


The view of Lake Waramaug from our seat on the patio.

The other view from our seat...


Taking a rest after dinner, but wait!  There's still dessert.


This weekend was very special as I had a chance to spend time with all of my loved ones.  I still can't believe this is my sixth celebration of being a mom; nothing in my life has been more enriching than taking care of this little boy and watching him grow into this amazing little person.  I feel blessed.

The Egg Hunt

5.02.2015

Every year, we host an egg hunt for our beloved friends and family.  (This year was the third annual!)  I refrain from calling it an Easter Egg Hunt because it always happens weeks (if not an entire month) after Easter.  In most cases, we have it later in April with the hope of having warmer weather, but sometimes it's planned simply around everyone's very busy schedules.

This year the warm weather was not with us, but we dared to do the hunt and have an outside barbeque anyways.  As usual, the kids' enthusiasm made up for the 40 degree weather.  We had babies, toddlers, little kids, and adults searching high and low for eggs.  The eggs from the first hunt were filled with candy, and the eggs from the second hunt (in the front yard) contained numbers for prizes.  Each child won a prize, and one lucky girl (Lewie's cousin Sarah) won two prizes!

A hunting we will go...

Our "Queen" egg hunter...


Sarah - Our two prize winner!

Collin and daddy found the most eggs this year.

Counting eggs...

Getting ready for the final hunt in the front yard.

As usual, taking pictures was a challenge because no body wants to wait.  (A ten second photo means a missed opportunity to find several eggs.)  We have some very good egg hunters (Kirsten and Landon to name a few) that always find them very quickly.  In fact, Landon even found an old egg from last year; the candy didn't make it!

Lewie showing off his new toothless smile. (Both front teeth are missing.)

A mad dash for the prize eggs...

Lily--our littlest egg hunter.  She just turned one!

"Really, I can keep it?"

My two awesome friends from grammar and middle school...  We're talking about 30+ years of friendship.
 
After the visit was over, my husband and I congratulated each other on a job well done.  We weren't sure how we were going to pull it off this year with the bug fiasco.  (Most of our belongings are still in the garage, and the exterminator had to come out again this week!!!)  Still, I suppose when there's a will, there's a way.  We don't have many family traditions, so we have learned to cherish the few we have.  I look forward to more April Egg Hunts in the years to come and hope Lewie will remember them with fondness when he thinks of his childhood.

A Quick Visit to Woodloch

4.26.2015

A year and a half ago, our little family went to this enchanting family resort called Woodloch.  The resort, situated on a lake in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, created many fun memories for us.  We celebrated my husband turning 43 and Little Lewie turning 5; we celebrated a year of blessings for our family (when we went through some personal challenges and struggles); and we celebrated life as we know it.



Our trip was so magical that we vowed to do it again, and in fact, all three of us wore the bracelets the resort gave to us (for the entire year and a half) as a way of saying to ourselves..."Remember Woodloch.  Remember Family." 

Our trip this weekend, although cold and snowy, didn't disappoint.  Woodloch is known to many (including the advertising industry) as "The Ultimate Play Date".  I don't know how to better describe this resort as it provides tons of activities for family members of all ages.  On this trip, my husband enjoyed the zip line, and we as a family enjoyed the pool, the go carts, the bumper cars, the miniature golf, the arcade, and the delicious food served three times per day at their main lodge.  (Everyone from the resort eats together at the very same time like a family.)

Go Cart Racing!

 
Lewie lost another tooth!  He now has two missing front teeth!



A little bit of snow in the forecast.

Waiting for milk shakes at the "Treat Place."  (That's Lewie's term for the snack bar.)

Eating at the main dining hall.  Little Lewie takes the best pictures...



The awesome pool at Woodloch!

Playing some sort of SEGA Star Wars game...

On this particular trip, Little Lewie played BINGO for his very first time.  (The stakes were high as we could actually win $20 - $80 per game!)  We also had the joy of watching a Saturday Night Live type of skit (for all ages) on Thursday night that was held in their very large auditorium.  It was the first time Little Lewie really enjoyed live theater entertainment, and I was impressed that he understood the humor.  Our favorite skit of the show was when the cast pretended to do a synchronized swimming routine.  Everyone's bare feet went up into the air except for one person who was wearing colorful socks and clown shoes!  Lewie burst out into a roaring belly laugh when he saw the shoes.  I couldn't stop laughing either.

Our quick two night trip went by in a flash.  I wish it could have been longer, but then again, I'm thankful that we even had the chance to go back.  I need trips like this to remember what's important.  I now have an orange bracelet to go with the blue one I received during my very first trip to Woodloch.  I'll continue to wear them with pride and to remind me that no matter what, "Family is First."