Currently - September Edition

9.29.2014

Ever since school has started, I find that the days and weekends are whizzing by fast.  The first two weeks of September were spent getting adjusted to new schedules, cooler temperatures, and shorter days.  We've been fighting off germs (and winning so far), and buying new school clothes and shoes to last us through the fall and winter. 

In the midst of these new routines, we've had 'school picture day,' 'pirate day,' and 'pajama day,' which are a welcome break from the norm but, to a certain degree, require their own planning and preparation.  Then, out of the blue, I received a job promotion, which is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  Will I be able to achieve a work/life balance?  At the moment, it feels like work is winning, but I'm determined to take days off ahead of time to make sure that my family remains a priority.

Today I'm linking up with Jenna of A Mama Collective, to discuss life...Currently.

Thinking about// APPLES!  Lewie's school has been focusing on apples for the past few weeks, and last week, he brought home his own "Apple Book" that had all sorts of lesson plans, stories, poems, and crafts focused on apples.  Since it's been a central theme this month, I thought it would only be right to end the month with some apple picking.  So today we went to a nearby farm, picked some apples, and bought some homemade apple cider donuts to bring to school.  (His class is small with only six students total.)  I'm sure they'll be a hit!



 

Thankful for// my family.  Our little family has gone through some rocky times over the years, but today it feels like we're closer than ever.  Although the days are getting darker quicker, we're still determined to fit in valuable family time even if it's outside in the dark.  At least four days a week, my mom watches Lewie (she lives next door) while my husband and I go for an hour long walk in our neighborhood with flashlights.  Then, on most days, I go on the trampoline with my little boy and play "bounce tag."  Even on days when I come home late for work, my little guy and I will put on jackets and bounce while looking at the moon and the stars.  I actually look forward to this time with him and hope he'll remember it just as fondly as I will...


Loving//  dress up theme days.  So far, Lewie's school has celebrated Pirate Day and Pajama Day.  For Pirate Day, we were able to find some old mix and match costume items from years before to dress him up, and on Pajama Day, we chose his very best pajamas and brought two favorite story books to school--How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and Steam Train, Dream Train.  I wish I could have stayed behind as a school helper, but at least I had the pleasure of dropping him off and watching him be so excited to show his school teacher and his classmates his little outfits.  For Pirate Day, Lewie constantly grunted, "Yo, Ho, Ho...Ahoy Mates!" in his deepest voice.  (If you didn't see his pirate costume, you would have thought he was doing more of an imitation of a deranged Santa Claus--"Yo, Ho, Ho...Yo, Ho, Ho....) 

So we found an eye patch and pirate scarf that was from an old birthday goodie bag...

Then we added one of my mom's gold, loop, clip-on earrings from the 70's and of course, a Captain Hook type moustache.

We completed the outfit with an old Dracula vest we used for Lewie when he was three. 
(You can see old Dracula pictures here.)

Yes, September has come and gone, but at least we were able to savor some fun memories along the way.   Now it is on to pumpkins, leaf peeping, and Halloween...  Does anyone know how to make a steam train costume?  (That will be our October project this year...)

The Red Caboose Motel

9.16.2014

This weekend, we took a short trip to Strasburg, PA to sleep at the Red Caboose Motel and ride the Strasburg Rail Road, which just so happens to be 1/4 of a mile away from the motel. 

Planning the trip started back in early August when I saw that Thomas the Tank Engine and his friend Percy would be visiting the Strasburg Rail Road.  Being into trains, I knew Lewie would love the trip, and I also knew that he would enjoy seeing Thomas.  (I'm trying to get these special moments in before Lewie decides he's too old for Thomas.)

Needless to say, our trip didn't disappoint.  After packing our suitcases after work on Friday, we left our house in Connecticut around 7 p.m. and arrived at the motel around 12:30 in the morning.  The main office wasn't open, but they left our key in an envelope with directions to our room right on the front door.  (You've got to love the trustworthiness that  exists in the heart of Amish Country.)  Most people that stay at the hotel sleep in a real caboose; in fact, there's 49 unique ones to be exact.   However, since it was "Thomas Weekend," the cabooses were all taken when I called, so they put us up in their farm house, which turned out to be wonderful and have its own distinct charm.

The next morning, when it was light out, we had a chance to explore the area, and we soon learned that the Strasburg Rail Road could actually be viewed from the motel's front porch in plain sight.  Even cooler, Thomas the Train and Percy were running past the motel every 30 minutes, so we could either see them right at the train tracks or even from the windows in our farm house.  (As you can imagine, my son didn't want to miss a single one, so he stayed planted by the window while my husband and I both took showers.)

Our first daytime view of the country side on Sat. morning...

Lewie waiting for breakfast in a train car...

One of the many, many cabooses...

The view of trains passing by our farm house window.
 
On Saturday, we ate our breakfast in an actual train dining car and then spent the afternoon and evening riding Thomas, Percy, and the "Executive Train" at the Strasburg Rail Road.   That night, the motel sponsored an outdoor movie night of "Thomas and His Friends" where they actually projected the movie against the side of their white barn.  It was the coolest movie night ever!  We brought our dinner with us as we sat and watched Thomas episodes in the barnyard.  (I could get used to this country living.)

Eating breakfast in a train car...

Another picture of our new breakfast joint.

Waiting for another train to come by...

Percy...

Riding Thomas...



Yay for Thomas!

In front of the Strasburg Train Station

Waiting in the "Executive Train"



This is how the outdoor movie looked against the barn wall!

In the morning, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. thanks to the dozen or so roosters that live directly below the farm house.  We didn't remember them crowing on Saturday morning, but on Sunday morning, none of us could get back to sleep.  My little boy started yelling to the roosters, "Stop cock-a-doodle-doing!  It's not even morning time."  (Technically, it was morning time, but to my son, morning doesn't happen until the sun comes out.)

We reluctantly got out of bed and started our day early that morning, but we soon forgot about the roosters as we spent most of our day eating a big, Amish style buffet at Hershey Farm and then visiting a 1700 sq. ft. model train layout at the Choo Choo Barn.  Quite honestly, this was one of the best train layouts we had ever seen!

Bunk beds inside a real caboose!

Wonder what a bathroom looks like in a refurbished caboose?  Well, here it is...

Here's the main room of a caboose...

Can you believe that you just saw the inside of this caboose?

My personal favorite...Love the colors!


The Canadian Pacific and Lionel Lines


Our Farm House

One of the little buggers that woke us up at 4:30 a.m.

My two boys and their trains...

Goodbye Thomas!
After the Choo Choo Barn, we decided to make the five hour trip back home.  I had wanted to take a horse and buggy ride, but we were unprepared for the cooler weather, and my family promised me that we could come back to the motel again.  After all, we still have to sleep in a caboose and visit the Amish Village!  For a trip that was planned around our little boy and his love of trains, I have to say that I think Mommy and Daddy enjoyed themselves just as much if not even more!  Thank you Lewie for helping us plan all these wonderfully, crazy adventures; your love of trains has introduced us to this whole, new, exciting world.

Currently

9.08.2014

Today I'm linking up with Jenna, founder of A Mama Collective.  I thought it might be fun to write a generic post of life "currently."

Thinking about// the fall.  Although we still have summer weather here in Connecticut, the start of school is usually the milestone I use to realize that our carefree summer days of going to the beach, visiting amusement parks, and running tiptoe through the sprinklers until 9 p.m. at night is no longer an option.  In fact, it's getting dark by 7:30 now.  We celebrated our last "day" of summer on Labor Day weekend with a final trip to Lake Quassy, a local amusement park.

My son in front of the "train" ride

and on the Merry-Go-Round.

A "selfie" on the Merry-Go-Round since that's the only time I get my picture taken these days...

Lewie and Daddy on the boat ride.

A picture of Lewie and me too.

My sweet boy sitting in the "Captain's Chair."

Thankful for // my son's new school.  Since our town only offers half-day kindergarten, my husband and I spent many months going to open houses at other "private schools" in the area to find a full-time program.  We finally settled on one that was convenient to home and that seemed to offer a very loving and nurturing environment. 

We prayed on the decision, and as it turns out, our prayers were answered.  After the first day of school, my son proclaimed, "Mommy, this new school is everything I wished for!"  The next day I dropped him off at school, and his kindergarten teacher greeted Lewie with a huge hug:

"I have to tell you..." she said, "at the end of the day yesterday, I gave all the children a blank piece of paper, so they could draw their favorite thing about kindergarten.  Do you want to know what Lewie drew?"

(A train...I thought to myself.)

"Why he drew a picture of me," said the teacher beaming and getting teary eyed.  "He's the reason why I love what I do..."

I couldn't be more proud of my little guy.  He told me he liked his new teacher.  If he were a couple of years older, I would accuse him of being a "kiss-up," but at his age, I know Lewie can only be one thing, and that is authentic to the core.  I'm so glad he's already developed a good rapport with Mrs. Kranz. 

Yay for Lewie enjoying school and looking forward to learning everyday!


Loving // country fairs.  While it's tough to say goodbye to summer, I must admit that I enjoy the fall--fair season, apple picking, pumpkin picking, apple crisp, apple fritters, jack-o-lanterns, Halloween, leaf peeping, etc.  My mom and I took Lewie to a couple of country fairs, and they did not disappoint.  Besides enjoying yummy food and carnival rides, so far we've seen motorcycles flip 75 feet into the air, tractor lawn mowers race for the Gold (just like NASCAR), and talented dogs jump the length of 25 feet or more into a swimming pool.  It's been fun!

Motorcycle stunts!

Tractor "lawn mower" racing

Lewie enjoying himself at the races...

Diving Dogs!

Besides going to country fairs, we're looking to enjoy the great outdoors this fall.  I even signed up Hubby and I to go on a canoe trip during the second week of October.  I can't wait!

What plans do you have for autumn?

We're Moving Up to Kindergarten

9.02.2014

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!