Celebrating Lewie's 6th Birthday a Bit Early...

7.14.2014

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.)

LEGOLAND

7.03.2014

While planning our trip to Florida, we decided early on that LEGOLAND would be our main attraction.  (We were hoping to visit the Tampa Zoo, too, but we soon learned that five days wasn't long enough to do both without feeling totally rushed and overwhelmed.)  We bought tickets to visit LEGOLAND and enjoy their water park for two days, and that's just what we did.  Lewie was in heaven!

Day 3
On the third day of our trip, we did some relaxing by the pool and then headed out to LEGOLAND around noon.  Usually I have a very specific itinerary planned for our trips, but this year I decided to "go with the flow," which proved to be both a blessing and a curse.  When we programmed our GPS to take us to LEGOLAND, we soon learned that it was an hour and a half drive--one minor detail I may have overlooked.

"Annette, I thought LEGOLAND was just around the corner," said my husband.

"Me too.  I thought it was only a half an hour away," I responded, worried that we now wouldn't be arriving to LEGOLAND until well after 2 p.m.

The day called for afternoon thunderstorms and showers and just as we arrived to the park, the skies turned gray.  The lady at the ticket stand reminded us that the park provides no refunds for inclement weather, but we decided, against our better judgment, to go in anyways... 

After taking a cute little train ride in DUPLO VALLEY, an awesome section of the park meant for toddlers and young children, we then proceeded to MINILAND USA, where cities like Miami, New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas have been recreated into mini LEGO versions of themselves.  Lewie loved to see these awesome miniature cities, and my husband and I enjoyed looking at them too and comparing them to real life.  (We had been to all these cities during our traveling years well before Lewie was born.)

Our next stop was to try out a rollercoaster only to learn that these rides as well as the water park had been shut down due to the threat of thunderstorms.  We made it on a quick Safari ride before the skies opened up and the rain poured!  Showers?  This wasn't showers...This was a monsoon.  We went to the LEGOLAND 4-D theater, where we were snowed on inside and had a fun LEGO adventure, but as we came out, we realized that the rain was not letting up anytime soon and the park in general was shutting down.  Everyone, sporting ponchos and umbrellas, were packing up and leaving the park.  Feeling somewhat guilty, I bought Lewie a little SUV with Watercraft LEGO set to put together later.  As it turned out, it was the best little toy we could have bought him.  Since the rain never stopped that day, Lewie had a blast putting it together in our hotel room, and thankfully, we all knew that the visit wasn't ruined; we still had tickets to go back to LEGOLAND another day...

Daddy and Lewie on the Duplo train ride.

The cute little train station..


The Duplo farm across the street.  (What a fun place for toddlers!)



Mommy and Lewie posing in front of Miniland Miami, Florida.


Here's Miami up close...just like the real thing!


A LEGO ship.


The Golden Gate Bridge--made out of LEGOs, of course.

Daddy enjoying the LEGO Safari ride...


Lewie posing in front of the 4-D LEGO Theater.

Day 5
Since Day 4's weather forecast was calling for some more afternoon showers, we decided to visit LEGOLAND on our fifth and last day in Florida.  This time, knowing the distance from our hotel, we ventured out early, and the day did not disappoint.  In fact, we had no rain the entire day, and we had a chance to enjoy EVERYTHING.   With 90 degree temps, going to the water park first was a given.  This was followed by some rollercoaster rides and then Lewie's favorite ride of all, The Ford Driving School.  Here, Lewie not only had a chance to drive his very own LEGO car, but he took a "driving test" where he earned his very own LEGOLAND Driving License. 

For Lewie, having his own Driving License was it!!  He showed it to everyone inside the park, and he made sure to show it to everyone on the airport going home.  In fact, it's still the item most talked about from our entire trip...


A much sunnier day in LEGOLAND.

My two boys on the Island in the Sky ride.  (It was a relaxing ride 300 feet in the air.)


Miniland Las Vegas...so darn cute


The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas


The Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas--This is where my husband proposed back in 2004.

Cooling Off in the LEGO Duplo pool.

Finally, a water slide that's more my speed :)

More water slides and fun activities, but on this ride, get prepared to be DRENCHED.

Lewie building LEGOs at the wave pool.

Hmm...Let's see if they will float.

There's nothing better than floating down a lazy river and adding LEGOs to your raft at the same time.

The Ford LEGO Driving School

All LEGOs, of course.





 

And we're off...

Nice merging Lewie.

Okay...you should be looking at the road in front of you.  Watch out for the LEGO people.

The test is over; congrats Lewie--you've earned your first driver's license!

LEGOLAND was a wonderful time.  Sure we were rained out the first day, but the second day was amazing.  Lew and I both agreed that we had the most fun in years, and the best part....spending every second with Lewie.  His happiness and passion for life is contagious.  Now if we can just bottle up the fun and spontaneity that we had on this trip and bring it into our everyday lives at home... 

Sunny Florida

6.22.2014

Last week, we spent an amazing few days in Tampa and St. Pete Beach Florida.  Since I have so many pictures and we did so many things, I  decided to create several posts about the trip.   This one will be about the first few days...

Day 1:
On Monday, we headed out at 5:30 a.m. to John F. Kennedy National Airport in NYC to take our plane to Florida.  We thought we had given ourselves enough time, but after getting lost trying to find the Long Term Parking Lot, we ended up arriving at 7:50 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. flight.   The employees from Delta Airlines made it known that we were much too late for our flight, and so they found another one for us to take at 6:50 p.m.  Long story short--we ended up spending the whole day in the airport, and we were charged $150 for the flight change...

Still we made the most of our wait...

First, we rode the air train for about an hour.  (Lewie never got tired of pretending he was the conductor.)

Conductor Lewie telling us about the train (wearing my sunglasses, of course).

Then we found a Delta Lego Plane in one of the stores.  I helped him put it together,
and Lewie pretended to fly the plane everywhere--including behind Daddy's head.




This is Lewie driving a plane.  I'm so glad I wasn't on that flight!

Then, we waited for another hour, and another hour, and another until it was finally time for us to board our flight.   I've decided that I will stay in a hotel over night before missing another flight again.  Airports seem like a lot of fun until you're there with a five year old for the next ten hours...

We arrived at the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida around 10 p.m. that night.

Day 2: 
We decided to treat ourselves to a fancy breakfast at the resort, and then we planned for a day of adventure at the beach...  My husband chose to rent a jet ski for a half hour, and I chose to go parasailing.  Lewie, who never wants to miss out on all the fun, decided to do both with us.  The really awesome story is that the owner of the water sports place, Captain Dave, allowed Lewie to parasail with me for free.   It was definitely a fun experience!

Chilin out at the Tiki Bar for breakfast.

Waiting for our chocolate chip pancakes...

Jet ski time...

A photograph of our hotel while I waited for the jet ski crew to return.

My two adventurers.

A forced smile.  Lewie was upset that his goggles flew off his head!

Aye Aye Captain Lewie.  Mommy is all set to go parasailing...

A pleasant surprise.  Captain Dave allowed Lewie to come with me even though we didn't sign him up...


Me and my little trooper.

Up, up, and away...

A wedding at our hotel.  I couldn't resist snapping a picture of their shoes...

A little pool action.

Good catch Daddy!

Our beautiful pool--simply paradise.

Time for the beach water slide...

Definitely much slippier with water.
 
A little water action.

Back to the Beach...
 
"Lewie, you have to take a picture with Mommy too!"
 
Castle wrecker!
 
Don't float away Daddy!
 


Our day ended with this amazing sunset.   I'm not sure where we found the energy to do so much in one day, but I definitely know we made up for the time spent in the airport.  Our next few days consisted of a vist to LEGOLAND, which I'll reserve for my next post...
 
Thank you all for your wonderful heartfelt comments last week!