The Ultimate Playdate!

9.23.2013

 On August 1 of this year, I returned to work full-time.  (I'm still getting emotional thinking about it.)  For the last 4 1/2 years, I've held onto a part-time schedule, which allowed me to stay home with Lewie at least two to three days per week.  This time, to me, was the most precious ever, and I will never ever regret my decision to stay home with him.  I've had an amazing time reading Lewie stories, taking him on play dates, and especially taking him on special mother-son outings.

Over the summer, I lost the generous salary I was making as a part-time employee, and I was forced to either work full-time to keep my salary or settle for 40% less pay.  It was a difficult decision--one that I still question, but for now, I've opted to keep my salary and the lifestyle I've been accustomed to...at least until credit card bills can get paid down...

These past few weeks of being a full-time employee has been draining to say the least, and so when the opportunity presented itself for us to take an affordable family vacation last week, I couldn't pass it up.  The place, known as the Woodloch Resort, nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania, is an all inclusive family resort that offers in-door and outdoor pools and splash pads, bumper boats, bumper cars, go-karts, a zip line, archery, arts and crafts, family competitions, lakeside activities (like row boating, skiing, fishing, sailing, and swimming), and evening entertainment (like plays, comedy shows, and juggling acts).

In some ways, it reminded me of upscale camping; we ate at the lodge as a group with other families, we partook in mostly outside activities, and the grounds of Woodlock were pristine, rustic, and natural.  The part I liked the best, however, is that Woodlock is family-centered.  All activities (whether they be sports, rides, parties, festivals, shows, or competitions) were geared toward children and their parents, and as a result, one of their many known slogans is "the ultimate playdate."  For four full-days, my husband and I had non-stop "playdates" with our five year-old, and we learned that in doing this, we not only created tons of fun memories but we also laughed harder than we had in years...  At Woodlock, even grandparents and great-grandparents join the fun too.  It's truly a unique place.

While I won't bore you with a day-to-day itinerary of everything we did, I would like to share a few pictures of my favorite moments.  Indeed, my son told us one evening, "I think this place is magic," and once he said it, I couldn't agree more.  Woodlock was magic--it healed my wounds of going back to work full-time, and it brought a renewed radiance to a stressed out family (ours) that so desperately needed to be reminded of the "simple things" that make life awesome.


Daddy and Lewie racing on a Go-Kart track.  (Lewie was still below the height limit to drive on his own.)

My two boys finishing up their picnic lunch.

I had to join in a picture too.  After all, I had lunch with them too!

Lewie having a chance to drive his very own "party boat."

Daddy relaxing on the open water.

I'm relaxing on the party boat too!

Celebrating Daddy's (43rd) Birthday at the lodge.  (Lewie helped blow the candles too.)

Lewie playing at their 'indoor' splash pad...



Playing in the "pretend geysers."

Daddy and Lewie doing tricks w/ new friends.

It's time for bumper boats!!

The three of us bumping and squirting each other.  (Little Lewie never stopped squirting.)

Time for an old-fashioned row boat ride...

Daddy in action...

"Land ahoy."

Wondering how to get out.

A close-up in his life vest.

Carefully returning the vest to its proper place.

Admiring the lake...

Sneaking a morning breakfast treat at the lodge.

"A tiger is a wonderful thing!"

Morning mist on the lake.

Beyond the looking glass...

Competing in "cupcake wars" w/ his new friend Charlotte.

Proud silver medalists for our fabulous cupcake decorating skills.
(Lewie shook w/ excitement when he received his very first medal.)

I'm Officially a Soccer Mom!

9.09.2013

This weekend, Lewie had his first soccer practice.  Until now, I've never joined him in any organized sports just because I thought he might be too young.  (The last thing I want for him is to lose confidence at a young age and quit.)

Well, Saturday we went to our recreation complex, and Lewie was given his first official uniform and soccer ball.  His team is called the Dinomites, and he's got a cute Dinosaur as his mascot.  (We've been told that "Dino" will be coming to visit in the next few weeks.  This is very exciting stuff!)





I enjoyed his first practice, mainly because it requires parent participation.  This week's theme was being on a farm, and Lewie had to play "farm games" with his soccer ball.  Lewie had to chase Mommy and Daddy in the soccer field and catch our fox tails (rags)--first without "dribbling" the ball but then with the ball.   Then Mommy and Daddy had to lay eggs (cones), and Lewie had to practice kicking the ball to the cones. 

At the end of the practice, Coach Seth decided to have a little game--the Dinomites against their parents.  This didn't go over as well as expected.  The kiddos were forgetting which net was their goal, and since they didn't know how to work together as a team yet, they were all trying to kick the ball at once (or else they were watching from the sidelines).  As expected, our first Dinomite fell on his butt and started screaming.  Then two others joined in the crying escapade.  Lewie tried kicking the ball with two other kids, and they all fell on top of each other like dominos.  Thus, we had another three sniffling kids.  The Coach then stopped the game and apologized:  "I guess we're not quite ready yet.  I don't think we had a single player that didn't cry.  We'll try this again at the end of the season." 

The good news is that over all, Lewie enjoyed his practice, and he's looking forward to next week.  He was visibly upset to see other kids get hurt, so I'm not sure how he'll fare in his next game, but until then, we'll make sure he continues having fun playing his "farm games" with Mommy and Daddy.

The Dinomites w/ Coach Seth

Our proud family

I love this pic, but my husband cropped my head!

My little soccer champ!

One more picture...in full uniform!

Demonstrating his kicking skill.

Go Dinomites!

Lewie's First Day of Pre-K!

9.04.2013

Yesterday was Lewie's first official day of school.  I pressed his clothes the night before (I hardly ever iron), got his new Thomas the Train lunch bag ready, and packed up his extra pair of clothes in his new Thomas the Train rolling book bag.  It was fun!

Getting dressed up for the first day of school is one of my favorite childhood memories, and so now I'm passing it along to Lewie.  I'm not sure how much fun he had posing for the camera yesterday morning again and again, but I'm thankful he let me have my once-a-year entertainment.


This is a sample of the silliness I had to endure most of the time.


Finally, after 12+ pictures!
 
Posing in front of his school.
 
Entering his Pre-K class.

After numerous conversations with his teachers, we decided that Lewie wasn't quite ready to enter full-day kindergarten, and so we're doing Pre-K four days per week.  At first, I was worried about our decision.  After all, don't most five year-olds go to kindergarten?  Some friends and family members were supportive; others weren't.  Still, he's a young five, and I know he could benefit from another year of reviewing numbers and letters while still having the luxury of "days off" with Mommy, Daddy, and Gramy.  His teachers who initiated this discussion seemed to think so too.

So...I made my decision; there's no turning back.  Here's to one more year before kindergarten, school buses and report cards.  He'll learn at his own pace, and that's just fine with me.

Three Birthdays and A Trolley Ride

9.02.2013

 
Our Little Lewie turned five on August 11th and instead of having one fun birthday party to celebrate his big day, our little guy had three parties!  Heck, we basically celebrated his special day all month long, which is the reason we've been MIA.

During the first weekend of August, we had Lewie's family party.  We invited our relatives from Delaware, in addition to our family in Connecticut, and had one fun-filled picnic with yummy strawberry shortcake. 

On the morning of his family party, he woke up and said, "Mommy, it's my birthday today. I turn five today." 

Being much too literal, I took out my calendar and said, "Well actually Lewie, your birthday is on August 11th, not today.  You'll be five in one more week."

Tears started to stream down his face, and once he caught his breath, he shouted, "You're wrong Mommy.  Today is my birthday."

After that, I decided to just go with it.  Really, what's one week in the grand scheme of things... A word to the wise...if you're going to celebrate your child's birthday early, you're gonna have to pretend it's early.

Lewie with his cousins plotting out when to sample some frosting.

A train cake of course!

Make a wish.

After a quick sampling.

Opening up his first present of many this month.

Wow, his own personal DVD player from Aunty Re Re!
 
Some water fun with his cousin Sarah!

The very next week, his actual birthday week, Little Lewie helped me make s'mores cupcakes to bring to his friends in school.  This was his second birthday celebration.

Did someone sample the chocolate?

You bet he did!  Me too!


The cupcakes had marshmallow fluff for frosting along with some gram cracker crumbs and a piece of Hershey's chocolate.

I have to admit that they were really, really good!

Last week, we had Lewie's "trolley birthday party," which consisted of 17 little friends and their families (40 people altogether).  This party, of course, was the one he looked forward to most.  Since Lewie's love of trains has only intensified over the past year, we knew renting a trolley for his birthday would make the perfect gift. 

For less than $200, the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven lent us their "birthday trolley" and set up tables for us, so we could have a pizza party on board while we all took a trip back and forth through the East Haven salt marshes.  During the middle of the trolley trip, we parked at the trolley yard so our guests could look at more historic trolleys while I set-up cupcakes in their small picnic area.

A picture w/ my Little Engineer at the house.  Do you like his costume?  He pretended to work on the trolley all day.


One more picture of him before the party.


The Birthday Trolley!
 
A view of everyone aboard the trolley.
 
Another view of everyone.

Lewie w/ his cousin and friends.

Chocolate mousse cupcakes.
 
Lewie made another wish here--he announced "to be with my family."
 
Setting up a "Thomas the Train" piƱata.
 
He told us he couldn't celebrate because he was working.

My two engineers.

Coming home w/ presents.

The end of a fun day for my "hard working trolley boy."
 
The trolley party went by very quickly...so quickly that I didn't get much of a chance to talk to anyone.  I felt very fortunate, however, because when it came to both the set-up and the clean-up, my friends were there.  Dozens of people stayed after the party to help us load presents in the car, wipe down tables, and pack up leftover food.  I never felt so loved.

Then, at the very end of the day, when Lewie was just about to fall asleep, he called to me..."Mommy."

"Yes Lewie, what is it?" I asked.

"Today was the best day ever."

I knew then that, undoubtedly, the trolley birthday party was a success.  All the months of planning, the days of preparation, and the help provided by friends and family had truly contributed to my little boy's happiness.  Yay to an awesome birthday trolley ride and to an awesome birthday month!