Happy 2015!


Yesterday we took a quick one-day trip to New York City.  My son (who continues to adore trains) had his very first opportunity to take the train into the city and then take the subway to Times Square.  The City, just as we expected, was mobbed for the holiday, so it took a little extra time to get anywhere.  Still, we didn't hear a single complaint from Little Lewie about the long lines or the waiting...he was just too mystified by the tall buildings, the lights, and all the people.

I must admit that it was exhilarating to see the City start setting up for New Year's Eve.  The street barriers were already out and in position, and there were tons of trucks everywhere delivering alcohol, food, and ice.  I could already feel the energy.  One day...just one day...I'll be there to see the ball drop!

Starting our trip at Grand Central Station.

Lewie's first trip to the Big Apple and Grand Central.

Times Square (You can already see the police barriers lining the streets in preparation for New Year's Eve.)

So much fun!!

Rockefeller Center...

(So happy to have a picture of the three of us...)

The Lego Store's "replica" of Rockefeller Center.

On this New Year's Eve Day, as I reflect back on 2014, I must say that it's been a year of mixed blessings and emotions.  In the very same month, we both welcomed a new little baby cousin to the family and then lost a cherished uncle.  Our father-in-law became more ill but still kept up the strength to stay home and be with his family during the holidays. 

On the home front, my little boy started kindergarten and has matured exponentially in comparison to years before...  I love his cherished age of six as Christmas, Santa, and the holidays in general mean more to this little guy; still my heart misses years past when this little toddler wobbled his way to the Christmas tree and was satisfied playing with Christmas ornaments all day long.  My husband's and my marriage has grown stronger, but as a couple that both works full-time, we're still learning how to balance the ever delicate schedule of work, household chores, family, friends, and free-time.

At work, I received an unexpected promotion, which both provided more income while also requiring more responsibility.... 

Yes, 2014 has been a year of "trade-offs" so to speak.  For each new blessing has also come a new hardship or a new lesson to be learned.  Still, it's been a good year as our own little family has been healthy and has had many, many moments of laughter and smiles.

This 2015, I'm keeping my New Year's Resolutions simple.  Yes, I still have a list of goals for myself like eating healthier, spending more quality time with friends and family, and being the best mom and wife I can be...  Still, my main resolution, like last year, is to LIVE, LAUGH, and LOVE.  Each year seems to go by faster and faster, and so when I start feeling like life is at maximum speed, I need to take a day off (or two) and remember my priorities, first and foremost, are to making lasting memories with my loved ones while I am blessed to have them with me.

Happy 2015 to you and your beautiful families.  May it be a year of Happiness, Love, and Laughter!

Pure Joy!


Christmas was pure joy for this little boy over the past few days.  Not only did Lewie get a chance to see some of his favorite relatives that live far away but he's also had a chance to play with favorite cousins and friends. 

I'll admit that Mommy and Daddy have been enjoying the "relaxed" pace too.  Instead of trying to cram in a winter vacation, we're staying home, getting a few errands done, and spending quality time with each other.  We've decided that our weekly activities will include walking, roller skating, going to the movies, and one day trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.  Beyond this, our goal is to spend some time seeing old friends and getting much needed SLEEP. 

Oh, if life could forever have this relaxed pace....

Lewie opening up Santa's presents on Christmas morning.

A tablet!

A LEGO CITY high speed train!

A relaxed Christmas morning playing with LEGOS and listening to Christmas music.

Our adorable cousin Lily (the newest member of the family).

My husband and Papa (his father).  Papa has battled cancer, heart disease,
and several strokes over the past seven years.

Papa and Me.  It's a blessing to have him with us this Christmas!
"Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. 
It is happiness because we see joy in people.  It is forgetting self and finding time for others. 
It is discarding the meaningless and stressing true values."
~  Thomas S. Monson

It's ALMOST Christmas...


This holiday season went by FAST.  Still, it provided many memorable moments with my six year-old who absolutely adores Santa.  Here are just a few silly stories that I want to remember for years to come...

1) Four Santas - Yes, Lewie had a chance to meet Santa FOUR times this year.  The first two times were on purpose, and the second two times were purely by accident.  Our first sighting of Santa was on "The Train to Christmas Town" in Cape Cod.  There, Santa was quite busy visiting all the children on the train, so Lewie was disappointed when he felt he couldn't adequately sit down with Santa and tell him EVERYTHING he wanted.  None-the-less, it felt magical.

Lewie then, by accident, saw Santa at my place of work.  We had a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, and Lewie spotted Santa running one of the booths.  Well, Lewie made a mad dash for the booth to tell Santa the rest of the toys that were on his list.  "Oh, okay little boy," was Santa's response.

Our third meet and greet with Santa was at the mall.  I wanted a picture for our Christmas card this year, and Lewie agreed to wait with me in line.  It was a brief visit, but Lewie felt confident he had enough time to meet with Santa, and I got the Christmas picture I wanted...

Meeting number four happened in Walmart.  I was rushing to exchange some Christmas lights that weren't working and Lewie spotted Santa from practically a mile away.  "Mommy, it's Santa!  It's Santa!" Lewie screamed.   "Lewie, you've already met him three times," I insisted.  Guess who won?

2) The Christmas Star - On our first (Santaless) visit to Walmart, Lewie came with me to pick out some outside Christmas lights.  Being the happy, spirited little boy that he is, he chose strings of multi-colored Christmas lights (that really do match his personality).  When we were ready to leave, he spotted a "Christmas Star" for the top of the tree.  "Mommy, we need a star," he insisted.  I picked out two elegant type starts, but Lewie knew what he wanted.  "Not those," he said, "I want this one."  It was a multi-colored star that lights up blue, red, yellow and green.  I grudgingly bought it, but soon changed my tune when we brought it home.  Lewie couldn't wait for us to put the Christmas Star on the tree, and now, every morning when he wakes up, he asks that we put the tree lights on so he can see the star.  A few times he's also sat alone quietly in the living room just to gaze at his beautiful star.  I love that kid!

Our colorful star...

3)   Lewie's Little Table Top Tree - My mom used to set up a little artificial Christmas tree in my bedroom every year when I was growing up.  I had my own special ornaments, and I'll admit that I loved having my bedroom decorated for Christmas.  This year, I saw a cute little table top Christmas tree at the supermarket, and I bought it on a whim...  I wasn't sure if my son would enjoy having his own Christmas tree like I did as a little girl, but I thought there was no harm in finding out...  We set it up in his bedroom, and it turned out that Lewie LOVED his little tree.  In fact, where I thought we would just decorate it with some ornaments, Lewie insisted that it needed Christmas lights too.  We spent an hour decorating it, and afterwards, Lewie commented, "Mommy, Santa will be so proud of my tree!"

4)  Tootie (The Elf on the Shelf) - Now I'll admit that Tootie our Christmas Elf has been a little lackadaisical this year.  He moved a total of four times--from our bedroom hallway, to two places in our living room, to the Christmas tree.  Still, he's been watching, and I've been reminding Lewie every time he misbehaves.
Lewie:  "But Mommy, I don't want to get dressed for school."
Me:       "Oh, Tootie.  I think you need to report back to Santa that this little boy doesn't want to go to school."
Lewie:  "Oh, I do. I do. I do."

It works like a charm every time.   I'm going to miss Tootie.

"Tootie" has been with us for four Christmas's now."

Holiday Chocolate!


I must confess...I am a true chocoholic!  I'm not sure I've gone much longer than 12 hours in my entire life without eating something chocolate--chocolate milk, chocolate cake, chocolate candy, chocolate ice cream, or during times like these--hot cocoa.

Little Lewie is a chocolate aficionado too.  Just yesterday, he was bummed when I reminded him that he had to go to school.  "Why do I have to go to school Mommy?  It's Christmastime!  I should be allowed to stay home and drink hot chocolate all day."  (Now, that's my boy!)

This year we started (ahem) a new holiday chocolate tradition to add to the old.

1)  Old Tradition...

We've been enjoying a piece of Whitman's Chocolate everyday as we count down the days to Christmas with the Snoopy (Peanuts) Advent Calendar.

New Tradition...
I recently learned about this amazing chocolate (Milk House Chocolates) that comes from a dairy farm here in Goshen, Connecticut.  The farm pastures their cows and feeds them specific hay and organic feed to produce "sweet milk."   Their website states, "Would you like to know where your milk comes from?  We can actually show you which cow, tell you her name, her family history, and what makes her milk so smooth and pure."  (They milk their cows using buckets and not a pump system.)  We recently visited the farm and bought chocolate gift boxes but not without trying their chocolate first...!  Some of their unique flavors are Dark Chocolate Lavender, Intense Dark Chocolate Orange Truffle, Milk Maid's Irish Cream, Almond Truffle, and Hazelnut Coffee.
Thorncrest Farm in Goshen, CT


Milk House Artisanal Chocolates...This Way!

I expected the farm to have a chocolate gift shop, but instead they just have a tiny room where
you pick chocolates from behind a counter.  This place is a rare find; however, rumor has it that
it's been visited by celebrities such as Tom Cruise.
Indeed, Christmas is a perfect time to give and receive...chocolate.  Many thanks to my friends who not only taught me about this special place but invited me and the family to come with them!

A Cape Cod (Early) Christmas


After spending Thanksgiving with my family and my in-laws, we decided to take a short trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, so we could enjoy the Cape Codder Resort (with its indoor water park and wave pool) and the Train to Christmas Town.
After doing our usual (traveling late on Friday night), we arrived at the Cape Codder around midnight and checked-in.  The very next morning, we ate breakfast at the Hearth 'n Kettle and decided we only had two goals for that Saturday—enjoy the water park and wave pool and then get in our pajamas to ride the 5 o’clock Train to Christmas Town. 

I must say that the day didn’t disappoint.  The wave pool and slides were so much fun (rarely do I go fully under and get my hair wet these days), and The Train to Christmas Town was upbeat and fun.  We had a chance to sit in a very comfortable coach with a table while elves spoiled us with hot chocolate and cookies.  We sang songs, read The Train to Christmas Town book, met characters from the story, and of course, had a chance to meet Santa himself.  When Santa came around, Lewie could hardly contain himself:
“I want a Lionel Polar Express Luggage Car, Kitchen Car, and Crew Figures” he blurted out in five seconds flat.  I was hoping to get a picture of the two of them, but Santa was on a tight schedule.  There were at least twenty other children waiting for him in our car alone, and there were eight other cars.

The wave pool and water slides...

Proof that my husband joined in the fun...

Proof that I joined in the fun...

This kid loved diving into the waves!

The pool reminded me of the Ocean...indoors.

One more picture to capture the theme of the pool.
Waiting for the Train to Christmas Town

We're ready to see Santa!

Me too!

"Santa, I've been a good boy this year."

Our one quick picture of Santa.

Lewie posing with one of our elves.  He was way more excited to take a picture with her!

Inside the Train Car...
When we arrived back at the Cape Codder, we had other unexpected surprises.  Children were invited to roast marshmallows out at their courtyard bonfire and then watch their feature movie, The Polar Express.  Lewie was so wound up from the entertainment, he didn’t go to bed until midnight. 

The next morning, we enjoyed the wave pool one more time and then ventured out to see a little of Cape Cod, which of course, seems to be somewhat in hibernation this time of year.  We took a few pictures by the Lighthouse in Chatham, MA, and then went to the famous Snow’s Home and Garden Store in Orleans.  A nice lady at the hotel front desk told us that Snow’s had an awesome model train display, so off we went.  The store was amazing, possibly even better than the Christmas Tree Shop, with all of its lights and ornaments on display.  Even better, they carried many Lionel Trains, and I attempted to buy Lewie a “Lionel Trolley” while Daddy kept him occupied.
The secret mission failed.  As we all walked to the car, Lewie saw the Lionel emblem through the bag and immediately got excited about the bag’s contents. 

Lewie:  “Mommy!!!  Did you buy me a train?”

Me:  “Why do you ask?”

Lewie:  “There’s something in the bag that says Lionel.  Oh Mommy, you bought me a train!”

Me:  "Oh, well, that's a Christmas present from Mommy and Daddy."

Lewie:  “Mommy, can I see the train?  Please can I see the train.  Pleeeaaaasssseee!”

Seeing that we had a three hour trip home, I couldn’t imagine Lewie begging me relentlessly the whole time; I gave up and relinquished the Trolley.  Meanwhile, Lewie stared at it in the box the entire ride home with a permanent smile on his face.  Quite honestly, it was the perfect ending to the perfect little trip.  We are ready for Christmas!
We ate at lunch at this awesome restaurant called "The Brazilian Grill."  The "theme" of this restaurant is that they continuously serve you cuts of meat--pork, beef, lamb, chicken, etc. etc.

I had to take a picture of the restaurant's glass enclosed room!

Definitely a restaurant for the meet lover...like my husband.

The Chatham Lighthouse

At the "elbow" of the Cape...

One happy boy with his Lionel Trolley