A Trip to the "Sweetest Place on Earth"


Every summer, I create a "bucket list" (no pun intended).  The list can include anything from eating ice-cream at Rich's Farm (five miles down the road from us) to vacationing in Europe.  This year, my all-time dream was to take Lewie to Hershey, PA.  Multiple friends told me this was a great trip for eight year-olds.  Plus, as a huge chocolate lover myself, how could I resist going to a place that smells like chocolate and has lamp-posts in the shape of Hershey Chocolate Kisses?

The trip was written on my dream board, and sure enough, it came true.  Weeks earlier, I asked my good friend Sue if she would be interested in going with her eight year-old son, Ryan.  We had taken many day trips together, and we knew our boys got along great.  (In fact, they've been having play-dates since they were one years-old.)  To my delight, she and Ryan were 'game,' and soon the plan became a reality.

As with any trip, we made lots of memories, and the details of each day could easily take up a whole book.  So, for the sake of this post, I will do an abbreviated recap.  The drive to Hershey took us about five hours (with stops and traffic) each way, so we reserved two days just for driving there and driving back.  However, on day two, we spent the entire day at Hershey Park and Zoo America, and on day three, we bought tickets to go to Chocolate World to do the 4-D movie and to take a Trolley Tour of the city.  The attractions did not disappoint.

For my son, the highlights were the Monorail Ride at Hershey Park (who can resist a train in the sky), the Chocolate Factory Tour, and the Trolley Bus Ride.  In fact, he loved the Monorail so much, we went on three times.  (It would have been more if we didn't stop him in his tracks--ha!)

For me, the highlight was learning about Milton Hershey's life through the Chocolate Factory Tour and especially the Trolley Bus Ride (which gave us an in-depth overview of both his failures and triumphs).  The man was truly an entrepreneur in his time with a solid commitment to social justice and equality--he started the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys, which today, is still a tuition-free, private school committed to teaching young children of families with economic hardships.  (High school children even have a chance to earn prestigious scholarships for college!)

Beyond the attractions, however, was the joy of spending time with a wonderful friend and getting to experience the antics of two high-energy eight year-old boys.  The days were filled with pillow fights, super-hero battles (with their little action figures), laser beam toys, swimming, tag, candy, Sponge Bob Square Pants episodes (before bed), and potty humor--lots of it.  In fact, my son was the worst--ripping farts before bedtime and even chasing Ryan with his bare behind.  It's the kind of behavior that makes me cringe and my husband proud!

With next week being the start to a brand new school year, I'm so happy we squeezed in this trip.  It was definitely one for the history books.  I will always look at a Hershey Kiss or Hershey Chocolate Bar with fond memories.

Lewie Turns 8!


Lewie turned 8 on August, 11, 2016, and we're still celebrating.  Per request, I took his special day off from work, and together, we had an exciting day of SPUD, Pickle, kickball, meditation, and trains. Let me explain...

At 9 a.m., Lewie usually goes to Camp 565 on weekdays during the summer.  Since this was his last week of camp, he didn't want to miss the entire day, so he asked me to join him.  With permission, I was allowed to join him for an exciting two hours of "sports" followed by an hour of meditation. (Yes, picture children ages 6-12 meditating...what you envision is exactly what it was like--lots of squirmy little ones who couldn't stop moving and making noise!)

Lewis is affectionately named by his counselor, Travis, "Lewie Pro Skills," and so a birthday crown was made in his honor.  I was addressed as Mrs. Pro Skills, and Lewie was given a Birthday Crowning (Coronation) as he entered the building;  all his little friends surprised him as they jumped out of hiding and yelled "Happy Birthday Lewie Pro Skills!"  He was very excited.

Of course, the day became more exciting as I was allowed to play games like SPUD and kickball with Lewie.  I never liked "gym" much as a child, but as a 40 year-old, it was AWESOME.  I had such a great time playing with the kids, and since the counselors make it about having fun (or playing for "funzies") without the competition, I couldn't stop laughing.

Meditation made me laugh even harder.  Upon teaching us breathing and calming techniques, Travis the counselor announced, "Meditate for one hour per day like me, and you'll be the epitome of chill." I elbowed Lewie.  "See what meditation can do for you?"

We left camp at lunchtime because I still promised Lewie a day at the Danbury Railway Museum followed by a visit with  Daddy at High Watch.   Going to the Danbury Railway Museum felt like a blast from the past.  Our last visit there has to be two and a half years ago when Lewie was only 5. We had a membership that lapsed because Lewie seemed to be interested in new things--computers, Minecraft, LEGOS, the Avengers...  So when Lewie requested that we go back to the museum for his birthday, I was blown away.  "Back to the Danbury Railway Museum?" I asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I miss it.  I want to see the trains again.  I LOVE trains!" he proclaimed.

The museum's displays and gift shop were still very much the same, but it did look like they collected a few more train cars (most likely from junkyards) to refurbish.  The Metro North Train pulled up to the station, so the engineers could change shifts, so this was certainly a highlight, too.

After several hours, we left the museum, to make a quick visit to see Daddy.  We had dinner and ice cream together, and then we came home...  The day may have ended after dinner, but Lewie's birthday celebration is still continuing.  I took more time off from work, so we can continue celebrating with friends and family through small get-togethers and play-dates.  The magic number 8 only happens once--I'm going to make sure this year is one to remember just like any of the others. Childhood is truly a gift in itself.