I'm a Proud "Cheer" Aunt


This weekend, Lewie's cousin Sarah participated in her last cheerleading competition of the year.  We learned that her division of USA Wildcats (Sassy Cats) was undefeated and decided to support her. Since the competition was in Worcester, MA (about an hour and forty five minutes away), we decided to make the competition into an all weekend event.  We stayed over at the Clarion Hotel and Aqua Lagoon Waterpark in West Springfield, MA on Saturday and then left at seven in the morning to take Sarah to her last competition at the DCU Center in Worcester.

On Saturday, we spent the day at the hotel water park, which was FILLED with kids.  My sister-in-law and her husband brought their three children (Sarah, Brooklyn, and Lily) and their grandnephew, Elijah.  My husband and I, of course, just brought Little Lewie.  The kids had a blast swimming in the pool, going down water slides, and playing on the splash pad while the adults mostly rested at tables on the side.

Cousin Brooklyn in the pool

Aunt Missy and Uncle Moises


Sarah and Lewie
The waterpark closed at 8 p.m., and we headed to our adjoining rooms on the first floor.  The kids LOVED that they could walk between both rooms at their leisure.  At one point, my husband and I looked around and saw that all FIVE children (ages 3 - 12) were in our room.  It was all out mayhem. (Don't forget that we're used to ONE child; FIVE is a big deal for us.)  They were playing games, eating candy, watching videos on tablets, and talking up a storm.   Little Elijah (five) was so excited to be staying at the hotel that he kept on showing us "his bed."

Lights out was around 10 o'clock as we had to wake up early the next morning to bring Sarah and Aunt Missy to the DCU Center.  She had to be there for practice at 8:30 a.m., and her performance was slated for 10:20 a.m.  Awards wouldn't happen until 1 p.m., so we knew we were headed for a fairly long day.   I didn't know how Lewie would handle all the waiting, but to my surprise, he was great.  He loved listening to the music and watching the performances.  Only twice did he request to go home, which prompted me to remind him that we had to wait until after the award ceremony.

As for the "Sassy Cats"... well, they won first place!   We were so proud of Sarah.  We already knew she could do these amazing flips and tumbling, but nothing could replace seeing her live performance. We were allowed to go to the front stage when it was their turn, and the girls honestly took my breath away.  It was a very proud moment for this aunt and a very proud moment for Lewie who absolutely adores his cousin.

Best Sassy Cat Friends (cousin Sarah is the second on the right)

One proud aunt!
Lewie getting to have lunch with all the girls
 This weekend honestly flew by.  We were so happy we made it a priority to see Sarah's last competition this year.  I have a newfound respect for cheer, especially for all the practices, time, and commitment made by Sarah and her mom.  I am awestruck.

The Easter Bunny Delivers the Magic 8 Ball


Easter brought summer weather this year.  Instead of searching for warm sweaters and coats, we were scouring for short sleeve shirts and sundresses.  I would have considered wearing a sundress except both my legs and arms haven't seen the sun since Oct; my feet and toenails have seen better days too.

We followed our usual tradition; we went to Easter mass at 11 a.m. and then to the Mattabesett Canoe Club for dinner.  (The restaurant is exactly half way between my aunt's home in Danielson, CT and our home in Beacon Falls; it also serves a delicious Easter brunch overlooking the Connecticut River.)  Our aunt from Delaware, her son, and her four year-old granddaughter also joined us this year.  It was nice to have most of our little family with us for the holiday.

Dinner at the Mattabesett Canoe Club

I think they were trying to do Easter Bunny ears.

My beautiful mom.

The most entertaining part of the holiday, however, was the Easter Bunny's arrival.  He brought 12 plastic eggs for Lewie to find (I think one is still missing), and an Easter basket filled with candy, two gift cards, and toys like the Ja-Ru Glow Saucer Flyer, Zuru Bunch o Balloons self-sealing water balloon set, and you guessed it...The Magic 8 Ball.  

The Magic 8 Ball was the biggest hit.  (It was my favorite toy from the 80's--after Barbie, of course.)  At first Lewie wasn't sure how it worked.  I took it out of the box and told him he needed to ask it a "yes" or "no" question.  "Let me show you," I said.  "Magic 8 Ball...will we have a nice Easter dinner this year?"  I turned the ball over, and viola, the little triangle appeared:  "Signs point to yes."

Immediately, Lewie started asking questions to quiz it.  "Magic 8 Ball, do I like YouTube?"  "Do I have a cousin named Sarah?"  "Will Xbox come out with a new console?"

I had to intervene before the Magic 8 Ball made a wrong answer and would be dubbed a phony.  "Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball makes predictions about the future; it doesn't answer questions you already know."  Here, ask it a question like, "Will I get married?"  The Magic 8 Ball answered, "Yes."

Finally, Lewie was on the right track.  He's asked it questions about whether he will become a video gamer or whether he will have a good day at school.  Everyday since Easter there has been a question, and the Magic 8 Ball has always reliably provided an answer...even if it's "Ask again later."  

"Mommy," he asked on Easter Sunday, "how do you turn the Magic 8 Ball off?"  He had been speaking "into" the ball as if it could hear him and provide a reply.  

"Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball doesn't have a speaker, and it doesn't rely on battery power.  You don't have to turn it off," I replied.

"But then how does it hear me without a battery?  Isn't this like Alexa?"

"Lewie, the Magic 8 Ball runs on magic."

He thought about it for a second, and then said, "Well if Santa and the Easter Bunny are magic, I guess the Magic 8 Ball is magic too."

In the 80's, I liked relying on my Magic 8 Ball to make predictions for me.  Sometimes I think my life would be easier if I just let it continue to make decisions for me.  "Magic 8 Ball, will I live happily-ever-after?"  Answer: "Outlook good."   (Now you know I was going to shake it until I got a good answer...)

The Kid Behind the Blog - April Edition


The first few days of April were cold here in Connecticut, but now the weather has warmed up nicely--right in time for Lewie's spring break.  When I'm not working, we've been spending time at the park bike riding, walking, and even playing hide-and-go-seek.  (Daddy joins in on the fun too.)  Our town rec center has a lot of mini buildings to store baseball equipment, etc., so it provides a perfect place to hide.

For the rest of spring break, Lewie has two trips planned--one for laser tag and another for bowling. He also has a play date scheduled with his best friend Ryan, which means Mommy will have "girl time" with his mom, Sue.  Our aunt from Delaware will be arriving the latter part of this week to celebrate Easter with us.

After Easter, the rest of this month looks fun, too.  The weekend of the 22nd and 23rd, we plan to stay overnight in Massachusetts to see Lewie's cousin Sarah compete in her cheerleading competition. On the 29th and 30th, we have two favorite traditions--the Daffodil Festival and our own homegrown Easter Egg Hunt (complete with prizes for nine little ones since everyone's a winner).

Yes, April is going by quickly, but we're doing our best to enjoy it to the max.

A short walk at Veteran's Memorial Park in Bethany.  In a few weeks, the trees will be bright green again!

What is your favorite thing about spring?
"My favorite thing about spring is that it gets warmer outside because I hate the cold."  (He thinks about his answer and then decides the word hate is too strong.) "Well, I'm tired of the cold."

If April showers bring May flowers then what do May flowers bring?
"Ummm...it brings warm weather?"  I then tell him that the May Flower brings pilgrims.  He still needs another history lesson.

What does a flower need to grow?
"It needs soil, water, and sunlight," he answers matter-of-factly.  Since it was such a quick answer, I ask him if he has anything else to add.  His answer?  "Not really."

Do you like that it's starting to get warmer, or do you like the cold and snow better?
"I like that it's getting warmer.  I like taking walks with my mom, bike riding, and swimming in the pool."  (The swimming won't start until the end of June, but that's okay...)

What do you want to do over your spring break?
"I want to have play dates and play lots of games and be outside a lot."

Bonus:  What is your favorite thing about Easter?
"That it's like Christmas except with a bunny."

I'm looking forward to linking up again with Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me on May 10th. Her April linkup is here:  http://www.wifemommyme.com/2017/04/aprils-tkbtb-q-with-connor.html.

Lewie Meets Dan TDM


If you have a son somewhere between the ages of 5 to 12 that loves Minecraft and loves watching YouTube videos, then chances are you may have heard of Dan TDM.   Dan TDM has been a household name in our dwelling for the past two years.  It started when Lewie was introduced to Minecraft by his older cousin Sarah; then, Minecraft became the topic of discussion, superseding his once main fascination with trains.

The transition was swift.  Lewie was already a huge YouTube fan because it gave him an opportunity to watch trains.  He would spend hours watching Lionel O-Gauge train layouts, lego train layouts, and descriptions of model trains (as explained by his favorite YouTube train expert, Eric Siegel).  Then, he started searching for Minecraft videos, and he was introduced to a whole host of YouTube gamers--his favorite being Dan TDM.

I'm not a Dan TDM expert, but what I do know is he's a twenty-five year old British YouTube personality (YouTuber) from the U.K.  He often rocks blue hair with disc earings, which makes him "ultra-cool" in the eyes of young boys. As a mom, I like him too because he uses clean language, and he's genuinely funny.  Dan TDM's book, Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal, describes him this way:

"Dan the Diamond Minecart, AKA Dan TDM, is one of the most popular YouTubers in the world with over 12 million subscribers who tune into his Minecraft and gaming videos.  He has over 8 billion views on these videos in total, which makes him one of the most-watched channels on the whole of YouTube!  Learn more about Dan at www.thediamondminecart.com."

Just recently, I learned that Dan TDM was coming to the Oakdale Theater in Connecticut as part of his U.S. tour.  Ticket prices were outrageous, but since Lewie had been following him for two years, and he never asks for much, I thought this would be the perfect surprise.  The week before the event, I let him know we had two tickets and told him he'd be going with Daddy.  Of course, he wanted all three of us to go, but he understood we had to save money.  As it turned out, his best friend Ryan and his mom went too, so although, they didn't sit together, they both were able to meet up for a picture. The boys were EXCITED.

Lewie's best friend, Ryan.

Two of Dan TDM's biggest fans!
And here are a few more pics before the event, too.  Although, I wasn't there to witness it in person, this little boy seemed to LOVE his first "concert-type" experience.

Before Lewie left for the show, he gave me a link to a "boot-leg" version of the performance.  "This is so you can see it too, Mommy," he said as he left.  Honestly, this little boy melts my heart.  I'm so happy he was able to have this experience.

Science Fair 2017 - Minecraft Potions


Last week, Lewie's school held a Science Fair.  It was optional for second graders, but we still participated.  (I told Lewie that coming from a family of educators, there's no way we were going to let a science fair pass us by, even if my college major was English.)

The directions told us to choose something fun--a theme we would enjoy.  I asked Lewie one Saturday afternoon, and he replied, "Minecraft Potions."  Hmmmm.  I immediately googled Minecraft Potions, which didn't turn up good results.  However, when I googled science fair potions, we were in luck!

Lewie had to use the scientific method.  He had to ask a question, follow it up with a hypothesis, explain the experiment (materials, procedure, and observation), and then write his conclusion. Thanks to some wonderful ideas of other "science fair moms" before me, we decided to make two "potions."

His first potion mixed vinegar with baking soda.  (He guessed it would turn brown and smell bad.) In reality, when the two ingredients were mixed together, bubbles came to the surface and made a hissing sound.   (We later learned that the reaction occurred because both ingredients create the gas carbon dioxide.  These were the bubbles wanting to escape the surface.)  It didn't turn brown, but it did smell bad--like vinegar.

The next potion used water, vegetable oil, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer tablets.  Lewie predicted the potion would explode.  (It probably would have if we used more than the recommended amount of Alka-Seltzer.)  We took a one liter bottle and filled it with a cup of water.  The rest of the bottle was filled with vegetable oil.  Then we placed ten drops of orange food coloring.  The water and the food coloring sunk to the bottom while the oil rested on top.  (Turns out--water is denser than oil.)  When we put 1/2 an Alka-Seltzer tablet in the bottle, water bubbles with the orange food coloring rose to the surface of the oil creating a "lava lamp" effect.  Lewie and I both loved the result.  In fact, Lewie was so proud of his creation, he thought we could become rich by making more of them and selling them on Amazon!

In all, I was proud of my little scientist.  On Monday, during the day, he shared his potions with his class--he was particularly excited to show his "bubble lamp," which can be used over and over again. During the science fair at night, he proudly demonstrated his "bubble lamp" to parents and onlookers. It was exciting to watch my little scientist in action.

At the end of the fair, he was called up to the stage to receive his participation medal and certificate. He was only one of six second-graders that participated in the science fair.  (There's about 60 students in Lewie's second-grade class.)  My darling walked up the stairs, waved to the audience, received his award, and then smiled and waved at us.  It was one of those proud moments I'll keep sealed forever in my heart.

The March Blizzard of 2017 - a.k.a. Why I Don't Like Snow Days


Just when I thought the word "snow" had left our vocabulary for a while, Mother Nature surprised us with 16 - 20 more inches of the stuff.  This meant not one but TWO days off from school and work. Snow days, of course, sound exciting, romantic even, but in keeping it "real," I'm not a fan of them in our house.

Here are my top reasons why I don't like snow days...

1)  We feel claustrophobic. During yesterday's blizzard, our governor mandated a travel ban for all people other than emergency personnel.  So, not only did this mean that we were "stuck" inside our house, but it also meant I would spend the next twelve hours bickering with my husband who insisted he still needed to go the grocery store to pick up chips and ice cream.

2.  We get irritated by our 800 square foot home.  Our "tiny house" has one TV, period.  I strategically planned it this way, so that we're not accustomed to sleeping with TVs in our bedrooms or isolating ourselves into different rooms throughout the day.  Still, when the three of us are home at once for a twelve hour period (or longer), there's bound to be some arguments.  I want to do my meditation video, Lewie wants to play his Xbox, and Big Lew wants to watch his family-friendly selection of TV shows--The Last 48, The Walking Dead, and Intervention.  Needless to say, our happy living room becomes a battleground of the wills...

3.  Being inside the house makes me lethargic.  I don't mean slightly tired.  I mean downright lazy.  Everything from climbing the stairs to my bedroom to pealing my butt off the couch takes an extravagant amount of effort.  Thus, nothing ever gets done on a snow day.  Not ever.

4.  Being inside makes me hungry.  Heck, yesterday the three of us ate an entire week''s worth of groceries.  We feasted on everything, especially unhealthy food like fried chicken, ice cream, early chocolate Easter candy and potato chips (just to name a few).

5.  The house needs to be deodorized.  After two days of lazily sitting around, good hygiene goes out the window.  Showers and brushing teeth become optional, dirty clothes are piled up, and the sink is filled with used, crusty, germ-infested dishes.  Again, because my energy is at an all-time low, there's no motivation to do anything except to sleep and pretend I'm living somewhere else; a bungalow in Hawaii sounds perfect right about now.

6.  I feel like a bad parent.  Snow days, for me, usually equates to days off from work and "free time" with my son.  In an ideal world, I should be serving chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, followed by reading,snow activities, hot chocolate, and board games.  Instead, my laziness manifests and I find myself serving cereal and feeling lucky if I accomplish one of the said activities.  Since we had a "blizzard" this time, there was no going out to enjoy the snow.  Having our face getting pelted by hard ice pellets is where I draw the line.

7.  I need a chiropractic adjustment.  With 20" of snow in the forecast, we knew waiting out the storm would be bad.  On four separate occasions, we went out to clear the sidewalks.  In classic blizzard fashion, there were snow drifts--some areas with 1 to 2 inches with other areas collecting up to 8 inches.  The snow was hard and HEAVY.  After the second round, my arms and back felt bruised and battered.  Our living quarters turned into an emergency relief station equipped with ibuprofen, Arniflora (arnica) gel, heating pads, and blankets.  Our kitchen chairs became drying racks for soaked coats, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks,

This gel is a savior in our house.  We rub it onto all of our sore muscles.

8.  Good help these days is hard to find.  We had to hire a new "plow guy" this year.  After some calling around, we settled on a gentleman that lives up the street from us.  Since we knew the storm would be bad, we told him to feel free to come out to plow our driveway twice.  That didn't happen... On day one, he was nowhere to be found.  On day two, he came roaring in, trying to push all 16 inches of snow at once.  It didn't work.  Heavy snowbanks were piled everywhere, and there was still a mess to clean up. The only answer was to dig ourselves out; my back enjoyed that!

This is our driveway after shoveling for about an hour...
Yes, snow days are not glamorous in our house.  We don't spend the day baking cookies and sitting in front of a warm toasty fire.  (We don't have a fireplace.)  We spend the day relaxing our sore, tired muscles on the couch while watching Lewie play Minecraft on the Xbox.  We spend the day binge eating, leaving a trail of wrappers, empty cartons, and dirty dishes around the house.  We sleep, we bicker, we complain.  I almost didn't write this post; I didn't want to sound too negative.  Still, there is a silver lining at the end of this post.  Despite my aversion to snow days, Little Lewie still LOVES them.

What do you do on a snow day in your house?