A Return to Santa's Village


Two years ago (when Little Lewie was 8), we went to Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire.  The trip was special because we went with Little Lewie's Aunt Missy, Uncle Moises, and cousins.  After some discussion about going on the trip again this year, Auny Missy and I made it happen.  We arranged to stay at the same hotel with adjoining rooms and buy Santa's Village tickets for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

The trip, leaving Friday and returning on Sunday, was short, but we managed to get in lots of family time.  The kiddos went swimming in the hotel pool everyday, and we ate all meals together.  On Saturday night, we all played cards--even little Elijah and Lily (ages 6 and 4) joined in where they could.

Santa's Village was crowded, but strangely, waiting in lines didn't feel as bad as we thought.  The bonus was when customer service gave us free return tickets to come back any time between now and July; that was a $100 savings for us and almost a $200 savings for my in-laws.  We decided we will be coming back to Jefferson, New Hampshire in the summer to use those tickets!

With almost a foot and half of snow on the ground and 30 degree temperatures, spending time in Santa's Village put us right in the holiday mood.  We went on the Great Humbug Adventure, Santa's Express Train, and the Skyway Sleigh.  We saw the 3D movie, A Tinkerdoodle Christmas, had ice-cream, of course, and drank lots and lots of hot chocolate.  Our favorite experience, however, is their outside light show where the lights dance to pop songs and Christmas music.  Both years we waited until dark to go on the Skyway Sleigh--that way we could get to see all the beautiful Christmas lights throughout the park.  It was well worth the wait!

Starting off our day in the hotel. (Sarah 13, Lewie 10, Brooky 8, Lily 4, and Elijah 6)

Checking out the Water Wheel gift shop before lunch.

Waiting patiently while playing the Tricky Triangle Peg Game. 
(Come to find out...this was one of Lewie's favorite parts of the trip.)

Santa's Village!

I was always catching this one with a snowball in his hand.  The kids loved playing in the snow
just as much as they enjoyed going on the rides.

How could we resist homemade ice cream?

The view from our sleigh.

As Lewie gets older, I'm not sure how many more Santa's Village visits will be in our future, but at least we know we'll be coming back in the summer--we don't want to give up those free tickets!

When we came home on Sunday (around 7 p.m.), it was back to getting ready for school and work.  The goal will be to decorate for Christmas this weekend.  We have lots to do to prep for the holidays.  Is anyone just starting, like me?

Dear Autumn, Please Stay a While Longer


Today we went for a short November hike on the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail in Litchfield, CT.  The sun was low in the sky, and if we had waited just an hour later, we would have been walking back to the car in the dark at 4:30 p.m.!

This time of year makes me sad.  The hustle and bustle of October has ended; the air is harsher and colder, and our daylight is shorter.  Still, I'm looking forward to Christmas, New Year's Day, and our first snowfall.  There's lots of joy to be had!

As we walked on the trail, I was overtaken by the beauty.  Even on a cold, barren, November day, the sky, the water, the cattails, and the trees around us had this beautiful golden hue that made everything soft and cheerful.  It was just what I needed to recharge my battery.  (Oh, and the boys--my husband, Little Lewie, and his friend, Ryan--kept me laughing the whole time.  They are a fun and energetic bunch.)

After our walk, we headed to Litchfield's Bohemian Pizza Restaurant before it became dark.  There, the calories we gladly expended earlier, were consumed again...

As I write this post, I am still a bit amazed that we're in November with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  Here were my favorite October memories of 2018...

I have a new "favorite walk" I like to take, which is a few miles away from us; it passes Clover Nook Farm,
which has been in business since 1765!  I got my two boys to love this new walk, too.

Picking sugar pumpkins at Clover Nook Farm before our first frost.

Our annual Cub Scout hayride is always a blast.  This year Lewie is a Webelo I.

Gotta find some ghosts in October...

Lewie had a chance to paint a llama for a friend's birthday party.

After painting the llama, Lewie and I discovered a new favorite place to eat that serves crepes!
We'll be back for some more!
We celebrated Halloween as "Undertale" characters and visited my mom at work.  
My favorite fall picture of Lewie and me.  I love this kid!
Here's to some more tranquil fall days of hiking, farms, and maybe a few more hayrides.  Maybe?? I hope... Please??

My Father's Boat Part II


As mentioned in my last post, my dad's boat, the Rhonda B., waited ten long years to be seaworthy again.  Being left outside during those cold New England winters, it fell into disrepair, and there never seemed to be a "right" time to fix it.  Often there were choices.  Do we fix the hull on the boat, or do we pay for my husband's brakes, tires, radiator hoses, etc.?  Do we pay to fix the boat, or do we use the money to open the pool?  At one time, I even received an offer on the boat.  "I can take it off your hands," a contractor we knew told me.  "Will you take $1,000 for it?"

As tempting as selling the boat was, especially during hard financial times when my husband was seeking inpatient treatment and not working, I held onto it.  I held onto the dream that one day my husband would be well and our lives would be easier.  I held onto the dream that the Rhonda B. would get repaired.  I held onto the dream that one day Little Lewie would be able to ride his grandfather's boat, and he would love it the same way I did so long ago.  This dream, these dreams, stayed close to my heart, and I never let them go...

Then, something miraculous happened.  On October 10, 2018, the Rhonda B., after a long ten years, was launched out onto the water again.  After skipping work and after-school commitments, the three of us "set sail" for a beautiful sunset cruise.  The weather, in the 70's, was mild, and the lake (seeing that it was the middle of the week) was calm and peaceful.  Immediately, all five of my senses came rushing back to me--the smell of the boat; the sound of the motor; the view of the water, trees, and houses; the feel of the warm breeze brushing my cheeks and the gentle rocking of the boat.  I teared up as for that 40 minute trip, I experienced pure, unadulterated joy.  It was heaven on earth.  It was proof that hope, faith, and prayer are real.  It was proof that dreams are real.

Just as expected, Lewie LOVED the boat.  Not only was he disappointed to see the trip end, but he said, "Daddy, the next time we go on the boat, I want to learn how to drive it."

If life happened according to my plans, Lewie would have been on the boat since he was a baby.  However, as much as I romanticize this, I realize that the boat wouldn't have the same kind of meaning or impact that it has today.  Lewie loved the boat.  Why?  Because his very first trip occurred when he was old enough to appreciate it.  Because he saw the boat sit in our driveway for all these years, and now he personally has a connection to it that, at age ten, he will remember.

Life doesn't always follow a linear trajectory; there aren't always calm seas.  We've survived some storms.  Some waves have pushed us back to the start, and then others have left us meandering with no direction at all.  Then we were adrift for a while, waiting to see where the wind might take us next.  Prayer and hope helped us navigate through it. 

Now, in 2018, I think we found the shore.  If so, we'll set sail again next year, and this time, we'll have a lot more confidence.