Our Secret "Back to School" Tradition

9.09.2018

Okay, so if I post this publicly, I'm not sure I'm keeping our "Back to School" tradition a secret anymore, but then again, I have posted about this tradition before.

For the past six years, we go to our favorite local amusement park on the last Friday of the season--the Friday before Labor Day.  When Lewie was three, it wasn't a big deal because he wasn't missing school.  However, now that Lewie is in elementary school and the school year always begins the week before Labor Day, we have to play hooky. 

Yes, we could certainly choose other days to go, but we like going on this last Friday because...

1)  The lines are short or non-existent.  (Since everyone else is at school, there are very few people.)

2)  It's one last "summer" treat to ourselves.

3)  It's our "reward" for going back to school.  I say "our" because the three of us begin school together; Lew and I work for two colleges, and Little Lewie starts fourth grade.  Even though, Lew and I do work on campus during the summer, the workload definitely picks up once all the college students return.


For the longest time, Little Lewie's favorite ride was the train, the "Quassy Express."  However, during these last few years, it's been the Pirate Swing.   This year, I lost count of how many times Lewie went on this ride, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say it was 15 times or more...









Lewie's second favorite ride appeared to be the"The Wooden Warrior" roller coaster.  He asked Daddy to go with him three times!  I went with Lewie once on the Pirate Swing and once on the Tilt-a-Whirl, but my stomach, unfortunately, couldn't handle much more.  In my teens, I could go on all the spinning rides, but these days, I'm lucky if I can do two, and even then, I have to space them out. 

Needless to say, my favorite ride in the park every year is the "Quassy Queen," a covered motorboat that takes us around the lake to see all the beautiful lake houses and mansions.  There are some WEALTHY people that live on this lake--lawyers, CEO's, and hedge fund managers to name a few.

By 5 o'clockish, we decided to head out and stop for ice cream before going home.  It was an awesome day and another awesome memory.  Lewie first started coming to Lake Quassy at age three. I'm glad to know that he hasn't outgrown our special day yet.

First Day of School (Fourth Grade)

9.03.2018

Lewie started school last Monday.  He's now a fourth grader with privileges to sit at the back of the bus.  Thankfully, however, my sweet boy is not growing up too fast.  This year, I was still pleasantly surprised to learn that Lewie was not interested in buying certain clothes or sneakers. (I offered to take him shopping, and his response was, "Mommy, you know I'm not a fashion designer!")  So, he's still content to wear whatever I lay out on the bed.

When it came time to get on the bus, he let Grammy and me kiss him goodbye (without feeling embarrassed by us).  Then he proceeded to find his favorite seat, about the middle of the bus, six rows down.  He plopped down, took off his backpack, and waved goodbye with a big smile.  God, I LOVE this kid!




My mom had the opportunity to pose with Lewie this year for the back to school photo.  My husband was still inside catching up on sleep, and I had wet hair and no make-up.  (I managed to get Lewie dressed on time, but I was running late for work!)

When Lewie returned home, he said he LOVED his teacher and had a great day.  Even better was the extra bonus of being told that he wouldn't be given any homework during his first week back.  When I opened his backpack, I saw that he completed a worksheet in school called, "First-Day Feelings."  After reading the answers, I just had to share some of them in this post.

          My favorite place is home.

          After school, I like to play games.

          When I feel sad, it helps to think of happy things.

          If I could change my name, I'd call myself the name I already have.

          My favorite time of year is summer.

          If I could rule the world, I'd make everything free.

          If I had $100, I'd give it to the poor.

          The best thing that happened to me last year was when I got a homework pass.

          My favorite possession is Tiggey (his stuffed animal).

          If I lived in another country, I'd like it to be the U.K.  (That's where Dan TDM lives.)

          On my birthday, I'd like to learn how to make games. (He means "video" games, of course.)

All I can say, is here's to another awesome year of school and an awesome year of spending time with our big little kid.  This kid makes every day a joy.

Beach Trip 2018

8.27.2018

In early 2018, I daydreamed about taking two summer vacations, but I didn't know if we would 1) have the finances or 2) have the time.  Going to Yosemite was a definite, but as I much as I yearned for another national park vacation, I also yearned for the beach--Rehoboth Beach, DE--a trip we've made twice before.

During the first week of August, I got my wish, and even more, I was able to combine our quick three day jaunt with a visit to see my bestie from college, Mary Ann!  On early Sunday morning, we left at 6 a.m. to head straight for New Jersey.  Thankfully, we dodged any major traffic and arrived 3.8 hours later to their "new" home in Marlton, NJ.  (I haven't visited my best friend in NJ for years, so their "new" home is actually one that they've lived in for several years now.)


A little music time...
After a morning visit, we headed to their local pool club to cool off.  The pool club had three different pools, a splash pad, food, and a DJ.  It was crowded, but we found our own picnic table and had a chance to enjoy each other's company as if we were the only ones there.

Friends for 25 years!

Lewie w/ good friend, Nimai.

The two hubbies

Maya and Lalita, Mary Ann's two daughters, both in cheerleading
After a full but short visit, we headed for another hour to the Cape May Ferry.  There, we would board our car and travel for another hour and a half by sea to Lewes, DE.   To my surprise, Lewie LOVED the ferry; I didn't even know he liked boats!




On the ferry, we saw the most beautiful sunset!
The next few days, we set out to enjoy Rehoboth.  We went to Jungle Jim's (a water park that we LOVE); ate yummy boardwalk food, like ice cream and crepes; did a little boardwalk shopping--enough to buy my husband a new kite; and went parasailing in the bay.  I had hoped we would have a chance to rent bicycles, but the heat was too much for my boys.  Instead, I took early morning walks by myself on the beach and side streets, daydreaming about what it might be like to own a beach house there one day.  The walks were quiet and meditative--truly medicine for my soul.









A chocolate Nutella crepe. 


Viewing turtles down below...



Over 100 ice cream flavors--Lewie tried cake batter and birthday cake;
I tried double fudge brownie and Key Lime Pie.  Yes, we ate there TWICE.
Little Lewie's favorite part of the trip was parasailing.  I knew we had to go when I found out they had a three-person harness.  I love flying in the air, and in fact, I had Lewie go up with me many, many years ago when he was just five!  Of course, he doesn't have any recollection of his first parasailing trip, but he will remember this one!







Our trip ended late Tuesday night, around 6 p.m. to be exact.  We had tickets to board the ferry once again--this time from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ.   It was such a peaceful ride with very few passengers.  I lamented the end of our short trip; however, Rehoboth will always feel like a second home to us.  This was our third visit and certainly not the last.





Two Very Different Summer Camps

8.19.2018

Summer 2018 was a year of transition for all of us.  As I mentioned in previous posts, Lewie's beloved Camp 565 was terminated, and we were left scrambling to fill the void.  Lewie's old camp director, Carrie, suggested a more outdoorsy camp called Eagle Rock Day Camp.  She told me the director and the counselors were wonderful, and the activities (archery, ropes courses, zip lines, swimming, hiking, theater, science, music, and art) would provide Lewie with a plethora of different offerings to choose from.  There were only two "minor" concerns: 1) He'd be in the woods all day.  (Could he handle it as this boy is still squeamish about bugs?) and 2) He'd have to travel an hour back and forth each day on a school bus as the camp isn't that close to us.

At the same time we started considering Eagle Rock, Lewie also begged to go to a computer camp.  The camp, ID Tech Camp, was held at a university only a few miles from my place of work.  (In fact, it was held at the same university where I received my master's degree!)  The disadvantage, however, was that 1) computer camp is almost twice as expensive as regular day camp, and 2) computer camp, for the most part, is indoors in front of a computer.

The transition to these two new camps was not perfect, as we still miss Camp 565, but we did decide the two of them were a perfect complement to each other.  Whereas one camp was all about continuous activity and the Great Outdoors, the other was about his favorite activity in the world: computers!  Here is just a snapshot of Lewie's Eagle Rock experience and then his ID Tech experience:

Little Lewie waiting for me on his third day of Eagle Rock Day Camp.
Eagle Rock provided Lewie with a shirt, a backpack, and a water bottle on his first day.  His backpack was blue, which corresponded to the "color" of his bus stop.  (Anyone getting picked up and dropped off at Middlebury Elementary School would be wearing blue.)  His bus trip was long without air-conditioning, so he needed a water bottle at all times.  (In fact, there would be no air-conditioning inside any of the little buildings at camp!)  Lunch was provided (like mac & cheese, peanut butter & jelly, hot dogs, pizza, etc.), but he was required to bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and bug spray each day.  The poor boy was hosed down with sunscreen and bug spray each morning, which almost cancelled out his getting washed up.  I was particularly concerned about him getting bit by a deer tick, as Lyme disease is prevalent in our part of the country.

On the last Wednesday of his camp, all parents/family members were invited for a two-hour Open House.  Lew and I both left work early, so we could spend some time with Lewie at camp.  He showed us around, and, of course, we were able to partake in many of the same activities that he did each day.  I was shocked by the number of counselors.  I had no idea this camp had 300+ kids!



Getting read to zip line!

I joined the fun too!

The zip line.  (It goes right over the lake.)

We tried the rowboats, too.



Do you see the fun trampoline they have on the water?



Their logo or mascot--Eagle Rock
Big Lew and I had fun visiting Lewie at camp.  We went out on a row boat, zip-lined, did archery, had s'mores, and let Lewie give us the tour of his summer "home."  It was a fun day and glimpse into Little Lewie's daily camp experience.  His favorite part of this camp was the food, the zip line, the hiking, and the little theater skit they worked on for two weeks.  (My boy likes acting!)

The ID Tech Camp, unsurprisingly, was way different from Eagle Rock. On his first day, I drove him to one of the university residence halls, where he was whisked away to do some outside icebreakers with his new camp counselors.  The camp counselors had nicknames like Taco, Shoe, and Papyrus, and they were definitely clowns.  If anything, they showed Lewie that being a "computer geek" is cool, trendy, fun, and silly.

Lewie standing outside at his computer camp.
Lewie's computer camp only lasted a week, but he insisted he learned a lot.  Most of his time each day was spent on the computer going over lessons, but they did have some breaks outside.  For lunch, they crossed the street and ate at the same college cafeteria where I ate at more than a decade ago!

On Friday, parents were invited to come early to see what their children learned.  It was easy for me to drive there from work, so I went to see the "graduation ceremony," complete with a diploma and free tchotchkes.  After the ceremony, Lewie brought me back to his computer station where he created a PowerPoint to show me what he learned.  He took the "Roblox Entrepreneur" course, so he showed me all the backside coding and scripting he did to create the background and the action inside his game.  It was impressive, but I still wondered if the cost could have been less.





Lewie and his camp counselor, "Taco"



One proud kid.
Lewie insists that he enjoyed both camps; although, he admits to liking the computer camp the best.  I'm pretty sure we'll try to duplicate this experience for him next year, but I'm not certain.  For Eagle Rock, the long bus trip will continue to be a consideration while at ID Tech Camp, the cost will be.  Until then, I'll be looking to see if there is anything new to try next year...    For now, he received two very different experiences, and I know he's grown from both.