Sunday, August 21, 2016

Catching up...

     Summer... where did it go?  I go back to teaching on Monday the 29th. My children still have until September 6th to play. I thought I would just come say hello and catch you up on our recent adventures. (Let me preface this by saying that our adventures weren't incredibly exciting, but out of the ordinary for us.)
     In my normal routine, I have been trying to prepare for school- studying music, planning lessons, thinking of my SMART goals, editing lessons, etc. I am also preparing on mentoring out newest member of the music department. (This year I will be mentoring 2 members of the department. The one I mentored last year is a terrific guy and we get along really well. I'm hoping the 2nd person is just as delightful to work with.)  This week, Matt and I sat down and talked about morning/afternoon and bedtime routines for the boys. Neither one of us feel that we need to strictly adhere EXACTLY to certain routines/schedules, but I tend to be more of a structured person than he is. It calms my "control freak" nature makes me feel more prepared when I have a general idea of how things should be going at different points in the day, especially when I'm at work. We've also discussed chores and allowance. We've decided that our sons will have some chores that they will complete to help contribute to the well-being of the family, but there are some "extra/optional" chores that they can add on if they would like to earn an allowance. This was very exciting to David. When he woke up and learned about our new chore system, he got straight to work. He opted to sweep the kitchen, help make lunch, clean the bathroom sink and wash the bathroom mirror. Tim chose to spend a few minutes dusting. It was nice to see them excited about helping out.
     For the special things- We just spent a little time away from home. Matt and I surprised the boys with a night at Great Wolf Lodge New England. It's a splurge for us, but we know the boys really enjoy it.  We had a good time. The boys were happy with their 1 night there. They swam- a lot, rode the water slides, played at the arcade, and then we went out to dinner. We stayed past check out and swam for a while. I really appreciate that my kids are generally very grateful and do not need many things to keep them happy.  I think our cross country trip last year also changed some of the things they look forward to for a vacation.
   Originally, we had planned to go Quebec this summer but that didn't go as planned. A few things that we had expected this summer didn't happen. Vacation was one of those things. We realized that we might only have a few days to go away so we wanted somewhere somewhat close. We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Which felt pretty far away since it was only a few days of vacation- maybe too far.)
    On Saturday, we went to the Turkey Hill Experience. This was pretty fun. We did not get a chance to do the taste lab, but that was okay since we would've been really worried about Timmy's allergies the whole time. Do you have Turkey Hill ice cream where you are? It's delicious. My favorite is double dunker.  We tried free samples of double dunker, cookie butter, orange sherbert, strawberries and cream and I'm sure a few others. They also had free samples of their tea and punch. We learned a lot about the company as well as how the ice cream is made, packaged and distributed.
     We also visited Wilbur Chocolate Shop in Lititz. If you don't know, my husband is now working as a candy maker/chocolatier. (I know, life is rough.) He had WAY more fun then we did here since he knows exactly what each little thing does. Tim was panicking that the woman was giving our samples with cashews in it. I was just hot since the heat index outside was over 105! It was still an interesting shop though. We also accidentally found a HUGE craft fair when we went to Lititz. Unfortunately it was too hot to really enjoy it.
    The unfortunate part of this day was that I really wanted to go to Central Market in Lancaster. Our hotel had a paper that said it was open until 5. When we got there, at 3:30, we saw that it had closed at 2 and would not reopen for the rest of our vacation. Boo.
    The most interesting for me was going to Good N' Plenty, a restaurant with the option to eat "family style," where you are seated with other people until the table is full. Matt was a little apprehensive of this since he's not a big talker, but I loved the idea since I enjoy meeting new people. I had eaten like this in Germany or Austria once. I imagine it can be fascinating sometimes and maybe terrible some other times.  They served us Pennsylvania Dutch food. The table was served a lot: Appetizers: cottage cheese, white bread, wheat bread, apple butter, chow chow (pickled vegetables- new to me), applesauce  Entrees: Fried chicken, ham, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, butter noodles (also new),corn and green beans. Dessert- apple crumb pie, shoo fly pie, ice cream, cherry cheesecake and cracker pudding (New food- not my favorite.)  We ended up sitting with 4 older people from Maryland and a couple from Virginia with their 2 year old. It was a lot of fun.
     For some reason, I didn't think ahead to realize most things in Lancaster (especially Amish related) was closed on Sundays. Dur. We swam a lot and just enjoyed the family time. We rode around and looked at some of the farms too. It was an easy day followed by some yummy take out food.
      On Monday we headed back to Massachusetts. On our way home, we planned to stop at The Crayola Experience. (I know- what's up with all the "experiences?") Other than dealing with a few really loud summer camps, this place was awesome. David was especially excited about coming here.  We played around with many Crayola products and had a lot of time to be creative in many different ways. Honestly, Crayola is a brand that I buy regularly because of the quality of the products and the innovative things I see come from them. David was able to label a crayon "Light pickle green," which was cool since he had written to Crayola to suggest that color. We had tons of fun here and ended up spending more time here than we anticipated.

"Big Blue" the world's largest crayon. Ironically, "Big Blue" is also the mascot of the town I teach in. "Big blue what?" is usually the next question. I think that it must be a subtle way they are supporting the arts. lol.

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 So, I look totally goofy in this picture but, if you know me already, you already know I'm weird. This was super cool. That little dragon on David's head is a picture he colored in using special crayons. We then scanned his coloring page into the computer and it became a 3D image which he could put in different backgrounds, interact with by making it fly/move/jump or take a selfie with. We shrunk him down a bit, sat him on David's head and then took this shot. Here is his buddy in the forest.
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Here's Tim's:
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Interesting huh? They used model magic clay, crayons, markers, digital images and design, chalk, paint, etc. If you have young kids who like art, they would love it. They also came home with a few crayons, their art work, a crayon they molded into a dinosaur and some model magic.
      After we got home, we were treated to dinner at a friend's house. It was us and 2 families from church. We had white chicken chili and this decadent, wonderful chocolate cake. Another great night!
     THEN, I took the boys to visit my parents in Maine. My parents recently sold the house I grew up in in MA and made Maine their permanent residence. It has been an adjustment. We stayed there from Thursday to Saturday. It was extremely relaxing since there wasn't anything that really needed doing. We/I hung out with my parents, swam (Can you tell my kids like to swim? Do you know I hate to swim?), relaxed, wrote a few letters and read. One day my mom brought us to the Willowbrook Museum Village, which is very close to their house.  It's a village set up like it would've been in the 19th century. The boys each did a little scavenger hunt as we explored.  We went on this steam powered carousel. (Apparently I cannot find a picture that will display for this tonight)
Interesting facts: This carousel would've been considered an adult only ride. It goes quite fast, and they had it on the slowest setting. (David had athletic shorts on and his little body kept sliding around everywhere. I thought he was going to fall off.) The horses do not go up and down they go from front to back. This carousel used to be broken down and brought from fair to fair.
     A funny thing happened when we were waiting for the carousel to open to give us a ride. They had music playing and Timmy was whistling along. He found that he knew the march and yelled out "Wait!? Is this John Phillip Sousa!?" It was. Music teacher win. Tim is doomed/honored to be a nerd too.
     Another thing I found interesting was their schoolhouse. They had a list of rules up about how many lashes a child would get for doing something wrong- like drinking in class, talking to a girl, coming to school looking untidy, etc. In the school, there were slate chalkboards out on all of the desks. There were at least 3 messages in beautiful writing saying something to the effect of "Isn't it sad that people don't think teaching penmanship is important?" Yes it is. There were also displays of the pens, inks, books, etc. that were used. I kept thinking to myself "I get annoyed when a middle schooler breaks a pen and ink gets all over them or the desk, can you imagine having a small bottle of ink on each desk?"
    Lastly, their houses- the rooms were so much smaller but so much more functional. I would benefit from each of my rooms having a specific purpose- and making that room work. On the other hand, there was no plumbing in the house and there was no kitchen so, I guess I'll live.
    I also found this. It's a mail wagon. Nice! I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I can tell when our mail comes because our mailman's truck has squeaky breaks. I will often go say hello or catch him before he has to get out of the truck with a package. He and I chat often. My kids sometimes laugh when they hear "mail's here" from a few rooms away from the window. I can't imagine I wouldn't know this contraption was coming. :)
         Okay, that's about it for recent adventures. I hope you are well. If your kids are starting back to school, that  everyone feels prepared and excited for the new year. If you wouldn't mind- As I've been typing this blog post, everything keeps reformatting and I'm having major issues. Can you let me know if everything seems okay on your end as a viewer? If not, please let me know what is not coming out right. Thanks in advance!



  1. Everything looks good with the formatting to me. I have some of the Wilbur Chocolate Buds in my office. We went to the store when we were there this summer. I liked Lititz, would have liked to spend a bit more time there. Sounds like you had a good time!

  2. Sounds like you had a pretty good summer too! Good luck with the new schoolyear, and I hope to hear from you soon! Snail mail Letters rock!

  3. The formatting seems great to me! And omg what adventures, sounds like a wonderful summer. ;D And woah to that massive crayon and all the food you described sounded seriously delicious haha, I'm hungry now... ;D Hope going back to school is smooth for you all!

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!