summer daze

although fall doesn’t officially begin until september 22nd, it feels like summer is slowly coming to an end with the start of the school year around the corner. i certainly am relishing the long days and soaking up the last rays of the summer sun. as much as i like snow, i dread being stuck indoors and the sun setting at 4pm. i spent this summer planning activities and trying to coordinate them with my kids’ schedules. we didn’t travel anywhere exotic – even with the kids sleeping well, i wouldn’t quite consider traveling far with a toddler and an infant a “vacation” – nor do anything out of the ordinary, but we shared many laughs and created lasting memories.

one place that i’ve been dying to bring penny to is the dinosaur place in oakdale, ct. it is a 60-acre outdoor adventure park that includes new england’s largest splash pad, a jurassic-themed moon bounce, a maze, and a huge playground. there is also a 1.5 mile trail complete with 40 life-sized dinosaurs! the main reason we waited so long to bring her is the distance: it is nearly an hour away. since the dinosaur place opens at 10am, we would not be able to go in the morning and have enough time for penny to eat lunch, drive back, and take a nap. naturally, we planned for the afternoon. we pushed penny’s nap up so she would wake up earlier in the afternoon. (she still woke up around 2:30pm.)

there is so much to do, and you can easily spend the entire day there in order to properly experience everything. this is why admission is so expensive. i was surprised to learn admission for 2 and up is $24 during the peak season! there is no “kid’s price”: they pay the same as adults! for that reason alone, i really wouldn’t bring children unless they’re older.. maybe, at least 5 years old, to make the price worthwhile.

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we took a family photo before we explored the park

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penny enjoyed the splash pad the most!

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dad is regretting not bringing a change of clothes although he did wear swim trunks

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ezra did not like the jet spray of cold water

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can’t expect a toddler to look at the camera in the midst of water play

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this thing was awesome – half the time, kids were waiting for the huge bucket of water to fill up so it could tip over and come down the slide

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splash!

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waiting…

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walking the dinosaur trail

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dinosaur vertebrae

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ezra always has something in his mouth these days

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dinosaur maze

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our annual stop at dave’s place in oakdale, ct… it’s so good and always busy!

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my go-to: fried clam strips

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new england clam chowder and a cheeseburger

the day before, on saturday, august 12th, my mil and i took the kids to the tolland 4-h fair that was held across the street from where we live. we had taken penny there before when she was an infant but going on saturday made me realize just how small it is. i believe it was $3 for a walk-in fee.. not each person so that was fine.

there were a few vendors and food stands but the only thing that was of interest were the animals.  we looked at the llamas, cows, sheep, goats, chickens & roosters, and the rabbits (although the latter were closed off so we had to view from a distance). penny also liked looking at the row of tractors, old and new. she wanted to go on them but we told her they were only for looking.

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i don’t want to knock a fair, but it was just okay. i wouldn’t go back though, honestly. it was just something to do and all we had to do was walk over from our neighborhood.

dennis and i are really looking forward to taking the kids to farm day at the fish family farm in bolton. it’s on sept 2nd this year and it’s from 9am-5pm. we took penny last year but since she was so small she couldn’t participate in the children’s activities like the obstacle course. she did enjoy eating ice cream though (and it’s all-you-can-eat!) my friend, karen, and i found out from a vendor that there is a spin art station so i’ll be sure to look for that. hopefully this year we can make a tie-dye shirt too because we didn’t get a chance to last year.

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always smiling

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blooms & custard

pwithflowers

did you know there are farms that allow you to pick your own flowers? i sure didn’t. i’m constantly looking for new and fun activities to do with penny and i found out about a flower picking farm in south windsor, ct from a mom’s group in my town. recently, i joined a mom’s group; i discovered this group through our town library and, not long ago, i saw the group on my instagram newsfeed. for an annual fee of $25/year, moms and their children participate in weekly activities, organized and spontaneous playgroups, monthly moms’ night out, and participate in board meetings.

it’s always great to meet other moms and provide our children more opportunities to socialize with other kids. the first activity i attended via the mom’s group was a music & dance playgroup at a local nursing & rehabilitation center. the children participate in organized activities during the hour-long playgroup and can interact with the residents if they choose. penny was shy at first because of all the people but she loosened up when she saw that the children were playing with big balloons. i thought that was a wonderful way to keep the kids preoccupied while waiting for the program to begin. some of the residents asked penny to hit the balloon to them so they could hit it back to her. it was really sweet to see how much joy the children brought to these people.

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this playgroup consisted of a sing-along, interactive reading, musical instruments, bubbles, parachute, and a snack. penny was engaged the entire time and was excited to move on to the next activity. although she really enjoyed everything, i could tell penny was particularly pleased with the cup of juice at snack time. we rarely let penny drink juice so it was a real treat for her especially since she was thirsty from all of the activity. overall, i was really pleased with the whole event and can’t wait to go back next week.

tuesday morning, the mom’s group went to petersen farm in south windsor to pick our own flowers. visitors can park right on the grass. the farm provides cutting tools, buckets, and water although it’s recommended you bring your own bucket to safely transport the flowers back home. flowers are $8/lb (which is an excellent deal) and i initially scoffed at the price thinking, “who gets a pound of flowers?” well, i ended up getting two. the flowers are all so gorgeous that you can’t help but want each one. i might have gotten a little scissor-happy.

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the only downside is that it was misting when we went so the grass was wet, soaking our sneakers. i had been thinking about purchasing rain boots for penny and now i have more of a reason to do that. fall is around the corner and they’ll be useful then, too.

we both enjoyed ourselves and i look forward to going back. fresh flowers certainly brighten up a room (and a mood!) and also smell divine.

tuesday was also “national custard day” so rita’s was having a .99 special for a kid’s size custard. i intended to meet some moms from the group around 3:30 but we didn’t end up arriving until after 4pm. i had to wake penny up from her nap because she was sleeping so much. ezra’s naps were off today because he’s been rolling over. since he was awake, we all went to rita’s.

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as for upcoming events and activities, there is a tolland 4-h fair this weekend so i’m thinking of bringing both kids to that.

sahm

IMG_0548on august 3rd, 2016, i sent my letter of resignation to middletown public schools. walking away from my career wasn’t something i ever envisioned. but after penny was born, everything changed. i dreaded returning to work and extended my leave to half a year and then eventually the entire school year. when everyone inquired about me returning for the 2016-2017, i responded that, indeed, i was though i did share my worries about returning to work. i really wasn’t so much concerned about penny because she has been on a great schedule for a while now and is used to being with her grandparents.

i had come to the realization that i didn’t care so much for my job anymore. when your passion for anything dies, you can either try to get it back or move on. back in march, the city i worked in notified 16 other teachers and me that we would be let go due to budget cuts. due to initial shock, i cried and was understandably distraught over the situation. but, the more i thought about it, i realized it was a blessing in disguise: i had secretly been wanting to stay at home and now i really could!

but then a wrench got thrown in the works because a few months later, i was notified that all  the teachers would be rehired. i felt pressure from myself, and others, that i should return, so i signed the contract on june 8th. since then, i had been dreading the start of the school year: thinking about buying school supplies, cleaning and setting up the classroom, organizing and creating lesson plans, and so much more.

then, out of the blue, dennis said if i really wanted to stay home, i should. i was so ecstatic and relieved to have that support from him that i broke down in tears. why did i want to leave my job so badly? well, here’s a little bit of my work background.

even though i had been a classroom teacher for one year, i had been in the education field for a decade. as an undergraduate, i worked part-time (full-time during the summer) at a child care center for almost four years. then, i did student teaching and was a substitute teacher for a few districts. then, i moved to connecticut to become a building sub and would also later work as a long-term sub, interventionist, and finally obtained my own classroom. with each passing year, i became increasingly agitated and stressed over the escalating expectations of teachers. with all this accountability on making sure students achieve high scores on standardized tests, i slowly started to weary being a teacher but i kept on because i had been trying so long to be one.

after all that, one might think it’s such a waste to throw that all away but, to me, it’s entirely worth it to stay home with penny. it was a no-brainer for me anyway because i had steadily become more and more jaded with the education system over the years. teaching will always be there.. maybe in the future when penny (and her siblings) are all in school i’ll return; or maybe i’ll pursue a different career, but the truth of the matter is i can never experience being at home with penny again.

being at home is difficult too, of course. penny has been taking steps on her own for a few weeks now but just recently she has been walking more and more on her own. she has also transitioned to one nap so usually i spend this time cleaning up a little bit, but also trying to get some shut-eye myself because it’s tiring to chase her around and keep her preoccupied with constant activity. usually, i don’t fall asleep but i do feel better after resting my eyes.

summer is my favorite season, and i was always mournful when it ended because that meant the start of the school year. now i can completely enjoy the fall season because i don’t have to stress about being miserable at work. i am so psyched for all of the fall activities coming up: apple picking, pumpkin picking, hay rides, cider doughnuts and juice, fairs and festivals, halloween, enjoying the foliage, jumping in leaf piles to name a few!