Oct 232014
 

Looking for a fun family fall treat? Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster has it all, or check out a similar amusement in your area--this truly was the perfect fall outing for our young family!

Remember that sweet place in Lancaster County where we love to hang out, Dutch Wonderland?

We are kind of totally in love with it.

So when they invited my family back to check out their Halloween Happy Hauntings, there wasn’t a whole lot of arm-twisting that had to happen to get us there. In fact, there was none.

We excitedly packed our daypack and costumes (yes, the park encourages guests to delight in the season and dress-up!), and headed off. Factor in a few temper tantrums and about 10 trips back to the house for things we forgot, and you’ll get the accurate picture of what goes down when my so-together family decides on a day out.

I like visiting Dutch Wonderland in the fall because all of the rides and attractions, excepting those with water, are still open.  Granted, my kids love the water park, but there is still loads to do on the drier side of the fun. This also allows for a cheaper admission price and a slightly less packed agenda–more time to simply explore and play always works for us!

Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings is perfect fit for young ones. The rides are still smaller-kid friendly as they always are, and the park does an excellent job of embracing the season–without being too scary. Pumpkins, costumes, and cobwebs galore adorn the park, but there are no horrifying super-spooky ghosts or goblins. This works for us–my children battle fears of the dark without any extra reasons for nightmares.

The smaller-kid friendly rides and attractions at Dutch Wonderland are a young family's dream come true! Visit next time you're in Lancaster County, PA, or check out a kid-friendly amusement park in your area!

The highlight of our visit was the Trick or Treat trail.  Crossing over the bridge into the back of the park, we found Exploration Island transformed into a Halloween wonderland! At each dinosaur exhibit, the kids were treated to some yummy candy by the very creatively costumed-employees. I won’t spoil all the fun in case you are planning to visit (Happy Hauntings is open both this weekend, 10/25-26, and next, 11/2-3), but my favorite dinosaur exhibit themes were the Dr. Seuss and the Crayola crayon box–you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a dinosaur dressed as a pink crayon…

The Trick or Treat Trail was the perfect way for some safe trick-or-treating fun with a lot at some of the coolest costumes themes around!

I can’t say how fun it was to let the kids run around in their costumes and have a blast in a family-friendly environment. I even felt sort of vindicated when the hood of my son’s knight costume started to tear a bit after some very active sliding board fun. “See!”, I plead to my husband, “They DO get enough wear out of their costumes!” I may have slight obsession with gearing my children up in adorable coordinated costume themes each year.

The coordinated costume at mention, our little knight and princess combo couldn’t have been more perfect for the royalty theme that Dutch Wonderland is known for year round.  Now if they just start letting us bring in our dog dressed as the dragon, we’ll be all set…

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings @meredithspidel

Head out to Dutch Wonderland, friends.  In a season when there are so many options for fall fun, this is the one that truly brings it all together and creates a whole autumn-full of special memories!

****Thanks to Dutch Wonderland for hosting my family for the day. All opinions expressed remain 100% my own.****

Oct 152014
 

Handling Your Kids Imaginary Friends @meredithspidelFriends, I need to introduce you to someone.

His name is Luke, and he is VERY IMPORTANT.

He has become the newest member of our family.  No worries! I haven’t gotten myself knocked up again. I know, we can all exhale together now. No, Luke is the product of my daughter–her imagination, that is.

I took all my child psych classes and fully get that imaginary friends are “normal”, but it’s still a mind-bender.  A mind-bender in that my son never even came close to having one.

In that she never falters in her dedication to Luke’s reality. We reached a new level of Luke-ness last week when she wrote him notes and put them in our mailbox one evening. The next morning, as we checked the mailbox on our way back from the bus stop (as she always insists on doing), she found the notes and became convinced that he had sent her mail. There was no rationalizing; in her mind, my daughter had begun written communication with her love.

In that her brother totally accepts and almost shares the delusion:

“Isaac, I saw Luke at your school today!”

“Oh yeah, was he there?”

In that, while everyone says it’s a natural part of childhood, very few of my friends’ kids have actually had such a committed imaginary friend.

In that he is omnipresent.  We “see his house” multiple times a day–in different towns. His dad not only mows the lawn at preschool, he works at the bank as well.

In that everyone in our life knows Luke. My sitter will text me, “Just saw Luke at the grocery store!” My sister asks how Luke is doing.

In that he is an opinionated soul. “Luke does NOT want me to wear the green outfit today!”

In that she most definitively uses him to process things in her life that she is not able to otherwise process. “Luke’s grandma died. But he’s not that upset about it.”  This makes me tear up; I won’t lie. Why shouldn’t the sweet young thing find a way to process her grandma’s premature death? My own grandma died before I was born and I still ache from the unrecognized pain of that.  Go you, daughter, for figuring out a way to address the sadness.

I like to think my recollection of my education is pretty accurate (please tell me I didn’t throw thousands of dollars down the drain for nothing), but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t off in my general acceptance and appreciation of Luke.  I asked Dr. Tricia Groff to weigh in on imaginary friends:

 “Is an imaginary friend normal?”

It is common for preschool children to invent imaginary friends. The imaginary friends usually disappear during the grade school years. Rather than being a problem, the presence of imaginary friends often illustrates a child’s creativity and use of imagination. Imaginary friends provide a way for children to relate to someone their own age and/or to discuss issues that they may not be comfortable saying directly to an adult.

 “How should parents handle it?”

Rather than trying to ignore or minimize their presence, adults can use the imaginary friend to better understand the child’s thoughts and emotions.

 “When are imaginary friends a concern?”

If children have mean or angry imaginary friend, the child may be experiencing deep emotional distress which should be investigated. Similarly, parents should be concerned if the child plays with the imaginary friend at the exclusion of developing friendships with real children.

With Dr. Groff’s input and my awareness that Luke is not mean, angry, nor preventing her from real-life friendships, I feel pretty secure about his existence.  I am so thankful for her confirmation and information. Dr. Groff is one of the experts that truly get it and care, and I can fully recommend any counseling she provides.  Thank you, Dr. Groff.

All of this in mind, I am outlining some key strategies for handling imaginary friend, from the perspective of being a mom, no expertise assumed:

1) Accept. It may not be real, but your kid believes that it is. Go with it. You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration.

2) Acknowledge, but don’t encourage. It would be so easy, so many times to say, “But Luke wants you to do what Mommy is saying!” Yet, I have always had some innate awareness that Luke is her delusion, not mine. I’m not sure feeding it is wrong or right, but it is her thing. I need to allow her to develop and use it as she will.

3) Allow conversation as your child offers.  As Dr. Groff said above, imaginary friends are a tool parents can use to better understand their kids–use it as such.  If my gal wants to tell me all about Luke’s lawn-mowing dad, why not? It’s obviously something that matters to her; whether I get it or not.

4) Listen. Dude, I would be an idiot not recognize the way she uses Luke to process her own grandma’s death. I am relatively new at this parenting thing, but I have heard getting your kids to talk about their inner feelings is a beast.  This one is right there, and she’s giving it to me–I’d tune my ears into what she actually saying.

5) Don’t cry over goodbyes.  My daughter has yet to bid adeui to Luke, but there are days he doesn’t come up at all, nor does his dad drive by in the mower.  Again, this is her thing.  There are days that she may need him and there are days that she may not. I don’t get to choose when Luke shows up.

I don’t determine how my children present in this world, but I can allow them to explore it with the safe reassurance that I’m here, whatever here is–imaginary friends included.  And honestly, what they bring to the table is often pretty darn cool. Who wouldn’t want a friend who can change his hair color by the day and be in ten places at once?

Modern day super-hero? Maybe.  But for today, we’ll just call him Luke.

Image Credit: depositphotos.com, ID:4890633, copyright:gjohnstonphoto

Sep 292014
 

Halfway there to sanity @meredithspidelI’m at a weird stage with my kids.  What stage isn’t weird, right?

They are 3 and 5. In sum total, I have four hours each week when they are both at school at the same time.  My self of two years ago would hate my current self for saying, “It almost isn’t worth it.”, because sometimes it feels four hours aren’t that big of a deal.  But that’s silly, of course it’s worth it.

Mommy feeds on time alone.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve only found myself cherishing privacy and alone time and being able to do wild things things like buy tampons without help.  In general, my work goes more smoothly when there are less juice cups to fill.

These four hours of alone time have given me a taste of sanity.  And it’s not just the time alone, to be honest.  It’s that my son has now mostly started wiping his own bum and that my kids now do adorable things like hold hands and walk around the yard together while I watch from the window.  It really is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

I am less needed, and I am sure this is part of the mothering gene I’m missing, but I’m in no way sad about this.  Maybe someday I will be, but for now, there are still too many pee accidents to clean up and peanut butter sandwiches that need to be cut into five perfect strips.

I’m still largely too needed.

And the non-sweet moments with my kids are still too non-sweet.  As my daughter fully realizes her three year old-ness, I’m fully realizing the meaning of “unnerved”.  My nerves are shot, frayed, and shaking as her powerful tantrums often leave my heart racing.  When I’m “on” as a mom, I’m so on, in such a way that leaves me totally wiped and pitifully crashing by 8pm.

So this is where the weird part comes in…

I have one foot on the ground of sanity, which gives rise to glorious things like being able to spread the laundry out over the entire living room floor without somebody kicking my neat piles.  I said it was glorious.

The other foot is still in the muck and mire of all that is tough and exhausting, the genuine preciousness of their ages, and sticky blue lollipop hands.

The result is I’m left doing some sort of extreme stretching maneuver, and I was never really very flexible.

Without any official measurements or guidelines, I feel like I’m about halfway there.  Halfway to being started on the road to a more sane existence of being able to complete thoughts in my own head and not jealously look at moms of older kids and think, “I don’t care if the teenage years are hell, I’ll bet they can reach the refridgerator door handle by themselves.” But I’m still pretty invested in where I’ve been for the past five years, spending a lot of time opening and closing that fridge door.

As for the four hours?  It’s a cruel tease, and on days when it’s raining when I run in for drop-off and pick-up, I’m really not always sure it is actually so utterly fantastic.  Though I do love sporting my pretty rain boots.  And I’m honestly not sure we, as a family, are ready for more than four hours anyway, as much as I think I want it.

But I am sure I’m going to crank through all the moments I do have alone like it’s nobody’s business.

Halfway there–the blurred place we are exactly.

Photo credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:12298003, Copyright:everett225

Aug 032014
 
We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit...

We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit…

Dutch Wonderland‘s tagline of “A Kingdom for Kids” couldn’t be more perfectly fitting.  Upon walking through the castle gates, you enter a land of fairytales-come-true.  There are princesses and dragons (all friendly, of course), kiddie rides galore, a water park, and magic.

I still remember going here as a kid and being wowed.  (Most specifically, I remember my grandparents taking me, sailing down a sliding board into a puddle of mud and my grandma hauling me to a store across the street to get a new outfit because I was a hot mess, but this is another story…).

I remember the mezmerizing-to-kids Dutch Wonderland signature features: the giant pretzel, the milkable cow (not real), the mini church, the birthday cake you could walk through and the gingerbread house with the teeny bakers-at-work.

A few days ago, my family got to spend the day at Dutch Wonderland, and one of my favorite parts was watching my daughter as enraptured with those gingerbread bakers as I used to be:

Sweet captivation

Sweet captivation

We visited on a gorgeous day, and I think my son would have played in the water park area for forever if we had let him.  I love Dutch Wonderland‘s water area because it is truly little-kid friendly.  It is isn’t too huge, so it’s easy to keep track of your little ones.  There are three separate areas: one for little little kids, one for water gun-shooting and other water play, and another with three not-enormous slides that are very well-manned by life-guards.  All are closely lined by lounge chairs for parents who want to grab a seat, but still keep a close eye on their kids.  In short, it’s a paradise for both kids and adults.

He was in his bliss!

He was in his bliss!

After running around the water park all morning and breaking for lunch, it was then time to hit the rest of the park.  We were all excited to visit Exploration Island with its new-for-2104 dinosaur exhibit and take a spin on the remodeled Turnpike:

What I love most about the picture is that my daughter wasn't quite tall enough to make it in--out her hands are still peeking out.

My daughter wasn’t quite tall enough to make it in, but her little hands still make an appearance ;)

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Then we were off to (not-so-scary) roller coasters, the big flume ride, bumper cars, a family boat cruise and few old-fashioned kiddie rides for good measure.

Seeing her delighted over this ride was especially sweet–the exact same first one I rode as a kid and then operated as a teen!

Let’s be honest: a day at an amusement park with kids is never a relaxing event as a parent, but Dutch Wonderland makes a big day out pretty darn easy and fun.  It is truly a child-friendly park.  All of the rides are geared for little ones.  While my husband took our son on some of the “bigger” rides that my daughter was still too small for (The Kingdom Coaster and the bumper cars), there were loads of toddler-friendly rides (and gingerbread exhibits) within easy reach to keep us amused as we waited for the guys.

All of us had fun and were thoroughly delighted with our day in the Kingdom.  The only thing I’m left wishing for? That we get to back again very soon.

*****Thank you to Dutch Wonderland for hosting our family for the day!  Our delight in the park is 100% genuine, as is our desire to return ASAP!*****

Despite my best intentions to get a cute photo of my guys playing at the park in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits "the softest, most comfortable suit Ive ever worn", according to my husband), I had to settle for capture their summer cuteness at home!

Despite my intention to snag a cute photo of my guys playing at Dutch Wonderland in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits (“the softest, most comfortable suit I’ve ever worn”, said my understated husband), I ended up capturing their summer fashionableness poolside.  They are loving these suits–and I’m loving them in them!

 

Jul 072014
 

My daughter is turning 3 this week, so she’s not fully at the age of fan-worshiping.  And I’ve largely worked to downplay the Frozen obsession because I’ve heard the urban legend rumors (totally true) of how IMPOSSIBLE it is to snag anything even semi-Frozen-related. But truth told: she swoons over Anna and Elsa.  So just imagine the squeeing that went down around these parts when our dear Aunt Jonnah sent my daughter an Elsa costume for her birthday. It was serious utopia.

 

Holy cow! Elsa is here!

Holy cow! Elsa is here!

And now, thanks to Stephanie of Binkies and Briefcases, way more than a dress can be yours!

 Frozen toys giveawayAre your kids obsessed with Frozen too? Our kids are all about them, but the toys are next to impossible to find. Luckily, Stephanie from Binkies and Briefcases just so happened to be at Target at the exact same time that they were restocking the shelves and she scored an entire lot of toys from Disney’s Frozen. Yes, she even found an Elsa doll! Now she’s teaming with a group of bloggers to give them away. That’s $120 worth of toys, and we’re giving them all to one lucky winner.

elsa doll and frozen toys

What better way to cool off in July than with some Frozen treats?

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

One Color Change Elsa Doll

One Color Change Anna Doll

One set of toddler Anna and Elsa dolls

And one Magical Lights Palace play set

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, ages 18 and up. No purchase necessary to win. Binkies and Briefcases is responsible for prize shipment. One winner will be notified via email and receive a prize package via US Mail. In the event the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be selected.

Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 222014
 

I’m excited to be teaming up with Productive Parenting and Strider Bikes to bring you an awesome (free!) app that you’re going love – and a chance to win one of five Strider Bikes!

Thousands of Activities for Kids!

Productive Parenting has been around for years – offering fast and simple activities that you can do with your kids. The activities are created by a team of childhood education experts and categorized by age (0 – 5) and also by skills learned.

And now they’ve taken all of their amazing activities and created an app. You download it from the iTunes store, quickly enter in the names and ages of your children, and each day you’ll be given a new (simple) activity to do with your kids.

Simple Activities for Kids Free App

No props? No problem. Productive Parenting activities require little to no preparation or materials; but don’t let their simplicity fool you. They provide a solid foundation for Kindergarten and at the same time promote lasting parent-child relationships.

Productive Parenting App Screenshot

I don’t know about all of you, but it’s getting pretty nasty dicey up in here trying to keep the kiddos occupied during these bleak times of endless snow and frigid temps. This app is a Godsend in trying to shake things up (read: maintain a sliver of sanity for all of us).  Snatch it up ASAP–TRUST ME.

And the cost?  Can’t beat this…

Free until March 5, 2014! Until March 5, 2014, the Productive Parenting app will be available for FREE in the iTunes store. After that, the price will be set at $1.99.Click here to download it now.

Download and Enter to Win

Download the free app, and use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win one of FIVE Strider Bikes.

Productive Parenting Giveaway

Retailing for over $100, STRIDER balance bikes are perfect for children from 18 months to 5 years old. This no-pedal balance bike teaches your child balance and coordination while developing confidence.

There are multiple ways to enter each day, so be sure to check back to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is available to the Continental US and ends at midnight on March 4, 2014. Five winners will be able to choose from one of Strider’s ST-4 Strider branded bikes (12” bikes for the 18 month-5 year old crowd)

The Mom of the Year received no compensation for sponsoring this event, and is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize delivery is the sold responsibility of Strider. Five winners will be drawn randomly and notified by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim their prize. If they do not respond within the 48 hours, they will forfeit the prize and an alternate winner will be chosen. This post may contain affiliate links.

Dec 262013
 
Christmas craft

The brilliant result

Gosh, yes…I actually tried to craft with my kids.  I am so adorably annoyingly stupid…

Once upon a time in the not-so far off land of Suburbia, there was a Mommy who was a very good at caring for her home and her family, except for the fact that she sucked at cleaning and cooking, wasn’t awesome with young kids, and was generally terrified of crafting.  This Mommy was married to a very good man; we’ll call him Daddy.  Daddy was reading a book to their little boy and chanced upon cute idea for a fun project to do with kids.  Daddy mentioned this to Mommy, and apparently Mommy had skimped on her daily sanity meds, because she thought this craft would be fun to try with the kids.  She planned to give it a whirl one morning the next week.

In general, anytime Mommy decides to “give something a whirl”, it’s best for all nearby parties to run quickly into a cave and hide.  And so this is the point where our tale takes a very nasty turn south…

Preparations for the crafting event were going relatively well until Mommy realized she needed supplies to create the popsicle stick Christmas tree craft.  Dastardly truth of crafting: supplies are necessary.  Queue to Mommy diving headfirst into several scary large Rubbermaid totes in the basement where the glitter was conveniently stored.  Listen carefully now for the sounds of angry grunts, muffled explicatives and panicked screams for baby daughter to NOT start crawling up the un-baby-gated cement steps.

After some further desperate searching and a minor hiccup when Mommy’s sweet angelic son locked her in the basement as she was juggling the glitter, the baby, a psychotic dog and a laundry basket under arm (there is always, always a laundry basket involved, right?), the necessary materials were finally secured upstairs.  Mommy then felt insanely wise for setting daughter up in her chair with some Color Wonder markers so the rest of this fun event could ensue.  The scene was mostly set with only the paper plates still needed.

For the record, paper plates are definitively integral to all craft projects.  All of them.  If you are looking to go into crafting, start buying paper plates in bulk, and stash them in every nook and cranny throughout your house.  You will always need them and you will never have them when you need them.  There can never be enough paper plates.

While Mommy went in search of the necessary paper plates, her daughter took the opportunity to eat the tip off of a marker.  After a certain amount of hysteria and speculation that Color Wonder ingestion would lead to brain damage of some sort, it was determined that everyone would survive, and the festivities could joyfully continue.

As goldfish crackers flew at Mommy’s head (an alternative activity was needed for daughter after the unfortunate incident in which she ate the provided markers), she learned that hot glue gun glue is indeed rather hot when squirted all over one’s hand.  As Mommy screamed through her pain, her son fled the room in terror.  But with a little convincing, he soon returned to participate in this delightful experience.

Bring our engaging tale to a close, you can tell from the pictures below, the end result was stunning.  Clearly entirely worth all the effort and served to completely re-educate Mommy, who will now be running gleefully headfirst into the next crafting opportunity after having such a blessedly positive experience.  Bring on the crafts.

Christmas tree craft

Just thought you would appreciate
that I’m still using paper plates from
my daughter’s birthday in July

Mommy is now making “I Heart Crafting” t-shirts which will be available for sale in the very near future.  Stay tuned for this one.  She’s entirely sold out for crafting and wants the world to know.

*************************************************************************

Also, pop on over to Hollow Tree Ventures and check out As (Never) Seen on Pinterest for further evidence of how crafty and artsy I am and snag some top-notch creative ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.  As a teaser, my fantastic design inspiration for your child’s train table is pictured below:

Child's Train Table Design @mererdithspidel @RobynHTV

Yes, yes we are awesome parents…

 

Nov 152013
 

Sometimes when I think of Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood, I could cry.  It’s like a flood of sweet childhood perfection comes rushing back at me.  Those moments when I felt little and happy and thrilled to just be learning how to tie my shoes.  It is without exaggeration that I say Fred Rodgers was huge part of my formative years, and I consider myself a die-hard fan.

I read The Simple Faith of Mister Rodgers with delight a few years ago, but remember feeling sad at the time that this inspiring man would not be part of my kids’ childhoods.

Well…maybe now, that isn’t true.  A little while ago, my son chanced upon a treasure on the iPad, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  He fell in love, and I was soon to follow suit with crushing on this program.  You see, it’s ADORABLE.  Long story short, about a year ago, The Fred Rodgers Company started producing an animated program on PBS that is dedicated to carrying on the message and nostalgia of Mister Rodgers.  The are many parallels between the original show and this new one: did you notice Daniel rocks the same red zip-up sweater Mister Rodgers did for so many years?  The songs are familiar, the Land of Make Believe makes an appearance in the scenery, and while the original character have grown up and moved on, their cute little kiddos are on the scene.

It’s not just the carryover of characters, music, and sweaters, though.  This company is dedicated to instilling the values of my childhood hero into this new show: not just entertaining children, but teaching them to be comfortable with their feelings while learning important, practical lessons along the way.

I hugely credit Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with assisting our potty training efforts with the show’s catchy jingle, “If you have to go potty, STOP, and go right away…”.  And what parent who has seen this program doesn’t love on the tune about how “Everyone is big enough to do something” (read: maybe you can’t do Mommy’s mountain of laundry yet, but you can still find some way to put your 4 yr. old self to good use ;) ).

Then the company took it one step further.  After a bunch of research about how kids best develop creativity and imagination, they created a whole line of toys that promote open-ended play.  You can snatch them up just in time for the holidays at Toys R Us.  Head over to the website to case out all the reviews and details, but a personal note on these toys?  My son has slept with his stuffed Daniel Tiger every night since he got him and even invited Daniel TO WATCH FOOTBALL WITH HIM ON SUNDAY (I know–huge honor).  And when we opened our trolley toy?  It already was Christmas in this household.

I tried to get a photo of them beaming at the camera with their new toy, but they were too engaged and in awe for such nonsense.

I tried to get a photo of them beaming at the camera with their new toy, but they were too engaged and in awe for such nonsense.

The summary is that I loved Mister Rodgers Neighborhood as a kid and I am beyond tickled to know that his legacy can live on in a new generation through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Check the show out.  Check the toys out. And fall in love with Mister Rodgers all over again.

I participated in this program on behalf of The Fred Rogers Company and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Sep 272013
 
Source All the glowy, entrancing perfection

Source
All the glowy, entrancing perfection

I am not a huge one for sap or intense woe over departing seasons, but there is one thing I am very sad to say goodbye to–those lazy nights around the fireside.

You see, my family doesn’t do that much cool stuff.  We are a pretty basic, simple people, who love us some good Duck Dynasty episodes for $7.98/season on Amazon and think we are boss if we manage to make it up until 9pm.  But every now and again, when the weather is warm, my husband will build a fire in our pit and we will chill the evening away.  I’m talking at least 10pm, people.  This is serious stuff.

Don’t mistake me, these fireside nights aren’t an epitome of perfect bliss.  They often result in boatloads of screaming at the kids not to get too close to the flames, irritable tension between my husband and I over who’s turn it is to “do”bedtime” and way too many burnt marshmallows…BUT, it is kind of cool.

The kids love it, I usually get to drink one of my husband’s groovy home brews and just relaxing around the fire is…well, really relaxing.  Since I always crave more relaxation in my life, these nights have become aces in my book.   While I think these nights are wonderful, I have never cried before over their departure.  There was always next year, right?  But then, this year, I got gut-punched with sadness.

You see, my son has gotten into chasing fireflies.  He runs with sheer glee and abandon from one teeny flashing light to the next.  I could care less about the fireflies, but the joy on his face has me sold.  He screams, “Oh! I got another one!” after each temporary capture and his self-pride is infectious, delightful, smart–when is the last time I have squeed with bliss over something so perfectly simple?

The truth is, watching his childlike passion taught me a lesson in embracing life and (quite literally), whatever it floated in front of me.  Call it the innocence of childhood or whatever you will.  He was happy, he was having fun, and I can only pray that I can find some small measure in my life to love life so hard.

So you’ll excuse me.  While I rejoice in the cozy long sleeves and apple-crisp scents of fall, I am mourning the loss of these summer nights a bit.  Those precious evenings when chasing after fireflies and “catching another one” is the the only thing needed on this earth for delight.

It’s really not the end of the world–we’ll be back in a several short months.  But, I’ll miss those rich fireside nights all the same.

Rocking out the chase in the Spideman jammies

Rocking out the chase in the Spideman jammies

Mar 242013
 

…and it was AWESOME.

If you need to sit down for a minute, that’s cool.  I can’t believe I’m saying this either.  When I was invited to preview the new Monkey Fish Toys store, I was pretty scared.  Lots of bright colors, noises, and children generally terrify me.  But then that whole little realization that “my kids would have a blast and maybe it was time for Mommy to put on her big girl panties and just go” sort of factored in.  So off we went.

It was fantastic.  Of course the kids loved it and had so much fun playing with all the different toys, but I thought it was pretty great too.  The owner told me that they try to stock 75% of their inventory with items you can’t find at Amazon, Target or Walmart.  This was evident.  I saw so many cool toys that I hadn’t even known existed.  I was significantly ticked at myself that I hadn’t brought a pen and paper so I could start writing down ideas (yes, I’m still smart phone-stupid) for gifts.  These toys were new, different, original.  It was fun to just walk around and check everything out.

playing at toy store Monkey fish toys @meredithspidel

The prices were impressive too–right on par what you would pay at  one of those major retailers.   An obsessive lover on online shopping, I had forgotten how easy it can be to walk into a physical store, see something fantastic and buy it on the spot.  Let’s just say the Easter Bunny had a hey day that day.

playing at Monkey Fish toys store @meredithspidel

He’s engrossed

It was fun and I can’t wait until I have an excuse to go back.  If you are local to the Exton, PA area, trek over and trek over FAST.  You will fall in love, I promise.  And take the kiddos–all the hands on play areas are sure to be a hit.  Playdate and shopping fix all in one neat package.  Thanks, Monkey Fish Toys!

I received no compensation for this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

 

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