Another Awesome Woodloch Vacation

Beautiful View

Last November, one of our favorite vacation spots had a Black Friday deal that we couldn’t pass up. We always have an amazing time at Woodloch and since we didn’t get to go back last year, I’ve been excited waiting since I booked our vacation last fall. Well, as usual the wonderful staff did not disappoint and spent last Tues.-Fri. having tons of great family time together!

We started going to Woodloch back when Jake was in pre-school! Back then we thought it would be fun to visit again someday. Well, six times later I think it’s safe to say that we always have an excellent time. There are so many things for the kids (and grown-ups) to do, even in the winter months. The food is fantastic. And every single person who work there is super nice and goes out of their way to make your stay memorable.

One of the highlights is always “Theme Night.” Each year the folks at Woodloch put on an original show and that evening’s dinner decor reflects the theme. Can you guess what it is this year?

Pre-dinner beverage

Delicious chocolate mousse dessert

They also have a character parade (always a hit with the kids!) walk through the dining room. After you’ve been a few times you realize that they somehow always manage to work this huge wooden horse in — this year a prominant 1980s political figure was riding it 😉 Laura was thrilled to meet Ariel and Strawberry Shortcake (her favorite!) and the boys got a kick out of Chewbacca.

Laura & Ariel

Laura & Strawberry Shortcake

Chewbacca & the boys

I thought that the “Back to the 80s” painted backdrop was too cool — so many favorites!

Back to the 80s!

The show afterwards was great, too. Everyone had a blast singing along to favorite songs. Laura’s eyes lit up when they started singing “I Love Rock & Roll” — it’s one of her favorites! I was totally loving the first set. Check out the Mac, the cell phone, the Simon game… they did such a great job.

80's theme show

Oh, something totally new and different this year was “Gingerbread Wars.” It was the perfect day for it too — last Thursday when the region got a ton of snow dumped on it! There were 21 (I think) teams and we were all presented with a sheet of uncut gingerbread, 6 chocolate donut holes, an apple, and some frosting. There were also tickets that we could use to “purchase” decorations like colored frosting, candy, cookies, etc. We had no idea what to expect! After the rules (you had to somehow use the donuts and apple — the secret ingredients — in your creation) were read we learned that we had 30 minutes to “bake up” a gingerbread structure that went along with the theme “America.”

Wow! Talk about a challenge! We wanted to do something a little different and what is more American than a cheeseburger with fries? So that’s exactly what we made!

woodloch 2014

woodloch 2014

We came in fourth place, which left me thrilled! (I’m not a great cake decorator, and certainly can’t cut a straight line out of gingerbread!) But I also won a t-shirt for this Tweet:

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So fun! Let’s see… what else? There was snow tubing, plenty of time running around the Woodloch Forest (a huge indoor play structure), bumper cars, and enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Lake Teedyuskung is gorgeous all frozen over.

Snow tubing

Snow tubing

Snow tubing

woodloch 2014

woodloch 2014

While I was in the Low Carb cooking class (which was awesome! I loved all the recipes and can’t wait to make them at home), Drew and the kids joined in on the scavenger hunt. Their team ended up winning first place! (Guess it pays to have a bunch of random things like pressed pennies in your purse!). We saw a magician, we played Jackpot Bingo, and just had a lot of good family fun, which really is what it’s about!

woodloch 2014

woodloch 2014

Sadly, we had to leave on Friday so we took a photo with the black bear in the lobby (like we always do!):
We always take a photo with the bear when we leave.

 

Just for the sake of nostalgia, check out this photo from 2009 — the boys were so little and Laura wasn’t even born yet!

saying "goodbye" to woodloch

Going home took a while because of the storm. We had to be careful on the mountain roads, but once we got to the highway driving was no problem. Of couse, then we came home to a driveway we couldn’t even pull into! Drew jumped out to get to work and the kids and I ran to the store for a few things. When we got back home, at least the car could get in the driveway (even if the front stairs were still piled high!)

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We always have so much fun at Woodloch, and the kids are already starting with the “When we go back”s… LOL! And honestly, I can’t wait myself. 

Back from Vacationing at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg
Hello! Well, the last week and a half have just gone by lightning fast! I have so much to catch up on… Where should I even start?

Well, before I get to the details of our trip, I have to mention that Noah turned 8! After a breakfast of his chosen “sugar cereal” (something I don’t usually buy except on the kids’ birthdays), he opened presents.

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Then we headed over to Walkway Over the Hudson State Park. Even though I am terribly afraid of heights, I love it there (as long as I don’t get too close to the edge of the railing, LOL). 

Mid-Hudson Bridge

Walkway Over the Hudson

We decided to have an early lunch at IHOP, and then headed home. I made Hawaiian pizza for dinner (Noah’s request). All in all I think he had a great day.

Last Monday we got in the car for the very long drive (ugh, 8 hours) to Colonial Williamsburg for vacation. It was a lot of fun! I’ll be honest — I wish you could poke around some of the buildings at your leisure, but you’re limited to what you can see during a tour. I understand — there’s a lot of value in some of those buildings — but it would have been nice.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg
Some of the shops are only open certain days of the week, so there are a few we missed (like the Apothecary — something I had really hoped to check out). But we spent a lot of time at the Blacksmith shop. The boys were fascinated.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

One of my favorite buildings was Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. It was styled as the Rockefellers would have had it. Oh, I could so easily have moved right into that kitchen! 

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

On our last night we had dinner at Shield’s Tavern and it was excellent! I had the ale potted beef, which was like a pot roast with vegetables served over the most delicious mashed potatoes. Drew had “a dish of pork” — a huge, flavorful hunk of pork on the bone. Seriously, it was so good! I loved that the children’s meals all came with applesauce and mixed vegetables (a blend of carrots, broccoli, and green beans) and not just the standard potato and entree.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

There was a gentleman playing music, encouraging everyone to participate in a sing along. Such fun! After dinner we had tickets to the Tavern Ghost Walk. The boys were riveted by the spooky stories about some of the haunted buildings in Williamsburg. I kept snapping away with my camera, hoping to capture something — but I didn’t, LOL!

Colonial Williamsburg

The boys learned a lot, and although I’m not sure Laura was as entertained, she liked the horses and playing with some colonial toys. Speaking of which, Noah turned out to be an absolute champ at hoop & stick. So much so that he decided to use his souvenir money to buy one for himself!

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

We got back on Friday after spending the night in New Jersey to break up the trip home. And now we’re in the back-to-school “home stretch.” It’s our last full week of vacation. Oh summer, I will miss your lazy days!

Dreaming of Warmer Weather

It may be April but it is still so cold outside! I dropped Jake off this morning and the thermometer read 28 degrees… brr! The weather definitely has me thinking of vacations, preferably to warmer places. 

Honestly, I’m kind of jealous of friends who were able to get away to warm beaches stateside over spring break. Oh, it would be wonderful to don flip-flops and enjoy tropical drinks while watching the waves roll in and out. I know it’ll warm up here, eventually though.

I’m not sure if we’ll be going on a summer vacation this year. We’ll have to see how busy things are with my husband’s work schedule. He has some business travel planned for the summer so if we do go away, it will likely be something close by — maybe a long weekend somewhere. Often we go to Lake George, but it would be fun to try somewhere new.

And if we don’t do anything, that’s OK too. Honestly, sometimes travelling with three kids is a lot more work than it is relaxation. And packing… that is probably my least favorite part of any trip! Then, of course, there is the mountain of laundry when you get home. Hmm… Maybe a “staycation” is a better option right now. Take the kids to the lake, hang out on the deck with an iced tea, order take-out for dinner… yup, I think that’ll do just as well.

This entry was posted in Travel.

Lake George in the Off Season

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Yesterday we took the boys to Albany ComicCon — a smaller, much more manageable comic book show than the big one in the city. Laura came too, and was a real trooper, braving the crowd all in the hopes of seeing Spider-Man (which she did!). Afterwards, we surprised the kids with a little sidetrack before going home, though. We figured since there is no school today in honor of Veteran’s Day, we’d spend a little extra time together as a family.

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We usually go to Lake George at the end of the season (on Labor Day), but this time of year it is really the off-season. It was so weird seeing all the stores emptied and locked with “See you in the Spring!” signs hanging in doors and windows. Even the McDonald’s in town was closed! But some stuff was open, and really all I wanted to do was walk around the lake so I didn’t care much about the shops. It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be up in the Adirondacks. Mid 60s in early November? Why yes! I’ll take it! It was such a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

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A co-worker told me about The Mystery Spot, something that was in her kids’ book Weird New York. We’ve been to Lake George so many times — I can’t believe I’d never heard of this, even though I have walked over this spot on every trip! (Though Drew tells me we discovered it on our first vacation there when we were still dating — but I can’t remember!) If you stand in the middle of this circle and talk or even whisper, there is this weird reverberation.

“Local Indian legend says that it was the spot that an ancient god called Katchalototail had appeared at a long time ago and since then his wisdom still echoes around the lake.”

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It’s not exactly an echo, but definitely some bizarre sonic anomaly. We all got a kick out of it! Definitely try it if you’re up there.

A Visit to the New York Botanical Garden

What a weekend! I have so much to tell you about, but I thought I’d start by sharing some photos I took yesterday. While Drew and Jake were at ComicCon, my mother-in-law suggested the rest of us spend the day at the New York Botanical Gardens. I’d never been there and she certainly didn’t have to convince me — I was so excited to finally visit!

We saw the gorgeous Monet’s Garden exhibit, as well as the Haunted Pumpkin Garden (very non-spooky, very fun, and great for children). Noah had a great time planting buckwheat seeds and dissecting an owl pellet, while Laura enjoyed playing in the outdoor puppet theatre and just looking at all the incredibly creative pumpkin sculptures.

Seeing all these beautiful plants makes me wish I was a better gardener! Just gorgeous stuff. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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I could have spent the entire day wandering around. If you live in the metro New York area and you’re looking for something fun and Halloween-y to do, this exhibit was a lot of fun, plus the grounds are just so beautiful. We plan to go back for the holiday train show and I can’t wait for that!

Old Sturbridge Village

Old Sturbridge Village

Any kid who grew up in Western Mass. is all too familiar with Old Sturbridge Village. They’ve gone there on a field trip at least once, but more likely multiple times. And by the time they graduate from high school, chances are they are pretty tired of the colonial New England stuff. I know I was! But then I grew up, moved away, renewed my love for all things old (and especially colonial) and I’ve been dying to take my kids there.

Old Sturbridge Village

Last week while we were up in WMass, I wanted to make time to see my good friend Jenn. And when she suggested we spend the day at OSV, I think I was more excited than anyone! Old Sturbridge Villlage is a living museum. The people who work there are all dressed in costume and their jobs are showing what life was like hundreds of years ago. Once you walk through the doors, it’s as if you’ve stepped back in time. (I kind of wanted to hole up in one of the houses and live there!)

Old Sturbridge Village

We saw a shoemaker, a blacksmith, and a potter.

Old Sturbridge Village

We saw women dying and spinning wool into gorgeous yarns. Aren’t the colors yummy?

Old Sturbridge Village

Some handmade quilts were hung over a split-rail fence to air out (I love this picture so much I had to make it my new blog header!).

Old Sturbridge Village

There’s also a working sawmill, but it wasn’t operating while we were there. The water levels are so low this year. It definitely makes you wonder how people would have handled such a dry summer back in the 1700s.

Old Sturbridge Village

And there were, of course, plenty of chickens wandering around! I still really want a few chickens, and seeing these guys did not help, LOL… Is it weird to think that chickens are cute?

Old Sturbridge Village

We packed in quite a bit, considering we had 5 kids in tow (4 rambunctious boys and one strong-willed 3-year-old). Still, we did not get to see it all so I’m looking forward to going back another time.

Old Sturbridge Village

I do have a few Groupon vouchers for a place here in New York called Museum Village, so I think we’ll take the kids there soon. I’m curious how it compares and how things were different here in NY versus Massachusetts all those years ago!

2011 radio city christmas spectacular

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When I was a little girl, I’d watch the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and wish I could dance like they do. Alas, I am terribly uncoordinated and can’t really dance at all. So I simply hoped to see them live at Radio City Music Hall someday.

Back in 2008 we had the opportunity to take Jake (who was then in 1st grade) to see the show and I think I was more excited than he was! It was everything I hoped it would be. So this year I wondered if it would still be magical for me, having seen it so recently. Well let me tell you, it was even better and totally blew me away!

Before I get to the photos of the show, I just have to share this pic of the chandelier in the lobby. I asked Drew if we could get one like it for our dining room.

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How beautiful! The entire theatre is gorgeous and makes me think of old-timey New York. Love it! The show itself is just bigger than life. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, it took my breath away. And being the sap that I am, I found myself getting teary randomly during the numbers. I don’t really know why, but yeah — I was one using her sleeve like a tissue because I forgot to take actual tissues.

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The grand finale is the living nativity and it gave me chills and — yes — made me cry again. You don’t have to be Christian or even believe in God to get emotional during this last act. (At least in my opinion.) With the live animals (including camels!), the slow movement, the music, the lighting… it’s just breathtaking.

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It’s not a cheap day out, I’ll be honest, but it is worth every penny. They boys loved it and to hear their ooohs and ahhs and see them riveted during certain scenes… well, you just can’t put a price on that. I’m already looking forward to Laura’s turn 🙂

rockefeller center tree and sak’s window display

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Sorry I didn’t get this up yesterday! (Though I doubt anyone was really waiting for it, LOL!) It was just one of those days and we’ll leave it at that. Anyway, the next leg of our NYC trip was taking the boys to Rockefeller Center.

We were there on Tuesday and the tree wasn’t going to be lit until the next day, but since you can barely see the lights during the day it didn’t matter much. The tree this year is really fat. I have to say it looked prettier in some of the night time photos I’ve seen than it did when we were there. Nevertheless, it was very impressive!

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The area was bustling with television techs getting the area ready for the lighting. I pretty much just tried to stay out of their way. Across the street we saw Radio City Music Hall. I love the neon any time of year, but it’s extra pretty with the lights and trees.

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Sak’s Fifth Avenue is right there, too. Their window displays are always so inventive and, well, gorgeous! This year’s display tells the story of a little girl named Holly and a magical discovery of the Bubblemakers.

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I was rushed through by some little old ladies, so my photos aren’t the greatest, but hopefully you get a hint of how beautiful it is this year!

I’ll conclude tomorrow (really I will) with the absolute highlight of the day: the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

i ♥ new york (especially during the holidays)

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Last week, the kids had two half-days of school to allow for parent-teacher conferences in the afternoon. We decided to keep them out of school on one of those days (I know, I know…) in order to take them into New York City for the day. This would be Noah’s first visit there! When Jake was in 1st grade we took him to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, so of course we had to do the same for Noah.

We kept it a secret from them, as we are known to do. Poor Jake was stressing out because normally I’d be rushing him out the door to get to morning Math Club on time and he couldn’t understand why we weren’t in the car. So Drew just told them we had something else in mind.

First they thought they were spending the day with Grandma because we pulled into her driveway. But when we simply dropped off Laura and headed to the train station, they began to seriously wonder what was up! Both guys were so super excited when they found out what our plans were! Noah has been wanting to go on a train ride for such a long time 🙂

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When we got into Grand Central, the first thing we did was show them the ceiling and Drew explained how when he was in high school, it was so black he never even knew the constellations were painted on it. Then, when we were engaged and he was working in the city, they were doing the restoration and he said how unbelievable it was to watch the transformation. Next up was the Whispering Wall — always so cool, no matter how many times you’ve done it!

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Normally we would have walked up to Times Square, but it was pouring rain, so we took the subway. The boys had a blast at Toys R Us and couldn’t believe that there was a ferris wheel inside. I think this was the first time I’ve ever been on an indoor ferris wheel!

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We looked at the Lego section at least 25 times.

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And Noah was in “Hot Wheels Heaven” as he put it!

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We let the boys pick out a small Lego set and also got them one of these Myachi things someone was demo’ing (think: Hacky Sack for your hands). When we left the rain had let up so we grabbed a hot dog on the street and started walking up to Rockefeller Center. (I only wish I’d had the common sense to wear some sensible womens wide shoes instead of my heeled boots, but that’s the price we pay for beauty, LOL!).

I’ll continue tomorrow with Part 2 of our day in the city!

what i’ve been doing instead of blogging

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Hello, friends! It’s been a while. Did you miss me? 😉 Sometimes it’s nice to take a little bit of a break from the online world and with just a few exceptions (checking e-mail and the occasional post on Facebook), that’s what I did this last week. Instead of finding myself glued to the computer, here’s what I’ve been up to:

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1. I spent nearly 24 hours in a car (total) with three kids and a husband, driving through torrential downpours on the way home, realizing that Virginia is one boring state to drive through (speaking only of the highways), and learning that the kids handle long car rides better than I do. I also learned that Raleigh is a cute little city! I think I expected it to be bigger, but it was pretty easy to get around (which was very nice).

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2. I saw some cool dinosaur bones and great exhibits at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and laughed hysterically at the “Terror of the South” banner on the the Acrocanthosaurus exhibit. I want a t-shirt that says “Terror of the South” (or maybe a pint-sized one for Lulu!)

3. I went swimming. A lot. And got sunburned. A lot. (My pale Polish skin is just not meant for that kind of exposure.)

4. I got up close and personal with some butterflies.
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5. And some adorable little lizards.
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6. I ate more than my fair share of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and enjoyed every single bite.

7. I showed my kids how ridiculously uncoordinated I am at the Marbles Kids Museum.
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8. I learned how to make eggplant parm that is so good that even I devoured it. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend (who is very Italian) gave me all her secrets!

9. I ate ice cream every single night.

10. I spent a lot of down time relaxing with my husband, kids, and other family members.

Visiting my brother-in-law in N. Carolina was such a fun time! We got home late last night and I feel totally refreshed and ready to take on the world. (Well, maybe after I get a little more sleep.) I’ll have a few more posts on some of the highlights of our trip, but those will have to wait a day or two.  After a “no rules” kind of vacation, I find myself craving routine, so I need to get back into the swing of things. But it sure was nice to get away.