I never really thought I would take my kids to an amusement park. Not for several years anyway. They were too young/short to go on many of the rides, and who wants to stand in line for the tea cups? But then the library basically handed us passes to Luna Park, one of the amusement parks at Coney Island. All we had to do was read—which for my kids is pretty much as easy as breathing— and go to a few library programs this summer. Done and done.
We took advantage of Micah’s last Summer Friday (when he gets off early) to use the passes. And good thing we did because it turns out amusement parks are not so fun with babies. There were a few rides that Elsa could ride without a parent, but not many. So Micah and I took turns going on rides while the other sat in the sun with Felix.
Each of the kids tried something that scared them and each lived to tell the tale. Simon was especially daring and went on a ride that swung him upside down. I was super nervous for him, and Micah who went on the ride with him, said he was making some nervous noises, but he did it and he was glad he did . . . though he may not ever do it again.
School starts in less than 2 weeks, and although we have a few more activities planned, I’m feeling like even if we didn’t manage to get them in we could call it a day at Luna Park and end on a high note.
I’m trying to think of the best moments of our trip to Ohio. It could have been going through Micah’s dad’s artwork and other mementos from Micah’s past. I always love to get to know Dad Heiselt a little bit better through his art—and to see where Micah gets some of his skills as well. The duck mask was something I’d heard about but never seen until this trip and suddenly Micah’s Halloween costumes make much more sense.
Running the road near Bente’s house was also one of my faves. It was gravelly and hilly and quiet. I saw more animals than people, and the people I did see seemed quite surprised to see me.
The day at the zoo was a winner as well. It rained a lot, but thankfully we have trained our children to not mind getting wet and so we had a great day despite the weather. We rode the carousel, saw a bunch of monkeys (in addition to the ones we brought ourselves) and I died a thousand times over Oliver and his fanny pack. His whole get up had me imagining 20 years from now when we get to pull out old photos to show his girlfriend.
And speaking of wardrobe choices, I again just about died watching Elsa and her cousins play dressups. She walked in to show me her outfit a couple of times and I hardly recognized her. It was magical.
Another magical moment: the kids jumping on the trampoline with their cousins as the sunset. Great view. Great company. Great photo. It’s my unofficial submission for the unofficial “this is the essence of summer” photo contest.
But then there was also the moment when Simon was so excited to ride the high wire unicycle at COSI and he waited and waited and waited in line, and asked Micah to take a video from his level and me to take one from below. And then he got to the front of the line and they started to strap him into the harness and he realized that this was actually pretty scary and . . . he did it anyway. I could see from down below that he was a bit nervous, but so excited to have done it.
Finally, there was the moment when we sat down to lunch the last day we were at Mom Heiselt’s and Simon looked a little teary. I was sure it was because he saw we were have leftover stir-fry that he really hadn’t liked the first time, but when pressed, he tearfully told us it was, “Leaving Grandma’s house.” (And that is when he won the award for favorite grandchild of the hour.)
And it was also the payoff, the indication that all these little moments are indeed going to add up to happy memories and strong relationships, bit by bit over the years. *fingers crossed*
Back in the day, when I was but a lass of 6, my first grade teacher bribed her students to read by offering ice cream for every 9 books completed. To the best of my knowledge, I read 9 books every day that the incentive program lasted and was rewarded accordingly.
A few months ago that popped into my head as we were discussing rewards for the goal of the kids reading their scriptures every day for 100 days. We kept track of the days with paper ice cream scoops—same as I did in first grade—and when we reached 100, we totally treated ourselves.
Those are milkshakes from Black Tap. We waited in line for less than an hour and then slurped up about as much sugar and cream as we could hold. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to eat it all. But it had the eye-popping effect we were going for and we felt that our efforts were rewarded.
We taped 100 paper scoops to the door day by day and now we are taking the scoops off day by day as well. Once the door is clear again, we have another excursion planned, but for better or worse, it will not be quite so sweet or creamy.
This summer has been a time for me to learn to be slightly spontaneous and to also try not to be so sad that we can’t always be together to do all the fun things. There have been several things that we’ve been planning to do forever and ever, but there just aren’t enough weekends and days off for Micah to get to experience them with us. (Sad face.)
And I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the city continues to be new and exciting, to have jewels shining just about everywhere we go. One day we went to Battery Park to watch the boats and see the Statue of Liberty. I thought the kids would be like, “Been there, done that,” but no. They were totally into it and we spent the day discovering just how many things could be seen and done in a very small corner of Manhattan. (For the record: Staten Island Ferry, Sea Glass Carousel, Statue of Liberty, Wendy’s frostys, WWII memorial, Castle Clinton, ships with real rigging, and a musical instrument implanted in the ground.)
Another day we opted for the Roosevelt Island tram and spent the day walking around almost the entire island. While the tram ride was more than successful, I have mixed feelings about the walk as we drank all our water before the half way point and spent much of the walk discussing the possibility of purchasing a stuffed squirrel from the visitor’s center.
My favorite was the trip we took to the Little Red Lighthouse under the Great Gray Bridge. We’ve been reading about it since Simon turned 2 (it was the book we got him for his birthday), but it seemed so very far away—all the way up in Inwood. The train ride was long, but not unusually so, and the walk down to the water was not too long either. And the view and the space was 100% worth it. I am nearly counting down the days until Felix is big enough to put on a bike and we can bike there as a family. (It’s only 12 miles—we could totally do it.)
Oddly, I’ve offered to take the kids to the beach a couple of times, even though it scares me to attempt it on my own. And each time they pick some other activity. Apparently, the only thing that stuck from our beach trip at the end of June was the sand, literally. Getting the sand off their skin before we got back on the train left them feeling a little raw. Not something they are eager to repeat. Which, of course is crazy. And despite my successes in getting us out and about, I do feel like the summer might be blighted if I don’t conquer the beach trip before school starts.