Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Typical Summer Morning

The approach to the summer morning has changed drastically.  Both boys are now going to bed pretty late, ten o'clock, and Walnut has been sleeping until about 8:30.  The Peanut is always up early!  Our typical summer morning has turned into what I consider a typical summer afternoon.  I definitely appreciated the calm and relaxed morning atmosphere until recently.  And, during the school year I awake around 5:30.  What does all of this mean?

We need a routine.  I think.  I'm not sure.  I'm confused.

I love the fact that we were able to relax and leisurely wake up and have coffee and watch Super Why!  HOWEVER, I feel a little out of sorts.  OR...is this normal?

The BIG QUESTION:  Am I unable to relax and have true down time?

You make the call.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thank Cow for Revelations

I knew that we were going to be late.

As we were driving to the dairy farm tour, which was approximately an hour away from our house, I had quite a bit of time to think.  I dwelled on some time management issues and then planned the rest of our social calendar for the week.  All the while, I tried to take my mind off of the fact that we were going to be a few minutes late.  I absolutely despise being late. 

We were late.

Many of the BFFs attended "The Cow Goes Moo." We went last year. Peanut loves mooing to the cows as we pass the farm (no dairy cows and no tours) near our house.  I figured that it would be fun-the tour itself.  However, when our tour guide was taking us to our first stop, the milking station, Walnut looked and me and said, "I don't want to go in."  Why?  Well, the milking station is the only part of the tour in a closed space.  Walnut said that it smelled and preferred not to go in.

I began thinking, 'Why am I doing this?'  A few answers ran through my head and then we proceeded to see the calves and the bull.  Walnut perked up when we saw the bull.  One of the guides explained to him why the bull was so important to the the cows.  It was an interesting conversation.

Peanut seemed to enjoy himself BUT he was indeed stroller bound.  He's a runner and he probably would have ended up with the cows.

Here are a few of the answers that came to mind as I was asking myself, 'Why?'
Revelation #1: My youngest child likes the cows when we pass while driving in the CAR.
Revelation #2:  We get to see our friends.
Revelation #3:  It is kinda cool to see cows, especially if you are a five or two-year old.
Revelation #4:  It's what I do.

Revelation #4 was the biggest pill to swallow.  My Shermandy made fun of me on the phone after I told her the tales of our day.  Her response as I was detailing our fun filled day (a busy day), "Of course you did."

Today will be a relaxing day in our pajamas...I think.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adventures in K: Walnut Isn't Moving

Walnut is more than ready for Kindergarten.  I THINK I am ready, but...you just never know with me. 

I had to make a groceries run the day we returned from our beach trip.  A Barnes & Noble is located in the same plaza and I was in need of a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I never go into B & N without buying at least five books.  And, this endeavor proved consistent with those of the past.

I purchased two books for Walnut:  Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson and Kindergarten ROCKS! by Katie Davis.  Waiting for the opportune time to read these books was essential.  I wanted to have time with Walnut without any type of distraction.  Our time arrived today after Peanut conked out on the trail while we were riding our bikes. 

We snuggled up on the couch and began to read our new books and discussed what Kindergarten will be like for my little guy.  Both authors do a really great job of presenting information to parents and their children.  One suggestion in the book was to send a family photo (just in case).  Walnut asked various questions but one that made me laugh really showed his maturity level.
"Mom, kids go away to college and live there, right?"
"Well, I don't want to move to Kindergarten.  I want to stay here and live."

I smiled and realized that despite Walnut's desire to be considered a "big" kid-he is still my little boy.

Gardening & the Coveted Hydrangea

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with gardening.  Next year, we will be adding a raised veggie garden and a cut flower garden to our landscape.  Right now, I am prepping to find two trees to place in the back yard.  We'll plant in the fall but I am on the hunt for the perfect trees.  One of my biggest gardening disappointments is the blue hydrangea just beyond our front porch.  I had high hopes for that hydrangea.  We moved into our house in December of '03 and they planted her in the spring of '04.  I watched, watered, fertilized and fed that damn thing and it only bloomed tiny flowers all the while I was watching my next door neighbors' hydrangea produce the biggest and most beautiful flowers on our street.  'What the HELL?'  

Last year I planted another hydrangea and IT BLOOMED!

ATTENTION big and unproductive hydrangea near our front porch:  Your days are numbered.  We have high hopes for your coveted spot!  A hardy virburnum or peony will replace you!

 front door annuals
pre-bloom hibiscus

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week of Beach

There isn't much to write for this entry.  We essentially woke up, had breakfast, relaxed and prepped for the beach and then went to the ocean.  We did do a few different things such as visit Smithville (historic town), visited Washington Mall and went to Morey's Piers for amusement.  But, we spent a SIGNIFICANT time in the sand and water.  The name of the game was to enjoy a week of  relaxation with absolutely no stress.  SUCCESS! (We're headed back in two weeks:)


Fantastic Fun With Friends

Dependable and Fun

Toy Story 3 was the selection and the place was Dependable Drive In.  I hadn't been to the drive in for many years-like at least ten.  On the way to our destination, Bob and I recounted our childhood memories of going to the outdoor theater and playing at the playground as well as a myriad of other fun activities.  I thought I was prepared until we were on site.  I noticed that the dynamic of seating and snacks has changed a bit.  The people next to us had an aerobed in the back of their truck and a grill!  Nevertheless, the boys watched from the back of our vehicle and we all really enjoyed the movie.  We'll be going back very soon to see Despicable Me.  

Independence Day

We look forward to the 4th of July.  I enjoy putting up the bunting, flags and planting red, white and blue flowers.  Fireworks still amaze me.  The beautiful colors, booms, spirals and starbursts enchant me, truly.  But, since Walnut and Peanut have come into the picture we haven't been able to actually go to watch fireworks because they are a little scared by the deafening sounds.  I miss them but I also enjoy the pyrotechnics of my husband and his father.  This year was a relaxing 4th even though our hometown hosts one of the largest parades in Pennsylvania that lasted over 2.5 hours this year!  Here are a few photos:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CODE PHRASE: Bird in the Sky

teenage girls + sand + surf + Walnut = future "trouble"

While unpacking the beach cart, putting up umbrellas, strategically assembling and placing beach chairs and watching Walnut and Peanut impatiently await their two second trek to the water, I heard Walnut say to Pap, "Bird in the Sky, Pap."  I dismissed it as the passing of a seagull.  A day earlier the "camp" next to us came under seige of the cacophony and proximity of a few pesky seagulls. However, I heard Walnut say the same phrase to his father while we were strolling down the boardwalk.  Bob noticed that my attention was drawn to their father-son conversation.

"Do you know what we're talking about?"  

"Ummm.  I think that I am beginning to understand.  But, I am not too happy about it,"  I said.

And, so it begins.  Even though Walnut is ONLY entering K this coming school year, the admiration of beautiful girls creeps into our world.  He isn't completely infatuated BUT he is noticing the ladies.  No thanks to Pap.  He introduced the phrase.

By the way, have you seen photos of Walnut?  He is adorable!  Looks like Mother Kocan will be worrying a little more come September.  

My Respect For the Atlantic Ocean

Growing up in Pennsylvania meant longing for a trip to the beach.  I LOVE the ocean.  Don't get me wrong.  I love living in Western Pennsylvania.  We have a fantastic cultural district, great historical background and more attractions than I could list, BUT I find so much peace and enjoyment being near the ocean.  There is also something to be said for the Atlantic Ocean.  There is more beach, warmer water and less choppy surf than the Pacific Ocean.  But, I would turn down a trip to the beach!  And, I also like the idea of visiting different states and beaches on the East Coast.   Over the course of my childhood and adolescence, we visited many different beaches along the eastern seaboard and thoroughly enjoyed all of our vacations.

Today, as I was sitting on the beach near the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, I realized that the ocean provides me tranquility, serenity, perspective and nostalgia.  I found myself, besides reading The Witch of Portobello, just watching the waves and my husband and children relishing in each and every wave that cruised through the sand near them.   For most people, these are not new or novel ideas.  The concepts of rebirth, life and the passage of time have been symbols of water for thousands of years.  However, moments of clarity are fleeting and I embraced committing my thoughts to memory.  Sure, I took photos but nothing can compare to living in the moment.  Bob, the boys and I played in the water, jumped the waves, built sandcastles, found shells and glass, watched boats, laughed, people watched, made day-long friends, walked the boardwalk, soaked up rays, watched a wedding,  LOVED the ocean. 

I decided that I wanted to actually spend some time on the beach just digging in the sand.  A redecorate of some of the rooms in our home is in order.  Looking at these artifacts will remind me of the fresh smell of the ocean and a family vacation that was fun filled.  I am looking forward to glancing at my reminders of our perfect vacations together as a family.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Story of an Icon

I repeatedly stated, "The story is not supposed to end this way." And, Brian's story is meaningful, outstanding and noteworthy. 

We loosely toss around the words:  hero, legend, epic and icon.  Our culture focuses on specific situations that exemplify Andy Warhol's idea of  fifteen minutes of fame.  We look for a person to shine so that we may emulate him or her.  The word "icon" of antiquity denotes a depiction of sacred personage.  Many of us look for our own icons.  In my life, especially as an educator, Brian King was an icon.  And, more importantly, he moved administrators, colleagues and students to become more mindful human beings, intrinsically motivated thinkers, compassionate volunteers and fun loving friends.   

Icons exhibit all of the qualities that we often yearn to possess:  integrity, intelligence, kindness, wit, ethics and composure.  Brian could analyze a situation and proceed with caution or force when necessary.  He seized the opportunity to reach people whether it be as a classroom teacher, a friend in the faculty lounge, during a staff meeting or while sponsoring one of the many extracurricular activities that he facilitated.  For that, he was the consummate professional educator-ALWAYS. His devotion to the students and faculty of Peters Township was unsurpassed and his love of dialogue with others was embraced. He made being an icon look easy.

My sorrow is great but my love, respect and memories of my friend abound.  We will all miss our icon.  Take time to remember Mr. King and all that he meant to you.  Your memories, reflections and laughter will be a fitting end to his story.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning About Firefighters

Bob's grandfather was a city fireman.  In fact, we have his helmet hanging in our home.  Bob has always been so very proud of his family tree, especially his grandfathers.  BFF organized a tour of the Marshall Township Fire Station and we just couldn't miss it.  The firefighters really did an amazing job of discussing fires and fire prevention with our children.  While Peanut was a bit afraid of Freddie, both of the boys loved climbing on the fire trucks and practicing their stop, drop and roll moves.  Walnut was even dressed in firefighter gear and was  real trooper.  We were very grateful to have an opportunity to tour the facility and meet the firefighters and Freddie.

We Love Ligonier

Call me crazy but I love packing a picnic for our day at an amusement park.  Picnic food tastes so much better after climbing a rope ladder, playing in a pit of balls, riding the balloons or spending time at the waterpark.  We love amusement parks.  They just scream SUMMER!!!

Idlewild is not considered the #2 Children's Amusement Park in the World for nothin'!  Interestingly enough, when we arrived at the admission gates, the carload of people in front of us was from California, home of the #1 Children's Amusement Park in the World, and told the ticket taker that they were very excited to be visiting Idlewild.  We already have plans to take Walnut and Peanut to Legoland when they are little older.  So, we'll be able to compare and make our own designation of the No. 1 spot.  But, for now...Idlewild is our fave.  Peanut rode a ride by himself for the very first time!  I was a little emotional but Bob was so excited.  Walnut took his friend, J, with him so that they could play in the park and at the Soak Zone plus admission was buy one get one.  We couldn't pass that up!.  We also met our good friends at the park, after they got out of traffic!  Their son, A, really enjoyed himself, too.  The weather was perfect but the only bummer was that the Wild Mouse was under construction and we couldn't ride it.  Nevertheless, a good time was definitely had by ALL.  We opened and closed the park...true Kocanuts fashion.

A Day Out With Thomas and Lancaster Co.

Our boys love Thomas the Tank Engine and all of the other Island of Sodor favorites.  Santa Pap and Bob created the ultimate Thomas train table when Walnut was only eighteen months old.  Since then, Peanut has begun his infatuation with Thomas and the Gang, too.  So, in true Kocanuts fashion--we planned our second trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to see Thomas the Tank Engine "in person" and to take in all the other attractions that it offers. 

We extended our trip an extra day this year so that we could include Dutch Wonderland on our adventure list.  We highly recommend Dutch Wonderland as it is clean and so appropriate for young children.  Walnut loved the roller coaster and I couldn't get Peanut off of the merry go round.  They also LOVED waterpark, too.  

We love staying at After Eight Bed & Breakfast because Robert offers:  1.) the most beautiful grounds with a nice covered porch, gazebo, beautiful gardens and plenty of space for the kids to run and play.  2.)  delicious breakfasts that are in and of themselves a reason to walk up to the main house to enjoy.  3.)  adorable little cottages equipped with room to breathe and amenities.  4.)  helpful information and great conversation.  This is the second year that we've stayed with Robert and plan to do so again in the near future.

Other attractions visited this year:  The Choo Choo Barn, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, The National Toy Train Museum, Isaac's, The Red Caboose Restaurant, Hershey Farm, Shady Maple, Tanger Outlets and Rockvale Outlets.  We were busy!  We truly enjoyed ourselves and look forward to going back again next June!  My fave pics are below.


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