Our Sparkling Summer Adventures - Part One

Labor Day is often considered to be the last official day of summer. Anyone who knows me and my love of swimming knows that I will hold on to any day above 75 for as long as I can, and try to find ways to get wet. But still, it seems like a fitting time to reflect on what has been a summer that truly sparkled.

I've been so busy going on adventures with my boys, that I haven't managed to visit this space as often as I might like. Though, I think I mentioned when summing up my 100 Happy Days Challenge, that I'm ok with that, because I've been living in the moment, and really enjoying myself. Still, I want to share some of our adventures for nostalgia's sake, and for others with small children in the Boston area who are looking for great things to do with their kids.

So, here we go...in no particular order, our Sparkling Summer Adventures - Part One. (Yeah, I realized as I was writing this that it was going to get way too long for one post!)

One amazing place Leo and I frequented is Walden Pond. Yes the very one made famous by Thoreau. I always knew it wasn't far from my house. But when I discovered that it's a less than twenty minute drive through the beautiful country side of Lincoln, and only $5.00 to park, it became a go to destination. And you can bet I will be buying a season parking pass next summer. The pond is beautiful, surrounded by forest, with crystal clear sparkling water. There is plenty of sandy beach perfect for toddlers. And you can even find some spots that stay shady for most of the morning. Depending on your comfort level, there are guarded and unguarded parts of the pond, which is also a popular destination for distance swimmers training for triathlon and such. We found our way to the unguarded area often, because it was less crowded, and Leo was able to engage in one of his favorite activities, throwing rocks.

Walden Pond is a perfect destination for toddlers, not only because there are so. many. other. toddlers, but because the water is warm, and shallow, and there are no waves. It was incredible to watch Leo's comfort level with the water increase with each visit. He was able to wade in to a depth that made him feel comfortable without needed to dodge waves, or just jump into a pool from a ladder where his feet wouldn't touch the ground. One thing we did learn though, is that no matter how many interesting toys we brought of our own, the ones that belong to someone else are always more desirable. At least we made a few friends this way.

Greg and I both took a week off from work in August. We were able to get away to Martha's Vineyard for two nights with a group of our friends who go every year. The rest of the week, we had a fantastic staycation with the little man. We made it our mission to check out a few new destinations.

The new Legoland Discovery Center kept us busy one morning. It was fun, but I'm not sure it exactly lived up to the hype. It really felt like a lego themed indoor play ground, with a price tag much higher than your typical Gymboree. The entry sequence was tedious. We reserved tickets online, but then still had to wait in a line for about 20 minutes to check in at the register. Then we had to wait in a line to get our picture taken while we also waited for the elevator. Then we had to wait in a holding room outside the elevator once we got upstairs. Then we had to watch a movie which was billed as the lego factory tour. Then, we were finally released into the space, and greeted with yet another line to get on one of the two rides. If there was a way to by pass all the waiting, it was in fact a fun lego playground. Though, I think Leo will enjoy it more in a few years, as he was too small for one of the rides, and not confident enough to go in the climbing structure alone. I couldn't go with him. But Greg loved the fact that there was a shake table so he could test the ability of his duplo structure to withstand earthquakes. The highlight for big "kids" had to be the miniature Boston complete with a basement level Cheers bar. We also had a lot of fun building lego cars and racing them against others. And, as always, Leo had a blast running around and checking out his new surroundings.

at least they provided some entertainment for the kids waiting in line

the line after checking in, waiting to get a photo taken, and then board the elevators beyond

Leo was too afraid to go down the slide at the top because it was an enclosed pipe and he couldn't see the end!

Another incredible destination we discovered that week is Drumlin Farm. It's a working farm and wildlife sanctuary, also less than 20 minutes from our house, in Lincoln. I have to say, finding good toddler entertainment has led me to act like a tourist in my own back yard. I've learned about so many amazing places that I'd either never been to or never even heard of in my now, officially, 16 years of living in Boston.

Anyway, back to Drumlin Farm. It was great! Leo loved running along the paths, watching all the other kids and wandering from barn to barn. We got to go on a hay ride. He now says "hay ride" every time he sees a tractor. There were sheep, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, you name it. He pointed them all out, and said "cluck, cluck, cluck...," as we walked past the length of the chicken coop. It was easy to navigate, and stroller friendly, for the most part. And the scenery was beautiful. I kept exclaiming to Greg..."can you believe this place is so close to Boston?" We will definitely be making a trip back in the fall to see the animals and check out the pretty fall colors.

He even managed to find some rocks and a puddle to throw them into! 

The main events of our staycation seems like a natural place to pause. Stay tuned for the next installment of Sparkling Summer Fun!

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