family · Hershey · slice of life

Hold On, Tight!

I had never seen Hersheypark as busy as it was this past weekend in all of the years we’ve been season pass holders. We would’ve turned around and gone home, but our family drove up from DC to spend the weekend with us. With four kids between us, canceling our scheduled day in park was not a possibility.

So we went into the park despite throngs of people!

Being seasoned season pass holders means we know to walk to the back of the park and work our way forward on a busy day. Once we got there, Isabelle, Marc, and my cousin’s wife decided to ride Lightning Racer (a roller coaster). Therefore, my cousin and I took Ari and his daughters on some smaller rides. Like most three-year-olds, his youngest didn’t want to ride in the stroller.

“I’ll walk with Ari and the girls and you can push the stroller,” I suggested.

He agreed. However, I felt nervous because I have two hands and couldn’t hold all of their hands. (Side note: Occasionally, my children ask for another sibling. I insist I couldn’t manage since I don’t have enough hands. For anyone reading this who has three or more kids, my hat is off to you!)

I enlisted Ari’s help. “I’m going to hold onto your hand and Maya’s hand. I need you to hold Gabby’s hand. Do not let go of my hand and do not let go of her hand. We are not going to lose anyone in this park. Got it?”

“Got it,” Ari replied.

The four of us walked along like this for a while:

I had no idea my cousin snapped this photo until he sent me the pics he took from the weekend. We were still towards the back of the park, which wasn’t that busy, when he captured this shot.

But then, we got to the middle of the park, which was busier. Music was playing and Gabby was jumping around to the beat of the music. She must’ve let go of Ari’s hand because I heard Ari declare, “Gabby, I need you to hold on, tight!”

I stopped. They rejoined hands. I exhaled. We kept walking.

The park was too crowded for my comfort. But, I am thankful Ari loves his cousin so much that he immediately pulled her back with us before she could take more than a couple of steps away.

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food · Hershey · slice of life

A Milkshake Through-Line

It was a scorcher today in Central PA! It wasn’t the kind of day where I want to be anywhere other than a pool. However, Isabelle and one of her friends from a former school in Harrisburg had plans to meet up at Hersheypark so, naturally, I went knowing I’d probably spend the majority of the day with Ari on his rides.

By 1 p.m., I was exhausted. By 2 p.m., I was texting Marc asking how soon they’d be able to meet us at the front of the park. By 2:40 p.m., I marched Ari over to Milton’s, an ice cream parlor at the front of the park, and told him I needed a milkshake.

I reached the front of the line only to discover Milton’s wasn’t serving milkshakes today. (I would’ve asked if I had energy left in my body. But all I wanted was something frozen and copious amounts of ice water.) Ari, on the other hand, wanted chocolate.

“You do know it’ll melt as soon as we get back outside, right?”

He shrugged. He didn’t care and I didn’t want to fight with him.

Just as I ordered a dish of ice cream, Ari decided he wanted something else. An ice cream perhaps? No. A cake pop! Again, I had no fight left in me so I acquiesced.

After I paid for our sweet treats, we carried them out to the patio along with two ice waters. As I got everything set up, my ice cream began to melt! Within two minutes, I had half of a dish of ice cream and half a dish of ice cream soup.

I encouraged Ari to be careful by putting his enormous cake pop down between bites. He listened… until he didn’t. The next thing I knew, half of the cake pop was on the ground.

“Ugh!” he exclaimed.

Of course, that was the moment Marc and Isabelle reappeared with their ice creams. I cleaned up the mess while Isabelle waited for her friend and his mom to join us. As we waited, I wiped cake pop off of Ari’s face and hands because IT WAS EVERYWHERE. As I did this, he whined.

“I’m still hungry. Now I have nothing to eat.”

I went to throw the wet wipes into the trash can. When I returned, I discovered Isabelle was offering Ari some of her ice cream. And not just a tiny spoonful… multiple spoonfuls of her frozen treat.

“Oh, sweetie,” I said. “That’s such a thoughtful thing for you to do.”

Isabelle shrugged. To her, it was no big deal. To Ari, it meant the world.

Once we were back home, Ari declared, “You can draw me a picture instead of giving me a joke note.” (He kept forgetting to have someone read the jokes to him last week in the cafeteria. Seeing as he can’t read yet, I offered to draw him a picture when he told me this.)

“I’m not that good of an artist,” I replied.

“Just draw me a smiley face,” he said.

“That’s boring. I can do better than that. Let me get one of my drawing books.”

I went on a search for an old Ed Emberly drawing book, but couldn’t find it. I found John Burgerman’s Daily Doodle instead. First, I attempted a dog for Ari. I came up short so I traced {🤫}. Then, figuring I might as well knock out Isabelle’s lunch note at the same time, I flipped through the pages to find something worthy. Eventually, I settled on a milkshake. Apparently, despite a shower and a few hours of A/C, I still had a milkshake on my mind!

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COVID-19 · food · Hershey · slice of life

Dinner Disaster #SOL20

Isabelle snapped this photo of Marc and I before the trouble began. (Btw: If you look in the background, you can see the Kiss-shaped street lamps, which line the streets in Downtown Hershey.)

Our favorite restaurant only accepts reservations for indoor dining, not patio seating. Therefore, we felt like we hit the lottery when we managed to get a patio table on Saturday night. The kids were thrilled to don their masks to march from the hostess stand to our patio table, which overlooked Cocoa Avenue and the monorail from Hersheypark (where they haven’t been in months).

Everything was going well as they devoured their biscuits. Marc and I played Uno with Ari while Isabelle colored. No one complained about the food taking awhile to come since we were dining at Devon!

Two minutes after the food arrived bees swarmed the kids’ grilled chicken and French fries. Each of them had a predictable reaction:

  • Ari, who was stung by a bee last year, declared, “Don’t eat my grilled chicken!”
  • Isabelle shrieked — repeatedly. Not even firm pressure on her shoulders could calm my bee-phobic daughter down. I advised her to stand away from the table while Marc and I tried to determine how we’d eradicate the bees and save dinner.

I didn’t want to engage in bee swatting for fear one of us would get stung. I kept peering over my shoulder to check on Isabelle whose body was stiff. She was wailing about the bees in a way that hurt my heart.

You know what we did, right?

We asked our server for the check, boxed up all of our food, paid, and ate in the back of the minivan.

Three of us tried to make the best of it. However, Isabelle whined about not having enough room for her legs on the picnic blanket. (She is 4’3” so her complaints frustrated us since the rest of the over five feet crew were fine!) I looked her squarely in the eye and said, “We love you. That’s why we left the restaurant. This isn’t an ideal situation. This isn’t the dinner any of us wanted. But, you have to stop complaining!”

She sulked in her corner of the minivan for several minutes while the rest of us ate and chatted. Eventually, she enjoyed the family banter and put a smile on her face.

We aren’t eating indoors these days because of COVID-19. We will only do socially-distant patio seating, but it’s hard when your child detests bugs and gets upset if there’s so much as a gnat near her. So… perhaps this Saturday night we order take-out and sit at our dining room table.

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Hershey · slice of life

Gaining Perspective #sol19

We posed for a photo once the kids finished their jaunt through Treatville.

Five weeks ago I injured my ankle. As I lay on the floor — writhing in childbirth-like pain — I knew my life was about to become different. The x-rays at the ER told me what I already suspected. My ankle was broken. An MRI two-and-a-half weeks later gave a bleaker picture.

In the middle of it all, we moved from the townhouse we were renting to the house we were building. Despite wanting to unpack everything myself, I heeded several people’s advice to follow my doctor’s orders to stay off of my ankle. I sat and directed the movers. I sat and directed my husband. I sat and directed my parents and in-laws.

It’s been five long weeks of sitting. And there are more weeks of sitting to come.

If you know me personally, then you know I’ve been in the habit of working out six days a week for the past couple of years. That, too, came to a screeching halt. (Interesting fact: I was on my way upstairs to change into gym clothes when I remembered something I had to do downstairs. Then, BAM, I missed three steps!) I haven’t taken that too well.

Fall is my favorite season and I’ve missed the last five weeks of it. I have been pretty bitter about that fact, but then I realized there was one fall activity — Hersheypark in the Dark — I could still enjoy with my kids.

So, yesterday, I threw $38 at the problem, rented a scooter, and zipped around Hersheypark. I was thrilled to go on some low-key rides, eat greasy park food, and witness Isabelle and Ari zoom through Treatville. I didn’t complain once about how much pain I was in or how I knew my foot was swelling up from not having it elevated.  Nope. I smiled through the pain and soldiered on because being outside with Marc and the kids was much better than laying in bed watching everyone unpack boxes. (And believe me, there are still many boxes that need to be unpacked!)

Things are good when I am working, driving kids to and from activities/appointments, cooking, and doing laundry all while trying to squeeze-in a daily workout. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until something as basic as my ability to walk independently disappeared. It’ll take awhile, but I will be able to walk again.

I’ll admit to being a begrudging Hersheypark season pass holder. I’ve always felt fortunate that we’re able to afford season passes. (One makes up the cost in as little as three visits per year!) I’ve been bemoaning our weekends there for at least a year by telling Marc, “Our kids need to realize there’s more to life than Hersheypark.” However, as I gunned my scooter up one of Hersheypark’s infamous hills, I decided that once I am able to conquer the hills on foot again, I will no longer complain about being there too often. Isabelle and Ari love it there. While the beach and New York City are my happy places, Hersheypark is theirs. Truth be told, I love witnessing them happy there.

Look for me next spring. I plan to be the grateful lady who is able to walk the park on foot with her family again.

Hershey · siblings · slice of life

The Sweetest Thing to Say to a Sibling

When I envisioned what my life would be like once I had children, it included trips to historical sites, museums, and shows. Maybe some sporting events, but mostly cultural things. You know what my visions didn’t include? Weekly trips to an amusement park! However, Isabelle became hooked on Hersheypark (which is about a half hour from our house) in 2014, which was the first time we purchased season passes. Therefore, we’ve been going ever since.

Now that Ari is two, he’s enamored with Hersheypark too. Like Isabelle, he wants to go every single weekend. If we skip a weekend — like we did last weekend — he acts as if it’s a major blow to his life. {Sigh.}

Last year, I took Isabelle and Ari on the Ferris wheel a few times. However, we hadn’t been on it since the Park opened this season. Even though the Ferris wheel is a favorite ride of mine (since it reminds me of the times I rode the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island with my Dad when I was a kid), I don’t take my kids on it that often since it’s on the far end of Hersheypark.

When I asked Isabelle what ride she wanted to go on first this weekend, she replied, “The Ferris Wheel!”

“Then we’ll walk to it first before the park fills up,” I told her.

She nodded her head in agreement.

Ari, on the other hand, was not in agreement. “I don’t wanna go on the Ferris wheel! I don’t wanna fall!”

“You’re not going to fall, Ari,” Isabelle said.

“You’ll be fine if you stay seated,” I told him.

Nonetheless, Ari repeated his disdain for our decision the whole walk to the Ferris wheel, which — if you count the walk from the car to the Ferris wheel — took about 25 minutes.

By the time we got to the Ferris wheel, I was ignoring the repeated complaints about Isabelle’s choice of a ride. Isabelle, on the other hand, was still entertaining Ari’s whining.

Once I took Ari out of the stroller, I noticed Isabelle take Ari’s hand. That part is typical. What I heard her tell him melted my heart. She said, “Listen, Ari. If you’re with Isabelle you’re always safe.”

I trusted Isabelle would keep an arm around Ari (which she did). That being said, I kept a hand on him too!

“Awwww!” I said. “That’s the sweetest thing you could tell him.”

“Well, it’s true!” Isabelle retorted.

I thought of all of the times Isabelle has engaged in ridiculous stunts at home (such as standing on the arm of the couch and doing a forward roll onto the cushions), which Ari has promptly copied. Each of these stunts takes a month or two off of my life every time. However, I bit my tongue about the always part of her message. Instead, I said, “Yes, it’s true, Ari. You are safe with Isabelle on the Ferris wheel.”

And with that, we walked onto the Ferris wheel queue. Even though Ari continued to worry, Isabelle held his hand and kept promising him that he’d be safe.

Not only was he safe… Ari demanded, “I wanna go on again!” as soon as it was time for us to exit.

We didn’t go on again. After all, we’ll probably be at Hersheypark next weekend!

Hershey · slice of life

What a Character!

Growing up, I was the kind of kid who loved to meet and take pictures with Disney Characters. Isabelle is a lot like me in this respect. She’s always excited to see or take photos with one of the Hershey’s candy characters when we’re at Hersheypark or see them around the town of Hershey. And maybe that’s why I’ve never understood those kids who fear amusement park characters. I mean, I know they’re not human, but they’re not scary!

In the beginning, Ari had no problem being close to the Hershey’s candy characters:


Painted in Waterlogue
We had to “get out of the house” a couple of weeks after Ari was born so I took him to one of the cleanest places I could think of: The Hotel Hershey! That’s when we snapped this photo.


By the time he was almost nine months old, Ari was indifferent towards them when he was brought into family photos with the characters in Hersheypark:


Painted in Waterlogue
On a hot June day in Hersheypark.


Last month, in another episode of “Two Kids from the Same Parents Aren’t the Same,” I discovered Ari was a bit uncertain about the Hershey’s candy characters. His suspicion can be noticed in photos like this:


Painted in Waterlogue
Isabelle and my mother-in-law are smiling while posing with Reese’s at the Hershey Lodge. Ari glances up at the Reese’s with great suspicion.


And his trepidation can be seen in photos like this:


Painted in Waterlogue
Ari wanted nothing to do with the KitKat so he clung to me while my mother-in-law attempted to take a picture.


Granted, Ari doesn’t scream or cry when he gets near the characters, but he doesn’t get excited in the ways I did as a kid or the ways Isabelle does now.

Last night, an unexpected intervention happened on the character front when we attended my husband’s work event. It was a family-friendly party complete with kid-friendly food, games, a photo booth, a balloon animal station, and HERSHEY CHARACTERS!

Ari spent much of the night following the Hershey Bar and the Reese’s Cup around the room. Finally, after several encounters that included low-fives, Ari’s suspicion and trepidation seemed to fade away.

My husband held him up to the Reese’s (whose wavy-cup head seems to perplex Ari).

Painted in Waterlogue

They got closer.

Painted in Waterlogue

And eventually, they were face-to-face:

Painted in Waterlogue

There were no hugs or kisses (from Ari to Mr. Reese’s), but he was more comfortable by the end of the night. Seeing as we have season passes to Hersheypark, this is a very, very good thing.