June 24, 2010

Ah, summertime. Sun and sand and surf. And vacations. Sometimes, I am afraid I live for vacations. I did so when I was younger, too. I remember my father telling me whenever I had a few extra dimes in my pocket (or savings account) I was researching another tropical island to visit.

My European days are over for a bit, so the four of us trotted off to my new favorite place: Sesame Place. It’s a beautiful, clean park well suited for younger children. It has tons of water rides, shows, a parade, and games. As usual, the biggest attraction for my kids?

The hotel.

They love hotels. They run up and down the hallway, look at the vending machines, and swim in the pool. They jump on the kingsize beds and play hide and go seek in the closets. They love going potty because it’s a brand new bathroom. And their favorite vacation ritual is to snuggle up in the blankets and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos together and laugh like crazy. They don’t really watch it at home – but on vacation it is a must see. Part of their happy place.

We moved from Sesame Place to spend the next couple of days in Lancaster County, PA, the heart of Amish Country.  We experienced a horse and buggy ride to an Amish farm and watched them milk the cows.  We saw Thomas the Train, took long rides through rolling hills, swam in the lake, and ran free at night chasing lightning bugs. The cabins had no phones and no television. Not even a radio. We bought farm fresh strawberries and ate corn on the cob and all the food was made with whole milks, real butter, and real sugar.

I had forgotten what it was like to get back to basics and it installed in me a new perspective of what I want my children to grow up with. I proudly told my husband we were changing our ways. I was going to go to the organic butcher for all of our meats. I would only buy fruits and vegetables from the farmstands right down the road from me. I would cook more and microwave less. I loved the way real sugar settled in my stomach and the natural sweetness of farm grown foods.

I began worrying about cancer and hormones and what my children were ingesting. I was completely enthusiastic and motivated to change our lives. No bad foods during the day. One dessert at night. Fruit every day without fail or they will be punished (Jake, not Josh. Josh eats fruit but Jake only recognizes bananas as something he would ingest.) My husband, knowing me well, nodded and approved of this change and just let me go on and on and on…

We spent the Saturday evening in the cabins during a thunderstorm reading, talking, and playing. This is what family is about. This is what I want for my kids. Game nights instead of tv.

It took us hours to get home with all the traffic that Sunday. Unpacking, baths, dinner, laundry, getting ready for work the next day – the usual schedule when vacation is officially over.  We had pizza that night.

The next day, I had to work late so we had soup.

OK, and chicken nuggets. But NOT from McDonalds – no way – I always tell the kids it’s unhealthy there. These were Perdue nuggets with REAL chicken.

On Tuesday, I was finally able to food shop. I made my list, was going to visit the special butcher and the farm stand, and things seemed to happen.  The day passed far too quickly and I compromised by going to the regular supermarket where I could buy everything under one roof and I can put the kids in the shopping carts that have cars so they don’t fight.

Yes. It was official. I am a complete sell out.

I bought peaches and apples at the farm stand, but I couldn’t even make it that week to Adams. I still haven’t. I would like to buy organic and still plan on visiting the butcher, but I found out it’s really expensive too, and my budget is tight.

Oh, and the kids gorged on movies and Noggin for days on end after the vacation, half starved from not seeing any technology for three whole days. My husband and I did the same – and had DVRd all of our reality shows.

The good news? We visited Hershey Park and took the chocolate tour. We bought tons of candy bars made of whole milk and sugar – a very healthy treat in my house.

I guess that is the extent of my Amish efforts.

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  1. Liz says:

    I LOVED Sesame Place! And of course Hershey – even though I heard they moved the factory to Mexico. So true with organic-so expensive – the one thing you should try the switch is with milk.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Ahh….the best laid
    I think you always get inspired when you go on a vacation. Remember in Italy when we waited in line for the Uffizi Gallery for two hours and we met those girls from Australia, who where back packing across Europe? You said, maybe that’s what we should have done. Then I reminded you how we, who couldn’t live without clean towels and got upset if our air conditioner wasn’t cranking in our room when we got back to our hotel, could never make it sleeping in hostels. You snapped right back into
    And I’m glad you wrote that your European days are over but only for the moment because we will definately be getting back to Italy some day. Yes next time we may be the retirees with the black socks and sandals on the tour like so many of our companion travelers in 95 but make no mistake we’re going back. 🙂

  3. Terri says:

    This reminds me so much of the drive vacations we always took when I was a kid. No Sesame Place, but we did Lancaster and Amish country (Shoe Fly Pie!!!), Hershey, Gettysburgh (enough pictures, Dad!!!)etc.

    And the motel with the pool. Very cool.

    We didn’t have reality shows or organic anything then. (Or maybe EVERYTHING was organic then. Who really knows. Sometimes I’m not sure there’s any real difference in the supermarket except for the expense!)

  4. Jen, I remember those days. When my husband and I took the kids to Hershey, that was in the days when they let you go into the factory on a guided tour. The smell of chocolate was indescribable but wonderful. Went back later with oldest granddaughter in tow, she was three and in love with Cookie Monster. Went to Sesame, then Hershey and on to western Pa. to an amusement park where we got to ride three times through Mr. Rodger’s world. Ashley would have had us go more times but Granny couldn’t abide the thought. Didn’t get any vibes about anything but chocolate. Janet

  5. Wendy Marcus says:

    Hi Jen!
    My kids LOVED Sesame Place. We went several times. Have you ever been to Splash Down Beach? It’s right here in Dutchess County (Off Rt. 84). It’s small but fun.

    And I welcome an opportunity for the kids to power down so we can play RummyQ or Banana Grams or now our new favorite game, Scrabble Slap!

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