A Trip to Wonderland

I’ve always been a big fan of driving trips. My family and I never went on any huge vacations when I was a kid but we did go on different driving trips. When we lived in Chicago, we drove up to Wisconsin on a few different occasions, plus Indianapolis and Detroit. My parents made a vacation out of our move to New York, stopping at various landmarks along the way, and we made a number of trips after we had moved, as well, including a tour of battlefields from the Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania and a longer trip through Virginia to see Civil War sites. We drove up to Maine to see family friends and then to Ohio, after they moved, plus shorter trips to Connecticut, Boston and countless trips to Philadelphia to see my grandparents.

Trudy had gone on a number of trips with her parents through her childhood, as well, and we’ve continued the tradition with our family. When Eitan was three months old, we drove to Mystic, Connecticut, and we’ve explored a few different tourist sites in New Jersey and eastern Long Island. Last summer, we made our first longer driving excursion with Eitan out to Amish Country in western Pennsylvania. We took a horse and buggy ride and ate some “authentic” Amish food, but the highlight of the trip was a stop at Dutch Wonderland.

The thing I loved most about Dutch Wonderland is that the park did a fantastic job of bridging the gap between older and younger kids. A lot of other parks I’ve seen include a section of rides designed for younger kids, but there are usually no more than a few rides and they all follow the same generic formula of a small train going in a circle or a carousel. At Dutch Wonderland, the entire park is designed for families with young kids, which means that all but two or three of the rides – the ones he deemed “too fast” – were perfect for him.

IMG_3388

Sure, there was a carousel there too, but it wouldn’t be an amusement park without one.

Eitan had a blast. He was a little hesitant about getting on rides by himself, at first, but he warmed up quickly and enjoyed himself immensely. It wasn’t even so bad for me; the rides that had space for adults didn’t commit murder on my knees or my back, although the frog ride (pictured above) made me want to throw up a bit. The bottom line, though, was that Eitan loved all of the rides and other attractions at the park. He even got in his skeeball fix and “milked” a cow, which was particularly funny for us, since Trudy’s parents have a picture of her “milking” the same cow when she was little.1

We’ve already told Eitan that we’re planning on returning to Dutch Wonderland this summer and he can’t wait. He remembered the gems in the mine on the train, the monorail ride and the gigantic slide that he and I rode down on a potato sack. We’re also all looking forward to getting back to Duke’s Lagoon, the sprinkler park and playground where Eitan enjoyed every minute of getting soaked head to toe.2

There’s more for you in this blog post, though, than just seeing how much we loved our visit to the park and looking at the pictures of a smiling Eitan. Since you’re reading this blog, you get access to a discount code for tickets for you and your family to visit Dutch Wonderland, as well! All you have to do is click the link below to be forwarded to the Dutch Wonderland site to get the discounted rate.

Here’s the link:
https://www.dutchwonderland.com/Blogger16?promocode=SleepingOnTheEdgeBlog16
You can also just type in the promo code SleepingOnTheEdgeBlog16 at checkout.

I hope you’ll be able to make it out to the park because I know you’ll have just as much fun as we did. The code is valid for visits anytime between today and September 2, 2016. Enjoy!

I was not compensated financially for this post, but I did receive free admission to Dutch Wonderland for my family later this summer. The opinions included here are fully my own.


1. For the record, the cow doesn’t look that old. They’ve clearly updated it since she was a kid.
2. My apologies for the lack of pictures; I’d been too worried about my phone getting wet. I’ll try to do better during the next trip.

A Letter to My Unborn Child

Dear… umm… Baby (I guess),

Well, that was an awkward start. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to write there, as I’m sure you could tell. We have names picked out for you but we’re saving them for when we actually get to meet you. It also would have been just as awkward for me to write Dear Boy Name/Girl Name. I even considered writing Dear PTBNL, the acronym that Major League Baseball uses for a Player To Be Named Later, but it’s unwieldy and most people probably wouldn’t have recognized it right away anyway.1 In any event, I just went with Baby. That’s what you are, at this point anyway, so that’s what seems to fit the best.

I’m writing because there are a few things you should know before you actually are born. You’ll figure out most of the really important things on your own, like who I am, who your mother is and who your older brother, Eitan, is. We’ll be pretty easy to identify: your mom and I will be the ones holding you, feeding you, changing you and just taking care of you in general. Don’t worry if we look like zombies; we’re going to be a little short on sleep for a little while as we get used to having you around (and you get used to being around) but we know what we’re doing with you, for the most part. We went through it with your brother so we’ve already worked out a lot of the kinks. I know it took me some time to get the hang of changing diapers with your brother but I assume it’s like riding a bike – you never really forget. It may take me a time or five to refresh my memory but I’ll get there. And your mom was a pro from day one, so you’re in really good hands with her.

Eitan, as I mentioned, is your brother. He’ll be the much smaller person that you see on a regular basis. Most of the time he’s going to want to talk with you, play with you and help us with taking care of you. He’s a great kid; he loves having fun and helping others and he’s so excited to meet you. In fact, here’s what he told your mom just yesterday:

“Mommy, when the baby comes home, I’m going to sit on the rocker and you can put my lunch on the feet thing and then you can bring me the baby and I’ll hold her and I can rock her in the rocking chair.

It’s a girl. I know that.

I just wanted you to know that now.”

I don’t know if he’s right about you being a girl, but I do know he can’t wait for you to join our family. He may have some trouble here and there because your mom and I can’t give him 100% of our attention anymore, but you don’t have to worry abou that; he’ll figure things out.

The attention thing is actually the biggest reason why I wanted to write to you. I haven’t had many opportunities to really connect with you so far. Before Eitan was born, your mom and I could lie in bed on Saturday mornings and we could talk to him while he was in your mom’s belly. We played music for him, told him about our plans for him and talked about what we thought he would grow up to be.2

And with you, I haven’t quite felt the same connection.

A big reason is that I’m working so often so that your mom can stay home with you and your brother, so I’m not around to be able to take a minute and talk to you. But I want you to know that I’ll be taking some time off after you are born so you and I can get to know each other a bit. Research shows that spending time together after a child’s birth is just as important for the parents than for the baby, which is something I didn’t take enough advantage of when Eitan was born. I won’t be making that mistake again. I know my time will be split between you and Eitan but I want you to know that I’m going to try my absolute hardest to build as strong a relationship with you as I’ve built with Eitan.

I’m not perfect, by any means. I’m going to make mistakes at times and there will be points where you’re going to think to yourself, “Ugh, how did I get stuck with this guy?” But whenever that happens, I just want you to remember that, no matter how I mess up, I’m doing my best and I’ll figure things out. Your mom and your brother have been fantastic teachers for me and I’m sure you’re going to follow right in their footsteps.

The most important thing is that I’m always going to do my best to protect you, care for you and love you. I can’t wait to teach you all of the things I’ve learned about relationships, sports and life, in general, and I can’t wait to learn new lessons from you as we grow together. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty confident in saying that you’re coming into a great family.

We can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

Daddy

 


1. Your uncles, I’m sure, protested immediately that they recognized it.
2. For one thing, we thought he was going to be a girl, so things changed a bit when he was born.

Short Big Brother Stories

A friend of ours came over one evening last week. She is a long time friend of Trudy’s and mine from our college days and she’s always had a sort of special relationship with each of us. As Eitan has gotten older, he’s grown to love her as well. She can match his energy and enthusiasm on a consistent basis, which us a big reason for his affection for her. The other reason is that she’s never afraid to get down to his level, whether they’re doing puzzles or dancing or fighting with light-sabers.

As we sat down to eat dinner, Eitan started telling the three of us something that I can’t remember, although it was clearly very important to him at the time. It might have been about his day or about his friends or about the television show he wanted to watch with us later that evening.1 Either way, he was articulate and thoughtful as he spoke. He had a clear message that he wanted to convey and he did so perfectly. When he finished, Trudy voiced the exact words that I had been thinking.

“God, when did he get so old?

Our friend laughed and said, “Honey, he’s been old for a while now.”

*****

We hosted the second Passover Seder at our apartment. There were twenty of us, so it was a little tight, but everyone was mostly comfortable and had a good time. Three of our guests were two other college friends of ours and their 8-month-old son. Eitan spent most of the night playing with his older cousins but there was a span of a half hour or so where he was in his room with our college friend and her baby. Our friend had gone into the room to nurse and to try to get her son to fall asleep. Eitan apparently read a few of his books to the baby, helped to rock the baby to sleep and covered the baby with a blanket. Eventually, our friend had to ask Eitan to leave because, as helpful as he was, her son was so captivated by him that he wouldn’t fall asleep.

*****

Trudy and I have been trying to take advantage of opportunities to spend time with Eitan as often as we can because we know everything is going to be changing soon. I think we’ve prepared Eitan pretty well for the upcoming addition to our family but we’ve still been trying to find ways to help Eitan feel valued as an individual, not just as “the big brother” or as our helper once the baby comes. It’s why Trudy made such efforts to spend one-on-one time with him while he was off from school last week and why he and I went miniature golfing on Saturday.2

Despite the lengths to which we’ve gone to help ensure that Eitan is aware that our love for him as a person will never be diminished, no matter how much our family changes, he has taken on the mantle of big brother with barely any hesitation. He knows there is a baby coming and he’s excited. “Mommy,” he says, “when the baby comes I’m going to share my toys with her and help to feed her and take her into the backyard and play soccer with her.”3 When Trudy told him that the baby probably wouldn’t be able to play much at the beginning, Eitan said, “That’s okay, I’ll just hold her then.”

Then, this past Sunday, Eitan, Trudy and I were getting ready to go out for a family dinner to close out our long weekend. Eitan was going to be back at school the next morning after his week off and Trudy and I had gotten our apartment about as ready as possible for the new baby, so dinner out was going to be sort of a last chance to spend some time together in our current family structure. Which is why, when Eitan asked me if the four of us were going to dinner together, I said, “What do you mean? There are only three of us.”

Eitan gave me a look like I was the dumbest person alive (the first of many, I’m sure).

“No, Daddy. You and me and Mommy and the baby. That makes four.”

Silly me.

*****

Eitan is extremely proud of his big brother shirts and brags about his plans to show the baby how to play with toys. We’ve been talking about how things will change and reading books about kids becoming big brothers, but I would bet that the biggest help has been that a few of his classmates and other friends have gotten new siblings over the past few months. Eitan has gotten to meet the new babies and he seems to understand more of what to expect every day. We may have been worried about how Eitan will adjust to having a new person invading his territory but, if his recent behavior is any indication, he’s going to be just fine.


1. Chopped Junior. Eitan loves all of the cooking shows with kids as contestants.
2. Related: Eitan made a legitimate hole in one on the 13th hole of the course. Add golf to the list of sports for which he’s going to get college scholarship offers.
3. We haven’t found out the sex of the baby but Eitan has said it will be a girl from the very beginning. Even when he’s acknowledged that it might be a boy, he’s always used female pronouns.