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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

7/3/14 (Thursday)

Today was Thursday, but it was also Wednesday. We went to the Loefflers' for dinner in place of one of the Wednesday nights we'd missed in the past few weeks. I brought a coloring book for Owen. He chose to bring some of the big, chunky crayons that come with the books. He brought a yellow, a green, a blue, a red, and a yellow. I asked whether we needed the second yellow. Yes, we did.

"It's Waffler time!!!" yelled Owen as we headed down the street.

We had planned on seeing some fireworks, but it was a very rainy night. Well, it rained on and off, mainly whenever Steve had to run back to our house to get something. It also rained hard when we had to walk home. Fortunately, I had just bought us all new raincoats to prepare for the parade Cara was going to march in on the 4th.

7/4/14 (Friday)

Possibly because I had bought raincoats, it did not rain on the parade.

At nine, Steve drove Cara down to Milltown to drop her off for the parade. Around ten, the three of us were at Milltown Road with a bucket for candy. We found a good place to sit on the sidewalk and wait. When the parade started coming by, I realized the problem with having crossed the road to sit where it was less crowded: most of the people who threw candy threw it towards the crowds! I told Owen that he had to jump up and down and clap and cheer if he wanted candy. He did. Every time a new float or group came along, he went into action. Sure enough, we started to get candy.

Well, first we got gum. We had talked about what we would do with the candy. Owen had wanted to know: would we eat it at home? would we eat it there? I was willing to let him have it right then, frankly. So, he started with the gum. I explained about not swallowing it, and he has, I think, chewed gum successfully before, but today was a little bit too exciting for that. In the course of the parade, before Cara's group got to us, Owen ate a piece of gum, three dum-dum lollipops, and at least two tootsie rolls. We also collected plenty more in our bucket.

In addition to talking about the parade and the candy, we had been talking a lot about glow things. When could we play with them? Now? Now? I'm pretty sure he thought we had to be outside. After we got home from lunch, we opened up a package of glow sticks. Owen got five bracelets to play with. He and I discovered many exciting things to do with them, and we found that his room, with the curtains closed, was dark enough for them to be fun.

Finally, it was Waffler time again! Even though it was in the low 70s, the kids and Steve went in the pool. It took a while for Owen to decide he wanted to go in, too, but he did. When he came out, he was cold!

After dinner, we sat around on the front lawn. Steve and PJ were playing badminton. Ron, Em, and I were sitting on the steps. The girls were walking around the block. Owen was lying, curled up, in a hula hoop on the grass, inconveniently situated between PJ and Steve. He got up, making strange yipping noises. He came up to us. "I am Muscle Puppy!" he announced. We thought we'd heard him wrong, but he very clearly and carefully said the same thing to Steve. He then proceded to spend the next half hour flexing, barking, sleeping in his hula hoop bed, telling us things about Muscle Puppy, and occasionally saluting. (It turned out that this was directed towards the flag that was behind us.) I had to be a "bad muscle puppy" and wrestle with him.

When it got dark, we headed to the back yard. It was time for more glow things! It was also time for fireworks. We had sparklers, but the wind made it hard to light them. Ron had some little fireworks, which made an impressive dlsiplay in the yard. We saw a few big ones over the trees, but I don't think Owen caught any. We had a lot of good glow things this year: there were glowing beach balls, in addition to bracelets, and each kid also got a ball made of glow sticks. It was hard to convince Owen that this would not, like the beach ball, float in the pool.

The evening ended with smores. It was after ten when we got our little muscle puppy home to bed.

7/5/14 (Saturday)

This morning Owen was making some funny noises, so I asked him what he was. He knew what I was getting at. "One day we will go back to the Wafflers' house, and then I will be Muscle Puppy again!" Several times today, though, he was willing to demonstrate Muscle Puppy for people by flexing and barking.

We went down to Grandmom's house today and got to see not just the grandparents and Rusty but also Uncle Jim and Griffin and Xavier. The boys interacted but mostly didn't actually play together. They did both try to play hide-and-seek once, but, fortunately, Owen was done after one round. In that one round, he came bounding out, squealing, as soon as I started looking for the kids. He eagerly showed me where everyone else was. Cara and Griff and I played for a while. Griffin has a lot of endurance.

After the cousins had left, we stuck around for a while. Among other things, we played Legos. Owen has been asking for "small Legos" at home, so it was nice to see him get to use some small ones. He made a "crazy car" on which two guys were going to take a trip to California. There was a lot to see there. They were going to stay in a hotel. No, Grandpop, not the Hotel California.

Owen also made Grandmom and me take him outside and play with the bungee cords they use to hold down the cushions on the outdoor chairs. Owen was a cat-Batman, and we were supposed to be, too, with bungee cords for tails, but Owen got to wear his as a belt for no reason. We had to fight bad guys.

On the way home, we stopped at the Quaker Bridge Mall, where I wanted to pick up a couple of things for our trip tomorrow. Owen was asleep in the car, and I carried him in. He perked up when he spotted the escalators. He really, really enjoyed the escalators, and we took him up and down several times. By the end, when he and I were getting on for one final trip, he let go of my hand and stepped on by himself, like a pro. "Hoo-yah!" he said. "Mommy, say 'hoo-yah!'"

7/6-7/14 (Sunday-Monday)

Today was the beginning of our second visit to Great Wolf Lodge! We decided to try it again along with Grandmama and Grandpapa. We had a long trip in the car with lots of Harry Potter, and then met the grandparents at a nearby diner for lunch.

At the lodge, it turned out everyone else had decided to arrive at about the same time, so we had a long line to wait in. Immediately, the advantage of having grandparents along was evident: they took the kids for a walk while Evelyn and I waited in line. Fortunately our room was ready right away, so soon enough we were all there.

This time we got a room that had an upstairs loft--and even though the children very much wanted to sleep up there, we let Grandmama and Grandpapa have it. There were actually three TVs in the room, but we didn't spend too long examining them, because we had to get to the water park!

Owen still prefers to hang out at the kiddie part of the park, which has some nice drippy and spraying things, but generally shallow water to paddle in. He would occasionally scamper up some stairs to the fort-like construction that sprawled across the front of the park, with wheels and hoses and spouts. On the second day, I did convince him to go down a kid-size water slide a few times.

He liked the big wave pool, which Cara also enjoyed; it was one of the places where the two of them were most likely to meet. Cara was very invested in going down all the bigger rides and slides, though.

After the park there was also the arcade! Owen still remembered his original favorite, the ice cream truck ride; but he branched out a bit this time. There was a whack-a-mole type game right next door, with little aliens, which he played with great gusto. Instead of trying to make the most of his limited game time, Owen would pause, the mallet raised high above his head, let out a vicious animal scream, and then strike. It was very dramatic and fantastic. The two of us also enjoyed some carnival-style games, like the one where you throw balls at rows of stuffed clowns. Owen rarely made it very far with his throws, but he enjoyed throwing all the same.

We got a "Paw Pass" for our visit, which gave us the opportunity to do several activities. Cara very kindly allowed Owen to get yet another stuff-your-own stuffed animal. We were all pleased that Owen chose the dragon, Evelyn because there were no costumes to dress the dragon in (the costumes cost extra).

In the evening Cara wandered off to do her MagicQuest game; Owen wanted to "help," which we managed to keep to a minimum. We accidentally witnessed one of the lodge characters' birthday parties in the lobby below--there was a lot of dancing and loud music.

I managed to get Owen back to the room and gave him a nice bath, with some of the little guys we'd brought. It was very, very late by the time we all got into bed.

In the morning we started all over again with it all. There were other things to try, as well, like a mini-golf course and a bowling alley. The mini-golf course was an indoor, eight-hole, blacklight-lit affair, whose only memorable quality was that every time we tried it, Owen had to go to the bathroom at about the second or third hole. The bowling alley was exciting because we never go bowling, and the balls were small enough that Owen was able to carry them to the alley and gently nudge them toward the pins. He gave them such a little push forward that quite often they would stop somewhere behind the pins or far along a gutter, until we were almost out of balls to throw and would have to waste a set unclogging the lane.

At the arcade, we amassed enough points to be able to buy some almost-impressive prizes; but all Owen wanted was a large, rainbow-striped package of Airheads candy, which I think he decided he didn't like. Eventually I convinced him to also purchase a giant, round, lime-green-maned wolf-type stuffed thing, which he decided to name Furry.

We all had a lovely time again, just like the first visit, with just enough time to enjoy the things we wanted to do.

7/8/14 (Tuesday)

It wasn't quite back to reality yet! Right from Great Wolf on Monday afternoon, Grandmama and Grandpapa took Cara and Owen back to their neck of the woods for a sleepover. Then on Tuesday it was off to the beach and yet another water park, this one at Asbury Park. Writes Grandmama:

Owen loves sand. He likes to take a running start and flop down on his belly in it. He likes to lie on his back and make sand angels. He learned a lot about how not to crush your sand castle while attempting to decorate it. Ultimately, I found myself brushing sand off his tongue: "My mouth wanted to eat it," he explained.

We did our best to de-grit the child before we brought him home. I really am curious to know how much sand will turn up in his bath.

It was a gritty tub.

7/9/14 (Wednesday)

Playdate night! The Loefflers came over. Casey and Cara decided to have a fashion show, which their mothers were forced to witness. Owen crashed it at the end by throwing around all the blankets that had been carefully set about Cara's room. I stayed downstairs and washed the dishes.

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