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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Wee Faerie Village + Old Lyme Public Library

    The Wee Fairie Village is pure magic!  The kids and I recently visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago after learning about it from a friend.

    What is the Wee Fairie Village?
    The Wee Faerie Village, is a popular, annual tradition at the Florence Griswold Museum.  This year the theme was Lettersburg Junction, which featured enchanting regions where faeries live in alphabetically placed houses resembling all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z. There were also the Numbertown and Punctuation Stations which were all amazing to see in person.

    Upon entering the museum we were provided a handy DIRECTIONARY (map) to begin exploring Lettersburg Junction one fairie destination at a time.  Before we headed out to the village, we spent about a half hour inside the museum learning about Florence Griswold who transformed her home into an art colony in the early 1900s.  Her home is now a national historic landmark which is today known as the Florence Griswold Museum.  The museum exhibits both American art and historical material. Its collection spans fine art, sculpture, works on paper, artist’s studio material, toys and dolls, ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and historic artifacts, and the Lyme Historical Society archives.


    With our map in hand, we began search the grounds for the elaborate faerie dwellings.  Each one was a beautiful miniature habitat made out of natural or found materials.  The map listed the faerie dwellings along the route using cute faerie-sounding place names such as “Beachy Bungalow”, “Umbrella Utopia”, and “Gnome Sweet Gnome Home”.  Each village had witty monikers that were often wordplays on some aspect of the historic artist or their art.  Also, at each fairie dwelling there were hidden items to find which added a fun scavenger hunt and reading theme to it.

    Can you find the garden gnome?

    Can you locate Lily’s little locket?

    Can you find our magical quiver filled with rainbow arrows?

    Checking out the Pagoda Palace fairie dwelling

    The Wee Faerie Village project was designed to encourage visitors to explore, use their imagination, enhance their creativity and develop love and appreciation for the arts.  I think it definitely meets and exceeds those goals – we truly had an amazing time!  I loved seeing the kid’s faces light up as we marveled at each enchanting fairie dwelling.  The range of artistic expression in the faerie dwellings was astounding!  It was also great to see other kids exploring the grounds with parents and sometimes even grandparents making it a fun inter-generational event for everyone.  We’re looking forward to attending again next year!

    Old Lyme Public Library, Old Lyme, CT

    After visiting the Wee Fairie Village we headed over to the Old Lyme Public Library which was only a two-minute drive from the museum.  It was our first time visiting that library which was originally established as a free public library back in 1897.  The library was recently expanded in 1995, which more than doubled the square footage of the previous building, including a large Children’s Room and Community Room for public use.

    Your turn: Have you the annual Wee Fairie Village yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Mohegan Sun, A Kid-Friendly Casino Resort

    Disclaimer: We are thrilled to partner with Mohegan Sun for literary road trip series.  We received a discounted hotel stay and meals in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


    Although casinos are commonly known as adult playgrounds, I was surprised to learn that places like Mohegan Sun offer a variety of activities and options for families with children.

    Kids will immediately love arriving into the lobby area of either the Earth or Sky Tower with the check-in desks surrounded by beautiful sculptures.  We went during the holiday season so we had the opportunity to enjoy all of the amazing, festive décor.

    Upon checking into our hotel room, we were thrilled to learn that Mohegan Sun is all about providing a family-friendly destination experience that truly offers something for everyone. For those who enjoy shopping and eating there are plenty of shops and restaurants with fine and casual dining options.

    Visitors looking for an escape will find the ELEMIS and Mandara spas as well as an 18-hole golf course, fitness center and indoor pools.  And for those who just want to play and try their luck at winning, of course there are plenty of action-packed gaming floors to choose from.  Oh, and did I mention kids eat FREE at some restaurants like Chick-fil-A every Tuesday evening?  Also, kids ages 6 and under eat free at the Mohegan Sun buffet restaurant every day!

    There are also plenty of live entertainment venues for kids, families and adults. Best of all, Mohegan Sun offers a Kids Quest hourly care play center for children, and a Cyber Quest arcade for family-friendly fun!  This was a complete game changer for me since we didn’t have someone else with us to watch the kids.  I was completely sold!  It was such a treat to bring them to a safe place like Kids Quest for a couple of hours while we had the opportunity to explore the casino floor. (We didn’t win big, but we had fun while being kid-free!)

    Of course, we toured Kids Quest first to make sure it was indeed safe and some place we felt comfortable leaving our kids at since they had never been there before.  Kids Quest not only has a fully trained and capable staff, it’s also packed with lots of stuff to keep kids occupied for hours on end.  There are iPad stations, PlayStation stations, video games, rock wall, a stage for karaoke and imaginative play, art supplies, an area for tiny tots & babies, a sports zone and so much more!  Kids Quest is for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.

    Mohegan Sun also has their own book store called Spin Street which has a small selection of fiction and nonfiction books for adults (no picture books for kids), videos and other novelty items like t-shirts.

    Display of fiction and nonfiction books inside the Spin Street book store

    Display of books and novelty items inside the Spin Street book store

    In addition to checking out Spin Street book store we also ventured out to two local libraries: Gales Ferry Library and Bill Library.  Bill Library is closer to Mohegan Sun and Gales Ferry Library is located about 10 – 15 minutes away from Bill Library.  Both libraries were very charming and quaint with a nice selection of recent and older books for children, teens and adults.  The kids enjoyed playing with the toys in the children’s section of Bill Library, but they were fast asleep by the time we arrived at the Gales Ferry Library.

    Gales Ferry Library located in Gales Ferry, CT

        “The road to knowledge begins with the turn of a page.”

    If you’re thinking of taking a family trip to Mohegan Sun I’d highly recommend it!  Bring the kids to enjoy the arcade or some of the many other kid-friendly activities they have going on at different times of the year.  We’ll definitely be returning more often to visit with or without the kids!

    Your turn: Do you think casinos resorts are for adults only?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    connecticut, family fun, passport to CT libraries

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 4

    Well, our month-long journey of the Passport to Connecticut Libraries program finally came to an end last Saturday when we visited our 20th library!  We had so much fun on the library trail and can’t wait to do it all over again next year!  However, traveling with two preschoolers in tow wasn’t always fun, I’ll share my reasons why later in this post.

    First, let’s recap all of the libraries we visited in April:

    • Cromwell Belden Public Library (Cromwell)
    • Portland Public Library (Portland)
    • Cora J. Belden Public Library (Rocky Hill)
    • Russell Library (Middletown)
    • Wethersfield Public Library (Wethersfield)
    • East Hartford Public Library (East Hartford)
    • Lucy Robbins Welles Library (Newington)
    • Levi E. Coe Public Library (Middlefield)
    • Welles-Turner Memorial Library (Glastonbury)
    • New Britian Public Library (New Britian)
    • Meriden Public Library (Meriden)
    • Berlin-Peck Memorial Library (Berlin)
    • Windsor Public Library (Windsor)
    • Wallingford Public Library (Wallingford)
    • Wilson Branch Library (Windsor)
    • Brainerd Memorial Library (Haddam)
    • Manchester Public Library (Manchester)
    • Enfield Public Library (Enfield)
    • Warehouse Point Public Library (East Windsor)
    • Noah Webster Public Library (West Hartford)
    • Hartford Public Library (Hartford) – Note:  This library was not a participating library in the program.

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 4

    We had some special family fun activities lined up for the last week of this program since we spent the entire weekend in Hartford at the luxurious Downtown Hartford Marriott Hotel.  They were gracious enough to host us for the weekend and we had a blast!

    The hotel is right in the heart of downtown Hartford so it’s walking distance to lots of restaurants and other attractions.  My favorite thing about this hotel is the pool and hot tub area…it’s amazing!  It’s located on the top floor and boasts large windows overlooking the Connecticut River, the Convention Center and downtown Hartford.  If you’re ever in the area and looking for a family-friendly place to stay, I’d highly recommend it!

    We began our day-long excursion of family friendly activities with a beautiful new playground (Enfield Rotary Accessible Playground) located directly across the street from the Enfield Public Library.  It was a gorgeous morning outside so the kids had ample time to play.

    I was also excited to finally check out a new place called Jumping Clay USA which is fantastic!  It’s also located in Enfield not too far from the library.  Jumping Clay offers educational programs and clay activities for children and adults based on simple shapes and step-by-step modeling instructions.  The kids enjoyed looking at all of the wonderful clay creations.  We also purchased some clay to use at home…so fun!

    Lastly, we headed back to the hotel so the kids could nap and then made our way over to the Wadsworth Atheneum followed by the Hartford Public Library.

    Overall, I am happy with meeting our goal of visiting 20 libraries.  However, I know I could have done more if I did the program on my own.  Here’s why:

    • My kids are still in the napping phase.  If they don’t take their daily nap then they will be cranky guaranteed.  There were times I wanted to go and visit more libraries, but couldn’t because the kids fell asleep in the car.  And since it was just me and them and I couldn’t leave them alone in the car, we had to pass up quite a few places I wanted to visit.
    • Sometimes I just wanted to go in the library, take a quick look around, get our passports stamped and then leave.  The kids however had their own agenda – they wanted to play!  And once they started playing they didn’t want to leave.  Ugh, kids!

    Will I take them with me again next year?  Yes, absolutely!  I’m hoping this will be a tradition we can keep going as long as the program is still available and we’re living in this state.

    Thanks for reading and taking this virtual journey with us!  If you missed any of the posts in our #passporttoctlibraries series, check out the links listed below.

    Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

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    Your turn:  For all of my fellow Connecticut followers, did you or your kids participate in this program?  If so, how many libraries did you visit?  If you don’t live in Connecticut, has reading about this program inspired you to ask your library to implement it?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 3

    We had a busy week during the third week of this month which meant we didn’t have the chance to visit most of the libraries I had originally planned.  We’re still pressing on though and I’ve decided my goal of libraries to visit this year will be 20.  So far we’ve visited 17 libraries around the state and we’re having a blast seeing the different libraries and experiencing some new kid-friendly places.

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 3

    Here are the libraries we visited during the third week of the Passport to Connecticut Libraries Program:

    • Wilson Branch Library (Windsor)
    • Brainerd Memorial Library (Haddam)
    • Manchester Public Library (Manchester)

    We had a FREE museum pass to Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester that we scored from our local library so we headed there before going to the Manchester public library.  I haven’t taken the kids there is about a year so it was interesting to see how much more than enjoyed it now that they are a bit older.

    While in Haddam we went to Haddam Meadows State Park.  The park overlooks the scenic Connecticut River and offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking.  It was a bit chilly the day we visited and there wasn’t much for the kids to do except run around in the open field of grass.  We ended up taking a walk around and then left shortly after.  It’s a nice calming and very scenic park, which would be great for summer picnics or boat rides.

    Lastly, we went to Robertson Park which is located directly across the street from the Wilson Branch library in Windsor.  This park is part of Robertson Elementary School.  The kids enjoyed playing on the playground for about an hour before we headed back home.

    As I mentioned, the Passport program is slowly coming to an end.  Be sure to check back next week to see if we met our goal.  I’ll be sharing our final tally of the libraries and places we visited and give you my final thoughts on participating in this program.

    I hope you enjoy some of the highlights from week 3!

    Untitled design (1)

    Your turn:  If you live in Connecticut, have you been participating in this program too?  If so, how many libraries have you visited so far?  What’s your ultimate goal?  Feel free to share in the comments.

     

     

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    connecticut, family fun, national library week, passport to CT libraries

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries Week 2

    Happy National Library Week!  Last week Mother Nature wasn’t on our side.  We experienced sun, wind, rain, and snow all in one week.  I still can’t believe we had snow in April!  Despite the weather, we made it to 10 libraries around the state one of which ended up being an unexpected new addition from our original list.

    This week the weather has been much more favorable which has been great since we didn’t get to go to any of the outdoor parks or destinations I had lined up for last week.  That’s ok though because summer is right around the corner so there will be plenty of opportunities to explore those parks and many more in the coming months.

    Passport to CT LibrariesWeek 2Here are the libraries we plan to visit during the second week of the Passport to Connecticut Libraries Program:

    • Meriden Public Library (Meriden)
    • Berlin-Peck Memorial Library (Berlin)
    • Windsor Public Library (Windsor)
    • Wallingford Public Library (Wallingford)

    Since my daughter is on spring break from school this week we have other activities planned so we’ll just be visiting the individual libraries without going to any kid-friendly places afterwards.  I’ll be sure to have some additional kid-friendly places to visit around the state for weeks 3 and 4.  We have a special outing planned for the last week in April that I’m really looking forward to sharing with you.  Stay tuned!

    Enjoy a few highlights from our travels last week below.

    passporttoctlibrariesweek1

    Your turn: If you live in Connecticut, have you also been participating in this wonderful program?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    connecticut, family fun, passport to CT libraries

    Passport to Connecticut Libraries: Week 1

    Tomorrow is the day!  The start to the 2nd annual Passport to Connecticut Libraries program.  I recently told you about my plans to participate in this program for the second time, but now I’m bringing the kids with me.  Yes, we’re hitting the road and going “mobile” to explore some of the great libraries our state has to offer.  You can read my previous post here to learn more about the program.

    Passport to CT LibrariesWeek 1

    Here are the libraries we plan to visit during the first week of the program:

    • Cromwell Belden Public Library (Cromwell)
    • Portland Public Library (Portland)
    • Cora J. Belden Public Library (Rocky Hill)
    • Russell Library (Middletown)
    • Wethersfield Public Library (Wethersfield)
    • East Hartford Public Library (East Hartford)
    • Lucy Robbins Welles Library (Newington)
    • Levi E. Coe Public Library (Middlefield)
    • Welles-Turner Memorial Library (Glastonbury)
    • New Britian Public Library (New Britian) – New addition!

    After exploring each library and getting our “passports” stamped, we also plan to visit a few nearby kid-friendly places within close proximity to each library.  Our plan is to work on this project during the weekends and on some weeknights after I finish working.  I’m looking forward to hitting the library trail once again this time with my two little ones (and maybe some friends) in tow!

    Here are a few of the places we plan to visit during week 1:

    • Riverfront Park Playground (Glastonbury, CT) – This new playground is simply beautiful…we love it!
    • Romp & Roll (Wethersfield, CT) – An extremely fun place for kids to roll around and get exhausted!
    • Pierson Park Playground (Cromwell, CT) – My kids love going to this playground and it’s so close to the library!
    • Kid City Children’s Museum (Middletown, CT) – We frequent this place at least once a month.  It’s located directly across the street from the library – so convenient!
    • Cherry Berry (Middletown, CT) – Because who doesn’t love fresh frozen yogurt!  Located around the corner from the library within walking distance if it’s a nice day outside.
    • Lyman Orchards (Middlefield, CT) – We adore Lyman Orchards for both their food and activities for children!
    • Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill, CT) – One of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America!  We plan to walk on the dinosaur trail which is free and open to the public.
    • Peckham Park (Middlefield, CT) – Peckham Park has a nice variety of equipment and activities for kids of all ages.
    • New Britian Youth Museum (New Britian, CT) – Located directly across from the library in the same parking lot!

    Hope to see you on the library trail!

    Want us to visit and feature your kid-friendly place of business on our travels throughout the state?  Please e-mail me at: hereweeread{at}gmail.com.

    Your turn: If you live in Connecticut, will you also be joining in the fun and participating in this program?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Get Thee to the Library: Passport to Connecticut Libraries Program

    Next month the kids and I will be hitting the road and participating in the 2nd annual Passport to Connecticut Libraries program!

    Based on the Wine Trail Passport Program in CT, Passport to Connecticut Libraries is a statewide program running throughout the month of April 2016 in celebration of National Library Week. This year, 124 of the 160 public libraries in the state are participating in the program.  The purpose of this program is “to build awareness of the value of a library card, as well as to encourage residents to explore the amazing diversity of resources available at public libraries,” according to the Connecticut Library Association.

    If you live in Connecticut and wish to participate, “get thee to your local library” on April 1st to pick up your Passport.  A staff member will stamp it and give you a token gift to get you started. Then, take your Passport along as you visit other participating libraries. At each visit, you must show your library card, and then the library will stamp your passport and give you another small gift.

    Passport-to-CT-Libraries

    If you visit at least five (5) participating libraries and return your passport to a participating library by May 6, 2016 then you will be entered into one state-wide drawing for a chance to win a $150 Visa gift card for adults (18 and up) and a $100 Visa gift card for children (under 18). This is a state-wide contest where four winners will be selected: one adult and one child from a random drawing from all who visited at least five libraries, and one adult and one child from a random drawing from all who visited the most libraries.  The drawing will be held on June 1st and the winners will be informed by telephone and mailed their prize.

    Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Ok, I know it doesn’t sound fun to everyone, but if you’re a fellow bibliophile and library lover like me, it should be right up your alley.

    I participated in this program on my own back in 2014 when it was first introduced.  At that time, my kids were ages 1 & 2 so to take them along with me to each library I visited would have been too much of a hassle.  Now that they are both a year older and more independent, they’ll be joining me on this adventure!  In addition to visiting different libraries, we also plan to check out some other local book stores and family-friendly/kid-friendly places within the vicinity of the library.

    I’ve already started reaching out to a few different kid-friendly places that I want to check out while in each town.  While we don’t plan to visit all 124 libraries, we certainly plan to check out as many as we can and explore some other fun places we’ve never been to before.

    Each week in April, I’ll be writing about the various libraries we visit and letting you know where else we go afterwards so stay tuned!

    I think this project will be a great way to showcase some of Connecticut’s amazing libraries and incorporate some family fun at the same time.  I also hope to give ideas to parents and caregivers who are looking for other kid-friendly places in the area to bring kids after visiting the library.

    For more details and a full list of participating libraries, visit the Passport to Connecticut Libraries Facebook Page.

    If you’d like me and the kids to visit your kid-friendly business while exploring the Connecticut library trail, please e-mail me at: hereweeread{at}gmail.com.

    Your turn:  What kid-friendly places should we visit in your Connecticut town while on the CT library trail?  Does your state also have a program like this?  Feel free to share in the comments or contact me directly.

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