Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

Blue Star Museum Summer: Rough Point, Newport Rhode Island

Monday, June 4th, 2018

During the summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), hundreds of museums across the country offer FREE admission to active duty military and their families through the Blue Star Museum program. Fun fact, you can thank the Obama administration for starting the program in 2010! THANKS OBAMA! You can see a full list of museums that participate here at this link. I made our family a printable to keep on the fridge, which I’ll include at the bottom of the post.

We absolutely LOVE the Blue Star program and plan our summer weekends around the list of local and semi-local places we can visit for free. When E is home and available, we have to pay for six people to get in. When E is gone, I’m desperate for new, fun stuff to do with the kids to distract them. We really really appreciate this program. p.s. Not sponsored or anything, just sharing the info so people take advantage of the program and hopefully they keep it up.

To kick off our summer, we went to Newport, Rhode Island, home of the “summer cottages” for the richest people in the country’s history. Did you watch Downton Abbey? The houses are all like that. I’m pretty sure on Downton they even mention going to Newport for the summer. About a dozen of the mansions are now open to the public, and we will definitely go back to do the rest of the tours through the Preservation Society of Newport County. But we started with Rough Point, which is maintained by the Newport Restoration Foundation.

The house was built between 1887-1891 by a Vanderbilt. In 1922, James Duke (created Lucky Strike cigarettes and made a boatload of money) bought it and made a bunch of renovations to “lighten” the interior, including plaster ceilings and more windows. When Mr. Duke died in 1925, he left his entire fortune to his 12-year-old daughter Doris, who was called “the richest little girl in the world”. She owned it and summered there most years until she died in 1993, when it was turned into a museum. So everything in the house was personally picked out, displayed, touched and loved by Doris. She seems like a super cool, interesting, fun person – many of the priceless art had been repaired after one of her many many huge dogs broke it – and seeing how she decorated each room was fascinating.

It was fun to watch my kids explore the house where Doris Duke was a child. My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around the timeline of how someone who actually lived in that kind of splendor also installed the same Dustbuster my mom had in the butler’s pantry. The kids enjoyed imagining they could ring a bell and servants would appear to bring them juice or snacks. It was even more fun to let them run around outside on the beautiful, immaculate lawns and gardens. It was really easy to imagine Doris Duke and her friends rolling down the hills in June 1923, because kids rolling down hills is universal and timeless. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the house, so these are just from our time outside.

That bridge is part of the Cliff Walk, the public path along the ocean in front of many of the mansions. Next time we’ll do at least part of the Cliff Walk (it’s 7 miles round-trip).

We showed up without a real plan around 11:30 on a beautiful Saturday when the town was very busy and full of tourists. There was plenty of parking on the estate, the group tour left 5 minutes after we walked in, and it lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. With Finnegan in a baby carrier and strict instructions to the kids not to touch anything, it was very pleasant, relaxed and interesting. E and I both enjoyed it – he asked tons of questions – and would definitely recommend it as either a grown-up date or a family activity.

Here’s our summer list for 2018 Blue Star Musuems. There’s one PA museum because I’m hoping to visit my BFF in PA at least once this year and one in Virginia for the week we’re at my parents, but the rest are right here in New England! If any friends want to join us, please let me know. If you’ve been to any of these and have tips, also let me know! We’ve been to The Carle, KidCity, Springfield and the Mystic Nature Center before, but the rest are all new (or mostly new, E and I have both been to the Constitution but not with the kids).

Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

America is the land of the free because of the brave, who we honor on Memorial Day each year. I selfishly hope it’s always a holiday I think of in the abstract and enjoy as the unofficial start of summer, rather than a day with personal meaning. So many families aren’t that lucky. I’ve never been a very good military spouse – I’m not good at volunteering for things, I’m never on committees, I rarely attend meetings, I don’t sign up for meal trains, I forget about bake sales and I’m so bad at military ranks, rates and jobs I’m still not 100% sure what my own husband does. All I know is he’s good at it and he’s gone a lot. I just need him to come back every time.

We had a great weekend that kept us very busy. The big kids had a birthday party, Caroline had a ballet recital, everyone over the age of 4 got to see the new Avengers movie plus we went to the parade and the lake. We also went to the downtown carnival, where I spent way too much money on a few rides and cheap prizes, but the kids ran into several friends and had a great time. The house is a DISASTER and we don’t have a single dry towel, but I’m so happy I can finally use summer as an excuse for my poor housekeeping.

Fun Mom

Monday, May 7th, 2018

I am sticking with my theory that if we stay really super busy all the time that this underway will pass quickly.

I REALLY hope it’s working for the kids because all it’s doing for me is making me exhausted. I live with a constant vague sense of dread that I’m forgetting something or that we’re late for something or that I’m supposed to be somewhere else.

My iPhone seems to agree with me, because every 2 minutes the little alert pops up that says “blah blah number of minutes to get home” and offers me directions back to my house. Usually, it’s offering me directions to ballet or swim or cheer or karate or whatever else we’re supposed to be doing. I find that very helpful, if somewhat creepy since I never specifically told my phone I was going those places. It just learned them. But constantly telling me I should be headed back to the house is freaking me out. WHAT AM I LATE FOR, IPHONE?

Yesterday we were 15 minutes late to Caroline’s mandatory extra ballet recital because Lincoln lost his shoes at our morning playdate. The good news is we did eventually find them, but every single time we need to get from point A to point B something like that happens.

It’s really hard to be Fun Mom when you also have to be Find Your Shoes Mom and No You Can’t Have Freeze Pops For Breakfast Mom and Stop Talking And Go To Bed Mom. I want to have ice cream for dinner too. I don’t want to spend the afternoon putting away laundry and changing sheets and doing dishes. Fun Mom doesn’t have to do that stuff. But there isn’t anyone else, so right now I’m Fun Mom and Regular Mom, which means I go to bed at 9:30 and haven’t seen a grown-up TV show in three weeks.

But we have been having a lot of fun.

p.s. It was about 73 degrees at the first beach and 65 the second time. I am raising hardy New England children.

 

Easter 2018

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Happy Easter! I didn’t take pictures of the bazillion eggs the bunny left all over the house – or the mess the kids made ripping apart their baskets – because I prefer to just remember the adorable, photogenic parts of our holidays. Even so, you will notice a distinct lack of pictures that include all four children. Did you know four children is a lot of children? It seems like even more than usual when you’re running around a busy farm full of old buildings, tempting mud puddles and tons of baby goats. Plus that’s an exhausting way to spend the morning if you’re a baby, so Finn slept through most of dinner.

But yay for baby goats at Beltane Farm! They also did an egg hunt, and Evan found the golden egg that said “winner” inside. He won the cheese of his choice from the store and picked something called “Duchess”, which was super delicious and not at all what you would expect an 8-year-old to be excited about. My kid is pretty cool.

That last face is Caroline trying the lemon meringue pie we made yesterday. She’s a fan.

TODAY IS THE DAY

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Guess what is happening RIGHT NOW?

My husband is coming home. I’m at the official homecoming down on the pier with the kids. This deployment is OVER and we all survived (as long as I can keep Lincoln and Finnegan from throwing themselves off the pier into the river, which I am honestly a little stressed about).

 

This morning the kids skipped school, we baked E a birthday cake and we’re all wearing special outfits I picked out months ago. I’m even wearing high heels, which I will probably regret but this seemed like an occasion that called for being a little fancy. It’s hard to be practical when you’re this excited.

I’ve had a variation of the following conversation at least 20 times in the last week:

Friend: It’s almost over! Are you so excited?!
Me: Yes, super excited!
Friend: Did those 6 months go by so fast?
Me: …
Me: You don’t have time to hear all my feelings on this topic.

On the one hand, it did go by fast because my plan to keep my family super busy worked extremely well. Our current schedule is a kid activity 6 days a week with 2 on Wednesdays and Sundays. Three kids started school. We did Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I fed them approximately one million times, changed half a million diapers, and broken up a quarter-million fights. I dealt with the dog’s dental problems, cancer diagnosis and toe amputation. I potty trained Lincoln. I handled four months of plumbers trying to fix the sewer line. And I had completely forgotten that I ALSO finished the bathroom remodel, which seems like a million years ago now. So maybe six months didn’t exactly fly by.

The time did not fly by every evening when I watched TV alone. It didn’t fly by when I filled everyone’s stockings by myself. It didn’t fly by every time Lincoln threw a screaming tantrum. It did not fly by when I was trying to keep my business going with no real childcare. It didn’t fly by at 2 am when I was up with the baby. It didn’t fly by every time I had to make a decision on my own that I would rather have made with my husband. It did not fly by every time I had to drive somewhere, which is always, because in the last six months I have NEVER been a passenger in a car. Six months is a really long time, but also now six months is over.

The Navy understands that deployment sucks so they’re going to give E some time off and I am VERY excited. I won’t have to take all four kids to every appointment this month! I can go to the doctor alone! HE can take the babies to swim class because I hate swim class! He can also do our taxes, fix the bookshelves, and deal with the next round of contractors. I’m really excited that we’re going to finally watch Stranger Things season 2 so I understand pop culture again. It’s also going to be weird adjusting to having him around. It only takes two weeks to make a habit, I’ve had plenty of time to become set in my ways – feeding the kids and then just eating whatever for dinner myself, staying up too late watching whatever I want, placing random Amazon orders, never having to consult someone else about the weekend plans, pretending I can’t see the dishes in the sink for three consecutive days. It wasn’t quite like being single again, but it was very much about me me me me all the time. And I bet it’s going to be weird for E too. In the past six months I’ve moved around a lot of stuff. I bought new furniture. I rearranged several rooms. There are new lights and child locks on everything. All the stuff that I adjusted to after like 24 hours is going to hit him at once. Plus the weather. Going from 24/7 in a metal tube under the water to the human world full of trees and plants and sky and sun and rain and snow and wind and…other weather stuff has got to be tough on a person. Hopefully his skin doesn’t burn instantly when it first encounters sunlight again.

I have a legit fancy photographer who is taking pictures of our reunion, but if you want some less fancy updates I’ll be on Instagram with the kids. I’m probably posting an Instagram story right at this second. I also gave our names to the Navy media guys last night because all three big kids said they would REALLY love to be on the news, so there’s a chance Caroline will become a local tv star by doing something incredibly precocious in front of a camera. Let’s hope that’s why we’re on the news, and not because Lincoln throws himself in the river.

p.s. Thank you SO MUCH to my internet friends who have kept me company in a dozen different ways during this deployment. I would be 1000% lonelier and more stressed out if I only had real-life, in-person interactions. The internet keeps me sane.

 

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