Posts Tagged ‘babywearing’

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).

My Week(360) in iPhone Photos

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

I’ve been using my phone to keep children quiet, so it’s often a) dead b) busy or c) so filthy I can’t use the camera. It reminded me that when I started this project three hundred and sixty weeks ago it was funny more than serious. They weren’t supposed to be GOOD pictures. So right now, bad is mostly what I have.

Sunday:

Not a black eye, a mosquito bite.

Rewatching all of Game of Thrones, because why not

Monday:

The days are long

Sweetness

Good kitty. I swear the older she gets the smaller she gets.

Tuesday:

THE INFAMOUS BUNCHEMS INCIDENT

Couch climber

Back naps!

Wednesday:

Faaaaaaaaaaall

Tiny pumpkins for a tiny boy

Thursday:

Ready for picture day! Except we were a week early.

They both love this game

Our town hall is cool

Friday:

My baby is cooler than me

He literally carries her around half the day but she still loves him

Saturday:

I really wish I could have gotten the geese flying OVER the moon

Ordering groceries and watching Outlander

My life is very exciting, if by exciting you mean incredibly mundane, normal, average and boring. It’s busy, for sure, but I’m starting to feel like my poor kids barely leave the state and I should really try to travel more. But then I remember traveling with kids is terrible so it’s back to the couch I go.

My Week(359) in iPhone Photos

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

I think a month is the longest I’ve ever abandoned this blog since I started it 9ish years ago. I didn’t do it on purpose. I actually wrote a bunch of things that totally would have been blog posts in 2009 but ended up as Facebook posts because it’s 2017. We’re not even close to halfway through with this deployment and although we’ve found rhythm and a schedule that works, it’s exhausting being the only adult in charge of 4 small humans. Even when they have playdates or activities – and I am SO grateful for everyone who has helped – I play chauffer and social planner.

But it would be unfair to quit trying to document everything now, when I know E is looking forward to catching up on everything he missed as soon as he can. So onward and upward, once again.

Sunday:

All three, living their best lives

Mystic Seaport is our happy place

My eight year old beat me at bumper bowling

Monday:

We made slime every day for a week, then I got tired of scraping it off the floor

When both kids are awake and insist of being held at the bus stop

The CUTEST little soaps from The Rubber Ducky Soap Co

Tuesday:

Checking out the candy deals

Pretending he’s a big kid

Watching sissy do cheer

Wednesday:

I WON THE BUS WAR THEY MOVED IT HALF AN HOUR EARLIER

Trashing the car while waiting for Caroline outside ballet

Thursday:

I have a peach vampire in the house

OK, bye, just go be a big kid

Trampoline heaven

Friday:

The first of many, many vet appointments

HAPPY to go to school! YAY!

We put all those rocks in the kindness garden

Saturday:

Who can resist a selfie with a cow?

My little lambs

Another year at The Big E with friends

My Week(357) in iPhone Photos

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

I can barely remember this week. I can barely remember yesterday. I can barely remember my own name.

Sunday:

Everyone loves our new washer

Matching dinners

I bought a mop.

Monday:

Rocks we found at the park!

Back to school night hot dogs

He looks so smug

Tuesday:

Checking out the white rhinos

Kangaroos know how to relax

Never holds still

Wednesday:

BACK TO SCHOOL THANK GOD

Checking out his new playground

Cupcake destroyer

Thursday:

I cleaned downstairs. I cleaned upstairs. I came downstairs to this.

Not excited about school.

Everyone home again and back to chaos

Friday:

Slowly moving marbles

Cream cheese face

Still learning how to selfie

Saturday:

Rock hunting

Caroline was convinced she could climb this tree

The Niantic turtle

Today, my little baby Finnegan learned how to climb up onto the couch. He still does not know how to climb OFF the couch safely, so my stress level is pretty high. Keeping him from cracking his head open is not my favorite way to spend our afternoons, but then again the ER waiting room would definitely be worse.

I got rid of the old sink from before our bathroom reno today. It feels like a huge accomplishment because it’s been just taking up space in the nursery for months now. Hopefully I can keep taking tiny productive steps until the house is truly clean and organized.

Our First Disney Trip: Stuff To Bring

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

This post contains affiliate links, so if you click through I make a few pennies. I purchased everything in this post with my own actual dollars.

Disney trip packing list

As part of my Disney World prep research, I’ve found lists on lists on lists. Disney packing lists, lists of things you can buy before your trip, things you can bring to make your trip easier, things you absolutely must not forget, things you should have shipped to your hotel, things you can get cheaper before you go and obscure things you never would have even thought to pack. (My Pinterest board has a lot of those lists saved.)

It’s a lot of lists, is what I’m saying. I bought almost everything on every list I found because a) I like to be prepared and b) I like buying things. It turns out some of this stuff was WAY more useful/fun/important than others, so I’ve added notes explaining what changes I’ll make if (when) we go again.

Weather related:

Rain cover for Disney World

  1. Second seat and rain cover for our stroller. I have a gorgeous Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite stroller that has a sit-and-stand rear bench seat. But because I have two kids who will need to nap during the day I wanted two full seats for resting. I got the rain cover because I took the “June is the rainiest month in Florida” advice to heart. Aaaaand then I forgot to pack the stupid rain cover. Good news: Amazon Prime delivered one to our hotel on day 2. And it was totally worth it – it rains every day in Florida in June and the days with the rain cover were way easier than the days without the rain cover.
  2. Cheap ponchos. Kid-sized ponchos for the kids and grown-up sized ponchos for me and E from the dollar store. We all own perfectly nice raincoats, but who has room for raincoats? Ponchos are the way to go. Post-trip advice: The Disney ponchos you get in the parks are WAY nicer than dollar store ponchos. They gave us a set as part of the special Star Wars tour we did, but next time I will just buy the official park ones if we need them.
  3. Cooling towels. I’ve been meaning to buy one of these for a while to help keep the baby cool when I wear him during hot summer months. This seemed like the right time to invest in a couple and see if they really help. (They helped enough to be worth the purchase.)
  4. Sneakers PLUS extra shoes. I bought these cute, super lightweight sneakers for myself a few months ago and broke them in. My back-up shoes are my trusty sparkle flip-flops from last year . E bought sneakers and waterproof shoes from Land’s End. I got new shoes for the kids a few weeks before we left and had them break them in – second-hand Crocs for all three kids, plus sneakers.
  5.  Sunscreen. Tons of sunscreen.
  6. Rechargeable misting fan. This was great both as a way to cool down and as a way to distract a bored toddler.

Souvenier related:

  1. Lanyards to hold Disney pins. I ordered 3, because I figured I should include Linc even though he’ probably too small to really understand pin trading. Plus the little pouches on the end will be good for holding pressed pennies (see #3).
  2. A whole bunch of pins for trading. This post is a great explanation of pin trading and I took his advice and found a reputable seller on Ebay to order some pins for the kids to get started. I was pleasantly surprised with what we got – lots of princesses and Mickeys, not just junk. When I divided 50 pins up by 3 lanyards it filled them almost completely, so the kids will be able to trade as much as they want. Here is my pin trading advice: it is really fun, but it is time-consuming and the backs fall off the pins A LOT. We ended up buying extra backs at the park because it got so annoying. We will probably do more pin trading on future trips, but I wouldn’t put it on my must-do list for kids at Disney.
  3. Change for the pressed penny machines. My kids LOVE pressing pennies – there are machines at a lot of New Englandy tourist attractions, so we do them fairly often. I decided to plan ahead for Disney with as much advice as I could find. I sorted our change collection to find pennies from before 1982 so they’re all solid copper. I cleaned and polished them with white vinegar. And then I stacked the pennies with 2 quarters into a mini M&M’s tube, so it’s easy to grab correct change each time we see a machine. I even made a cute label for the tube. Post-trip advice: you don’t have to make it a huge thing like I did, but the penny machines are everywhere and really fun. Bring some change.
  4. Secure a toy leashes. I figured at some point, Linc would talk me into buying him a plush and then we would probably lose it immediately. I tried to prevent that by being prepared to attach his new lovey to either the stroller or the Tula. Good news: this worked with the Woody doll. Bad news: I didn’t put one on Pluto and we lost him immediately.
  5. Over the door organizer for our reusable drink cups. I saw this on a blog and thought it was GENIUS. These cups are going to be super popular this summer back at home, so I really wanted to make sure we held on to them. Real world experience: Meh. We brought the cups to the parks 2 days and never actually filled them with water. You only get free soda refills at the resorts, so although they were good at the hotel they weren’t worth dragging around the parks. Our meals came with drinks so we mostly just drank during meals and the kids used water fountains in between.
  6. A whole bunch of glow sticks. We have plans to hit light shows/parades/fireworks at every park. Planning ahead will hopefully save me a bunch of cash and let my kids share with other kids around us to make our evenings more fun. A+ IDEA, will do again.
  7. An autograph book. I bought the official Disney Parks one from the Disney Store. Then I also read a great tip that a book of Disney characters makes a fun souvenir kids can look at and re-read long after the trip. I figure the kids could spend time in lines, at meals and between attractions marking pages and looking for the characters they wanted to have sign their book. I also bought mini sharpies for the kids to keep on their lanyards and fancy pens to use with the princesses. Some of the advice I read said things like that make it easier for the characters to interact with you, and since we’re doing several character meals I wanted to make sure the kids have great interactions. <—— Get the book, this was SUPER fun. Linc pointing at the picture of the character he was meeting and saying “You!!! You!!!!” was adorable every time.
  8. Rainbow Wikki Stix for the kids to play with while waiting for meals.
  9. Jedi Academy books. Evan loves these, I figured a new one would be a good surprise.
  10. A few small stuffed toys from the Disney Store. Definitely cheaper to order online during a sale and pull them out as surprises instead of paying the in-park mark-up.
  11. Tiaras from Claire’s at the mall. Again, cheaper to bring than buy!
  12. Other small toys – a Moana doll for Caroline, some Star Wars stuff for Evan, etc – collected from Target, Amazon, Disney Store over the past months. We ended up buying 3 pirate swords, ears for everyone, and 3 Jedi light sabers, but bringing surprised toy gifts definitely saved me from buying more expensive stuff in the parks.

Pin trading at Hollywood Studios

Pin trading at Hollywood Studios

Alternative to a Disney character autograph book

 

Health-related;

  1. Disney band-aids. Because everything has to be Disney themed.
  2. New skin for blisters.
  3. Tylenol and Advil in dosages for every family member.
  4. Zip-lock bags in big a medium sizes.
  5. BIG band-aids for skinned knees.
  6. Anti-chafe gel, for me.

Other stuff:

  1. A cheap waterproof holder for my phone.
  2. A new strap for my camera so I can wear it cross-body.
  3. A portable charger for the cell phones. I would honestly recommend getting one of these to anyone. We’ve used it a TON before we even leave for vacation – it’s so handy to charge my phone in my purse while I shop at Target or wait at ballet.
  4. Two Pokemon Go Plus devices. Don’t judge! As a family we all still love to play, but I don’t want anyone staring at their phone (including me!) while we’re in the parks. The kids love carrying these and seeing them light up and buzz.

And here are the things I would add to the lists:

  1. Baby carrier(s). E and I both wore both kids every day. I wore Finn constantly (it felt like constantly at least) because it was the easiest way to nurse. He also napped better on me. And in the evenings when it was time to go back to the hotel and Linc was passed out in the stroller, it was great to be able to put him on our backs when we had to fold up the stroller for the bus. I was a little worried there would be a lot of rules for wearing on rides, but only one time did anyone say anything about turning Finn around.
  2. Diaper cream. HERE IS MY BEST DISNEY TIP: Bring diaper cream. Even if you don’t have kids in diapers. It’s very, very soothing on any chaffed skin or rashes or sore spots. My husband would recommend boxer briefs over regular boxers and I would recommend cotton underwear and we both really recommend diaper cream.
  3. Sunglasses for the kids. When it was sunny, it was REALLY sunny, and they were grumpy when they didn’t have their sunglasses.
  4. Googles. We forgot ours and had to buy them in the hotel shop for the day we spent at the hotel pool.
  5. Batteries. You’ll need them for something, at some point, and they’re way cheaper when you buy them outside of the parks.
  6. A large, comfortable backpack to hold all your stuff. You can take your bag with you on almost every ride (worst case is you leave it in a cubby like on the Avatar ride) and if you have kids you’re carrying a lot of stuff, so make sure you have a bag you don’t hate carrying. And pack efficiently, because if you do have to fold up the stroller for transportation, you need to get all the junk you’ve shoved into the basket of the stroller back in the bag.

Babywearing at Disney World

If you’re lucky enough to be going on a kid-free Disney trip, let me condense the list down for you: Cell phone, comfortable shoes, diaper cream, sunglasses. You DSLR if you’re someone who likes photography. Don’t carry anything you don’t have to, because you’ll need your hands free for snacks, drinks and pointing and laughing at all of us who are schlepping tons of stuff around for the kids.

I JUST REMEMBERED SOMETHING ELSE! I ordered BitBelts for our Magic Bands and they were a lifesaver. They saved everyone’s Magic Bands from falling off at least once. Totally worth a couple bucks, because losing a Magic Band would be such a hassle and could ruin all your plans for the day.

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