Posts Tagged ‘family fun’

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).

Local Fun: Cirque Eloize Saloon at Foxwoods

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

I’ve written before about how much we love living near Foxwoods, and that continues to hold true. We’ve been lucky enough to attend lots of cool events in the past couple of years (from beer to bowling to kids shows) but I think our Friday night trip to see Cirque Eloize Saloon was the best show we’ve ever seen.

From their press release:

This captivating and energetic show transports audiences to the height of the Wild Wild West era, telling the story of a piano tuner’s astonishing journey through a world filled with gold diggers, rail workers, chorus girls and cowboys. Mysterious and intriguing characters will light up the stage to explosive live music, resulting in a series of unexpected situations packed with rhythmic acrobatic prowess and original choreography. The series begins Friday, August 12 and runs through Sunday, August 21 for a total of 12 remarkable performances at a variety of family-family show times.

It was amaaaaazing. Caroline and Evan could barely stay in their seats, they were SO excited about all the tricks and acrobatics. It was lucky we were sitting with other bloggers and the Foxwoods people, because I would have been worried we were annoying regular show-watchers with all the audible gasping and “MOMMY DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!” Even Linc got super into the show, especially the hoop spinning thing (Cyr wheel, according to Google) and the singing, which he joined in enthusiastically. Like I said when I gushing over the show on Instagram, it’s like a musical combined with America’s Got Talent, two things our family loves. There was a part with a teeter-totter board that made me almost as annoying as the kids, cheering and clapping every time no one killed themselves (spoiler: no one killed themselves, they were all incredible).

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Our 4th row seats were awesome

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Enjoying chocolate strawberries at the reception, like a good blogger

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Step and repeat expert

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We borrowed a pen and the kids got their tickets signed. Everyone was SO nice.

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Caroline: Are those REAL HORSES?! (No, but fake horses are still very exciting)

Our Friday before the show was an epic disaster. No less than a dozen things went wrong and around 6 pm we were debating whether or not we could pull ourselves together enough to even TRY to enjoy our evening. But the air conditioning plus the amazing show plus the chance to meet with the cast afterward was exactly what we needed to cheer ourselves up as a family and have a great time. If you’re suffering through this unbearable summer like we are, I cannot recommend a night out to see Cirque Eloize Saloon enough. Then you too can start to teach your kids hand-to-hand in the lake.

Video taken by the 7-year-old, but it’s still awesome.

Cirque Eloize Saloon is currently playing in the Fox Theater at Foxwoods. Shows are scheduled for: August 12, 7:30 PM  August 13, 4:00 PM  August 13, 8:00 PM  August 14, 2:00 PM  August 14, 7:00 PM  August 17, 7:30 PM  August 18, 7:30 PM  August 19, 8:00 PM  August 20, 4:00 PM  August 20, 8:00 PM  August 21, 2:00 PM  August 21, 7:00 PM

Tickets start at $35

We were invited to the opening night of previews of this show at Foxwoods because I’m on their press list and they’re super nice. No other compensation was provided and all opinions and photos are my own. 

Terra Firma Farm Creamery Opening Day

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

This part of Connecticut is pretty rural, despite the fact that we technically live in a city. One of benefits of all that open space is stuff like orchards and farms, where my children can pick their own food, meet the animals that make their milk, or say hi to the pigs that will one day be delicious bacon. We’re all about the circle the life over here.

On Saturday, we visited the new location of Terra Firma Farm‘s dairy. We only bought milk on our first trip, but I’ll be back for eggs, hot dogs and bacon ASAP. Eating local just got way easier.

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Caroline’s AMAZING dress is from a shop called Rainbow Waters on Etsy. You can follow her Facebook page to see when she lists stuff.

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Linc was NOT happy about sharing the chocolate milk.

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There was a pond full of tadpoles to catch and a waterfall to throw things into on the property. The kids actually enjoyed it, despite how their faces look in this picture.

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Christmas Parades 2015

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Look, I realize this is the THIRD post this week that’s basically just photos of my family doing holiday stuff. But guys, I got my Christmas cards mailed today. I also made candy cane fudge, lemon tea cookies, three kinds of hot chocolate stir spoons, sparkle cookies and a batch of sadly misshapen mouse cookies. PLUS I hosted a playdate and got the kids their flu shots. So between now and January 1 the blog is going to be 90% photos (as opposed to the rest of the year when it’s 75% photos) so I can get real life stuff done and have a magical holiday.

The Norwich Winter Parade goes almost down my street – if you look up the hill in some of these photos you can see my green house in the background – so we go every year, even in the cold and/or rain. Luckily this year it wasn’t cold, even though it was wet, so we had a pretty good time. It is a very small-town type parade with lots of super random stuff – Elsa! A giant bicycle! LOTS of fire trucks!) – but they throw candy and my kids and their friends will sit in the rain for candy all day.

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On Sunday we went to Trees in the Rigging, which is a community parade and carol sing in Essex, followed by a boat light parade. It is also very small town and adorable, but in a extremely well-off, old-money, New Englandy way. Essex is beyond charming and we love to spend time there, so it was really fun. Plus the weather was great and we met some more friends and my kids absolutely loved both the singing and the waving.

My pictures are not the best – it was really dark and we were walking and no one wanted to stop to let me hold reeeeeeallly still for photo – but they’re very accurate to the experience. Plus Linc was dressed as a fox and Caroline was dressed as a reindeer, so.

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Take Us Out To The Ball Game

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

I love minor league baseball. I mean, I love major league baseball too, if I get to actually go to the game in person. But major league baseball games are a) expensive b) far away and c) expensive, so I mostly stick to local minor league games. Our team here in town has changed names at least 3 times since we’ve lived here. First they were the Gators (maybe?), then they were The Defenders (I’m sure about that one), now they are the Connecticut Tigers. I appreciate that they make it family friendly. And cheap. Sitting in the first row right on the 3rd base line make the game much more fun for the big kids.

Poor Linc though. Baseball stadiums aren’t exactly baby-friendly, especially for a baby who just started walking and climbing steps. I felt like I spent most of the game wrestling an angry, wet badger. He did seem to like the baseball food, which kept him partially entertained. I mean, who doesn’t like licking the salt off of soft-baked pretzels?

After the game the kids got to run the bases, which they thought was neat. At the end they each got a coupon for free Ben & Jerry’s, which I think is neat, because I can make them share one scoop while I eat the other. Win win.

Photographic proof of our fun and/or eating:

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Running away…

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Linc thought this game was super fun.

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I think that mascot was hitting on my husband.

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Linc also thought this was a fun game (despite his face not looking so fun).

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