Posts Tagged ‘new england’

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).

Wicked Tulips Farm 2018

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Last year I heard about the Wicked Tulips farm over in Rhode Island, but never actually made it there to check it out. I just stalked local photographers and Instagram for pictures and then cursed myself for not finding time to go. But I also had a small baby and was counting down to our Disney trip, so my attention was elsewhere. Wicked Tulips just didn’t happen.

This year, I am in the middle of what feels like the longest underway in submarine history and desperate to find things that wear out my kids and keep us out of the house. But I also really really hate people, especially crowds of people, especially crowds of people all trying to look at the same flowers I am trying to look at. I knew the weekends would be super crowded at the tulip farm (they sell tickets and sold out weekends within hours of releasing them) and I wasn’t totally convinced I should let the kids skip school just to pick flowers. Luckily, Wicked Tulip offers early bird tickets on Tuesdays – from 7-10 am only people who bought the early bird tickets can come in and take pictures or pick. It was the perfect solution, especially since early morning light is better than 2 pm light when you’re in a field with zero shade.

The only downside to 7 am tulip fields is that it’s about an hour away, so I had to get my kids up at 5:30 to get there. I bribed them with both candy at the tulip farm and donuts on the way home, so it went pretty well. We made it back and I dropped the big kids off at school before the morning bell.

We had such a good time the first time, we went back and did it again the next week. I highly, highly recommend the early bird ticket if you’re going to visit in 2019, but even if you just go on a crowded weekend you should go. It’s so much fun.

Now the farm is closed for the season and I’ll have to wait a whole year to do it again. I did manage to take JUST A FEW pictures though.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

The first morning we went to Wicked Tulips it was very sunny. The left side of the fields in the pick-your-own area had some shade from the trees at the very beginning, but the show garden was full sun the entire time.

The second morning it was overcast, with even, grey cloud cover. It was also slightly foggy, but in a way that old shows in the background. I actually like the way the light and colors look in the second set of pictures more, even if they do look like they were taken on a movie set instead of real life.

About 1/3 of my pictures have people photoshopped out of them, the rest was just really good angles, using long lenses, or timing my shots between people walking past. There were several dozen people there both times, I’m just good at keeping them out of my pictures.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

I’m actually really proud of that one of Linc on the bench, I only edited out one person.

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

wicked tulips tulip farm photos

See all those people in the background? That’s way less than the sunny day. Most people have DSLR cameras and are there to take photos of the actual tulips, not kids. There were almost no kids there at 7 am.

General tips for the tulip farm:

  1. Wear boots, even if it’s not raining. It’s a farm. Plus they’re super cute in pictures.
  2. Bring cutters or clippers. It’s easy to pull the tulips out of the ground but you get really long stems that are hard to break. You can make pretty bouquets wrapped in paper at the wrapping station but you’ll want to trim them all to the same length.
  3.  The tulips cost $1/stem. They take cards. Buy LOTS of tulips.
  4. The temp at 7 am is 20 degrees cooler than the temp at 8 am. Layers are good.
  5. Bring your DSLR if you have one and whatever your longest lens is. Shoot zoomed in (so if you have the 18-105mm that came with your camera, set it at 105) so you get the blurred background and can avoid people.
  6. You should go. Really. Even if you hate people. It was still fun and the kids loved it too.

Snow Day Again

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

I am really enjoying using our stay-at-home down-time to work on my documentary photography skills. I actually signed up for a photography class specifically on that topic that starts on Monday. I’m nervous – the last time I paid for a workshop I quit after 2 weeks because I couldn’t keep up with the assignments (also I was 39 weeks pregnant), but this one was more expensive so hopefully my guilt keeps me motivated. Today we are going to leave the house even if we all freeze to death though, because these children are driving me bananas.

We Went To The Ocean

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Ocean Beach is “New England’s finest sugar sand beach”, according to the radio commercials they play all the time. Really, it’s the only beach nearby that has STUFF as opposed to just being a state park. It means it costs more to park (and more to ride the rides and more to use the pool and more for the water slide…) but it’s also easier to spend a whole day there because you aren’t just sitting. E HATES sitting on the beach. He does not know how to relax. And when you’re watching 4 children near the ocean, no one gets to relax. But we still had a good time with our out-of-state relatives last weekend, even if the water was freezing. The children did not care.

The above photo is a very accurate representation of what it’s like to take 6 kids to the beach.

My boys don’t have swim shirts because I wasn’t expecting anyone to actually go in the water. IT WAS NOT WARM. So I totally covered them in sunscreen instead, which makes them look even paler than they already are. It’s sort of ridiculous.

Every time we end up at Ocean Beach I wonder why we don’t go more often*. During the summer they have special kids nights on Mondays (I think) where the rides are cheap. As soon as our summer weather gets here (any day now would be fine, Mother Nature) we’ll try to make it a habit. I love the ocean, even if it’s not super relaxing, and these are exactly the kinds of summer memories I want the kids to have of Connecticut.

*The real answer is I think of New London as being really far away even though it’s only like 20 minutes from the house. It’s also the opposite direction from the lake, so we’re usually headed that way instead.

Lake Compounce 2017

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Lake Compounce provided us with free tickets to visit this month, but all opinions, statements, and photos are my own.

Here is the Top 10 List of reasons we had a great time at Lake Compounce:

  1. Right in the middle of Connecticut, so it’s close to us and lots of other places.
  2. Tons of rides in the kid section that everyone over age 2 could ride without grown-ups.
  3. Super fun scary roller coasters for the grown-ups.
  4. Wicked friendly employees.
  5. Lots of shade and places to sit down when you’re tired.
  6. Free fountain drinks all over the park so no one ever complained they were thirsty.
  7. Stroller-friendly.
  8. Nursing-friendly.
  9. Parent-friendly (My husband changed all the diapers all day, because the men’s room had changing tables.)
  10. Just the right size to spend the whole day.

E and I took Evan to Lake Compounce several years ago, back when he was Baby Evan, and had a great time then too. But I had a very tiny Baby Caroline and didn’t get to ride very many things myself, so I mostly remember just the toddler area. Since then, they’ve done a bunch of renovations, added new coasters and spruced things up so even though it’s the oldest amusement park in the country it’s beautiful and clean. Don’t worry, about the nostalgia though, because it’s still got plenty of that.

We got there at 11 am on a Sunday and the kids walked on to every ride until at least 1 pm. They’re the only ones on those drums!

The only photo of me from the day: Caroline LOVED this thing and was super mad she couldn’t go on the grown-up version.

We got free soda while we waited for E to ride Phobia. It took me several more hours to decide if I was also going to ride Phobia. I did. It was fun.

Praise hands for this Joovy stroller we still love. Finn was happy riding/sleeping/chilling in it all day, between rides in the Tula so I could nurse.

After Evan suddenly, drastically changed his mind about roller coasters (Saturday: “I WANT TO RIDE THEM ALL!” Sunday: Won’t even get on the kid-sized coaster Linc rode with his arms up) I wasn’t sure he would try any of the rides. But he loved the log flume.

Evan also loved the Ghost Hunt ride, probably because he likes shooting games. I did not partake, because haunted houses are not my thing. Caroline and Linc both rode, because they take after their father.

That is possibly the best picture I’ve ever taken.

I don’t remember the dinosaurs from the last time we visited, but the kids loved it.

Caroline clearly didn’t enjoy herself at all.

Despite Evan’s skeptical face, we rode Thunder Rapids twice in a row and got SOAKED. It was great.

The lake/waterpark opens this weekend. I promised the kids we could come back for it later this summer.

I bought extra clothes JUST IN CASE they got wet, which is why they’re in different clothes than the beginning of the day.

Goodbye Lake Compounce! See you again soon!

If you’re in the New England area, I would definitely recommend making the trip to Bristol to have your own super fun day. You can use this link/code to get a discount on your internet tickets:

Link: https://www.lakecompounce.com/blogreader?promocode=BeBehSBlog17

Promocode: BeBehSBlog17

Thank you again to Lake Compounce for providing us with the tickets (p.s. kids under 3 are free)!

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