Posts Tagged ‘ocean’

The Gift of September

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Every year in New England, on September 1st, we all prepare for fall. It’s September. It’s Fall. It’s time to get out our cardigans and boots, sleep with the windows open and four blankets, pick apples, drink lattes, and throw around as many decorative gourds as we can.

And every year, on September 1st, we remember that it’s actually still summer.

But our surprise is a gift – doing fun summer stuff in September feels like cheating. I’m swimming in the ocean in September! (And don’t tell anyone the ocean is actually crazy warm in September, or we’ll have to share the beach with too many people.) I’m wearing sundresses in September! We’re having ice cream for dinner in September! Let’s jump in the car after school and do ALL of that on a Thursday!

All the things I was tired of – sand in my car, washing a million towels, late bedtimes, no plans for dinner, car naps – are once again charming and fun. I can sit on a towel by the ocean wondering why we don’t go to the beach EVERY day with absolutely no irony. It’s like my brain was wiped clean on the first day of the month and I’m ready for summer all over again.

The most pleasant part of the whole thing is in a few days (a week, maybe three if we’re lucky) it actually WILL be fall. I’ll vacuum all the sand out of my car and deflate all the floaties until next year. We will all start wearing pants and I’ll buy 3 new striped shirts. We’ll eat apples and chowder and cider donuts and the bakery in Mystic will smell like pumpkin and cinnamon instead of lavender and vanilla. We get our bonus, stolen summer right before the very best part of New England.

This is why we’re still here.

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┬árest 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).

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┬áthan 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.

My Week(339) in iPhone Photos

Monday, May 8th, 2017

I should he packing but I also figured I should get my blog up to date because I’m going to a blogger conference. So I’ll probably forget my underwear but at least anyone who looks will know what we did two weeks ago.

Sunday:

“Mommy take my picture on this rock like a magestic unicorn”

New England baby doesn’t care the water is freezing

Hikers

Monday:

Muffin helper

Chopping down a tree

INSISTS on walking on walls, even when blocked by bushes

Tuesday:

Peek a boo

Naps

More naps

Wednesday:

He loves feet

Puddle jumper

ALL THE NOPES FROM ME

Thursday:

Naps

More naps

SO EXCITED FOR THIS ROLL OF FILM

Friday:

Messsssssssss

Running in the daffodils

I love this view

Saturday:

Fresh eggs are the best eggs

Photographed a wedding at a castle!

Making mud pie on the back steps. In his pajamas.

I am watching Animaniacs with my children and trying to decide how many jokes to explain to them. Is “Boo-ryshikov” the chicken still funny if you don’t know there’s a person named Baryshnikov?

Considering how hard they are laughing, I think the answer is yes.

Bluff Point Hike

Monday, April 24th, 2017

During spring break we took the kids to Old Sturbridge Village, which is one of our favorite places. We only made it 45 minutes before Evan started complaining his feet hurt, and after 3 hours all the kids were D O N E with the walking and looking at stuff and waiting a whole 10 minutes for a carriage ride. It does not fill me with confidence that our trip to Disney World will go well.

(Have I told you we’re going to Disney World??? We’re going to Disney World! I am SO EXCITED.)

The kids don’t know we’re going yet. I’m not planning to tell them anytime soon. But I do need them to get used to walking, so I’m instituting the Disney Training Plan. Basically, that just means we’re spending a lot more time hiking and a lot less time watching Netflix between now and June.

But I’m not trying to make their lives miserable, I’m just trying to whip them into shape, so I’ve planned our hikes in places they will have fun. I need them to enjoy the walking now so they will REALLY enjoy the walking when it’s between rides and parades and restaurants in Florida. Our first training day involved a 3.5 mile hike around Bluff Point. I wore Finn, Evan and Caroline walked the whole way, and Linc did about half walking, half in the Tula on E’s back. We all survived!

He really wasn’t as annoyed as he looks in that last photo.

Everyone went to bed very early with no argument tonight. I think *I* am going to need the longest to recover, I haven’t hiked with a baby on my back since last spring and it’s a lot of work when you have a super chunk for an 8-month-old. Our next walk will be a nice short one around the neighborhood, then a longer hike again. I’ll let you know how the Disney Training Program worked out once I force them to walk 10 miles a day for four days. I figure if we all survive, that’s a success.

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