Posts Tagged ‘things I love’

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. 

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Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

We’re playing Pokemon Go. I don’t actually want to hear about how it’s a secret plot from the CIA to data-mine us all or whatever. I don’t care. It’s been a super fun way for our family to spend time, outside, together, getting lots of fresh air and exercise. It’s gotten my tired, pregnant butt off the couch every day since I downloaded it. The kids are all exhausted at the end of the day from the walking. And believe it or not, looking at REAL animals or boats or flowers is still really fun, in between catching Clefairies (Caroline’s favorite) and trash birds (stupid Pidgies are everywhere).

And if you want to visit Mystic in the summer, may I recommend the Monday night after-hours at the aquarium? The outdoor section isn’t all open (no penguins) but it was SO fun to visit when the place was empty, plus the octopus, whales and frogs were all extra active and fun to watch.

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I Checked CHET Out

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

This post was sponsored on behalf of Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET). All opinions and photos are my own.

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Want to feel old? Think for a second about how many years it will be until your oldest kid goes to college. In my case, the answer is ELEVEN. ELEVEN YEARS. That is less time than I have been married, less time than it’s been since I graduated from college, and WAY less time than it’s been since I myself was 18 and headed off to college. Along with feeling really old, the thought of sending my kids to college fills me with fear and dread. Do you know what college costs? I don’t. I know the answer is somewhere between “a lot” and “an amount you will never be able to afford by the time it is your turn to pay for it”. The average cost for a 4-year private college in New England is more than $52,000. I have three (and a half) kids. This is the part where I usually throw my hands up and turn on HGTV and think relaxing thoughts about renovating my backyard to include a fire pit and a water feature. These tiny homework-doers can just stay small and live with me forever.

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But denial is not a good way to stop things from happening (see also: birth, child vomit, lactose intolerance) and these kids are getting older and smarter by the day. Making a plan is the only real option, so I finally sat down at my computer with my Important Papers file and looked at the Connecticut Higher Education Trust website.

Here are the quick facts about CHET:

    • The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) is Connecticut’s 529 college savings plan.
    • CHET works like a Roth Retirement account, your contributions grow tax-free along the way, and are tax-free when you use the money for college.
    • PLUS for CT taxpayers there is a CT state tax deduction on the contributions you make to CHET each year, up to $10K for joint filers and $5K for single filers.
    • Money saved with CHET can be used at accredited colleges or universities in the country as well as some abroad.
    • CHET funds can be used for wide variety of college costs, tuition, room & board, computer, any supplies required by the school, etc.
    • If you don’t use the savings (for example, if your child gets a scholarship) you can roll the money to another child.

And here’s how it actually worked out:

I went to the site and clicked on “Open an Account”. They asked for my social security number and info, then Evan’s social security numbers and info. I entered our banking information so I could make the required opening contribution (it’s only $25) directly, then chose which investments I wanted to put the money in.

This was the part where I normally get stressed and run away, because I am not a financial guru or investment specialist. I am a person who has definitely HEARD the word “index fund” before but can’t quite remember where. There is a ton of information about each option on the website and there are actual humans you can call and talk to if you want, but my eyes and brain quickly start blurring when I feel overwhelmed by the choices. I ended up reading some of the advice, showing the options to E, and then just picking something, because a fear of choosing the wrong option 11 years before he goes to college shouldn’t stop me from investing in Evan’s future. There was an option to set up reoccurring contributions with lots of flexibility, but you don’t HAVE to. It asked me to agree to the risks and terms, asked me to set up a username and password for managing my account, then I was done. Repeating the process for each of my other children took less than 2 minutes, since they were all under my same account and the info was saved.

After I set them all up, I sent my mom an email for each account with an easy link so she can make contributions herself, either online or by mail. You can send them to anyone in your address book on special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc) or “just because”. I think she was probably ready to just set up the accounts on her own (you can do that! you don’t have to be the parent, so if you have grandkids or nieces or nephews who you think need a 529 absolutely look into it!) but now I am done and she can rest easy.

Right now, CHET is running a contest in honor of 5/29 day (May 29th). One winner will win a $1,529 contribution to their account and two runners up will win $529 contributions. Free money?? YES PLEASE. You can check it out and enter easily here.

ALSO. If you had a baby in the last year (or you happen to be having one soon), CHET has an amazing Baby Scholars program, where they will give you up to $250 for free just for putting money in your kid’s 529. It’s not a complicated, convoluting system either – you put money in, they add money. I am kicking myself SO HARD that I didn’t do that for Lincoln before it was too late.

I feel like that was a LOT of words to talk about something that seems really boring, but it’s one of those things that’s been on my to-do list literally for years and I am so glad I can finally cross it off. Give yourself an A+ in adulting today and check CHET out.

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Laundry Is My New Hobby

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Every year that I’m an adult, I do a couple more adulty type things that make me feel like an actual grown up instead of someone just pretending to be a grown-up. Any time I have to call the insurance company is a big one. Having a hairdresser (as opposed to just going to Super Cuts) is another. I suppose giving birth to children should be on that list, but mostly I still can’t believe I’ve been allowed to create and become responsible for so many humans.

This year’s big accomplishment is finally become proficient in laundry. I’m not sure if I’m just suffering from an abundance of second-trimester energy or what, but our laundry baskets are empty a significantly greater amount of time than they’re full. Let’s just not talk about actually putting AWAY the laundry. That part is still a big nope. But washing? I love washing.

I can tell you what the turning point was. I have a friend who told me she doesn’t dry her kids’ clothes in the dryer. She might as well have told me she sleeps hanging upsidedown like a bat. I thought she was a CRAZY PERSON. Do you know just how many clothes my kids wear? MILLIONS. A million different articles of clothing a day. Where do you put them to dry? What’s so bad about the dryer?

THEN I discovered the world of children’s clothing resale pages on Facebook. If the idea of buying and selling stuff on Facebook is weird to you, you’re the last person in America who has never been invited to a LulaRoe sale. But beyond regular FB parties is the resale world – cloth diapers, leggings, baby carriers, fabric, purses, neighborhood yard sale sites where you can buy everything from a canoe to a car. I’ve taken part in a lot of this sort of thing but it never occurred to me there was a market for kids’ clothes. Since I’m a huge fan of “nice” brands, like Mini Boden and Hanna Andersson, those groups totally got me. I’m now fully immersed in the second-hand world, where a pair of kids shorts in good used condition still resells for $25 and I saw a hard to find toddler t-shirt listed at $100. On these pages, “we don’t use the dryer on our boden/hanna” is a standard listing claim and “wash wear” can cut your value in half. So after I had ordered a few things, I popped over to Amazon and ordered a drying rack. It fits nicely in our bathtub to keep it out of the way and can be moved to the guest room if the kids HAVE to have a bath. It’s also come in handy for my new cloth diapers as part of the Make Cloth Mainstream Challenge, especially for sunny days where I can dry them outside. It’s not actually that hard to just grab my no-dryer stuff as I put the rest in the dryer (I still dry probably 80% of our laundry) and everything gets dry in 24 hours. I don’t actually plan to resell most of my Mini Boden/Hanna, because selling is a pain and my children RUIN clothing, but keeping them as nice as possible for as long as possible is a good goal.


Linc’s new shirt after he had worn it for 1 hour.

Another thing I got with the diapers is wool dryer balls. DO YOU KNOW ABOUT WOOL DRYER BALLS? They’re supposed to help your laundry dry faster and they TOTALLY DO. They’re supposed to make your laundry softer and they TOTALLY DO. And they’re supposed to reduce static and you know what? THEY TOTALY DO. I have three and that seems to be a good amount for my small-ish dryer, but I know nothing about them except that they’re magic. Allen’s Naturally also sent me a bottle of Stink Out, which is also magic. Takes the boat smell right out of E’s clothes and everything they touch.

My last new favorite laundry discovery is BunchaFarmers stain sticks. I have two, and I keep one in the couch storage compartment and one next to the washer. That way when Linc pours juice all over his shirt I can strip it off him and rub some Buncha on it immediately. Or I can use it on the throw blanket I keep over the ottoman to keep it from getting destroyed by dirty feet, dirty children, spilled cups and markers. I have no idea why it works way better than most of the less-crunchy stain removers, but it does. It’s probably because of coconut oil. Coconut oil is some sort of voodoo that makes everything better.

I realize this might be the most boring thing to be excited about ever, but it’s what’s making me happy right now while my toddler flings himself against his bedroom door refusing to stay in his crib and nap for the second time this week. I feel like at least ONE thing is going well around here. Also, Linc is wearing a VERY cute Mini Boden shirt while he tantrums, so there’s that.

Disclaimer: I don’t have an Amazon affiliate account, so those links (and everything else) are just regular links. I got the stuff from Allen’s Naturally for free because of the #mcmschallenge but I love them enough to pay real monies when I run out. 



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Oak Leaf Dairy – BABY GOATS 2016

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Apologies in advance for the many, many baby goat visit posts this month, but this is literally the best part of the spring and I am not actually sorry. I took the kids even though E was out of town, which meant I was watching or wearing (mostly wearing) Linc the whole time and means this first set of photos is very average. ANY pictures are inadequate to describe how sweet these babies are though. They’ve had more than 100 kids born in the past week or so, with 200 more to go (almost all mama goats have twins or triplets so it’s hard to know exactly), so in a couple weeks when the older ones are more like teenagers is when the barn gets super crazy and you’re in danger of being literally smothered by frolicking baby goats. IT IS THE BEST.

I’m a little sorry I’ve told SO many people about Oak Leaf Dairy. It’s gotten very popular and a little crowded now. I wish they were open either longer or on some weekdays so I could get my visits in when I didn’t have to share so much.

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Newborn goat in a box.

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That is the face of a tween who just discovered the miracle of goat birth.

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Brand new baby goat!

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The baby goat barn is still sparsly populated enough that they’re keeping all the babies in the stalls

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Last year he just stayed in a bundle on my back and watched. This year he wanted down for a little bit to say hi, but then asked to go back up where he could pet goats without any of them trying to sit on him.

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Disclaimer: Caroline dressed herself.

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There are a lot of great things about the goat farm, but one of the best is that after all the goat snuggling the kids can go outside and run like crazy people.

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My children ate all of the cheese curds in the car on the way home. I didn’t get ANY. So it looks like we’ll see you again next weekend, Oak Leaf!

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