Posts Tagged ‘things I love’

Fun Stuff To Do: Cirque Eloize iD at Foxwoods

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger workshop with the Cirque Eloize iD cast as well as an evening at Foxwoods to see the show. All opinions are my own and they didn’t make me promise to write nice stuff (or anything at all, actually). 

We live really, really close to Foxwoods which happens to be the biggest casino in the whole country. It’s less than 20 minutes from our door to their’s and less than 10 minutes from that lake where we have the summer membership, although it feels like it’s on a different planet. It means we get a lot of cool shows and concerts only a few minutes from our house rather than having to drive an hour to a “real” city. They also have a California Pizza Kitchen, an arcade and they do fun stuff like set up an ice skating rink in the winter, so even with kids we go to Foxwoods pretty regularly.

Last Friday, E and I left the kids with some very helpful friends and went to the Fox Theater for what I was told was a “blogger workshop” with the cast of Cirque Eloize. It turns out by “blogger workshop” they meant “get right up there on the stage” and “take as many pictures as you want!” and “do you want me to balance on that chair again so you can get a better video?” and even “sure, come jump on our high-powered trampoline!”

I kept wondering if I had forgotten to sign a liability waiver at some point, because surely they don’t just let people do stuff like this?

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This was one of my fellow bloggers who made the mistake of saying she wanted to volunteer:

And THIS is the CEO of Foxwoods, who came down to welcome us and said he had personally asked Cirque to come after seeing their show in Canada.

 

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The show is called Cirque Eloize iD and it’s a combination of contemporary circus meets b-boy hip-hop (so very So You Think You Can Dance) meets West Side Story. That doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, but it absolutely does.

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I cannot believe I just posted pictures of myself jumping on a trampoline on the internet, but how often in real life do you get to jump on a super high-powered trampoline? It was so much fun. I’ve definitely added “trampoline” to my list of things in my dream home.

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Their trampoline tricks were just SLIGHTLY more impressive than ours:

 

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In theory I know how to juggle, because I read Juggling For Dummies as a teenager. But juggling bean bags in my basement 16 years ago didn’t do much to prepare me for the stage. I think I did better than most people though (and by most people I mean my husband). Embarrassing video evidence:

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The cast couldn’t have been nicer or more friendly to all of us. Considering they do 8 incredibly hard, physically demanding shows a week I was so impressed they were willing to take time out of their schedule to hang out with us and tolerate our questions. Did you know there’s a huge kid circus program in Minnesota? The only American in the cast was from St. Paul and said he got started just by going to a circus camp when he was seven. Most of the rest of the cast member we met were either French or French Canadian. Did you know you can go to circus college and get an actual four-year degree in circus? I’m pretty sure if I knew that was an option I would have signed up immediately – although the guy who did the bike tricks told us he actually has a degree in marketing.

After the workshop, E and I actually had time to pick up the kids and leave them with a second babysitter (because 3 kids is a lot of kids to leave with someone for 8 hours) and then come back for the BEST sushi we’ve ever had. Every single thing at Red Lantern was delicious, but if you go I forbid you to leave without trying the lobster rangoon and the ronin sushi roll.

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Pirate Punch OBVIOUSLY comes in a pirate themed cup.

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Mine was a sake sangria, because I can’t have sushi without sake but I am a 33 year old mother of 3 and doing straight sake shots is just a really poor choice.

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Dessert was a caramel banana bread pudding. E told me we couldn’t have dessert or we would be late for the show, but how can you not order caramel banana bread pudding? He fully admits he was incorrect and it would have been a crime not to eat this.

There’s a no photography rule during the actual performance (and my photos would have been incredibly inadequate anyway) but here are some of the professional stills Foxwoods sent me so you can see how totally different that boring gray set looks during the actual show.

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The show was amazing. Super amazing. I am kicking myself for not bringing Evan and Caroline, because even though it was 2 hours long the time completely flew by and I am positive they would have LOVED everything about it. Besides the bike thing and the trampolines and the juggling there was all the other stuff you think of when you think of Cirque, including a contortionist and a girl who hung by her toes from a spinning hoop. I’m a little sad they didn’t let us try any of that during the workshop (because in my head I’m incredibly graceful and flexible and would be a total natural at hanging from scarves or hoops). Which is probably exactly why they didn’t let us try it.

If you’re anywhere in the area – I mean area very loosely, since Foxwoods is a resort with plenty of hotel rooms and plus if you come to Connecticut you can come over for dinner – I highly recommend the show. Cirque Eloize iD is playing at the Fox Theater from now until August 30th, and you can follow that link to see showtimes and buy tickets. Thank you again to Foxwoods and Cirque Eloize for inviting us!

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Southwick’s Zoo

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

I lived in Massachusetts for a few years in elementary and middle school, which is one of the reasons I like living in New England so much – it reminds me of all the fun stuff I did as a kid. My parents/school/church youth group loved Doing Stuff so I Did A Lot Of Stuff between the ages of 9 and 14. We went to amusement parks and museums and cities and zoos, and one of the places I have vague memories of is Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Mass. This week we went up to check it out during the day trip portion of our summer vacation, since it’s only about 75 minutes away.

What I didn’t remember is that it’s a private zoo (I’m not sure I even knew that was still a thing?) and that it’s in the middle of nowhere. Our GPS took us down what I swear was a 3 mile driveway to a grass field…that turned out to be the parking lot. But the inauspicious entrance didn’t mean the zoo was a disappointment – in terms of animals they had more variety than our much-beloved Roger Williams Park Zoo. Plus they had the deer forest. I love the deer forest. We all love the deer forest, even E, although after I discovered how much he loved the baby goat farm I’m not sure why I’m surprised.

Southwick’s Zoo had a really nice military discount too (E was free, the rest of us were half-price) so it is definitely worth the drive for us. My tips: show up right at 10 am, park close to the entrance, and pack a picnic lunch in your car so you don’t have to buy zoo food. Let your kid pick ONE ride each (Evan picked the Skyfari, Caroline took a pony ride) and don’t waste money on the other tourist trap stuff. Bring lots of quarters for deer food. There are a ton of hills and it’s surprisingly big (my Fitbit said we walked 4.87 miles) so wear comfortable shoes. Wearing Linc was definitely a better choice than pushing a stroller up the huge hill at the end of the day would have been.

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The tiger had a huge enclosure but was hanging out RIGHT next to the building. It must have been feeding time.

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She saw an ape swinging from some ropes and was AMAZED.

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It was clear they’ve done (and are doing) a lot of improvements/updates to the zoo, which were really nice. Zoos sometimes make me a little sad, but conservation and awareness seemed to be a big part of their program (for the record, this isn’t sponsored or endorsed, I just liked it).

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Not tall enough for anything. Yet.

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You’re not allowed to put the corn in a plastic bag, so we used the hat Lincoln refused to wear.

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We couldn’t give Linc the corn to feed the deer because he kept eating it.

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IS THAT NOT THE FAKEST-LOOKING DEER YOU’VE EVER SEEN IN YOUR LIFE? I’ve seen taxidermied deer that look less animatronic.

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Charleston Photos 2015

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

I went to the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. When I was looking at colleges, I picked out ones with strong marine biology programs because I was 1000% sure I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. And look how that worked out! Here I am, an extremely successful marine biolo- what? I’m not actually a marine biologist, because sometimes the thing you decided you wanted to be when you were 7 years old isn’t a thing you are actually good at? I never would have believed you when I was 17.

When I was 16 I learned to scuba dive and went on a 3 week dive trip in the British Virgin Islands, which made me even more sure I wanted to be a biologist. One of my instructors/adult supervisors was named Will and he was a professor at the College of Charleston. He also drove a motorcycle and had a huge scar on his leg from where he was bitten by a nurse shark once. I figured if C of C was cool enough to have him as a professor, then I should definitely go there.

After I narrowed my college choices down to a handful, my mom and I drove south for 8 hours to visit the schools I was thinking about. We drove down I-95, took the exit for I-26 and followed that directly into downtown Charleston. I hadn’t even gotten out of the car before I decided that was where I was going. During the campus tour I barely paid attention because it didn’t matter – I was moving to Charleston. My mom suggested I apply to some of my other schools at back ups, which I did, but only because they didn’t require essays. There was no point. I was so in love with Charleston I would have moved there even if I hadn’t gotten in.

You can tell I really love my husband because I was willing to leave my favorite city to be with him, although I did insist my entire family, all my friends, his entire family, most of his friends, plus my husband himself (who had been transferred to San Diego) all come back to Charleston for the wedding.

It’s just a perfect coincidence that Kiawah, the site of our borrowed beach house, is just outside Charleston. This year my college roommate (who feels the same way about Charleston as I do, at least I’m pretty sure) had the good idea to stay an extra night in the city before the beach, so we could eat there and walk there and take pictures there without dragging all the kids back in from the beach. I think we’ll make it a tradition, so I can get a picture of my kids in this alley every year for the rest of their lives.

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Our hotel is that one right behind Evan. I’ve alway wanted to stay there, and not just because I love that fountain.

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That restaurant is where my college roommate and her husband got married, so obviously we all had to go there.

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That pink house is the narrowest house in the city, less than 15 feet. I would live in it in a second.

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Let’s Talk About Inner Thigh Rub

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

My thighs rub together. Even when I was thin and did 10 hours of pilates a week and could wear crop tops with confidence my thighs still touched when I walked. My thighs will always touch because my skeleton is held together with muscles and tendons in such a way that my thighs do not have a gap between them. I’m absolutely fine with that.

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All-caps THIGHS run in our family, but Linc’s make a way cuter photo than mine do

But no matter how at peace I am with my thighs, the truth is when they rub together it hurts. If you don’t have that problem, it’s hard to explain just how painful and unpleasant inner thigh rub can be. SO unpleasant. Inner thigh rub is why you see women wearing jeans even when it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s why women wear ugly, unflattering shorts instead of cute skirts. It’s why I have to know BEFORE getting dressed if we’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Unplanned 5-mile stroll in inappropriate shoes? Meh. Unplanned 5-mile stroll in a dress with nothing underneath? AGONY.

You would think that because this is a fairly common problem it would be super easy to find a solution. There should be something foolproof, easy to buy,  and cheap that is sold right next to dresses and skirts at the store. I assume that isn’t the case because thigh rub is a “fat” person problem and just like plus sized clothes are harder to find, anyone whose thighs touch should similarly have to be inconvenienced to deal with it. Or maybe I just shop at the wrong stores. But I am here to SOLVE everyone’s inner thigh rub problems with a multitude of options.

In a loose order of least to most effective, I present Thigh Rub Solutions:

1. BodyGlide – This is the original stuff, the kind actual runners use for chafing. It’s…ok. But in my experience it rubs off long before I am done walking. It does work great on bras or sundress straps or other smaller body parts.

2. Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel – This is essentially BodyGlide for non-runners. It works medium well, but I still feel like I have to toss it in my purse and bring it with me in case it rubs off. It actually makes me feel thinner – I’m so carefree! My thighs don’t hurt at all! Look at me float! – so that’s a plus.

3. Assets (Fake Spanx) – These are the Target brand of official Spanx and they work about half as well as real Spanx when it comes to sucking everything in. They work well at stopping thigh rub, but since they do MORE than that they are not my favorite. They’re pretty hot and don’t have the access that Spanx do. (If you have never seen real Spanx, I will decode that for you: access = hole for peeing.) That means you have to peel them on then peel them off then peel them on again, which is unpleasant when you’re hot. ALSO, I had a pair that got a hole right in the thigh-rubbing area which meant one tiny section of my chubby thigh poked through and rubbed extra hard and it was 1000% worse than just regular thigh rub. Also, they’re the second most expensive option, right behind…

4. Spanx – If you want to look thinner, smoother and fancy, Spanx are the right choice. Spanx will suck you in and smooth you out and if you buy the long version they will stop thigh rub so well your thighs might actually stop touching all together.  If it’s 90 degrees out and you just want to wear a skirt to stay cool they are NOT the best choice. You cannot relax in Spanx. I can barely sit down in Spanx. Spanx are not breathable (despite the pee hole) and there is a pretty good chance wearing Spanx for several days in a row will give you a UTI. Save your Spanx for wedding receptions and high school reunions and don’t suffer all summer.

5. Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts – I actually have two different versions of these, the regular and the wicking. The wicking version doesn’t have seams right on the inner thigh, so they couldn’t split/cause irritation there, but I didn’t notice the seams on the regular pair either. They are the BEST solution I’ve found for thigh-rub. I wore a skirt to NYC for the New York Baby Show. We walked ALL day. It was warm. I wore Linc almost the entire time. But these were super comfortable, prevented any rubbing and didn’t give me a UTI. I only had to adjust a couple of times – mostly after going from sitting for a long time to standing – and they didn’t stretch out. They don’t suck anything in but they do smooth and make jersey fabric fall much more flatteringly (WordPress says that’s a word). I bought mine at JC Penny’s in person during a sale, so they were about $15 each, which seems like the right price point for something I’m going to wear ALL summer.

Alternative solution: Wear cute pants instead – I know this is not a real suggestion to solve the thigh rub problem in a skirt, but I really really want to tell you about these pants. The other day Evan’s young female bus driver told me I was “always dressed so nice”. Since I often get Evan off the bus in my slippers, I was a little baffled until I realized I had been wearing my new Old Navy pants almost every day. I am still not convinced they are not ridiculous looking and all my friends are lying to me, but they are wicked comfortable and nice and cool and dry quickly even if you walk into a lake to fetch your baby. I have them in black print and blue print and I’m going to buy them in plain black as well.

I assume everyone who wears skirts has their own solution to this problem; they just don’t really TALK about it. So feel free to share your miracle solutions in the comments so I can try them. In the meantime, I will be wearing my Skimmies, my possibly ridiculous pants and hanging out in the lake, where thigh rub doesn’t exist. Welcome Summer!

Non-disclosure disclosure: None of these are affiliate links, feel free to click through and buy or not buy whatever you want freely. I’m really just too lazy to bother.

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Oak Leaf Dairy Farm Visit – Baby Goat Cuddle Therapy Should Be A Thing

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

A few weeks ago a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her daughter surrounded by baby goats. I clicked the picture, which was geo-tagged, which led to a place name, which I then typed into Facebook and their page popped up. (Technology, man!) It turns out the place with the baby goats is called Oak Leaf Dairy and it’s only 20 minutes from my house. So after ballet class on Saturday I forced my family into their coats and put the directions into my phone and said “WE’RE GOING TO SEE GOATS EVERYONE IN THE CAR.”

I have about a 20% success rate with Family Fun Days. 80% of the time I am slightly-to-very disappointed because the Family Fun I had pictured never materialises. The kids are hungry, the weather is bad, my husband doesn’t think “wandering” or “browsing” count as fun activities at all. The more kids we add the more often I am stressed instead of relaxed and the picture perfect day trips I image for our family ends with everyone just needing a nap and a break from each other. It’s something I struggle with a lot – I WANT to be a family that loves to do lots of things together but most of the time we do better just watching a movie. That’s not much of a photo-worthy occasion.

BUT. Sometimes. Sometimes everyone remembers that they actually like each other and we have an awesome time.

The goats were an awesome time. Oak Leaf Dairy gets an A+ for Family Fun.

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Since it was snowing/raining we didn’t get to walk around the farm for the full tour, but we spent more than an hour in the baby goat shed just cuddling and petting baby goats. You can hold the goats. You HAVE to hold the goats, because they will literally leap into your lap. They also nibble your clothes and hair and phone and shoes but they have baby goat teeth and it doesn’t hurt. There were tiny babies literally born THAT morning in a separate quiet pen but the children could climb in and out of the other stalls (if they WANTED to be covered in goats) or hang out in the main room if they wanted a little more space. There were a few other people there and they were all as overwhelmed with the adorableness as we were – one of them FaceTimed her sister to show her how much fun the kids were having playing with the goats. Even my husband, who rolls his eyes at everything, loved the baby goats. BABY GOATS ARE THE BEST.

I would like to recommend baby goat therapy be added to Ways To Avoid Hating Everything.

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After we got in our baby goat time – even Lincoln liked petting the baby goats – we stopped at the cheese room to try out some samples: aged cheddar, cheddar curds, 4 kinds of chevre, feta, and caramel sauce. They also sell soap, but we couldn’t eat that so we didn’t buy any. We DID buy an obscene amount of everything else and then stopped for bread and ice cream on the way home so we would have cheese and caramel mouth-delivery devices.

It was an excellent Family Fun Day and we are going back as soon as possible.

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