Category Archives: Family

Our Clean Eating Journey Update

Oh happy day! I’m sitting in the hospital with my little sister, she just had a kidney transplant and is doing great. This has been a long long time coming and we are so grateful. It’s a new life for this sweet little 16-year-old!

So it’s been almost three weeks since things clicked and we decided to drastically change Brielle’s diet. I’m excited to write an update on it! I feel like I’ve disappeared off the face of the earth because I’m taking an Instagram break and have been totally off the grid. Who knows, if I continue to like it as much as I do now we just might break-up permanently. So far I’m loving this new Insta-free Sarah.

For example, old Sarah would sip this (my delicious homemade chicken bone broth, not currently in my hand, this is from last week) and I would take a picture of it and post it to Instagram. I would take my time constructing the perfect caption, posting it, and then proceed to scroll mindlessly through hundreds of other similar images.

By the time I was done with all that racket I would look down and my broth would either be gone (consumed distractedly) or cold. Then the process would start over again with something else. Another post about another topic, another moment instagramed away.

New Sarah just sits there, and sips. Hot rich flavor with a hint of lime and fish sauce. enjoying every taste… for real enjoys it, not just hashtag “#enjoylife.” What a zoo. Anyway, like I said, all that’s for another post!

Back to our clean eating journey. There have been plenty of ups and downs but here we are, (yesterday) with Brielle standing in the kitchen watching Brenden season a big hunk o’ ribs saying: “Let’s cook it!!”
Do my ears deceive me?? In the end she preferred the smoked chicken over the ribs, but still, it’s huge progress. Three weeks ago she wouldn’t touch chicken unless it was in nugget form.

And she ate Chili the other day. Chili. With a blob of sour cream in it. This is a huge deal for so many reasons.
1) The beef. Three weeks ago she wouldn’t taste it except for a couple times in spaghetti sauce. Now she eats beef tacos, meatballs, and now Chili!
2) The mixing together of things totally weirds her out. So eating chili, (beans, tomatoes, onions, corn, beef, spices, etc.) all together is just way out there.
3) Chili is my favorite go-to meal and the fact that all four of us are finally on board with it just calls for a celebration.

There have been so many positive results from just being consistent in this area. My health is benefiting from it too. We used to always find a reason for a “treat,” now we have to find other ways to entertain ourselves, reward ourselves, pacify ourselves. It’s stretching us and growing us in ways I never imagined it would! And what started as a pretty exhausting uphill climb is starting to feel more like a lifestyle.

Once Brielle got used to the fact that this was the new normal and there wasn’t a treat hiding behind every corner she decided to start really participating. And the more she participated the more she realized there wasn’t anything to be scared of. It’s amazing how much her confidence increased just by her ability to try new things. She’s like a whole “nother” (as Michael says) person.

And of course we have treats. But they are thought out and planned for, and not nearly as frequent as they used to be. And dare I say we enjoy them more. Way more. Because they really are “treats,” and not just everyday occurrences. Yesterday after dinner we had this:

Ridiculous ice cream sandwiches made with Tate’s chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream. Michael thought it up. And Brielle requested a root beer float. They ended up having both, because in the end I’m still a pushover. And I wanted both too.

We still have days where it’s like pulling teeth and I have to remember that this isn’t something we will ever be finished with. I need to just try to take it slow and steady. It’s a new life of making one good food decision after the other and teaching them to do the same.

Excited about a new week of trying new foods!

XOXO

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Our Clean Eating Journey Continues

Changing our diet this drastically isn’t just changing how we eat… It’s changing how we think about food, how we relate to food, how we relate to each other through food (hello, no more bribing,) and how we see food simply as a nourishing blessing and not as a reward.

Easier said than done.

I’ve realized over the past three days how reward based I am. I’m always like “if you do this we’ll get this.” Or “after this we’ll go get this.” Talk about unhealthy. Now every minute is met with a higher level of consciousness. We have to mentally get ourselves out of emotional lows, not just snack ourselves out. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for treats and special occasions in this life, trust me, but I am saying that limping through life holding on to the promise of the next “fix” is no way for my kids to live. Or me.

Our days are different now. It’s weird to be out with the kids because normally we would get snacks here or there, or a “treat” at every corner. Something that makes my brain buzz and my dopamine flow. A drug. Something that gives me a quick fix and makes everything all better. Except that’s why we’re here in the first place.

This is not a diet. This is a way of life. And I have to remember there is no short-cut to lasting change. Brielle’s health for the rest of her life dependents on it. And it is so worth it.

Our day yesterday: Her breakfast sat untouched except for the bacon all morning. And she said she was hungry. I said “look at all the yummy breakfast you still have to eat. Once that’s gone we can talk about other food. Or you can wait until lunch.”

She waited until lunch. Which was realllllly problematic because I asked her to eat chicken in her quesadilla. No bueno. And I served avocado and black beans on the side. Talk about yummy. It makes me want to cry that this food, so obviously delicious and wholesome is so heartily refused by my daughter.

She said: “I ate a bean, how much more do I have to eat?” No Brielle that’s not how it works. You need to eat your lunch. “How much though? How many more bites??” Brielle you can eat as many bites as you want. It’s your lunch. Just enjoy it and eat it.

No eating was done. But there was lots of irrational crying and whining. I packed her lunch and we piled in the car to go to gymnastics. I never thought I would be that mom carrying around my kid’s uneaten lunch. But there I was, browning avocado and all, ready to say “here it is” to the first person who dared say they were hungry.

By 4:30 everyone was famished. Perfect time to ask them to eat something outrageous. I fried up some eggs and added it to some whole grain brown rice. Then I told Brielle what I hope was not a bribe: “We are going to American Hertitage Girls tonight, and there will be an award ceremony with snacks after. If you eat your dinner you will be able to have snacks. If you don’t eat your dinner you won’t have snacks.”

The train was in motion. Snacks! She took some bites and then said “how many more?” It’s those kinds of questions that happen all the day long that will make a mother crazy. So I finally said “six bites.” And took a spoon and scooped out six adult sized bites into another bowl. This is very different than six tiny Brielle-sized bites. She ate it all. Which is a huge huge huuuuuuge deal. Big pieces of scrambled eggs, down the hatch.

And then, as promised, we went to her sweet little girl’s club where in true American form, the social bonding agent of the evening was refined sugar and trans fats. (I can say that with almost certainty.) They had two treats each and were happy as clams. Until about 10 minutes later when they were both complaining of a tummy ache.


That’s one of Brielle’s besties in the middle.

A couple observations about our journey thus far:

The more Brielle branches out food-wise the more confident she gets. And not just with food. It translates into so many areas of her life. I think she felt inadequate when she would sit at the table, not being able to eat what the rest of us were eating. Now she realizes how capable she is. She is gaining confidence and it’s coming in strong waves. She ate a taco with beef and she felt a swell of pride “I can do this!” and then eggs, “Wow, I actually like this!” And then fish, “I hate this so much!” But at least she tried it.

And she feels more loved. I can tell. What I don’t give her in jelly beans I give her in hugs. What I can’t give her in donuts or ice cream I give her in reading books and cuddling on the couch. She feels the love. She feels the attention and care for her little body and she sees what we are trying to do. She knows it’s for her good. She feels loved.

This post is all over the place for so many reasons. I’m just trying to get it all down so it’s here. But also, my emotions are all over the place. It’s been a crazy few days. So full of growth and realization and new experiences. I never thought changing one aspect of our lives could ripple out and effect so many other areas. And I have a feeling it will just keep going.

Very very excited.

XOXO
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Day Two

Monday morning was day two of our family clean eating journey. It’s funny how no matter what we decide to do in life, we can be very sure that there will be derailments and even train wrecks along the way.

For example, as I type Brenden and Brielle are both sick in bed. It’s pretty cute actually, Brielle is eating her bacon and (exactly) a quarter of a boiled egg, and Brenden is sitting talking with her and keeping her company on her arduous mission of actually eating this food. They make a good sick team, and I’m just praying that Michael and I stay welllllll.

High.. she ate bacon.

And then she had cashews and raisins and fat head pizza (she loves it!!) and carrots and red pepper for her homeschool co-op lunch. She ate it all. Then she came home and asked for more carrots and I gave her ranch and for the first time in her life she tried ranch dressing. I feel weird because I’m all excited that my kid ate ranch dressing (because don’t all kids love to “dip??”) Not mine. This was a big deal.

Brielle brought her “rug” she made in Spanish class home and gave it to Michael. I love their little friendship so much. When they aren’t fighting they are lovvvvving.

The “low” came at dinner-time, when we asked her to eat chicken in her cheese quesadilla. She eats chicken; this shouldn’t be the end of the world. But apparently putting it in other food is just asking too much.

I ended up holding her as she cried and I thought, “what are we doing wrong. This is the worst.” It was so stressful for me. The reason she has these eating issues in the first place is because I can’t follow through. I cave and let her eat what she wants. I just do.

But not this time. We are track to somewhere healthy. Somewhere new. Somewhere where we all sit and eat the same good food and we are better for the struggle. God please help us.

The night ended with a plan. Brielle and Brenden sat down and drafted a menu for the next day. This simple act caused her to feel more in control of her life. They talked about what they would eat today, and came up with this:

My favorite part is the “quarter” boiled egg. Which she still has yet to touch this morning, but I have hope!

Gabrielle Elise Grace I am so proud of you.

 

 

 

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When Things Click

I was sitting with Brenden Saturday night watching a documentary called The Magic Pill, and something just clicked. We started watching the movie out of curiosity, expecting the usual… Radical people warning us of the evil of sugars and carbs and how the food industry is killing us.

But this was different. I sat with my mouth open, jaw literally dropped.. and the morning couldn’t come fast enough for me to throw it all away. Throw it all away. The cereal, the pancake mix, the crackers, the chips the ….  I couldn’t wake up soon enough to begin our new lives and start trying to get it right.

Brenden and I eat a mostly low carb high fat diet and we have seen a ton of health benefits from it, so now it’s a no-brainer. We would never go back to our old way of eating.. The quality of life on this side is far too good. Between the two of us we have seen reduced inflammation, chronic knee pain and arthritis disappear, mood swings (mine) diminished, anxiety reduced, weight loss achived, etc etc etc.

And as I sit here right now I’m embarrassed to say that Brielle doesn’t eat at all like we do. Michael will eat whatever we eat and then whine about his veggies (he’s three) but Brielle is a different story all together. She’s a heat seeking missile directed toward any simple carb she can find. And because I’m a push over, I let her.

When we go out to eat Thai food (yum) she’ll eat the rice. When we go get fun Mexican she’ll eat the chips. When we go out anywhere else and she’ll eat the fries or the pizza. We took her and a sweet friend of hers to dinner and her friend had Lo Mein and Egg Drop soup. Brielle declined everything except the white rice.. even the stir-fried rice was too mysterious.

We asked her pediatrician about it and she said “it’s okay, she’ll grow out of it.” Meanwhile, she’s 14th percentile for her age and she doesn’t seem to be growing at all.. She doesn’t eat enough calories because we don’t let her eat crap all the time.. and crap is all she’ll eat.

So what clicked with me on Saturday night as I was watching the documentary is that it’s possible (and not cruel) to tell Brielle cold turkey, “you are going to eat what we eat. Period.” Because what we are eating isn’t ‘adult’ food it’s ‘healthy’ food. And healthy food is for everyone.

This documentary showed me that junk food is not Brielle’s rite of passage as a kid. I’m not denying her a fabulous childhood because I don’t let her eat junk every day. In fact I may be stealing her vitality and health as a teenager and adult and old grandmom by not insisting that she eat real food, and now!

I’ve done her such a disservice by allowing her to develop such a reward-based mentality. It will not serve her well in life, in any area. But the good news is, it can be reversed. This documentary showed me that amazing proof, and I’m leaning in.

Our first attempt at a family “everyone eats the same meal” was Sunday night. And it was awesome. By awesome I mean, Brielle cried, and then resorted to eating a lime for dinner. I kid you not, a lime.

Michal sipped away at his broth and was happy as a clam.

Brenden got his birthday present from me (early) an instant pot; and the bliss that came from that pot still has me drooling. In one hour he had an entire chicken cooked fall-off-the-bone tender and a pot of bone broth that blew my mind. He used the instant pot to do the whole thing. He sautéed coriander seeds, cloves, onion, bruised ginger and then added water, the chicken and some Fuji apple and cilantro. Closed the lid and the pressure started to build. The result was incredible Chicken Pho. Here is the recipe.
  
The toppings were jalapeños and lime and cilantro with miracle noodles (low carb, vegan, soy free amazing miracle noodles made out of mushrooms or something) and Brielle said no thank you to all of it. Except the lime.


She even said no to the toast with almond butter because 1) It wasn’t peanut butter 2) It didn’t have honey on it 3) The bread was “weird.” The bread was indeed weird. Dave’s seed bread, only 1g of sugar and “sweetened” with fruit juice. Why bread needs to be sweetened at all is beyond me, but sweetened or not Brielle said no way.

Even after all this apparent failure this was still the best start I could imagine. All of us sitting around the table, not a “kid food” in sight, no extra stress for me. No extra meals to make or debating or pleading or bargaining. Knowing that we were on the right track, knowing that this will take time. Knowing that all I have to say is: “This is dinner, and wow it’s good. One day you’ll like it.”

And when that day comes I will literally cry with joy.

The one small victory we had yesterday besides moving one huge foot in the right direction was that Brielle drank (happily) whole plain milk at bedtime. Usually she’ll ask for almond milk (it’s sweeter and less fatty and she can taste it) or chocolate milk. But last night there was no option. It was whole cows milk along with Michael drinking his usual whole cows milk, or nothing. Glug glug glug.

My prayer for Brielle is that she begins to enjoy good food the way the rest of her family does. I want her to savour it and appreciate it and be healthier for it. Food is a gift from God. Made to nurture and comfort us and keep us well. She has lived with substitutes long enough.

Wish us luck!

 

 

 

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Thai Red Curry

I’m sitting here at a coffee shop, kid-free and soaking up every minute. I ordered a coffee with almond milk, extra hot, in a to-go cup please because I don’t want it to cool down too fast. I want hot hot hot coffee while I sit and do whatever the heck I want for two hours.

If I let my mind wander it goes to all the undone chores, the loose ends, the fact that Christmas is in 21 days, (I just googled that) and all the things that have to be done by me, only me, and asap. But they can wait. I’m going to take some time for me. I hear the low murmuring around me, people leaning over their laptops and coffees, everyone quietly sipping and being Monday-morning-productive.

So this Thai food… I want to get it on my blog so I never lose it, but also I just want to feel my fingers fly across the keyboard. I miss writing!! I miss the creative part of it, the slow filling of an empty page with thoughts and words. This time of year is just so so busy. I need to slow down and hear this ‘click click click’ more.

Last weekend we had some dear friends over for dinner. Well, they came over for dinner but we didn’t end up eating because we had to rush to urgent care (sob!) The best thing about friends who are also parents is that they understand the crAziness that comes with having kids. Flexibility is key. Anything can change in a second and everyone just has to adapt and hope for the best.

But back to dinner: Our friends are vegetarians so I wanted to make something that they would like, and us too! I decided on a red curry. It’s such a versatile dish because you can throw in tofu, shrimp, chicken, veggies, whateves!

Brielle helped me chop the peppers with a little steak knife. I watched her closely and she was so careful.

Then she helped get the moisture out of the tofu. I’ve never cooked tofu before, but I assume the dryer the better before it’s cooked?

Then she helped tear the basil. Fresh delicious fragrant basil!

Brenden took the kids on a walk to get shrimp. Whole Foods is about two miles away by car but they hiked through the woods and had so much fun! Brenden sent me  pics of their journey along the way. I was very impressed that M only asked to be held a few times. My babies are getting so big!
  
They came back tired and happy.

Time to make the meal:

Ingredients –
2 cans coconut milk (15 oz cans)
3 tablespoons red curry past
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup bamboo shoots (I used from a can)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons fish sauce
2/3 cup chicken stock
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
Chicken breast
Shrimp
Tofu

My plan was to have the curry sauce, rice and the proteins all in serving dishes. People could choose what protein they wanted and then add the sauce to the top, over the rice.

Cut the veggies, put in a bowl and set aside.

Put the coconut milk and red curry paste in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Simmer for five minutes.

Add the basil, bamboo, sugar and fish sauce, simmer for 10-15 minutes. I brought it to a boil and then lowered the heat and let it simmer.

While it’s simmering saute the veggies in some olive oil just until tender-crisp.

Then saute chicken breast, or shrimp, or tofu, or nothing! Just veggie red curry is amazing too.

That’s literally it. It’s the easiest meal ever, and the payoff is amazing.

Thai food is always better with egg rolls so Brenden ran down the road to Thai 99 and got these.

Yum. I could go for one of these right now.

Anyway, dinner was almost ready and smelled delish, our friends had just arrived, and we were sitting in the living room talking about how great it was to have playdates at this age, now that the kids can run off and play outside and we can actually finish a conversation and enjoy ourselves… and then from outside we hear “Wahhhhhh!!!!” and little messengers ran in to tell us that Brielle had fallen.

Play date ended. 🙁 The rest of our evening looked like this:

With lots of M trying to make Brielle laugh:



He is such a good little brother.
And Brielle was so so brave.

The boys went back to the house before us because, my, those emergency room experiences take a while, and it was getting late. When we arrived home M had the biggest hug for his sister. It touched his little heart that she was wearing a cast.

Finally it was time for food. We were famished at 9PM at night!
It did not disappoint. I can’t wait to make this again for our friends, raincheck!

Okay, my coffee is gone and I feel so grateful for this moment to myself. Time to pack up and look for an Advent wreath, four days into December. I already got a weird look from the staff at Michael’s this morning, like “where have you been lady?? They are all gone.”

Have a beautiful week everyone!

XOXO

*I found this recipe on geniuskitchen.com. I removed the mushrooms, yellow onions, green peppers, but if they sound good to you, add them!



Rhode Island – In The Rearview Mirror

I love how beautifully complex life is. How can we be in love with so many places and people? How can those places and people stay with us, be a part of us, no matter where we are?

We are home sweet home, but this will forever be in our hearts:
Nanny, oh how we love you. You are our last grandparent; the kids last great-grandparent. Your beautiful smile and energy… Your laughter and your eyes. Thank you for your life and what it means to us.

It’s weird that there was a time in my life where I didn’t even think about this being a thing… It just didn’t cross my mind… and now here it is. It just is. We have Nanny and that is all.

But I’m happy to say we lived up every moment with her… No regrets. And we get to see her again in a couple of weeks!

Dinner at the ChopHouse and playing tic tac toe. 

As our vacation wound down we did our best to live it up! The kids finally rode the carousel. Maybe next year they will try to reach for the golden ring. This is such a cool activity in Watch Hill

This is Michael’s “I’m having fun” face.

Lots of walks. “Mommy, look! My shadow looks like I am six!” – Brielle.

M rode (again!) on a boat, and looked just as thrilled. I wonder what’s going on in that big head? I know he loves it…

We made it to the Cooked Goose for breakfast which seemed like it would be fun, because it always is, but for some reason with this crew on this specific morning, it wasn’t.

I think it was a combination of it being 7AM, and rainy, and Michael having to poop (sorry) and us over-exciting ourselves to finally go to the Cooked Goose again. We were a hot mess. My breakfast was deeeeeeelicious though. And I wasn’t going to let two whiney kids ruin it for me. 😀

Three summers ago we met some new friends at the Cooked Goose and have kept up with them ever since. Every year our vacations have somehow coincided and I’m so glad it worked out again this year! What a blast!

Drew is the best at catching random sea life. It was critter-heaven on the ski beach. This was a gorgeous Horseshoe Crab, it was so fun to look at him and then watch him bury his way back into the water. 


Spider crabs are exactly what they sound like. Eeeek! 


Eating is a serious passtime for this crew. 

We had dinner in the backyard and the kids sat and ate Manfredi’s corn for what seemed like an hour.

Then it was time to put on a show! Next year I’m sure the show will even be more of a production, which I look forward to! This year it was impromptu outfit changes into whatever clothes were available, (Aka Brielle’s t-shirts and dresses.) And Reagan’s first nail painting ever! She is so proud. 🙂

An after dinner walk to the dock provided more crabs and even more skinned knees. (See Michael crying in the back on B’s shoulders??) Whyyyyyy. 

Our friends left us with hugs and a tear (the tear was from me after Jen gave me this sweet book, I mean, wahhhhhh.)

The next day was Thursday and we spent the entire day at the beaches, starting at Fenway beach. I love how a fun frolicky morning can turn into a whining mess… Kids, I tell you. There is just no consoling Michael after he’s been hurt. Give me all the bandaids please.


After lots of first aid on a very tiny stubbed toe, we headed to Westerly beach.


Grammy building roads and towns for M’s cars:

Brielle was a culinary genius on the beach. Seaweed and pebbles and sticks… She was in heaven.

So many walks. With kids there’s no time for reading, only walking and talking and exploring.

They reminded me of ponies more than once.

Sand angels. Must be sooooo uncomfortable.

Especially when you do them this way. 😀

Ah, Michael James.. He discovered a “boogie board” and I’ve never seen him so possessive and particular. He wanted to hold it, stand on it, but never ever let it get wet. And when it did get wet we couldn’t dry it fast enough and a time-out ensued. Because lawd… Tantrum city. He is one hard headed amazing boy! I always say “he’s your son” to Brenden. And I get the same glaring eyes right back at me. Okay, so he’s “our” son. Genes are a pretty incredible thing. 

“This rock is so warmmmmm.” Reminds me of the walruses in Finding Dory. Or were they Sea Lions? 

M’s favorite activity. Being splashed by Brenden over and over and over. 

Enjoying (way too many) treats at the snack shack. 


Legit. 

Thursday night Brenden and I went out. We somehow scored two date nights on this vacation! Looking back it’s just so special to have had that time together. Vacationing with kids requires being on constantly, and being able to drive away without that is just amazing.


The following night we went to the beach at sunset. Why don’t we do this more often? Oh, because we are all sunned out and exhausted by then! Either way, it was so nice to sit and enjoy the salty air and warm waves without the blazing hot sun.


The seagulls were always around, chillaxin.

I just love this face! He has grown so much emotionally and mentally on this trip. What a big boy. And the sun and water was exactly what his bumps needed! (See the weird raised places on his trunk?) It’s so funny being a mom sometimes.. The things we have to navigate!

Okay, the end! Back to reality and life. I’m so grateful for all these photos and words that will keep our past memories alive!

X OXO

And this, just so it never ever falls off my radar….

Brenden kissing his cousin Jennifer on the cheek. He looks just like Brielle did at this age!



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Rhode Island – Slowing Down A Blur

I blinked and days went by! It’s that time of vacation where everything blends together and time starts to pick up speed. Nooooo. Time to slow down and be more present.

Friday morning we woke up to another yucky-weather day. AKA, another day to do something other than the beach! We had breakfast and went to the coolest place ever. I still can’t believe this place exists!

We walked into the park and saw this head towering over the trees. Time to RUN to the source!

Wow!!

Hi there, big guy!

W e couldn’t explore fast enough. And it was so cool how the park was set up, little walking trails through-out the 60 acres, and little dinosaur friends hidden like easter eggs (and not-so-hidden) along the way!




    
There was a maze that was a”maz”ing. We went in and ran screaming back and forth until we finally found the end. Brenden was above us on an overlook taking a time-lapse video which was hilarious. The end of the maze was a big dinosaur mouth-slide to exit. So fun. 

M was too scared to slide down alone so I had to climb back up the slide to get him. 

We got to the park at 10AM when it opened and it was virtually empty. By noon it started to get crowded and we were so glad we got there early to enjoy everything in peace!

These raptures (??) glared at us from the restroom roofs.

So many fun things to explore. 

Alllllmost tall enough.

His faces…

Brenden helped M take pictures of the dinosaurs so he could make a book to show his little friends when school starts again. So cute to think of M doing show-and-tell this year at preschool! He was in to taking pictures with Daddy for about three seconds. 🙂

This face. 

There was a beautiful lake in the middle of the park with a (fake) volcano that would spout steam and make awesome noises and these vibrant lily pads. So beautiful! 

Surprise!

Having a conversation in the woods:
And then there was this guy… whew! 

I don’t think this is allowed.. 

Eye!
Pretty sure this is not allowed either. (Hands over face.) 

Weirdest one we met.. Kind of like an antelope and a tiger combined? 

Don’t mess with this scary mommy and her babies!

Tiny dinosaurs in the trees. 
Taking more pictures for his book. 
Eeeeek! 

We didn’t read these, but they were scattered throughout the park for the more serious visitors, aka, not us! Now I wish I got pictures of all of them so I could connect them to the dinosaurs I have pictures of. I’ll have to get a book from the library and we will do a match later. 


The kids loved these! Little huts spread out through the park with holes to touch and guess different objects. (Dinosaur teeth, skin, eggs, poop, etc.) Hand sanitizer anyone?

The little trails were so cool. And just the right length for little legs. 

There were two huge play areas that the kids LOVED. Ever since M potty trained play structures are his new favorite thing, because now he can go in the big one at our gym at home! Big deal for a little guy.

They could have played in the play structure for hours. 

On the way home Brenden saw Naskart, a huge indoor racing place on the side of the road and before we knew it he was speeding around the track (and winning 4th place!) Meanwhile the kids were waaaaay over-tired and basically hanging off me half asleep.     
This is not my type of place at all. I can’t wait to never go back there again!

The afternoon was spent relaxing and being quiet. HA. But seriously, for about an hour there was quiet creativity going on and it was bliss. The kids loved to make little cities for their matchbox cars. Brielle’s city was “Elise Town” and Michael’s was “New York City.” (Always.)

Brenden added a big blue potty to the middle of Michael’s town, which he loved, so it became “PottyVille.”

Saturday morning we dropped Brenden off at Fenway beach down the street to go surfing with the cousins! The kids and I went to feed the ducks and go to the library. That is more my speed. Although after seeing Brenden’s reaction to his first time surfing, I may have to try it too. He loved it.
  
Meanwhile we went in search for our old friends, the ducks, at the library pond. And along the way we practiced our “snapping.”

It’s been Brielle’s life-long mission to learn to snap and whistle. She almost has the snapping down! “Look mommy!! I can snap!” (And I hear a tiny little sound coming from her tiny little hands.)

“BUT I CAN’T SNAP!!” As he tears up the duck bread. “Threenager” is a real thing. And it’s not pretty.

M ate a lot of the bread along the way:

When we got to the library we discovered no ducks!


We were only sad for a moment, until we noticed all the fish!

We love walking around the park at the library. So much to see and explore!

I can’t even remember what day this was, like I said they are all blurring together, (wahhhh) but this is one of my favorite activities with the kids up here, just sitting on the porch being creative and calm. I put on some music and Michael organizes his cars (he’s naming them here, “Randy, Rudolf, Green Lantern”) and we color and read.

Michael: “Look mommy, it’s not scribble scrabble! I’m coloring in the lines!”



I could watch them color for days.

Brenden got a call from the cousins that they were going water skiing! It almost dark so we ordered Thai and ate and had baths and he went and did this:

So fun!! And once again, it’s glaringly obvious that I missed out on the adventure gene, or whatever it is that makes someone want to do this. 🙂

Well that was a blur of a couple of days!

XOXO

 

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Rhode Island – Beach, Boats, And Monty!

Wednesday was one of those days where everyone tried to cram their entire vacation into one day. Our weather apps told us this was the one promised day of sunshine sandwiched in-between four “keep your chin up” days so we wanted to really make the most of it. And we did. We got to the beach at nine-thirty in the morning and left at two in the afternoon, our was our longest beach day to date with the littles. And they did great!         
M loves Nanny so much! “Let me see your tummy!”

We are still getting used to how his cute his little bottom looks sans diapers. 🙂

Eating strawberries and making faces! Nanny is the coolest.

Boys and their balls.

More strawberries.

More balls.

On the path to the beach there are bushes of flowers that literally buzz… This is why! Cute little bees!

The cousins always bring the new games. I can’t remember what this was called but it was fun to watch!

The water was so cold (it’s always cold up here!) But everyone goes in regardless, which I think is so fun. I prefer to stay on the sand, thank you very much.
 

When the kids looked like they had just about had enough of the beach we bought ourselves another hour in the sun by walking down to the snack shack. This snack shack is a new addition to the Shelter Harbor beach, and already it’s added so much fun and memories to our beach trips!


Getting tired:

Daddy feeding M leftover brisket. It’s delicious even when it’s cold. How does he do it?

A Michael sandwich!

 We left tired and ready for a nap. After naps we met the rest of the family for dinner at the pond house. M was amazed by the boats immediately. He’s seen them all this week, bobbing up and down in the water, but it was like his mind just registered what they were and suddenly he said: “I want to ride a boat!” and no amount of “we’ll do it tomorrow.” swayed him. Our amazing cousins said “why not??” And the search was on to find a tiny life vest.

Walking back from the cabin where we found the vest. Ready to go!

Grammy and Brielle waiting for the show, safe on dry land:


Boarding the boat with the cousins!



Have fun guys!


Brielle loves the floating tire dock. Last year she wouldn’t go near it!

Inside footage of the trip:)

I just love how serious he is. He didn’t get that from me!

Cousin David puttered them around, and then they picked up speed for a while! Perfect first boat ride for this little guy. He was very proud of himself. Off with the vest.

Such a nice evening. M was sitting inside looking at us through the window stuffing turkey in his mouth as this picture was taken. Not much trumps food for that guy.

I love the houses up here. The blue grey weather beaten shingles are so beautiful!


Another fun vacation day in the books!

Thursday Morning we woke up to the smell of this smoking outside our cabin:

Two pork butts!

We are having a family dinner and all the houses will get together up at Nanny’s place so Brenden got up at 3AM to put this in the smoker, he will let it smoke all morning and then will put in some ribs around one.

I love getting up early before the rest of the family on vacation. It’s so nice to sit and have my coffee in peace and do my Entrusted Bible study and write!

I love that I’ve been able to take the time to get all our adventures up on my blog before they leave my mind, and all the thousands of pictures I take. Brielle has started to ask to read “momma much” and we sit together and look at all the pictures and read together. She loves it. That’s a perk to writing I didn’t even think about, and it makes it even more special and a priority.

When the kids got up they went outside and colored sea-scapes on the walkway.


Then Grammy took them on a walk to the pond while I straightened up the cabin. They came back sweaty and happy.

We went to the store to get stuff for the family dinner and stopped by Manfredi farm. It’s a great place to go see/feed the animals and get fresh amazing corn and pies, and etc!


“Come here ducky ducky” (to the chicken)

I mean, the softest nose ever.

I can’t help but grit my teeth and act all weird when I get near this kind of cuteness! I named this one Monty. 🙂


Brielle was having a blast until Daddy told her to get down.


After our Manfredi adventure the girls went to get our nails done, what a treat! Even though she looks genuinely concerned here.

And the boys went to the dock to “catch” crabs using a hot dog on a string. They caught nothing, but look at the joy on M’s face! We’ll have to try again (successfully) today.

The family dinner was a blast! The ribs were perfect, the pulled pork divine, and it was so so fun to have all the cousins and family together. Well, almost all, we are always missing a few dear people here and there!

He looks like such a big boy here in his big boy jeans and big boy underwear! (Can you tell I’m still a little amazed that he’s actually potty trained?? Yay Michael!)

It was such a fun evening.

I extracted the kids right before they got over-tired and grumpy, and we went straight to baths. Oh Michael James, how I love your sweet face. 

Then some popcorn and a show before bed. All played-out and clean and ready for sleeeeep.

Wow, that was a long post! Now I’m off to refresh my coffee and do my Bible Study. Kids are still asleep, the cabin is quiet, I see sun peeking through the trees.

Happy Friday.

XOXO

 

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Rhode Island – Foxwoods And Mystic Seaport

I’m sitting here with socks on and a hoodie over my head. It’s cold! Two days of dreary weather is exactly what I needed to fully appreciate the sunshine that is coming our way today.

Monday morning we got out of the house as early as we could to avoid the impending stir-crazyness. We headed to Foxwoods as the rain pelted against the windows. M is thrilled.

Foxwoods a gargantuan casino and resort (and outlets, restaurants, etc.,) tucked away in the woods in Ledyard, Connecticut, about 20 minute from where we are in Shelter Harbor. It’s owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians. There is a lot of history there but I have yet to explore it. We plan to go to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum on the next rainy day. Which will be soon I hear. (frowny-face.)


The kids were so excited to see this out of the car window!

We wandered around the mall and walked through the casino. Well, not “through” because the minimum age is 21, but we walked around the exterior of the casino floor where we could see all the lights and games which was fun.

They loved the escalators! Huge.

We said “yes” to a milkshake at the Sugar Factory (when a cookie from anywhere would have sufficed, when will we ever learn??) and it turned out to be not one of our proudest parent moments.

I never thought it would be ME sitting at a table with my two darling children, about to order a delicious milkshake only to have one of them throw a massive tantrum because: “I don’t want to shaarrrrrre!” M had a little pep talk with daddy away from the table (and away from the other humans trying to enjoy their lives) and then things were happy again. 
The kids settled on a milkshake topped with cotton candy and a candy necklace. They could also have chosen a milkshake with an entire bacon cheeseburger atop it, or even an entire piece of cheesecake!

The waitress asked if I wanted her to split the shake into two glasses and I said yes please. So we got two full-sized milkshakes that were in reality the size of a gallon of milk each. I’m not going to lie, as dairy-free as I try to be, I was very much enjoying the size discrepancy between those huge glasses and their tiny tummies. Yum yum.  
I wanted to eat the face off everything on the menu, and everything that walked past our table on a tray. The stuff that was coming out of that kitchen… Just wow.

We left the Sugar Factory feeling a little sick but unwilling to admit it because Brenden warned us that we would… We are fine, thank you very much!

Next stop, the kitchen store for a new meat thermometer for Brenden’s smoker. The utensil shelf was a favorite… M loved to pretend to be a crab with the tongs.

Then we went to get socks for the kids (because, brrrrrr) and a new swim shirt for me which I found at 75% off at the Gap Factory Outlet! I can’t wait to use it in the sun today.

We left the resort and headed home for naps. Of course that turned into car naps, which turned into us parked outside the house with me napping in the front seat and M napping in his carseat for about two hours. At one point a cousin came by and saw me sprawled out in the front seat, the car running and everything looking very unusual. She ran flustered to my MIL who assured her I wasn’t dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, I was very happy indeed.

The remmy sized brisket was ready in time for dinner and we had it with some veggies and pinto cowboy beans, which I’d never had before and loved. Brenden knows how to bring it!

Nothing like a little comfort food to end a cold wet day.

Tuesday morning was more of the same: Dark clouds and no sign of sunshine. Time to smile and make a happy day regardless!

The kids had their Rhode Island breakfast usual: Corn cakes. They only get these when we are up here so they make sure to eat their fill.

Then we were on the road again! This time to Mystic Seaport, also in Connecticut, but super close and full of fun things for the kids to see and do! And us too.

Daddy helping M get onto the anchor to use it as a slide, of course.

Brielle seeing something fun happening without her and RUNNING.


Beautiful boats and ships in the harbor.

And on dry land.

Grampy tried his hand at some of the old sailor’s knots.

Grammy snapped this:)


This was at the children’s museum in building 10. M fitting the tiny sails to the toy sailboats! He loved it.

The little kitchen area was their favorite in the children’s museum. I wanted to play in it too! But I contented myself with sitting at the table waiting for my breakfast. And wait I did.

The inn keeper was very chatty. She talked about her children as she swept while my food was cooking. She said she has a son who is very “un-naughty and goes to bed after just one bedtime story.” Sounds like I need to sit for a while and get some parenting advice from her. 🙂

Three little boat playgrounds in a row. The kids could have played in this one area all day.

Brenden got a really cute video of this little fisherman steering the boat, he recorded it swaaaayyying back and forth ever so slightly so it feels and looks like M really is on a boat. 😀

Grammy and Grampy.

Us.

We got to board a real old-timey whaling ship! The Charles W. Morgan. It was crazy to see how the sailors used to work, live and eat. We went down below and saw all their *tiny* beds, and their kitchen and the captains quarters.


My handsome sailors



There was a cool area where the sailors would go to relax and read and play games, and we went to do the same. Brenden and Brielle put on a puppet show and it was so cute because Brielle’s little doll was always in the fireman’s face. “Yes, I’ll smell your hair lady.” Said Fireman Mike. Then when it was Michael’s turn to play his first line with his puppet was “Let me smell your hair.” I love how much they listen and pick up on.

Playing Tic Tac Toe with Grammy!

Art!

Barrel making!

More interesting toys!

Time to go!

But we couldn’t leave without a taste of the fudge. M gladly carried it to the car for us.

We came back home and all of us had naps. Much needed after little sleep the night before.

Then Grammy made a delicious stir fry wth shrimp and we went on a walk to the dock after dinner.

Brielle was so excited to show me this “dead white crab.” Which came on the tails of Saturday’s “dead white squid.” I love how adventerous she is getting. She used to be grossed out by these kinds of things. Now she saves dead worms from ants and she picks up anything and everything.

I snuck up on them having the cutest conversation.

Brielle found the little gadget the neighborhood kids use to catch crabs. They put hotdogs on the end of a screw attached to a string attached to a stick and they catch buckets of crabs that way. I think they just throw them back in, but it’s fun!

Looking for another crab crawling up the wall like they saw yesterday.

“Mommy, Grammy, I’ll take a picture of you, I’m a great photographer.” Thanks Brielle! Next time we’ll get our stuff together. 🙂

Fishing bait-less for crabs.  

I’m so thankful for a new day and some SUN. Okay, I’m off for more coffee.

XOXO


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Rhode Island!

Whenever I sit down to write I always think: Why don’t I do this more often?? Usually it’s because the kids are all around me, sometimes it’s because life is busy, but sometimes, even when I find the time to slow down, I don’t remember to do this. Just open my laptop, have a cup of coffee by my side and let the words come.

So here I am.

Day four of our vacation in Rhode Island. I woke up this morning to the smell of smoking meat. What year am I in again?? And now, smoking meat and coffee. What an amazing mixture of smells. Brenden brought his smoker from Virginia and is now smoking a brisket the size of Remmy. It will take 18 hours so I better get used to the smell that is wafting in the windows.

It’s raining outside, and will rain all day. Days like this really remind me I’m in New England. I can’t see the sea from here but I know it looks dramatic, the rocks jutting up to the grey sky, the waves lonely lapping the shore.

This is the first year that we are in the cabin with the kids instead of the main house. It’s so still and calm and peaceful. The kids are sharing a room with two twin beds, and I can tell they feel so grown up. I swear Brielle has aged three years in three days. She is a little teenager walking around. She must smell independence and adventure… I’ll try to plug her nose for a few more years.

Remmy’s bed is pictured here but sadly, (or not so sadly) he isn’t with us anymore. He started to bark incessantly whenever we would leave the cabin which would annoy the neighbors who were trying to have a quiet non-dog-barking vacation. So we decided to give Remmy a vacation of his own! He is being boarded now and is very happy I hear.

So far we’ve had one beautiful sunny beach day:



And one beautiful not-so-sunny beach day:


And one very traumatic skinning of a knee, the results of which lasted for days:

Brielle is getting more and more proficient with her photog skills! (M photo bombed us and then nearly gave me a heart attack by almost falling off the lifeguard stand.)



Still, lots of pics like this. 🙂

We walked back from the dock happy, but the knee injury would continue to haunt us. Especially with the salt water, oh my! I don’t remember Brielle reacting this way when she got a skinned knee….? #boys.

Then last night we got a date night! Thanks Grammy and Grampy. We went to the Matunuck Oyster Bar which has become our favorite place to eat up here. It is paaaacked whenever we go, but so worth the wait.

We ended the night with dessert at the Shelter Harbor Inn. This was bitter-sweet for us because we have so many great memories here, (it’s right up the road from Nanny’s house where we stay every year) but it seems not to be doing so great, (aka we were the only people there) and I’m not sure how long it will be around in its current state.
Brenden hates this pic, I love it.

The kids play hard all day (thanks beach and cousins) and crash hard all night. Actually GETTING them to crash is a different story. But we find that a bath helps. I just love love love this scene. Safe in the bath. Played-out and sun-tanned.

And car naps… Car naps are my new best friend.

Okay, the kids will be up soon and my coffee is cold, so off I go!

XOXO