Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Summer Bucket List!

New England hasn't gotten the memo that this past Monday marked the unofficial start of Summer. We have been wearing sweatshirts and avoiding rain drops all week, but that hasn't stopped me from dreaming up our summer bucket list! We have such a fun summer planned and I can't wait for the weather to warm up so we can start putting these plans into action!

1. Attend the Big Apple Ponycon! Aubrey has had an ongoing obsession with My Little Pony for the past 2 years. I first heard about Ponycon last year when Aubrey & I were at our local theater's special showing of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. When I saw that it was coming back around this summer, I knew Aubrey would love to go, so Keith & I talked and decided that I would take Aubrey, since Addie is still really small and wouldn't be able to really do anything and would just be cranky the whole time, since she would be confined to her stroller. They are going to have a lot of kids events, arts and crafts, a pony salon, pony sing-a-long, and more. We surprised her about a month ago with this chalkboard that I made, along with a piggy bank to start saving money for spending at the convention, and she has religiously woken up each morning and counted down. 

We are now down to 8 days and she is crazy excited! We have each chosen a couple of ponies to cosplay and I have chosen to wait til the last minute to put them all together this weekend. Yay, procrastination! I will post about it when we come back from Jersey!

2. Go to the beach - I definitely want to hit up our local beach a few times this summer, but going as a family to the beach up in York, Maine is a must! Keith & I are both on vacation in July, during the week between Aubrey & Keith's birthdays and we have so much planned that week! Since it's about an hour and a half drive, we are going to head up early one morning, spend the day at the beach, hit up a hotel for the night and then head to..

3. York's Wild Kingdom - I have never been and have always wanted to go. It looks like they have a ton of animals, plus a butterfly garden and small amusement park with rides.

4. Go to a Red Sox game - Baseball is my favorite sport. People think it's boring to watch on tv, but I think that's why I like it so much. It's easy to follow, and there are good looking men wearing tight fitting pants. I'm looking at you, Mike Napoli. Plus, I love the feeling I get when I'm at Fenway Park. You can't beat singing Sweet Caroline at the top of your lungs with a $9 beer in your right hand and Cracker Jacks in your left. So good, so good, so good.

5. Go to amusement parks - We've already gone to Canobie Lake on their opening day this season, but we would love to hit up Story Land, which is about a 2 hour drive from us. We are still contemplating staying overnight in a hotel and finding something else to do up there on the second day, but jeez, hotels are expensive! 

6. Go to the local splash pad - It's been a while since we've been to the splash pad. Last summer, Addie was only a few months old so doing anything with her in tow was a little difficult. But this year? Oh, this year it is on. 

7. Davis Farmland - Davis Farmland is, hands down, the coolest place in Massachusetts. It's a children's discovery farm that has a pretend cow to milk, a play market filled with pretend fruits and veggies, a "camp" area complete with pretend campfire and tents, and of course, lots of animals, hay rides, and they also have a splash park as well. 

8. Go to a pick-your-own farm - We love picking strawberries and blueberries and then coming home and making something yummy!

9. Swimming - Of course! Our girls are two little fishies. They love the water. I think I may sign Aubrey up for swim lessons this summer, as well. While she loves going swimming in our condo's big, indoor/in ground pool, she required a float vest as well as an inflatable ring before she will even think about letting go of Mama or Daddy ;)

10. Go to a festival - New England has so many summer festivals and we have never been to one as a family. I think it's time to change that!

What's on your summer bucket list?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Movie Review: Return to Zero


This Saturday night, Lifetime premiered Return To Zero, an Indie film about a couple who experience a heartbreaking loss right before the birth of their son, Arthur.

When I first heard about this movie, I was actually really looking forward to seeing it. Having gone through a loss myself, it was something that hit close to home and it was a relief to see a movie that would break the silence, since miscarriage and stillbirth are such taboo subjects.

Saturday night, after spending the day with Keith and the girls at a family cookout, I sat on my couch and nervously hit "play" on the DVR. I knew this would dig up a lot of emotions inside of me. Feelings that I deal with frequently but rarely show. And, my God, it felt good to get it out.

This movie did an incredible job of telling the story of loss. It skims the surface of what loss looks like on the outside, but also gets down to the nitty-gritty of the toll it takes on the couple going through it. The good, the bad and the ugly.

There are a few scenes that really pulled my heart strings, and these may be triggers for moms who have dealt with loss. They are also spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie or don't want to know what happens, you should probably stop here.

1. When Maggie's doctor told her she would need to deliver her baby. The sheer look of panic on her face. As someone who has never experienced a loss, Minnie Driver did a hell of a good job portraying this woman. This was the first of many scenes that sent me into a sobfest. I remember the exact moment when the on-call doctor at the hospital told me "Your baby is coming. You need to push." 

2. The moment when baby Arthur was placed into Maggie's arms. Ouch. My heart took me right back to when Keith & I got to hold our little guy. Those moments are forever etched in my memory. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. I'm so glad we got photos of those moments. I will treasure them as long as I live.

3. Any time somebody told Maggie "everything happens for a reason". Let me tell you something. This is the LAST thing someone who lost a baby wants to hear. I can't tell you how many times I heard this, and it hurt like hell every single time. 

4. This conversation when Maggie's mother confides in her that she has experienced a miscarriage:
"Miscarriage is not the same thing as a stillbirth, mom."

"It's still a loss and it still hurts. It's not just the loss of a baby. It's the loss of the possibility of what might have been, and that is exactly the same."

This quote really stuck out for me. My pastor said something similar to this when we had a ceremony after the loss of our son. When a mother finds out she is expecting, she immediately starts envisioning this baby's future. She imagines out nursery themes for each gender, names, whose nose the baby will get. She starts to picture what that child will add to the family. When those dreams get taken away, she is left with a void in her heart.

Whether you loved the movie or hated it, the most important part is that it did it's purpose: to get people talking about this taboo subject. I pray that one day, those who experience loss can grieve openly and not feel any judgement. That they aren't told to "get over it". But until that day comes, my door is open.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mother's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! 

We started the celebration on Saturday when we had my mom over for dinner. I was exhausted after going into the office for a little overtime that morning, but we enjoyed ourselves. We cooked steaks on the grill and made the Pioneer Woman's twice-baked potatoes. Oh lord. So good. 

Sunday morning, Aubrey woke us up at 5am by coming into our bedroom in hysterics because one of her earrings came out. She was sleeping on one of her stuffed animals and it got stuck and came out when she was adjusting herself in her sleep. I had to climb up on her loft bed to find it so her hole wouldn't close up. Pretty sure I'm well over the weight limit. Ah well. It's still standing, so that's a plus.

After I got it back in, I decided to just stay up since my alarm was set for 6:40, anyway. I had some coffee and caught up on some of my favorite blogs in peace and quiet. 

We had plans for brunch at the Cheesecake Factory, so everyone got up and dressed and I got my Mother's Day gift! In lieu of a card, I got a pretty, sparkly notebook with the first page decorated. Each year, the girls will add drawings, photos, and messages in it so I can have them all together in one place! I loved this idea.

I have been on a health kick lately and have been wanting to get my hands on a Fitbit.  I was not disappointed when I opened the gift bag and saw this! If anyone has one, let me know. I'd love to add some more friends!

We got to The Cheesecake Factory a little before 9 and waited outside. They opened the doors about 10 minutes early and we got seated and ordered. I decided on the Belgian waffle with strawberries. It was amazing! Keith got the Monte Cristo breakfast sandwich, which he liked but would have liked better if the french toast was cooked more. The girls split a French toast kids brunch meal and it was plenty.

We were stuffed after brunch, but can't leave without a slice of their famous cheesecake, so we decided to take it to go. Keith got the s'mores cheesecake, I got the Hershey bar cheesecake, and Aubrey decided she wanted chocolate cake. Little did we know how HUGE this piece was! There's still a small piece left in the fridge waiting to be eaten. 

This has been one of the best Mother's Days I've had. I love the thought Keith and the girls put into the notebook. It's definitely something I will treasure long after my girls are grown.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Canobie Lake Park

Last Saturday, we decided to take an impromptu trip to opening day at our local amusement park. Aubrey had only been one other time, when she was 2, so I was excited to bring her back and for Addie to have her first time. And hellooo, I needed my roller coaster fix.

We got there just as they opened and headed to the ferris wheel. This was the only picture I got because Addie was being a squirm worm the whole time. 

This was the perfect day to go. It was cool enough where a lot of people didn't venture out, so we never had to wait in line for a ride.

I wasn't too sure about Addie going on a ride alone (or with Aubrey) but she did great and had so much fun!

She even rode a few by herself when Aubrey went on some bigger rides!

Quick lunch break. No outside food or drink is permitted, so we had to suck it up and spend $30 on a few lunch baskets. Oy. At least this pic of the girls is adorable and priceless ;)

Carousel ride was a huge hit!

After a few more rides, Daddy wanted some fried dough, so we all shared one. 

Naptime for Addie with the frog her daddy won at a fishing game. Aubrey got one, too!

Yay for soft serve dips! Keith got butterscotch, Aubrey & I shared cherry. Addie was still asleep ;)

The Caterpillar! For some reason, Keith hates this ride. But we talked him into going on it.

Time for a break. Playing with her bubble gun and watching the big splash that the Boston Tea Party ride is about to make..

Anybody have bail?

We didn't plan on staying the whole 7 hours the park was open, but we were having a lot of fun. Finally, it was 5:30. The park was closing in a half hour so we decided to do one more ride: The Log Flume. Basically it's a water roller coaster. I'm sure they have them at other amusement parks. I was a little skeptical of Aubrey going on, but she fit the height requirement and said she wanted to, so Keith took her. I'm so glad she decided to. LOOK AT THIS FACE. The look of terror and fun all in one facial expression. She made me go on with her after they got off so she could ride it again!

All that excitement wore them out. They both slept the whole way home. 

We can't wait to go back in the summer. They have a little water park and a few more water rides that we are excited to go on!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Exploring Kindergarten

This fall, my baby will start her first year of school. She will officially be part of the Class of 2027. *sob*

We got to go to her school for a Parent Information Night, where we learned some of the school's procedures, learned their expectations of children going into Kindergarten, had the opportunity to ask questions, and even got the chance to explore both of the Kindergarten classrooms.

If there is a puzzle around, Aubrey will find it! She is a puzzle maniac.

We knew this school was PERFECT for her when we saw all of the 101 Dalmation characters painted along the walls in the hallway! Dalmatians are her favorite breed of dog. She loves 101 Dalmations, and her favorite dog on Paw Patrol is Marshall. She HAD to have me take a picture.

Although I will be a wreck when she starts school, I think getting a chance to see the school where she will be spending her days starting this Fall really helped calm some of my fears. Now to get cracking on learning some sight words that she doesn't know on the list that they gave us!