Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Heart Walk

Dear Em,
This past Saturday we had the opportunity to walk in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk. The heart walk is something near & dear to my own heart. We know too many people that have suffered with heart disease. Mostly, I spent the day thinking about my Grandma. She was a little, Irish woman with big personality. She was one of my best friends, & to me she always seemed invincible. Then right before I graduated from college, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital. I didn't know much except that she was really sick.

She was diagnosed with heart failure but soon discharged from the hospital. I didn't know anything about heart failure. I knew she had a few more medications she had to take daily. I assumed that it was like hypertension. As long as she took her medications, I thought she would be just fine. I thought she would some day take you on trips to see Boston & the homes of your favorite authors just like she did with me.

What I know now is that after a person is diagnosed with heart failure, they have a 50% chance of dying within five years. That survival rate is worse than most cancers. What know now is heart failure really slows people down. Many people can easily feel out of breath after just walking down the street or walking up the stairs. People suffering with heart failure often wake up in the middle of night feeling like they're drowning & gasping for breath. It breaks my heart that so many people are living & dying with heart failure.

In hopes for a better tomorrow, we walked the Heart Walk. We had a small but mighty team of seven people. As walks to raise money for a good cause go, this was definitely one of the smallest I've been a part of. Luckily, it only takes a few great people to make a big difference.

This was certainly the most beautiful walk I've ever done. We started at the Watch Hill Gazebo, looking out at the water and all the boats that were anchored. The walk took us along the coast & past many gorgeous houses & properties. We walked by Taylor Swift's House. You were hoping she would join us on the heart walk. Unfortunately, she wasn't available.

During the walk & throughout the day, you & I discussed things we could do to keep our hearts' healthy. We talked about exercising & eating healthy foods. "Well, it's a good thing I ate broccoli last night," you proudly declared to our whole team.

The Westerly Heart Walk was five miles, but once we finished we walked a little further. We went up the dune to Napatree Point & showed Grandma & Papa one of our favorite spots in all of Rhode Island. Of course, you ran right in the water & splashed in the waves.

I can't think of a better way to end a Heart Walk. It made my heart so happy to watch my healthy, little girl jumping & running & laughing in the waves. I hope my Grandma was looking down & smiling at you too.

I love you so,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our Bed & Breakfast

Dear Em,
With Fall officially in swing, I wanted to post a little about our sweet summertime visitors. I joke that our house is a little like a Bed & Breakfast. That especially holds true in the summertime, & we love it. We had so much fun giving our friends & family a taste of the littlest state.

The Haeusslers were our first summer visitors. They came all the way from Ohio, & you camped out in the driveway for hours waiting from them to arrive. When they finally arrived, it was like you were reunited with your two long-lost, little brothers. You were thrilled that they were staying for more than a week. We took them all over Rhode Island. We watched you three littles play at the zoo, splash in the waves at the beach, explore URI (where Aunt Jayme & I met), eat ice cream, & be OK that we only spent five seconds at the PawSox game. We spent a lot of time at home too. We had a big gathering with old friends, Jayme's birthday celebration, multiple Independence Day celebrations, & even got to spend a day relaxing on an air mattress. 

You & Trey were best buddies. You read books together, built inside tents, pretended you were firefighters, watched TV together, & let your imaginations run wild. Dane very adamantly declared Daddy as his best buddy (we'll work on that). It was a fabulous ten days of ups & down & highs & lows & all the precious moments in between. I loved getting to share it all with my best friend & her family. It was so hard to say goodbye, but we know we'll be seeing them all again in Ohio really soon. Until then, I can't help but smile each time you & Trey Facetime. They're probably the most adorable conversations in the world.

Aunt Colleen, Ryan, & Dash came later that month. We got to spend a long weekend with them, & most of it was spent outside in perfect Rhode Island weather. We had a bunch of plans as just the adults, but we squeezed in a pool day with Colleen while Daddy & Ryan golfed. That night the adults enjoyed Aunt Carries for dinner & a stroll in Narragansett as the sun was setting. The next day we headed for Newport & had a blast at the Folk Festival. The music was so much fun, & I loved that we got to share it all with great friends. 

Colleen is the one who first introduced me to the loveliness of Rhode Island. When she comes to visit, it always feels a little like she's come back home. I'm so glad that even though she's moved away, I still get to enjoy precious Rhode Island moments with her & now her husband too. It was a quick visit this time, but we know she'll be back soon.

When we discovered we had a free weekend the beginning of August, I was so excited that our friend Erin decided to visit us. Erin & I met a little over a year ago, but it feels like we've been friends forever. You already lovingly call her Aunt Erin. She was one of the first people you shared your dreams of becoming a fashion designer with, & it made my heart so happy as I watched the two of you color & design together. Soon after Erin arrived, we headed over to Narragansett for dinner at Aunt Carries, building rock towers, music at the gazebo, Nana's gelato, & the most beautiful full moon rising over the ocean. 

The next day was jam packed with Rhode Island fun. We had a blast visiting a farmers market & a fish market. Then Erin, Daddy, & I visited two different local breweries. We returned home & you & Daddy set up tents in the back yard while the ladies prepared a seafood boil. We ate until we were stuffed, enjoyed a fun fire pit, & then had your first camp out in the backyard. Of course, a trip to Rhode Island wouldn't be complete without a day at the beach. While you & Daddy had fun at a birthday party, Erin, Nonnie, & I enjoyed a full & gorgeous day at the Charlestown Breachway. It was such a perfect weekend with such a fun friend. We're looking forward to many, many more.

Our last summer visitors came for a long weekend visit over Labor Day weekend. The Mages family came super late Thursday night while you were asleep. I didn't tell you they were coming, & you woke up Friday morning thrilled to see that you had little friends visiting. Claire & I picked you up from the bus stop that afternoon, & I loved watching you & Claire & Braden play together for the rest of the weekend. 

We danced to music at the Narragansett Gazebo for the last time of the season & then enjoyed Nana's gelato. The next morning we brunched at & explored the beauty of the Umbrella Factory. That afternoon you played at Grandma & Papa's house while Daddy & I enjoyed our last RedSox game of the season. We reunited as the Mages & the McGoverns the next morning & spent a beautiful day at the Charlestown Breachway before heading home to a yummy seafood dinner (thanks Alyssa & Paul!). We ended the day around the fire pit with s'mores & sparklers. Not every moment was perfect, but they never are when you're adventuring with small children. I think we all had our moments, but everyone took turns & everyone helped out  It was so amazing to spend time with like-minded parents who understand what we're going through. The Mages are such a beautiful family. We miss them like crazy, but plans are in the works for a Philadelphia adventure.

I can't write a post about our summer visitors without mentioning Nonnie, although she's not really a visitor. She has her own room in our house. She just doesn't use it all year long. While most of our summer visitors stayed for a short time, Nonnie was here almost the whole summer. We are so fortunate to be able to spend our summer moments with her...especially this summer. This summer was amazing, but challenging with your ankle injury. Nonnie stood right by our sides through it all, providing extra hands & the support we all needed. She basically made everything for your birthday party, cleans our house, & makes the most amazing fried fish. Nonnie is perfect like that. 

You & Nonnie were truly best buddies this summer. The two of you were pretty much inseparable. In fact, at one point you two got married. You two played barbies & babies & dress-up. You read together & built legos together & biked together & watched movies together. You even had your own date nights when Daddy & I went out for our date nights. Nonnie came with us on our Narragansett adventures & built rock towers with us. We fit in a kayaking trip or two. We finally introduced her to one of our favorite places: Duck & Bunny. She enjoyed The Little Mermaid & the Washington County Fair right alongside of us. 

Papi came for a couple weeks this summer too. He helped us out with A LOT of home improvement a real lot. He also had lots of fun with us too. The two of you played in a way I haven't quite seen you play before. It made my heart so full to watch you play with your Nonnie & Papi. We may not live close by, but we're so fortunate that we get to share the time with them that we do.

And that's why even though it wasn't the summer we were planning, it was an amazing & beautiful & perfect summer. It was filled with adventure & the people we love, & I wish I could do it all over again (well, most of it).

That's also why I've been working on another little home improvement project. We're officially making the office (which we haven't used as an office in three years) into another guest bedroom (I'll post more about it when it's done). This way we have even more space for our friends & family who want to take a little Rhode Island get away. I guess I can say that our Bed & Breakfast officially has more vacancies. Who wants to book your stay?

I love you so,

Monday, September 21, 2015

Embracing Fall

Dear Em,
Our Rhode Island summer was so beautiful this year. After the winter we had, it felt like it took forever for our bodies to defrost, but we had a fantastical warm summer. It was filled with sunshine & precious moments. I'm not at all ready to let it go, but each morning it feels a little chillier. The sun sets a little earlier each day. With the leaves starting to change colors, pumpkin everything everywhere, & the official start to fall only days away, I realized I could head into fall kicking & screaming or I could embrace the beauty that fall brings. So, we headed to the apple orchard.

We've gone to the same orchard almost every year since the year I carried you in my womb. This year we started with a nice one mile nature trail hike. "Mommy, if fairies live anywhere, I'm sure they live here." You floated through the hiking trail, picking up acorns (nuts) & leaves (blankets) for the fairies & leaving them in spots you thought they would find them. It was incredibly cute, & we all enjoyed walking along in the crisp, fall air.

After our short hike, we set out to pick apples. You love baby anything, & in years past you picked the teeny apples more than anything else...which left us with a million apples that are tough to eat or bake with. This year I challenged you to find the biggest, juiciest apples. You & Daddy competed against each other (Daddy declared all of my apples tiny, which basically took me out of the race). It worked like a charm. You searched high & low for the largest apples, & Daddy & I helped you reach the high ones. You had a blast picking perfect eating/baking apples.

We ended up with a bag overflowing with apples. You needed some help picking up the bag.

We returned home for football & yummy, apple baking. You love cooking with me. We made an apple upside down cake (just like Grace does in one of your favorite American Girl movies). I didn't capture any precious baking moments on camera. Just before I brought out the camera, you had an unfortunate incident with the peeler. There were a lot of tears & you were much less of a participant after that. Still, we ended up with a really yummy apple upside down cake (& only minor injuries).

So, bring it, Fall. With tears in my eyes, I'm ready to say farewell to summer & enjoy this new season.

I love you so,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I love growing things...with you

Dear Em,
All Spring & Summer long I've been posting updates about our little garden. It started with me being our biggest skeptic. It's just hard for me to keep things alive (except for you, of course). Luckily, we had Nonnie & Papi's help along the way. I'm so happy to report that we not only kept things alive, we grew things. We grew real things out of soil, & I'm so freaking excited.

When we've walked outside, there have been gorgeous flowers around our patio all summer long. Most of them Nonie planted, but these beauties you & I planted form seeds (I have not idea what they are).

We've had zucchini.

We have two adorable, little eggplants. P.S. Eggplant flowers are my favorite.

We made chili & salsa with our jalapenos & cilantro.

We have heirloom tomatoes.

We have red peppers (that are still green) & banana peppers.

It's actually created a really fun activity for us. It was a goal for me this school year to cook with you once a week. It's become a really nice time we can share one-on-one, & you're learning cooking skills. Plus, we've loved being able to use some of our vegetables from our garden. 

So far, we've made zucchini brownies & smoothies. Today, we will be trying zucchini tater tots. I have plans for apple bread & cider donuts (not form our garden, it's almost time for apple picking!). Daddy has made pizza & grilled cheese with the basil & has plans to use the tomatoes in BLTs. We're pretty much bringing "farm to table" to real life (in a very small-scale, we mostly use one ingredient from our garden at a time in our recipes, but you know, it's almost exactly the same thing).

The bonus that I didn't quite expect was that our little cooking experiment is encouraging you to broaden your food horizons. You've been a little more adventurous in the food that you willingly try, & surprisingly you've found new foods that you like. "Guess what, mom?! I like zucchini!"

Guess what, Em?! I love growing things...with you.

I love you so,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Butterfly Birthday Party: The Cake

Dear Em,
This is the final post recapping your Butterfly Birthday Party (finally!). Why not end the fun with a little post about food? I think other than Butterflies, the common theme of this party for me ended up being things not working out exactly how I planned but you loving it all anyways. In keeping with that theme, the food didn't go quite as planned either.

The plan was for Roger Williams Zoo to provide pizza & drinks & ice cream for the party. It was part of the party package & made me happy to know that we wouldn't have to worry about food for the most part. Unfortunately the pizza they provided was burnt. I couldn't even bring myself to eat it...although you did & so did your little guests without much complaints. The party planners completely forgot about the ice cream (they offered to let us take it home but it was a hot day & we didn't have a cooler to store it). Luckily, the drinks were perfect. Ha!

In the absence of everything else, there was cake! We worked with Stop & Shop to create a cupcake birthday cake with your picture on it. It was easy. It was yummy. Everyone was happy. Success!!

I love you so,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...