Saturday at Ioka Valley Farms

Last Saturday, my daughter and I were invited to spend the day at Ioka Valley Farms with some good friends of ours.

Ioka Valley Farms is located in Hancock, Massachusetts which is right on the border.  It is about an 45-50 minute drive from Albany.

20180623_105210
IOKA Valley Farm, 2018

It is strawberry season so there were a lot of strawberry items on the breakfast menu.  I had stuffed french toast.  My daughter had a strawberry pancake.

20180623_105753
IOKA Valley Farms, 2018

We both had bacon that was delicious.  But seriously, it’s bacon.  Bacon is delicious, period.

6ARg9jb

The farm had a lot of activities for the kids.

There was a multi-grain box.

There were duck races.

There were bunnies and baby chicks.

There was a big play area that included slides.

There was a swingset.

My daughter was amused that I went on the swings.  I love swings.  When I was in college, my friends and I would go a playground in the East End of Portland (Maine…the first Portland) and we would swing on the swings at night.  It was one of my favorite things to do.

So, every time I look at swings now, I think of that episode of South Park where Officer Barbrady has to go back to third grade.  And there is a clip where he is on a swing set and he’s singing.  I couldn’t find a YouTube clip that wasn’t in German but I did find an audio clip here.

Officer_barbrady_playing_on_the_swings
You want to know something insane?  I was given a brain with an “above average” IQ by God or the Universe (or maybe it was just an accident by science) and this is the kind of stuff my brain thinks about.  South Park.

When we first entered, there were some goats that we not hungry.  But luckily we found some hungry llamas.

What did you do this past weekend?

Advertisements

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #20

It’s Friday!

You know what means- time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week:

  1.  Seeing H-bomb 

    I don’t really remember life without my cousin H-bomb.  My earliest memory of her was in my Nana’s kitchen.  I had to have been around my daughter’s age (3 and a half.  Can’t forget that half.)  My Nana was feeding H-bomb, who was sitting in a high chair.  I want to say that the Price is Right was playing on a black and white TV but I could be wrong.  If it wasn’t on, it should have been.

    164180_481433559522_7726419_n
    Crowley Cousins- Easter 1982- Woburn, MA (H-bomb’s siblings would arrive in 1983 and 1985)

    H-bomb has pretty much seen me through all stages of life- hyper kid, awkward middle schooler, high schooler, college kid, singleton, politico, wife, mother, widow and…whatever weird stage I am in now.  And she has been my best friend through it all.

    37081_10152007803332841_595235855_n
    September 29, 2012- Albany, NY  Photo credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

     

  2. Going to the House of Seven Gables 

    As I said in my last post about my trip to Boston, I finally got to go to the House of Seven Gables.  I had wanted to go about 20 years ago but no one wanted to go with me.  I was excited that H-bomb and the gang were going.We kept joking that all my dreams from 20 year ago were finally coming true.   I don’t know if the spirit of my younger self comes alive more when I am around H-bomb or if I am more in touch with it due to all my self-reflection over the past year and a half.

    I am also thankful I am getting this period of time to examine and reflect on my life and choose to live my life more deliberately.

  3. My future son-in-law’s birthday 

    Okay, I don’t know if this boy will be my son-in-law someday.  It started as a joke.  This little boy is the son of Bryon’s best friend.  He is 5 months older than my daughter and it has always been the joke that they will get married someday.14224804_1469396146411319_7112937204134600051_n.jpgThe other day we (my daughter, my future son-in-law, his mom-and one of my besties, her younger son and I) were walking out of daycare.  My daughter and my future son-in-law are ahead of us and there is a random lady there.

    18010417_10155503198482841_6291866177824599826_n
    April 2017

    Future son-in-law (to random lady):  I am going to marry her.
    His mom/my bestie, me, and everyone within earshot: Awwwwww!
    Random lady: Can I come?
    My daughter:  No.

    We need to work on being more gracious and tactful.

    images.jpg
    This past weekend was my future son-in-law’s 4th birthday and we went to his school party at the trampoline place.

    On Tuesday night (the night before his actual birthday) we all saw Disney Jr Dance Party at the historic Palace Theater.  Ironically I only got pics with my daughter and the birthday boys little brother.  Ooops.

    Whether the kids end up marrying each other or not, it is an amazing experience to watch them grow up together and see their friendship grow.

  4. Spending time with my friend Gentel/Corks and Forks Event 

    Last weekend I got to see my friend Gentel (she blogs here).   Gentel and her boyfriend were in Albany for the weekend and invited me to attend the Corks and Forks fundraiser to raise awareness for Huntington’s Disease.   I didn’t know much about Huntington’s Disease.  You can read more about the disease here.It was a great event.  And it was great to spend time with Gentel and her boyfriend.

    I hope to see them sometime soon.

  5. Everyone in my life 

    I know this is a broad one but I am thankful for everyone in my life.images (1)For everyone who is there for me and my daughter.

    For everyone who messages me and checks up on me if they think I am sad.

    For everyone who has offered to help me.

    For everyone who listens to me.  And for everyone that shares their stories with me.

    For everyone who encourages me.

    For everyone who sends me funny texts and SnapChats.

    For everyone who helps me create happy memories.

    I think about close friends, new friends, old friends, school friends, work friends, political friends, widow friends, internet friends, Maine friends, New York friends and former friends.

    I truly believe that everyone has been in my life for a reason.  I am thankful for all the love, light and laughter in my life.  I am also choosing to be thankful for all those who have caused pain.  Because that pain has helped shape my character and taught me the importance of treating people better.

    I am thankful for all those who have played a role in my life.

    bb72607b8d106cb5f6a668475904654a--kinds-of-people-people-come-into-your-life-for-a-reason
    What are you thankful for this week?

    6360838-Muhammad-Ali-Quote-Don-t-count-the-days-make-the-days-count.jpg

Boston 2018: Kowloon, Salem and The House of Seven Gables

Last week my daughter and I took a whirlwind trip to the Boston area because my cousin, her husband and her friend were visiting.

If you are a friend of mine, please don’t be offended that I didn’t reach out.  I was literally in Massachusetts for 30 hours.  Well about 35 hours if you include my time on the Mass Pike…

I hate driving on the Mass Pike.

The main cast of characters (You met some here) in this story are:

My cousin: H-Bomb and her husband Tito
H-Bomb’s friend from Florida
H-Bombs friend in Massachusetts and her boyfriend, The Boat Captain
My daughter
and Yours Truly.

***I just want to note that I try to avoid using real names for people so I use nicknames.  Sometimes I will write and not have a nickname yet.  It does not mean that these people are not important.  Everyone is valued and loved.  It just means I haven’t thought is a wicked cool nickname yet***

My brother, Danimal the Party Animal also made an appearance.  He’s not really a party animal.  We just used to work at the grocery store back in Maine when I was in high school and he was in college and the produce guys named him that.

Because…Dannon Danimals.

download.jpg

H-Bomb is a planner but I suggested we re-create this commercial.  My daughter can do everything that little boy does in the video.  Heck, she can probably do it better.  Because she is awesome.

I had a simple plan.

  1.  First, find a Bed and Breakfast that would let us shoot some picturesque shots.
  2. My daughter will run away from the water because the North Atlantic is effing freezing this time of year.
  3. Find an old man with a lobster boat. I will bring my daughter’s life jacket. It’s pink not orange but I think we can work with it.
  4. Find a town having a 4th of July concert in the town common. On a Thursday. In April.  My daughter can dance.
  5. Picnic baskets and marshmallows and a bonfire on the beach. Who cares about town permits?

Ultimately we decided against recreating the Spirit of Massachusetts video.  But we did decide that should we make one, it would include history, the Red Sox, a whole lot of Dunkin Donuts and Tito said that we needed to film one of us standing at an intersection in Boston looking completely dumbfounded.

Because Boston is not known for easy intersections.

FB_IMG_1524280866172

I had arrived in Peabody in the afternoon.  We just hung out and caught up.

Then we had dinner at Kowloon.

30724615_10156699575317841_594212883795926223_n

I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Boston area and had never been to Kowloon.  I had always seen it whenever I drove on Route 1.  I know my Uncle (H-Bomb’s Dad) always checks in there on Facebook when he visits from Florida.  But I had never been.  Kowloon is north of the city and I grew up all the way out in Billerica.  Google maps tells me that they are about a half an hour away from each other and back then, that was the equivalent of being out of state.

Screenshot_20180426-010015

I was not disappointed.  It reminded me of the old school Boston Chinese restaurants I went to as a kid.  But better.

We toasted to friends, cousins and honorary cousins.  We all loved how my daughter joined with her fruit punch.

30742209_10156792949194523_3040210901745842824_n

We ordered several dishes to share including the quintessential Boston pu-pu platter

output (6)

We seem to have a knack for ordering almost just the right amount of food.  We all ate till we were stuffed and we didn’t have much left over.

We all drank our Mai Tai’s and read out fortunes.  Complete with saying “in bed” after the fortune.  Because I am dork like that and I won’t apologize for it.

The server kept bringing cookies so we kept reading them.

output (3)

We got our group selfie (groupie?) and then we went back to the house that belonged to H-Bombs Massachusetts friend and the Boat Captain.

31061066_10156701071532841_2994788949786294382_n

I read my daughter stories and put her down to bed.  And then us adults played games.  It was a blast.

Friday morning brought donuts from Kanes.  H-Bombs Massachusetts friend bought so many flavors that we cut them up so we could try more than one.  The Maple Bacon one was amazing.

We spent most of the day in Salem.

The kids played.  Well, Tito, the Boat Captian and my daughter played.

We took turns seeing a psychic and we had lunch at Brodies Seaport.

30709779_10156701753117841_4565463754009078068_n.jpg

We saw everyone’s favorite liquor store, Bunghole Liquors.

Snapchat-1886151447

H-Bombs Massachusetts friend asked me if I knew what a bunghole was and I was like “Yeah…Beavis and Butthead…duh…”

But apparently it actually has a more dignified meaning…

Screenshot_20180426-005139

I’ll be damned.

 

We also got a chance to see the House of Seven Gables which has been a dream of mine for about 20 years.  Last trip to Boston my 20 year dream of eating at the Top of the Pru came true.  All of 20-year-old Kerry’s dreams are coming true.

We showed up right as a tour was starting.

20180420_172730.jpg

You can think what you want about the time and date.  None of that was going on.  I just love patterns and thought that was cool.

We enjoyed the tour and the history lesson.  My daughter is only 3 but she was a trooper and very well behaved.  Between my trip to Philly the weekend before and being in Salem, I feel blessed for living so close to so much history.

I can’t wait to return to Boston.  I also can’t wait to see my cousin again which will be on my birthday trip.  I am planning something special for the big 4-0.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #17

It’s Friday!

You know what that means…

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday

download

I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin and Easter weekend.

This week has been a whirlwind but I am thankful for it because it has been full of engagements with friends.  I am so thankful for my friends.

Here are the 5 things I am thankful for

  1. Easter Traditions, new and old

    On Saturday, my daughter and I went to our friends house for the second annual Easter egg hunt.

    Always a challenge to get them to look at the camera

    Fun with SnapChat

    After the Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I traveled to my cousins house in Massachusetts where we spent Easter with her branch of the family.

    29595049_10156655573502841_3803476644681829992_n

    Again, hard to get them to all look at the camera at the same time.

    20180401_143559_004
    I was also thankful that this was a Happy Easter because last year was not a Happy Easter for me.  I am thankful that I am past the raw stages of grief.  The good days outnumber the bad.  In fact, I don’t really have bad days anymore, just moments that hit me hard.  And I will always have those moments and I am okay with that.

    Last Easter I was very upset but this Easter I was happy and I am thankful that I can find joy again.  I am thankful that I am healing.

  2. A night out with my cousin

    While I was visiting my cousin, we had the opportunity to go out.

    We went to a local speakeasy called Less Than Greater Than which is located in the back an ice cream shop called New City Microcreamery.  We had to wait for seats in the speakeasy so we did have ice cream while we waited and it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  Legit.


    As much as we love our little ones, it was nice to be able to talk to her without getting interrupted.29597321_10156655418322841_2229641748837008323_n
  3. Living in America

    I love living in America because we can all take part in each other’s cultures.

    Monday was Dyngus Day and while I am not Polish, my daughter is Polish.  I heard that there was a Dyngus Day celebration at The Hill at Muza, a Polish restaurant in the nearby city of Troy and decided to take my daughter.  I want her to know her heritage, including her non-Irish heritage.  And I heard that Dyngus Day was like Polish St. Patrick’s Day so I was sold.

    20180402_183747
    It was a great party.  Good food, good music.  A very nice lady gave my daughter a pussy willow to tap her crushes.  Then she gave one to me and I was like “Haha…thanks…*awkward laugh*…”

    My daughter tapped every man that walked by.  They would turn around and then see her smiling at them.  I don’t know if she was flirting or if she was trying to set her poor mother up.  I mean, she signed me up for tinder after all.

  4. The birthday girl

    I have no pictures from this week with my friend who celebrated her birthday.  (She doesn’t have a blog name yet).  But here is a pic from when we went to the casino after Christmas.

    26165797_10156374657332841_6935413762239254491_n

    She is one of my absolute favorite people.  Her interactions with my daughter are always cracking me up.  I have so much fun with her but our friendship is much deeper than fun.

    We also spend so much time talking about things like the meaning of life.  We read the same books and have deep discussions about them.

    I am a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding.  Well her and Our Favorite Community Helper’s wedding.

    I mean, it is 40% his wedding.

    Before you freak out, I am kidding.

    It is a How I Met Your Mother reference from Season 1 Episode 11.  When Ted is insistent that he RSVP’ed with a plus one to Claudia and Stuart’s wedding and Claudia says that he did not RSVP with a plus one.

    Lily [about asking to bring a date]: You can always ask Stuart.
    Ted: Can I do that?
    Lily: Sure, you guys have been friends for a long time, and it’s 40% his wedding too.

    Today I was helping my friend at her wedding dress fitting.  I have good fine motor skills but I was having trouble with the buttons because I was shaking.  I was getting so emotional seeing her in her wedding dress.  There is a 70% chance I will cry at the wedding but it will be tears of joy.

  5. Time with Robin Brillantes

    I got to spend time with another friend, who is a Spanish teacher.  It was her school break this week so I got to spend a lot of time together.

    We went to the mall.  We were looking for dresses because we have a few social events this spring.  We sat on those massage chairs and I took a very unflattering SnapChat pic.  I wrote “Let’s go to the mall…today!” and sent it to our friends.

    Two How I Met Your Mother references in one blog post…I am on a roll.

    Because it is hard to talk about my friends without references to How I Met Your Mother.

    Our Favorite Community Helper snaps back and said I had to refer to our Spanish    teacher friend as Robin Sparkles in my blog but it had to be in Spanish.  My friend said the closest Spanish work to “sparkles” was “brillantes” so she is officially Robin Brillantes.

    Robin Brillantes also came out to my daughters dance class, had dinner at Chipotle with us and then three of us got mani/pedi’s. Well, except Robin- she just got a pedicure.

    It was my daughters first mani/pedi.  She chose bright orange.  I felt it was important to let her express herself.

    We also saw a guy who looked just like Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  Though #fauxmikeehrmantraut was much chattier and friendlier.

    MV5BMjI3MTE0OTI0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzc2MzU3NQ@@._V1_UY317_CR11,0,214,317_AL_

Though now I want some Los Pollos Hermanos even though it doesn’t exist.  I used to say that to Bryon when we watched Breaking Bad.

1478059_1.jpg

That is what I am thankful for this week.  What are you thankful for this week?

0db13ec8714435934cb855ccc552963f--spirit-science-running-quotes

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #15

  1. Brunch and Pottery PlaceOur weekend started with Saturday Brunch with friends.  My daughter and I dressed as the Irish-American Princesses that we are.

    It was Kimmy Gibbler‘s son’s birthday this week so we gave him his present.

    20180317_111254

    After brunch we went to a local pottery place and painted.  My daughters pig is looking a little bruised there.

    20180317_135324

  2. A night outLater Saturday evening, we went went for another friend’s birthday.   We did some hibachi.  I didn’t get any fire photos because I was too busy snapchatting them. The little one stayed home with a sitter while Mommy had some fun.

    After hibachi, we went to a local place for some karaoke.

    20180317_233356

    I still maintain this position.

    Screenshot_20180317-215523

  3. Day with cousinsSunday morning, my daughter and I traveled to the North Hadley Sugar Shack in North Hadley, Massachusetts to spend the day with my cousin and her two kids.  My cousin and I try to meet in Springfield, MA because that is the approximate halfway point between us.

    We got to sample some wicked good syrup.

    20180318_112306

    There were other samples too.

    20180318_114459

    And there was breakfast.  This was a double order of bacon because kids meals at most places usually only include 1 piece of bacon which my daughter eats and then she will move on to mine.  So I tend to order double.  Though this morning, she didn’t touch any of mine.  More for me, I guess.

    20180318_124754

    My cousin and I decided to head over the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  We had a good time but if you are travelling from Eastern, MA or Upstate NY, I wouldn’t plan a whole day trip out of it.  I also would recommend it for school age kids.  There wasn’t a lot for preschoolers to do.  Not enough to occupy them for a whole day.  It wasn’t like our trip to the Dr. Seuss Museum.

    My daughter and I took this selfie.  Be kind.  I was out late and up early and it was definitely a dry shampoo and minimal makeup kind of morning.

    20180318_143609

  4. Reunited in ChicagoI am writing this post ahead of time and by the time it goes live, I will be reunited with my bestie in Chicago!326491_10150501472522841_315275259_o
  5. A special birthdayToday is the birthday of my “sister from another mister” and my daughters Godmother.  I know that her birthday is bittersweet because it is also the day that everything changed forever.I actually met her before I met Bryon.  We first met at the Fall 2005 Young Republican National Federation Board Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She taught a workshop that I attended on talking to a camera.I never could have known that she would end up being such an important person in my life.She was there with many others on the happiest day of my life and she was the only person with me on the saddest night of my life.The truth is that she deserves her own post but I feel like I can’t accurately write a post about her without sharing information that I am not ready to share yet.  And without the whole story, I am not doing the story of our friendship justice.

    I want to write more but WordPress seems to be deleting what I am writing as I am writing it.  And I am too tired to figure it out.

    Happy Birthday!  We love you!

    14359119_10154848976757841_9138831130828109718_n (1)

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #3

Every week I like to look back on five things that I am thankful for.  Here are this week’s Top 5.

  1.  I am thankful I got to celebrate a birthday of a good friend.  (I have yet to come up with a good blog name for her yet).  She is one of the kindest people I have ever met and I am so lucky to have her in my life.

    20171014_195242.jpg
    Happy Birthday!
  2. On Monday one of my best friends and I took the day off and went to the Berkshires for the day.  Our first stop was the Lee Outlets where I spent more money than I care to admit and most of it was on my daughter.  We had plans to drive to Central Massachusetts to eat lunch at 1761 Old Mill Restaurant but when we punched it into Google maps, we learned it was closed.  Neither of us thought to check the website to see if it was open.  We both assumed it was open and, well, we all know what happens when you assume.  We didn’t let that ruin the day.  We had lunch at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and looked at the shops.

    20171016_121302 (1)
    The Red Lion Inn
  3. We also went to the Norman Rockwell Museum and I am thankful that I live in an area that is so rich in culture.

    20171016_150703
    Norman Rockwell Museum 2017
  4. I am thankful for the fact that I live in a time where my phone is a computer and I can play cartoons on demand.  What did our parents do when they needed to keep us preoccupied?  My daughter asks for my phone so she can watch “Girl and Bear” on Netflix.  “Girl and Bear” is actually called “Masha and the Bear.”  I never paid attention and I thought it was cute.  And then I watched it and I personally think the girl is a little monster.  Or a trouble maker at the very least.1950s+source+reddit_281ca6_4813703
  5. I am thankful for one of my college friends.  There was some bee/hornet/wasp thing flying around my house today.  It’s presence immediately puts me out of my comfort zone.  I have a zero tolerance policy for creepy crawly things in my house.  I posted about it on Facebook because I like to #overshare.  It was suggested I leave it alone but that wasn’t going to happen.  If you are a “leave it alone” person, the more power to you.  But I am not.  I was so scared of this bee/hornet/wasp thing and my college friend commented on my Facebook post that I should spray some hairspray from a distance.  When the hairspray dries, it immobilizes their wings.  It worked!  I saw these same bee/hornet/wasp things outside last week so I called the exterminator to set up an appointment to make sure there isn’t a nest near my house.

What are you thankful for this week?

Warm October rain: Sunday Funday at the Dr. Seuss Museum

Last Sunday my daughter and I drove to Springfield, Massachusetts for a very special outing.  My cousin drove out from the Boston area to spend the day with us, along with her two kids (including her 3 month old daughter) and my Uncle.  It was our first time meeting her daughter, who my daughter calls “Baby Cousin”.

First we hit the Dr. Seuss Museum.  At first I thought that admission was a bit expsensive but the admission is good for all five museums and they are located all together.  You can easily hit several museums in one day.  After the Dr. Seuss Museum, we had lunch at the cafe on the premises and then we explored the Science Museum, which was kid friendly.

After the Science Museum, we tried to go to the Fine Art Museum but the kids had too much energy and after they kept trying to touch peices of art that had signs asking “do not touch”, we abandoned the mission.  I love art museums so maybe when they are older.

I am thankful to be building a closer relationship with my cousin.  Even though my family is spread out between Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, I appreciate that members on both sides of my family make an effort to be a part of my daughters life.  It is good to know that my cousin and I can meet in the middle and get the kids together.  I love knowing that my daughter will have cousins to play with.  I appreciate all the time my family makes for her.