Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guess Who's 4!

Today, Daniel, my youngest, turns FOUR! He has always been full of energy, silliness, and often quite challenging! He loves to play ball, ride bikes, play with any kind of water, and he would spend his whole day outside if possible. As always, he is large and in charge!

Each year, I ask my children the same questions on their birthday. Now that D is the big four he got in on the action:

Favorite Color: Orange
Favorite Show: Peppa Pig
Favorite Thing To Do Inside: Matchbox Cars
Favorite Thing To Do Outside: Stomp Rockets and riding bikes
Favorite Snack: Strawberries and donuts
Favorite Meal: Tacos
Favorite Song: Twinkle, Twinkle and Let It Go
Favorite Thing To Do With Dadda: "Go outside while he mows the lawn"
Favorite Thing To Do With Mamma: "Go to the beach"
When I Grow Up I Want To Be: "A Dunkin Donut Man"
If I Had Lots Of Money I Would: "Go to Chuck E Cheez-Its"

Happy Birthday, to the little boy who will forever be my baby!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DelCarte Recreation Area - Franklin, MA

The kids and I are always in the market for a new playground and place to hang out. A couple of weeks ago we were driving from the new Norfolk playground to BJs and Siri sent us a way I had never been before. While driving we spied what looked like a super cool playground and I made note of the street we were on in Franklin. I then asked a few friends about it and no one seemed to know anything about it.

So this morning, the kids and I headed out to see if we had imagined this unique looking playground. We hadn't - it totally exists! It's actually the DelCarte Recreation and Conservation Area. Apparently it just received huge renovations (including the new playground) that were finished in June 2014. The playground has a rustic, woodsy feel to blend in with its surroundings plus swings and benches. The kids LOVED it!

The playground is more geared towards older kids (sign said ages 5+) although there were toddlers there enjoying themselves. There's not much shade on the playground though so pack that sunscreen and water. There are also no restrooms (and no porta potties while we were there) so don't go too crazy with the water intake :)

Also, just behind the (fenced in) playground is a pond that could entertain my kids for hours. We walked around just a short part of it and saw tons of fish. The people there right before us had also seen a turtle. There were also walking trails (both short and longer) that we definitely will head back some day to check out.
After we did the playground and checked out the pond we had a picnic lunch at one of the tables they have around the pond. After lunch we headed back for another round at the playground!

We were there for hours and definitely recommend it. It's located on Pleasant Street in Franklin, MA and there is a parking lot right next to the playground. Enjoy!

Summer Shape Up With Balance Bars

It's no secret that I try to live a healthy lifestyle. The key word there is TRY.  Most weeks I exercise regularly and eat somewhat healthy. Of course, I'm a sucker for ice cream and wine which always seem extra plentiful over the summer. Oh, and vacations are just a killer - so much yumminess all rolled up into one week. So I was really excited when I was asked to participate in the Summer Shape Up collaboration between Balance Bars and Walmart. I feel like I've definitely fallen off the wagon over the last couple of weeks and needed a push to get back on.

So I headed off to Walmart to pick up some Peanut Butter and Cookie Dough Balance Bars.

Oh, and yes, there are some Cheez Its in the cart, too. Those are a staple in our household! Now say what you will about Walmart but you can't beat their prices on most products. I was able to pick up the 6 pack box of Balance Bars for just $4.56 - a total steal.

I had actually never tried Balance Bars before even though I have tried a decent amount of bars in the past. They have over 20 vitamins and minerals, a low glycemic index, and are an excellemt source of antioxidants. But how do they taste, you ask? Well I'm happy to report that they are yummy - not chalky or just plain gross like some energy bars can be!

I love nutrition bars because they are so easy. You will often find me eating one while trying to dress an unruly preschooler or while driving around town running errands. I always seem to have time to feed the kids breakfast but never myself which is why bars are always in stock at my house. The Balance Bars also kept me full all morning which is a must. I find if I eat one in the morning it helps to prevent me from snacking. Snacks are a huge downfall for me so any way I can reduce them is a plus!

How about you? Would you like to try out Balance Bars? Well one lucky Dollops reader is going to receive a variety box of Balance Bars as well as a $10 Walmart gift card. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Disclosure: I was provided with a Walmart gift card as part of a sponsored collaboration with Balance Bar in order to purchase Balance Bars and other summer, fun items for my family. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cape Cod Vacation

The week before last we headed to Cape Cod to enjoy a week's vacation. I've been meaning to write about all the fun and exciting things we did but we've been too busy having more fun. This summer is really shaping up to be an A+. We're having so much fun in the sun and the vacation was more of the same!

I actually was hesitant to go on vacation and by hesitant I mean I didn't want to book the vacation at all. In previous years we have done vacations with my husband's family which is always a blast. It didn't work out this year though that we could all do a joint vacation so it would just be me, Tim, and the kids. Although I (obviously) love spending time with them I just envisioned it basically being a lot of work for me. I mean I was going to pack up all our stuff here to move it to another house for a week where I would still need to cook, clean, and do laundry? How fun would that be? But it turns out it was a lot of fun!

We spent the week in Hyannis where we were we could walk to the beach. The beach had an ocean side and a bay side which was perfect so we could hunt for seashells and enjoy some waves and then the kids could enjoy some easy swimming on the calm side. We also spent a day in Harwich visiting my aunt and uncle, a day in Provincetown, a rainy day with friends bowling and going to the Cape Cod chip factory, and my brother and his wife came down for a beach day, too. There were smiles, games, ice cream, and booze. Fun, fun, and more fun!

I know I'll never get around to writing about it all so I figured I would share some of my favorite pictures from the week. So again, to recap the vacation, it was...FUN!

The bunk beds were a big hit
Checking out the seals in Chatham
Daniel loving the beach
We found Foxborough at the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown and...

We climbed to the top - twice!

It's a whale - AHHHHH!
Go Harbor Hawks!
Beach snuggles
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
So there you have it - a great vacation! I'm already thinking of what we can do next year!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Listen To Your Mother VIDEO!!!

It seems only fitting that the video for Listen To Your Mother would be released today on my mother's birthday. Watching the videos brings back a flood of amazing memories. Thanks again to everyone who supported me!

For those who were not able to make the show or just can't get enough of me, I've attached my video below.

Now that you've seen my reading be sure to check out the rest of the awesome cast HERE!

A Door of Memories

The first time I came home from college I was welcomed by a homemade sign my mother had put on my bedroom door. For whatever reason, neither my mom nor I took the sign down that day. That decision turned out to be a pretty important one since it started the unofficial tradition of my mother leaving a note on my door EVERY single time I came back home. They ranged from holidays, to doctor appointments, to weddings, to random events. Not a trip home went by that there wasn't a note or sign or decoration added to that bedroom door. The signs were creative, heartfelt, and funny - just like my mom.

I only moved back home for a short few months after college and it was a turbulent time in my life. My mother kept the signs up regardless. Just a couple short years after that, with my mother's ever declining health, it was necessary to do renovations to the house to make it handicapped accessible for her. The walls (and door) to my childhood bedroom would be removed to make a larger room for her. At that time it would have been easy for her to just throw away the notes but instead she carefully took down the signs, saved as many as she could, and packaged them up for me.

Now I occasionally lay out the notes and I like to think of my mom making them - of her sitting in her usual spot at the kitchen table, touching these papers, and writing. As she got more ill, her fine motor skills no longer worked and she lost the ability to write, and cut, and glue. But not on this door - on this door of memories she can write just fine. She is smart and witty and capable. I honestly struggle sometimes to remember her that way. For the last few years of her life, the muscle disorder that she had did such a number on her physically and mentally.  It's hard for me not to remember her that way. I cherish these notes because they so clearly remind me of the person she was before she was so very sick. They remind me of the mom who I grew up with and the mom who cared for me before our roles were reversed.

Today would have been my mom's 60th birthday. I can only imagine that there's a door up in heaven with the sign "Happy Birthday, Rose!" on it. She deserves all the celebrating in the world.
Some of the notes from my old door
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