A Dream is Never Too Big

A Dream is Never Too Big by Baby Jives Co

A Dream is Never Too Big art print by Baby Jives Co

We all have our favorite social media follows: some are beautifully photographed, some have inspirational ideas, some are perfectly written, some are just.. awesome. Baby Jives Co. is a small handmade baby mobile company that I discovered when I was pregnant with Max. In the last couple of years, this business has taken off. I love following them on Facebook and Instagram because the style, the photos, the products are SO inspirational.

But, until now, I haven’t purchased any of their products.

Our story is a familiar one – we’re renovating our house, we’re saving after the big home purchase, we’re focused on other things, blah blah. But when this opportunity came up – it was too perfect to miss:

This month – for the next two weeks – you can get a downloadable version of the art print “A Dream is Never Too Big” for $5 AND support the fight against childhood cancer over at PS I Adore You. There is something about collaborations like this – a small businesses and an awareness organization/shopping site that gives me the warm and fuzzies. Check out the rest of their – always changing – amazing lineup of gear for kids and moms. LOVE IT!

Baby Jives Co is SO talented and SO amazing that they’re actually up for the Martha Stewart Living “American Made” Awards this year. You can vote for them here: http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/89661/crafts/baby-jives-co

And you absolutely should!

 

XOXO,

Julie

Posted in Sustain.Others | Tagged , | Leave a comment

APB Smoothie (Acai-Pomegranate-Blueberry)

On one of my wandering adventures this summer I came across a coffee shop and, in a moment of weakness, ordered a random smoothie from the menu. It was one of the best smoothies I have ever had! Since then I have tried to recreate the magic of the APB Smoothie and – until now – have been unsuccessful. So I called Jaho Coffee in Salem, Mass. and asked what their secret was.

It’s a fruit puree mix.

Bugger.

So I got back to work, mixing a series of ingredients to try to get that perfect blend. I think this recipe is close, and I also know it could be better. But on a hot day, or an afternoon when you need a little pick me up without the calories, this won’t disappoint.

Enjoy!

Acai-Pomegranate-Blueberry Smoothie

Acai-Pomegranate-Blueberry Smoothie

Acai-Pomegranate-Blueberry Smoothie

  • 1 c. Frozen Blueberries
  • 2-4 ice cubes
  • 1 T. Honey
  • 1 c. Acai Juice
  • 1/2 c. Pomegranate Juice

I used Sambazon Acai Juice and POM Juice (purchase according to how tart you like your juice.. I tend to purchase sweeter blends).

Here is my theory: I think with the right frozen berry sorbet, this will be absolutely divine. If you have a combination that works, please share!

 

XOXO,

Julie

 

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the ninth installment of #100HappyDays and I love this project.

100 Happy Days #9

100 Happy Days #9

The middle picture would be more aptly titled “goodbye, summer!” but I’m still not ready to talk about that.

This summer was AWESOME. The weather was perfect. The days were long. Everything was easy.

We visited historical homes and counted frogs in the Roman-eque garden. We swam in historical ponds. We sought out culture. And bike rides. And smiles. And when we were tired, we rested … together. It was as easy as breathing.

And though our days are still warm, and I’m forever grateful our routines are back, I’ll miss this summer. I miss it already.

 

XOXO,

Julie

Posted in Sustain.Environment, Sustain.Me | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Meet Cal

Cal First Day of School 2014

Cal First Day of School 2014

Hi, Blog! Meet Cal. He’s my 6-yr old nephew: an incredibly sweet boy with a world of potential. You’ve probably seen him before in pictures, or mentioned in stories, or photographed on Instagram. We live in the same town and spend a lot of time with him.

But you probably guessed that.

What most people in my life don’t know is that he’s more than just my nephew. I’m his guardian – or co-guardian – along with my mom. I’ve been writing this post – in some form or fashion – for almost a year now. And I’m finally ready to “out” myself and start talking about it. So here we go.

His mom, my sister, left him on a Saturday night while we were getting pizza.

In October of last year, there was a lot happening in our family. We moved to a new town. We were doing major renovations to our home. And we shared a 3-bedroom apartment with my mom, my sister, my nephew, our two dogs, our active 1 yr old, and Chris and I for FOUR weeks. It was hot. It was crowded. It was difficult. But it forced us to see how Cal was being cared for. And we got worried.

One minute she was here, the next she was gone.

And just like that, he was in our lives. And that’s the way it’s been for almost a year.

Cal is a kindergartener. He is loving and kind. He loves the color orange, animals, the train, his friends at school. He wears glasses and is learning to read. He loves “craft time” and often insists on it. He counts past 20. He loves his cousin Max. He loves “helping” around the house. He hugs and kisses and loves and thanks EVERYONE who is kind to him. And that is why he wins over every teacher, every care giver, he has had.

Cal is also learning impaired. I hate that term, but it’s the best way I have to describe it. He’s not autistic. He doesn’t have a specific term for his diagnosis. He’s just .. Cal. And Cal doesn’t always feel like pottying on the potty. And he has trouble listening in school. And he can’t follow instructions unless you’re quiet, calm, and clear with him. And he drools. And he is difficult. And stubborn.

And we have had a lot of catch up work to do. When he first came under our care, he was barely speaking. He didn’t know letters or numbers or how to write. He was rough with other kids, with Max, and our dogs. He never listened. He played in the street no matter how many times we told him not to. He wet his pants regularly. He had a dozen cavities. He wouldn’t eat. And some of that still persists. And we’re working on it.

We have had so many moments in the last year where we have honestly asked ourselves if we could really do this. To be fair, it’s a huge undertaking to take care of anyone else’s kid. And when they have a host of baggage, it’s pretty easy to say no. But I think we honestly asked ourselves that question so many times because of the weight of its meaning.

And it’s not until we start listing alternatives that we realize – YES. Yes, we can do this. And we have to do this. Because we love him.

There are also a lot of awesome parts. Little stuff, like when he makes Max laugh while we’re waiting in a long line, and big stuff, like when he tells us how happy he is. And I can’t wait to share all that stuff. Because we all have battles. We all have challenges. And seeing others work through it inspired me when I needed it most.

lots of smiles

lots of smiles

 

XOXO,

Julie

 

 

 

 

Posted in Motherhood, Sustain.Me, Sustain.Others | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Labor Day!

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

A friend posted this weekend: “when did Labor Day include fireworks???”

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do like the new tradition (and so do the kids)!

 

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

XOXO,

Julie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The right answer to ‘how is the baby?’ and why we have kids in the first place

The right answer to ‘how is the baby?’ and why we have kids in the first place was just re-shared on the archived Offbeat Families website. And, yes, I’m still bummed the website is no longer active. I love the conversations in the Offbeat community. They’re so.. honest. down to earth. real. offbeat.

Photo credit: Chelle of Mello Rose Photography

Photo credit: Chelle of Mello Rose Photography

Posted in Motherhood | Tagged , | Leave a comment

#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the eighth installment of #100HappyDays and I love this project.

100 Happy Days #8

100 Happy Days #8

Seeing these photos, I see a lot of smiles and happy memories. On a whim of last-minute change of plans, I took the boys to Vermont – a 4 hr drive – by myself to meet up with another mom and her two boys. And not just any boys – THESE BOYS. These crazy little monkeys that want to run, and climb, and jump, and catch, and push their limits at any and all possible moments.

They caught frogs in the pond. Ate ice cream and played on swings. Explored abandoned train tracks. Noticed sculptures. Smiled. Laughed. Ran. Splashed. Got muddy. And dirty. And somewhere in between, we ate great food and had time for a glass of wine. And it was awesome.

Around the house, we started making – and baking – taking advantage of this amazingly cool summer weather. We made roasted red pepper hummus. We baked zucchini muffins, morning glory muffins, and banana bread to conquer the excesses of our garden (recipes to come). And I got to see a good friend do stand up story-telling at a nearby bar. It’s no wonder I was so tired! (hence the resting picture with pepper)

 

In the busyness of everyday life, I love that we have photo documentation to show where we’ve been, who we’ve seen, and what we’ve done. It helps me appreciate what we have, how much we have, and how lucky we are to have and know and see the people in our lives. As someone commented on a recent post: we’re living life. And I love that.

 

XOXO,

Julie

Posted in Motherhood, Sustain.Environment, Sustain.Others | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Oh, the places we go!

We’re in the thick of the part of the summer I never wanted to happen. My nephew (Cal) is out of summer school, Max is his usual self (a handful), we have appointments and deadlines, and – on top of it all – Chris is traveling for work all of next week.

OH my.

Thankfully, I have learned a few tricks in recent months about managing these two wild boys, and I apply them to what I really want to do:

TRAVEL!

I love traveling (who doesn’t?!), but with two kids that can get into trouble the second they think they’re not being watched, it takes a solid travel strategy to keep us all happy.

Many parents, friends, and families will tell you that it’s a lot to go on excursions with kids. Even a day trip can be a major headache. But with a learning impaired 6-yr-old and the behavioral and physical limitations that comes with, coupled with a wildly energetic 2-yr-old, doing anything can take a lot of convincing.

And if it’s not done right, it will be THE WORST.

So we spent months working on our day trip strategy to find something that works for each and all of us to get us out of the house, having wonderful experiences, and happy smiles each and every day:

It’s about boundaries.

Let me tell you about our boundaries: we do not go into toy stores, gift shops, grocery stores, art museums or anywhere where there are things that cannot be touched, that could be broken, or where they could get too excited and get into trouble. We do not go places where kids are discouraged. We do not go places that are not stroller accessible. We do not go places where kids under age 4 won’t get it. We don’t go places where we need to sit still for more than 0.002 seconds. We do not walk long distances. We avoid large crowds. We avoid long periods in the sun. We avoid deep water. We avoid sharp edges and busy streets. We do not go places where there is a “no running” policy. We do not go places where kids could fall from a tall height (which includes some play grounds). We do not spend a lot of money.

That’s a lot of “no”.

Here is a sample of our YES:

Museum of Science Boston

Museum of Science Boston

Southwick Zoo

Southwick Zoo, Mendon, Massachusetts

Mass Audubon Farm Santuary, Lincoln

Mass Audubon Farm Sanctuary, Lincoln

Swan Boats, Boston Public Garden

Swan Boats, Boston Public Garden

Fitchburg Line Commuter Rail

Fitchburg Line – MBTA Commuter Rail

Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor

Greenway Park, Boston

Splash Pad, Greenway Park, Boston

Blueberry Picking, Monadnock PYO Blueberry Farm, Troy, NH

Blueberry Picking, Monadnock PYO Blueberry Farm, Troy, NH

George's Island Fort, Boston

George’s Island Fort, Boston

Goat Petting, Westminster Town Fair

Goat Petting, Westminster Town Fair

Boston Harbor Islands Ferry

Boston Harbor Islands Ferry

And while it can be a lot of work, and it can be tiring, looking back on the pictures of the places we have been fills my heart with SO MUCH JOY. I can’t help but smile.

In the latest and greatest series here #travelma (a double entendre meaning “mom that travels” and “traveling around Massachusetts”), I’ll share photos of our experiences traveling on accessible day trips in and around Massachusetts. The beauty of this series is that if you live in Massachusetts, or plan to travel here, you have a lot of EASY ways to see this part of the country in a whole different way. And if you don’t live here, these same experiences and types of travel can be found anywhere, if you know what you’re looking for.

Happy Tuesday!

 

XOXO,

Julie

 

Posted in Motherhood, Sustain.Others | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reuse Economy in Action: Awesome Curb Finds

Anyone who lives in or around a college town knows move-in day. In Boston, with so many major colleges and universities in and around the city, we are all aware of what day/weekend the 250,000 students that attend Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Northeastern, Boston University, and 100 other colleges move in. And on that weekend, we go on vacation. We exit the city. We wait for the dust to settle. We avoid the restaurants where undergrads will bring their parents after their dorm rooms are set up. We stay away from tourist traps where they will opportunistically visit as part of the celebration of their child making it to a prestigious university in a historic part of the country.

And we avoid driving altogether.

But what you may not know about is the lesser celebrated, but equally exiting event which takes place in the weeks leading up to move-in day. Before the thousands of new temporary residents can migrate to Boston, thousands must move out. That means FREE STUFF, lightly used, on every street corner and sidewalk in the region from the transient population of students, post-grads, and university staff who likely just figured out how to get from one end of the city to the other without using a map (Boston is annoyingly complicated to navigate, see below).

exactly.

Exactly. (Original source unknown, it’s been filtered all over the internet by half the people I know)

Every year for the first few years that I lived in the city, I would watch the sidewalks in June and August, looking for great items to furnish our apartment. And when my sister got her first apartment in college, we did the exact same thing.

It’s a wonderful example of the reuse economy at it’s finest. And everyone wins. Because, I don’t know about you, but my move out of college was less than 24 hours before I flew out on a 6-week trip to East Africa. My crap just needed to be moved, dumped, and abandoned until I returned. And I know that was not a unique situation.

Curb treasures are the best!

I used this knowledge after our first yard sale back in June. As I mentioned in my previous post, we made a modest amount of money for the time invested and I felt really good that I was able to get rid of so much stuff and that others were able to benefit from the things we didn’t need (DVDs 3 for a $1, yes, please! Used jogging stroller for $20, heck, yes!).

 

Sell it all at a yard sale!

If it doesn’t sell, come back later for curbside goodies!

Despite our surprising success at our yard sale, however, we still had a lot of stuff left over at the end. As I mentioned before, I hate waste. HATE it. And I also understand the resale value of things that are well kept and in great condition. I separated the remaining items into four piles:

1. Things that could go with items people bought. This was easy because we knew several people that bought things. I collected the items that went with those things and delivered them.

2. Books. There are a ton of used book stores in our area. This was easy to part with.

3. High quality goods. This is a little tricky, depending on where you live. But in our small town we actually have several resale shops that sell high quality goods. People love them. So it was easy to take the items priced “too high” for a yard sale downtown.

4. Leftovers to donate. Tricky distinction between #3, but basically things that didn’t fit the products sold at the resale shops downtown, but would be beneficial for an organization like Goodwill to sell. These items also give you a tax return.

5. The rest. Everything else went to the curb and was literally picked up less than 3 hours after the sale finished.

If you are going to try the methods of resale I mentioned above, I would recommend choosing a similar order. One of the bonuses to bringing your goods to a resale shop is that you support local businesses and your neighbors. It’s an endeavor worth the effort if you can find the time. Besides, whatever they can’t take can be donated or left curbside until trash day.

Happy curb hunting!

 

PS. If you find any curbside treasures please link in the comments.

Posted in Sustain.Environment, Sustain.Home, Sustain.Others | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#100 Happy Days

#100HappyDays is a free photo documentation project designed to inspire people to start noticing what makes them happy every day, be happier, be thankful, be optimistic, and all sorts of good stuff. If there is one thing that all this life documentation has taught me, it’s that the small, everyday moments – routines, habits, meals – are the things that make up who you are. When we acknowledge and celebrate those small moments, we’re celebrating ourselves. You can learn more about the project by visiting the 100happydays.com website and sign up for free!

 

This is the seventh installment of #100HappyDays and I love this project.

100 Happy Days #7

100 Happy Days #7

This is our trip to Bar Harbor, Maine. Days spent hiking my favorite national park – Acadia – and evenings spent eating sea food on decks overlooking the ocean. Max has fallen in love with boats, so every activity seemed to involve BOATS! and most afternoons went something like: “mommy? MOMMY!” “yes, Max?” “BOATS!” (points to boats) “yes, I see them. do you love boats?” “ya” (and repeat.. for hours).

Bar Harbor is a great coastal community. They have the tourism gig figured out: lots of hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind local artist memorabilia at reasonable prices, great food, and a proper selection of ice cream and coffee shops.

I would move there in a heartbeat.

Seaside dining in Bar Harbor, Maine

Seaside dining in Bar Harbor, Maine

At dinner one night, our usual table distractions were proving ineffective. Days of car travel, disrupted routines, and stroller rides left this little man in need of some play time. As Chris walked him around Geddy’s restaurant, pointing out all of the different driftwood signs and license plates that hung on the walls and ceiling, the chef called him over to “pet” the lobster. He LOVED it. And we loved it even more. Thank you, dear chef, for saving our meal! Max talked about it all night. And still, weeks later, every time we pass the lobsters at the grocery store, he calls them out and says “awww!” as if they’re little bunnies that just want to be snuggled. Kids are so weird.

Petting a lobster at Geddy's in Bar Harbor, Maine

Petting a lobster at Geddy’s in Bar Harbor, Maine

Acadia National Park is spectacular. It has an impressive mix of easy to moderate hikes, some rock climbing, and enough parking at key viewing points that it is accessible to everyone (particularly parents with napping children who want to see more of the park… ). It’s the kind of place you can take your family year after year, and still have different experiences every time.

If you go, you absolutely have to see the sun rise – at least once – at the top of Cadillac Mountain. You can drive right to the top. It’s an early rise in the summer (you want to get there around 5am, depending on the month you visit). But it’s absolutely worth it. My picture below doesn’t do it justice. Take a look at this google image search of sunrise in Acadia, Maine.

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadaia NP, Maine

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadaia NP, Maine.

Notice the islands in the bottom left corner of the photo, underneath the cloud line? As the sun rises, it burns off the fog, and what you’re left with is a gorgeous mountain top view of the harbor. Every second is literally different from the next: the sunrise happens that fast.

It’s further support for the Maine state slogan: “Maine: the way life should be”.

And, for those of you who think you need to travel halfway across the globe to “see the world”, I would like to submit that the U.S. has a lot to offer even the most experienced travelers.. right in our backyard. And it’s just as important and valuable to see.

 

XOXO,

Julie

Posted in Sustain.Environment, Sustain.Me | Tagged , , | Leave a comment