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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Wicked Tulips Farm - Preston, CT

Spring in New England always takes its sweet, sweet time. The weather warms up and the grass slowly comes back to life. The crocus pop up first and you are so excited for the sunshine and the daffodils follow along. And then, you look at the treeline and it's still gross ugly stick season. I am willing the trees to bloom, to brighten up the skyline and give me something to see from a scenic vista while I hike.
While I impatiently wait for the trees to bud and bloom, the tulips show up and offer a bit of eye candy and color back into our gardens. I planted 50 tulips in one of our tiered garden beds and seeing them as I leave the house or work around the yard always puts a smile on my face. Why didn't I plant them before? They are perennials, come back every year, require very little maintenance, and make amazing cut flowers. I was too smitten with my sweet little tulip collection to cut a stem but thankfully, a friend told me all about a tulip farm in the state covered in tulips with a "Pick Your Own" policy. A quick google search and a reservation was made and we were on our way, a 40-minute drive to the tulip farm.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Reima Rain Gear - Baby/Toddler Clothing and Outdoor Gear

Getting outside with Whitney is an everyday activity, rain or shine. If you read my review of "There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothes" you know I believe in being prepared for any type of weather. You also know that few are doing it better than the Nordic countries and we aren't done talking about them yet.

You can find me outside during the cold of winter, the rainy days of spring, the heat of summer, and the chilly nights of fall. Life in New England demands versatility and preparedness as the weather can be sunny one minute and storming the next. A glimpse into my gear closet will show you a variety of high-quality gear acquired over many years and a lot of research. I have everything I need to get outside and quickly built up Adam's gear stash as well. But Whitney? While we received a lot of hand-me-downs from friends and family, we didn't really have any high-quality raingear or outerwear. I took to the internet and quickly discovered how hard it was to find this type of gear for infants and babies. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Bringing Up Bébé - aka How to Now Lose Yourself in Motherhood And Other Important Things

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman - thoughts and a review

Before I had kids, I envisioned myself as the type of parent who would be as involved as possible. I would have all the workbooks to help my kids get ahead, let my kids try each and every sport, and basically, follow the sequential steps to be by their side to nurture them every step of the way. I thought I would set them up for success in the very typical way of American parenting. 

Once I was old enough to see friends and family have children in a more personal setting, it turned into a social experiment and I did a bit of a u-turn on what I thought was the right way and what wasn't going to work with my lifestyle. I quickly saw how toxic this "overparenting" culture was not only to our children, but to the relationships we spent a lifetime cultivating with our partners, family, and friends.

One of the first books I read about raising kids was "BabyWise". The book has a heavy focus on sleep training and essentially helps you to teach your baby the benefits of a schedule and has a heavy focus on teaching babies to fall asleep independently. After that, I dove into SolidStarts on babyled weaning before turning to a few books that were centered around more of the big picture parenting techniques. I read "There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather" and found a culture of parenting that more closely aligned with the way I actually wanted to parent, in a way that made sense to me and my lifestyle. I looked back at the books I read and quickly realized I was really drawn to a more structured parenting style that focused on independence.

I read about "Bringing Up Bebe" and added it to my request list at the local library, knowing this book had similar themes to the books I have read, but under the lens of a different culture. I was right and soaked up Druckerman's advice as an American living in France. I saw so many similarities between this book and There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather, revolving around autonomy and independence but I also saw some differences. While both cultures emphasize good eaters, the French take food ten steps further and it's admirable how important food is to the French culture right from the start. Sweden is the leader in sustainability and environmentally conscious actions in nearly every aspect of their life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Outdoorsy Parenting - "There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothing" (Book Review and Highlights)

If you "know" me, you are probably really sick of me talking about the Swedes.

I'll admit it, I'm obsessed. I've become absolutely infatuated with their culture, their home design, the way they parent, and the way they approach life and the outdoors. It started with the change of the season as I felt like an outsider for getting outside every day through the winter with my son (for his sanity and mine). All winter long, you could find him in a sled while I towed him on my cross country skis, out for a chilly winter run in his jogging stroller, or snowshoeing the trails with him on my back. Side glances and comments were cast my way as we headed outside despite the temperatures, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes for two hours. 

I knew I wasn't the only one who believed in the importance of the outdoors despite the season and I kept blurting out my defensive response "What do you think Canadians and Nordic countries do, stay inside for four months of the year?" Well, now I know exactly what they do. I started to do some research and it was all over by the time I finished reading a Swedish/American parenting book. "There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge)" by Linda Åkeson McGurk

This book is the perfect reflection on this stage of life I'm currently in. An outdoor advocate and a parent in love with the outdoors. I read this book and so much of what the author said resonated with the way I want to raise my son.  I understand why Scandinavian countries are so passionate about the outdoors, why they are so green/environmentally conscious, and how they truly embrace an active outdoorsy lifestyle in all sorts of weather. I grabbed a copy at my local library and devoured this book in a few days. I kept the notes app open on my phone, quickly jotting down the points that I wanted to remember and share with you. Today's post is a bit of a review and a highlight reel of some of my favorite points from the book. 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Giving Our Kids a "Better Life" - The Modern Twist

As parents, we always want to do "better" for our kids. We want to give them "the things we never had" and "a better life".  My parents grew up very poor before immigrating to the U.S. from the Azorean Islands of Portugal. While their lives improved drastically here in the United States, it still took a lot of grit, hard work, and a bit of luck to get where they are today. While raising a family, it was important for them to follow through on the "give them better" logic. While my father never even graduated high school, he worked hard to ensure we all had the financial means to have the things we wanted (within reason) and to attend a good college without the burden of student loans. As a kid and young adult, I traveled the world, sat down to a homecooked meal every night, was loved by two happily married parents, I had my health and healthy siblings. I lived on a cul-de-sac in a safe quiet little town in coastal Connecticut with a great school system. Heck, I even had a horse. 

While I had a lot, I wasn't raised as a spoiled rotten child. Our family had strict rules that I had to abide by and my parents did a great job of balancing the "give" and the "go get it yourself". I had a busy schedule of babysitting gigs before legally entering the workforce as an ice cream scooping teenager.  I truly had a great childhood by any conventional standard.