Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Day in the Park - A Remembrance of Jayce

A local family lost their son in a tragic accident earlier this summer. On July 3,18 month old Jayce Sherman Chattelle drowned in the family's backyard pool.

Jayce's family is trying to turn this tragic accident into something that will help others - they want to prevent another incident like this from ever happening to another family again. Drowning is sadly the leading cause of injury related death among children between the ages of 1-4. In Jayce's memory,
"A Day in the Park - A Remembrance of Jayce the Healer" will take place on September 14 in India Point Park from noon to 5pm. This fundraiser (which they hope to turn into an annual event) is to help create awareness of water safety and prevention of childhood drowning by providing:
-CPR instructions
-FREE door alarms
-FREE life jacket suits for babies and toddlers
-FREE swimming lessons to families with young children
-Pool safety tips
There will also be food, entertainment, face painting, Disney Characters, a bouncy house, photo booth, “Tony” the Dancing Cop and more.

Envious Swimming will have a booth set up at the event. The Envious Swimming program is home to over 700 active swimmers and Rhode Island’s only Make a Splash Partner. Envious offers swimming lessons for all ages - infants through adults. Everyone who attends A Day in the Park that is not currently enrolled with Envious will receive a free swim lesson. Envious will also match the amount of money raised that day for a scholarship.

Please help share and spread the word.

I hope to see you there September 14th.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sol Republic Wireless Deck Giveaway

*Disclosure: I was given a Sol Republic x Motorola DECK 1500-10 speaker in exchange for a blog post and social media promotion. This is my honest review. Stick with me, because at the end of this I get to give one away to a reader!*

I'm the kind of girl that has to have music on all the time. Always have been. And I am always singing.

For some reason I never thought to add a radio to my kitchen when I am cooking - so I will end up opening my laptop up and playing music there, or from my cell phone. It works OK, but I feel like I can never get it as loud as I would like it. And have you ever tried dragging a laptop from room to room while you are cleaning? Just so you can hear your playlist? Not so fun.

I never really gave much thought to something like a wireless speaker. That's sort of my husband's department. He's up on those things. Sol Republic contacted me about reviewing a wireless speaker and I jumped at the chance to try one out.

Honestly, I had no idea how much I would love it. I hoped it would make things easier, sound better ... but I really wasn't sure what kind of a difference it would make. The package came with the SOL REPUBLIC x Motorola DECK 1500-10 speaker (featuring R2 Sound Engines and 360° Full Sound for immersive audio) and my oldest held it proudly.

Even my 8 year old knew what it was for! Ours came in the lemon lime color, with an AC adapter, USB charging cable, audio cable and a case. (I love the stretchy black case!)

Once we charged it up (charges amazingly fast by the way!) and synched it to my cell phone, I had access to my entire playlists and radio stations. The sound quality was great and I could get it as loud - or as quiet - as I wanted it. I was jamming out in my kitchen while cooking and later cleaning up.

My husband is in love with it's Heist Mode, which lets you pair up to 5 devices, so your friends can take turns controlling the speaker. Which means he can play his music on it too.

After that, we realized it could pretty much go anywhere with us. We throw it in the car and it goes just about everywhere with us. We played a few hours of music at a park while having a family cookout.

We took it to the beach and played music while the kids built sand castles. (See it right there on top of the polka dot cooler bag?)

I'm going to be upfront here. It was retailing for about $199.99 though you can now find it $149.99 (with free shipping) through the Sol Republic website. I know the price seems high - or at least it did to me. But after the last 2 weeks of using it I can tell you it is WELL worth the price.

With school starting this week, the possibilities for what we can do with this - and where we can take it - are almost endless because it's so small and compact. My cell is always with me and it's easy to throw the speaker in a bag and just go. Those hours we sometimes spend sitting waiting for auditions for the boys? It's coming with us - quietly. Before and after swim lessons? It can go to the pool too! Boys want to play a bit on the playground after school? They can rock their tunes. (They haven't stopped playing with the deck since it came home.)

It even has an option for speakerphone, enabling hands-free calls.

In addition to their website, you can also follow Sol Republic on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Enter below on the Rafflecopter for a chance at winning a Sol Republic deck for yourself! (Open to residents of the US and Canada only. You can only win once with Sol Republic in a 6 month period.) After you enter my giveaway (which will be shipped to you from the company, color of the deck not guaranteed), head on over to my friend Mama Loves Media and enter for another chance to win there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Releasing the butterflies and praying mantises

You know how much we love Insect Lore. (This post is totally Not Sponsored by the way.) For what I think is the 3rd year in a row, we sent away for the caterpillars for the boys. And for the 2nd year in a row, we had the praying mantis egg come at the same time. With the crazy cool weather we have been having I started to worry if any of them would hatch before the weather really took a turn. I usually order them earlier in the summer.

The caterpillars turned into their cocoons in no time, but 3 out of the 5 fell to the bottom of the jar. We had never had that happen before. We looked it up and saw that they were in danger of their wings not forming right. Al attached each one carefully to a cotton ball with a bobby pin (a true MacGyver move) and hung them back at the top of the enclosure to be sure they would be OK.

A few days later? We had 5 beautiful butterflies. And we didn't get to see a single one hatch. It happened overnight with the first 3, and then later the next day with the second 2.  We gathered some flowers at the park and put sugar water on them so we could keep them at home for a few days.

Yesterday the praying mantises started hatching. And the boys missed that too. Huge difference from last time where we were able to watch everything and video it all. We ended up getting lucky though, because it took a full two days for the pretty mantises (as the boys still call them) to finish hatching, so they were able to catch some of it.

We decided that today was the day to let everyone go. The boys carefully transported everyone to their Nonno and Lita's house because they felt they would like those gardens and flowers the best. They were all able to hold the last butterfly who stuck around for a few minutes with us.

Then we went to the vegetable garden and started to let the praying mantises go in several different places. Even my niece G held some of them. The boys loved how they slowly crawled on their hands and decided it must be because the praying mantises knew that they had raised them. 
Here is a quick video of the butterfly release I took. We definitely can't wait to do this again next summer.

Monday, August 18, 2014


It may not be Thankful Thursday, but I feel like it's overdue around here. Laura tagged me on Facebook to list 3 positives a day for an entire week. Something about the chaos in my life lately makes it seem a little daunting.

But we can totally use some positivity around here so here we go.

I am so thankful for my kickass friends. The ones I can call when everything feels like everything is breaking down. The ones who remind me that there is always something to be thankful for. The ones who tell me I need to meet them at the gym because I will feel better. The ones that I can kick back with on the lake - or at the beach - at their house - or at a pig roast with ... and just be.

I'm thankful for amazing sunsets, and time spent with my boys. All 4 of them.

I'm thankful for Al being on vacation this week. It doesn't even matter that we aren't going away this time around. The little day trips and just spending time as a family (in-between looking at houses) before school starts is perfect enough.

I'm thankful that the boys get to spend days like these with family.

I'm thankful we live so close to the water, because it's part of what keeps me going.

I'm thankful that we are able to surprise the boys with their first trip to Disney in just a matter of weeks. The countdown is in full effect (unbeknownst to the kids).

For all this and more, I am thankful. And a big thank you to Laura for reminding me that there is always something to be positive about. I tell the boys that all the time - but sometimes I don't always remember it for myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting unstuck

Ever feel like you are stuck right where you are - while also being pulled in several different directions? I'm being pulled, but my feet are still planted. I think that's how things are right now. I feel like I have been composing this very post in my head for what seems like days now. But I can't make all the words come out right.

Things with the dog? I know you know how that is turning out. I guess that's a blog post for another day because right now I just can't.

Last week brought some serious changes. In addition to leaving some things behind, there were new things we started as well. We buckled down and started seriously looking at new areas. Houses, neighborhoods, schools and more.

And I have done so much ... soul searching I guess. This house that we live in? Has never really ever felt like home. Just the place that we lived. Our first apartment? That felt like home. An entirely too tiny one, but it was home. Moving into this one over 10 years ago, I told myself that it would feel like home over time. In what seemed like the blink of an eye it went from too much space for the two of us, to crazy small for the five of us. I realize that we spent so many years talking about moving on, having one foot out the door ... I mean our first child wasn't even supposed to go to Kindergarten where we are (by original plans) ... how could it ever have felt like more than just the place that we live?

The last year and a half has been a constant roller coaster when it comes to trying to sell this house and move on to where we want to be. We never imagined we would still be here now, still trying to work it all out. My mantra for over the last year has been hold the vision trust the process. No matter how hard it has been, how much I started to doubt it, I held on to that. I said it to myself all the time. I packed up part of the house, took all the photos from the walls ... surely something would come.

Last week I thought I found what we were looking for. And it couldn't have been at a better time with less than 2 weeks till the start of school for the kids. For 3 days we went back and forth with someone who misrepresented who they were. I knew something wasn't adding up but I wanted it to work ... only to find out it was all a scam. I am so thankful I knew better than to give out certain information - or send money - but I was so mad that I wasted my time. And that someone would do such a thing.

Our relator is getting a list put together for us of places we can start checking out tomorrow. To rent instead of buy - so we can take more time and figure out what it is that we really want. Because everywhere we really want doesn't seem to be available right now.

I'm trying hard to go with the flow, see where things take us ... but I think we all know I'm not really a go with the flow gal. I'm a planner and I will plan that ish to death. (Ask my husband who I am currently driving crazy.) The up in the air stuff is really hard for me. I'm taking today to just ... do nothing. Do what I have to do, but house wise, nothing. Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be on. Pulling out the boxes and going room to room.

Getting rid of what we don't need, boxing anything that I can. With all the things I have let go of in the process, how can there Still be so much stuff left. Endless.

If there really is something to this whole manifesting/visioning thing ... now is the time it all needs to come together.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Because I needed more chaos in my life, we got a dog 16 months ago. A tiny adorable puppy that we all loved from the moment he came home. We had wanted to fill that space that Merlin left a few years before when he passed away, but knew the boys needed to be older first.

I thought they were old enough. I thought 3 boys, a dog and a fenced in backyard would be the perfect combination. I pictured them all running around for hours in the yard. In the beginning, it was all adorable.

And then he grew to the size of a small horse. A most of the time dirty one (no matter how many baths he got). The boys could no longer hold his leash. He became stronger than they were in what seemed like an instant.

I knew he would be giant, but I didn't think it would be a problem. The problem was, I had boys who would rather spend hours cuddling with the dog and being low key - which sometimes he loves - but in reality he needs so much more.

When he started destroying the house, I blamed it on him being so young. Surely he needed training, obedience school, heck let's ship him off for a week of intensive training. Only over the last month or so have I realized that that isn't the problem at all. As he started choosing the boys most precious stuffed animals from their beds that he had never before touched, eating things from the inside of my pocketbook, getting into all the things that are actually most important ... I realized what it really was.

He's bored.

And it's our fault.

I spend half my day chasing him down to retrieve whatever he is eating. Chew toys? With the exception of those super hard rubber balls, he takes them apart in minutes. (Even the ones we bought that said extra tough and practically indestructible. Ha!) No match for Captain America. No matter how much we spend, a typical toy lasts less than an hour from the time of purchase in the house with him.

He's an amazing dog with the boys though. How many dogs do you see that let 3 boys constantly lie on top of him whenever they feel like.

He's never once growled at them - or any of us. It's tough to have people over though, because he gets so excited all he wants to do is jump on you and lick you to death. For hours.

We have been doing him a disservice though ... and I finally see it. For weeks on end I have been lecturing the boys. Go play with him. Throw him a ball. Take him out in the yard. They don't want to hear it. When I do force them all out, I watch the three of them stand on top of the play structure where he can't get to them. It's not fair. I spend my days yelling about this dog we were supposed to love.

Yesterday I hit the breaking point. It hadn't even been 24 hours since I had given a huge lecture to the kids - that they need to play outside WITH the dog for at least a half hour a day (which isn't anywhere near enough but I figured it would be a start) or I would be finding him a new family. They promised they would play with him - until the next day when they decided they didn't want to go in the yard.

Then he got to Mr. Monkey again - and ran right out the back door with him. I spent several minutes chasing him around the yard as he chewed him and it broke my heart a little. He knew it was important to one of the boys and that someone would have to come after him. Al and I had a talk when he got home. We took the boys and the dog for a long walk together. When we got back home, we sat them all down.

There are no more second chances. This isn't about not loving Captain America. This is about doing what is right - and fair - for him. Because he needs so much more. The boys have one week to show us a few things. To play outside with him every.single.day. To throw him a ball. To spend more time with him instead of closing him out of a bedroom so they can play a game without him. If they can do these things for an entire week Captain America can continue to live with us. If they can't? We will be finding him a new home with a family who Can spend more time with him.

And there will be no more pets for a good long while. Not until everyone is older. And IF we get another dog someday, it won't be a puppy. Maybe an older dog.

I thought back to how easy it was with Merlin. The Big Guy was 3 when we had to put him down, the twins about a year and a half old. There was no chaos with Merlin. He would follow them around, cuddle with and lick them ... lie down in the backyard while they played. He was so old by the time the boys were born. He was great with them - but if I'm honest with myself, I have to remember what it was like in the years following Al and I picking him out from the pound. Disaster after disaster. He had so much energy and he destroyed everything. The years passing by sort of make you forget that.

The boys cried and said they didn't want to give him to a new family. But then a few minutes later, the Doodle Bop asked if we could go say goodbye before we drop him off to a new family. The Bunny Bee asked if he could take some extra photos to remember him by.

It kind of sounded like they were throwing in the towel.

This morning though, they took Captain out in the yard on their own and have been playing for over an hour without incident. They may not really be playing With him, but at least they took him out. And they are filling his water bowl. I don't know if it will last past today, but I guess time will tell. There will be no more lectures or reminders. The kids know that. As much as I want things to work out - and I don't want to take this dog away from the boys - I'm not sure how this is going to turn out. Deep down, I have a feeling this will only last a day or so. A week from now we may very well be looking for a new family for Cappy.

And it feels terrible even though I know it would be the best thing for him.