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I grew up in a family that traveled extensively and am incredibly fortunate to have lived and visited many exciting and captivating places in the world. Evan and I share this passion together and spent months over our 15 years together traveling.


We feel that the time has come for us to introduce our wanderlust to the girls. With that, we have kicked things off with an easy first jaunt up to New England.


It is our hope that through these trips we can introduce our kids to the big wide world, its diversity, and impact how Eliza and Sophia view themselves as citizens of planet Earth.


The details of the trip are pretty simple — 2 days in Maine, 3 days in Boston. While we are content on the beach, especially with a book in hand, we wanted to mix things up to make sure Sophia and Eliza felt occupied. Our flight out was on Thursday afternoon ensuring that we beat the mad weekend rush to all the beaches in Maine and got a head start on lobster rolls fresh air. Kennebunkport served as our home base in Maine. We visited the Portland Headlight Lighthouse and Portland on one day and made the next day a beach day.



I found an astoundingly small number of recommendations for restaurants and things to do when planning the details of  the trip. What I did find and what we discovered ourselves, I am sharing so that others can hopefully benefit.


Accommodations:

  • You can’t go wrong staying in Kennebunkport. The Bushes, after all, have a huge compound there. It’s scenic, close to both Portsmouth, Portland, and it boasts beautiful beaches and a very family-focused vibe. We stayed in Dock Square which was central to everything and close to the beaches.

Dining:

  • Kennebunport: Alisson’s is great if you’re traveling with kids. The food is simple, but well prepared and locally-sourced. The kids menu lists the very same fried chicken bites and fish and chips but the dishes were obviously made in house. They provide crayons and coloring pages, too.
  • Kennebunport: The Clam Shack lives up to its reputation as the best lobster roll in the world. Uncomplicated, fresh, and done just right, the lobster rolls and fried clams are the very definition of a laid back summer. I would consider a trip to Kennebunport just for these.
  • Kennebunport: Salt and Honey provides good fresh seafood-heavy options in a laid back setting.
  • Kennebunkport: It wouldn’t be a summer trip without a visit to a local  ice cream parlor. Rocococo Artisan Ice Cream did not disappoint despite the fact that we live within 5 minutes of world-class parlors and make our own, too. The kids opted for the delicious chocolate and mint chip while Evan and I tried spicy ginger and fragrant guava. Yum.
  • Portland: Portland is a must-see if you can tear yourself away from the beach and relaxation. There, you will find Central Provisions which offers inventive dishes that are both delicious and new. I wouldn’t say this is child-friendly in terms of the menu but worth a try with kids who are 5+.
  • Portland: The Holy Donut serves up unique flavors of potato donuts. Donuts. Enough said.
  • Portsmouth: We were in for huge surprise in terms of atmosphere and food at the Flatbread Company. It doesn’t look all that special and is fairly big which makes one think big, mass-produced, and run of the mill food. Instead, there are flatbreads and pizzas made with organic ingredients and fired in a wood burning oven. There is a big log for people to sit on in front of the oven. The girls loved watching Charlie fire the pizzas and Eliza was ready to stay and apprentice.

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This past weekend was supposed to be amazing. I had grand plans for the three days at home catching up on rest and relaxation. Except that just as Sophia was getting over a stomach bug, Eliza came down with it and Sophia somehow, somewhere picked up the common cold.



In the end, we did enjoy some of the weekend despite all the time spent nursing the girls to health.

My sister hosted a beautiful dinner to celebrate the Fourth of July and we baked a Danish dream cake to accompany our singing her a very Happy Birthday. I took the girls to a woodworking gallery where we ogled chairs which cost $10,000.


Evan and I cooked; we made ice cream, lamb chops, burgers, chicken cutlets, kugel, and a peach and blueberry crumble, too.

And although we would have done just fine, we appreciated all the help my parents lent us this weekend. My Dad came in on Sunday to spend a bit of 1×1 time with Sophia and then, the girls both spent the better part of the day at their house on Monday.

More than the hands-on help or the blintzes and chicken soup, what we got was just what we needed—support. When you’re up in the middle of the night with a baby who is so warm that you’re sweating holding her and are not sure if you should head to the ER, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.

All the reasons we moved back to Philadelphia and our decisions to uproot our life in Maryland are justified each time we see our family.

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Mondays, as I have just learned, are best spent in the company of friends, walking to a beautiful museum and spending a glorious morning there with your daughter. Now that I know this, I shall endeavor to spend more Mondays in just this very way.
A good friend of ours happens to have a lovely tradition where she takes her two and a half year old son to a different museum/event every Monday. She was coming into town to visit the Constitution Center and invited me and Sophia to join in. The invitation was an offer I couldn’t resist and so Sophia and I [with a hot cup of tea in hand] headed off toward Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.

ConstitutionCenter

I love, love, love the recently constructed Constitution Center. It is a modern, light-filled building offering a variety of exhibits from art to educational multi-media displays that teach about the various inner workings of our nation’s government. I know that some may think that Sophia is a little young for this type of a museum but my outlook on these kinds of outings is simple: Sophia and soon enough Eliza being part of our family, will participate in our family activities and learn to find something to learn and enjoy in every situation. In fact, Sophia and her young partner in crime loved the 3-D models of our government buildings in the nation’s capital as well as the interactive displays about states where one could see the official flag and bird for each one. Sophia and I went through the voting exhibit too and having had to go into a faux voting booth with her, I can say with a mild tinge of disappointment that she seems to side with a party the views of which directly oppose mine.

The kids were marvelous in the museum and soon enough we decided to take them to a nearby playground for some fun in the sun and lunch. The day was a great success. I enjoyed my time with a great friend whose child is close in age to Sophia during an educational experience within walking distance to our home, time outdoors and the sights and sounds of the city during the peak of fall foliage.

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Distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder—even the littlest of hearts. This weekend marked the first one since Eliza’s birth that Evan was away from our home overnight. He had a great reason to be away too—his future brother-in-law’s bachelor weekend. As difficult as it was for Evan to get away, we felt it was important to support his sister and represent her family.
He drove eight hours to get there (Saratoga Springs) and drove back two days later.
Meanwhile, I held the fort down here with the help of my mother-in-law and my parents. I couldn’t have managed the girls on my own yet and feel very fortunate to have had the support that enabled Evan to get away for a guys’ weekend.
When he finally arrived here yesterday, he rushed past me and a feasting Eliza to play with Sophia and she was just so thrilled to see him again. She wanted to share all her weekend activities with her Papa and play just with him. I loved witnessing their reunion and how warm it was.

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The picture is not my finest photography but the content is what really matters: Sophia in her chef’s hat cooking at her play kitchen with petite mittens.

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Once in a while, I compile a list of a few articles/blogs I find interesting and share them. They compose my “food for thought” reading and it is nice to share that.

From the source – a photography project aimed at highlighting small, local, organic produce and products. Especially important for families with kids who are trying to educate their children about where food comes from.

Orangette – a blog about food, adventures… everything that is well written.

Sex at Dawn – my current read — fascinating. I’ve always enjoyed social sciences and especially the topics where they intersect. A very good read.

Food Blog Goodness – I did say goodness, not necessary low calorie-ness. This blog has delicious eats on it …

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A few days ago, I woke up in a try something new state of mind. Menu planning is always a challenge as we try for variety in the dishes we prepare instead of sticking to old favorites. Besides, this drive toward variety is the very thing that helps us expose Sophia to new cuisines and flavors. We’d already done pork, chicken and beef in the last few weeks and, truth be told, I had a definite craving for something rich, satisfying and Italian-inspired. Lo and behold … manicotti. But not just any manicotti, these charred green onion manicotti from the Ideas in Food blog.

Manicotti

They sounded so unique and the recipe so interesting that I just had to try making the delicate, green onion crepes and filling them with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and parsley. The sauce was an adventure, but a very pleasant one thanks to the meat grinder attachment my mother-in-law so generously gifted us. Now that we whipped it out, I’ll likely grind my own meat more often as it is always cheaper.

Manicotti1

Alas, this recipe is fairly easy to make if you can master pouring crepe batter which something I’ve recently done. Also, the majority of the ingredients, if not all, are staples in our fridge and pantry. We’re big fans of the blog and own both of the books the authors have published. Their food is delicious and the recipes treat ingredients in a unique way. Last, and most important is the taste — well it was pure heaven. Using homemade crepes as pasta sheets made the dish feel light and angelic. Delicious, lasts for a few dinners and highly recommended.

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