March 1, 2017

Maine // Samoset Resort (Winter)

After the holiday bustle died down, we found ourselves suffering from a family-wide case of cabin fever. A few back-to-back illnesses and blizzards resulted in too many weekends spent indoors. Our friends, the Burnells, were feeling similarly cooped up, so Super Bowl Sunday we hatched an escape plan.

Saturday morning that plan was put into action and we ventured 70 miles up the coast for an overnight getaway to the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Neither family has school-aged kids yet, so we didn't intentionally pick the tail-end of February vacation week for our trip. I was a little worried that the resort would be too crowded, but there was just the right amount of guests for a good energy without feeling like we were on top of everyone else.

It was unseasonably warm this past weekend (almost 50 degrees on Saturday!), so we walked the property after dropping our stuff off in our rooms. The resort is perched on a hill overlooking Penobscot Bay. An 18-hole championship golf course fills the stretch between the hotel and the shoreline. The warm temps and fog had cleared most of the snow from the greens, so there was plenty of room for the older kids to run around. The babies hitched rides in Baby Bjorns strapped to the Burnells (thanks for carrying our kid, Shawn!).

The Samoset is usually only open on weekends in the winter. However, they're open every day for February school vacation week and offer a bunch of different kid-entertainment options. A whole conference room had been converted into a rec room complete with board games, corn hole (emblazoned with lobsters), a ping pong table, and a CedarWorks indoor playground. The staff also hosts an arts & crafts activity a few times a day, which is how we became the proud owners of a baggie of green slime.

Unfortunately we couldn't take advantage of the temporary ice skating rink they had set up on the property. The warm temps had turned it into a 100' x 50' puddle with a pretty view. We also missed out on their Glacier Ice Bar. It's an outdoor bar that's carved each January out of 20,000 pounds of glacial ice (we might need to head back without the kids for that one).
The majority of our time was spent at the indoor pool. The 4-year-olds were equipped with swimming aids and the babies were popped into floats, making multi-kid lifeguard duty a little easier to manage. It was W's first time in a pool and he loved it! I think it's safe to say both our boys have the fish gene, boding well for future family beach vacations.

The one time we did feel the fullness of the resort was at dinner. The onsite restaurant, La Bella Vita, was completely booked until 8pm when we inquired around 4pm. We should have made reservations in advance, but we honestly expected to go to dinner somewhere in Rockland. Instead, we were all so comfortable that eating at the hotel was most appealing. Thankfully the hostess was super helpful and recommended the adjoining Enoteca Lounge as another dinner option. The seating in the lounge is first come, first served so we arrived promptly at 5pm and snagged a spot next to the wine display. The full restaurant menu is available in the lounge, but there were also some lounge-only options. Everything sounded good, but flatbread pizzas wound up being the most popular order at our table. I had the Rustica Pizza (grilled chicken, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic-olive oil, Parmesan cheese) and it was delicious.

Sunday morning the guys picked up an easy breakfast from Hole in the Wall Bagels in Rockland. We ate in the room then clocked in some more pool time. We originally had hopes of walking around outside again, but the temps had dropped back down into the 30's and high wind gusts made an outdoor stroll seem a little less appealing. Instead, we wrapped up our 24 hours at the Samoset before lunchtime to time the drive home with the babies' nap schedules, ensuring a peaceful ending to our trip.

January 13, 2017

Life // My 2016

2016 // The year we went from a family of 4, to a family of 5!


DECEMBER // Getting spoiled by Grammy, Pop and Nana

DECEMBER // Soaking in the last days of maternity leave

NOVEMBER // First snow

NOVEMBER // Cousin-palooza (and Dog Beach photobombs)

NOVEMBER // Taking advantage of the mild weather

OCTOBER // Trick-or-Treating with Batman, a Baby Reindeer and a Pumpkin Dog

OCTOBER // Annual pumpkin picking trip to Pumpkin Valley Farm

OCTOBER // East and West Coast Creelmans collide

SEPTEMBER // Brotherly Love

SEPTEMBER // Welcoming the newest, littlest Creelman to the family

AUGUST // Birthday cruising on Casco Bay

AUGUST // This is what 4 looks like!

JULY // Rachel and Chris' wedding in Massachusetts

JULY // Summer shenanigans at the lake

JULY // Strawberry picking at Maxwell's Farm

JULY // Family trip to the Samoset Resort in Rockport, ME

JUNE // Jenna and Mike's wedding in New Jersey

JUNE // Dave Matthews Band in Mansfield, MA with the UML ladies 

JUNE // Dave Matthews Band in Bangor, ME

MAY // Memorial Day weekend in LBI 
(Long Beach Island, Jersey Shore)

MAY // Celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary with a stay at the Kennebunkport Inn 
(see full post here)

APRIL // Quick trip to San Diego 
(Sorry to everyone we missed - we hope to return soon!)

MARCH // Orange County for C's baptism and Disneyland!

FEBRUARY // Ski trip to North Conway, NH 
(and a full season screening of "Fuller House")

FEBRUARY // Remodeled our kitchen 
(this is just the "Before"... full blog post coming soon with the "After"!)

JANUARY // H's First Ski Lesson


Okay, 2017 - let's see what you've got!

July 19, 2016

Life // What I've Been Reading

Though I've always loved reading, work and digital distractions had me leaving new books to languish on a shelf for months, sometimes years. I really fell off the wagon (more like "fell off the library cart") after H was born. Recently, he's become increasingly more excited about reading and his newfound love of books has rekindled the spark for me, too.

For my six 2016 New Year's Resolutions, I set #4 to read at least one (non-children's) book a month. I'm pretty on track with that goal and I thought the height of beach/poolside reading season might be a good time to share some of what I've recently read. Hopefully I can also use this post to solicit your recommendations for what I should read next!

1. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
I actually received the full Millennium Trilogy as a Christmas gift back in 2011. I have no idea why it took me almost 4 years to start the series, but I finally read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo this past November. I then picked off this book and its predecessor, The Girl Who Played With Fire, in January and February. A common complaint for this series is that all three books move somewhat slowly in the beginning, but I think they're worth the extra effort. I'd recommend sticking through the deliberate character/plot building to more thoroughly enjoy and understand the nuance behind the faster moving "action" portions of these books.

2. For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
I accidentally left my first copy of this book in a United seat-back pocket on a layover in March and should have taken that as a sign from the reading gods. Instead, I picked up a copy from our local library and slogged through the final 300+ pages a few months later. I spent the remainder of the book waiting for the magical moment when I'd finally connect with story. A war novel, a revered author, a literary classic - this book had so many ingredients needed to make a delicious story, but sadly I spent 480 pages trying not to spit it out.

3. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Ahh, this was a tough one for me. My love for To Kill A Mockingbird runs too deep for me to objectively critique Watchman as a stand-alone novel. I was excited to catch up with Scout and the gang, but found myself wanting to catch the first train out of Maycomb after I was halfway through the book. One good thing that came out of this experience? I'm no longer sad that Lee's list of published novels is so short.

4. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
So. Many. Tears. I'm not usually a sappy love story kind of gal, but this book kept popping up on a bunch of recommended reading lists so I finally broke down and put in the library hold request. After picking it up, I let it sit on our kitchen counter for about a week, then devoured it in a day and a half. This book is a good contender for a comfortable beach/pool/camp chair - but our family room's sectional suited me equally well if you're in need of a rainy weekend read.

5. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Overall this was an entertaining story, but I often cringed at the protagonist's actions and had difficulty respecting her character. Though I typically consider book versions to be superior to their movie counterparts, I'm curious to see this one on the big screen. I wonder if Hollywood made "Rachel" any more likable than she was in written form. I'd also just like to shove some popcorn in my face.

6. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I had a fun time convincing the librarian that yes, indeed, I wanted to request a hold on *gasp* a Young Adult novel. After that little exchange, I quickly learned my username and password to request holds via the online reservation system. Now I can proudly read age-inappropriate materials without navigating a stare down by Judgey McJudgerton, librarian extraordinaire. On to the book... Despite a somewhat annoying writing style, Liars redeems itself by being a great story with an even better twist (and lots of golden retrievers).

Currently reading:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple*

*What should I read next? Please post your recommendations below!

May 4, 2016

Maine // Kennebunkport Inn

This past Sunday marked six years of wedded bliss for Chad and I (because "bliss" is exactly the right word to describe parenting a threenager). To celebrate, we hired an overnight sitter and snuck away to Kennebunkport for 18 hours of FREEDOM!!! Er, I mean romance...

We kicked off our wild and crazy night by cruising downtown KPT's shopping district. Though the shining sun drove temps up into the mid-50s, most of the outdoor decks and patios we passed sat empty. Overall, the town felt pretty mellow without the warmer weather crowds that tend to clog up the sidewalks in-season.

Too quickly it was time for dinner, so we headed back to the Inn for our reservation at One Dock Prime. The restaurant is located within the Inn, which I thought would come in handy in case Mother Nature decided to throw us a rogue late-April snowstorm (like she did last week).

After enjoying live music from that evening's entertainer and after properly stuffing ourselves with amazing food, we headed back up to the room to retrieve our coats before braving the outdoor fireplace. The hostess from One Dock Prime armed us with cozy blankets as we headed to the dark sundeck. We pulled the white armchairs up to the edge of the hearth for our final stop before hitting the hay.

The next morning, I had big plans for us taking the Inn's beach cruisers out for a little tour around town. However, the call of the breakfast bar and the reminder that we had a kid at home waiting for us won out over a ride. We checked out around 9am and headed north, with me already plotting our next trip to KPT.

How we picked the Kennebunkport Inn...
Neither Chad nor I travel frequently enough for business to have amassed enough loyalty points to make it worthwhile for us to actually be loyal to any of the major chain hotels. We typically book rooms based on a mixture of TripAdvisor reviews and eligibility in the Rewards program, as was exactly the case for this trip. It would seem relying on the feedback of strangers to lead you to your ultimate home away from home might be a little dicey. However, we've worked out a pretty flawless system of sifting through the reviews to decode the hidden truth of what a place is really like. This strategy has resulted in us staying in some pretty awesome accommodations that we may have otherwise overlooked.

Would we stay at the Kennebunkport Inn again?
Absolutely! The location was perfect - walkable to everything in downtown KPT with a slice of water views from the sundeck. We stayed in a "Classic Room", which was definitely tight, but perfect for one night. We would have to upgrade to at least a Deluxe Room if we wanted to stay here with offspring in tow. Honestly, we will likely never stay here as a family because the Inn is without H's required amenity - a pool! However, I could definitely see us visiting the Inn again for an easy overnight getaway in the near(ish) future.

January 14, 2016

Life // My New(ish) Year Resolutions

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I'm not really much of a New Year's Resolutions kinda gal (as evidenced by the fact that we're already 2 weeks into 2016 and I'm just posting this now). However, this year I felt compelled to write down a few things that are maybe better classified as "goals" rather than traditional resolutions. Without further ado, here's what I'm hoping to achieve in twenty-sixteen...

1. Learn how to use camera on manual mode
Our DSLR is getting a little long in tooth and I'd love to upgrade in the next couple years. However, it's kind of hard to justify buying a new camera without having ever been fully functional with our current model. I've dug around online and managed to rustle up the user manual. Now I just need to read it. Perhaps that should be my first assignment for goal #4?

2. Paint one room in the house myself...
...with a paintbrush, not my checkbook.

3. Get out of town one day a month
I find that even day trips help to temper the wanderlust/cabin fever that creeps up whenever I've been in one spot too long. It doesn't take much - a quick jaunt down to Kennebunkport, or lately - Saturdays spent on the bunny slopes of Mt. Abram. If it's outside of my normal weekday routine and doesn't consist of actual errands (looking at you, Target), it'll do.

4. Read one book per month
Technically I read at least 2-3 books a day. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee, and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are just a few of the titles covered this year. As much as I enjoy the pictures, sometimes it's nice to read a book with just words (especially one that's more than 40 pages long).

5. Print/organize my photos
I take LOTS of pictures. Heaps of them. While many of them should be deleted within 5 seconds of having been snapped, there are actually quite a few decent ones in the mix and there are even more pictures that are attached to amazing memories. Unfortunately, they usually end up in one of a few photo purgatories I maintain - the bulging "Camera Roll" on my iPhone, a folder minefield on the family MacBook, my underutilized external hard drive, and a smattering of random downloads on my work laptop. This year I'd like to do a big purge then actually implement an organizational system for the remaining and all future images. If I can find the pictures I'm looking for, then maybe I'd also finally get around to filling the modest collection of empty frames I've amassed. I should probably take care of that before our kid starts thinking the stock photo couple are out-of-state relatives and he wants to know why they never come to visit.

6. Start running (again)
There's a sub-goal for this one, too - I want to start running again completely for myself without any events to train for, no matter how strong the lure of a free, ill-fitting race t-shirt gets. 

I have a bad habit of running for a few weeks, thinking "this time, I'm going to stick with it!", and then signing up for races I never complete. Please don't let the 2007 Chicago Marathon and the 2013 NYC Marathon fool you into thinking I'm a legit runner. I promise I'm a poser. I get on a kick once in a while, buy a bunch of new gear, then burn out after a few weeks and retreat to the couch to lick my wounds (which may or may not resemble cheesy Doritos dust). At least most of my orphaned entry fees of the past have gone to good charities, right?? 

So there you have it - six things I hope to accomplish in the 366 days of 2016. Except it's the 14th and there's only 352 days left. Maybe "be on time" will make it onto my 2017 list (but probably not).