East Greenwich and The Providence Athenæum

If you’re like me, you prefer the Cheeto Puffs over the crunchies. And if you’re also like me, you adore a good library. We have a lot in common, huh? If you adore a good library, then you’re gonna want to run up to Providence, Rhode Island and spend an afternoon at The Providence Athenæum. It will fill your heart with gladness, take away all your sadness, ease your troubles, that’s what’ll do. It will, in fact, Rod Stewart your ass.

The Providence Athenæum is mere steps from the entrance to Brown University, with such notable alumni as, John D. Rockefeller Jr., a slew of Kennedys, Jeffrey Eugenides (please read Middlesex), Ted Turner, Horace Mann, and most importantly in our house, the reason the picture below was taken, Emma Watson AND John Krasinski.

But The Providence Athenæum is its own kind of wonderful. Our Rhode Island friends wanted to visit since they moved there over the summer, but they were waiting on the right people to visit with. Insert the Goodnights. (Heart swooning noises). The day we visited was a hectic day. Our first day in Rhode Island, and we had a lot to see. We’d had breakfast in their wonderful village of East Greenwich, in a diner inside of an old train car. The diner was called Jiggers and I had the delicious Rhode Island Johnny Cakes!

Then we walked around East Greenwich for a bit. We got to see the old Debters Prison and too many yachts and sailboats to count. We learned that there are two parts of East Greenwich. One side called The Hill and one side called The Harbor and where you live is how you know where you belong. It seemed to me that you either have a million dollar house on The Hill or an $800,000 on The Harbor, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that. And don’t worry, our friends live on The Harbor, which means they are riff-raff and not to be trusted. I think.

Essentially what I learned is that Rhode Island is a different beast. A nicer, more beautiful beast than anywhere else I’ve ever been. All that history. All the salt in the air. All the hills, all the harbors. I was more than impressed. Then they took us to The Providence Athenæum.

Listen, I’ve been in some cool libraries. I’ve been to the Boston Public Library. I’ve been in the reading room of the NYC Library (pic below) not to mention all the other cool, lesser known ones around the country (I like to stop at libraries, okay, geez leave me alone.) But The Providence Athenæum is now my favorite.

It’s not the size, although it is a perfect size. Small enough to fit in a quarter of a square block, but big enough (three floors), and with enough of an impressive collection to spend a whole day. It’s the accessibility, the welcoming nature of the place. Oh, and dogs are allowed, so there’s that. Before I get into the history of the place, here’s some a lot of pics for your viewing pleasure.

Okay, so why is The Providence Athenæum so freaking awesome? Great question! The history of the library goes like this. In 1753, Providence had a library called the Providence Library Company. They also had a second library, not connected to the Providence Library Company, called Providence Athenæum. They didn’t like each other, go figure (they were both managed by men, so…) In 1836 they agreed to dissolve both libraries and merge together as one, which is now known as The Providence Athenæum. They ended up merging their collections, which was a great idea, and by 1850 they were the library in Providence.

In 1872 the library hired its first female employee, an assistant librarian named Mary Angell, and she started work on the card catalog that still sits on the main floor! After Mary left the library, Grace Leonard, the library’s first female head librarian (who worked there for 46 years) reclassified the whole catalog in accordance with the Dewey decimal system. With over 56,000 volumes, it took her 13 years. More can be found about the history and these women at The Ath’s website.

The Ath, its colloquial name, has hosted many prominent writers, artists, and thinkers in American history, including Edgar Allen Poe and his lost love, Sarah Helen Whitman, an amazing poet in her own right. In fact, Whitman broke up with Poe at The Ath and it’s said that Poe haunts the top floor. I was on the lookout, but didn’t see him. Maybe next time! Others who have lingered the stacks include, H.P Lovecraft, Thomas Hopkins Webb, and Francis Whipple, among other “scribbling women” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. I found a wonderful article by Jane Lancaster on the colorful history of The Ath if you are as interested as I am.

So there you have it, some of it anyway. The history, the mystic, the lovely architecture, and the amazing collection of The Ath, which is just a hop, skip, and jump from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, so if you ever find yourself on Federal Hill, maybe yonder over and check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

M.

Newport News

Keeping with the theme of Rhode Island this week, I wanted to share some more of our pictures from our trip up North today. Of course, by “up North” I mean a million different places in the span of eight days, but if we break it up into little chunks it’s easier to digest. Kinda like how I used to get Jackson to eat his green beans. You don’t want to over-mash them, but you also don’t want to slop a handful of full beans on his high chair tray, you know. No slopping.

Anywho, this week I will tell you a little bit about our time in Providence and East Greenwich, but today my focus is Beavertail State Park and Newport. Or sunsets and mansions, as you’ll come to see. We’d never been to Newport before because well, we’d never been to Rhode Island before. You see, if you go to Rhode Island, you can absolutely hit all the hot spots in one day. How do I know? Because we did.

Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a small state. In fact, it is the smallest US state by area, yet the second most densely populated. It was among the first Thirteen Colonies, and fourth to have ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1778. It was also the first colony to prohibit slavery (1652), as well as the first colony to declare independence from Britain on May 4, 1776. This is to say that there is a lot of history in Rhode Island, and in my opinion their history is overlooked, more often in favor of the connecting states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Rhode Island is nicknamed “The Ocean State” probably because of its over 400 miles of beautiful and bountiful coastline. And though the lobster pots are abundant, the views were the winner in my book. Here, take a look at the sunset at Beavertail State Park and Lighthouse in Jamestown.

No idea where the kids were, but absolutely stunning views amiright?! And that is just the sunset. We also had a little bit of time to see The Breakers (though the tour was behind, so we didn’t go inside). The Breakers is a Vanderbilt Mansion nestled on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, butting up against the beautiful campus of Salve Regina University, which funnily enough offers an MFA program. Hmm… Anyway, The Breakers was originally built as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II between 1835 and 1837. And it was quickly decided that I should have been born a Vanderbilt. Duh. Although we didn’t take the tour (something to do next time), we did get to walk the grounds and the area along the coast called The Cliff Walk, which is actually a 3.5 mile public walkway that borders the shoreline and gives you exquisite views of The Breakers and other mansions that I should probably live in. Here, have a gander.

A nice drive through the streets of Newport, led to some interesting stories, some fantastic spots to visit when it’s more than 40 degrees outside, and history that I wasn’t expecting. Not only were JFK and Jackie O. married there, but Newport boasts the very first tavern and Quaker neighborhoods with quaint houses, just enough to remind you that not everyone there was a millionaire. Oh and just for posterity, here are some cool shots from our ride to Beavertail from Newport, with the Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge behind us.

We ended the night back near where we started, in East Greenwich, at a little joint called The Shanty, where I had the best pork medallions ever (I stole them off Dave’s plate) and my first clams. Yummy!

So do you want to visit Rhode Island yet?! Sure you do! Just get yourself your own Little Rhody’s cause you can’t have ours!

M.

Welp, That’s Over…

Listen, I love Christmas, but holy hell y’all, I’m ready to move on with my life. Well I was, until I peeked into my laundry room and saw the mountain of dirty laundry, looked at my to-do list, at our vacation itinerary, realized I have no idea where our passports are, that I don’t have a winter coat, and oh shit, I might need snow boots for New York. You think? Probably. I know my mommies are with me on this one, most of y’all anyway. Some y’all scare me with your year-round Christmas spirit, but most of us breathe a sigh of relief when the stockings have been hung, the cookies eaten, the wrapping paper in the trash can (it’s not recyclable, y’all because it is coated paper), and the house is back to kids playing with their new toys for 24 hours, before they are bored again. I know y’all agree with me because this bad boy showed up in my feed all day yesterday…

Me! Me! Me!

It’s the stress, for sure. The anxiety. All the memos I have to keep in my head. The secrets. Oh the secrets! Every year Jerimiah and I look at each other on December 22nd are we are like, “Do we just open them all now?!” Then we decide we better not, and we wait patiently. We do test runs with how it should all be. We move secret gifts from the creaky attic to more neutral spots throughout the house. We have lost presents.

It’s the worry over doing all the things. The viewing of Christmas lights, the visiting of Santa, and now they throw the Grinch on us, what is up with that?! I have to visit the Grinch now too! It’s the planning of the meal, it’s the constant barrage of family members asking if you will be “home.” “Yes,” my husband said to someone this season, “We will be home.” Our home. Georgia. You’re welcome to stop by. (You gotta set boundaries with family members like this y’all, or your Christmas spirit will be yanked from you. Have the conversation twice, then stop. Ignore the texts and the guilt, it’s not your fault, you’re doing your best. Yeah, I’m giving myself a pep talk here.)

It’s all over now. Well sort of. I’m still getting the guilt texts, but guess who doesn’t give two shits anymore, because I am in vacation planning mode. Which coincidently was part of our Christmas and anniversary gift to each other, a trip, somewhere we want to go. Somewhere we have never been before, for pure fun. Merry Christmas to us!

So, there it is. It’s over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. We made it another year. Another Christmas. Another round with Elf on the Shelf. Another meeting with Santa Claus. Another Christmas dinner. Another going from feeling like a shitty mom to the best mom, all in 12 hours. Oh Christmas, you’re the ultimate guilt trip.

Take a break today, y’all. Sit back, sip some wine, tell your kids to leave you alone for thirty minutes, turn your cell phone off, and pat yourself on the back because you made it. And that’s over. For the next 11 months.

M.

Guess Who’s Back? Back Again!

Shady’s back! Tell a friend.

Just kidding, it’s Missy, not Slim Shady. But I can see how you would mistake the two of us. We are both thin, pale, and have an unmistakable penchant for rapping and driving hella fancy cars.

But no worries, I don’t murda people.

So as most of you know we just got back from a fabulous spring break, one for the record books (in more ways than one) and I have had several people message and text me and ask how it was, and specifically, how we liked taking a cruise because they are thinking about taking one or thinking about using the cruise line we did for their next cruise. So I decided I would write a blog about our trip to help all y’all out cause I am real lazy like that. So without further ado… wait, there is further ado. Before I get started let me write a disclaimer.

**Disclaimer**

This is my experience on a cruise ship, specifically the MSC Divina. This may be different than your experience on a cruise ship. This may be very different from Royal Caribbean or Carinval or Celebrity. If you have had different experiences I welcome you to comment about them on the comments section of my FB post so friends who are shopping for cruises can benefit. But please remember this is how I feel, not how you feel. How in the hell would I know how you feel anyway? We haven’t gotten drunk together and cried over REO Speedwagon songs while we slip into a coma of nostalgia and regret together. Or have we? Doesn’t matter. Just remember, my thoughts and opinions, not yours.

Okay. Let me start off by saying right out of the gate that if I EVER decide to take a cruise again (very unlikely) it will most definitely be with Royal Fucking Caribbean! I don’t know if y’all know about RFC, but those ships look like the fucking BOMB! One of them pulled into every port we were at and the three of us were all like, “HOLY SHIT! You think they would notice if we snuck on?!” Also, shout out to my girl Kelley who was on one of these ships while we were on ours and I was seriously looking at her pics of her husband zip-lining and her kids climbing a rock wall and I was all, where the hell is Kelley? Turns out she was on a RFC ship! The Oasis of the Seas to be exact. GD man. GD. It looked nioce!

Anyway, let me start with the things we liked (sort of a compliment sandwich, if I may). We liked: Our stateroom. It was a balcony room. It was much bigger and had more storage than we anticipated and there was a king size bed and a couch that folded out into a queen bed. It worked great for us. In fact, it was more than we needed.

The particular package that we chose also had free wi-fi (well, 900 mb of it for free, of which I used only 700mb the whole week), it was free wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and we each got an extra 12 drink coupons to use on anything! So Jackson could get milkshakes or juice with breakfast, and Jerimiah and I could have mixed cocktails. Now this was all included in our particular package. So this would be the first tip I would tell people who are cruising for the first time. Look over the packages and really consider them. Jerimiah’s mom booked our through the government’s vacation site because she is military, so we may have had different perks, but searching on my own led me to seeing that different packages offered different things.

My first disappointment was the parking situation. Parking was not included in our package, and from what I understand it rarely is. So we drove to Miami, only to leave our car for a week in a real sketch, gravel parking lot and be shuttled to the port and back. We had to pay for this of course, like $100 I think, and then we had to pay for the shuttle. We also had to pay, on top of the cruise fee, $200 in tips the day we left. So when it was all said and done we spent more on this cruise than our trip to Disney last year (and we didn’t even pay for Jackson’s cruise, my MIL gifted his ticket). So, yeah. My first thought for anyone who has never been on a cruise or to Disney is GO TO FUCKING DISNEY! You will have a much better time and you may, depending on how you do it, save money! (But that is a whole other blog post!)

My next disappointment was the “Kids Club”. It seemed pretty hectic and disorganized, and the first and only time Jackson went he had an awful time, citing kids arguing with each other over Legos and them basically just being made to watch a movie the whole afternoon. Now, I have heard marvelous things about the kids clubs on other cruise ships, so I am gonna chalk this up to a “MSC Fail” , but be aware that the kids clubs may not be all that great, especially if you have a kid who plays specific games or likes certain things or is shy or gets anxious around crowds.

And dear God, the crowds. We went to the pools only one time. There were never open chairs. The day we did go we only got some because it was Bahamas day and we were over the Bahamas in like three hours (Nassau kinds sucks, definitely pay for Atlantis) and we high-tailed it back to the ship. The water was cold, it is salt water and from what I can tell it is pumped into the pools everyday, so if the ocean is cold, the pool is cold. Pretty simple rule of thumb. We don’t mind salt water, but some people were very surprised by this.

Now some silly things happened that can be expected anywhere you are, like our shower head fell off and needed replaced. But it took them three hours to replace it. Again, I can only speak to my particular cruise ship for that, but it seemed absurd to wait three hours for someone to come and screw on a new shower head. Also, I had to call them five times during that three hours, so I was cranky.

But something that was a big surprise to us was the “Medical Help” on board. On day number five Jerimiah lost his footing going up the stairs of the theater and his toenail caught the top of the step and sort of stayed there when his foot came down. There was major blood because, why not, and we had to schlep all the way down to the fourth floor for medical help. It isn’t really marked very well, and we had to find someone to help us find it. When we got there they were “closed”. Apparently for lunch or something, so I had to go in search of a phone to call the “Emergency number” then they seemed agitated that we had an emergency on their allotted lunch break, then we had to wait for them to get there.

When they did get there the first thing the nurse said was, “We have to cut it off. It will cost a lot of money, okay? Follow me.” So Jerimiah, who was sort of in a blur of confusion, followed her and I was all, wait a minute. How much is “a lot of money” for cutting off a toenail. Turns out it is $400 US dollars. Okay, so as you can imagine J decided (I decided) J would get it bandaged up and come home Sunday and have Urgent Care remove it for $5 US dollars. But we wanted to make sure that we filled out a form, an “Incident Report” so that our insurance would cover the “Bandage fee” of $300. US. Dollars. Not kidding. But in order to fill out an “Incident Form” to submit to your insurance you have to have a consultation with the Doctor on duty, which costs $125 US dollars. I wish I were making this up. But I am not. So we could have paid $825 on the ship or we could do what we did. Go back to the room, bandage it up, and wait till Urgent Care opened at home on Sunday and have them cut it out. Of which they did and our co-pay was $5 US dollars.

Hmpf. So, don’t get sick or hurt on a cruise. Best case scenario. Or maybe take your chances with a hospital at a port. Which is a good reason to always have your passport when you exit the ship! Just FYI! In case of injury or in case you murder someone and they put you in a jail. Both would require a form of id.

Well. So. Did we have fun? You bet! We have fun wherever we go and whomever we go with because that is how we live our life. In fact, the day that our shower head went out and Jerimiah just really wanted to wash the blood off his dangling toenail we found ourselves drinking alcohol in our “regular coffee” we ordered (because no one on the ship was from America, so they didn’t really understand that we didn’t want Bailey’s in our coffee everyday) and laughing about how absurd life is sometimes, and how we would most likely live forever in St. Maarteen!

Which leads me to the ports! The ports! Oh my!

The Bahamas was a necessary evil. Look. It is what it is. We had a nice time at this real sketchy beach, we endured the homeless people, the people trying to sell us beads, and the people trying to braid my hair! But we found a Dunkin Donuts, Score! And Jackson learned how to play a Conch Shell! We bought it for $5 and he’s been playing it ever since! I always knew his musical talent would blossom at some point!

Puerto Rico was on my bucket list, so I was so excited the day we pulled into Old San Juan. It was everything I had read about. It was clean, it was nice. There were police everywhere, not because of crime, because they wanted to assist you and help you have a great time. There was so much history. The city is so vibrant. The people so polite. And bonus: It’s like being in the US! You can trust all the post offices and police stations. Everyone knows English and they all commiserate with you about how awful Trump is. It was a great day! We saw the two military forts, walked about 15 miles, and took some amazing pics! We even had authentic Puerto Rican food, which you really can’t beat.

St. Maarten. Whew. Y’all this place is like a magical land I never knew existed. I know there are better beaches in the world, but I saw the best one I have ever seen in St. Maarten. We first took the water taxi over from Philipsburg, where you dock at. Then we took a taxi (which are all government owned) to Maho Beach, AKA “Airport Beach”. You’ve probably seen it on the Travel Channel. It is the beach that butts right up to an International airport. It is unusual because there isn’t much island to the “island” so the landing strip has to start right after the beach, which means when the planes take off and land they do so about 100 feet above your head. It is pretty cool. Not at all the “relaxing” beach, but fun to see and experience one time!

Our taxi tour continued to the French side of the island. One half is The Netherlands and they use Gilders as money, and one half is French and they use Euro as money. Pretty cool and a little strange. Sort of like Kansas City being split down the middle! Orient Beach on the French side is the place to be. You can see islands (British Virgin Islands) in the distance. You can rent jet skis, you can parasail, you can buy fresh $5 coconuts from a man with a machete on the beach. For $10 he will put rum in it after he cracks it open. We had one coconut and Jackson jumped on a water trampoline! We relaxed and swam in the warmest, most crystal clear water you can imagine. I could have stayed there forever.

Alas, one downside to cruising is when you find the perfect spot, you still have to go. We were glad to leave the Bahamas, but oh so sad to leave St. Maarten. That is one of the reasons we don’t think cruising is for us. We needed more time. Less time finding stupid ways to fill our days at sea, and more time exploring the lovely ports we get to visit.

So I would say that my biggest takeaways from our cruise are this: If you like structure, if your idea of relaxing is sitting by a public pool, if you prefer to play card games and waste your days away on a boat in the middle of the ocean drinking a bunch of alcohol, if you like to have specific times to be somewhere, including dinner, if you enjoy meeting new people and learning about strangers, if you don’t mind crowded elevators, then cruising is for you! If you prefer to be on your own schedule on vacation. If you like to pack a lot of experiences and places into a short amount of time. If you don’t like to have a lot of “downtime”, if you want to linger at places you like, and leave places you don’t, then cruising is not for you.

Also, gamblers and shop-a-holies would REALLY love cruising! Those are the two main things to do on the ship and off, besides drinking, and people take pride in doing it. I wanted to strangle most of them, but hey, to each their own! I did learn to play Roulette and I got pretty good at it! 😉

Hope this helped and entertained! See y’all around. But on land!

M.