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The Sunderland Family: (left to right) John Lloyd Jr., Patty Ann, Mary, Cathy, Susie, Margaret, Laurie, Lucy, John Lloyd Sr.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! One of the many things I am so grateful for is my sprawling Portuguese-Irish family (look at all those aunts!!). And since we’re celebrating Aquidneck Island this month on Tidepooler, I thought I’d get their opinion about all the great things the island has to offer. From clam shacks to farm markets, mansion tours, and coastal hikes, we’ve got loads of ideas to help get you acquainted with the three towns that comprise the little land mass in the southeast quadrant of Rhode Island — Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. Here are some recommendations from my clan of Aquidneck Islanders.

My Grandma Lucy, a veteran visiting nurse who has clocked countless miles visiting patients around the island — no one knows the backroads quite like she does: “Lots of history here. Mansions from the wealthy in the early 1900s. Scenic Cliff Walk and 12 mile drive. All of Newport. St. Marys Church where Jackie and John F. Kennedy were married in 1953. Lots of farmland. Beautiful beaches and dog parks.”

My Grandpa Lloyd, a life-long scuba diver and sport fisherman who knows Narragansett Bay like the back of his hand: Ledge Road in Newport is the best place to dive for lobster. I saw two beautiful baby sharks there once. Another great diving spot is off of Beavertail Point, the southernmost tip of Jamestown, [just across the bay from Newport.]

My Dad John, a music and baseball enthusiast who once rode his bike across the Newport and Jamestown Bridges to see Bruce Springsteen in concert: Where Bob Dylan went electricHome of Bishop BerkeleyHome of The CowsillsCardines FieldNewport Music FestivalEaston’s BeachCliff WalkFlo’s Clam Shack

My Stepmom Jennifer, a nature walk enthusiast and hobby ornithologist, who has a soft spot for historic architecture: Sachuest Point [National Wildlife Refuge], Ocean Drive, Second Beach, The historic colonial era houses in Newport, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Cliff Walk, Chandler Hotel in the summer, Newport Jazz Festival, Christmas in Newport, Newport Creamery

My (Step) Aunt Lauren, a California transplant with a  New England heart: “I love Sachuest Point, it’s absolutely beautiful any time of year!”

My Godmother Lark, a local artist devoted to land preservation: “I love Sachuest Point best on the island.”

My Aunt Mary whose sailboat adventures never revealed a port of call better than the one she called home: “Being surrounded by water is the best.”

My Aunt Susie who commutes from one end of the island to the other every weekday: “I’d say some of the best things about the island are the beautiful beaches, Cliff Walk, and the mansions on Bellevue Avenue.”

My Aunt Margaret who moved out of state years ago but comes back every chance she gets: “I think the best thing is the beaches — being so close to so many beaches that you can go to at any time and look out into the sea. Also, the mansions in Newport are so majestic and fun to see.”

My Aunt Laurie, an adventurous Navy wife who cherishes her visits home:The Glen — childhood memories of nature walks and playing in a big field with a view of the Sakonnet River. The Glen Manor House can still be rented out for weddings, and I noticed people horseback riding there. The Portsmouth Abbey and St. Philomena’s (Blue Ribbon School) also have the field with bay views. Schultzy’s Snack Shack, eating clam cakes, on the wall, Island Park… my girls love the Green Grocer and Anna D’s and Corner Consignment. Green Animals… never did go to Newport Polo but it must be included, it’s so unique. And that’s all Portsmouth. In Middletown — we LOVE going to Sweet Berry Farm, they have a farm market with upscale food and a gift shop. Also, Kempenaar’s Clambakes. Newport — Ocean Drive, climbing on the rocks. Ft. Adams; 40 steps, Cliff Walk; St. Mary’s — Kennedy’s wedding; Second Beach!!!; Del’s lemonade; stuffed quahogs (or anything) from Anthony’s Seafood.

My Cousin Rachelle who served lobster and little necks at her Aquidneck Island wedding: Newport Mansions, Cliff Walk, Newport Beaches, Downtown Newport shopping and restaurants, Ocean Drive, Festivals:  Jazz Festival, Folk Festival, Seafood Festival, Chowder Festival, Oktoberfest, Winter Festival; Harbor Boat Tours; Seafood, seafood, seafood!!

My Cousin Sarah, a certified scuba diver with a degree in marine biology: “My favorite things are boating and digging for little necks. Really anything that involves sea water.”

My Cousin Connor, a professional fisherman who’s got the inside scoop on the local bar scene: The character of the island, mainly Newport — we have a long list of some of the oldest sites in the country — oldest baseball park, oldest synagogue, oldest tavern, oldest war college… but for me personally, this is what I love: the hidden gem bars in Newport. There are four or five awesome roof top bars very few people know about that give you a great view of the harbor. As a fisherman, I love the rocky shoreline of Newport, Middletown and parts of Portsmouth. The island is nationally recognized for having one of the best surf fishing shorelines for striped bass.

My Cousin Christina, a beauty queen tattoo artist who knows how to have fun: Being close to the beach no matter where you are, going to Sandy Point (on the side without the lifeguards), bringing a cooler, radio, and blanket and having an all day picnic. Swimming out to the buoyes since the waters never too wavy. Collecting kindling and firewood in the dunes behind the beach for a fire later in the day. Collecting seashells and sea glass. Fireworks on the boat or at Escobars Farm on 4th of July. The Folk Fest (also best by boat). The corn maze in the fall. All the restaurants in Newport, from casual to fancy. The proximity to beach, city, country, and mountains (really close to everything). I love Dels and vodka.

And there you have it. With its historic heritage, cultural attractions, and plenty of opportunities to explore oceanfront nature, Aquidneck Island is truly a gem in the midst of Narragansett Bay, and I can’t wait to go back next summer.

Did you grow up there too? Share your favorite things about the island in the comments below.

And if you missed my list of the “Best Things to do on Aquidneck Island, RI: Summer Edition,” here’s the link https://tidepooler.com/2016/10/28/the-best-things-to-do-on-aquidneck-island-ri-summer-edition/

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I was surprised and excited to see Aquidneck Island listed in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards list for “The Best Islands in the U.S.” — so I decide a blog post was in order. After all, Tidepooler was named for those magical pools of water that dot the island’s rocky coastlines at low tide. How could I not offer an ode to my beloved hometown island? — the place I was born and where I lived for the first 18 years of my life before mustering the courage to actually cross a bridge (!) and go to college in the mainland town of Kingston.

While some of my fondest memories of Aquidneck Island involve trespassing on private beachfront property with cases of Coors Light and the makings for a bonfire, I assure you that the following activities will (mostly) be of a legal nature. Here are a few things we did last summer. You should do them too.

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1. Find a friend with a boat (or rent your own). Thanks to social media, I was able to hook up with a good buddy from childhood who just happens to captain a boat. He took us out for a ride and it was the most fun thing I’ve done in a very long time. We anchored in a sheltered spot in Narragansett Bay called Mackerel Cove, just off the neighboring island of Jamestown, and swam in the beautiful Atlantic waters. It was heaven.

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2. Go to the beach. Second Beach, officially known as Sachuest Town Beach is most everyone’s favorite. Stake out a spot on the wide sandy swath on the eastern side, or head to surfer’s end with your board and seek out the Del’s Lemonade truck in the parking lot. It’s tough to avoid the red tide in Rhode Island, but Second Beach usually has less than First Beach (Easton’s). However, if it’s carousels you’re after, head to the latter.

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3. Enjoy an Awful Awful at Newport Creamery. Awful Big, Awful Good. Go on a Monday for the two-for-one special. Chocolate’s my favorite, but I had a taste of my husband’s “Choc o’ Nutter” and yes, it took the concept of an Awful Awful to a whole new level. While the Awful Awful (milkshake) is the star attraction this is a great spot for a family meal, lunch or dinner, and they have regular ice cream too, and by regular ice cream I mean banana splits.

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4. Roll down the windows and cruise around Ocean Drive. For an enhanced experience, make it an “odbc.” Whatever you opt for, be sure to stop at Brenton Point for some tide pool exploring, sun bathing, or take a dip right off the rocks. It’s probably my most favorite place on Aquidneck Island, and while the photo features the sea wall, you’ll have to trust me when I say the view is spectacular.

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5. Enjoy a night out in Newport. I haven’t done this in about 15 years, but I love sitting at the raw bar at Scales & Shells and dunking fresh cold shrimp into a bowl of cocktail sauce; the bar at the Clarke Cook House is nice for when you’re feeling fancy. And if it’s a Friday night I’d be at The Pier, where my cousin Ky the Movement spins 90s hip hop until closing.

Have you ever been to Aquidneck Island? What did you love about it? Stay tuned for “The Best Things to do on Aquidneck Island: Fall Edition” coming up next.

One of the best things about being in a babysitting coop is that you don’t have to blow half your date night budget on a babysitter. We just wrapped up a round of date-night swaps that we traded with four other local families — giving us four date nights (one per month) with free babysitting! It doesn’t get much better than that. Here’s what we did on our civilized, kid-free nights out.

Date Night #1: Dinner with Margaritas at Comal, Berkeley

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This upscale Mexican restaurant in Downtown Berkeley has yummy Margaritas. I recommend reserving a table in the main dining room. We didn’t have a reservation, but luckily snagged a table in the back section, which was kind of chilly and breezy on the rainy winter night that we went. The dining room also features refined acoustics so you can speak at a normal volume and still have a nice quite conversation.

Date Night #2: Dinner with martinis and wine at Corso, Berkeley

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An elegant Italian restaurant in Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto,” Corso serves excellent martinis and features what I consider to be the best chicken dish in America (pictured). Unfortunately, the last time I had it it was slightly overcooked, but the time before that was exquisite! Baked in gobs of butter and served in its own tiny little pan this lovely little breast goes wonderfully with a glass of chianti classico.

Date Night #3: Dinner with martinis and wine at The Advocate, Berkeley

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Sister restaurant to Comal, The Advocate is a cosmopolitan new option in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. Not only is it a great date night spot, it also has a nice bar for fancy mom’s night out drinks. The kitchen churns out delicious dishes like the classic cheeseburger — one of the best in the Bay Area — and a seasonal flatbread like the “flowers, herbs, and honey” flatbread pictured above. Yes, I had this and yes, I felt like a fairy queen eating it.

Date Night #4: Dinner with cocktails at Burma Superstar in Oakland followed by ice cream at Curbside Creamery

Burma Superstar

Known for their “tea leaf salad,” Burma Superstar enjoys cult status as one of the best Burmese restaurants in the Bay Area (In addition to this restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, they’ve got locations in San Francisco and Alameda). But whenever we go, I can’t resist the sesame chicken and sautéed pea leafs. So good! Last weekend we also got the “sumosa salad,” which was yummy. I found that the “lychee cucumber mimosa,” which tasted strange at first, paired excellently with the salad’s savory flavors.

Curbside Creamery

We still had an hour left after finishing up dinner at Burma Superstar, so we headed over to Temescal Alley — a really cute industrial chic area just off busy Telegraph Avenue. Most of the shops were closed, but a handful of families and other couples were lining up at Curbside Creamery. A single ice cream cookie sandwich split between the two of us hit the spot — and check out the picturesque brick patio where we sat in minty green chairs beneath a rose trellis. It’s one of my new favorite places.  I think we’ll have to go back soon with the little one in tow.

Date Night #5: Oysters and Champagne at the Claremont Hotel, Berkeley

Claremont Hotel Oysters

While this wasn’t technically a date night, it was still a fun night out with my husband, mother-in-law, and 6-year-old daughter (it was actually her birthday!). But the setting was beautiful with the Claremont Hotel’s newly renovated interiors and spectacular views, and I think it would make a marvelous place for a date.

Do you have a favorite date night spot in the city where you live? I’d love to know!

[All images except the last two courtesy of the respective restaurants]

 

 

 

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One of the most delightful experiences I’ve had in the Berkeley community is as a docent for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association’s Spring Tour. This year, I won’t be able to volunteer, but if you’re free this Sunday, May 1, don’t miss this chance to get an exclusive peek inside 10 historic Berkeley homes. Each year BAHA focuses on a different neighborhood. This year’s event centers on the region just south of the Municipal Rose Garden and features houses designed by celebrated 20th century architects like Bernard Maybeck and John Galen Howard. It will surely be a treat to see these gorgeous architectural gems, and the gardens should be in their full springtime glory! We weren’t able to take photos of the inside of the houses last year, but here are a few shots I snapped outside.

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Car Sick Kid

For a travel-loving parent, there’s really nothing worse than being blessed with a child who suffers from motion sickness. Somehow, I have survived dozens of international flights and countless domestic flights, train trips, and car rides with a carsick kid. And really, when I say I survived, I do mean I survived and not she survived, because the kid will get through it, maybe even grow out of it like mind kind of did, but the parent will be traumatized for life.

Here are some ways our family learned to deal with motion sickness.

1. While riding in the car, sit in the back seat with your child and hold his or her head against the side of the carseat, covering the child’s ear with your hand. We happened upon this technique by accident one day and it proved to be a tried and true remedy for battling the carsickness blues. The comfort of your hand on their head also helps the child fall asleep faster, which is the golden ticket for parents of carsick children.

2. Make sure your child has something in his or her belly before they get into the car or onto the train or airplane. An empty stomach is motion sickness’s best friend, but so is a very full stomach, find the balance.

3. Always drive as smoothly as possible, especially around curves, turns, and while coming to a stop and then accelerating again.

4. Open the windows. Even in winter. Your carsick child needs fresh air above all else. If it’s freezing cold out, just crack the back window.

5. Give them periodic sips of water or something to suck on like a lollipop.

6. Play kids music, listen to an audio book, or come up with some other way to keep your child distracted from that pending feeling of nausea waiting to creep up at any moment.

7. When the nausea gets really bad get your child out of the car and let him or her lie down for a little while.

8. If your plans include flying, you’ll want to employ many of the same techniques outlined above (hand over ear, against your body; some food in the tummy), but since you can’t open the window, be sure the overhead air vent is blowing at full power.

9. If your child is under 2-years-old and breastfeeding, you’ll always want to nurse your baby at take-off and landing. But if your motion sick sweetie is over two, she’ll be in her own seat. Rest her head either on the armrest or against your body, and keep your hand against her head/ear.

10. When the flight attendant says it’s ok, you can put the armrest back up and lay your child’s head in your lap. Lying down always makes motion sick children feel better, and obviously helps them to fall asleep. Of course there are many long-haul flights when your child won’t be able to stay asleep the entire time. Pray that those flights will be smooth. In my experience, my daughter does fairly well on a smooth flight, but the most meager hint of turbulence will send her into panic mode.

11. Do not let your child walk up and down the aisle on a moving plane or train. My theory is that it has something to do with the size of the human compared to the size of the locomotive and the speed of travel, but for some reason, if my daughter walks in the aisle her head starts swirling and she plummets into a haze of motion sick madness.

12. Don’t give them medication unless you know for sure it already works for your child. We tried it once. She stayed awake the entire flight from Paris to Dallas.

And here are some things to pack in your carry-on: ginger snaps, lollipops, a treat for takeoff like M&Ms, pasta or bread in case they won’t eat the in-flight meal, a washcloth wrapped around an ice cube inside a ziplock bag — to cool off their face/head while they’re lying down, wipes, a few extra outfits, extra plastic bags, a bottle of water, some small favorite toys, some small surprise toys & activities, iPad or iPhone for in-flight distractions.

Does your child suffer from motion sickness? How do you deal with it? If you’ve got any other tips, please share them in the comments below. Thanks so much!

 

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Last fall, we had the rare opportunity to visit The Essig Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Berkeley. Not usually open to the public, we were able to take part in this special visit as members of the Lawrence Hall of Science’s family group on Meet-Up. On Friday, February 12, in honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday, the Essig Museum is once again opening its doors to the public. It’s a small space on the UC Berkeley’s campus, but their collection features a breathtaking assortment of rare species of beetles, grasshoppers, ladybugs, butterflies, moths, and more. Here’s a sample of some of the stunning specimens we saw.

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Be sure to reserve your space for one of the tours! You can get more info on the Essig Museum of Entomology website. And happy birthday Charles Darwin, who was born in Shrewsbury, England in 1809! Wouldn’t it be fun to do a Darwin tour one day and combine a trip to his birthplace with a visit to the Galapagos?

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Lately, I’ve rekindled my love for two old hobbies: reading and knitting. The project I’m most excited about is a “bicycling scarf” I’m making for Rama so cars can see him better when he’s pedaling around town on his 10-speed. I was thinking about using some kind of reflective fiber in the scarf, but they didn’t have anything like that at Jo-Ann’s, so I settled for this neon yellow (the photo doesn’t do the color justice — it’s actually a much more fluorescent hue.)

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To ensure that I actually get this scarf finished (as opposed to sitting in my knitting box for years and years like this green project pictured above), I formed a knitting club. It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, but surprisingly have never joined. We meet every Tuesday night at the cafe across the street from my house. It’s perfect because I can put Elodie to bed and then run across the street for an hour or two for some tea, crafting, and conversation with friends while Rama gets some work done at home. If you live in the area, come join us! Or start your own crafty gathering in your own neighborhood. Maybe you’re already part of a knitting club, if you are, take a picture and tag it #nightknitting on Instagram. I’d love to see what you’re working on.

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