Trip #4: Travel Confessions From Rhode Island

Watching-the-Beach-Sunset-Newport-RI

After having seen so much of it, I have to say this:

If you’re planing a trip to New England and you’re tying to decide which towns you must see, I’d definitely recommend you put Newport, Rhode Island at the top of your list.

From the ocean sunsets, to the beautiful downtown shopping district on the harbor, to the historic mansions and gardens, it’s all just so beautiful.

We loved it all. And…

WaterFire-Providence-RI

In addition to exploring Newport, we also decided to add a detour to our trip and head to Providence, Rhode Island to check out the annual WaterFire festival.

Here’s how it all went:

Trevor-Michael-at-Green-Animals-Topiary-Garden-Newport-RI

The Lows Of Our Trip To Newport

1.) The road trip to Newport was a little rough. Tru handles our road trips really well, but sometimes he can start crying and melting down when he’s just had enough of sitting in the car seat.

We handled one meltdown by randomly following road signs to a spot called “Green Animals Topiary Garden.” This turned out to be a really unique and beautiful garden with huge topiaries in the shapes of animals.

Topiary-Garden-RI

It was a great spot for Tru to run around before having to get strapped back into his car seat.

Wandering-Green-Animals-Topiary-Garden

Were it not for Trevor’s fussing, we probably never would have discovered this place.

So I’ve learned that sometimes what I think is a “low” can actually transform into a really memorable experience.

I’ve also learned to just anticipate feeling pretty weary by the end of any road trip/flight, wherever we go. I’ve stopped complaining, I just expect it as part of the experience of family travel! I know I’ll eventually fall into bed and recover.

Us-in-Newport-Rhode-Island-by-the-shore

2.) The weather was also a little rough. Temperatures soared, and it was really hot and muggy. On our last day, just walking down the sidewalk, the temperatures were so brutal we started breaking into a sweat. We dealt with that by choosing a lot of indoor activities!

3.) Restaurants are still a struggle sometimes. Trevor just isn’t interested enough in food to want to sit still at a table. A lot of times, we resort to videos on the Kindle to keep him happy and quiet. Chris and I both rush to eat, then take turns walking him around outside the restaurant by the end of the meal.

Our-Family-Pic-newport

But we’re always grateful when we find restaurants like the one we found in Newport, The Hill at Castle Inn. It’s an outdoor restaurant with incredible views of the ocean.

The-Lawn-At-Castle-Hill-View-Newport-RI

But the huge bonus for parents with young kids: it’s located on a sweeping green hill.

So Trevor could run to his heart’s content. Chris and I took turns chasing him around while the other ate lunch. Sure, it would have been nice to sit together and have a conversation during lunch. But with a two-year-old in tow, we take what we can get!

Beach-Sunset-in-Newport-RI

And The Highlights Of Our Trip to Newport

It’s trite but also true: my sweetest memories from Newport were also the simplest moments:

1.) The best part of our trip to Newport was definitely watching the sunset over the ocean. As we made our way onto the beach, Trevor was delighted to scoop up handfuls of pebbles. Then we sat on the rocky shoreline and watched the sky light up with vivid color.

Newport-RI-Sunset-on-The-Beach

Trevor, happy and content, stayed amused by dropping each pebble, one by one, into the ocean waves with a “plunk!” It was beautiful, peaceful, and a generous free gift from Mother Nature.

2.) We saw so much in Rhode Island, from the Newport mansions to the stunning bonfires on the river for WaterFire, and I loved it all.

But it’s funny.

What stands out in my mind the most is just stopping for an ice cream at a Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop. Tired and hungry, sweet Tru curled up in my lap and savored his ice cream (he chose mango flavor, which was delicious). And I savored the fleeting chance to hold him tight in my arms and kiss his hair, which somehow always smells like sugar.

Trevy-Tru

Trevor’s Favorite Parts Of Our Trip To Rhode Island

Trevor absolutely loved riding the elevators in the hotel in Newport. The elevators were made of glass, overlooking the lobby of the hotel, so that made the ride all the more fascinating. Trevor insists on pressing the buttons himself and then he’ll say, “elevator close door” or “elevator open door!”

But if there’s one thing he loves even more than elevators, it’s escalators.

We had arrived at the WaterFire bonfire lighting a little too early, so we had some time to waste before the sunset lighting. We decided to stop into the nearby Providence Place Mall, since we thought that was an easy, safe spot for Tru to wander.

Once he caught sight of the three-story escalators, that was it. Our fate was sealed. Chris offered to let me shop while he held Trevor’s hand and rode the escalators up and down and up and down again, for at least 20 minutes.

Trevor-looking-out-over-Newport-Harbor-RI

Trevor Experiences Love At First Sight

Trevor now knows what love at first sight is.

Here’s what happened:

We were making our way out of the hotel to head to WaterFire in Providence. Suddenly, Tru caught sight of a gleaming, stunning, shiny, 2018 yellow Corvette parked at the entrance to the hotel. I don’t care in the least about cars, and even I noticed it was beautiful. He started exclaiming “yellow tar! yellow tar!” and making a beeline right for the “yellow car.”

You can probably guess what comes next:

We had to steer him away from the Corvette and strap him into the car seat of our old family car instead. And Trevor started sobbing from pure devastation and heartbreak. He really believed that Corvette was waiting there for him!

Trevor has such a deep love of cars, to the point of obsession. He knows my car by name, “Terrain!” And Chris’s car, “Jeep!” Every time he sees a red pickup truck in a parking lot, he calls out, “TaPa’s truck!” because his Grandpa drives a red truck. I’m curious to see how it will develop and play out as he grows!

Our Daily Travel Schedule With A Two-Year-Old

When we traveled as just the two of us, Chris and I used to hop from one site to the next, maybe putting off a meal, maybe wearing ourselves out a little, maybe staying out late into the evening, all in the name of seeing everything we wanted to see.

Well, our plans have changed a lot since Trevor entered the picture!

Now our travel schedule is pretty uniform, no matter where we go:

  • Up by 7am
  • Check out one site/activity in the morning
  • Get lunch before Tru gets cranky
  • Head back to the hotel and maybe spend some time in the pool (one of Trevor’s favorite activities)
  • Trevor naps while we work (Trevor’s naps usually last from 2-5pm)
  • Check out one site/activity for the evening
  • Grab some take-out food for dinner if we haven’t had the time to stop
  • Return to our hotel by about 8pm at the latest for the shower/pajamas/bedtime routine

Although this sounds like a fairly relaxing routine, it’s more often very tiring.

Just because, throughout every moment of the day, we are dealing with a two-year-old. And everything two-year-olds throw at their weary parents, which includes: needing diaper changes, needing milk breaks, wanting snack breaks, fussing to get out of his car seat while driving, crying in a restaurant to watch toy car videos on YouTube, squirming out of our arms when we’re trying to keep him quiet in a museum, sprinting through crowded city sidewalks, wandering at a snail’s pace when we’re trying to get somewhere, and tantrums.

We also need to work lots of toddler-centered activities into each day.

For example, we spent some time wandering the shops of downtown Newport, which I enjoyed. And then we found an arcade so Trevor could play skee-ball and try a merry-go-round kiddie ride.

After checking out an art museum in Providence, we went straight for the children’s museum. Trevor loved splashing in the water exhibit and putting multi-colored balls in tubes that travelled up the walls and shot the balls out from the ceiling.

Chris and I do our best to strike a balance between visiting sites we’ve really wanted to see and doing activities that give Trevor the chance to just be a kid, free to explore and burn up some energy.

I do sometimes miss the old days and the freedom and independence (and calm and quiet!) Chris and I used to enjoy on our travels. We didn’t even know to appreciate what we had back then!

But then I always remember that Trevor will be little for such a preciously short time. The things I love to do with Trevor now (singing silly songs, cuddling, holding him in my arms) will probably not appeal to him for much longer!

On Toddlers, Picky Eating, and Travel

One ongoing challenge with our travels: Trevor’s picky eating tendencies seem to get worse when we travel. This isn’t a problem for him, but it gives Chris and I a lot of stress!

In July, Trevor had reached a point where he was eating so few foods, Chris and I were worried. If Trevor had his way, his diet would consist of potato chips, cookies, milk shakes, and sugar (just plain sugar!) with a bagel thrown into the mix here and there. Plus milk. Tru still loves his milk more than anything.

We decided to meet with a nutritionist to make sure Tru was getting all of the vitamins and nutrients he needed to grow.

Meeting with the nutritionist helped a lot. I learned that when I filled his sippy cup to the top with milk, I was giving him twice what he needed. So his tiny stomach was filling up on too much milk.

Things have really improved since we cut back on milk. In addition to his old favorites (peanut butter, hummus, yogurt, smoothies and bagels with cream cheese), Tru is now eating new foods like peanuts, pumpkin seeds, fish sticks, French toast, and sunflower seeds. Where before he refused to try fruits and vegetables, now he’s sometimes willing to taste a strawberry or a piece of melon.

When we travel though, he tends to revert back to just wanting potato chips, cookies, and milk.

Some techniques we tried on this trip: giving Trevor just a splash of milk (not a full cup) when he asks, followed by water. And not having chips and cookies available in our room (but maybe stopping for, say a small ice cream, once in a while when we’re out exploring).

Chris and I have also gone really out of our way to seek out fresh fruit smoothie shops during our travels. This has been surprisingly easy, since fresh juice bars and smoothie shops seem to be a huge trend everywhere right now.

Knead-Doughnuts-Providence-RI

But here’s a story to describe our challenges with picky eating while traveling:

One day in Newport, I stood in line for a smoothie for Trevor in a very crowded fresh juice shop. I stood in line for at least ten minutes. I ordered one I thought Tru would love (mango with some other fresh fruit and greens thrown in). I handed it to Tru and we wouldn’t touch it.

I stored it in the hotel fridge and handed it to him again that evening. He wouldn’t touch it.

The next morning, after failing again to get Tru to try his smoothie, Chris discovered a doughnut shop to stop in for breakfast. (The doughnuts, by the way, were incredible. There was one in particular – a cinnamon bun doughnut – that both Chris and I agreed was the best doughnut we’d ever tasted.)

Well, Trevor, knew he didn’t want to miss out on this experience! He asked to be lifted up to peek into the glass display case, he picked out a doughnut for himself (a vanilla glazed doughnut with rainbow sprinkles), and he proceeded to sit quietly on my lap while eating the entire thing.

Long story short: When it comes to food (and cars!), Trevor knows what he likes!

 

 

Check Out More Travel Confessions

 

 

For More On Traveling to Newport and Providence, Rhode Island, Check Out:

Traveling to Newport? Here Are the Top 5 Sites You Can’t Miss

Weekend Guide To The Newport Mansions

Take A Photo Tour of The Breakers | Newport Mansions

Take A Photo Tour of The Elms | Newport Mansions

All About Our Experience At WaterFire | Providence

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