One last hurrah at the beach

Since I last posted, my family and I have taken two mini-vacations to the beach. My husband has declared that he is officially “beached out.” (For me, there is no such thing. What a weirdo.) Our trips were filled with family, friends, long beach days, swims in the ocean, outdoor dining, and some serious lack of sleep. While that last part I could do without, the trips were really quite wonderful. Our most recent trip was to a place called Stone Harbor, which is about 30 minutes (and a world) away from Atlantic City. It was my first time being there, and I can say that I’m a huge fan. It is such a charming and chic town. We obvoiusly went for the beach, but I really fell in love with the downtown. The flower and tree-lined streets are filled with great boutiques, cafes, bakeries and bookstores, and the people are as friendly as can be. Truly, a quite picturesque and lovely place. Here’s a look at our time there:

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It’s a good thing that that I didn’t have my wallet when I stumbled upon a few of these places. Zoe and I spent some time browsing around a boutique called Skirt (how cute is that?), and it really was a practice in self-restraint. That was followed by finding some delicious mararons (thankfully by then I was reunited with my wallet) and treats for all (my son is covered in his.) I hope to visit this charming town again soon.

Until then, I plan on enjoying the rest of our summer at home. We’ll spend lots of time at the pool and our backyard, go the movies and the park and enjoy NOT packing our suitcases again.  I love going away, but I love coming home just as much. But man, the laundry sucks.

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Father’s day at the shore

The Jersey shore holds a very special place in my heart. My fondest childhood memories involve spending summers there with my family. I have vivid memories of my grandfather teaching me how to jump over waves. Of my brother and I being so excited to go to the waterslide park (in Long Beach Island) that we could barely stand it. Of warm cinnamon donuts from our favorite bakery for breakfast. Of spending a full day at the beach, going back to the house for a barbecue, and then going back to the beach to fly kites. Of nightly walks to go get ice cream. Of walks on the boardwalk. To me, the Jersey Shore is not all about booze and fist-pumping. To me, the Jersey Shore is all about family. So when it came time to plan out what we should do for Father’s Day, spending some time down the shore (that’s Jersey speak for the beach) just seemed right. It’s still early in the season, so the water isn’t exactly warm enough for swimming (at least not for my little ones), but it’s perfect for a day on the Boardwalk. The day called for going on rides, getting ice cream/funnel cakes/any other crappy yet delicious food, followed by a dinner on the bay at sunset.

So after making dad and the kids breakfast and giving dad his gifts and cards, we packed up and headed south. Lucky for us, we are only about an hour from the beach. My parents came along with us too, which made the kids so giddy I thought they would pop. We got off to a rocky start with both kids crying and having to be taken off a ride right before it started, but after much-needed ice cream cones, they both perked up and we had a great day. Here’s how it went:

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We truly had a wonderful day-one that was really special. The true sign of a great day? No one wanted to go home.

I have to say, I am a very, very blessed woman. I was blessed with a wonderful father. One who I thought of as a Superman of sorts. Growing up, there was nothing he didn’t know. Nothing he couldn’t fix or figure out. Nothing he couldn’t do. He had everything but a red cape. And now, I am blessed enough to have married a man who is a wonderful father to our children. I have no doubt that they will look at their dad the way that I looked at mine. Like a superhero. Because after all, isn’t that what fathers really are?

signs of summer

There’s just something in the air when summer is near. The days are longer, the weather is warm, and people are just…..happy. It’s a pretty glorious time. And there some things that happen every year that let you know that days at the beach, outdoor barbecues and endless warm nights are right around the corner. Things like graduation (my daughter just had hers from preschool), pool openings, hopscotch with sidewalk chalk, that beautiful light just before sunset, flowers and having drinks outside on a balmy night are just a few telltale signs of better days to come. Here’s just a little of what has made me happy about the thought of summer:

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Preschool diploma. She’s kind of a big deal.

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Long days at the pool.

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There’s nothing like the last light of the day.

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This is the summer my daughter will become obsessed with hopscotch.

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Each year, mid-June, these beautiful flowers bloom. I have no idea what I planted (I kind of threw a bunch of crap in some soil and crossed my fingers), but I look forward to it every year.

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Ahhhhhhhh……. This needs no description.

Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you take advantage of as many early summer moments as you can.

the best laid plans

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Whenever I’m planning a trip for our family, I always imagine it a certain way. First of all, everyone is happy. All of us. All the time. Secondly, we all have such a great time, we’re practically skipping with joy. Hand holding, laughing…it’s  like a scene out of a Disney movie. And at the end of the trip, everyone is so reluctant to go home because of all the zippity-do-dah fun we’re having. Mind you, this is all going on in my head. So when I planned our mini getaway over Memorial Day weekend, the same scenario played out in my mind. I had originally wanted to go to the beach, but becuase of cooler temperatures, opted for something different. I booked us a hotel room at a place with an attached indoor water park-a place that online, looked like the ultimate kid fantasy. It looked so fun, in fact, that I got us tickets for 2 days in a row. ($$$$$$$) Because of all the fun we would have, one day simply would not be enough. I thought how fun it would be to stay in a hotel with the kids. I booked us one room for all of us. How cozy is that? (Don’t say anything.) So we packed up the car and took off for our family fun adventure.

The drive was completely smooth. We put a movie on the ipad and they were captivated and content right up until we pulled up into the hotel parking lot. However, after waiting in line at the front desk for about half an hour, we learned that no rooms were ready due to overbooking, so we ended up here for a bit:

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Dunkin Donuts. It was that or Carl’s Jr. Traveling with kids, I have learned that it’s best to go with the flow. Something I am still working on…. An hour or so later (and a carpet of munchkin crumbs left behind), we were able to check in our room. I remember the thrill of a hotel room as a kid-it’s so new and exciting, and I could see this in my kids’ reactions. They were giddy as soon as we walked into our room. It is so fascinating seeing things through the eyes of a child. Everything is such an adventure. I wish I still felt that way about hotels. I can’t get past the awful pillows and hearing unpleasant mystery noises from the room next to you.

We then all got our bathing suits on and headed down to the water park. (Imagine a choir singing ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!)

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And that is only a portion of that place. There were multiple levels. Multiple. Like a never-ending torture chamber.

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The kids were ecstatic. It was really, really cute. Immediately, Brody ran into the kiddie area, but ran too fast, tripped and fell, and his head went under and he took in a little water. (Ok, a lot) He lost his shit (rightfully so) and wanted no part of anything else. Zoe, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to see the whole park. So I took her walking around and we went by the area in the picture. But every 10 second or so, huge waves of water came down on everyone, and one of them hit us both square in the face. As much as I tried to convince her it was ‘fun’, she was screaming and wanted to get the hell out of there. Walking away, she tripped and scraped her knee, causing further distress. And this was all in the first 10 minutes. Sigh. Go with the flow, mama, go with the flow……

We eventually did have some fun on the lazy river (after I had to scold some hooligans that were shoving us-yes, I’m that mom), and Brody ended up really enjoying himself. But the noise level in that place was making my ears bleed and I think I have some permanent hearing loss. (And some emotional trauma caused by whistles.) Needless to say, we sold our tickets for the following day. The thought of having to do that all over again….well, let’s just say pouring a vat of acid into my eyeballs would have been more enjoyable. Instead, we decided to go to the big aquarium on Camden, NJ the next day. We were in the area and I had been wanting to take the kids there for a long time.

The next morning, everyone was quite tired (awful pillows, mystery noises and a constantly buzzing/vibrating alarm clock) and we started the day off like this:

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Go with the flow, go with the flow….

I love aquariums; I find them so fascinating. And I had hoped that my kids’ first trip to one would be truly memorable. And this place was the motherload of aquariums.

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(To answer that question, about 5 seconds, which is 5 seconds too long…..)

The aquarium really was pretty amazing. It would have been nice to really see it, not in a “ok move on before the kids get bored and lose it” kinda way. There were a few meltdowns, a code brown (read: diaper situation) and a couple falls, but all in all, not a total bust.

We had a snack:

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Took in the view:

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And packed up and went home. At the end of every trip like this, my husband and I often ask each other “why do we do this to ourselves?” The trip NEVER goes as I imagined it, but then again, what does? No, no one was so happy they were singing zippity-do-dah out their aholes. There were meltdowns. Many. No one really slept much. We spent way too much money. But we made some memories. Some I’d like to forget, yes, but some things I’d like to remember for the rest of my life. And that is why we keep doing these trips.

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I hope you all had a very happy, healthy (and memorable) Memorial Day weekend.

A trip to Ikea and a rite of passage

First of all, I’d like to address one little thing: as I am still very new at this, it has come to my attention (thanks to the husband) that the emails that this blog sends out are chock full of typos/crap. I am constantly getting the ‘preview’ and ‘publish’ buttons mixed up, and have many times sent out a post that wasn’t ready. So I yell out “OH SHIT” and frantically correct everything that I can in warp speed, thinking that I can get it done before anyone reads it. Little did I know that it is that first, crappy draft that gets emailed out. Oops. Sorry to all that have had to read those crappy emails. I will do my best to not be such a spaz in the future.

Anyway

I have been talking about getting bunk beds for the kids for awhile. My kids share a room that is short on space, and having two cribs (one converted to a toddler bed) was taking up a lot of space. Their toys were spilling over-scratch that-taking over-our  living room. With all the extra space, I could take back part (a very small part, but still…) of my downstairs. So we went to Ikea to look for one. I wasn’t sure how the kids would take to it. Zoe would be on top, putting her up pretty high, and Brody would be giving up the comfort and familiarity of his crib. The trip to Ikea turned out to be not just about our search for a bunk bed, but also about a day of hanging out at a furniture store. But not just any furniture store-how many others have a full restaurant (with pretty good Swedish meatballs), a gigantic play area- complete with ball pit, and ice cream and sweets on your way out? That place is ginormous and pretty fun, actually. We spent at least 2 hours there. Here’s what we saw that I thought was was pretty cool:

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This is the Maskros light fixture. I have been eying it for a long time. It is so modern and cool. This is the smaller of the two and is only $49.99.

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Here’s the shot of the bigger one, which is only $89.99. In my opinion, the bigger one is waaaaaay cooler.

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Aren’t these cool? They look like little lockers. I love them for kids’ storage. Only $99.99.

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These chairs totally look like high-end chairs that I’ve seen sell for hundreds of dollars. These? $79.99 a pop.

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Yup. And bread. Oh…and this print is a whopping $12.00.

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Darling prints. I could see these in a playroom. So fun. These are also $12.00-for ALL THREE.

And now onto the kid stuff….

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Brody LOVED getting into all the “big boy beds”. He was especially drawn to this one because the bedding was his favorite color-“yayow”.

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The shoes came off.

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And Zoe got to see what being on the top bunk would be like. She loved it. It was short lived, however, as apparently it’s against the rules to climb up top. So she got down, we waited until the meanies left, and she got back up. So there.

After walking through the entire store, having a bite to eat, playing in the kids area, and having ice cream, we left that day with a brand new bunk bed. However…..anyone who has ever bought furniture from there knows that not only does it come with names like Fjell, Ektorp, Lugnvik and Sniglar (love the Swedes), they come in 8, 000 pieces. Two days (and a ton of mess) later, we had this:

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Brody’s transition from his crib was seamless, and Zoe mastered the ladder in about 5 minutes. It was great to see them so happy about their new bed. But for mommy, it was bittersweet. The same day the bed went up, I also took out the changing table mattress and a basket of cloth bibs. I rearranged the room, and although we all love it, it doesn’t look like a room that babies live in. It looks like a big kids’ room, and that is just something I am not yet ready to deal with. With “yayow” as a favorite color, I think I have a little time before I have to.

Nice and easy.

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Life gets so crazy. We are rushing this way and that, time is short, and everyone is busy. School, work, playdates, soccer games, dance class…does it ever end? Well, not really, but that’s life. But every now and then, you get one of those days. A day when you have nowhere to be, no one to meet, and nothing to do. And those are my most favorite days of all. I live for the days when we don’t have to rush out the door to school-when I can scoop up my kids in their jammies and bring them in my bed in the morning for some snuggling and giggles. Then we all get to have a slow, lazy breakfast, stay in pjs as long as we like, play on the floor, and then if it’s gorgeous outside like it was today, we get to go outside and explore. And that’s just what we did. All day. My son put on his superhero cape as soon as he woke up and kept in on until he went to bed. My daughter and I played with sidewalk chalk for hours. We played hide and seek and admired the blooming flowers. And when my husband came home from work, we all went out to dinner (my son still wearing his cape) and then walked to go get ice-cream. In my book, it doesn’t get any better than that. It will all change next year when my daughter will go to school every day, but for now I am cherishing these days more than I can express. Here’s a snapshot of our day:

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We ended the day with Zoe using chop sticks! Kiddie chop sticks, but hey…gotta start somewhere. I’m pretty sure my husband ate his baby food with these, so she’s in good hands.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you get a chance to slow down a little bit.

A perfect day

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If you had asked me five years ago what my idea of a perfect April day would have been, I would have said sleeping until noon, having a great brunch with my husband (with booze, duh), strolling around NYC, maybe a drink or two outside, followed by dinner at a great Thai restaurant and maybe a movie. Just thinking about that makes me smile. And if you ask me now? I’d say a perfect day is when there’s no major incident involving feces or vomit, no temper tantrums from my kids that involves biting or throwing sharp objects at my head, and getting a block of sleep that lasts at least 4 hours before someone wakes up yelling “MOMMYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!” My standards have clearly changed just a bit. But when a day like today comes along- when I get to see some of my favorite people, walk around the city AND not get puked on? That’s so perfect, there needs to be a new word for perfect. Our cousins from London are in town (one of whom you’ll be hearing from on here very soon) and when they are here, we all get really excited. So today I took my kids into NYC to meet up with them at Chelsea Market. It’s an incredible indoor marketplace with amazing shops and restaurants, and the feel and look of the place is just so damn cool. It’s industrial at its best, but with a homey/historical thing going on. I love just walking around and taking it all in. After some soup, smearing cupcake frosting all over my kids’ faces and much needed coffee, we all had a walk on the High Line, which is the coolest park on the planet. Since we were all freezing our asses off and I could almost see the snot freeze on my kids’ little faces, the walk was brief, but lovely nonetheless. Here’s a look at my perfect (and vomit-less) day. First stop, Chelsea Market.

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And then, with dry diapers and full bellies, we braved the cold for a walk on the High Line.

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I don’t know about you, but to me anything with Diane von Furstenberg’s name on it is the coolest thing ever. So that was our perfect day. Tomorrow may bring diarrhea and an ER visit, but at least I’ll always have today.