Monday, December 29, 2014

My 10 Year Old is An Atheist

A few weeks ago, my ten year old daughter proclaimed that she is an atheist.  My daughter is not one to take a stand on something without doing her research.  Just last year, after watching Blackfish, she did about a month’s worth of internet research, wrote a non-fiction children’s book about whales, and she told me that she will never step foot in a Sea World park ever again (not just Sea World, but any park that Sea World owns).  She was nine at the time.  So, when she announced that she believes in science, rather than God, I knew that she had already made up her mind.

I have been racking my brain on how this could have happened.  I was quick to blame her father, my ex-husband, as he is an atheist.  But then I remembered that shortly after my first daughter was born, we had a very enlightening conversation about religion.  His view was not what one would expect of an atheist.  He had very strong feelings on how we should raise our children.  And his feelings were that they should be raised Catholic.  I remember this conversation as if it were yesterday.  He explained that his entire life was lived in fear of death.  In his mind, everything he did was a risk, because ultimately, everything could result in death.  And because he didn’t believe in God or in heaven, he was missing a very important element in his life.  That element was hope.  He said that he didn’t want his children growing up without hope that there is something better after we leave this planet.  He didn’t want his daughters to be scared to die, and therefore, scared to live.  Even if hope was all they got from religion, that was good enough for him.  So, off we went, Catholic and Atheist, and had our children christened.

At that time, I was an avid, church-going Catholic.  Since then, I have strayed from the church, but not from God.  To this day, I still pray almost daily, and I still have faith that there is a God who listens and answers.  However, I never continued my girls’ religious educations because of my own personal feelings about organized religion.  I stopped sharing my beliefs with my children because I wasn’t certain that the teachings that I learned of as a child were the right way to teach my children about God.  Although I still know when to sit, stand and kneel at church, a lot of the information that I once knew about God is no longer a part of my memory, and therefore, doesn’t make me a great teacher.  And because I had a friend who decided on a religion later on in her life, I figured that, like her, my children would benefit from making their own choices about religion when the time was right for them. 

It looks like that time has come earlier than I expected.  Although my seven year old staunchly believes in God and in heaven, my ten year old firmly does not.  And of course, it’s my fault for not guiding her toward a more hopeful kind of life-a life with God.  I guess I just never thought that a little girl who still believes in Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy would go the opposite way when it came to believing in God.

So, now I’m left with guilt and the nagging feeling that I need to do something to show her that God is the right choice.  Part of me wants to start going back to church, regardless of how hypocritical that would be.  But another part of me thinks that forcing my beliefs on my daughter isn’t the right choice either.  The truth of the matter is that no human being has ever died and come back to tell us all whether there is a God or not.  Both science and religion have strong arguments on how we got here.  It’s a lot like the chicken and the egg argument.  So, I can’t have a conversation with my daughter telling her that I have all of the answers.  No one does.  And I also can’t have a conversation with her telling her that my answers are better or more believable than hers, because this isn’t about my perception.  It’s about hers.   

Because I have never spoken to her about what I believe, she’s only heard about what her father believes-and that is in science.  I think the only thing I can do at this point is let her into my world.  I can let her know that I have a belief that is different from hers and different from what most religious people believe.  Maybe I can share my thoughts with her, and maybe we can research all of the different religions-everything from Buddhism to Judaism to Islam.   In the end, she will still be the one to make up her own mind.  But at least this way, she will have more options to choose from.  And who knows?  Maybe she’ll do her own research one day and decide that science and religion don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive after all.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Ideas (With a Note to the Haters)

This isn’t really a blog, as it is a collection of my favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas.  Most of these are original, but I also put my own spin on some of my favorites from other Elf on the Shelfers. 

I know that some moms hate people like me, saying that I am an overachiever or a show off.  The truth of the matter is that when it’s Elf on the Shelf season, my children literally burst out of bed with excitement, ready to look for our elf, Rose.  I have to ask the haters a question. Can you imagine being so excited about something every day for one month that you literally jump out of bed for it?  Watching their excitement is the number one reason for why I do it. 

The second (and not nearly as important) reason is that I have a very technical job with zero creativity involved.  I look forward to this time of year so that I can let my creative juices flow.  Is that such a bad thing?

And yes, I post these pictures to Facebook almost daily.  I do this because I have tons of other mom friends who also do wacky things with the Elf on the Shelf, and I have benefited greatly from their ideas as well.  I treat it like a way to share Elf on the Shelf ideas.  I’m not trying to be arrogant.  I’m trying to be helpful. 

So, for all of you haters out there, cut us “overachievers” some slack.  We do this because it is fun for everyone involved.  And unless you are against other families having fun in different ways than you might do it in your home, can we please stop the mommy shaming when it’s Elf on the Shelf time?
Merry Christmas to all!  

snowing in Florida
The Lion King reenactment with a Hershey's kiss playing the role of Simba

The Hunger Games

Gymnastics Meet

Science Fair

Having a pet is not always fun
trapped by Spiderman

Ronda Rousey vs. Elsa UFC- MMA

Elf television

tic-tac-toe with Santa

fruit loop volcano

snowball fight

tree climbing

uh oh!
Lady and the Tramp


Target practice with Merida


how low can you go?

reminiscing over last year's visit

peppermint craft


arriving in a box

stacking books in Christmas shapes

bowling with chocolate

Grumpy Cat

lighting the fairy door

emoji kingdom

igloo in the freezer

everyone loves mistletoe


game night

sitting pretty

in the band

Where's Waldo?

plane ride back to the North Pole

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Audrey Brooke Cici Leather Flat

I have been on the lookout for comfortable pointed toe black flats for about two years now.  Maybe the fact that pointed toe shoes and comfort don’t ever belong in the same sentence might account for the longevity of my quest to find the perfect pair.  Not only did I want the elusive, comfy, black, pointed toe flat shoes, but I also wanted the perfect amount of toe cleavage.  Hey-if I have to wear flats, they’re sure as hell going to be sexy.  Anyway, over the years, I have tried on numerous pairs that tried to fit the bill, but failed.  I’ve tried on round toe flats with perfect cleavage; I‘ve tried on pointed toe flats that gave me blisters from just trying them on; I’ve tried on square toe flats that made me feel like a pilgrim.  You get the point, right?

All of my disappointment was replaced with excitement a few weeks ago when I had the privilege of visiting one of my favorite shoe stores-DSW.   I took my time and browsed through aisles and aisles of amazing shoes when, lo and behold, there they were!  The first thing I do when I am specifically looking for comfortable shoes is my “bend” test.  Once the shoe passes this test, I try it on. See the infamous bend test picture below.

These shoes were perfect!  Despite them not having my size, the smaller size shoe was extremely comfortable and had just enough toe cleavage!  Score!  Even though I left the store without them, I ordered them online as soon as I got home.  Once I got them in the mail, I took them out of the box and wore them all day long.  And guess what?  No blisters! 

So, if you are looking for a really comfortable, yet sexy flat shoe, I would definitely recommend that you treat yourself for the holiday season!  They are called the Audrey Brooke Cici leather flat, and they were only $49.95!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The List Phenomenon

“8 Beers You Should Stop Drinking Immediately”

“11 Things You Didn’t Know About Lucky Charms”

“3 Reasons to Never Open a Bank Account”

“7 Reasons to Never Drink Bottled Water Again”

“Top Ten Reasons Why Bottled Water is a Blessing”

“7 Evidence Based Health Reasons to Eat Meat”

“10 Reasons to Stop Eating Meat”

“6 Reasons to Use Organic Makeup”

Are any of you as tired of these lists as I am?  They are everywhere!  And for the most part, the content in these articles are mostly the opinions of the authors or bloggers, loaded with “facts” that can be otherwise contradicted by anyone with a smidgen of knowledge on the subject.  In doing just five minutes of research, I have found that for every article that tells us not to do something, there is an equally compelling article telling us why we should.

I don’t see the point in the scare tactics that these list based articles contain.  People make choices on a daily basis that may or may not be the best thing for them.   And by now, due to the increasing amount of these articles making their way around social media outlets like wildfire, everyone and their mother is aware of the chemicals that are used in a large portion of our consumables.  I am not debating the accuracy of these claims.  I am just questioning whether or not these things need to be used to deter people from making their own choices. 

Two of the most recent articles that I find most entertaining are the “8 Beers You Should Stop Drinking Immediately” and the“11 Things You Didn’t Know About Lucky Charms”. 
I think the beer one is particularly funny.  Chances are that if you are an avid beer drinker, you probably don’t care all that much about ingredients or which is the healthiest beer for you.  Rather, I would imagine that your primary care is cracking open your favorite beer and enjoying the taste while unwinding from the pitfalls of your day.  Most beer drinkers I have encountered are also pretty loyal to their brand, regardless of what’s in it.  And I think that this is okay.  I don’t feel the need to go to my nearest watering hole and shame the beer drinkers into drinking a healthier beer.  I think they deserve to make whatever choices they want to make.

As for the Lucky Charms paint thinner claims, to my knowledge, no one has perished from consuming a bowl of Lucky Charms.  I agree that there are definitely healthier cereals out there, but I disagree with trying to persuade people to change cereals (or anything), especially if everything in that article is not factual.

Those of you who know me know that I am a pretty healthy chick.  So, it’s not like I am against a healthy lifestyle.  I guess what I am against is people trying to tell me (in list format) what their idea of health is for me.   What works for you and your family may not work for me and mine.  So, I have a request.  You do you.  I’ll do me.  And I’ll bet that this will work out just fine for us both.
And here’s my unsolicited advice:  do your own research, educate yourselves on BOTH sides of every story and reach your own conclusions.  Make the decisions that you feel are best for you and your family.  And for Pete’s sake, stop reading and making these decisions based on these asinine lists.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I’m going to go have a beer with a side of Lucky Charms.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Be In the Moment

Growing up, I was a cheerleader, played softball, sang in the school’s chorus and musical productions, went on class trips, and participated in numerous high school clubs.  For all of these events and those that I have forgotten, my parents were there rooting me on, sometimes with a camera and sometimes without.  Sure, I have lots of old photos documenting things like vacations, prom, birthday parties and graduation.  But making memories back then relied heavily on being present.  Most of my childhood memories are stored in my brain and are just for me.  Whoever shared in those times with me may also have different versions of my memories.  However, the memories weren’t shared with neighbors and acquaintances or people my family barely knew.  Creating memories, not documenting them, was special.

The smaller moments spent with my parents included things like taking a day to walk around New York City or simply going out to dinner.  When my parents were there, they paid attention to me and what I had to say, no matter how unimportant it was to them.  They paid attention to what I ordered at a restaurant, made suggestions about what I should try, and made eye contact with me during our conversations.  They didn’t have phones, and neither did I.  Our interactions, no matter how small, were real and precious and, although I never realized it then, appreciated. 

Last week, I went on a class trip to LEGOLAND with my daughter.  My cell phone hasn’t been working for the last month, so by default, I left it home, along with my camera.  This is the first time in a really long time that I didn’t have any technology for what I considered to be a special day with my daughter.  At first, I was bummed that I couldn’t post any pictures to my Facebook page to let all of my friends and family know what a great time we were having.  But as soon as she got off the bus and found me in the crowd of parents, her smile made me feel ready to tackle a technology free day. 

Throughout the day, we walked hand in hand, with my other hand free of a phone or camera.  We had a very long conversation about the Rainbow Fairies book series that she is currently obsessed with.  We observed the LEGOLAND mini city section and got excited when we came across New York City.  We went back and forth comparing all of the places that we were able to see when we went on our New York vacation this past summer.  When we waited in line for the rides, we hugged, and at one point, I picked her up (because both hands were free) and I just held her.  When we ate lunch together, we looked at the LEGOLAND map to trace where we had been and where we wanted to go next.  We did all of this and more without sharing it with anyone else. 

That got me thinking about the need for constant sharing.  I think that there is a difference between people who take photos to capture the memories, and people who take photos simply to post them on Facebook to garner a “like” or a comment.  I’ve seen pictures of families taken in the car on their way to wherever it is they are going, whether it be to a vacation spot, a park, or sometimes, just a trip to the gas station.  I’ve seen pictures of families eating at restaurants.  I’ve seen pictures from various vacation destinations.  I’ve seen pictures of children playing in their rooms or yards.  The list goes on and on.  And I am the first to admit that I am guilty of it.

But the technology free trip to LEGOLAND may have changed that for me.  It brought me back to my technology free childhood.  It reminded me of those dinners with my family that were based on conversation.  My parents didn’t bring their cameras every time we went to the park or went on a class trip or went out to eat dinner.  In fact, there are no childhood pictures that captured me eating dinner at all.  Do you know why?  Because dinner and regular daily life was reserved for conversation and truly being present. 

Of course, cell phones and Facebook weren’t available then.  Had my parents had a cell phone, maybe things would have been different.  Maybe we might never have had as many conversations with each other.  Maybe I would have grown up feeling a little insecure because my life was on display to all my parents’ friends.  Maybe I would have felt listened to, but not really heard.  Maybe I wouldn’t really know my parents at all. Maybe I would have had a million more photos, but not too many really great memories.  Or maybe it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference.  But after my day with my daughter, I’ve come to my own conclusion, which is that I think oversharing can actually cause more harm than good. 

After the amazing LEGOLAND trip, there are a few things I now know.  I know that I didn’t waste any of my daughter's time by making her pose for pictures throughout the park so that I could post them to Facebook.  I know that I learned some new things about my daughter and about how she feels about certain things.  I know about all of the Rainbow Fairies and how they found each other and who the fairy was who started it all (her name is Ruby).  I learned that eye contact and being truly engaged for one entire day sure as hell beats even one minute spent uploading a picture to Facebook.  I learned that you can’t get those minutes back.  I learned that not only do I appreciate those extra minutes, but my daughter does too.  I learned that she has different facial expressions when she knows I am intently listening and watching her.  I learned that she smiles every time I look at her.  I learned that I could get more out of any experience if I use my eyes rather than a camera lens or a phone.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Wrong Regret

This morning, I took my nine year old daughter out for our regular Saturday morning bike ride.  We have made a habit of riding around town for about three miles.  This morning, we chose to ride on the sidewalk.  We’ve done this route a few times before, and we both really enjoy it because the sidewalk is smoother and feels safer than the street.  We left the house at 9:37am. 

The ride was great.  It was a beautiful day with a cool breeze which made us welcome the hot sun.  Toward the end of our ride, I told her to make a right onto our street.  And that’s when, out of nowhere, she decided to turn left onto the busy street instead.

It was only a second, but it seemed like an hour in slow motion.  I froze as I watched her weave her way across the busy street without looking.  I froze again as I realized that the cars going in both directions had stopped to let her go.  And then I realized that I needed to get across to her.  The first rational thought that crossed my mind was that she was okay.  She made it.  She’s alive.  The second rational thought I had was to get off my bike and run.  In hindsight, this doesn’t make much sense, as riding a bike to her would have been faster.  But running as fast as I could was what I decided on.  When I got to her, she was shaken and scared.  I had no words.  I just stared at her.  When words finally came to my mind and out of my mouth, they were, “What in the world were you thinking?  You could have been killed!”  I couldn’t understand why she made the left.  I couldn’t understand why she didn’t stop her bike and look both ways as she has been taught to do since she was a little girl.  I couldn’t understand how she was still alive when she had come literally inches from getting hit by a car.

We rode home in silence.  And when we got inside the house, we both went to our rooms.  I immediately got into the shower and replayed the whole thing again in my head.  I went over all of the things that could have happened.  But mostly, I was searching for ways I could have stopped her.  I came up with dozens of things I should have done differently.  I beat myself up for freezing instead of reacting immediately.  I thought how ridiculous it was to get off my bike and run.  I thought about what a terrible mom I was to not demand that she stop her bike before every turn.  I thought of all of the regrets I would have had if she had gotten hit.

After the shower, I went to her room and she was crying.  She was scared and worried that I was mad at her for making a mistake.  She said she got confused.  She said that even though she heard me say “right”, she thought we lived the other way and was just trying to go home.  And that’s when it hit me.  There was nothing I could have done.  Even if her mistake proved to be fatal, there would have been nothing I could have done to change the fact that, in her mind, “left” was the way to go.  I held onto her for as long as she let me, and I realized something.  The only real regret I had regarding today’s scare had nothing to do with how I failed to stop her bike from crossing that street.  The regret I had was my immediate reaction and communication with my daughter.  The truth is that she made a snap decision that was out of my control.  The bigger truth is that throughout her life, she is going to make tons of similar decisions that won’t make sense to me and that I won’t be able to prevent.  I wish I would have thrown my arms around her to comfort her as soon as I had gotten to the other side of the street.  Instead, I focused on how I felt and let my emotions control that moment.  And I learned such a great lesson from it.  Regardless of what mistakes she makes in her future, going forward, I will always choose to react with love instead of fear, and comfort instead of strength.   

To the two drivers of the cars that stopped as my daughter darted across the road unexpectedly, thank you for stopping.  Thank you for paying attention to something that you normally wouldn’t have to pay attention to.  Thank you for not speeding.  Thank you for not texting while driving.  Thank you for saving my daughter’s life.

*This piece was featured on BlogHer on October 25, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

They Aren't On Facebook!

My youngest daughter turned seven this past weekend, and we celebrated with a pool party and a trip to Lion Country Safari.  On the night before her birthday, I went into her bedroom to tuck her in and sat down and asked her to stop aging and to stay six forever.  She giggled and told me that she loved me.  I then continued our nightly ritual by saying, “I love you more.”  And she ended with, “I love you most.”  (Yes, this is from Tangled.)  The following morning, I woke up, made some coffee, and posted the number 7 as my Facebook status.  I also changed my profile picture to a picture of my daughter.  And then I closed my laptop and started to get ready for our trip to Lion Country Safari.  Those of my Facebook friends who I am closest with understood my status.  Most of them had already wished her a happy birthday with a card or a gift or a phone call the previous day.  Every year, when my daughters turn a year older, I post their age as my status update.  I don’t know why I do it.  Maybe it’s just to validate that the day is special to me.

I’ve noticed that other people do something similar that I find a little odd.  My Facebook feed is filled with long notes from parents to their young ones, wishing them a great day.  Along these lines, I also see personal notes to the deceased.  I guess my confusion lies with these sincere posts directed to people who don’t have a Facebook account, either due to age or death. In the same way I try to figure out why I post certain things on Facebook verses other things, I am trying to figure out the nature and rationale of these types of posts.   “Happy 6th birthday Jimmy.  We love you.”  Does six year old Jimmy have a Facebook account already?  Is six year old Jimmy away with his grandparents on his birthday, so Facebook is a way to communicate with him while he’s on vacay?  Or are these heartfelt sentiments just a way for people to alert their friends that it’s their child’s birthday?  But if that’s the case, why not say, “Hey everyone!  It’s my son’s birthday today.  Show him some Facebook love!”  In the death related posts, such as “I miss you so much Aunt Helen.  I hope you are looking down at me from heaven”, I’m assuming this is a part of the grieving process for some?  Or is it a way to let others know about how sad you are about the person’s death in order to get some sympathy from your friends?   As you can see, I don’t quite understand these types of messages.  Although I post the ages of my daughters on Facebook, I don’t write to them directly on Facebook because they will never see it.  On the other hand, I do have a personal email account for each of my girls.  I write to them regularly, and right now, I am the only one with the passwords.  I hope to give them the passwords when they get older.  But these are personal, non-public letters that I know they will get to read someday.  As for the people who post letters addressed to people who do not have Facebook accounts, I sincerely hope that Facebook isn’t a replacement for saying these beautiful words out loud.   

Obviously, I find it interesting how people relay messages on Facebook.  I’m not trying to be a smart ass (well, maybe a little bit) or an elitist because I post to Facebook all of the time.  I guess I would love to delve further into why people, myself included, post what they post and what type of reaction they are specifically looking for.   Is it all just an ego boost?  Is it part of the so called “Me Generation”?  Or is there something more to it?  Not that I spend my days wondering about this, but sometimes random things cross my mind.   Just wondering if anyone else out there has ever had the same thoughts, or if anyone would like to offer their insight.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Road Trip: From Florida to New Jersey

I cannot believe it’s been a year since our Puerto Rico trip!  I wish I could post to the travel section of my blog more frequently, but until I hit the lottery, one vacation per year is all I can manage. 

This year, I decided to try a road trip from my current home in Florida to my old town in New Jersey with my daughters (Fallon, 9 and Kyla, 6) and my fiancé John.  I thought it would be fun to pretend to be a tourist and take advantage of all of the things that I didn’t take advantage of enough when I lived there (aka tourist traps).  My goal was to make a few stops on our way up so that the drive was bearable.  So, I chose Hilton Head Island, SC and Washington DC as our mini-vacation spots before our arrival in New Jersey.  Before I begin describing our travel experiences, I wanted to give some of the parents who read this blog this helpful tip-audio books on a long road trip are AMAZING!  We chose the Harry Potter series, and not only did the entire family enjoy listening on the 20+ hour journey, but my daughters are now huge fans and can’t wait to continue reading the rest of the series.  J

I should warn you that we crammed a lot into 11 days, so this entry is going to be rather long.  So, get comfortable and enjoy! 

Day 1- Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
We set out toward Hilton Head Island at about 8:30am, with the intention of taking our time and stopping for lunch, which we did at about three hours into the trip.  We arrived at our hotel at approximately 3pm (check-in was at 4pm).  The hotel I chose was called the Beach House Resort.  Upon check-in, the room I reserved (the kids suite) was not available.  So, the staff offered us an ocean front room, as well as complimentary breakfast the following morning.  The hotel representative was sincerely apologetic for the mishap and even though the room type didn’t bother me in the least, it was a really nice gesture for the staff to be so accommodating.  The décor of the hotel was exactly what you would expect a beach house to look like.  For anyone expecting the type of luxurious welcome a 5 star resort would give you, this is not your hotel.  This hotel had a comfortable, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.  There were many hotels on the island to choose from like the Disney, Omni or Westin that would have offered a 5 star experience.  However, being that we were there for only one night, the Beach House was perfect.  Also, for the area, this hotel cannot be beat with regard to price ($179/night) and location.  It is right on the beach, it has a large pool where my girls spent most of their time, and it is literally steps away from Coligny Beach Park, which offers a water play area for children and relaxing wooden swing benches overlooking the ocean.  

View from our room at the Beach House Resort

VACATION TIP:  Early in the morning, the hotel puts out large blue umbrellas and lounge chairs on the beach.  By about 10am, these chairs are all taken.  So, if you want one, be sure to get up early. 

Also, be sure to take the 5 minute walk along the sidewalk/pathway that leads to Coligny Plaza.  Right at the beginning of the path, there is a lovely tree (possibly an angel oak) with horizontal branches.  The girls just loved climbing it!  Once we arrived at the plaza, we had a wide selection of restaurants, desserts and souvenir shops to choose from.  Even though we were only there for one night, I will definitely come back to Hilton Head Island and would love to stay at the Beach House Resort.  VACATION TIP:   For those parents with little ones, the ocean front rooms are beautiful, but they also overlook the tiki bar on the beach.  There is live music that plays all day long until roughly 10pm, so if you are looking for a quiet stay, I would make sure to ask for a room that isn’t on the ocean.

Beach House Resort link:

Day 2/3-Washington DC
Our second day on the road was mostly spent traveling to Washington DC.  We left the Beach House around noon and we arrived at the State Plaza Hotel in Washington around 9pm.  Because of the late hour and the fact that we were all a bit tired from travel, we went right to bed.  Hotels under $200/night are very hard to come by in Washington DC, especially if you are looking for a place that is within walking distance of the major attractions.  The hotel cost was $179 for the night, plus $37.76 for valet parking (trust me, the valet parking fee is worth it!).  As for the hotel, it was perfect for us!  There were 3 rooms-a kitchen (full refrigerator, stove top, small dining table), a vanity room that led to the bathroom and a bedroom with two very comfortable queen beds.  Though the hotel decor seemed a little outdated, everything was clean, the staff was welcoming and the room was extremely spacious.   Also, there is a CVS right next to the hotel, which was a nice convenience. 

We woke up early and were checked out of the hotel by 8:30am.  Even though we checked out early, they allowed us to keep our car with them until we returned (after sightseeing) in the afternoon.  The staff did ask very politely if we could try to get back to our car by 12:30 or 1pm, which was perfect for us!  So, we started our morning with a 10 minute walk to the Lincoln Memorial.  Because the girls really enjoyed the Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian movie, they were floored by how large the statue actually is.  I’m sure they were only slightly disappointed that the statue didn’t come to life as it did in the movie.  For the adults, standing on a piece of history on the top of those steps and turning around to see the Washington Monument that early in the morning was spectacular.  The morning sunshine on the Reflecting Pool was gorgeous!  I’ve been to Washington DC plenty of times as a child and as a teenager, but it really does take on a newfound respect to see it as an adult.  Not to mention, even though it was the day before Independence Day, there was hardly anyone there, which made for a very serene environment. 


After the Lincoln Memorial, we walked down the steps, towards the Reflecting Pool and decided to take a quick walk through the Vietnam Wall Memorial.  My girls asked what it was and we gave a very brief summary so that they could appreciate what our soldiers do for us.  But we didn’t stay there too long.  We continued along Constitution Avenue and passed the White House.  

Then, we moved on to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (which is free of charge).  I wish we had more time to go to some of the other museums in Washington, but I chose this one above the others because it had more things that my girls were interested in, such as the Mammals exhibit, the Oceans exhibit, the Gemstone collection, the Easter Head Island statue, the Neanderthal digital face transformation, and of course, the live tarantula feedings.  

Museum of Natural History

Oceans Exhibit-Whale
Oceans Exhibit-Giant Squid
Hope Diamond
Easter Head Island Statue
Digital Neanderthal Face Transformation

The only things we didn’t get a chance to see were one of the IMAX movies and the butterfly pavilion.  However, I found something that made me really appreciate the vacations that we have taken so far.  There was an exhibit in the Oceans section of the museum which described bioluminesence in Puerto Rico.  It made me smile because we actually saw that on a Bioluminesence tour that we took on our vacation just last year!  It is nice to be able to say that we all experienced something that is currently on display in a museum. J  

Oceans Exhibit-Bioluminesence

After the museum, we were lucky enough to grab a cab back to the hotel (cabs are not as readily available in DC as they are in New York).  In roughly four hours, we made it to New Jersey and ate dinner at the Saddle Brook Diner.  J  Because most of my family lives in New Jersey, we did not need to stay in a hotel.  So, I do not have any tips on which hotels are best in New Jersey or Manhattan. 

State Plaza Hotel link:
Museum of Natural History link:

Day 4-Family Day & Bagels!
July 4th was a family day spent in Milltown, New Jersey.  The fireworks display was really great and it was wonderful to spend time with my family! 

The only other thing I wanted to write about was breakfast.  When you are in NJ, you have to eat the bagels!  The food in NJ/NYC (even food as simple as a bagel) is incomparable to anywhere I’ve ever eaten.  Now that I live in Florida, great food like that is sorely missed.  So, each chance I get to go “home”, I make sure to get my fill of all of my favorites!

Day 5-Carlo’s Bakery, MoMath, Scholastic Store, Washington Square Park, 9/11 Memorial
Our 5th day was the day I planned the most activities, and I honestly did not expect to get through them all.  We drove to Hoboken and parked the car in a lot right next to the PATH train (parking the entire day was only $20, which is much cheaper than any garage in NYC).  Before heading into the city, we stopped at the famous Carlo’s Bakery (aka The Cake Boss) on Washington Street.  There was a line outside of the door just to take pictures of the shop.  But being that I am a NJ girl, I have tasted Carlo’s cakes and pastries on many occasions, so I had every intention of going in to actually buy some treats.  The line inside was insane.  I grabbed a ticket with the number 50 and the number being served was only 20.  So, we were in for a very long wait.  That is, until a complete stranger gave us his number, which was 22.  Now, I know Jersey-ites often get a bad rap, but there are some good ones out there!  So, to the man who so kindly gave us that number, thank you!!  Within the next 5 minutes, we ordered 2 pieces of crumb cake and 2 chocolate chip cookies (and a t-shirt for my own personal cake boss, John).  We also got to see Mauro, so that was a nice surprise. 

Once we left the shop, we took the PATH to 23rd and walked over to Madison Square Park to sit in the shade and enjoy our goodies from the bakery.  Once we were done, we headed over to the MoMath Museum on E26th Street.  Because it was just around the corner and on the way to the museum, we got to stop and take some pictures of the Flat Iron Building.

Although both of my girls do very well in math, they both don’t particularly love the subject.  So, they were hesitant about going to a museum dedicated to mathematics.  But once they were inside, that quickly changed.  The exhibits were interesting and perfect for their ages!  As soon as we walked in (on floor 0), there was the Hyper Hyperboloid chair.  Once you climb inside the cylindrical chamber and spin the chair, the straight lines around you create a curved surface.  It takes some force to spin the chair and my little one had to stand up and push the hand grips to make it work for her, but her smile told me that it was worth her effort.  

Two other exhibits we tried were the Square-Wheeled Trike (the name really does say it all) and the Coaster Rollers, which was a scooter-like ride that allowed the girls to roll over bumpy acorn shapes, while still having a smooth ride.  Both girls really enjoyed these exhibits!  

Next, we tried the Pollypaint exhibit where the girls got to create shapes and colors on a blank digital canvas with a digital paintbrush.  We also tried the Mathenaeum, where the girls got to create 3D shapes out of basic shapes on a large monitor.  They also got to work on their multiplication tables in a very fun way on the String Product exhibit.  They chose 2 numbers by pressing buttons and the product lit up on the inside of a giant parabola that started on Floor -1 and wound its way up to Floor 0. 

On the -1 Floor (which I thought was very clever), there were even more fun exhibits that the girls really enjoyed!  The Math Square was one of their favorites.  By simply moving their feet around the neon square, it created different shapes based on the distance between each person on the square.  Every 15 minutes, the game changes, so it gives the people standing on it something new to figure out.  

One of my favorite exhibits was the Human Tree.  You stand in front of a screen and wave your arms and miniature versions of yourself become the branches of the tree.  It really amazed me!  

One of the girls’ favorite exhibits was the Tessellation Station, which allowed them to create patterns from magnetic shapes like dinosaurs and monkeys.  

Another favorite was the Rhythms of Life exhibit which allowed the girls to put fractions together on a disc.  If they did it correctly, the box with the sound of their choice would light up.  My girls loved the dog and cat sounds!  J

I also loved the Dynamic Wall, which was simply a wall of shapes that move with you. 

What I loved the most about this museum was that every exhibit was hands on, which is perfect for children of any age.  As an adult, this museum really kept my interest.  I was a little worried that the museum might be a bit boring for everyone, but each exhibit was more stimulating than the next.  With that said, I would definitely recommend the museum to anyone with or without children! 

Just to note, the ticket prices were really affordable ($15 per adult; $9 per child)!  For less than $50, a family of four can experience hours of educational entertainment!

After the museum, we headed to Ray’s Pizza on 9th Avenue.  Now I know that Ray’s Pizza is not the best pizza NYC has to offer, but because of a joke between John and I, Ray’s was the place we just had to go.  Long story short, John is a southerner and has some southern sayings that I don’t always understand.  So, he used to always tell me that “I didn’t take him to raise.”  I thought he was saying, “I didn’t take you to Ray’s”, so one day, I decided to ask him who Ray was.  So, taking him to Ray’s Pizza was my spin on the joke.  J

After Ray’s, we headed to the Scholastic Store on Broadway so the girls could pick out some books.  The store is a typical large-scale bookstore, similar to Barnes and Nobles.  The only difference is that it only carries books for children and teens.   Though my girls were a bit overwhelmed by the store, I think they really liked it. 

After book shopping, we went for ice cream at Emack and Bolio’s on West Houston Street. What an incredible selection of flavors!  Flavors like Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel, Chocolate Addiction, Peanut Butter Oreo, Cake Batter, Maple Walnut, and Almond Coconut Bar were available at the store.  Not only were their flavors hard to choose from, but the cone selection was out of this world!  John chose a rice krispie treat waffle cone!  I went with the S’moreo Shake because how can s’mores mixed with Oreo cookies be bad?  The girls weren’t very adventurous, but they enjoyed a chocolate shake and cup of chocolate ice cream. 

After our ice cream cool down, we walked to Washington Square Park.  The girls sat under a tree and in true New York style, took off their shoes and relaxed.  We also got to see some amazing street dancers called the Tic & Tac All-Stars.    They were dancers/entertainers/comedians and they were unbelievable.  The entire reason for bringing John & the girls to Washington Square Park was to see some street performers.  The Tic & Tac All-Stars blew our minds!  One of the highlights of their show was one brother laid across the other brother’s head and the standing brother spun around very fast without holding onto the guy on his head!  Another highlight was when one dancer jumped over 4 people standing up!  It was so great and I am glad my daughters got to see it!

Our final stop for the day was the 9/11 Memorial.  We didn’t go into the museum because I didn’t think my daughters needed to see every detail just yet.  Simply walking up to the memorial is enough, and it is absolutely breathtaking.  It really puts the immensity of the buildings into perspective.  I had been to the World Trade Center numerous times when I lived there and never really thought anything of the size.  But when you are standing over the site with the water falling into a large black hole, the sadness from that time is present and indescribable.  It is beautiful, yet the sadness is palpable. The mood around us was somber.  Even though there was a crowd of people all around the site, there was quiet and calm.  It almost felt like another place, like we weren’t even in New York City.  Though it was a difficult subject to talk about with the girls, I am really glad we all got to see it. 

the only surviving tree from 9/11


Carlo’s Bakery link:
MoMath link:
Ray’s Pizza link:
Scholastic Store link:
Emack and Bolio’s link:
9/11 Memorial link:

Day 6-Sal & Carmine's Pizza, Magnolia Bakery, Central Park Strawberry Fields/Horse & Carriage Ride, Stomp
Our 6th day was a bit more relaxed because most of our plans were on the Upper West Side, which is my favorite part of New York!  It is quieter and prettier than just about every other part of New York.  If New York City had a suburb, the Upper West Side would be it.  I love that you can take a relaxing stroll on West End and in 5 minutes, you can be on Broadway.  I also love that driving on the Upper West Side is stress free.  And most importantly, the best pizza that New York City has to offer (in my opinion) is located on the Upper West Side.  On Broadway between 101st & 102nd, there is a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it pizza parlor called Sal & Carmine.  When it comes to pizza, there just isn’t anything like it.  Trust me on this and go try a slice if you are ever in the area.  I promise that you will not be disappointed.  VACATION TIP:  There is no air conditioning or public restrooms in this pizza place.  It also has a very small seating area in the back with only about 5 small tables.

After lunch, we went to Central Park’s Strawberry Fields, sat on a bench in the shade and looked on as people got a glimpse of the Imagine circle.  

The Dakota

 We also took a walk to the Adventure Playground in Central Park on W67th.  It was pretty hot out, and this playground had a nice water feature which the girls loved. VACATION TIP:  There are restrooms at Mineral Springs (69th mid park).  

After cooling off, we walked to Columbus (at 69th) to have some dessert at Magnolia Bakery.  I think it’s a bit unfortunate that Magnolia is known for their cupcakes, because if I’m being honest, their cupcakes aren’t that great.  They are a little dry and have way too much frosting.  But Magnolia Bakery wins the Best Ice Box Cake award, hands down!  I can’t even describe with words how good it is, so here’s a picture.  If you happen to visit Magnolia, skip the cupcake and order one of these instead!  VACATION TIP:  For the parents, the shop on Columbus has a seating area in the back with restrooms.

Ice Box Cake

After our dessert, we had some time to kill.  Rather than hopping in a cab, I thought it would be fun to ride a horse and carriage over to the East Side.  I am so glad we did!  It was easily one of the highlights of the trip.  I know horse drawn carriages have been a sore topic recently in New York City news, as there are people who oppose them and others who don’t.  I am not sure how I feel on the topic because I don’t know enough about the care of horses, but I can tell you that this man loved his horse, Darcy.  And this man was not an angry/sarcastic/cynical New Yorker at all.  He was actually born in Ireland and was friendly, knowledgeable and kind.  And he was someone who really loved the city and loved his job.  And being around a person like that is something that just made me smile.  The ride around Central Park, taking it all in, was really delightful.   And we even rode near the Summer Stage and heard Willie Nelson singing! 

When we arrived on the East Side, we were all relaxed and had big smiles on our faces and were ready to go to our final stop-the Orpheum Theatre to see Stomp.  My girls really aren’t into the Disney musicals, so I wanted to take them to a show that they would appreciate.  Also, because John is a drummer, I knew that Stomp was the right show for him.  And it did not disappoint.  The cast was really engaging and the energy in the small theatre was phenomenal.  We all loved it!  And at the end, we got to meet and take pictures with two of the cast members.  We had such a fantastic day!

Day 7-Central Park Zoo, FAO Schwartz, Coppola's
Our 7th day was spent on Manhattan’s East Side.  We started the morning at the Central Park Zoo. VACATION TIP:  Before leaving for vacation, I used to pre-pay for a parking garage nearby.  It was only $28 for the day, and it was only 2 blocks from Central Park!  The penguin exhibit and the Rio 4D movie were definitely the highlights of this zoo.  VACATION TIP:   The Rio 4D movie line is insane after lunch.  We went right at noon while everyone else was eating and there was no line at all.  The zoo is definitely lacking in animals, but it is really pretty and nice for an afternoon stroll.  We also went to the children’s petting zoo section called the Tisch Children’s Zoo.  There were only a few animals (a llama, a few goats and a cow), but my girls loved feeding and petting them.  Just to note, the animals are in cages, so feeding and petting isn’t exactly easy, especially if there are a lot of kids there.  In Florida, most petting zoos allow the animals and kids to roam free in a fenced in area.  So, the NYC zoo experience was a little disappointing for my girls.  Luckily, I have AAA and was able to purchase four Total Experience tickets (which include admission for the zoo, petting zoo and 4D movie) for $48.30.  So, even though it wasn’t our favorite experience, it really wasn’t a bad price for a family of four.

After the zoo, we took a very short walk to 5th Avenue to the famous FAO Schwartz mega toy store.  Seeing the toy soldier at the store’s entrance made me smile, but the girls really had no idea what they were in for.  From the outside, it looks rather small in comparison with the giant Apple building right next to it. 

So, when the girls walked in, both of their jaws literally dropped.  The first thing my youngest said was, “Two floors of toys?!!?”  We started with the first floor and combed through every section.  The candy section was incredible!  Every kind of candy you can possibly imagine was right in front of us.  So, of course, we made a few candy purchases before continuing up to the second floor.  The second floor is where the BIG piano is, and we all had a turn playing on it with our feet.  And yes, it’s just as much fun as you would think it is!  

We spent over two hours in the store.  Each of my girls picked out a toy to bring home, and we also picked out our plant shelf item (chalkboard vase pictured below).  For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read my Puerto Rico blog, every time we travel, we pick something out to put on our plant shelf at home.  So, rather than having fake plants, our plant shelf is now filled with mementos from all of the places we have been.  It makes me so happy when I look up at our plant shelf because all of the vacation memories come back with just a glance. 

Our chalkboard vase from FAO Schwartz NYC

our plant far

After our shopping spree in FAO Schwartz, we headed to one of my favorite Italian restaurants called Coppola’s (378 3rd Avenue).  

There are so many Italian restaurants to choose from in New York City, but time and time again, I will always go back to Coppola’s.  When walking into Coppola’s, it looks high class, yet has a relaxed atmosphere which makes it easy for families with children.  From appetizers to the main course, the food has always been consistently excellent.  Once seated, the waiter was prompt and friendly.  He took our drink orders and returned minutes later with different types of warm bread with an Italian oil dish.  We had the fried calamari for an appetizer and even my picky-eater daughter loved it!  I’m afraid that despite the overabundance of items on the menu, we were a bit boring when making our main menu course choices.  And for me, it is because living in Florida really does deprive you of the kind of great Italian food that New York is known for, so I wanted a classic.  So, almost all of us ordered the Classic Chicken Parmigiana.  

My youngest daughter had the Spaghetti with Mom’s Meatball, which turned out to be a lot of fun for a six year old.  The size of the meatball in the middle of that plate of spaghetti was almost comical for her and she did a great job tackling it!  They do not offer a kids meal section, but there is plenty on the menu for kids to choose from.  

VACATION TIP:  They serve really large portions, so be sure to eat only half of your meal so you can save room for dessert!  Unfortunately, we were too full for dessert, plus we stopped at the La Delice Pastry shop, located across the street from Coppola’s (373 3rd Avenue), for some take home pastries before we got to the restaurant.    VACATION TIP:  Definitely make a stop into this bakery!!

All in all, we had another really amazing day in New York.  I absolutely loved sharing the city that I love so much with the people I love the most.

Central Park Zoo link:
Coppola’s link:

Day 8-Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Liberty Science Center
Our 8th vacation day was reserved for the Statue of Liberty.  The idea of climbing 182 steps to the crown did not appeal to anyone, so the excitement was not overwhelming when the day started.  However, the minute we got on the ferry in the morning, there were smiles all around.  VACATION TIP:  If you are planning a trip to the crown, word has it that it sells out really quickly.  I booked it 3 months in advance.  If you choose the "reserve with crown" access ticket ($66 for 2 adults & 2 children), you not only get to tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but you also get priority entry, which means NO WAITING IN LINE!  Being that I booked the 10am time slot, it wasn’t all that crowded when we got there.  However, it was filled with people by noon.  So, I strongly recommend a morning statue tour followed by the Ellis Island visit.  It is tempting to go to Ellis Island first because it is the first ferry stop, but the statue definitely gets more crowded than Ellis Island. 

 The initial part of the tour is an easy elevator ride to the pedestal.  The views from this part of the statue are really beautiful, so if you can’t make it to the crown, don’t be too upset.  Here are some shots with the view from the pedestal.

If you are venturing up to the crown, you need to climb 182 teeny spiral steps.  The cool part is that with every step up, you get to see the inside of the structure.  

And because it was 90 degrees, it really did feel like an accomplishment when we all reached the top together.  The windows in the crown are very small, and the space in the crown is very tight, as you can probably only fit about 6-8 people at one time.  But looking through those windows and seeing parts of the statue, in particular the clear view of the book she is holding with the July 4, 1776 date on it, is an amazing sight and is completely worth the climb.  Also, on the way down, you get to see a very close view of the inside of her face. 

Once we got to the bottom, we found a spot in the shade and had some lunch.  The lunch available on site is what you would expect-overpriced and not that great.  But when you are stuck on an island, convenience and availability is what counts.  VACATION TIP:  Restrooms are in the gift shop.  After the statue, we got back on the ferry and headed to Ellis Island.  We went to the Through America’s Gate exhibit on the 2nd floor, and to my surprise, it was fascinating.  Reading about the struggles and seeing pictures of people who actually came through really made me realize how easy we have it as American citizens today.  Even my girls were interested in some of the sections.  At one point, my oldest daughter was reading something and we were all going into the next room, and she asked us to wait until she finished reading the caption below a picture she was looking at.  I didn’t think my girls would be as interested as they were, so that really was a bonus. 

After Ellis Island, we took the ferry back to our car and had a few hours left before the Liberty Science Center closed (5:30pm), so we spent the $69 on general admission (we didn’t have time to watch an IMAX film, but you can purchase tickets for that when you arrive) and enjoyed four floors of hands on exhibits.  My girls enjoyed the Beyond Rubik’s Cube area, the Block Party area, the Eat & Be Eaten area, the Skyscraper area (where John walked on a scaffold), the outdoor Wildlife Challenge (where the girls got to climb & crawl through an animal obstacle course), and the Wonder Why area (where they got to see a six foot bubble).  There were other sections that we didn’t get to due to the closing time of the museum, but we all had a good time here, and it was a nice way to end our day.

State Cruises/Statue of Liberty link:
Liberty Science Center link:

Day 9-Tom’s Restaurant & Madison Square Garden
Today was more of a rest day because I was planning a large surprise for the evening.  We went for brunch at the famous Tom’s Restaurant (2880 Broadway), or, for all of you Seinfeld fans, Monks.  Tom’s has a diner menu, so you can order breakfast, lunch or dinner regardless of the time.  We all opted for breakfast, followed by a milkshake that we all tasted.  The great thing about Tom’s is that we were waiting on a friend of mine to arrive and even though we had all finished eating, they were great about letting us hold the table.  Of course, we ordered the milkshake as to not waste the table, but most restaurants in New York City probably would have tossed us out.  The food was really good and the chocolate milkshake was one of the best I’ve tasted, so I would definitely recommend this place.  VACATION TIP:  This diner only accepts cash, so bring extra money for the delicious milkshake!

After Tom’s, we headed back to Sal & Carmine’s to grab some pizza to bring home for dinner later on. 

After dinner, it was time for the surprise.  I surprised John & my girls with a limo ride to Madison Square Garden.  I purchased Katy Perry tickets (John knew about that part) for my girls.  I wanted their first concert experience to be special, so what better way than to hire a limo to take us to the greatest concert venue there is, Madison Square Garden!  And because we were early, the limo driver drove us around Times Square so we could all see the lights and the craziness. 

The concert was great, and Katy Perry really put on a wonderful show!  Our seats were much better than I expected.   Before I bought the tickets, I had the option to buy floor seats or seats in section 104, row 16 (tickets sold out quicker than my fingers could type, so seating was slim pickins).  I almost went with the floor seats, but I am so glad that I didn’t!  Section 104, Row 16 is on the side, but towards the middle, and the seats are on an incline, so my little ones were able to see everything.  The floor seats aren’t on an incline, and my girls would have been staring at the backs of heads all night had I chose differently.  So, I was really pleased with where we were located (and there were bathrooms right outside our seating area, which was a huge bonus)!  

We all really loved the concert, but mostly, I loved watching my girls jump up and down, singing the songs out loud like no one was watching.  Moments like that really make my heart happy.  Oh…and the limo was perfect on the way home because we were all exhausted and there was plenty of room for us all to stretch out and relax.  J

Tom’s Restaurant link:
Limo service link:

Day 10-Lakota Wolf Preserve, Empire State Building
We headed out west to Columbia, New Jersey for our 10th day.  Because my girls are avid animal lovers, I thought the Lakota Wolf Preserve would be a great experience.  The preserve is run by a very caring and knowledgeable couple who literally gave up their lives and dedicated themselves to these wolves.  As soon as we got there, we paid for our admission ($44 for 2 adults & 2 children), jumped on the shuttle and were off to the preserve for our 10:30am tour.  VACATION TIP-During the week, they offer 10:30am & 4pm tours, but you need to make a reservation.  You do not need reservations on weekends.  Also, because the preserve is located on a campground, restrooms are located on the campground site.  Make sure to go before the tour because there are no restrooms in the preserve.

Before we even got off the shuttle, we saw about five wolves.  The girls jumped off the shuttle and ran right over to where the wolves were.  Of course, they were fenced in, but they were so close to us!  If not for the absolute fear of getting my hand chewed off, I would have wanted to touch them.  When Jim, the owner, opened the gates to the preserve, it was like opening the gates to a different world.  There were British Columbian, Artic and Timber wolves all within a few feet of us.   There was not a question Jim couldn’t answer, and we all really appreciated all of the facts and stories he had about the wolves.  It was truly a beautiful and educational experience.  Towards the end of the tour, Jim even got the wolves to howl for us!  After we exited the wolf preserve, we also were able to view and learn about the bobcats and foxes that were onsite.   Just a note-the wolves are not caged as animals are in a zoo.  The fences are there to keep the wolves and the campers separated.  They have 12 acres of land dedicated just to them, so they can roam free and live in their natural environment.  J

I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone living in or visiting the New Jersey area. 

VACATION TIP:  The Wolf Preserve only accepts cash.

After the tour and having an ice cream break at Dairy Queen with some of my family, we went to the Empire State Building.  My older daughter is a Percy Jackson fan, so she was psyched to see where “Mount Olympus” was (in the book, Mount Olympus was at the top of the Empire State Building).  VACATION TIP:  Before we left for the road trip, I purchased the tickets online.  I chose the Main Deck + Top Deck Express ticket.  While these tickets are more expensive ($276 for the four of us), they were well worth it simply because we were able to cut through all of the long lines (at least an hour wait).  The tickets were for the Main Deck on the 86th Floor and also for the Observation Deck on the 102nd floor.  The 86th floor was pretty crowded, so it was hard to get a good spot where the four of us could all stand next to each other while taking in the view.  However, the 102nd floor was nearly empty.  The difference is that the 86th Floor is outdoors and the 102nd floor view is enclosed.

 As you can imagine, the views from both the 86th and 102nd floors are simply amazing. Even though my daughter did not get to see the Gods and Goddesses from Mount Olympus, she still really enjoyed the view.  Both of my girls were really excited when they were able to point out some of the places we had been to over the course of the week (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, Central Park).  For that reason, I was glad I saved the Empire State Building as our last thing to see in New York before we headed back to Florida.

Lakota Wolf Preserve link:
Empire State Building link:

Day 11-Seaside Heights, NJ

On our way back to Florida, I wanted to take my girls “down the shore” to revisit the place where I used to go on vacations when I was a little girl.  We got there around 9:30am, which is earlier than most of the boardwalk opens, so we just walked around.  At 10am, everything started opening up, so we went to my favorite arcade, Lucky Leos, and played games for about an hour (yes, I still love skee ball).  

I wish we had more time just to sample all of the boardwalk food, but we only had time for lunch, so we got super large slices of pizza at Three Brothers for the girls, and sausage sandwiches at Midway for John & me.  My older daughter loves lemonade and was also extremely happy to have Midway’s amazing lemonade!  

We bought some fudge to bring on the trip with us, but unfortunately did not get to have any of the delicious junk like funnel cake or Kohr Brother’s custard.  Even though it was a very short visit, I’m really glad we got a chance to spend some time in a place that I will always love.

Seaside Heights link:

And that wraps up our road trip experience!  This was our first road trip and though I was skeptical at first, I have to admit that I really loved every minute.  There are so many things we wouldn’t have gotten to experience had we taken this trip by plane.  Just like the old saying goes, “It’s the journey, not the destination”.  J

Hope to see you again next year! Thanks for reading!