Sunday, June 30, 2019

Atlantic City Beach Vacation

Is there anything better than a beach holiday in the summer? I love visiting Atlantic City, which is only a few hours from my house. It's got the right amount of sandy beaches, fun boardwalk, and  great people-watching. Here are some of the highlights:

Beach Days
I really love this beach. It's got nice, clean, sandy beaches with lots of fun amenities. We camped out near the LandShark Bar & Grill, which was the perfect place to be. They play fun music and have a great bar. We weren't in the restaurant itself, but could still enjoy the benefits. Plus, we had a great view of the Steel Pier observation wheel.

The first day we were there was a little overcast and chilly (for June). It was perfect for the kids though! The water was too cold for me to go in, but the cloud cover meant that we could be outside without sweating to death on a mostly empty beach.

The next days were classic beach weather. Hot and sunny. This was the first beach vacation since having kids where it actually felt like a vacation. Dan and I could sit in our chairs with a drink and a book and watch the kids build sand castles, play with crabs, and run at the waves. It was awesome!

I know there are differing opinions of what makes a great beach. And while we loved the Outer Banks, our family really enjoys the hustle and bustle of a beach town. I want access to boardwalk fries, greasy slices of pizza, and cold, dripping ice cream. Throw in some salt water taffy and a pina colada and I'm a happy camper.

Steel Pier
In addition to the boardwalk, Atlantic City also has a small amusement park called Steel Pier. Asher and I went one afternoon while Zahara and Dan played on the beach. You pay per ride, and it's pretty expensive (relatively), but Asher loved the small airplane ride and carousel.

We were celebrating Dan's birthday on this trip, so we wanted to have a couple of nice meals. Our best meal was at Buddakan, which is a great Asian fusion spot. I've also been to Buddakan in Philly and loved it there. It's part of the Stephen Starr restaurant group, and I love almost all of his restaurants (Morimoto, el Ray, Dandelion, Continental, Le Diplomat, and more!)

We also enjoyed our meal at Mexico--a kitschy Mexican restaurant. The food was fresh and the drinks were good though.

Carmine's was another solid choice. Meals are served family style and are HUGE! I mean, absolutely massive. We ordered eggplant Parmesan (wholeheartedly recommend!) with a side of angel hair pasta. All four of us ate it that night, plus the next day for lunch. It's not really worth it if you're not planning on leftovers, or if you don't have a big group though.

Our Hotel
We found a condo on VRBO for this trip. If you're traveling with a family, I highly recommend looking on VRBO or Airbnb for a place to stay. Our hotel had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room with a pullout couch, and a full kitchen. Being able to spread out and have breakfasts in the morning was critical to our family's happiness. We don't do very well all crammed in to one hotel room!

This place (Wyndham Skyline Towers) was perfect for us. It was walking distance to the beach (we brought our trusty wagon!), and had a fun game room and arcade for the kids. One morning when the kids were up early, we played board games and twister while Dan slept in. It also had a pool, which was great for that first day when the beach was a little cold.

It was a great vacation and I'm sure we'll be back!

Read about our past birthday celebrations:

Dan's birthday
Asher's 1st birthday
Calli's birthday
Dan's birthday
Zahara's 3rd
Calli's birthday
Zahara's 2nd
Dan's birthday
Zahara's birthday
Calli's birthday
Dan's birthday
Calli's birthday
Dan's birthday
Calli's birthday

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Dear Zahara: 6 Years

Dear Zahara,

Wow! You're 6! You've graduated kindergarten and are on your way to first grade. How did that happen?

This year has been a really, really great one for us. There were so many firsts and a lot of growth--both physical and emotional.

You lost your first two teeth. It was so interesting because you had shark teeth, meaning your next two were already there before you lost the baby ones! You also started reading! You're doing so great. We got a lot of early reader books from your new school to borrow for the summer, and you surprised us by picking up several in a row and just reading. We didn't know you could do that! But like all things, you do things in your own time on your own schedule.

You still are a voracious reader and demand lots of reading time, which is fine by me! You love listening to podcasts--specifically Story Pirates and Wow in the World. We've started reading chapter books this year, which has been so fun. We've read A Wrinkle in Time, the first three Harry Potter books, and are on the third How to Train Your Dragon book. You are absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter. Obsessed! But, we had to make a judgement call to pause on reading the rest of the books until you're a bit older. You'll thank me after you read the next ones. In the meantime, we play lots of Harry Potter games, and even went to see the place upon which Diagon Alley is based--York, England.

That's right! We went to England this year. Just a special mommy and Zahara trip. We went for a week in the spring and got to see all of the old yoga mommy friends. These mommies and kids were such a huge part of our lives (and still are for me!), so it was amazing seeing you back there. I LOVED how well you got along with everyone. It was one of the highlights of my year.

This year you've also been playing really well with Asher. Not always, but a lot more than before. And when you play, it melts our hearts. You are so considerate of his feelings and safety. You take his hand to walk him down the beach. Or ask if he's thirsty or hungry. Or set up a row of chairs and play pretend school bus. It's been awesome.

If we let you, you'd still spend every day doing arts and crafts. It doesn't even matter the medium. You're happy with paint, crayons, markers, glue, beads, or even just paper and pen. Lately you've been making us a lot of "books," my favorite of which is "How to Relax." It's a guide for daddy who sometimes can't just sit down. It's hilarious and amazing. I love that you try to spell things on your own, but you're also clever enough to ask Google for help on our Google home. It's amazing what a digital native you are.

Zahara, you have such a strong, wonderful personality. It is so fun watching you grow and develop into the young girl you are. Daddy and I are so proud of all the things you've done this year, and are excited to see what the next year holds. We wish you lots of love and happiness! Happy birthday!