OUR LIFE IN 3D

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Archive for the tag “beach”

Ocean City, NJ: America’s Greatest Family Resort plus My Top Ten List of Firsts at the Beach!

This past weekend there was a lot of excitement at our house as the time is drawing near for our summer vacation. We are opting to take the girls back to my favorite childhood resort, Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Ocean City, New Jersey likes to call itself “America’s Greatest Family Resort“. And with good reason. This barrier island is designed to be conducive to families and kids. They do this to the extent that no alcohol is sold on the island; not in stores, in restaurants, gas stations, nowhere. Coming from a restaurant background I have a feeling for what kinds of revenues this city sacrifices in order to keep it ‘family friendly’.

If you must have a beer or a cocktail there are plenty of stores on the other side of the bridge before you enter Ocean City. Or, if you are feeling lucky, Atlantic City is on the other side of the north bridge leaving Ocean City. But in town, this nostalgic ocean community, there is no booze. And the tourists that frequent this resort town are the type that appreciate this!

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The Urban Dictionary has an entry that describes OCNJ simply like this: Dry town with Liqour stores 10 seconds over the bridge. Every guy in town either plays basketball or surfs, usually both and every girl lives in bikinis and their only job is to work on their tan. ~ Does that remind you of any highfaluting’ resort town? Ocean City is simple. Its laid back and it caters to kids and families. And it has all the fun a kid can ask for!

While their are plenty of the typical coastal amenities to do, the main focus of Ocean City is its 2.5 mile long boardwalk. Among the many attractions of this famed and nostalgic boardwalk are two amusement piers, with rides (mostly) designed for the younger kids, a music pier, all sorts of gift shops and beach stores as well as ANY sort of junk food imaginable!

This includes, fresh, warm, made to order donuts, hot caramel corn, the best soft ice cream custard, fudge shops and much, much more! The sweet smells of the boardwalk alone are worth the trip! It may not be zip lines and bungee dives. Its good, old fashioned fun tried and true over the ages.

Riding the train through the park

Riding the train through the park

I tried to introduce my family to Ocean City, New Jersey OCNJ) two years ago as I was eager for them to enjoy it like I had. The trouble was our girls were about 3.5 years old and 18 months. For the most part they were to small to get on the rides. Add to that our youngest got an ear infection the first few days we were there, that ended in a 102 fever. She was not a happy camper for most of the trip!

But that doesn’t dull the excitement of returning. We are looking forward to riding the rides, “hot, fresh, made to order Browns Donuts” on the boardwalk for breakfast and then riding bikes on the boards to wake up, the beach, did I mention the rides, the great junk food there along with all the smiles and laughter of kids that goes along with it.

This year, as the past time, we are renting a house where my whole family can stay (us, Mom, Dad, and the great Aunt Sue). That in itself was loads of fun last time. It was a block off the beach. We had our bikes. We had our beach gear rented in a wagon. Dylan even found a scooter that matched hers back home the owners of the house left for us. It was nice

Look how little she is in this!

Look how little she is in this!

And by the end of the week even lil ol’ Skylar could manage a smile…

Hey good-lookin'

Hey cutie!

Our kids (and Mom) got their first experience on the boardwalk. There were so many things to see and do, rides, eat, bike, eat, shop, eat. We caught a parade on the boardwalk as they seem to find a reason to have one most every week in the summer.

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Its just a festive place. The local theater group even put on a kid sized play at the historic Music Pier on the boardwalk, ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ and all our the favorite hits from that old Saturday morning series. Can you remember ‘Conjunction Junction‘?

And, of course, their was the Atlantic Ocean amenity their too, with waves big enough to satisfy any Beach Bum!

Future Beach Bums!

Future Beach Bums!

This beach bum body surfer found himself in heaven with the size of these waves!

Waiting to catch a big one...

Waiting to catch a big one…

Its all about picking the right wave!

He scores!

He scores!

Of course I was having some fun in the waves with my girls too!

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And while Skylar was a bit too small for the surf (when she was feeling well) she did enjoy playing sand castles with Aunt Sue. She had a big wet beach, a sand castle to protect, her own moat, even her own pond to play in. It was her first sand castle to build and swim in and protect. She loved it!

There were dozens of other “firsts” for our girls on this past trip to Ocean City as well. But since I see I am running on here, again, I thought I would leave you with my Top Ten of favorite  other ‘firsts ‘we experienced on this first trip to Ocean City.

While we may be heading back up to OCNJ again this summer we’ll never have these same ‘firsts’ with our growing girls.

TOP TEN FIRSTS AT OCEAN CITY:

10) First time our 18 month’er had soft ice cream…. on a warm summer evening

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She was a wet mess!

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9) First time one of my girls went down a Giant Slide

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8) First time Ms. Fearless  went down a Giant Slide with out a mat, her daddy, waiting for instructions, anything!

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7) First time she beat daddy in a race.

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6) First time our girls played miniature golf, simply known as  ‘Golf Balls’ from that day forth.

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There was more than one shark on that putt-putt course….

I saved the kids from the shark....cause that's what daddies do

I saved the kids from the shark….cause that’s what daddies do

5) First time one of our girls was spun out of control in a whirlie-whirl kinda ride.

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4) First time I gave my girls my debit card.

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Yea, right!

3) First time our girls got to experience all the sights and sounds and smells and excitement of exploring the boardwalk.

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2) The first time our girls were too tired to walk all the way home after a night on the boardwalk.

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#1) The first time our girls got to eat hot, fresh (made to order) donuts in front of the ocean before touring the length of the boardwalk on bicycles, just to start their day.

Bonus First: First time my 3 year old filmed me as I changed her pull-up!

PS: we’re hiring nannies right now. If you think you could kid-wrangle my crew get your resume in today!

Father’s Day 2013

Here’s a summary of Father’s Day at our house.

I spent the afternoon doing what I really love to do.

But it wasn’t all fun and games.

First, we had to wait as dear old Dad locked the keys in the car as we loaded up…

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But we made it.

I got to do one of my favorite things…

Playing Daddy in the ocean with my girls.

Dylan’s not afraid. Her love for water has no boundaries!

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She’s fearless and it does Dad’s heart good to hear her come up just laughing and giggling like she was being tickled.

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I threw her and caught her. I helped her jump the big waves.

Pretended to let the big waves sweep her away.

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And then just let her be herself as I tried to catch some waves before the tide turned.

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 It was a beautiful day. Did you see these blue skies?  The water was actually warmer than the air temperature and that is saying something in South Carolina! I caught a few wave rides. I hated to come out.

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Mommy and Skylar had their own quality time!

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OK, maybe I stayed in the water a bit too long.

In the end, these girl’s could just walk all over me with these feet!

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PS: speaking a ‘love for water knows no boundaries‘ Heather and Reto we are taking the girls to Ocean City, NJ in late July. If its not too late for one or both of you to join us bring Lillya and Laylani and we can all swim in the ocean and ride some rides!  Dangge! Bis spöter

Shake, Shake, Shake Like A Big Wet Dog…

Another weekend has come and is going.  We made it to the beach again despite Andrea’s attempts to keep us in all weekend. Our weekend plans were hastily rekindled as the news of Andrea hit the road and was a quick blur up the coast.

Bye-bye Andrea!

Bye-bye Andrea!

The famous Aunt Sue checked into our B&B on Friday. She comes down with her vacation already planned out. So it was good news to her Andrea didn’t get in her way.  In fact, in typical carpei diem fashion she had our girls in bathing suits before I ever got out of bed on Saturday morning. And so in a blink…and a shower and a breakfast we were off…

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It was a nice day again, a bit breezy as the dry backside of Andrea kept pushing her northward. The girls found their favorite tidal pool again, which was fine with dad as I just wanted to make up for the the 0-60 morning they put us through. And after a brief tumble in the waves I grabbed my hat and my shades and tried to become invisible and part of the chair.

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I frequently talk about some of the incredible things that come out of Dylan’s mouth, both funny and perceptive in the DYLANism’s.  Skylar, in her own way, is getting her own version of SKYLARism’s too. These are super cute things that come out of her mouth, and more so, the cute way she says them.

I can’t recapture in print the innocent tone of some of these but early SKYLARism‘s include:

  • “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy in my tummy, tummy, tummy which has morphed into her favorite tasting food simply becoming,
  • Deee-wish-ous!. Again, these seem to be her unique ideas and so adorable as the way a happy Skylar says them. But where did she get them from in the first place?

Now, somewhere, somehow, from somebody, she learned to “shake, shake, shake, like a big wet dog” when she gets out of the water to dry off.

Huh? Too cute, but where did this come from?

She reminds me what our past greyhound would do when he got out of laying in the tidal pools

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Even though he had a super short coat you didn’t want to be around as he shook off surf and sand together.

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But what Skylar does is sooo much cuter than Cloud. 

Take a look…..but be ready, she’s fast…

That’s her version of drying off coming out of the surf!

...and then going back in again!

See any similarity?

She's no stranger to sand...

She’s no stranger to sand…

The boy behind Cloudy liked to imitate him too...

The boy behind Cloudy liked to imitate him too…

Now before you start sending hate mail to me for me comparing the super cute little Skylar to a greyhound I am not doing that at all.  I would never do that! We love our 2nd miracle child so much and these sayings just add to the adoration, although there are certain parallels.  She is way too precious to be even in the same sentence with an animal.

I’m just saying…..

…and where does she get these things?

Where the children play on the shore each day

The weekend turned out to be a Beee-yout-ti-ful one. We tried to make up for Memorial Day this weekend, now that a lot of the tourists have gone home.

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We made it out to the beach by 10:30 Saturday morning. We do this to beat the crowds, traffic and get the girls off the beach in time for some naps. It was a perfect day; perfect temps, perfect winds, perfect tides.

We go out to a beach called Isle Of Palms. It is more of a residential beach (summer homes) than a touristy one (hotels and condos). The beaches then are unprotected by the lack of use of stone jetties. Accordingly, the beaches kind of reshape themselves about every full moon.

Sand bars head off the beach and parallel to it as as well. These parallel sand bars turn into warm tidal pools when the tide goes out. They are the perfect place for youngongs to play that are otherwise intimated by the ocean’s waves.

They are warm and safe. They can explore and jump and kick safely.

Here’s a brief look at the girls making do in their Atlantic backyard…

And so that’s where our two girls spent the majority of their morning. Since it was our first time back to the ocean since last September, Dylan digressed a bit in her love of the ocean. We played in the waves a little but it only took a couple of knock downs from the waves and mouth fulls of water to have her come in.

But we had a great day.

It reminded me of all the things I missed over the winter, the beach combing, riding the waves, the therapeutic sound of the sea. So I wanted to see of mommy wanted to head back out on Sunday too. (hint, hint)

Kicking back in our lounge chairs, watching the girls make their own fun in the tidal pools couldn’t help but remind me of one of my favorite beach songs. And so I will leave you with that and a few more pictures of summer to start your week. Cheers!

I know I don’t get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It’s a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe
Lagoon at Lions Dive Club

I used to rule my world from a pay phone
Ships out on the sea
But now times are rough
Oh I got too much stuff
I can’t explain the likes of me

But there’s this one particular harbor
So far but yet so near

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Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear

But then I think about the good times
Down in the Caribbean sunshine

Tube Racing

In my younger days I was so bad

John's 'extreme' diving

Laughin’ about all the fun we’ve had

That was fun!

I’ve seen enough to feel the world spin
Mixin’ different oceans meetin’ cousins
Listen to the drummers and the night sounds
Listen to the singers make the world go ’round..

Lakes below the mountain
Flow into the sea

Like oils applied to canvas
Oh how they permeate through me

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But there’s this one particular harbor
Sheltered from the wind

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Where the children play

on the shore each day
And all are safe within

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A most mysterious calling harbor
So far but yet so near

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Where I can see the day

when my hair’s so gray
And I finally disappear

going down

But Not Yet…

Have a great weekend everyone! Make it the best week yet!

(Thanks to Jimmy Buffett for that One great Particular Harbor)

Jamaica: FDR… License To Chill

Well, we made it back! The girls and I snuck off to the island of Jamaica for 7 days ~ barely. Thanks AMERICAN AIRLINES! That was sarcasm.

We found a nice all-inclusive in Runaway Bay, Jamaica called the FDR Resort. Parents, this is the place to be! When they say “all-inclusive” they take the term a little bit further and give you a real-life nanny every day from 9-5. They are the only resort in the Caribbean that does this and one of only 2 resorts in the world (I read) that gives you a nanny. These nannies come highly acclaimed (Trip Advisor) and become part of your family.

Also, you get a small kitchen in your suite and the nannies stock it for you! We had a sheet where you can request any of 6 soft drinks, beer, wine, a cheese and cracker tray, cereal, milk, fresh fruit and more. This was so cool I thought.

To get there, we had to be on a plane at 7:00am. So we had to be at the airport by 6 Saturday morning. We flew to Miami and the girls did great. We were supposed to head to Jamaica but had difficulty leaving the town through a myriad of difficulties with our airplane, at one time wondering if we were going to go at all. It truly was a comedy of errors, yet not funny at all, and surely not one of American Airlines best moments (more to come).

But we finally landed in Jamaica. Due in at noon, we landed around 4:45pm. A very timely shuttle took us to our destination. Once there, our mood quickly turned around as we found our reservation had been upgraded! I requested an OF 1 BR Suite and we ended up an OF 2 floor 2BR Suite. Our new vacation home had a nice big living room with pseudo-marble tile floors, mahogany and cherry wood furniture and fixtures, high ceilings (Ugh!), and more. What a great surprise and a nice ending to a long and difficult day!

A sunrise from our room.

I asked for a second floor room in our reservation so we could get an ocean view with no worries of the kids running away at Runaway Bay while we were in the shower. That part was nice. Now, with a two-floor suite with high ceilings, my calves were burning the first two days. Do you realize how many trips you make to a kid’s room? Now that room was upstairs. Those high ceilings made for some steep, steep stairs. I thought I was in shape but my calves were hurting. Be careful what you wish for, right?

We received our upgrade, in part, because I told them that Saturday was my anniversary (it actually was Friday) and also because the resort was fairly empty so they had rooms to spare.  Being the middle of September I imagine most of the resort’s target market had just taken their kids back to school this month. FDR had 8 buildings for guests but only the ocean front building was occupied. We had the place to our self!

So there we were! We made it to vacation, finally. Upon inspection of our new digs in Jamaica we found a chocolate cake and a bottle of champagne in the frig with our name on it too. THANKS FDR! To the resort’s credit, the whole staff did go out of their way for you, from the bartenders to lifeguards to maintenance to our great nanny, everyone went above and beyond with smiles on their faces. This was just the beginning we found out.

Nicely done FDR!

Further inspection of our upgrade revealed a nice, anniversary size king size bed upstairs. The bed may have been a bit old as it creaked quite a bit; maybe louder than any bed I had ever heard. But it was OK, we were on vacation. No problem mon!

The kids didn’t see ‘king size’ bed but a ‘jump castle’. And so, before we herded them off to bed our first night, we first had to shush them after jumping on OUR bed for 45-60 minutes. That next morning it became apparent how noisy that bed was as I got a high-five, two thumbs up, a wink and a nod from many of the guests down at breakfast. Not all of those gestures came from the men either. Those kids had made me ‘Legend’!

FDR was really built to cater to the kids too; young and old. Skylar enjoyed playing in the Kid’s Zone with our nanny the most. Both girls enjoyed feeding the rabbits and fish and doing crafts. They each made necklaces and tie-died Tee’s. The last day was goat races!

While both our girls like the water, Dylan is much more acclimated to it. She would follow mommy and daddy to the beach and pools in the morning. She made me ask the staff to turn on ‘Big Blue’, the 50 foot water slide, each morning so she could ride it. (Stay tuned) It seemed every day she either surprised or amazed us on her lack of fear and love for the water, including doing flips and floating in 40 foot ocean water. She also made a new friend, Lillya, from Switzerland. While they didn’t share much of the same language (Lillya did know a bit of English at 4 years old) they did communicate by sharing their love for the water, impressed with what the other could do. It was cute to see.

Lillya and Dylan jumping in together

Mom and Dad found a friend too in a secluded sanctuary at the edge of the resort, where we could hide from the rest of world, daring it to find us. We had a good breeze, great weather, and some crystal-clear tropical water to appreciate and cool off in.

A view from my lounge chair in our hidden sanctuary

The resort had an open-air gym that was actually above the poolside bar. There, the treadmills dreadmills had a beautiful view looking down at the neighboring beach, water and reefs. In fact, the water was so clear that, while running on this second-floor treadmill I could spot and follow fish swimming in the shallows at this beach in front of me. It may be the best view from a treadmill in its portion of the northern hemisphere!

Not your usual beach run

We did lots of research in shopping for and choosing this resort. Our other choices were a Disney Cruise, a fabulous Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos, and our favorite Breezes resort in Curacao. We chose this resort, relying heavily on all the great comments by past vacationers on Trip Advisor.com. It seemed three out of four commentators on the resort, had been to the resort before and vowed to return again and again. in fact the reviews were so identical that the tourists seemed some sort of brainwashed. Everyone raved on the nannies and called them family. Everyone. They all sounded the same, brainwashed.

But Monday afternoon, 15 minutes into my specially beach-laden Ipod, the therapy started to work on me too. I have a special coastal Ipod I have taken to the Caribbean for the past few vacations. After listening to it for those prescribed 15 or 20 minutes, if you could wring me out, you would get drops of liquid sunshine, a salty coastal breeze, all wrapped up in a Tanqueray and Tonic flavor.

So, with my Ipod, sprawled out in my lounge chair, relaxing quietly in our own little sanctuary by the clear blue sea, sipping endlessly on my T&T,  the magic hit me too.

I’m coming back!

These nannies give parents a License To Chill; a rare, coveted document to new and old parents for ‘extended’ relaxation. Not just the 5 or 10 minutes we occasionally get.

Here’s a quick look at one day of our vacation:

We had few other fun things occur on our trip too but my wife made me do a ‘pinky-swear’ that I wouldn’t blog about them.

So take some picturesque Caribbean water, add shots of wonderful Jamaican weather and breezes with a splash of coastal melodies, finish with a scoop of ice and a well trained nanny, shake (not stirred) and you too can have a ‘License To Chill’.

If I haven’t bored you I would like to tell you a few more stories from our vacation over the next few days. Pack your bags and come a long with us!

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