Friday, June 7

A Coming of Age

Reading Torah
You begin the process of studying and preparing and you know it is years in the making – but you forge ahead.  It’s what you are supposed to do.  Sure, you complain a little here and there but ultimately you know it’s important.  Why?  Because your parents expect you to do so – Because your whole family has done this – Because you’ve promised your rabbi your commitment – and then, somewhere along the way…

Because it truly means something to YOU.

I’m not sure we will ever find all the words to express just how proud we are of our son’s accomplishments in becoming a Bar Mitzvah this year.  It showed dedication, strength of character, thirst for knowledge, and belief in something bigger than himself.  He held steadfast in the challenge and he soared!  Just as intended, he has grown so very much from the experience.  He put his heart and soul into the process, and through this rite of passage, he has developed into an amazing young man.

Our hearts swell seeing who he has become over the past 13 years and we look so forward to watching all that he will become – I’m sure it will be quite the journey!

Mazel Tov Ethan!

Many thanks to Amy Stern Photography for capturing his special day!

Tuesday, December 4

Forever Young

I just celebrated another birthday (along with the Hubs).  I don't typically think very much about getting older, I guess because I still feel so young in my own mind.  Hmmm, that thought process may be a little flawed...

My 20's were a fun-filled decade of discovery and independence.  My 30's were an exciting decade of life changes and parenthood.  So I just viewed rolling into my 40's as an embarkation on many more adventures to come.  I am now quite settled into my adventurous 40's decade and my oldest is on the brink of being a teenager - yikes!  So this year, I have been feeling a little melancholy about how quickly the years are rolling by, how life has changed over the past 13 years, and how I sometimes long to actually be "cool" again (not just in my mind).

I remember the days of a lighter level of responsibility.  The days of happy hours after a 50+ hour workweek, never eating dinner before 8pm, impromptu BYOB ping-pong tournaments in our basement, staying awake through Letterman, and simply dancing the night away.  In my mind, the dancefloor is still just waiting for me to step onto it with my moves and grooves.  But let's admit, what really happens now is that my grooves translate into sore moves as I tackle the loads of laundry the next day.

Thankfully, my sister helped snap me out of my melancholy mood when she sent me the link to this video.  Man, did it make me smile!  Give it a view - you may just be able to relate too :).

And in my heart you'll always stay, forever young. -Rod Stewart

Sunday, August 26

Top 10 Reasons Our Family Loves Wild Dunes

Wild Dunes - Our Family through the YearsPersonally, I like almost any beach, but for our family, there is one in South Carolina that we seem to keep finding ourselves - Wild Dunes.  It is a low-key family resort on the Isle of Palms, which is about 25 minutes away from Charleston.  It has a quiet atmosphere but still offers lots of fun activities for both adults and kids.  There are bike trails around the entire neighborhood, lagoons for fishing, two golf courses, lots of tennis courts, kids' day camps, family excursions, a central pavilion with nightly music, ice cream, and other refreshments, and, most importantly, lots of protected beachfront.  An added plus is the easy access to wonderful food, shopping, and sightseeing in Charleston.  For us, that is an extra special feature since my husband and I were married in that charming southern town :).

We have had several summer vacations in Wild Dunes with our kids and were excited to make it back there this summer along with friends.  It never fails that we always leave with lots of great memories and hopeful anticipation of returning soon!

Here are our Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Wild Dunes --
(click pictures for full view)

1.  Amazing Views from So Many Different Spots within the Resort
Ocean Point 2004
View from Ocean Point home - 2004
Beach Club Villa 2006
View from Beach Club Villa - 2006

Seagrove Villa 2007
View from Seagrove Villa - 2007
Grand Pavilion 2012
View from Grand Pavilion home - 2012

2.  Beautiful Beach for Playing Together
beach play
ocean play

3.  Plenty of Room for Flying Kites
kite flying
kite flying

kite flying

kite flying

4.  Family Golf at a Great Rate after 5pm
family golf
family golf

5.  Biking Within the Resort is Easy and Fun
family biking
WD bike path

6.  Many Areas for Fishing and Crabbing
Fishing and Crabbing
Shem Creek - 2012
Fishing and Crabbing
Shem Creek - 2012

7.  Nightly Music at the Pavilion - and Ice Cream and Bingo and Movies Too
Pavilion dancing

Pavilion bingo

8.  Exploring with WD Island Adventures Excursions and Kids Camps
Capers Island
Capers Island Eco-Tour - 2007
Kayak tour
Pelican Island Kayak Tour - 2012

9.  Encountering All Kinds of Wildlife

Baby Sea Turtle
Baby Sea Turtle heading into ocean

10.  Visiting Charleston! 
SC Aquarium
SC Aquarium - 2004
SC Aquarium
SC Aquarium - 2012

Charleston Pineapple Fountain
Charleston Pineapple Fountain - 2007
Charleston Waterfront Swings
Swinging on Charleston Waterfront - 2007

And I Can't End Without Sharing Some of our Favorite Places to Eat --
(the list keeps growing every year!)

Very Casual
- On the porch overlooking the ocean!
- Morgan Creek Grill at WD - al fresco seafood overlooking water
- Poe's Tavern in Sullivan's Island - burgers are awesome
- Taco Mamacita in Sullivan's Island - great for a quick snack that's out of the ordinary

- The Lettered Olive at WD - great while kids watch a movie on the lawn
- Station 22 in Sullivan's Island - yummy low-country seafood
- Poogan's Porch in Charleston - love their brunch
- The Vickery in Shem Creek - eclectic menu - used to be in Charleston
- Noisy Oyster in Charleston - lively adult atmosphere in evening

- 82 Queen in Charleston - delicious Charleston classic experience
- Slightly North of Broad in Charleston - nice lunch atmosphere
- Anson's in Charleston - right off the market area, classic cuisine

Hope to See You There Soon!

Wednesday, August 8

Taking on New York City with Kids

Sometimes, I think we just live for a good, crazy idea!  Well, this summer at our house, camps were voted out and replaced by an idea of a family trip to an often-requested destination by our kids - NEW YORK CITY.  It is an understatement to say that our kids were ecstatic about it!  To be honest, my husband and I were pretty excited about the idea too!  Who doesn’t, after all, New York?  It is the city so nice, they named it twice.  But, admittedly, it is a bit daunting to think about navigating such a bustling locale with kids for the first time.  Our approach to keep the kids revved up with that big city energy was to fill each day with the anticipation of doing lots of the fun activities for which NYC is famous - Broadway shows, attractions, shopping, great food, and big-time sports.

At the top of our ‘To Do’ list was checking out the Broadway production of “Spiderman Turn Off the Dark” so we booked that right away.  Then, with lots of great suggestions from our friends, we laid out a 4-day schedule that only the amazing Spiderman himself could possibly manage - but we were up for the challenge.  At the end of our NYC adventure, we were happily exhausted with tired little feet. (Tip: wearing Toms is not a good idea if you plan to attempt a marathon-level pace of sightseeing in NYC - owie!).  But, let me just say, we had a phenomenal time together and were excited about all of the things we were able to see on this trip!  My husband and I agreed that NYC is a fantastic and manageable place to visit with kids.

We got a super-sized taste of the Big Apple and we can’t wait for our next bite!
The photo summary below shares the amazing web of fun that we weaved...

DAY 1 - Broadway and About Town:

InterContinental Times Square
Lucked up on great family rate at the InterContinental
Times Square! Can you tell that our kids love
staying in swanky hotels? :)

NYC Cab ride
Enjoying all the sights, sounds, & smells
via the first NYC Cab ride :)

Times Square
Their first look at Times Square and taking it all in.
Toys 'R Us Ferris Wheel
Couldn't pass by without riding the ferris wheel in
Toys 'R Us. All I can say is thank goodness they got the
Mega Bloks car or I would not have been permitted
to post this picture.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
A friend told us about Sony Wonder Technology Lab.
(Thx Becky!) Hands-on cool techno activities like having
fun with their own photo to project to a video board
(shown) and making a studio news report.  Best of all,
it's Free! Just make a reservation well in advance.

Spiderman Turn Off the Dark at Foxwoods Theater
My "bootleg" photo while awaiting Spiderman.
(sorry Foxwoods Theater)
Fun family show w/amazing aerials - kids loved it!
Seats on Lower "Flying Circle" Balcony were ideal - 
Spidey lands there a lot!

Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial
Visiting the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero was a solemn
experience even for the kids. It was beautifully designed.
Free but reserve tickets in advance.
Grimaldi's Pizza - Brooklyn Bridge
Ended the first day with friends at Grimaldi's Pizza
under the Brooklyn Bridge. We all agreed it was the
most delicious pizza we have ever tasted! (Thx for
the tip, Smithwicks!) Plan to wait in line for a table.

DAY 2 - Museums, Central Park, and Shopping:

NY Subway experience
By the end of the trip, our kids were pros at
maneuvering the subway - but we did have trouble
convincing our daughter that it wasn't a gymnastics arena.
Visiting the Guggenheim Museum was a perfect way
to experience great works of art with the kids. Not 
only is the architecture stunning, but it is a very  
bright and open setting with no stairs. Check out  
the Alexander Calder mobile hanging - my
daughter had just studied him!

Central Park family
The weather was gorgeous so we grabbed sandwiches 
for a lunch in Central Park. OK, we got popsicles too ;)
American Museum of Natural History
We only made it through about 1/12 of the Natural 
History Museum but what we saw was really cool! The 
kids were hoping the creatures would come to life like
in the movie.
American Girl Place 5th Ave
Our little girl's dream-come-true shopping trip
on 5th Ave at NYC's American Girl Place.
M&M Store Times Square
My husband couldn't resist a stop in the unbelievable
3-story M&M World store!  He was just sad that I voted
down his idea of installing ceiling high dispensers like
these in our house :)

DAY 3 - Sightseeing and Sporting Events:

Empire State Building
View from the top of the Empire State Building is
breathtaking. A friend told us to visit here early in the
AM in order to avoid really long lines - it worked. (Thx
Anna!) My husband thought the upgrade for the audio 
tour was well worth it.
Peanut Butter & Co
If you like Peanut Butter & Co flavors (Cinnamon Raisin
Swirl is our favorite), then it's worth the trip to the
Lower East Side for some yummy sandwiches at their
restaurant. I had the "Jerry Seinfeld" - bagel topped
w/PB, honey, and cinnamon.

Enterprise shuttle at Intrepid
The Enterprise Space Shuttle had just 'landed' for
exhibition at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
Always humbling to be this close to a shuttle.

Yankees Stadium
We were excited to go to a baseball game in
the new Yankees Stadium.  It was super easy to
get there on the subway!
Yankees game family
Amazing stadium, exciting game, and awesome fans!
Great family outing!  Go Yankees!!

DAY 4 - Our NYC Finale:

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty is awe-inspiring up close.
She is currently being restored so we weren't
able to tour inside, but there was plenty to
experience walking around the base of the statue.
Statue of Liberty audio
While at the Statue of Liberty, we picked up the 
free audio tour at the entrance. Even our 
youngest found it informative.

Wall Street Bull
Our son is very intrigued by Wall Street so
it was fun to make a stop by the Wall Street Bull
(along with a huge crowd of other tourists).
Ellis Island
The Ellis Island museum brought history to life
for our kids as their school studies have included
a detailed Immigration simulation. Also, they were
curious to try find information on their great-grandfather
who came to America through Ellis Island.

Doughnut Plant
A final bite at Doughnut Plant in the Lower East
Side left us with a sweet taste of the Big Apple!
Gourmet flavors galore such as Creme Brulee.
(Thx for recommending, Mary!)

Hailing a taxi
Getting our final ride to the airport.
The kids could hail a cab with the best of 'em
by the end of the trip.


The unanimous decision from our family... We ♥ New York!!