Beach, Beach, more Beach!

What a weekend! Jeff and I both agreed this morning that we needed an extra day to relax from all the fun we had. But alas, it’s Monday and back to the grind.

On Saturday morning we got on our bikes right away and headed to our favorite place: Coney Island! We made it to the ocean in an hour and fifteen minutes – not too bad for two middle aged folks riding two heavy bikes loaded with everything needed for a beach day. Oh, and two kids.

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We hung out on the beach for a few hours, ate watermelon, played in the water, and dug in the sand. The boys couldn’t care less that this isn’t the loveliest of beaches; they just have fun. And so did we.

Then we got hungry and needed hot dogs immediately. They were delicious.

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The rest of the afternoon was our typical Coney Island fun: Wonder Wheel, rides, ice cream.

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Then we rode back towards home. Right around Park Slope our legs were getting tired, so we decided to stop for dinner. We stumbled upon this lovely place, sat outside, and filled our bellies with meats & cheeses, pasta, and mussels. Arthur ate all my seafood, and I stole bites of his pasta. We were so happy and full – and very tired. We rode home as the sun was setting, showered, and fell into bed.

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On Sunday we decided we hadn’t had enough of the beach, so we headed to Rockaway. We wanted to try the new NYC Ferry, and so we rode the bikes to the Wall Street stop and took the ferry over. It was pretty smooth, but only because we got in line early. Many people who arrived after us had to wait for the next boat, which only comes every hour.

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We rode the bikes around Rockaway for a bit and then found us a nice spot on the beach. We stayed there all day, played in the waves, ate sandwiches, chips, watermelon. Beach life is simply the best. We all took naps, too. Delightful.

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Before we headed home we wanted to grab a quick dinner and randomly found this very strange place that has fast food and shakes on the menu – and an assortment of old toys in the yard.

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Hot dogs and shakes for life.

Then we made a mistake and rode our bikes around the boardwalk for a bit. It was so lovely out. Bands were playing, happy people everywhere. Except: When we arrived at the ferry dock, there were so many people in line already, and the ferries were so backed up that we had to wait for more than an hour. So that was fun. (Next time we’ll take the train again. The NYC Ferries are fun in theory, but so overcrowded it sucks the joy and convenience right out of it.)

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We killed time on the boat by drinking a beer, making silly hairdos, and playing games.

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We arrived home at 10pm. The kids were exhausted, although honestly not as much as we were. Today we all slept a little later, and even though I’m sure we’re all a bit tired still, we have made a bunch of unforgettable memories this weekend.

Mexico, Round Two

Mexico. What can I say?

We came back to Brooklyn and were hit immediately by a snow storm. So this has been us, mostly, for the past week:

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But in our minds, we are all still here:

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We had the best time. We tried a different hotel this time, about two doors down from where we stayed last year. Our hut was one of the ones in the back; you could see the ocean from our porch and hear the waves at night. And we could send the boys outside to play – a luxury we don’t normally have.

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We sat on our porch a bit, sipping wine, and talking when the kids slept at night. Or in between our beach adventures and going out to dinner at night.

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If you were to ask me how many tacos we consumed, I couldn’t tell you. Probably 50? We always started our day with breakfast at the hotel, usually fruit and yogurt and pancakes. And a huge chocolate milk for the boys. They drew so much during this vacation, and Julian has become a very confident if not correct speller, so that has made for some pretty hilarious artwork.

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We also played lots of Uno.

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After breakfast we chose a beach and spent the day bumming around, drinking beer, and playing in the waves. Also, I plowed through this book during vacation; I could not put it down.

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I worked on a really awkward suntan.

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One morning we checked out one of the Cenotes. It was cool! But the boys were intimidated, and it took us an hour to get them to come into the water – which was pretty cold. But they did it, and Julian actually ventured forth into the caves with Papa. We saw fish and turtles and were really hungry for tacos afterwards.

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In our hotel we met a friendly lizard. Just kidding, he was terrified of the boys, of course. But they were excited to meet him. The first time we saw him, Arthur ran inside to grab his toy lizard, his most beloved possession, and the boys followed the lizard around. Julian was convinced that the real lizard would eventually accept the toy lizard as his baby. (Spoiler alert: he did not.)

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We were not ready to come home, but we had to.

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Julian was sad about having missed math at school, and science, and we all know no amount of tacos and ice cream can make up for missing math. Not even if you add them all up. Until next time, Mexico!

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Central Park & Coney Island

Somehow, after a week of feeling sick, we were blessed with exactly what I needed: a lovely, warm, sunny NYC weekend. In February. I think every winter we get one or two of these days, just to tell us, “Don’t give up! Spring is coming.”

On Saturday we took the train up to Central Park. As always, for the boys “it’s not the destination, it’s the ride.”

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The boys got to ride their scooters, and we spent the day wandering around the park and trying to run into as few people as possible.

We stopped at a playground for a long time and hung out by the boat pond over sandwiches, beers, and rounds of Spot It. Also, my boys are natural “fake” smilers. (Arthur looks like he has a side tooth of some sort, but he just has a mouth full of goldfish.)

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Oh, Jeff Bridges was there, too.

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The boys played and climbed. Helmets came in handy.

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We looked for ice cream, but it was impossible to find in February. Someone didn’t get the memo. So we had Shake Shack milk shakes, and some of us passed out on the ride home.

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On Sunday the fun continued. It was another spring-like day, so we headed to our favorite place on earth: Coney Island. We started off with a couple of beers on the boardwalk and chatted with the a couple of local guys. Oldies were playing from the stereo, one of the guys was singing along loudly, and everyone was just so happy to be there. It was one of my favorite parts of a really perfect day. Also, these guys.

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Then we wandered around the boardwalk and took the boys to a magic show. They were kind of unfazed throughout the show, but afterwards wouldn’t stop performing little magic tricks for us. Except, when one of the magicians performed a trick, he wrote the word “special” on one of the cards in the deck. So naturally, Arthur kept saying things like, “Do you want to see another special? I have a good special for you!”

Here is a sequence of events where I did a magic trick for the boys, Julian broke into tears because he couldn’t figure it out, I tickled him happy, and then we walked together, after I’d revealed my “secret” to him. This is so Julian. He just needed to know. He can’t stand it when he can’t figure stuff out on his own. It drives him crazy.

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Of course, there were hot dogs.

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We spent a lot of time on the beach. Jeff took a bunch of wonderful pictures that captured our day together.

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Avalon, Round 3

We spent the past week at the Jersey Shore at our annual family “beach retreat” in Avalon. This was our third year (year 1 and year 2) there; it’s so lovely to have this little beach town to return to each year. It’s familiar but yet such a change from our every day lives that it feels new and refreshing.

This year we rented a house with a pool – and we can probably never not rent a house without a pool again. We loved it so much.

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Here is Julian on the morning of day three at the beach house. He can swim!

Most days were very laid back. Lazy mornings, lots of rounds of Spot it! among the cousins, fresh donuts, and lots of coffee.

Then we would either dip in the pool or head straight for the beach. My brother-in-law and sis-in-law are beach pros and have all the equipment that made for a very comfortable beach camp for all of us. We were 9 adults and 5 kids!

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Arthur loved playing sports at the beach. We would set up a goal, and all he wanted to do was play soccer, catch or football all day long. We may have someone who likes sports on our hands…unfamiliar territory.

The rest of us were happy to be lazy, jump in the waves, and dig holes in the sand.

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Also: beach naps.

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One morning we drove into the neighboring town of Stone Harbor, had giant stacks of pancakes and waffles and let the boys ride their scooters around town. Another morning we borrowed our family’s bikes and went for a bike ride around Avalon. Julian got to ride on the street! He felt like such a big shot.

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And then of course there is Wildwood. We went twice, because Arthur wasn’t feeling well the first time around and was just miserable.

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That first day/night there, Julian got to ride his first proper roller coaster! He is hooked. He wanted to go again. And again. He has no fear.

We went on some rides…

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…and had dinner. Arthur fell asleep right after this photo was taken. His ability to sleep anywhere is both a blessing and a curse.

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So Jeff and I took him home and left Julian to roam around Wildwood with his cousins (and a couple of responsible-ish adults) way past bedtime.

But we felt like we needed a do-over, so we went again.

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This time around everyone was happy. We played games, went on rides, and ate our weight in corn dogs and fries.

We rode the ferris wheel (again)…

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…and drank lemonades overlooking the beach.

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Both Julian and Arthur went on proper roller coasters this time around, several times, and as I was screaming “Oh no! Oh no!” they both screamed “YEEEEEEES!” and wanted more.

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It was such a fun day.

Most nights the kids went to bed super late. We went for walks around Avalon, had ice cream…

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…and ended our nights drinking wine on the patio. We also got our family hooked on our latest obsession, “Stranger Things.”

After a week away, I am happy to sleep in my own bed again and to be in a house with no squeaky doors. Also, not having sand on every surface of the house is nice.

Just kidding. I don’t mind the sand. Being at the beach was awesome. Having family together was wonderful. But I think we were all a bit tired from late nights and early mornings and lots and lots of play. Right, kid?

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Thanks, fam, for another great vacation!

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Rock Rock Rockaway

We love Summer Streets and try to do it every year, but this year it was just too hot to truly enjoy it. Nevertheless, we rode up to Central Park, met Uncle Brian for brunch on the UES and rode back down along the West Side.

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After those hot, sticky 25 miles on the bikes on Saturday in awful humidity (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat this much in my life), we were all looking forward to a beach day on Sunday. Rockaway it was!

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It was a perfect beach day. The weather was lovely, the water was warm, and we all had fun splashing around in the ocean.

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There was ice cream. This photo is titled “Duuuuude.” Arthur was covered in vanilla by the end of this.

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Everyone (except Julian) took naps. Beach naps are the best!

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My favorite part about Arthur’s nap was that I could put his hair into a man bun. He normally won’t let me touch his hair, so that was fun. He didn’t ever realize it was there. Wink wink!

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We ended the night over margaritas, guacamole, and tacos. And everyone slept well. After Arthur sang around 25 renditions of “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones.

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Beach or Bust

Well, in our case: Bust.

On Friday Jeff took the day off work, and we planned a beach day at our beloved Sandy Hook. We managed to pack everything we needed for our beach day onto our bikes, which included: beach towel and a big beach blanket, Bloody Marys in a thermos and a cooler of beer, beach toys, sandwiches, potato salad and lots of snacks and water, and two trusty beach umbrellas.

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We had fun for maybe an hour.

But then the biting flies, who were mildly annoying initially, became just horrible. There were hundreds. Thousands perhaps? Arthur fell asleep, and we covered him with a light blanket. At any given moment there were 50 flies on him trying to get to an inch of flesh. I just spent most of my time in the water and trying to shoo them away from Julian, but at some point they became so bad that the boys just cried and we packed our stuff together while being bitten and bitten and hurried back towards our bikes.

Except. Except it was only 2pm on what was a very, very hot day, and the one and only ferry back to Manhattan wasn’t leaving for another 2 1/2 hours. So we just killed time in spots where flies were not as bad. 

We bought lemonades.

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We played Uno.

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…and we generally tried to keep it together. Except one time I cried. The boys, however, were total troopers. I mean, it was super hot, we were basically stranded and being attacked by flies – and they were so, so good and upbeat.

We rewarded them with very messy, tasty ice cream cones once we were back in Manhattan.

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Saturday and Sunday were delightful. We did mostly nothing. We spent some time at the book store, where we stocked up on new books and games. Julian can read these “My First I Can Read Books” all by himself! I’m so excited for him.

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Jeff and I played lots of chess. Julian/Kylo Ren loves to watch and is learning. I can’t wait to play with him some day soon.

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We had breakfast on our stoop before the heat of the day.

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The boys played Star Wars and built legos for hours.

We went out for brunch, I met an old friend for breakfast, and the boys went to a birthday party at Jane’s Carousel. It was all very laid-back and relaxing. One day I took a two hour nap.

I think once my legs stop itching from the dozens of fly bites, I’ll be able to laugh about our miserable time in Sandy Hook. Maybe.

But not yet.

Viva Mexico!

We’re back in the land of cold, cold, and more cold. But at least we’re braving the freezing temperatures with a little tan and happy memories. Our week in Mexico was great. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a very happy time with gorgeous beaches, sunshine, lots of fish tacos (Julian), guacamole (Arthur), and margaritas (Jeff & me).

Traveling was so-so…the trip to Cancun was annoying. The kids were restless, and the airline (American Airlines) was horrible. I mean, horrible. Never again with that airline. On the way back we flew Jet Blue, and what a difference. Unlimited complimentary cookies! Enough said.

Once we arrived in Cancun, we had to wait forever to get our rental car, and Arthur screamed from pure exhaustion during the car ride to Tulum. He was done. He had gotten up at 5am and not napped at all, so – ugh. But overall the boys were good. Julian, in fact, was amazing. Almost five means you can take him places. He is patient and kind and such a good buddy to his brother. That is when he’s not bossing him around or taking sh*t away from him.

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We stayed in a little hotel in Tulum right by the beach and in walking distance to all the shops and restaurants.

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We had a similar routine every day: breakfast somewhere nearby or at our hotel (except one time when we drove into town and had breakfast at a German restaurant), then a day at the beach.

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Some mornings we slept in. And a couple of times we watched the sun rise:

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We basically just lived at the beach. We ate lunch there…

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…and snacks…

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…and ice cream…

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We swam in the ocean a lot. I went snorkeling one time. I saw giant turtles! And lots of fish.

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We drank lots of cervezas and read lots of Star Wars books. Arthur took his pants off. A lot. (not pictured)

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The boys were wonderful and fun and smelled of sunscreen and mango. There was sand everywhere, at all times, and in fact I think we brought quite a bit of it home with us. Along with two suitcases of dirty laundry.

After spending the day at the beach, we returned to our hotel for a cold margarita by the ocean and played some more.

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One day we checked out the ruins. But Arthur wasn’t feeling well, so basically I carried 40 pounds of child around the Mayan ruins of Tulum. We also played lots of Go Fish! and Memory.

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One day we hung out with Jeff’s co-worker and her adorable son. The boys had a great time shooting invisible monsters with invisible guns.

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We met another couple from our neighborhood (Tulum is full of Brooklynites), who had left their young kids at home with the grandparents. They asked us how it was traveling with the kids, and I told them, “Well, it feels like a vacation from our life at home! But it’s certainly a different kind of vacation than traveling without kids.” But that’s ok.

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I love that I can give my boys some of the same memories that I have from my childhood. Traveling to foreign countries, eating different foods, being tired and sandy and happy and listening to a mediocre beach band while drifting off to sleep with my parents sitting together over a glass of wine on the porch. That, or something like that.

We’re already plotting our next adventure!

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Autumn trip to Coney Island

Saturday was probably the coldest day we’ve had this season, so naturally we decided to go to Coney Island. Because as any proper German will tell you: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. The weather actually was fantastic, sunny, gorgeous. But it was a bit chilly, and this proper German is kind of embarrassed to admit, but we were slightly underdressed.

Anyway, the ride down to Coney Island was blissful and lovely. We stopped for a snack.

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And then we rode on…

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Once we got there, we had the obligatory beer and lemonade on the boardwalk.

We let the boys play in the sand for a bit…

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Next, it was time for hot dogs.

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This here is a photo of happier times, where each boy had their beloved hot dog. What’s not pictured is the damn, fearless bird who stole Julian’s hot dog the second he decided to focus on french fries instead. Oh, the tears. Thankfully it wasn’t the last hot dog in the history of Nathan’s hot dogs, so we just went and bought the poor child another one.

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And then we hit the rides. They never disappoint.

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Afterwards, we took the boys to the aquarium to admire the fish. Highlight: SHARKS! I don’t have any pictures of the fish, but I have this instead:

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On our way out we saw that they were playing a brief Sponge Bob movie in 4D, so we decided to give it a try. I mean, it was a stupid movie with no plot whatsoever, and either way I think Sponge Bob is a bit past his prime, but Arthur thought it was hilarious. Julian was terrified and cried when the objects came “flying at him.” Yay for 3D. Jules was not a fan.

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After one last stroll on the boardwalk, we decided it was time to head home.

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The boys fell asleep immediately on the bikes, and Jeff and I decided to take a break somewhere halfway between Coney and home and headed to Di Fara‘s pizza joint in Midwood.

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We ate our pie, happily, but I must say that even though many say this is the best pizza in NY, I much prefer Juliana’s.

On the ride home, everyone was tired. And cold.

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Julian’s look says it all. “Oh, parents, how you’ve failed me yet again.”

Down the Shore

We spent last week in Avalon at the beach for our annual Weston beach vacation. It was a wonderful week with family.

Highlights included…

The Beach! Obviously.

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The boys loooooved the beach. The sand, the ocean, the waves, all of it. We went to the beach every day, except one, and didn’t get tired of it. Each day we dug holes and pools and tunnels for the kids – and one day Uncle Ray created sand bowling. So that was hours of entertainment right there.

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Family Time.

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I especially love watching all the cousins together. Julian and Ben, born 9 hours apart, are thick as thieves.

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Arthur fell in love with his big cousin Amelia and spent most of his day following her around. “Melia? Melia?”

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Wildwood.

It’s no secret that we love Coney Island. So naturally, Wildwood is right up our alley. The kids hit all the rides.

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And towards the end, right before cotton candy and funnel cake pushed us over the edge, we won huge donuts playing whack-a-mole.

Donuts.

These, and the edible kind as well.

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Lazy Mornings.

No one slept in, of course, ever. Because even though it’s a vacation and no matter how tired children are, they still get up at completely unreasonable hours. But we had lovely breakfasts every morning, lots of coffee, and crazy kids who entertained each other. And a deck to sit on.

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Dates. Jeff and I got to sneak out a couple of times. We went on a bike ride through Avalon, and one night we strolled around the neighboring town of Stone Harbor and had drinks at a bar by the beach. Total highlight was a walk on the beach in the dark with an almost full moon and lightning far away on the ocean, turning the sky orange every other minute or so. It was magical.

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Non-highlights included this guy getting car sick on our way to Avalon…

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…and whatever it was that happened to that guy. Bug bite? We will never know. But the Rocky references and the “You should have seen the other guy” comments did not get old. Or did they?

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Until next time, Avalon.

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Sandy Hook

When Jeff and I were dating, before the kids and our life together in Brooklyn, we had a happy place. It’s called Sandy Hook.

We would get up early on a weekend morning, take the ferry to Sandy Hook (Bloody Marys in hand), ride our bikes around and spend the day on the beach.

We haven’t been to Sandy Hook since 2010, but now that we are pros at packing everything we need for a day at the beach on our bikes, we decided to give it a shot. We had to leave the house at 7:15am to have enough time to pack the bikes and ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and to Pier 11 to catch the 8:15am ferry.

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The boys were beyond excited because a) bike riding b) the prospect of a boat ride and c) a day at the beach!

We had muffins, croissants, and bananas, and possibly Bloody Marys on the boat. Here is Arthur looking cool:

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We brought blankets, towels, two umbrellas, a cooler with beer, lots of food and snacks and beach toys. Oh, and two children. Our bikes seriously are like a mini van. A small mini van.

Everything was perfect. The ride to the beach in Sandy Hook was lovely. We heard a million crickets and looked at rockets still displayed at Fort Hancock. The boys were in heaven.

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We played on the beach all day.

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We had lunch, played some more, and then we all napped. Beach naps are the best. One of my earliest memories as a child is the feeling of pure exhaustion and falling asleep to the sound of the waves, feeling all sandy and salty and warm from the sun. I’m so happy that I can give my boys the same memories.

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Before catching the 5:45pm ferry back to Manhattan, we stopped for ice cream.

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We ended the night at Smorgasburg at South Street Seaport, where we were quite likely the only non-tourists. We had grilled cheeses, pulled pork sandwiches, lemonade, and beer – and it’s pretty safe to say we were all exhausted on our ride home.

It was such a great day. Jeff and I have such fond memories of our summer days spent in Sandy Hook, young and falling in love with not a care in the world.

We definitely came with more baggage this time around, but also with much fuller hearts.

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