Posts filed under ‘Travel’

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 6 – Body Pump and Family Dinner

Body Pump, Seltzer Water, and Gingerale
So the day before at Sea Colony, I was looking over some of their literature and I squealed with delight to see that they had a BodyPump class. Not only that, there was a BodyPump class the very next day!!! At home, BodyPump is one of my favorite parts of the week. How amazing that I can attend a class at the beach! My Uncle generously allowed me to borrow his passes so I could attend the class. I love BodyPump so much, I talked it up, as one is very apt to do when something super fun like BodyPump is concerned, and my cousin Jennifer decided to join me. Knowing how much I love BodyPump, my mother agreed to watch the boys and away we went to Sea Colony to pick up fitness passes and attend the class.

My great Aunt Maisie is a woman in her eighties, but she carries with a childlike curiosity and enthusiasm for the world. She sees everything with an innocence you would expect to find in someone decades younger. Earlier in the week the topic of Seltzer Water came up. Great Aunt Maisie told a simple story about a time she was in the airport and got a soda. She thought it was Gingerale, but it was actually Seltzer Water.

With wide eyes and that innocent, pure voice of hers, she talked about that first unexpected sip.

“And ooooooh my,” she shook her head, “It wasn’t Gingerale!”

When you are expecting something sweet like Gingerale, and you get Seltzer Water, it’s quite a shock. It doesn’t mean Seltzer Water is bad, mind you (I’m a fan). It just means you were expecting something different. And it tastes worst than it is just because of your expectations.

Back to our BodyPump adventure, I had noticed that BodyPump class at the beach was only 45 minutes long, but I didn’t think much of it. I also failed to notice that the schedule read “Body Pump” instead of “BodyPump” and that at no point was Les Mill’s branding touted.

Pseudo BodyPump Class - Small
Body Pump, not BodyPump

We showed up and paid our seven dollars and I promptly noticed there were no bars.

“Huh. I guess we just use free weights here,” I thought, still oblivious that the Gingerale I was about to drink was, in fact, Seltzer water.

They wanted us to get Exercise Balls, which I also shrugged off, “Oh I guess this is going to be our T-bows for tricep dips.”

Then the warm-up began. There were no squats. We weren’t doing it in time to the music. Wha– you want me to kick my feet out?

All the signs were there all along, but it took me until then to realize I wasn’t at Les Mills BodyPump.

I was miffed. There was some pride involved because I enticed my cousin to come. But really, what I was most upset about was wasting my “mom babysitting time.” During our first set of biceps (which Hello…. everyone knows that Biceps are supposed to come later at Track 6) I drafted my stern letter in my head to Sea Colony Recreation because it was entirely out of the realm of possibility that I read what I wanted to read. ;)

But then here’s the thing. Exercise (at least for me) makes everything better. As my body started moving and my muscles started working, my mood improved. It wasn’t Les Mills’ BodyPump, but it was fun and it was a solid workout. My abs were sore the next day. And my cousin had fun too.

Gingerale/Seltzer Water/BodyPump/Body Pump, it’s all good. : )

Lunch and Another Compliment
I solicited another compliment from a different Aunt about my kids’ eating habits. My Aunt Julie marveled at Sagan eating an avocado and concluded, “You’re so healthy!” Score!

I took the kids down for some more beach time. When Sagan tired of the beach, he just started walking home all by himself. I was curious to see how far he would go by himself, so I quietly tailed him. I couldn’t believe that kid didn’t even look back until our entire family was out of sight. Boy, he was unnervingly determined to escape the beach! : )

Once he saw me, he wanted his shoes, but he didn’t want to go back to the beach to get him, so he sat on a bench with my cousin Jennifer while I fetched his footwear. When I came back to the bench, I could hear them talking.

“Really?” Jennifer said, “Banana cake?”

“Yeah!” Sagan replied, “It was yellow and orange.”

And I had to laugh. In June, we went to a friends’ birthday party and they had a healthy banana cake for dessert. Sagan talked about that banana cake for an entire month and how he wanted it for his birthday. My friend gave me the recipe and he got his birthday wish. Apparently it went well because here he was at the beach STILL talking about banana cake. It was good, maybe like average good. I didn’t realize it was good enough to talk about for months. : )

Sagan's 3rd Birthday - Ryan Coaches Sagan on Candle Blowing
Flashback to Sagan’s Cake

Serial Bathing
Every year at the beach, our extended family gets together for a loud and boisterous fancy dinner at Magnolia’s Seafood. I remember in 2007, I had a little bit of vanity going on. The entire week I was meticulous with the sunscreen. Not because of skin cancer or the likes. Nope, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get sunburnt before the family dinner. I wanted to look good for the pictures. This year I didn’t even shower for the family dinner! (TMI – I only showered once at the beach and that was with a baby throwing shampoo bottles in the bath tub). But I did give both boys baths. : )

Dyson stayed on the beach with my mother while I took Sagan back to the beach house. I bathed Sagan and he went down for a nap. By the time Sagan was sleeping, Dyson and my Mom came home, so then I bathed Dyson and he went down for a nap, while Sagan was still napping. Double Nap AGAIN. BOOYAH!

So really my afternoon was pretty much bathing kids. : )

Family Dinner
Fun fact– did you know you can’t do Lasik eye surgery when you are breastfeeding? The breastfeeding hormones can have an effect on your eyes, so they prefer to wait to map your eyes until at least six weeks after weaning. I found that out with my first child, so my game plan has been after Dyson is weaned perhaps getting that Lasik surgery.

Family dinner is making me reconsider that notion. I wore contacts to the family dinner and apparently I looked especially tired and frazzled. A few people mentioned it. I hypothesize when one has glasses on, it better camouflages fatigue. I was tired, but I’m always tired (I still night nurse). I didn’t feel any more or less tired than your usual day. Mitigating the two kids was hectic with the particular challenge of our entrees arriving well after our usual bedtime. I certainly didn’t have a lot of ample time to socialize or take pictures, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed (that would come the next day) and I had plenty of friendly faces and helping hands around. Even my child-free-by-choice sister pitched in!

Bethany Beach - Dinner at Magnolias - Dyson Carolyn 2
My Youngest Son and my Lovely Sister

At the end of the night, though, as I loaded two tired and cranky kids into the carseats, one of my aunts told me she felt sorry for me.

Well, poop. My outward appearance was terribly misleading. For years I attended Family Dinners without the children I wanted so very much, but with that special type of nagging loneliness that comes with being committed to someone who doesn’t care. Here I am in 2014 with all those missing pieces– An amazing husband who is a partner in every way and the children I was scared I would never have. I have everything right now… except maybe a full night’s sleep and a shower, but it is so worth it. : )

“There’s nothing to feel sorry for. I wanted to have children. I am blessed,” I told my aunt. Hopefully I sounded convincing. : )

Maybe next year I should wear glasses… and makeup. Perhaps makeup will help. : )

Most Pleasant Night Night
And dude— we got home again well before everyone else. AGAIN– a most pleasant night night. Both kids went to sleep right away!

August 20, 2014 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 5 – Sea Colony and a Vegetable Win

My Uncle Mark and Aunt Denise were staying at a Condo at Sea Colony. On Wednesday, July 30th they invited us to spend the morning with them at the pool and other Sea Colony facilities. My cousin’s daughter, Mya, joined us.

Sea Colony’s great and I am seriously considering staying there in future years. They have pools, walking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a fitness center. I really enjoyed my time there.

Sagan was a little weary about the pool, but we did get some smiles out of him. He also obliged me while I carried him around the “big pool” for a while and showed him the filters that picked up all the trash and bugs in the water.

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Mya Wets Sagan's Hair
Mya and Sagan at the Pool

Ultimately though, Sagan preferred to be on land. Mya asked him to give her a massage and to my surprise, Sagan started kneading her shoulders. Where did he learn to do that?

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Mya Gets Backrub
What the—where did he learn that?

Dyson is fearless and enjoyed the kiddie pool. He liked feeling empowered and climbing in and out of the pool himself.

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Dyson in Kiddie Pool
Dyson in Kiddie Pool

Once everyone was tired of the pool, we decided to hit one of the nearby playgrounds which was a big hit.

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Mya on Swing
Mya Swinging

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Sagan on Playground
Sagan on Playground

Bethany Beach - Sea Colony - Sagan Swings into Mark
My Uncle Mark “Pushes” Sagan on Swing

And after the playground, it was lunch time. We headed back to Uncle Mark and Aunt Denise’s condo for PIZZA!!!! Everyone loved that.

Traction at the Beach
In the afternoon, I took the kids down to the beach. No trauma or tears this day. For the most part, we just stayed up in the sand. I did take Sagan down briefly to kick the waves and to pretend jump them. I didn’t push it though and we quickly returned back to play in the sand. I took a bunch of pictures with my phone so Ryan could see Sagan was actually playing and smiling at the beach. :)

Bethany Beach - July 30th - Sagan with Bulldozer on Beach
Sagan Playing with a Bulldozer in the Sand

Bethany Beach - July 30th - Sagan Happy on Beach Chair
Sagan Smiles in Beach Chair

Bethany Beach - July 30th - Smiling Sagan with Hayden and Dyson
Sagan Smiles with Hayden and Dyson

Joint Nap– AGAIN!
The pool and the beach wore the kids out. I was pleasantly surprised that Sagan and Dyson napped at the same time AGAIN! They never do that at home, but it kept happening at the beach. One of the best parts of the vacation. : )

Bethany Beach - July 30th - Beach is Tiring (View While Nursing)
View While Nursing – Sagan Sleeping on my Legs

Chinese Food and a Great Compliment!
We were so close to having pizza TWICE in one day, a notion I have to confess I was somewhat excited about (Hey, I’m on vacation!). It was pointed out that we had pizza for lunch so we got Chinese Food instead. It wasn’t pizza, but hey, it’s a good option as well.

Sagan, Dyson, and I ate outside on the deck. I like eating outside and without dogs to clean up the aftermath (think rice strewn EVERYWHERE), strategically it makes better sense. Sagan amused me by asking for tofu. When we get Chinese Food at home, I get a Tofu General Tso’s which Sagan typically eats half of. Luckily, he’s a big fan of chicken as well.

I alternated handing my two boys pieces of broccoli, peas, rice, and chicken. Everything was delicious, so the kids were devouring away.

And then I got the BEST compliment.

“He’s a miracle,” My Aunt Denise observed as Sagan swallowed some more peas, “Usually kids won’t eat vegetables.”

That totally made my day… as vegetables are near and dear to my heart. I did have to confess, however, that there are days where Sagan will only eat chicken nuggets and fries. We have good days and bad days. I LOVE that Denise happened to be sitting next to us on a good day. The compliment STILL makes me happy.

After dinner, Sagan had a fabulous time playing with all the cousins…and eating an unknown amount of fortune cookies. I don’t know how many, but I am pretty sure it was a lot. I don’t think Aunt Denise noticed, because she didn’t retract her “miracle” statement. : )

Bethany Beach - July 30th - Six Cousins, One Couch
Six Cousins, One Couch

I discovered walking for Frozen Custard after dinner was significantly easier when Ryan was around. It was tricky keeping Sagan situated with his napkin demands (he hates when things spill on him, even if it is delicious melted ice cream) and trying not to drop Dyson whose center of gravity was making dramatic shifts as he kept trying to dive-bomb my chest. Stress level, I think it was probably the second most flustering moment at the beach, but it all worked out.

We took early leave from Dickey’s which put us back at the beach house before everyone else. And SHEBAM! Another easy and pleasant night night time. The kids went right to sleep AGAIN! Our beach sleep schedule RULED!

August 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 4 – Kayaking, Crabs, and a Shopping Cart

Tuesday, July 29th was Ryan’s last day at the beach as he had to return to work. The ONLY thing on his request list for the beach was to kayak with Sagan. First thing in the morning, we went back out to Coastal Kayak. This time the conditions were much better. We also had company! My Aunt Denise and Sagan’s Best-Beach-Bud Mya joined us.

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Denise and Mya on Shore
Family Kayaking- Now with 50% More Family!

We saw an osprey’s nest and mussels growing in some of the tidal grass.

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Osprey Nest
Osprey’s Nest

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Sagan Touches Mussels
Sagan Touches Mussels in the Grass

Sagan was all smiles. He really enjoyed the kayaking.

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Sagan and Vicky
Sagan with Mommy

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Sagan and Ryan
Sagan with Daddy

Mya seemed to enjoy kayaking a little less than Sagan. She and Denise turned around shortly after arriving at the wetlands. I had the only keys to the car, so we followed them back. The outing was more abbreviated than originally planned, but as a side perk, Sagan never had a chance to tire of it. He left his first kayaking outing wanting more, which is a good thing! Oh and once on land, Sagan still found joy in the oar. He used it to dig sand. :)

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Sagan Uses Oar as a Shovel
Sagan Digs with Oar

And here’s something neat. Back in 2007, when Mya was just a little baby, I went kayaking with her mother at the exact same place. So now I have kayaked with both mother and daughter.

Kayaking: Kara
Mother in 2007
Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Mya
Daughter in 2014

Mickey’s Family Crab House
For lunch, we took the kids to Mickey’s Family Crab House. Dude. That was fun and delicious. We ordered clam strips, steamed shrimp, steamed Maryland Blue Crabs and grilled asparagus. This was a GREAT destination for young children. It’s socially acceptable to make a lot of noise. It’s socially acceptable to make a gigantic mess. And the meal comes with its own entertainment– mallets! Both kids really, really enjoyed hammering.

Sagan and Dyson Having a Good Ole Time with Hammers

We had such a great time picking apart and devouring crabs, Ryan declared this is what he wants to do for his birthday. Done and done.

More Biking and Beach
After lunch, we did some more biking. Little Dyson would not keep the bike helmet on (It was ill-fitting anyway), so he just got a quick bike debut up and down the street. Just long enough for us to say he went bike riding.

Bethany Beach - Dyson Hates Helmet
Dyson Removes His Helmet While I’m Not Looking

Bethany Beach - Vicky Take Dyson on First Bike Ride (Close)
Dyson’s Bike Debut

After that, Ryan and Sagan took the bike out for a couple of hours.

Bethany Beach - Suave Sagan on Bike Ride
Sagan Ready to Ride Again

While Ryan and Sagan were out and about, I took Dyson back down to the beach. He was in a much better disposition today. He was so courageous, in fact, when he saw some cousins he wanted to play with, he just crawled across the sand to get to them.

Bethany Beach - July 29th - Dyson Spies Olivia Hayden and Tucker
Dyson (in green) – “Hey I wanna play with them!”

Bethany Beach - July 29th - Dyson Crawls to Olivia and Hayden
Dyson (in green) – “Oh hey guys, I’m here to play!”

Binky Down
We packed five binkies for the trip and only came home with three. One I have no idea where it went. And one…well, it fell down a storm drain.

Bethany Beach - Lost Binky
Lost Binky

Adventure in the Small Things – Harris Teeter Shopping Cart
Remember yesterday when I talked about adventures coming in smaller packages with kids? Well, on the flip side, you get to see things through your children’s eyes and small things, even mundane things, become exciting and fresh again. With kids, anything can be an adventure…even going to the grocery store.

Before Ryan got back on the road to head home (Sadness), we went for a family shopping trip to pick up some provisions. We put the two boys in a specialty shopping cart shaped like a truck where both boys could have their own steering wheel.

Sagan and Dyson LOVED it. They spent the entire trip wrestling and laughing and tickling.

It was probably the most concentrated amount of fun they had the entire trip and it was just a joy to watch.

Mommy Nap
When we arrived at the beach the previous Saturday, I mysteriously lost my voice. By the end of Tuesday, I had some congestion. I thought it was pretty safe to take some Benadryl, but boy, the drowsiness was really getting to me. So I left the children on the beach house deck with my mother to take a nap.

Before I could fully drift off the sleep, I heard Sagan in the living room. I went out there to see what was going on and found him laying on the floor with a beach towel over him like a blankie trying to take his own nap.

He looked up at me and asked, “Can I nap with you, Mommy?”

Well, who could turn that down? We returned to the bedroom and we both fell in such an extended sleep, my mother had to wake us both up for supper.

Taco Night!!!
A still-sleepy Vicky and Sagan meandered their way over to Aunt Julie’s Beach House where we were having Family Taco Night (one of my favorites). The food and company energized both of us.

Most Pleasant Night Night
I was somewhat worried about the notion of putting both kids to sleep by myself in such an exciting environment, but “night night” could not have gone smoother. The kids and I got back to the beach house before everyone else. In the dimly-lit bedroom, I changed diapies, put on jammies, and other night-time tasks. Both Dyson and Sagan went to sleep right away and I wasn’t too far behind them.

August 7, 2014 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 3 – Working Through Failures

Sometimes if takes a little while to get your stride. The important thing is to keep trying. : )

Beach Fail
Our second full day, we paid homage to my late father and walked down to The Frog House and had breakfast. We made another quick stop at Comics and Games and then we went to the beach! We like to consider us an adventurous family. We hike and kayak and camp and canoe and bike. But our kids are significantly less adventurous when it comes to the ocean. Sagan is more vocal with his fear. Ryan did get him a little more comfortable with being in the ocean… that is until a wave splashed him in the face. Dyson, on the other hand, liked looking at the ocean, but would whimper when a big wave touched my feet (It wasn’t even touching him!). Dyson did enjoy playing in the sand.

Bethany Beach - July 28 - Dyson in Sand
Dyson in Sand

Bethany Beach - July 28th - Sandy Dyson
Sandy Dyson

Sagan, however, was so miserable from the whole “water in the face” incident that not even the binky, or the arrival of Uncle Jay could convince him to enjoy the beach.

Bethany Beach - July 28th - Miserable Sagan with Daddy
Miserable Sagan and Defeated Daddy

Mommying Fail
And I learned a very good lesson that day. Don’t wait until the baby is exhausted and tired to leave the beach. Why? Because you still have to walk back to the beach house. You still have to contend with all that sand. You still have to get him in a dry diaper and clothes. This produced a lot of crying from an already over-fatiqued baby. Lesson learned. I would not make the same mistake in the coming days.

Nap Fail
And then another obstacle to adventure. Dyson napped…. and then when he woke up, Sagan went down for a nap. Gah! This was somewhat disappointing to Ryan. He only had a limited time at the beach and he wanted to get out and do things, not wait for the children to sleep.

Corn Husking Fail
One of my fond memories of the beach as a child was husking corn with my cousins and squealing should we peel away the green and find a worm underneath. I mentioned yesterday I had hoped a new generation of cousins could have the same experience. It didn’t quite work out, but Sagan, Mom, Ryan and I had fun enough husking corn and snapping beans. Dyson didn’t exactly help, but he had a great time moving beans back and forth between the bag and the colander.

I didn’t take any pictures of the husking that day, but corn husking is something I enjoy, so I happen to have pictures of family husking from 2012 (when Sagan was 1), 2013, and 2014.

Husk Three Years Labeled Small
Husking – 2012, 2013 and 2014

Kayaking Fail
When Sagan woke up, we left Dyson with my mother and headed down to one of my favorite places– Coastal Kayak! In the past few months, Sagan has gone canoeing and rowboating and he loved both. We wanted to add kayaking to his resume and kayaking was the only thing on Ryan’s list when you asked him what he wanted to do at the beach. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived, the flapping windsocks and the ample whitecaps in the usually calm Assawoman Bay made it clear it wasn’t going to happen. The Coastal Kayak staff was kind and upfront. They didn’t think it was going to be a great day for Sagan’s kayaking debut.

Bethany Beach - Coastal Kayak - Sagan in Kayak
Aww… the Closest Sagan Got to Kayaking That Day

Bike WIN
Defeated, defeated, defeated, Ryan and I started back to the beach house. The vibe in the car wasn’t a particularly happy one. This day was definitely not going as planned.

“We’re Ryan and Vicky!” I said, “We’re adventurous! We can turn this around! We can find something!”

“No, we used to be adventurous,” Ryan mumbled.

And then, a brainstorm. Biking! We got down to the Bethany Bike Shop right at closing. We had just enough time to rent their last beach cruiser with an attached car seat for 24 hours. Ryan loaded up Sagan and went for a long ride back down to the Delaware Seashore Fresh Pond park we hiked the day before. He had a phenomenal time and found better trailhead parking for the park.

Bethany Beach - Happy Sagan in Bike Seat
Yay, Finally a Success!

MobyWrap WIN
While Ryan and Sagan biked, I wrapped up little Dyson in the MobyWrap and we went for a two mile walk in the wet sand of the shoreline. Oh my goodness. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed that walk. The sea breeze on my face, the salt air in my nose, the purring of the ocean and laughter of children in my ears. Everything about that walk was just perfect. Unlike the morning, Dyson was unconcerned with the waves, he rested his head on me and just watched as they rolled in and out, in and out. Soon he was asleep. His left ear was against my chest, listening to my heartbeat. The right, the ocean. How peaceful that must of have been.

While he slept, I loved watching the teenagers surf their wakeboards from the shore *into* the incoming breakers. The forces propelled them up into flips in the air. And then my favorite part– I saw not one, but two, ospreys dive into the ocean and catch a fish…on the very first try. For some reason, I thought they would have to make a lot of attempts to catch a fish. They made catching fish look easy, though they did make flying around with a fish look a little awkward.

I didn’t have my camera, but this wonderful Creative Commons photo by Andy Morffew is a good illustration of what I saw.

Male Osprey and Barracuda
Osprey and Barracude (Photo by Andy Morffew)

Dinner and a Defection from Dickey’s
Dyson and I returned home right as Sagan and Ryan finished their bike ride. Together, we all walked over to my Aunt Julie’s for supper. My Aunt Denise made a delicious pork roast with fresh rosemary. We also had the freshly husked Farmer’s Market corn which solicited a lot of compliments. But what took the cake– my Uncle Timothy took those Farmer’s Market green beans, microwaved then for 4 measley minutes, and added the Farmer’s Market mushrooms, which he sautéed in white wine and butter (I believe this recipe was his inspiration). It was delicious. I normally try to do everything I can to encourage my children to eat vegetables. But that dish was so delicious, I actually stole some from Sagan’s plate when he wasn’t looking.

After supper, Ryan and I walked the kids down to the main drag to get some frozen custard. In past years, our family has had unwavering support for Dickey’s Frozen Custard. We defected that night and got Kohr Brother’s instead. :)

Final Assessment
Although the day had a series of fails and frustrations, we ended up with an ample supply of happy memories. As parents, adventures come in smaller packages and sometimes that is a mental adjustment for Ryan and I. Compared to our previous selves, it feels like we aren’t get anything done. But you compromise, you regroup, you do what you can, and little by little you end up with a full experience.

And as little as it felt like we got done that day, we still eked in tons more adventure than we would have if we stayed in the beach house all day looking at our phones. : )

Bethany Beach - July 28th - Mark, Sam and Frank on Couch
Cousins Looking at Phones

August 6, 2014 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Family Hike – Delaware Seashore Fresh Pond

Our first afternoon at Bethany Beach, we were in the market for a Family Hike. I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and scanned for green patches near us. That’s how I found a section of Delaware Seashore State Park called “Fresh Pond”. I’ve been coming to Bethany Beach ever since I was a little girl, but I was never aware of this park 2.1 miles away from our beach house!

It turns out there were other relatives interested in hiking. We ended up with Ryan, Vicky, Sagan, Dyson, Mom, my Aunt Priscilla, my Aunt Denise and my first cousin once removed, Mya. It was a Family Hike…with 100% more family!!!

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Family Hike - With More Family!
Family Hike– With TWICE as Much Family! :) :) :)

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Dyson and Great Aunt Priscilla
My Aunt Priscilla (my muse for my grey hair) Holds Dyson

After serving us extraordinary well the past two days, Google Maps had a little bobble. It directed us to a residential neighborhood with less than optimal park access– it required bush-wacking. Instead, we parked at a trailhead on the northeast corner of the park off Coastal Highway 1, about a half mile north of Silver Sands Drive.

Fresh Pond Hike Route
Parking and Route (By Google Maps)

We took a 0.2 mile connector trail and turned right on the Prickley Pear Trail. In about a 0.5 miles, the trail took us to a gorgeous view of Beach Cove and arguably less than gorgeous views of horseshoe crab corpses in various stages of decomposition. : ) We continued along the Prickley Pear trail and formed a loop back to the connector trail. I believe we went roughly 1.4 to 1.6 miles total. The trails were flat and well-worn, perfect for the children.

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Sagan Runs After Mya
Mya and Sagan Run Along the Trail

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Ryan and Dyson
Ryan and Dyson at the Beginning of the Prickley Pear Trail

On the connector trail, we found two women who were crabbing. They were vibrant and friendly and were kind enough to show the kids a Maryland Blue Crab. Then they interrupted the amorous activity of a pair of horseshoe crabs (poor things) so the kids could get a closer look. Sagan declined to touch the living horseshoe crab. Later, to my dismay, he would want to touch some dead ones at Beach Cove. We compromised and I let him “pretend” to touch the dead one. : )

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Sagan, Mya, Ryan Look at Crab Catch
Crabbers Show Kids Maryland Blue Crab

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Mating Horseshoe Crabs
Mating Horseshoe Crabs

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Touching Male Horseshoe Crab
Sagan Declines to Touch Horseshoe Crab

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Sagan Pretends Touch Dead Horseshoe Crab
Sagan Pretends to Touch Dead Horseshoe Crab

The best part about this trail was I got to learn a new plant. I have been on other trails called “Prickley Pear” before, but it never occurred to me to find out what a Prickley Pear looks like. My Aunt Priscilla, a resident of Arizona, was quite familiar with Prickley Pears. She recognized the cactus immediately. They were plentiful along the trail and we even saw one blooming.

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Prickley Pear Bloom
Prickley Pear Bloom (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Another lovely find was Passiflora incarnata (Purple Passionflower). They are so intricate and lovely.

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Purple, Wavy Flower
Purple Passionflower

We also found some blueberries, but they weren’t ready for eating yet. At least, that’s what Ryan reported after tasting one. : )

Although short, it was a great family hike with plenty to see. We all had a great time visiting with each other, particularly little Sagan and Mya.

Bethany Beach - Fresh Pond - Prickley Pear Trail - Sagan Smiles at Mya

More pictures of Delaware Seashore – Fresh Pond can be found on my Flickr site.

Delaware Seashore – Fresh Pond

Park Map

Length: Varies – 4.2 Miles of Trail to Choose From

Elevation Gain: Flat!

Entrance Fee: FREE!

August 5, 2014 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 2 – Shopping and Family Hike

Sunday July 27th was our first full day at Bethany Beach and we made the most of it!

Morning Run
When I woke up, I wasn’t particularly in the mood for a morning run. I actually prefer to run in the evenings and only do morning runs when I’m preparing for a race that’s in the morning. But I knew from experience, we have late dinners at the beach as some of my relatives are from the west coast. I also knew Ryan was only going to be around two more days, so if I wanted to run, I needed to get it done while he was in town. So I forced myself to run. I’m glad I did. It was delightfully drizzly out and I was invigorated by the salt air.

She has absolutely no idea, but one of my Facebook friends has become my running rival. She posts the results of all her runs on Facebook and well… she’s a lot faster than me. Now every time I run (which confession– is only once a week), I benchmark myself against her. I’m *always* slower but in trying to catch up with her, my pace (with the jogging stroller!) is substantially better than it was *before* I got pregnant with my first son! It’s amazing what a little [unrequited] competition can do! Anyway, that day at the beach I finally beat her pace…. but only for 1 mile. Hey, it’s a start! : )

Happy The Crab and The Artful Bean
The coffee pot in our beach house had an untimely altercation with gravity, so it was the perfect excuse for a coffee snob like me to go to The Artful Bean.

Ryan, Mom, Sagan, Dyson, and I walked over and ordered some fancy coffees and some breakfast sandwiches. While we waited, my Aunt Priscilla and my cousin’s daughter, Mya, showed up.

Sagan was well behaved at the coffee shop, but some of that was luck. As soon as Sagan started to get restless, with rambunctiousness threatening to arrive at any moment, we had a surprise hero! Chris Rohrbach, the author of Happy the Crab, had a display at the coffee shop and he asked Sagan and Mya if they wanted to draw. That they did and it gave Mommy and Daddy just enough time to finish up their food. : )

Bethany Beach - July 27 - Mya and Sagan Draw Happy the Crab
Mya and Sagan Draw Happy the Crab with Chris Rohrback

Bethany Beach - July 27 - Sagan's Happy the Crab
Sagan’s Happy the Crab

Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market
After the coffee shop, we were just a couple of blocks away from the Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market, so we decided to head that way. Each week, Ryan and I do a Family Walk with the kids to our local farmer’s market. It was nice to keep up our tradition depsite being at the beach.

When I was planning my wedding, my boss and friend, Larry, told me, “You are such a cheapskate except when it comes to food.” He was referring to restaurants, but his observation is just as apt for produce. Ryan and I can tear through some cash when it comes to Farmer’s Markets. And so, I spent 33% of my on-hand cash the very first morning at the Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market.

Some produce, I got with the children in mind. My boys like husking corn and snapping green beans, so we got 26 ears of corn and a huge back of green and yellow beans. I had visions of a whole group of cousins sitting out together husking corns and snapping beans, like I did as a child. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but that’s okay.

Lately, we have been on a roasted okra kick, so I got some okra (which turned out to be a delight to my Great Aunt Maisie). Peaches, raspberries, etc. THEN– something I’m so envious of. The Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market has MUSHROOMS! I’m a huge mushroom fan, so we bought a variety of mushrooms for the beach house from Davidson Exotic Mushrooms. LOVE!

Comics and Gaming
Our final stop in our morning walk was the Comics and Gaming store. My husband is a comic book shop enthusiast with aspirations of running his own shop one day. It’s a great little shop with a wonderful assortment of inventory. And a nice little coincidence– it turns out it is owned by the son of one of my father’s friends!

Lesson Learned – Pack the Double Stroller
So when my mother and I were packing, the car was pretty tight and Mom observed, “Everything in Bethany is really close.” She was right and Ryan and I often carry the kids long distances on hikes, so I decided not to pack the double stroller.

That first outing on the first day illustrated conclusively to Ryan, Mom, and I that whoopsie, yeah, we really do want the double stroller. This was going to be more vital later in the week when Ryan was back at work and it was just Mom and I (Mom is not big on carrying children like Ryan is). Luckily, my brother and his fiance had not arrived yet. My mother called them and they agreed to swing by our house and bring the double stoller with them. That turned out of be key to the rest of the trip. Lesson learned– make room for the double stroller.

Family Hike – Fresh Pond! (Another Hooray for Google Maps)
With our shopping excursion done, we were in the market for something to do. A good time for a Family Hike at Fresh Pond!

Naps and Dinner
After that, our day’s progress took a screeching halt as the kids needed to nap. For supper, we walked over to my Aunt Julie’s beach house where her family made a giant feast of delicious spaghetti. We would find that dinners would become one of Sagan and Dyson’s favorite part of the day. They both very much enjoyed playing and chasing the amply supply of cousins there.

August 5, 2014 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

Bethany Beach 2014 Recap – Day 1 – Arrival

We spent the morning of July 26th packing and then the whole rest of the day driving and sitting in traffic. We took two cars– Ryan and Sagan in one and Mom, Dyson, and I in the other. The 154 mile drive took us over 6 hours 30 minutes. There was quite a bit of traffic on I-95, I-495, and of course, 50 near the Bay Bridge.

A Nod to Google Navigate
As a testament to Google Navigate, Ryan and Sagan were well behind Mom and I due to a stop for gasoline. However, they ended up beating us over the Bay Bridge by 20 minutes. Why? Google Navigate took them on a bunch of side roads to pass all of the traffic waiting to get on the Bay Bridge. Ryan had a moment of doubting Google Navigate, but it turned out, it knew what it was talking about all along.

View While Nursing
Think Bay Bridge Traffic Sucks? Try doing it with a screaming baby. Right as we passed the “Last Exit Before Toll”, Dyson lost it. Inconsolable lost it. So the poor little guy screamed and screamed while we inched our way to the toll plaza. Luckily, right after the toll, there was a convenient pull off. My entry for my Views While Nursing Tumblr blog that day– the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. : )

View While Nursing for July 21, 2014 - The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza (Thank you Maryland for this pull off).
View While Nursing for July 26th – Toll Plaza

Stop #1 – Mowbray Park (Hooray for Google Maps)
After crossing the Bay Bridge, both our cars had a rendezvous at a Valero off exit 37. The kids were restless and eager to burn some energy, so we pulled up Google Maps and noticed a handful of parks in the area. There were a couple of large state parks, but we chose the small and humble Mowbray Park because it looked small enough to be free and large enough to have a playground. And yes and yes. It was free and it had a playground, two in fact. Both kids had a blast running around, swinging, and making friends with other kids. I would highly recommend any travelers with children stopping at Mowbray Park.

Stop #2 – Redden State Forest
After another hour or so of driving, little Dyson started to lose it again. I made him a deal, “If you are still crying when we reach 13, we’ll stop.” He was still crying, but we were only on 13 for 0.7 miles. So we found ourselves on Redden Road with a very upset baby. There really wasn’t a great spot to pull over. It was a rural section, so the only pull offs were people’s driveways.

After a while I got frustrated and grumbled, “Don’t these people have a church they go to?!?!” We went around a bend and there was something even better than a church — a state forest with picnic shelters and trails. So our little caravan stopped at part of Redden State Forest and the kids got to explore and play some more. Even with that stop, Dyson was over the whole driving thing at that point, so my mother drove and I sat in the back with Dyson. I had to lean over the carseat and let him nurse to get him to settle down enough to fall asleep.

Right at dusk, we pulled into the driveway of the beach house, our home for the next seven days. It was nice, less than a block away from the beach. Sagan immediately took to my cousin’s 8 year old daughter, Mya. The two would be pals for the rest of the trip.

Bethany Beach - July 27 - Mya and Sagan Practice Horse Stance
Mya and Sagan Practicing Horse Stance (on July 28th)

Oh…. and the room assigned to our little family– a king-sized bed! A big step up from our little futon mattress on the floor! Unfortunately, it only took a day or so before Sagan found a way to make sure Ryan and I did not get homesick. He was very capable of making even a king-sized bed feel cramped. : )

Bethany Beach - July 28th - King Size Bed
It’s Not Night Night Time Unless Mommy and Daddy Are Squished

August 4, 2014 at 10:28 am 2 comments

Mama DENIED! (Family Hike: Cunningham Falls)

A friend of mine told me a story about her 15-year old son. One day she gave him a choice–

  1. He could take out the trash
    – or -
  2. He could give his mother a hug.

“He chose to take out the trash!” my friend laughed.

I knew it was coming, but I thought with a 20 month old son, I had a good decade or so before I would encounter such a snub. Nope! Last month for my 38th Birthday Hike, our little family drove up to Catocin Mountain Park. We parked at the Visitors Center and hiked 1.4 miles to Cunningham Falls, which at 78-feet is the largest cascading falls in Maryland.

Sagan was patiently indifferent to the first 1.2 miles. He did some walking, but for the most part hitched a ride.

Cunningham Falls - Falls Trail - Hitching a Ride With Daddy
Hitching a Ride with Daddy

When we reached the final approach to the falls, however, Sagan found his passion. That last 0.2 miles was a boardwalk and he LOVED running back and forth on it.

Cunningham Falls - Falls Trail - Hi There
YEAH! Now this is where the fun is at!

He loved it so much, in fact, that when I tried to get him to stop for a second to pose for a picture with the falls, he would have none of it! He squirmed, he balked, and then…

He ran away. : )

Cunningham Falls - Falls Trail - Sagan Has More Important Things to Do Than to Pose with Mommy
See ya, Mama! I have places to go!

To be honest, it was rather worth it to see him have so much fun. After some more exploring the boardwalk, we hiked back to the visitors center and indulged in some yummy yummy Cracker Barrell on the way home. All in all, a most excellent day!

More pictures of our hike to Cunningham Falls can be found on my Flickr site.

Cunningham Falls via the Falls Nature Trail

14707 Park Central Road
Thurmont, MD

Length: 2.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 40 Feet



Trail Map

April 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm 3 comments

Ba Gua in Central Park

Sagan’s Uncle Thad is a Kung Fu instructor and his Aunt Rachelle also happens to have her Shao Lin black belt. Our third full day in New York City, we travelled to Central Park to watch Thad teach a Ba Gua Broadsword class in Tupelo Meadows.

My friend from high school Brian joined us and then there was a surprise spectator as well– an Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)!

New York - Central Park - Broad Sword Practice
Broadsword Practice in Central Park

New York - Central Park - Sagan Stands During Broad Sword Practice
Sagan and Daddy Watch Broadsword Class

New York - Central Park - Sagan Studies Broad Sword 2
Sagan Studies a Broadsword

New York - Central Park - Box Turtle with Thad's Class
Box Turtle and Broadsword Class

New York - Central Park - Sagan Stalks Box Turtle (Closer)
Sagan Follows the Turtle

There was a small mishap. As Sagan worked on a poopy in the park, we were light heartedly encouraging him and joking around. Little did we know, this poopy was a free spirit which would not be contained by diapie, pants or onesie. We had packed extra diapies and wipes (an improvement upon our American Museum outing), but we did not have an extra outfit handy. Sagan spent the rest of the afternoon allegedly getting stares from strangers (I was oblivious to judgemental looks).

New York - Central Park - Sagan in Just a Diapie (By Thad Wong)
Sagan Sports Just His Diapie in Manhattan (Photo by Thad W)

We ate at a nearby Shake Shack which Sagan seemed to really enjoy. After that, we stopped by the Upper West Side Patagonia which was having their annual 50% off sale. Sagan managed to find a baby in the mirror.

New York - Sagan Sees Baby in Mirror
There’s a Baby!

At that point it was time to return to Brooklyn. We got to squeeze in some final visiting with Brian on the Subway.

It was a lovely way to spend our last full day in New York. More pictures of our outing to Central Park can be found on my Flickr site.

August 20, 2012 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

A Visit to the Google Manhattan Offices

One of my best friends from high school, Brian, lives and works in Manhattan. He invited us to come by and tour where he works. It’s just a little company by the name of “Google”. So on our second full day in New York City, we found ourselves immersed in a most impressive work environment.

I had somewhat expected to get off the subway and see this giant towering skyscraper with the familiar Google logo on top. The building itself was surprisingly short, but it takes up a whole city block! It has the second largest footprint in New York City and takes nine minutes to walk around the perimeter. Inside a series of maps helps employees and guests navigate the vast offices and a number of scooters (and scooter parking areas) are scattered throughout to assist with transit. There are also a couple of ladders to give employees a more direct route between floors.

New York - Google - Scooter Parking
Scooter Parking

New York - Google - Ladder to Cafe
A Ladder to a Cafe

Art and Decor
A lot of thought went into the art and decor of the offices. Each floor, each conference room and each “mini” kitchen had a theme– they had a Pac Man mini kitchen, a conference room with bathroom-themed furniture, a jungle room. A lot of artwork was particularly appealing to geek culture– portraits of Star Wars characters and even an xkcd mural in the stairwell.

New York - Google - R2D2 and C3PO in Library
Portraits of R2D2 and C3PO in the Library

New York - Google - xkcd in Stairwell
xkcd Mural in Stairwell

New York - Google - Pac Man Hall
Hallway to the “Pac Man Mini Kitchen”

New York - Google - Ryan and Sagan in Jungle Kitchen
Ryan and Sagan in the “Jungle Mini Kitchen”

New York - Google - Bathroom Themed Conference Room
A Bathroom Themed Conference Room

Google feeds their employees well. In additional to ample “mini” kitchens, there were a couple of cafes where the employees and their guests can partake in free meals. It’s good food too! Our visit was timed so that Brian was able to take us to the “small” cafe to eat. Sagan got to try quinoa for the first time along with the more familiar cantaloupe, strawberries, chicken, swiss chard, mozzarella and bread.

The cafe we were at had a Manhattan Cityscape painted on the walls and an actual water tower that was relocated and rebuilt inside the cafe. We’re told if you stand in the right spot, the painted buildings line up with the actual buildings outside. Sagan very much enjoyed taking in the view and banging on the window.

New York - Google - Sagan and Vicky Take in View From Cafe (Photo by Brian N)
Sagan Takes in View from Cafe

The Library
The library was quite impressive. One wall was covered in touch screens where you could browse through bookshelves and open up and preview books.

New York - Google - Brian at Virtual Library
Brian Demonstrates Virtual Library

The opposite wall of the library was lined with more traditional bookshelves and books, but even that had a twist. One of the bookshelves was actually a door to a hidden work room with a nice, inviting lounge chair.

Geeky Stuff
Google was a great place for “an unabashed nerd” like Ryan to visit. They had a display of old computers and video game consoles which appealed to Ryan’s habit of cataloguing museums with Creative Commons photos on Flickr. There was a community chess game going on and we met an employee who had organized a Human Turing machine (which was reminiscent of the Human Bubble Sort Ryan organized with the Neighborhood Kids). One wall sported a safe. Supposedly throughout the building there are clues to opening that safe! Perhaps we saw one of those clues– QR Codes in the tiling of one of the “mini” kitchens. A lot of walls doubled as white boards and housed formulas, notes, pseudo code or simply links to someone’s YouTube page.

Video of Human Turing Machine

New York - Google - Safe
Supposedly There Are Clues to Open This Safe

New York - Google - Sagan and Ryan with QR Code Flooring
QR Code Tiles – Possible Clue?

Google was a great place for someone nature-oriented like me to visit as well. In addition to everything mentioned so far, the offices had outdoor terraces…growing edible plants!

New York - Google - View From Terrace 2
Edible Garden on the Terrace

Google is Great for Babies!!!
Now, perhaps it is obvious that Ryan and I would enjoy a visit to Google. Get this– Google was also a great place for a baby!!! Not only were there a lot of finger foods to try, there were lots of stimulating art and colors for Sagan to look at. There were super friendly employees to smile at and large areas great for walking practice. At one point, Brian was showing us an “Explore Your World” center powered by Google Earth and a semi-circle of flat screens. While Brian was exploring his world, Sagan was exploring his, inch worming across the carpet, taking in the patterns. Finally– there was a ball pit and stuffed animals. Initially Sagan was scared of the ball pit, but he warmed up to and had an absolute blast!

New York - Google - Sagan Exploring
Brian Explores Via Google Earth, Sagan Explores Via Crawling

New York - Google - Penguin, Vicky, Sagan in Ballpit 2 (By Ryan Somma)
Playing in Ball Pit at Google

There were some more subtle perks as well that come along with working for a large company like Google. While we talked, Brian revealed that he does not have to work 80 hour weeks as rumor would lead you to believe. Furthermore, he isn’t on call 24 hours a day like Ryan and I are. And unbelievably, Brian can actually leave his laptop (and work) behind at the office– a luxury that is hard for me to fathom!

Although there was so much one can covet in that work environment, Ryan commented on the way back home, “It’s impossible to be jealous of Brian. Everything he has, he deserves.”

Ryan is right. My friend Brian is amazingly smart, extremely hardworking and then at the same time, so very generous and kind. Google not only has great taste when it comes to work environments, they apparently have impeccable taste in people as well. : )

New York - Google - Brian, Vicky, Sagan Look at Each Other (By Ryan Somma)
Thanks Brian For a Great Day!

More pictures of the Google Manhattan Campus are on my Flickr site.

July 25, 2012 at 9:25 am 1 comment

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