a road trip to coastal maine

They say when you become a parent, the word "vacation" no longer applies. Travel with children is called a "trip." And there is something to be said for that. For the most part, our "trip" last week was not what I would call relaxing. But despite bouts of whiney behavior, motion sickness in the car (and car trouble, by the way), a sea of children's menus and a lot of late-to-bed nights, we managed to make the most of our time together. I really welcomed the change of scenery, and coastal Maine, which was our ultimate destination, took my breath away with its raw and unencumbered beauty.

Not to mention the lobster.

Our first two nights were spent at Point Lookout Resort in Northport. Point Lookout operates as a conference center primarily but is also open to individuals and families. We discovered the resort through Preferred Family, which is an excellent resource when researching vacations, as they have properties all over the world that cater to families (and thanks to their handy travel planner located on the home page, I'm already thinking about our next getaway...

Our two-bedroom cabin was comfortable and roomy, and the property itself has a number of activities available. We took advantage of their soccer field and hiking trails -- there's even a bowling alley! The Copper Pine, Point Lookout's on-site restaurant, benefits from the property's own organic farm, which we had a chance to visit. Doesn't get anymore "local" than that. 

We also loved the fire pit that was dropped off at our cabin... perfect for s'mores (turns out our girly girls thought they were too "sticky," which of course meant more for us). A private beach available to guests is located across the street and the quaint village of Camden is only a 10 minute drive away. All in all, Point Lookout was the perfect location to kick off our trip. 

The next night we spent camping in Searsport, Maine, right on the ocean. As campgrounds go, this one was clean, well-managed, and you truly couldn't beat the view. Great playground, too! And for the record, one night of camping is my limit until I can invest in a more comfortable pad or cot. My poor back... 

Our last two nights were spent in Ogunquit, located in southern Maine. While the town and harbor are quite beautiful and there is plenty to do there (we took a lobster boat ride and walked along the stunning Marginal Way), it was a bit of a shock as it's much more touristy than the mid-coast. The girls did enjoy the Ogunquit Trolley (parking is a bit of a nightmare in the main part of town) and Footbridge Beach, which we visited on our last day, was just the relaxing afternoon we needed. We stayed on the inlet side, and the water was calm and cool and the sand felt great between our toes.

So yeah, even though this was a "trip," I still wish I was on it. Here's hoping your family travel this summer is whine/motion sickness/drama-free. We can dream, can't we?

Disclaimer: For the purposes of a review, our stay at Point Lookout Resort was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

getting back in the swing of things w/ seventh generation

I've had such a blast working with Seventh Generation this year, helping to spread the word about their Toxin Freedom Fighters campaign and general goodness. And I could never have guessed how it would have come to my rescue in the last few days. Let me digress... 

So here's the thing about being sick when you're a mom: IT SUCKS. I'm sorry, but there's just no other word for it. To think I actually look back fondly on the days of being sick pre-kids... curling up under a blanket with a box of tissues while watching bad TV for hours... or stopping to take a nap because you desperately need the rest, and because you can. 

Yep. That doesn't happen anymore. Now when I'm hit with a viral infection (which left me miserable for 10 days), I'm staggering around while taking care of my children, who don't really get the "Mommy's sick" concept. Couple this with the last week of school, a pounding head for a week and a working-late-most-nights Husband and you have an admittedly unpleasant person. Pity party for one! I really do hate to be a complainer... but it was not a fun couple of weeks.

Now that I'm getting back in the swing of things, I'm addressing the disarray around me and trying to de-fumigate the house as best I can from my illness. The apartment completely fell to shambles while I was sick. Laundry and dishes piled sky-high, stepping on toys in every room... you get the picture. And no, there is no photographic evidence because really, who wants to see that? 

I'm slowly getting things back in to shape with the help of some of my favorite Seventh Generation products. Here they are, in random order:

1) Lavender Floral and Mint dish soap: Is there anything not to love about this scent? I adore the way it smells, which almost makes the fact that we don't have a dishwasher almost bearable. The non-toxic, no dyes part is an obvious no-brainer.

2) Chlorine Free Bleach: I realize bleach is a random thing to love, but let me just say that historically bleach makes me nervous. I have this irrational fear that I'll spill it all over myself and accidentally swallow some (remember I said irrational!). That said, I like that I can use the Seventh Gen bleach and not worry about a bleach-y smell and harmful chemicals. Though it's still doubtful I'd drink it. 

3) Facial Cleansing Cloths: Here I go with the lavender scent again, but this is a great product for someone who wants a refreshing face cleanse... and the smell is lovely. I used these often while I was sick and too exhausted to take a shower. TMI?

4) All Purpose Natural Cleaner: So I've been using this all over the house in the last few days. What a relief to not feel worried about what strange chemicals I've just used on my countertops and window sills, or my children's toys and art table. 

5) Glass and Surface Natural Cleaner Concentrate: Here's the cool thing about Seventh Generation's concentrates... you just add them to water and you're golden! The small size still packs a punch and is just as effective as its full-size version. 

I don't get sick very often, but when I do... wow, it really makes me appreciate my otherwise good health. I am so thankful to be back in the land of the living... and getting my home back in shape again. Whew!

Disclaimer: As mentioned, I am working with Seventh Generation this year promoting their products. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

one wild weekend in wildwood, nj

I have to admit one of the reasons I love living in NYC is there are so many places to escape to in the surrounding area, should the need arise. And if you live here with kids, the call to flee your small apartment in search of well, anywhere with more space, is a strong one. Especially once warm weather arrives. Thankfully, there are many beach options nearby, the most obvious of which is the Jersey Shore.

My family and I spent Father's Day weekend as guests of Morey's Piers in Wildwood, Jersey, and the three hour commute from the city was the perfect distance to feel like we'd really "gotten away," yet close enough for a weekend jaunt. We checked in at the StarLux Hotel which has a retro '60s vibe, straight down to the lava lamp in our bedroom. Loved the kitsch factor, and our room was comfortable for a family of four.

Located across the street from the beach, boardwalk and famous "Wildwoods" sign, the StarLux is situated in a ideal location for everything you need in town. The girls also LOVED the pool and quite honestly could have stayed there the entire weekend if we'd let them! But, there was too much fun to be had on the boardwalk.

We spent Saturday taking it all in... from the water park to the rides... to chowing down on Curley's Fries... to more rides... to games... to ice cream... to the "people train" (as Millie calls it) ride on the way back to the hotel. I'm not sure we've had that much of an action-packed day in quite some time, but the girls had a blast, and so did we. Here are a few pics, in case you aren't convinced:

I don't have photos of the water park as we didn't want to get our own camera wet, but we did buy an underwater camera they had for sale at a kiosk. A great idea, but unfortunately we haven't gotten the photos developed yet! There are two different water parks at Morey's Piers, Ocean Oasis Beach Club and Raging Waters Beachfront -- we opted for the first one for no particular reason and were very pleased with all the offerings for kids. The Lazy River was a huge hit as was their "Bonsai Beach" area for kids.

If you are looking for enough activities to keep your child entertained and excited -- a classic, old-fashioned time filled with rides, games, water parks and yummy food -- then Morey's Piers in Wildwood is a great option for a weekend getaway from the city this summer. I have to say there is something about the boardwalk experience that is as American as apple pie, and I kind of love that.

And if this video of us on the Tea Cup ride doesn't get you excited for some fun this summer, I don't know what will. Have a great summer!


Disclaimer: Our weekend in Wildwood, NJ and day passes to Morey's Piers were complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

baby meets city meets the blue man group

Husband and I saw -- or rather, experienced -- Blue Man Group on one of our first dates. One of the original Blue Men is actually a friend of his, a fact he made sure to mention pre-date, no doubt trying to impress me (it worked). What can I say... I loved this crazy show then, and I loved it even more the second time around with kids in tow.

If you've seen Blue Man Group perform, you know it's nearly impossible to describe. But if a harried mother of two toddlers attempted to in stream of consciousness writing, it might go something like this:
Could not resist the photo op

Well, let's see. Three guys covered in blue (who don't talk, by the way) shoot marshmallows into each others mouths (all I can think is please don't choke!) and what about that paint, surely it's non-toxic? They play drums while painting and giving away art to audience members (what an awesome souvenir!) but beware of streaming toilet paper (think toddlers and their love for TP); And oh yeah, those giant iPhones... what was that about? Oh I do hope they use a good cleaning service.

Um, yeah. Instead of trying that route, simply tell whomever asked to simply GO. Just go. The Blue Men, despite being hard to describe, are simply unforgettable.

Now, as for bringing kids to the show... that's a no-brainer! Judging from our recent experience, I think 4 and up is the way to go. That being said, take into account if there are any issues with your child and loud noises as the music is rockin' all the way through. If not, you and your kiddo are in for a wild ride! Is it possible to be mesmerized and laughing hysterically at the same time? Because that was Millie. We loved getting to share this experience with her.

Side note, at our afternoon performance, there appeared to be a 10th birthday party in attendance, which I think would be a lot of fun. Blue Man offers birthday party packages and special group pricing. Double side note, as with a lot of theaters, the air conditioner is going full blast. Bring a sweater.

To experience the Blue Men on your own is one thing; to go back with your kids, quite another. I highly recommend it! Just go.

Disclaimer: My family and I were given complimentary tickets to see the Blue Man Group perform. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

playtex beginnings imagined campaign

I'm excited to help spread the word about Playtex's Beginnings Imagined campaign. Celebrating the unique journey each child takes as they set forth in the world, Playtex wants to give you a chance at a customized drawing by children's book illustrator Julie Olson, as well as $5,000 college scholarship for your child. Amazing! 

In case you'd like to see an example of Olson's work, here's a drawing she did of Millie and Vivian. I'm in love with it! Based on the questions I answered about the girls she was able to write a little bit about them. I love when brands that I know and trust give back with a contest as meaningful as this one (and with the cost of college skyrocketing every year, well, every dollar helps...)

Running now through July 1, 2014, parents are invited to visit the campaign website where they will be asked to answer a few short questions about their child and submit an image for their chance to win a custom illustration. Then, all illustration winners will be entered for a grand prize drawing of a $5,000 scholarship. 

"No two babies are alike and we want to celebrate each child's individuality," said Marci Serbonich, Playtex Infant Care Senior Brand Manager. "With our Beginnings Imagined program, we want to capture each child's unique beginning with a one of a kind illustration."

For more information about the campaign and Playtex Baby Products, check out the Playtex on Facebook or via their website

taking a ride with uber

We're a mass transportation family. Husband takes Millie to school on the bus in the morning and I bring her home on the subway each afternoon. And, since we live in what locals humorously refer to as "Upstate Manhattan," taking a yellow taxi is a pretty expensive option, not to mention the fact that car seats aren't available. The few times I've taken taxis with the girls with only a seat belt on, I've clutched the glass window in front of me the whole time, totally stressed out (and it's a commonplace occurrence for a lot of families, which I know seems insane to non-New Yorkers).

Well, a new day is here, thanks to Uber car service. They recently launched uberFamily, which now offers car seats. Already making life easier for transportation with the ability to quickly book a car through their app, now you can easily go to the uberFamily section to secure a car seat. Speaking of which, for the launch of uberFamily, Uber teamed up with Dr. Alisa Baer, otherwise known as The Car Seat Lady, who trained the highest-rated uberX partner drivers on how to safely secure IMMI Go brand car seats. Thus, when you request uberFamily, you're getting a professional driver who has been certified by an expert in car seat safety.

Care.com has also teamed up with Uber, with a goal of working to change the conversation on child care safety by making it easier and safer for families to manage their transportation needs. Donna Levin, Co-Founder and VP of Operations at Care.com, says, “Transporting children safely is of critical importance to Care.com. In fact, more than half of Care.com members seeking childcare include some kind of transportation requirement when they are looking for caregivers.” 

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to try out uberFamily, and I was very pleased with our experience. I had a couple events to attend and Millie's school pick up in the afternoon, so sufficed to say, I got around town quite easily, and safely, which was most important.

So, while we primarily use mass transit to get around, it is a relief to know that in a pinch or with a subway blocks away (or a crying toddler or two), I can request uberFamily to travel home with ease. And this will absolutely become our go-to when traveling back and forth to the airport. I can't tell you what a relief it is to know that we now have this option for safe travel around town.

Welcome to NYC, uberFamily!

we all need a reminder

In August, I will have lived in Manhattan for 14 years, which seems absolutely impossible. I've seen the city from many angles -- single girl struggling to pay the rent in Gramercy Park // in love in the East Village // "smug married," to quote Bridget Jones, in Chelsea // and finally, to the present -- mama with small children in tow in Washington Heights. It really has made for a heightened experience to live here while my life has changed so dramatically. But, and I have a feeling this happens to a lot of us, it is easy to forget why we moved someplace special when the everyday-ness of life takes over... particularly when you have kids and it is very much about taking care of their needs at any given moment.

I got a much-needed reminder of why I moved here yesterday, as we walked together as a family through Washington Square Park. It was a beautiful, carefree stroll on a gloriously warm day. We listened to music being played from every corner while we watched our daughters play in the playground. And while the park was filled to the brim with people, it didn't feel crowded. Excuse me for the cheese, but it felt like we were all supposed to be there, enjoying the moment. And feeling lucky that we get to live here.

I always wanted to live in NYC, from as early as I can remember.

I need to remember that more often.

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