Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm on vacation....

...want to guess where?? Here's a hint, it's COLD!! More details and a full report (with photos of course) when we get back!

Until next time!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Say What?!?

I can hardly sustain my I am the featured blog at SITS! Welcome Sitstas and Friends! If you haven't heard of SITS before, or would like more information, definitely check it out here!!

SITS is a group of women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments. Whether you are new to blogging and looking for blogs to read, or a veteran looking to expand your readership, a mommy blogger or a single gal, SITS is for you!

I am so honored to have everyone stop by, it really means so much to me! I couldn't believe it when I got the e-mail,

...I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy....

There are so many awesome moms and ubber cool blogs out there, I absolutely LOVE getting to meet so many great people!

ok, ok, before I chase everyone off-- I'd like to let you know a bit about me and my family before you hop-scotch around our blog. Ok, there I am, the one in the left corner. I know, not a great shot, but I just don't do pictures.

Meet my family. That's my husband (the one holding our daughter) and my parents on a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer. My parents are a very important part of our family. On a few of our return trips to Matt and my favorite locations, we've asked my parents to "tag-a-long". What good is it to see a beautiful place if you can't share it? And these are great memories for my daughter.

I'm a super uncoordinated, always procrastinating wife to Matt and mother to my 3 (almost 4) year old daughter Taylor. We love to travel, eh well, I love to travel! More specific, I love to visit Lighthouses! I've always wanted to write a book about our lighthouse adventures, so it seemed idealistic to start in a blog...from there this is what transpired. We're not the Swiss Family Robinson, more like the Bundy's or Griswold's, but I'll let you decide on your own!

Matt and I have been traveling for many years together. Since we can't just leave our daughter at home, we wanted take her on our adventures too. Now that she's getting older, we can see Taylor love to travels too. I really think she enjoys getting tugged along, besides we do try to do things she can be interested in too. We've started packing more picnic lunches and visiting state parks and playgrounds along the way. The things you see and learn--simply amazing!

Taylor, my little miracle!

I've got a couple posts that I think you all may enjoy, but this was hard to do! I'm not very good at making decisions or trying to decide what everyone may want to see (it's the people pleaser part of me) I don't want to disappoint anyone! So, to get out of this awkward spot I'm going to point you in a direction and let you go!

You can check out any of these to get you started:
Mackinac Island
Sandy Hook--yes it is!

So sit back, have an umbrella drink and kick off your shoes...put those tootsies in the sand! If nothing else you can do what I do--Just look at the pictures!

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Yum, yum, yum!

So, has the suspense been killing you? Hope not, I would really hate to think I had that much hold on my readers ;o)

When we last met, I was going on and on about our first night in Atlantic City. After we checked in and before we went swimming, we checked out the BEST restaurant around for a quick hamburger and fries. I must say it again, THE BEST!!

Warning....viewing the next few photos may cause your arteries clog and mysterious weight to attach to your behind!

If you haven't cheated and looked at the photos yet, I'm talking about 5 Guys.

We are the type that always like to try new things when we are on vacation. You can find the golden arches or little red-headed girl everywhere, but sometimes you are in the mood to try the local cuisine. We actually stumbled on this place while trying to turn around and get over to a gas station. At this time of night we were just hungry and were not in the mood to get all fancied up for a sit-down.

Inside the 5 Guys restaurant of Atlantic City.

Walking in, the place was very clean and organized. The menu board was simple, but not the decision. There were a lot of combinations and choices, but we just couldn't decide. We had to ask for recommendations. The guys (and gal) behind the counter really gave some super suggestions. Now for the wait.

Here's the crew...these guys ROCKED!

While you wait, there are boxes of shelled peanuts for the customers to snack on to get things started off right. We really only had to wait about 5 minutes or so while our order was made. Brown-bagged and ready to go, our order was up! Imagine our delight when we opened up our foil-wrapped sandwiches...

Please, don't drool on your keyboard!
Here's the burger Matt had--what a monster!

And the fresh-cut fries! She literally gave us a grocery sack full of them!

The! These were just like the heart-attack fries you get at the fairs and carnivals. I don't know if she made too many or if she thought we needed them but I noticed the woman working just scooping the fries into a brown sack. It seems when she finished filling the cups that she didn't need the rest she dropped, so just our luck :o)

Taylor was a happy camper!

Two thumbs up! We even chatted up with the crew a bit before we headed back to our rooms. 5 Guys...we will be back!!

If you'd like more information about this and other 5 Guys restaurants, please CLICK HERE.

Have a favorite local restaurant? I'd love to hear from ya! Who knows, we may stop by sometime!

Until next time...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Up, up and AWAY!

When I last left off, we were heading south on the Garden State Parkway towards Long Beach Island. There is only one way in and out, so to get to our next stop, the Barnegat Lighthouse, we had to drive 20 miles past it and back-track on the island to it.

Crossing the causeway was very beautiful. It felt as if we were entering another world. Island life has a feel all it's own; from the laid-back lifestyle and beautiful scenery, it's no wonder that's where everyone wants to be. We passed some very beautiful yet very expensive beach homes along the way.

After traveling about 20 minutes back on the island, we finally made it. The Barnegat Lighthouse, aka Old Barney, was very beautiful poking out from behind the trees. Before we even left home I was determined THIS was going to be the light I climbed. Now, facing my fear head on, I was not quite so sure.

Barnegat Lighthouse "Old Barney" as others know it as.

Pulling into the State Park, Taylor of course had to use the potty. I have been on potty patrol all day, thank goodness this time she asked for daddy to take her. It gave me a few moments to walk around and snap a few shots while they were busy. When they found me near the museum, Taylor was overcome with excitement. No, not for what you may be thinking, but because while she was in the potty a bird decided to land on top of the skylight and peck at the glass. To a 3 year old, this is a HUGE deal! She said she tried and tried to yell at him but he just wouldn't move. Oh my, you gotta love her!

Back together again, we went into the museum. There was loads of information inside. Life-like models showing the old light, old keeper's quarters, as well as diagrams showing how they are desperately trying to save the light due to shore erosion.

Taylor standing by a photo of the Barnegat Light.

As we were leaving the museum, I was talking with an older gentleman who was working at the counter. I told him I was wanting to climb the tower, but was unsure if I could make it. He told me how many times he himself has been to the top and how beautiful the view is and so forth. OK, if he can do it, I can do it. Plus, he said he would give me a certificate when I came back down.

So there he is...I'm going up HOW FAR??

Admission to the lighthouse was a bargain, only $1! Matt and Taylor chickened out and were going to stay at the bottom and look for me at the top. Shaking, I handed the gentleman my dollar and up I started.

How old are these stairs, and HOW MANY??

Starting the climb wasn't too bad. I started off counting all of the steps; 1..2..3...about every 30-31 steps there was a landing at each window. When I got up to about 50 or so I couldn't do it anymore, I was going to drive myself crazy trying to count all the steps to the top. ALL 217 OF THEM!! Giving you a bit of an insight, I've already chickened out on the climb up to the top of Marblehead Lighthouse numerous times (a mere 65' tall compared to the nearly 172' "Old Barney".)

One of the first views from the top.

I was almost ready to give up. My body was really starting to shake with nerves, and it took all I had not to look down, let alone think about it. What in the HECK was I doing??? The climb to the top took about 15 minutes. Finally, there I was at the top. Boy was that ever windy! As soon as I stepped out onto the ledge, a huge gust of wind came and nearly pushed me over. All of a sudden there was a group of smart-a$$ teens that thought it would be hilarious to start pushing each other and clowning around on the very narrow walk. Great. I just moved my way around them (definitely giving dirty looks) and got to a quiet area of the tower.

What a sight!

OK, now I'm here, but how long was I going to stay. The wind was really strong and I did what I set out to do, I made it to the top! Now the challenge was to get back on the ground in one piece. I snapped a few more photos then decided one trip around the top was the most I was going to push myself to do. Circling back to the door, I was on my way back down. To be very honest, I thought I was the slowest one going down. One step at a time, and don't look down!


When I got down to the first landing, I ran into a mother and her two children. They were in the same boat I was, so we decided safety in numbers! We began as a train of slow moving traffic back down the staircase. Every so often we would have some thrill seekers pass us on the stairs which was nowhere near wide enough to do this.

Another view from the top!

The mother was kind enough to keep track of how much further we had to go (since I was not looking!) Sweet sound to my ears, she said we had two more landings to go. By the time I made it to the bottom my shirt was soaked with sweat and my heart was pounding 100 miles a minute. BUT I DID IT!! Now I was so overcome with excitement I wanted my official "I climbed Old Barney" certificate and I was ready for a drink.

I still can't believe I climbed to the top!

Matt and Taylor were waiting for me on the ground, what a sight for sore eyes! We continued to walk around the park, checking out a very nice concreted boardwalk around the inlet. It was getting time to move on, and since Taylor had been very good all day, Matt had a trick up his sleeve for a treat.

On the way to the light, Matt seen a Dairy Queen a few roads up and thought it would be a good stop. A treat for me for overcoming my fears and Taylor for listening very well and having no accidents so far on the whole trip. Taylor and I both got small size slushies mixed with soft serve ice cream. Matt got a medium size pineapple milkshake. Now typically at our DQ, this would've been $4.55 or so for our whole order. You should have seen the sticker shock on Matt's face when the woman asked for $12! You heard me right, $12! When Matt got back to us in the car he commented we better enjoy these to the last drop, because we weren't buying anymore ice cream on this trip!

Here's a bit of advice; if you stop at this Dairy Queen, just hand over your wallet!

OK, so this ice cream must have been made with a golden spoon, but we weren't going to let this bring us down. One more stop before we left Long Beach Island (LBI), a souvenir shop. Taylor's little cousin, Shelby, was going to be turning 7 next week. We wanted to get her and Nana a little gift from our trip. We were in luck. We found a very nice little local shop that had just the right gifts we were looking for. Matt found a pair of swim trunks 60% off and Taylor picked out shells for Nana, Shelby and herself. I thought the shark's tooth in a jar was pretty cool, but opted for the shells for the girls instead. As we were shopping a small storm was passing through. You should have seen everyone scramble to get indoors! Unless I missed something, I didn't think one little dark cloud warranted a full-fledged panic.

We finished up on the island and continued to head south towards Atlantic City. Taylor really wanted to stay on the beach longer, but we really wanted to find a room earlier than the previous night. Looking through my Roomsaver coupons, I found a motel not too far from Atlantic City for only $33 a night! They sounded pretty respectable, and were in a good location in Absecon. Boy were we in for a surprise!

First glance, things don't look too scary. this where we're staying the night?

Pulling off the freeway, I spotted the sign right away. As we got closer, Matt noticed the windows were boarded up as well as the symbol painted on the side of the building. The back building looked as if it was recently on fire! The sight was such a shocker we had to turn around so I could get a couple of shots, unless you were there with us, no one was going to believe this was the place we were going to stay!

We laughed it off and moved on. Lucky for us the whole strip was filled with motels all competing for visitors. There were a couple we considered, but finally locked down a room at the Quality Inn. The kicker...the Waffles! (long story...but rest assure, we know how to make waffles!)

Our "Home" for the night as Taylor would call it.

After unloading, we headed to get dinner from a hamburger joint down the street. (More info on that to come!) After dinner we headed back to the room. The outdoor heated pool closed at 8pm, the time...7:55! I told Matt they wouldn't kick us out if we got there in a hurry, so off we ran!

You can see our room in this photo.

Boy that water was HOT! I would guess the water was nearly 95 degrees, we're talking bath water! You could see as we were getting in, a motel owner/worker was waiting around like he wanted to lock the gate, but once we jumped in, he gave up his mission and walked back inside. The pool itself was pretty neat and toddler friendly. The "shallow" end was a very gradual slope from 1.5' to a max depth of 5' in the "deep" end. The pool was perfect for Taylor. For almost a year now she has been taking swim lessons at the Sandusky County YMCA, but mommy always worries. This was the first time she could touch bottom and walk around. All Matt and I had to do was stay in the center where the floor started to drop off to remind her where she had to start swimming. It gave her a chance to build up some confidence (more for mommy's sake) that she could be in the pool and not be "hovered" over.

The pool or bath, your call.

While we were enjoying the water we couldn't help but notice 3 or 4 mini vans pass with children pointing out the window at us. Well, not us exactly, but they seen us in the pool and were trying to convince their parents they wanted to do the same. Sure enough, within 10 minutes we had 4 families in the water with us. That was until "the big" one came through. A storm rapidly approaching made the sky very dark and distant thunder could be heard. Everyone started to hustle a bit faster when the first flash of lightning lit up the dark clouds. It was time to move. That night I do remember hearing a bit of the storm pass through, but all was well by morning.

I promise to tell you where we ate and what excitement we had, but for now I'm gonna leave you in suspense.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's go down to the shore...

...there's so much to explore, when you find yourself beside the sea!

OK, thanks Moose (gotta love NOGGIN) I'll take it from here!

After a WONDERFUL night sleep at Days Inn, we headed to the Jersey Shore. With the map in tow we found our way with ease. Literally from our motel we were stepping foot on the beach within 5 minutes.

Some very beautiful beach houses line the streets.

We wanted originally to find Bradley Beach, but settled on Avon-on-the-sea because of the "child-friendly" beach with playground that we knew Taylor would want. This was Matt and Taylor's first time to the Atlantic Ocean, so I definitely wanted to get in the water and enjoy it.

The beautiful boardwalk extends for miles along the Jersey Shore.

I didn't get my camera out much, we were too busy playing in the water and building sandcastles, but you can imagine how much fun we were having. I could hardly keep Taylor out of the water. I was getting a bit concerned when the waves started to even unsettle my footing, let alone a 3 year old light weight. The more I waded in the water, the deeper I wanted to get in. According to the reports, the water was a very brisk 69 degrees, but it really didn't feel that cold.

We're heeeerrrree!

After an hour or so, Matt was getting tired of babysitting the stuff, so we switched. I took Taylor to the blanket to build a sandcastle and dry-out for a bit while it was Matt's turn to go swimming. He had a blast! He even found me a sand dollar to bring home. Here I was searching high and low for something, anything and he takes 5 minutes, lol.

The sun, the sand, what a beautiful day!

At the time we couldn't tell, but the sun was really baking us pretty good. The breeze was blowing, the sun peeked in and out of the clouds all day, and we were bobbing in the waves every chance we got. It really was a nice relaxing day. But as you know, all good things must come to an end. We still had more lighthouses to see, and nowhere, once again, to stay the night.

Gathering up our belongings we headed to the boardwalk to the changing rooms. Taylor had sand everywhere! It was even packed in her belly button! After trying to clean as much as I could, we trekked back to the Jeep and headed south.

Taylor "hanging around" the boardwalk.

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from where we were was the Sea Girt Lighthouse in Sea Girt, NJ. This Victorian style lighthouse was tucked away on the corner of two one-way streets. Imagine the frustration trying to follow directions from a GPS that doesn't know the meaning of one-way! Matt and I were nearly ready to chuck the thing out the window when we finally got there.

Sea Girt Lighthouse, finally!

When we finally seen it, Matt told me to jump out and get a couple of pictures while he circled the block again (for the 3rd time) to find a parking spot so we could all get out and maybe stroll in the gift shop. As I finished up a series of photos, I then noticed the sign...Sundays 2-4 pm. Well you guessed it, it's only Thursday afternoon! I could hardly control the hysteria when I pointed out the sign to Matt and he then parked in a parking spot (the same spot he was parked in the 1st and 2nd circle around). This was going to be a GREAT day I could tell!

Maybe we could stay here, lol, I bet this hotel is a bit pricey!

So off we were, continuing south on the Garden State Parkway. We're cruising a respectable 75 MPH or so when all of a sudden...."Mommy, I gotta go potty NOW, I gotta go potty, I gotta go potty..!" So what is a mother to do? I start looking everywhere to find a toilet, and NOW! Matt thankfully pulled off at the next exit. Of all the exits to find, here we are on the worst exit imaginable. Not a restaurant, gas station, business ANYWHERE--it was all residential. I was almost ready to find a nice looking house and see if they could accommodate us when all of a sudden we started seeing medical offices and treatment centers. I told Matt there has to be a hospital nearby, sure enough it was two blocks away! Works for me, hospitals are public places, right?

Well who knew what was coming next would really get my blood boiling. As Matt was pulling up to the main entrance, I hopped out quick to unbuckle Taylor out of her booster seat in the back. A process that takes, what, at the most 7-10 seconds? Anyhow, I notice behind us an older elderly couple pulled in the drive behind us. As I'm pulling Taylor out, the couple start throwing up their hands and cursing at me because I held them up. OK, this is WAR! A word of advice to the world, never, NEVER get between a mother who is taking care of her child, we will fight to the death for our children! So kind, respectful me proceeds to yell back and throw daggers with my looks and gestures telling them in not so many words that they could "SUCK IT" and if 10 seconds is too much to ask for me to safely carry my child across the drive they should have went in the emergency exit or gotten an ambulance. Needless to say they then zoomed off behind me and around Matt once I crossed the crosswalk. So you'd think someone was dying, right? Turns out they were in such a hurry to get to...the last handicap spot that was at the end of the aisle! Now that makes perfect sense...lets put a mother and child in direct danger in a crosswalk, cursing her for taking care of her child, just so we can snag the close parking spot. WHATEVER!

OK, calming back down. I was still charged from my brush-in with the inconsiderate A-holes when I noticed this hospital has a security check-point to go through if you want to pass beyond the main lobby. Of course, the men's restroom is right in the lobby, but the ladies is just past the security. Very thankfully, security must have thought I was convincing enough playing the part of the distraught mother trying to get a toddler to the potty in time (it also helps Taylor is still chanting her battle cry). The nice gentleman gave me a nod when I walked up and we quickly made our way.

When we finished and made it back outside, I asked Matt where the speed-racers parked. He then filled me in on how they got the spot and are still just sitting there. Here they are, not even handicapped, but just using the spot to wait (I'm assuming) for someone to come out of the hospital. LOL.

So now we are heading South again, all emergencies are taken care of, and we should be arriving on Long Beach Island very soon, but that will have to wait!

Until next time...