Vacation Wrap Up

The vacation week is over and I’m sad. Actually sad might not describe it; it is more of a sense of dread knowing I have to work tomorrow. Monday is tough enough to go back to work under any normal circumstance but it is 100 times worse after a week vacation. Can’t I just win the lottery and not have to work and constantly be going on vacation? Is that too much to ask?

I left off on “Vacation Day Four” which was really the end of the vacation. Friday was a day of rest much like God did on the seventh day. Which brings me to the thought, what did he do after he rested? The bible clearly states he was done his work and rested. I get that, creating a universe is going to take a lot out of you but what did he do after? Didn’t he just complete his work? Isn’t it just rest from there on out? Did he have a day job to get to? Maybe some volunteer work? I digress.

Saturday turned out to be a fun, albeit disappointing day. It started out with me cutting the grass which fortunately wasn’t the fun part. We took the girls to a Sky Blue FC soccer game. For those of you who don’t know Sky Blue is a professional women’s team that plays in the NWSL. It was New Jersey Youth soccer night and we got discounted tickets. The girls brought their jerseys and took part in a parade around the field at half time.

We took our girls to a Sky Blue game last year as well and I love taking them to see women’s professional soccer. Like most sports fan I watch male sports and most of the soccer I watch the British Premier League. I think it is important that they see women playing at the highest level and love the fact they can have sports heroes who are female to look up to. The best part is one of those athletes at the game yesterday they look up to was Alex Morgan, 11873441_10205756974336109_209378161959026402_n  who their daddy really likes to look at. Yes I know that makes me sound incredibly sexist especially while raising three girls but you know what? I don’t care what you think about me, as long as you keep reading and following my blog.

The part that was disappointing was according to the email after the games the player who were in the parade could come on the field afterward and meet the players. However, I think they were overwhelmed by the number of people who came to the game. Their average attendance is like 1,300+ and yesterday they set an attendance record for their team of 5,000 plus. The girls went to the entrance gate to the field hoping to be allowed on.

Unfortunately for them the closest they got was the gate entrance to the field. They got a high five from USWNT member Christie Rampone but most players did a few autographs but none reached them. They were able to snag Aubrey Bledsoe, one of the Sky Blue keepers, autograph. Overall they were very disappointed they didn’t get to meet the players like they thought they would.

One bright spot was Jillian Loyden who is a former USWNT goalie (and does color commentary for the Philadelphia Union) was at the game to give out an award. She happened to be standing near us after the game and the girls got to meet her. She was incredibly sweet and great with the girls. I watched her with other young ladies and was impressed how nice and generous with her time she was. 11899933_10205756975976150_7276438346017648835_n (1)

Sunday was another day of rest. Yes we required more days of rest than God, we are only human. It was a great week of vacation. I’m hoping to take more week vacations with the girls in the years ahead. Sure there were times I wanted to literally just leave them and finish the vacation with just my wife but hey that is what having kids are all about right? Totally wanting to choke them but knowing you will always remember the time you spent together. I would “Ground Hog” this week over and over if I could. 

Vacation Day Four

Thursday’s vacation day was the most ambitious of them all. It had all the elements for train wreck. An early wake up time, a three plus hour car drive, lots of walking and museums. It had been seven years ago B.O. (before Olivia) that we last went to Washington D.C. so even Julia and Mia didn’t have memories of it, making it a good time to go back.

The drive up wasn’t too bad, especially since I wasn’t driving and went in and out of consciousness. Cathy wisely pre-paid for our parking so we didn’t have to worry about that. If you haven’t noticed from my blogs my wife does all the planning for our vacations and pretty much everything we do. If you don’t have a Cathy, I highly recommend you get yourself one.

We first headed to the National Archives which I had never been to before. Being able to see the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights was mind blowing for me, just awe inspiring. For the girls? Not so much. I asked Julia on the ride home if it resonated to her to see those original documents.

She said it was cool but we discovered she hasn’t really had any formal history classes and hasn’t learned about those things. From what I can remember when I was 11 we already had, but I know times and teaching had changed. Regardless my wife and I are determined to continue to force this history down our daughters throats whether they learned about it or not. I will say the archives had a lot of interactive displays which kept our girls entertained and allowed Cathy and I shifts of exploration.

From there it was the Museum of Natural History which is a place the girls really wanted to see, especially Julia. It was a big hit, especially to the wallet because that is where we had lunch. While not as bad and Ellis Island for lunch price wise, it was close. I guess when entrance is free they have to make their money somewhere and they chose the café to do it.

We hit the Museum of American History next and that is where the girls interest started to wane which is unfortunate for me because I was excited for this stop. It can be expected; we were probably four hours into the day, not counting the car ride so tiredness and crankiness was high. How did we counter this predicament? With the most walking we would need to do for the day. We headed out for the Lincoln Memorial and it I had to estimate the walking distance I would put it at “a hell of a lot.”

It probably isn’t really a great distance but all things considered it seemed like it. On the way to the Lincoln Memorial we saw the Washington Monument, War World II Memorial, constant Olivia whining and me threatening Julia, good times all around. We had six o’clock dinner reservations and hopes to hit the Air and Space Museum but fatigue won the day. Instead we headed to the White House and Mia decided one day she will live there. I decided if that happens I will be the guest who doesn’t leave.

We ended the day at Old Ebbitt Grill, a restaurant that pre-dates the Civil War. On our two previous trips Cathy and I wanted to eat there, especially Cathy. Our expectations were high and let me tell you they were met. Dinner was incredible and the service was great. I was surprised how fast they got our food to us and it was a great topper on an overall great day. It was a long day filled with long car rides, a lot of education and of course a good deal of whining but over all a good topper on our vacation.

Vacation Day Three

Wednesday’s vacation day was off to a very slow start. It took us a while to get going, especially myself and Julia. If there is one thing that Julia got from me it is she hates to wake up in the morning. We are both very tough to get out of bed and each not very pleasant once we do. In our defense vacations day one and two were exhausting and tomorrow is going to be a very early start so I think we deserve some leeway.

To tell you the truth I would have been ok not going ahead with our planned beach trip but to my wife’s credit she didn’t allow me to be lazy (I praise her now in order to make up for the shots I take later in the blog) and we pushed through and eventually left. I am glad we went; the water was nice and refreshing while the beach was hot. The girls stayed mostly near the surf while Cathy snapped pictures. Julia and Mia have taken swimming lessons but neither feels very comfortable about ocean swimming. Also, the riptide was pretty bad so I don’t think Cathy and I felt comfortable about them going too far out.

The difference between my girls and me while in the ocean? I grew up with the movie “Jaws,” they didn’t. What does that mean? That there is a little part of me that is expecting a shark attack every time I am in the ocean. It isn’t a fear or doesn’t stop me from swimming in the ocean, I love swimming in the ocean but there is a like a .005% I think a shark will eat a swimmer at any time. 

At Hurricane Harbor the previous day I managed to burn the heck out of myself. I of course take a lot of blame for it because when you are out in the sun for over six hours you probably should put on more than one application of sun screen. And now for that aforementioned shot at my wife, the burning pattern on my body suggested poor application of sun tan lotion. Since she is the one who sprayed it on she has got to take some blame. Did she do it on purpose? Let’s just say I cannot with any confidence say no.

The day on the beach was cut short because the lifeguards spotted lightning. In all we drove about an hour to spend an hour on the beach. If we did a “good time to overall time ratio” it would have scored very high, the girls enjoyed themselves and we had a great time. That was pretty much it for the day since Julia had soccer practice (rained out) and I had my adult indoor soccer game that night. Plus, we had to rest up for the next day, a trip to D.C.

Vacation Day Two

I love waterparks, always have. When I was in my middle school and high school years my brothers and I would take a yearly pilgrimage to Action Park in Vernon New Jersey. For those of you who don’t know Action Park was referred to by the workers at the local hospital has Traction Park due to the large amount of injuries. Not only was it a fun but surviving a trips to Action Park was a badge of honor. The fun you had came with pain. In time I hope to take my daughters there even though it isn’t the as when I went there, but for now went local to Hurricane Harbor.

The last time my wife and I went to Hurricane Harbor she was pregnant with Julia, Julia is 11. So needless to say it has been awhile. Considering my wife was pregnant, my brother, his wife and I didn’t do a lot of the slides; it would have been just cruel. We did spend a lot of time on the lazy river, which is a lot like it sounds, and relaxing ride where you usually sit on a raft and let the current take it.

Fast forward these 11 years and it wasn’t that much different. One reason is because my daughters are mostly too short to do all the rides so we are limited. Julia and I started out on a slide called “King Cobra” but that would be the beginning and end of their slide participation. The rest of the day was lazy rivers, wave pools and other more kid centric attractions.

We had a lot of fun even though I had to spend some time in line by myself to do slides. Hurricane Harbor is similar to the old Action Park with the exception of the fact they seem to want to try and avoid people getting injured. I will probably have to wait until the girls are a little old to really focus on all the water slides; I just hope that I’m not too old to want to do them.

We ended the night with dinner at Red Lobster. I ate too much and we had a lot of laughs to end the night. I was a really good family dinner.  As Olivia said “I like our Vacation so far but it has been exhausting. She is right but it is the good kind of exhausting. Tomorrow we take it a little easy with a beach trip.

Vacation Day One

For the first time in over five years I’m taking a week’s vacation. Not since we took our girls to Disney, when Olivia was only a little over a year old (she is six now) did I take a whole consecutive week off. It is definitely needed, work is stressful and my wife and I decided we needed to have family time for a full week. Before this most of our time traveling together has been for soccer tournaments. Sure we were away from home in a hotel but usually only briefly while we went to games.

Since our goal is to move into a new house by the summer of 2016 we didn’t want to spend big on a vacation. However, we didn’t want to just sit around the house doing nothing. We planned things to do each day with today being the first day. Some people would refer to this as a “Staycation,” those people should be immediately punched in the face.

Day one I went for the first time to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The fact that is the first time is odd considering I have lived in New Jersey since 1986, and have lived within 45 minutes of both. To give it even more of a family feel we invited my Mom or has she is known to the girls, Nana. We picked up Nana and arrived at Liberty State Park in time for our 10 o’clock timed tickets.

I love taking our girls to historical and educational places. Sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that I love to go to historical and educational places as does my wife. Besides that I think it is good to expose our daughters to these kinds of places and damn fine parenting if I do say so myself. The problem of course with educational places, there is a lot of reading and walking. You know what are two things young kids don’t always enjoy doing? reading and walking.

While we walked around the exhibits the girls for the most part were troopers. However their Dad likes to try and read everything but quickly abandoned the strategy knowing the girls were getting bored and cranky. Listen my girls are great students and love to learn, but there is only so much immigration information they are going to sit (or stand) around for. My wife gets major props because she is the one who usually stays with them and sacrifices being able to really enjoy and learn as much as she would like.

Quick tip: Try and eat a HUGH breakfast like a breakfast that almost makes you puke so you aren’t starving at Ellis Island. Why? Lunch cost over $80 for six people. Apparently they want their guests to go through the same hardships the immigrants went through. After finishing Ellis Island we went to the Statue of Liberty.

We only had tickets for the base since going to the crown required reservations three months in advance. Luckily, there was even more walking involved. Olivia had trouble making it up the steps to get to the top of the base but she was able to do it. Being on the base gave us a great view of the New York City (which by the way still isn’t has great as Philadelphia), which was breathtaking. Nana had to take the elevator on the way up and the way down and Mia and Olivia joined her on the trip down.

It was a great day and on the whole the bickering and whining level was very low. Sure I would love there to be none but I would also like to be at least 20 pounds lighter and a hell of a lot richer but I digress. The best part was the girls had a great time and I think whether they realize it or not it was because we were together has a family. Tomorrow’s vacation destination? Hurricane Harbor. I know the girls will not get bored tomorrow.