}

Beach Day at Sherwood Island

Family Fun Beach Sunday at Sherwood Island State Park, Westport Connecticut

Beach Day is a staple activity of summer fun.  Back in the day I would just pack a towel, sunglasses a book and sun tan lotion.  As a mom, a fun day in the sun is not as simple, especially when you have young children.  When I leave the house I carry with me a backpack that feels as big as a parachute, but it really is a life saver. For a day at the beach in addition to the basics (food, milk, diapers and wipes) I need to protect my boys against sunburn.  But how do I do that when I hate carrying a lot of things.  So I turned to my trusted sidekick, Amazon Prime!

 

As the mom of a two year old and a soon to be know it all thirteen year old, I have a couple of extra people for whom to pack. My oldest is always ready to go but never has any of the things required (like a towel, actually putting on sunblock and water shoes). For our beach day we chose to visit our neighboring state of Connecticut, Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. A beautiful beach between Sherwood Mill Pond and the Long Island Sound. We like being close to the water so we can which means not a lot of shade unless we bring our own, so I set out to find a sun tent or umbrella, that was affordable, easy to set up, light and compact to carry.  So here’s what I found:

SEMOO Lightweight Beach Shade Tent Sun Shelter with Carry Bag  This tent has four stars on Amazon, but as I read the reviews I was a bit hesitant to get it.  However, a $19.99 price tag and free same day shipping with Prime I figured I’ll give it a try. Now I was hoping to get a video of my efforts to set up the tent, but with a twelve year old watching the two year old, a nine year old girl looking for shark teeth and a husband busy recording other things I was unable to get a helper.  It was a bit windy so the process was a little challenging, still not that difficult. All you need to do is connect together the fragmented poles into two poles that slide through the top of the tent and hook to each of the four corners.  Not as complicated as it may sound, however In hindsight I should have:
1. connected the fragments to form two poles

2. taken out the tent to slide the poles through
3. Hooked the poles at each corner
4. Anchor the tent down


The process should have taken me about 5-7 minutes tops, but since I did not bother looking at the contents of the tent or the instructions until I got to the beach, it felt a lot longer.  Taking the tent down and folding away was less than five minutes and it fit back into my beach bag.

SEMOO Beach Shade Tent
SEMOO tent out the bag

Now the actual tent was quite useful, it provided enough shade for my two year old and for me, considering he would not leave my side for most of the outing (but that’s another issue). Depending on the position of the sun you would have

to place the tent strategically, but it is not difficult to move if you need to reposition it.  If it is windy, you will still need something heavy inside to weigh it down. In my case my mom bag did the trick just fine.  I had purchased an easy to carry mat last summer, as I mentioned I like to pack light and chairs are usually to bulky for me, so I placed the mat in the tent to allow for more leg room and for a sun bathing area. I keep one of these mats in the trunk of my car and another in the shed for backyard fun. I also have a smaller bamboo mat but that was a gift from Thailand and I’ve had it for close to ten years so if you find one like that, jump on it 🙂

Now as far as durability, I only used it once so far but it was used by several tweens throughout the day, a 9 year old and a toddler and it survived.  We shall see how many more uses I get, but for 19.99, free shipping and two day guaranteed delivery, I say it is a steal!.

This was my two year old’s first day at the beach and he was quite excited.  I had purchased a one piece swimsuit from Amazon in Small when he was 9 months to go to the pool which still fits.  The suit ran a bit large on the infant size small 9-12 months but it offered the covering he needed when he was small and it fits perfect this summer.  To be fair, my boy was a preemie and now that he is two he is about 36 lbs.  This suit offers great coverage and he loved wearing it.

Since yellow is his favorite color I also got him yellow water shoes, aqua socks, which came in very handy as he did not want to put his feet on the beach sand (yet he was okay put his hands in it, but who am I to judge).  I also got water shoes for my son who wears a size 8 in men and a pair of aqua wave water shoes for myself, because why not. Now I could have gotten cheaper water shoes had I gone to a local discount store, but I didn’t feel like digging through bins of water shoes trying to find the right size and color so I just figured since I was ordering the tent for our beach outing I might as well add the water shoes.  I did spend some time searching through Amazon for the items to be the right price and to actually ship within two days. This took a little bit of time because I was ordering on Thursday morning and I wanted it guaranteed for Saturday and you don’t know the guaranteed shipping date until check out so I kept having to leave cart

You probably noticed that everything I referred to was purchased from Amazon and you probably think is because of the affiliates links but you would be wrong.  I tend to procrastinate a lot, wait for last minute and often opt to avoid crowds so shopping online is my go to solution.  I constantly look for reviews that seem as honest and sincere as possible, once I noticed that Amazon kept asking me to review and answer questions based on my purchases I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply to the affiliate program and include the products I purchase into my blogs. So while I would rather purchase from local shops, ever since motherhood the shopping experience has changed but I leave that to another blog.

So as I mentioned my husband was unable to help me because he was recording other things, so here’s the evidence.  Enjoy the video of our beach day 🙂 (By the way, he is also a Web Developer so check out his channel if you want to learn how to set up your own WordPress Website).

 

When Life Hands You Lemons…

What’s the deal with lemons? We hear all sort of sayings about life handing you lemons.
When Life Hands you Lemons…
    Make Lemonade
    Keep them, because, Free Lemons
    Throw them back!
    Add some salt, tequila and make margaritas!

It seems life really likes handing out lemons.  So I was thinking, what’s the deal with lemons? Well let’s take a look at these sour punch packing little fruits.  They are rich in vitamin C, potassium and are overall a good healthy fruit choice.  But who would order a tall glass of 100% freshly squeezed lemon juice? I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t.  We always add something to it, water, sugar, honey, tequila.  I love cooking with lemons and with limes, that citrus punch kicks up many delicious dishes. Adding lemons can make something delicious, even sweet.   So the whole motivational lesson is to make something something good when life hands you those metaphorical lemons. You know when those difficult unexpected ridiculous circumstances creep in or just plain fall out of the blue, make the best of it.  But the more I thought it about it didn’t seem quite so simple.  You see, a gallon of lemon takes a lot of extra ingredients to make sweet.  With that said, it seems that when life’s difficulties hit, they don’t just trickle in, they ambush you like a flood.  In those instances making that lemonade takes a lot more than just a spoon full of sugar. And that’s where the challenge lies, not just in making something good or sweet with the lemons but it making sure that they don’t overpower you with bitterness.
Lemons are rich in vitamin c, an immune system booster, that means that it makes you stronger to fight off infections and keep you from getting sick. Very much like difficulties in life can also make us stronger.  Going through difficulties can help you grow, but what you will grow into depends on whether you let that lemon juice make you bitter or better.  There’s a quote that has been attributed to Winston Churchill that says, “if you’re going through hell, keep going!” More often than not, circumstances do not overtake us, we will make it to the other side.  But making sure that we are not bitter, angry and miserable after the journey is one of the biggest challenges.  Not only would that make it more difficult to face future truck loads of lemons along the road (and believe me the lemons keep coming) but it also affect those traveling with you and around you.

When circumstances get hard, let it make you better and not bitter.

Living in the Land of Make Believe?

 

Have you ever found yourself in the Land of Make Believe? Answer this, do you have Dreams or Goals?

Maybe you don’t think the Land of Make Believe really exists.  No, it is NOT a theme park and I’m not talking Neverland or Wonderland.  The Land of Make Believe I am referring to is near the City of Wishful Thinking just north of the town named What If and east of Dream Land.  Sure these places were fun to navigate when we were kids but as we get older remaining in any of these places becomes a dangerous state of mind.  

By now you either clicked away from this nonsensical babbling or are waiting for the point.  Well, I’m talking about those dreams we all have. You know, professional, personal, financial dreams.  When we wish we were our own bosses, dream about hitting the jackpot and all the things we would do or wonder what if we ventured into something new.  Well, it is nice to dream but, if that’s all you are doing then you are taking up permanent residence in one of the locations mentioned above. Even if every so often you end up getting knocked down the dream world by the disappointing hits of the mundane daily routines, you go right back to the same dream world.  No I am not looking to depress you. I’m just saying, there’s something you can do about all those dreams, wishes, and what ifs.  Yes, even the jackpot dream requires an actionable step; buy a ticket! That simple.  I’m not saying you’re going to win but at least you did something about it.  

What I’m getting to is that there’s nothing wrong with dreaming, thinking big, shooting for the stars and all that jazz. But if all you’re doing is wishing and hoping and thinking and praying then you will take permanent residence in the Land of Make Believe never getting anywhere.   So before you pick up your permanent resident card start making plans on how to achieve those dreams, then instead of being dreams they will become goals.  Small steps are better than no steps.  Doesn’t matter if is a long shot; pick a dream and make it a goal by planning a road map to it.  Just small action steps that can get you closer to it.  Write it down, set reminders, put it on a post it note on your mirror or computer screen.  Whatever it takes to get you a little closer.  Seeing that you’re taking those small steps in real life will also make you feel better helping you appreciate the journey.  Because all the realities we face on a daily basis (chores, bills, errands, parent-teacher meetings, and the list goes on) are not meant to be obstacles or setbacks, they are part of the journey that prepare you. All those things are making you stronger, wiser, and building your character so you can be that much better when you get to the goal.

So whatever it is you want to do, start creating a road map to it. Hey, if this election has taught us something it is that ANYTHING is possible.  Now go ahead and get to it! Whatever “it” may be!

New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Goal Setting 20153 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

We are well into January and if you haven’t already flopped your New Year’s resolutions you have probably cheated at least once. So by now you know New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work!  But don’t feel bad, you are not the problem (this is the one time when you’re probably okay with the “it’s not you it’s me” explanation).  The reason is that New Year’s resolutions set you up for failure from the start and here are 3 reasons why:

  1. New Year’s resolutions are made during a high peak emotional season.  It’s New Year’s for goodness sake! The holidays make most people highly emotional. Reminds them of things/people lost, you start thinking of what could or should be, add that financial stress and you have the set up for a perfect storm.
  1. New Year’s resolutions tend to be Extreme!  Because they are created during such emotional times resolutions tend to be set very high without a plan of action.  When there are no visible results it all seems impossible leaving you disappointed.
  1. New Year’s resolutions don’t last.  Once you feel disappointed after not being able to see results to the highly unrealistic expectation you set for yourself you will start to slack off until you drop your resolutions completely as an impossible dream.

So you see, New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time, so don’t make them! HOWEVER – there’s always a but isn’t there?! – instead of making a “New Year’s Resolution” take the time to set goals for yourself for the new year. And no, it is not the same thing.  While the intentions are the same the execution of it is completely different.  I, for one, am a firm believer that the road to hell was paved with good intentions.  While you mean well by setting New Year’s resolutions what you should be doing is waiting after the tumultuous time of the holiday season is over and take a good look at your situation.  Assess where you are, where you were and where you want to be.  This gives you a bit of perspective from a realistic non emotionally charged setting that can lead you to identify action steps to accomplish your goals for the year.  Just as I gave you 3 reasons New Year’s Resolutions do not work, I can give you 3 Ways to Help You Meet Your Goals:

  1. Identify long term and short term goals you want to accomplish. After taking a good look at yourself and what you want list those things you want to accomplish this year and moving forward.  For example: Buying a Home or getting out of debt tend to be long term goals that can take more than a year. While a short term goal can be getting  more exercise.
  1. Set action steps for each goal.  Once you have identified your long term and short term goals, identify specific smaller action steps you can take for each of the goals daily,weekly and/or monthly to get closer to the goal.  So, if your goal is to buy a home, maybe every week you will save a certain amount of money to put towards a down payment.  If your goal is to get more exercise one action step can be walking more or going to the gym once a week.
  1. Make yourself accountable by making your goals visible. Whether you make your goals your desktop wallpaper or you place post-it notes on your mirror, make sure that every week you look at what you’re working towards.  I like putting an index card with my goals and weekly action steps on my mirror, this served as a reminder.  If you have a close trusted friend/partner/spouse they can also help you be accountable by reminding you of your goals when your actions or talk seem to be diverging.  Not only making your goals & action steps visible make you accountable for them but it is also encouraging to see how each of those steps you check off are getting you closer to your

Fear Not!! If you already flopped your New Year’s Resolution, you don’t have to wait until next year to start over.  Now that all the hussle and bussle of the holidays are gone you can take an honest look at yourself and start working towards what you want now. Because just like the movie title remember, Tomorrow Never Comes.  You need to start Today!

 

New York in The Fall: Barton Orchards

Snark World Adventures: Fall in New York

One of my favorite seasons is Fall and lucky for me I live in the best place to enjoy this beautiful season – New York!  Going to Barton Orchards in the fall has become a tradition with family and friends.  There we are able to catch the beautiful fall foliage on the drive up and enjoy a day of fun as we pick apples and pumpkins.

CaughtAtBartonsThanks to my kindred spirit and awesome friend Janet, I was introduced to Barton Orchards about five years ago, and since then it has become one of my fall traditions.  Every year during Columbus weekend I enjoy the beautiful scenic drive from The Bronx to 63 Apple Tree Lane in Poughquag for some apple and pumpkin picking along with great food, awesome fudge and many other fun activities.

My favorite part of going in October is the haunted house, Rotten Core Manor. Every year my son complains as we wait to go into Rotten Core Manor saying he doesn’t want to go because it’s too scary and every year as we exit the haunted house he convincingly exclaims that it wasn’t so scary this time.  In addition to the haunted house there’s plenty of good food to go around.  When you go be sure to pick up some apple cider donuts, while the line can get very long it is absolutely worth the wait.   If you’re a chocolate lover as myself be sure to stock up on their fudge, although this year I waited until the end of the day to get my fix and to my terrible disappointment all the dark chocolate fudge was gone.  So if I may dare make a suggestion I failed to follow, get there at least by 11am (or earlier if you are an early riser) get your donuts and fudge take them to the car and then feel free to lose yourself within acres of land in the company of family and friends.

For the kids – and adults – the corn maze is ears of fun, kids get a themed story and they have clues to find each station as they take CornMazeturns leading the way within the 5-acre maze. A note to parents, be sure to take the flag with you just in case your fearless young leaders get you going in circles and someone ends up needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the journey – don’t ask but it wasn’t me, honest!

RaceTrackAs if you don’t get enough of a workout running around the corn maze there’s a Fun Park complete with giant slides, bouncy houses, baseball and football pitch, pedal kart race track, and more.  Once we’ve made our way from the haunted house, the corn maze and the fun park that’s when we begin apple picking followed by pumpkin picking and ending with the hay ride back to the beginning.  Oh and did I mention there are also barnyard animals, gemstone mining, wood carving, face painting and live music!

One of my goals is to continue to explore and learn more about New York and as I do, I will do my best to share about my experiences through this blog.  But one thing is certain, Barton Orchards is my Columbus weekend destination for years to come. Even the drive through The Bronx River Parkway North to Sprain Brook Parkway North to Taconic State Parkway offers a colorful view of the fall foliage worth taking pictures as you go along – that is if you’re not the one driving.  I particularly enjoy crossing the New Croton Reservoir Bridge with its bright red color in a background of greens, yellow and orange changing leaves.

For more information about visiting Barton Orchards visit their website http://www.bartonorchards.com.
To keep track of the autumnal landscape in New York visit The New York Fall Foliage Report
And of course for more about New York State visit ILoveNY.com

Until the next Snark World Adventure!