Summer 2013: Highlights, Gifts and Surprises

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The kids in the ocean at Coney Island: Summer 2013

The summer is almost over. It’s hard to believe Labor Day weekend is just two days off in the distance and all I my blog has to show for it is a handful of posts. I had grand plans…

The summer is a meaningful time for me: family birthdays and annual celebrations, my anniversary and, of course, excursions and getaways. Yet every time I meant to sit down and capture it for my blog, I was distracted or something else came up and it no longer seemed timely. But now, dear reader, as summer’s precious moments are coming to a close, it seems all the more necessary to remember the highlights, gifts and surprises of Summer 2013.

Coney Island

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The entry way to Luna Park: Coney Island

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The view of Nathan’s Famous from the boardwalk

Kicking off the summer with beach, classic rides and Nathan’s was just perfection.

First we sunned ourselves on the sand, the kids splashed in the ocean and then we dried off and spent the rest of the afternoon screaming on the bumper cars and roller coasters.

A detour to Nathan’s which included franks and fries refueled us allowed us to continue the fun. Before we got in the car to go back to Manhattan, we had to get some Italian Ices and fried Oreos for the ride.

Vermont
I vacillated quite a bit about where to go on our family vacation–I even talked about it a bit on this blog. In the end we decided to visit family in Vermont. We had a blast, balancing our time relaxing, sight-seeing, enjoying great food and spending time with our family.

Our first full day the girls and boys split up in the morning. We went to the beach, which was within walking distance from the house–and the fellas (all five of them) went to a Lake Monsters baseball game. Later that day we came back together for lunch and dinner.

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Circus Smirkus

The next day we went to see Circus Smirkus–an all-kid circus. I was skeptical, I’ll admit, but it was truly fantastic for the kids and the adults.

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Close up on my Factory Tour ticket

No trip to Vermont is complete without a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, so that’s what we did our last full day.

Not only do you get to tour where the make, package and ship some of the most delicious ice cream made in the USA, but you also get to see a very cute (and informative) video about the founders, you can sample some freshly made ice cream AND there’s the gift shop.  I had to get the trucker hat with the original logo, some bumper stickers and buttons and we also picked up some brownie mix that was off the hook.

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Say Cheese: The Kids pose at Ben and Jerry’s

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Ice Cream and a Trucker Hat are some of our treasures.

The same day we went to Ben and Jerry’s, we also went to American Flatbread in Waitsfield–yes, the same American Flatbread that is sold in Whole Foods.

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The expansive view at American Flatbread20130829-234618.jpgCousins frolicking in the grass at Flatbreads

The Waitsfield location is amazing, it’s virtually on a soccer field, and as we waited for our food the kids ran about exhausting themselves scampering back and forth. The food was as spectacular as the ambiance–hard to imagine, I know.

Surprise Party
As we rode Amtrak back from Vermont, I had no idea what was waiting for me. When you’re preparing for an eight-hour train ride, you don’t do much. Comfort is key. I had on no make-up, Birkenstocks and a sweatshirt pulled over my stretchy, grey romper… and while that may look sweet in the Vermont morning dew, after some travel and then fighting through the Penn Station taxi line notsomuch.

My husband had me open our house door, which wasn’t the norm, but I didn’t think much of it, and in the darkness I saw some outlines… Shadows. My daughter flipped on the lights and then:
“SURPRISE!!”

Friends, family, babies, balloons, smiling faces all there…all for me. And I screamed…and screamed again…and then again. And then I cried into my husband’s chest.

It’s a lovely gift to know you’re loved, which I know… I’ve known for a while. It’s a double blessing (and quite rare, so savor it) when you can see and feel it right in front of you.

A Broader Way Karaoke 
I adore, like ADORE, two things (separating love of people from love of things): theater and karaoke. So you can imagine my delight when I heard Idina Menzel‘s organization for young girls, A Broader Way, was doing a karaoke fund raiser.

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View from the rafters at The Cutting Room for A Broader Way Benefit

As part of my birthday gift, my devoted husband got me a ticket and my aunt–also a theater lover–got herself a ticket. We went on July 22 which was totally perfect, here is an article from Broadway.com about the event.

I had a total blast at The Cutting Room watching MC Whoopi Goldberg, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, Billy Porter and others sing, goof and just have fun together. When they all got on stage and sang Seasons of Love it was awesome–the best part was singing along wasn’t verboten…it’s karaoke!

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Wax museums freak out my husband, but I actually dig them. So when my aunt and her friend called one summer Saturday to say they wanted to go to Madame Tussaud’s in Times Square the kids and I were game!

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A photo collage of our “Celebrity” Sightings

I could tell the kids were shy taking pictures with the figures at first, but once the ice was broken, the walls were down and all bets were off.

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My aunt, the kids and me posing with the Beatles (of course).

The summer is not totally over, we still have a few more days left, and the Labor Day weekend is just upon us. Summer is always the barer of special moments for my family. I’m keenly aware this kind of time is of limited supply and every year, our children meter it out to us in smaller and shorter increments between practices, friends, rehearsals, parties and sleepovers–making it all the more precious.

As I “take stock” of all this, I’m reminded of something my Dad used to always say: Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.

Truer words were never spoken.

Related Posts:
How To Get Away Without Going Away
Summer Birthdays: Remembering My Nanny 
Summer Thank You Gifts: Perfect Pairs
Labor Day Party Hostess Ideas 

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