A Trip to Jenkinson's Boardwalk

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
If you vacation anywhere along the northern Jersey coast, you are familiar with Jenkinson's Boardwalk, or "Jenks" as it is commonly known in these parts. Jenkinson's dominates the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk with an amusement and arcade area, an aquarium, several food concessions, and a nightclub.

We close out each school year with a trip to the boardwalk. This year, we took a break from Seaside Heights to stay a bit closer to home and go to Jenkinson's. Twice a week, Jenks offers "wristband" days where amusements can be enjoyed for a flat rate for several hours. Since Harper meets height requirements to ride many of the rides without an adult, we went to Jenks last Tuesday for an afternoon of fun. And, by the way, when you purchase wristbands, you are given several coupons for ice cream, chicken nuggets, arcade and boardwalk games. A total bonus!

The most anticipated ride of the day...
And, of course, once is just never enough...

And because they just hadn't had enough tossing around...

Once again, once is never enough...

After the roller coasters, it was time for the rides that go round and round.

Still not sick but ready for more...

Apparently, my children are "too old" for the kiddie rides, but if you've got younger kiddos, there are plenty of fun rides for toddlers. I love the carousel and the train...much more my speed.

If you go, wristband days are Tuesdays from 12-6 pm and Fridays from 6-11 pm. Wristbands cost $15. I highly recommend the wristbands. Tickets can be costly.


Winner - Save 2nd Base T-shirt

Monday, June 27, 2011
CONGRATULATIONS  to Alanna for winning both Save 2nd Base t-shirts!!

Wear them proudly, Alanna!!

Product Review: Phenom Coconut Water Drink

It's summer! For most of us, summer means days spent seaside and poolside. It's also a time when many of us spend more time exercising. Heat and humidity levels are at all-time highs during these months, and it's important to stay hydrated.

Phenom Coconut Water is the perfect solution to your hydration challenges. With electrolytes, multivitamins, and antioxidants, Phenom Coconut Water offers nourishment, replenishment, and hydration. It's available in 4 varieties and 6 delicious flavors.
The Coconut Water Drink is 100% natural, has zero fat, zero cholesterol and zero sugar added and only 45 calories per serving.

I received 3 samples, Blueberry Pomme (Antiox), Acai Peach (Energy), and Pineapple Punch (Mega V), and I was anxious to put them to the test as I have just started a regular exercise program. After an hour-long workout, I drank a serving of the Acai Peach Energy. It was the best sports recovery drink I've had in a long time. Phenom replaces electrolytes lost during workouts and works to bring potassium levels back to normal which plummet when you sweat. Phenom Hydro contains 17 times more potassium than the leading sports hydration drink.

Getting used to the taste and texture of coconut water was an adjustment. It's creamier and smoother than regular water. My favorite flavor was the pineapple punch. Since I like my flavored water to have a touch of sweetness, I added some agave nectar to my Phenom Coconut Water.

Whether you are looking to replace hydration, electrolytes and minerals lost during rigorous workouts, or whether you are looking for a drink for the beach or pool, Phenom Coconut Water is perfect for both occasions. Phenom Coconut Water can be purchased at GNC, in stores and online.

Disclosure: I received 3-16.9 fl. oz. bottles of Phenom Coconut Water to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation to write this product review. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine. To view my full Disclosure Policy, click here.


Family Fun in Atlantic City: Gardner's Basin & AC Aquarium

Saturday, June 25, 2011
Before reading this post, you may want to catch up on our incredibly eventful trip to Atlantic City. Read this post and this one to catch up on the action.

After the IMAX movie, the fun continued at Gardner's Basin, a waterfront attraction that is home to the Atlantic City Aquarium, several restaurants, fishing and boating charters, and quaint shops and boutiques.

Although not the only attraction at Gardener's Basin, the Atlantic City Aquarium is by far the most popular one. By far one of our favorite exhibits at the aquarium is the touch tanks.

There was photo fun!

On the 3rd floor observation deck, a pirate kept a watchful eye on us.

The view was spectacular...

We literally missed the boat, but you can arrange sightseeing tours aboard boats that depart from Gardner's Basin. Several tours are offered including a skyline tour of Atlantic City as well as a dolphin cruise. To arrange a sightseeing cruise,contact Atlantic City Cruises.

After our visit to the aquarium, we spent some time strolling around Gardner's Basin. It's a relaxing, low-key spot to watch the boats and do some people-watching. There are a couple of restaurants at the Basin where you can grab a delicious and reasonable lunch in between attractions. We enjoyed lunch at Scales with other bloggers and their families. The restaurant was very family-friendly and accommodating to large groups.

We ended our visit to Atlantic City with a shopping excursion at the Atlantic City Outlets, a sprawling complex of popular brand name outlet stores and restaurants.

If there was ever measure of how family-friendly a destination is, it is usually found in the reactions of the children. On our ride home, the kids were eager to plan our next trip to Atlantic City. I'd say, that's a pretty good measurement of the amount of fun they had and the family-friendliness of Atlantic City.

For more information and to start planning your trip, visit these resources:

Family Friendly AC

Atlantic City, NJ

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission for myself and my children to the Atlantic City Aquarium and discounted lunch at Scales as part of the blogger event arranged by Family Friendly AC. I was not required to write or compensated for writing this post. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine.

Family Fun in Atlantic City: IMAX at Tropicana Resort

Thursday, June 23, 2011
Before reading this post, you may want to catch up on our incredibly eventful trip to Atlantic City. Read this post and this one to catch up on the action.
On Saturday morning we woke up to foggy skies, but those weren't going to stop us from having fun. After our speedy and efficient checkout, we headed to Temptations Fine Chocolate and Coffee for breakfast. Temptations is located in the food court at Harrah's and offers an array of coffee, specialty coffees, teas, and juices. Plus, you can't have coffee without having a pastry too. Temptations has freshly baked danishes, croissants, donuts, and cupcakes from Crumbs.

After breakfast, we were treated to an IMAX movie, Coral Reef Adventure, at the Tropicana Resort & Casino. Coral Reef Adventure follows the personal quest of underwater filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall to document the imperiled coral reefs of the South Pacific and the worldwide challenge to save them. The film is narrated by Liam Neeson and features songs written and recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash.

If you've never seen an IMAX movie, you are missing out! The imagery is amazing, and this movie was certainly no exception. The underwater shots were incredible, and the imagery of the landscape of the South Pacific was breathtaking. I was able to take a few pics inside the theater.

The cost for an IMAX ticket is $12 and can be purchased online (an additional $4 fee is applied per ticket to online orders). Check the Web site for specific showtimes.

Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to the IMAX movie and a swag bag which included popcorn, IMAX stickers, and coupons.

Family Friendly Atlantic City

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Yes. You read that correctly. Atlantic City, believe it or not, has a family-friendly side to it. And it's quite impressive.

Two weeks ago, the girls and I were invited to an overnight visit in Atlantic City by Karen and Jennifer, the masterminds behind Family Friendly Atlantic City. The goal was to showcase the family friendliness of Atlantic City. I was excited since I hadn't been to AC in years. I know how pathetic that is being that I live an hour from there. But I had never thought of it as a family-friendly city.

If you haven't already done so, you can check out the video of our guest room at Harrah's Resort here.

The gorgeous bathroom...

I won't lie. I was skeptical about the hotel's ability to "wow" my kids. I mean, it is a casino, after all.

But I wasn't disappointed. Prior to our trip we checked out Harrah's Web site. Always good to be prepared prior to going especially when traveling with children. There was a pool. Good! There were restaurants and a food court. Great! There was a coffee shop. Excellent! But wait. The pool was for guest who are 21 and over. What? No pool for the kids? After a few more clicks, I found information on Harrah's Family Fun Center. Perfect! The Family Fun Center features a full arcade complete with slot machines for kids, an indoor family pool and hot tub, an outdoor deck features chaise lounges, rooftop miniature golf, and more. It was pure bliss for the kids.

After some fun at the pool and in the arcade, the kids were starving. Harrah's offers a wide variety of dining options from high end restaurants to a food court. Since the kids were beat from swimming, we headed straight for the food court. We settled on a tossed salad from Sack O' Subs and some Sicilian slices from Walt's Original Primo Pizza. The salad was super fresh, and we were lucky enough to get piping hot slices from a Sicilian pie that was just out of the oven. It definitely hit the spot, but we had saved room for some ice cream and some fun at Ben & Jerry's.

After dessert, it was time to head up to our room on the 19th floor, where we were able to see a spectacular sunset from our window. (Please excuse the reflection of the curtain in the picture).

But before we turned in for the night, Jennifer was kind enough to bring some swag to our room.  I thought the girls would never fall asleep. There were so many great products from great brands. A big thanks to the following sponsors for all the goodies they provided to the attendees:
Pepperidge Farm
Endless Games
PBS Kids
Laurie Berkner Band
Jackrabbit Toys
Putumayo Kids

It was the end of a full day, and we had another full day ahead of us the following day. Karen and Jennifer had prepared an itinerary that was full of fun activities for the kids. So, it was off to bed for us.

Disclosure: We received a complimentary night's stay at Harrah's, free gaming in the Family Fun Center, and complimentary products from the aforementioned sponsors.. I was not required to or compensated for writing this post. All opinions expressed herein are solely mine.


In a Workout Rut? Buy New Workout Gear

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I've been in a workout slump...for quite a while. Even being on the heels of bikini season wasn't enough to motivate me.

I started out the year gung ho on January 1. I was working out every day. Recording my workouts on a calendar, making sure not to miss a day. I was exercising 30 minutes per day. Nothing too overwhelming and nothing that would cause a quick burnout. I was in a zone. Unstoppable. I had finally worked up to running 2 miles every other day. No small feat for me.

And then I was stricken with strep throat. I was down for the count. And I was frustrated. But I vowed to recover and resume my workout routine. Except fate had other plans for me. Those plans were a sinus infection and bronchitis a month after I was infected with strep throat. By the end of March, I had thrown in the towel. I was done. Discouraged.

Between now and then, I had stepped on the treadmill a handful of times, mostly to open the window in front of it. I knew I needed serious motivation and inspiration. I was just waiting for it to happen. The funny thing about exercise is that when you are doing it regularly, you can't be stopped. But one simple stray from the path, and it's incredibly difficult to get back.

And then last week it happened. I noticed some great sales in the Sunday paper advertisements.

The first step to getting back on the exercise wagon was to update my workout gear. I needed new sneakers, and I needed them desperately. I mean, what's more motivation to workout than spending money on sneakers and not using them????

So, I bought these beauts!
The are the Nike Air Alvord 8. They retail for about $70. I had a coupon, so I got them for a steal at $55.

With my sneakers in hand, I headed to Lululemon Athletica for some workout gear.

I bought the Run: Tempo Crop II. I had been wanting a pair of cropped pants like this for quite some time. I wanted fitted ones because they are more runner friendly than the flared ones.

They are perfect for walking, running, yoga, and more. Plus, they are loaded up with Spandex if you know what I mean. ;-) You can pick them up for a fraction of the cost of those above at Target.

But a motivator that ranks high on my list is music. Nothing is better than a new or updated play list to get you in the mood to workout.

Here are some of my recent faves:

"The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga
"Hey Mama" by Mat Kearney
"Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson
"I Was Made For Sunny Days" by The Weepies {This song makes me so happy :) }
"Faster" Matt Nathanson

Whatever kind of music you prefer, create a Workout play list and add your favorite upbeat songs to keep you moving. The music will keep you going through an otherwise boring workout!

I'm happy (and proud) to report that I've been working out regularly since I acquired my new motivation. It's been working like a charm so far. Let's hope it continues.

Do you struggle to stay on the path of exercise? Do you have any tips to offer?


A Favorite Father's Day Memory

Sunday, June 19, 2011
My father was not one for pomp and circumstance on Father's Day. In fact, the less attention on him, the better. My mother, sisters, and I always respected his wishes.

But all bets were off for the Father's Day of 2008. It was my dad's first Father's Day since my mother had passed away the previous July, and my sisters, nieces, and I insisted on making it a memorable one, much to my dad's dismay.

We planned a huge breakfast complete with my dad's favorites. We rallied around him to keep his mind off of the fact that my mother wasn't there to share this day with him. This particular Father's Day was completely out of character. We NEVER did this type of celebration for my dad. He never wanted it and would have none of it. But there was something different about this Father's Day. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but I could tell you that it wasn't just about my mom's not being there. There was more to it than that.

Five weeks after that Father's Day, my dad passed away unexpectedly. After the initial shock wore off, one of the first memories I recalled was that Father's Day breakfast. I can't tell you how grateful I was that we insisted on celebrating my dad's last Father's Day with pomp and circumstance. I know he didn't want the attention, but he needed it. And my sisters and I needed to give it to him.

Each year on Father's Day, I recall my dad's last Father's Day, and I am so thankful that we celebrated it in the manner that we did. It was the last family gathering we had with my dad, and I often wonder if I should've known that his end was near. Three months prior to Father's Day, we celebrated my dad's birthday with a huge seafood feast. Again, a celebration that was atypical for our family. Yet, I wonder if those celebrations should have been a sign to me.

I take great comfort in knowing that both his last birthday and his final Father's Day were spent with his being surrounded by his family. I am comforted knowing that he died knowing exactly how much we all loved him.
This post is dedicated to the memory of my father, Kenneth Coleman.

Wordless Wednesday: Pesky Kitty

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
When I first bought my Pentax almost 2 years ago, the only family member to indulge me in my never-ending quest for the perfect picture was the cat. Yes, that cat sat patiently as I clicked away. As the shutter opened and closed, the cat was always there for me. And he still is to this day...

If you like these photos, you can find more fabulous ones at 5 Minutes for Mom, Wordless Wednesday, Parenting By Dummies, and Project Alicia.

Tuesday's Tasty Treat: Pepperidge Farm Milano Melts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Whenever you are away from home with children (or without), it's always good necessary to have some snacks packed. When we attended the Family Friendly Atlantic City blogger event over the weekend, we didn't pack any back up snacks. But for good reason. We were informed beforehand that Pepperidge Farm had generously donated snacks to the bloggers in attendance.

In addition to bags of goldfish, Pepperidge Farm donated bags of its new cookies, Milano Melts. Milano Melts are similar to their sister cookies, the Milano, but there is one big difference. The rich, velvety, chocolate creme is encased in the cookie rather than spread between two cookies. They are delectable, and can I add that they make a perfect midnight (or anytime) snack? Yum-O!

Many thanks to Pepperidge Farm for saving the day when I woke up at midnight with a chocolate craving!

Disclosure: I received 2 complimentary bags of Milano Melts as part of the swag for the Family Friendly Atlantic City blogger event. I was not required to write or compensated for this post. All opinions expressed herein are strictly mine.

The End of Another School Year

There's a feeling in the air. You can almost smell it. It's the smell of the beginning of summer. It reeks of the end of another year of school. The smell of rambunctious children with dreams of lazy summers permeates the air.

As a parent, this time of year always brings mixed emotions. I'm excited to have my girls home for the summer. I'm anxious to go to the beach, to flush the morning routine down the drain, to stay up late catching fireflies and eating ice cream. But on another hand, I like my free, child-less time. Don't judge. Yes, I am a bit selfish, but who doesn't enjoy free time? It's my quiet time while the girls are at school. It's my time to read, blog, read blogs, exercise, drink iced coffee from Starbucks, listen to MY music, and time to remember who I am apart from my daughters.

This summer, especially, brings a lot of mixed feelings. My youngest will go to Kindergarten in the fall so that means one thing: I will go back to work. This is probably the last summer I will spend with my girls because next summer I'll be working full-time. :( Bittersweet? Yes. This is the last summer for me to linger over coffee and the newspaper in the mornings. It's the last summer to watch the kids frolic in the surf and build sand castles.

I'm sad, but I am going to make the most of it. There is no camp this summer. The girls didn't want to go, and we didn't push it. If this is to be my last summer home with them before I return to work, I want them to be with me. We've got plans to take a few day trips. We've got plans to stay close to home enjoying the beach. There won't be a dull moment, I promise you.

Consider this our big blowout summer!


Our Room at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City

Sunday, June 12, 2011
On Friday, we happily headed to Atlantic City where we were invited to attend a blogger event which showcased the family friendliness of Atlantic City. When I received the invite from Family Friendly Atlantic City, I didn't hesitate for a moment.

The Hubs and I had never taken our children to Atlantic City, and it never occurred to us to do so. We were always thinking the "AC" was a playground for adults only. So when I was given the opportunity to bring my children to Atlantic City, I couldn't refuse. I have to say, not only is it a playground for adults, but it offers plenty of fun for the kiddos too!

We were treated to complimentary accommodations at Harrah's Resort. Rather than go into lengthy detail to describe the posh and fabulous guest rooms, watch this video instead. Judge for yourself.

It was luxurious and functional at the same time. The rooms were spacious and included all the necessary ammenities.

Our stay included several family-friendly activities which I'll highlight in separate posts. Watch this space for more AC fun!!

Disclosure: I received one night's stay complimentary of Harrah's Resort. I was not required or compensated to write this post. All opinions expressed herein are mine.

Summer Makeup Must-Have: CoverGirl NatureLuxe

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
A few months ago, I bought the CoverGirl NatureLuxe foundation, but the color was too light. So, I didn't wear it more than once. I had been meaning to buy a darker color but was waiting for the summer to hit so I could coordinate the foundation with the hint of color that my skin has during the summer months.

As you know, I'm always on the lookout for the makeup sales at Walgreens. Sure enough, this week, CoverGirl products are "Buy 1, Get 2nd 50% off". To top it off, I found a coupon for $5 off 2 NatureLuxe products in Sunday's "Parade" magazine. I was all over it.
The foundation has a hint of jojoba extract and cucumber water. It promises a "barely there" feel and flawless, luxurious coverage. It also offers an SPF of 10. Because I have rosacea, I always have to wear foundation, but in the summer, I like one that is light. This promised to be "barely there", and I must say, it lived up to that promise. It was weightless and silky and offered great and even coverage, which is difficult for a foundation to do on a rosacea face. This time around I chose the Nutmeg (360) and am very pleased with the color. It blends well with the redness that results from rosacea and conceals it effectively.

Since the Walgreens' special included a second product at 50% off, I went with the NatureLuxe Gloss Balm for lips. Big surprise there! You know I love my lipstick! The Gloss Balm has the soft, silky feel of a gloss but offers the exceptional color of a lipstick. Another bonus...it has an SPF of 15.

The NatureLuxe line is perfect for the summer but is definitely suitable for year-round wear. I love the light feel. You won't know you're wearing foundation, but you'll have the color and coverage that you need.

The foundation retails for about $12, and the Gloss Balm retails for about $7.


My Little Graduate

Monday, June 6, 2011
The day finally came...and went. In a flash it was over. I feel like this has been the story of my life for the past 5 years. Time whizzes while I seem to be standing still.

On Friday Harper graduated from preschool. I anticipated the day for months. I psychologically prepared myself for months. And finally, on the eve of her graduation, the reality hit me. My baby is going to Kindergarten next year. She'll be in school 5 days per week for 6+ hours per day. I'm going to miss her...terribly.

I won't deny that, if I could, I'd freeze her growth right this very moment. She's perfect at this age. But as much as I'd like to do that, she'd have none of it. She's excited for Kindergarten. She's excited to ride the bus, to eat in a large cafeteria, to have "library" and "gym". How can I deny her that?

And so, on Friday, she was excited to graduate from preschool, to share a special moment with friends.

Although Harper's over the moon about Kindergarten, she is sad that her bestie will be going to a different elementary school (our town has 2). They will, however, have plenty of play dates to catch up on Kindergarten.

So long preschool. It's been fun. Kindergarten, here we come!

Congratulations to my baby and to all of her friends!


{GIVEAWAY CLOSED} Save 2nd Base T-Shirt Giveaway

Saturday, June 4, 2011
At the start of this year, I decided that one of the goals of Pieces of a Mom was to serve a greater good. I wanted to do more charitable work and to bring attention to causes that were near and dear to me. One of those causes is breast cancer awareness, detection, and prevention.

Both my mother and my mother-in-law were survivors, and so, the cause pulls at my heart strings. And in this day and age, unfortunately, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone whose life hasn't been affected by breast cancer.  I've asked myself over and over again, "When will it end and what can I do to help?" There are so many organizations committed to the fight to end breast cancer. One such organization is Save 2nd Base, a phrase coined by Kelly Rooney who battled breast cancer for four years before losing her battle at the age of 43.

Kelly's battle was a long and courageous one. Her optimism and her sense of humor led her to coin the phrase "Save 2nd Base". It was Kelly's mission to use humor to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. When Kelly designed the original t-shirt for a breast cancer walk, she had no idea that Save 2nd Base would turn into a full-fledged apparel company.

Kelly not only left behind 5 children and a devoted husband, but also a legacy that lives on today through the Kelly Rooney Foundation. The Foundation, founded by Kelly's husband Sean, strives to inspire support, research and eradication of breast cancer in young women by pledging ongoing funds for research surrounding high-risk women under the age of 40.

I couldn't be more pleased to offer 2 lucky readers a Save 2nd Base t-shirt. The t-shits are the signature "Kelly" fitted t-shirts in XL (comfortable fits sizes M-L).

How to enter (mandatory entry):

1) It's simple. Leave a comment and tell me if/how your life has been affected by breast cancer. Be sure to leave your email address in the following format {piecesofamom at gmail dot com} so that I can easily contact you if you are a lucky winner.
For additional entries (strictly optional):

1) "Like" Save 2nd Base on Facebook. Come back here and leave a comment stating so.

2) Follow Save 2nd Base on Twitter. Come back here and leave a comment stating so and include your Twitter handle.

This giveaway will end on Monday, June 13 at 11:59 EDT. 2 winners will be chosen using Random.org. Winners will have 24 hours to respond with their shipping addresses. Otherwise, another winner will be chosen.

Please be sure to visit both The Kelly Rooney Foundation and Save 2nd Base to read Kelly's story of courage and inspiration and to see how her legacy lives on today.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary Save 2nd Base t-shirt to facilitate this giveaway. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.


Holiday Weekend Wrap-up

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I waited months for Memorial Day weekend to roll around. After our horrid winter, I spent hours dreaming of sticking my feet in the warm sand. This weekend my dreams came true.

If you live anywhere near a resort town, you most likely dread holiday weekends in the summer. Swarms of tourists descend on the town and make the population swell by thousands. Normally, I dread Memorial Day weekend for this very reason, but this year was different. I looked forward to the weekend visitors. I was excited to share my beach with out of towners.

On Saturday, I woke to two very anxious little girls, who repeatedly asked, "When are we going to the beach?" So, we packed up the beach gear and headed to Sea Girt beach.

It was an idyllic day at the beach. The surf was calm and the tide was low.

Since the water is still fairly cold (58 deg. F), the girls hung by the surf's edge, playing with their boogie boards.

On Sunday, we went to the races. Literally. We headed to Monmouth Park to watch some horse races. Sundays are Family Fun days at Monmouth Park. There are pony rides, face painting, bouncy houses, and balloons.

On Monday, we woke to pouring down rain. So, it literally rained on the Memorial Day parade. I was thinking it was a good day to relax with the family and tackle a growing To-Do list. But once the sun made it's way through the clouds, the girls had other intentions.

Against my will, I was dragged to the beach along the Manasquan River. It's a small, very contained beach. I used to love it when Harper was younger, but now that she's older and more independent, I prefer the "real" beach, the Atlantic Ocean. But the girls love it, mostly because they can catch sea life such as fish, crabs, and shrimp.

And after all the weekend's activities, I was ready for a little downtime. I kicked back with a good wine and a good book on the Nook.

How did you spend your holiday weekend?