I grew up in a family that traveled extensively and am incredibly fortunate to have lived and visited many exciting and captivating places in the world. Evan and I share this passion together and spent months over our 15 years together traveling.
The details of the trip are pretty simple — 2 days in Maine, 3 days in Boston. While we are content on the beach, especially with a book in hand, we wanted to mix things up to make sure Sophia and Eliza felt occupied. Our flight out was on Thursday afternoon ensuring that we beat the mad weekend rush to all the beaches in Maine and got a head start on
lobster rolls fresh air. Kennebunkport served as our home base in Maine. We visited the Portland Headlight Lighthouse and Portland on one day and made the next day a beach day.
I found an astoundingly small number of recommendations for restaurants and things to do when planning the details of the trip. What I did find and what we discovered ourselves, I am sharing so that others can hopefully benefit.
- You can’t go wrong staying in Kennebunkport. The Bushes, after all, have a huge compound there. It’s scenic, close to both Portsmouth, Portland, and it boasts beautiful beaches and a very family-focused vibe. We stayed in Dock Square which was central to everything and close to the beaches.
- Kennebunport: Alisson’s is great if you’re traveling with kids. The food is simple, but well prepared and locally-sourced. The kids menu lists the very same fried chicken bites and fish and chips but the dishes were obviously made in house. They provide crayons and coloring pages, too.
- Kennebunport: The Clam Shack lives up to its reputation as the best lobster roll in the world. Uncomplicated, fresh, and done just right, the lobster rolls and fried clams are the very definition of a laid back summer. I would consider a trip to Kennebunport just for these.
- Kennebunport: Salt and Honey provides good fresh seafood-heavy options in a laid back setting.
- Kennebunkport: It wouldn’t be a summer trip without a visit to a local ice cream parlor. Rocococo Artisan Ice Cream did not disappoint despite the fact that we live within 5 minutes of world-class parlors and make our own, too. The kids opted for the delicious chocolate and mint chip while Evan and I tried spicy ginger and fragrant guava. Yum.
- Portland: Portland is a must-see if you can tear yourself away from the beach and relaxation. There, you will find Central Provisions which offers inventive dishes that are both delicious and new. I wouldn’t say this is child-friendly in terms of the menu but worth a try with kids who are 5+.
- Portland: The Holy Donut serves up unique flavors of potato donuts. Donuts. Enough said.
- Portsmouth: We were in for huge surprise in terms of atmosphere and food at the Flatbread Company. It doesn’t look all that special and is fairly big which makes one think big, mass-produced, and run of the mill food. Instead, there are flatbreads and pizzas made with organic ingredients and fired in a wood burning oven. There is a big log for people to sit on in front of the oven. The girls loved watching Charlie fire the pizzas and Eliza was ready to stay and apprentice.
Philadelphia is glorious at night time. The street lights twinkle, the skyline is lit up in the most glorious way, and the summertime air feels magical. I knew all of this, of course, but somehow, seem to have forgotten while mired in the minutiae of every day family life. For the first time since becoming parents, Evan and I had our house all to ourselves; The girls went to my parents house for a sleepover and we enjoyed a rare night out.
The sun had set, the street lights shining bright, and while walking down Race street right past Franklin Square we noticed that there was an outdoor screening of an old movie. Everything about that moment was quintessentially Philly, utterly charming, and more than ever before, it felt like home.
Meanwhile my parents played hosts not to just Sophia and Eliza but to my nephew Alex. There was gardening, water games, the playground, books, crafts, a little bit of baking, and chocolate custards at a local establishment. The sleepover, which I had a few trepidations about, was a stellar success and the girls are excited about the next time they’ll have a chance to stay over again.
After a quick jaunt to visit with Evan’s family, we spent the remainder of Sunday enjoying each other’s company and being mad scientists. Sophia has shown a keen interest in science and so she and I worked through a few chemistry and physics experiments. We learned that oil and water are afraid of each other and that heat makes air molecules dance so much they fill balloons with air without any other assistance.
And before the sleepover and the science experiments, there was dance class… and I simply cannot resist this posting this picture.
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The best adventures are the ones that aren’t necessarily planned. We took our little wild ones to see some big and really wild animals at the Philadelphia Zoo. It must be noted that we’re members of the zoo and admission and parking are free for us for the duration of the membership (1 year). The zoo is also a 10 minute ride from our house and yet, somehow, we have managed to omit the zoo from our weekend lineup for all of spring. However this happened, it was remedied on an overcast and fairly cool, albeit, humid summer’s morning.
Not one to overstimulate my children and try to see and do everything, we took it easy and visited only the exhibits the girls wanted to see. We saw the polar bear, the penguins, the reptiles, and the big cats. These were the girls’ choices and I am pleased they led the way. The zoo posts all sorts of factoids about its inhabitants. For example, did you know that orangoutangs make new nests for themselves every day? Not only that, but they also make pillows, mattresses and even blankets from leaves and straw daily. Now that’s cleanliness and room service I can get behind!
Just as the crowds started to get significant, we headed home to peace, quiet, and air conditioning. That evening, we grilled middle eastern chicken kabobs. The kids were invited to Baba and Deda’s house for the better part of the day on Sunday and they’re not ones to turn down an invitation from their grandparents. I hear there was gardening and splashing in the back yard as well as books, games, and activities. All in all a much needed lovely weekend.
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This past weekend was supposed to be amazing. I had grand plans for the three days at home catching up on rest and relaxation. Except that just as Sophia was getting over a stomach bug, Eliza came down with it and Sophia somehow, somewhere picked up the common cold.
My sister hosted a beautiful dinner to celebrate the Fourth of July and we baked a Danish dream cake to accompany our singing her a very Happy Birthday. I took the girls to a woodworking gallery where we ogled chairs which cost $10,000.
And although we would have done just fine, we appreciated all the help my parents lent us this weekend. My Dad came in on Sunday to spend a bit of 1×1 time with Sophia and then, the girls both spent the better part of the day at their house on Monday.
More than the hands-on help or the blintzes and chicken soup, what we got was just what we needed—support. When you’re up in the middle of the night with a baby who is so warm that you’re sweating holding her and are not sure if you should head to the ER, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.
All the reasons we moved back to Philadelphia and our decisions to uproot our life in Maryland are justified each time we see our family.
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Long ago, I dreamed about birthday celebrations with balloons, a colorful cake, and a carousel. I don’t remember what my own birthday celebrations were like when I was young, but the dream I had for myself, Evan and I made a reality for Eliza. Our friends and family came together to celebrate Eliza’s big 2 and enjoy the glorious day that was Saturday. Until recently, Eliza had been very nervous about sitting on a pony while riding a carousel preferring to sit on a bench. That all changed on Saturday probably after she saw how much fun her cousins were having riding the different animals on the carousel.
Some details about the party: we held it at 10 AM to try and beat the heat. We served breakfast and cake/desserts choosing to sing Happy Birthday earlier on so as to not ruin anyone’s appetite for lunch. The venue had a carousel and mini golf providing ample entertainment for kids of all ages. Since the venue was so close to Philadelphia’s chinatown, we served fortune cookies with a custom fortune as our favors and the kids got those and a few other trinkets in a asian take-out container.
Eliza loved her party and Sophia carried off the role of the birthday sister with aplomb. In fact, Sophia has been a supportive birthday sister for a whole week as small celebrations and birthday presents trickled in for Eliza.
We spent the afternoon of the birthday party decompressing from all the festivities with a cold beverage and plenty of presents in hand.
It was hard to beat the excitement and fun of Saturday but we came close with a trip to a local farm tractor ride and all. We picked blueberries, peaches, and even some apricots. The girls loved the outdoors and we’re looking forward to making peach cobbler.