Exploring nature and drinking GIANT SLURPEES!

There’s a great nature trail near our home, which is always good for a mini-adventure on a slow summer’s day.

On our journey today, we stumbled upon a few wonders of nature.   First, we discovered a gorgeous butterfly.

Helen captured this gorgeous photo on her iPhone:

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The trail follows a creek and the path leads to a duck pond, where all sorts of wildlife can be discovered like this little guy:






After our nature trek, we headed to 7-Eleven for the “Bring Your Own Cup Day” in celebration of 50th anniversary of the Slurpee.    We didn’t have the biggest cup, but Robert did manage to overflow a blender!






To end our day, we headed to the nearby reserve for some drone flying, but the boys seemed more interesting in catching a rare Pokemon called a Dragonite.

pokemon dragonite





The Dragonite escaped the boys, but our friend Carter somehow managed to snag it!

Check out the full vlog below and please subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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He almost lost the drone!

We discovered a new spot to fly the Phantom 3 drone at Perkiomen Creek. The park ranger wasn’t sure where we could fly without restriction, so we took a chance in flying over the creek itself. That almost proved costly as we lost contact with the drone at one point. Fortunately, DJI’s drones are pretty smart! The Phantom, nick-named Mayhem 1, began returning to the home base – although it did come pretty close to the trees. We eventually regained control of the drone and continued our flight, which included a close encounter with what looks like a crane or heron.

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Climbing the walls!

In this week’s vlog, we take a trip to the Philadelphia Rock Gym to experience rock climbing. It’s a lot harder than we thought! Great exercise, but some of the courses proved a little too difficult. The instructor, Steve, helped the kids do their best, coaching them every step of the way. I did not do the climb this time around, but maybe next time!

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Ocean City vacation from the beach to the boardwalk

We don’t usually spend our summers at the Jersey Shore, but this year we decided to spend a few days in the family-friendly enclave of Ocean City, New Jersey.

ocean city

The weather during our visit was perfectly pleasant! It was actually cloudy most of the time, BUT that actually made days on the beach cool and relaxing.

We arrived mid-afternoon, staying just a few blocks from the famed boardwalk. It’s a lot of fun strolling the boards and shopping, but the kids had the most fun hitting the amusement rides. We also discovered that seagulls on the boards tend to be a bit on the aggressive side!

We spent most of the first full day riding the waves, which were perfect for boogie boarding. Much of this video was shot using the GoPro Hero 4.

The boys and I went deep sea fishing for the first time, but our adventure did not go as planned. The seas were incredibly rough, and Daniel ended up sea sick. No one caught any big fish either. No one meaning us or anyone else on the boat. The captain said it was the worst day of the season! 🙁

On our final day, we took the drone to the beach early in the morning to get some great photos and videos.

Ocean City, New Jersey is a great beach town filled with fun for the entire family. It’s a perfect destination for your next summer vacation!

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My 2013 Summer Reading List

Much to my surprise, a few people have emailed me asking for my summer reading list.   So I spent some time going through the books that I hope to conquer this summer.   I usually manage to get through most of them, but you never how things go – and sometimes the summer reading list rolls into fall and winter.    There are many books worth reading, but these are my choices, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, new and classics, for this summer along with a brief description and a link to each book on Amazon:

1) 21 by Peter H. Kriendler

The story of New York’s ’21’ Club is the story of American glamour in the twentieth century. In his star-studded memoir, saloonkeeper Peter Kriendler—younger brother of Jack Kriendler, cofounder of ’21’—paints a spellbinding portrait of the club through its early years, its birth as a Greenwich Village speakeasy, its move to midtown during Prohibition, the tough days of the Great Depression, the dazzling Camelot nights, and the swinging go-go years as it became America’s most legendary restaurant and a second home to the most powerful people in business, politics, and entertainment.

Link: http://amzn.com/B009R6HFHO

2) The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: Neil Gaiman’s intent was simple: to write a short story. What he ended up with instead was The Ocean at the of the Lane–his first adult novel since Anansi Boys came out in 2005, and a narrative so thoughtful and thrilling that it’s as difficult to stop reading as it was for Gaiman to stop writing. Forty years ago, our narrator, who was then a seven-year-old boy, unwittingly discovered a neighboring family’s supernatural secret. What happens next is an imaginative romp through otherwordly adventure that could only come from Gaiman’s magical mind. Childhood innocence is tested and transcended as we see what getting between ancient, mystic forces can cost, as well as what can be gained from the power of true friendship. The result is a captivating tale that is equal parts sweet, sad, and spooky. –Robin A. Rothman

Link: http://amzn.com/B009NFHF0Q

3) Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a friend’s copy of Tender Is the Night, “If you liked The Great Gatsby, for God’s sake read this. Gatsby was a tour de force but this is a confession of faith.” Set in the South of France in the decade after World War I, Tender Is the Night is the story of a brilliant and magnetic psychiatrist named Dick Diver; the bewitching, wealthy, and dangerously unstable mental patient, Nicole, who becomes his wife; and the beautiful, harrowing ten-year pas de deux they act out along the border between sanity and madness.

Link: http://amzn.com/B000FC0VBQ

4) Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman

In Ungifted, cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—who was relegated to special education as a child—sets out to show that the way we interpret traditional metrics of intelligence is misguided. Kaufman explores the latest research in genetics and neuroscience, as well as evolutionary, developmental, social, positive, and cognitive psychology, to challenge the conventional wisdom about the childhood predictors of adult success. He reveals that there are many paths to greatness, and argues for a more holistic approach to achievement that takes into account each young person’s personal goals, individual psychology, and developmental trajectory. In so doing, he increases our appreciation for the intelligence and diverse strengths of prodigies, savants, and late bloomers, as well as those with dyslexia, autism, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

Link: http://amzn.com/B00B3M3UME

5) TransAtlantic: A Novel by Colum Mccann

In the National Book Award–winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called “an emotional tour de force.” Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.

Newfoundland, 1919. Two aviators—Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown—set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War.

Dublin, 1845 and ’46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause—despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave.

New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.

These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on. From the loughs of Ireland to the flatlands of Missouri and the windswept coast of Newfoundland, their journeys mirror the progress and shape of history. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.

Link: http://amzn.com/B00ALBR2RW

 6) Post Office by Charles Bukowski

“It began as a mistake.” By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.

Link: http://amzn.com/B000SEGDNG

 7) For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,” For Whom the Bell Tolls. The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. In his portrayal of Jordan’s love for the beautiful Maria and his superb account of El Sordo’s last stand, in his brilliant travesty of La Pasionaria and his unwillingness to believe in blind faith, Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving and wise. “If the function of a writer is to reveal reality,” Maxwell Perkins wrote to Hemingway after reading the manuscript, “no one ever so completely performed it.” Greater in power, broader in scope, and more intensely emotional than any of the author’s previous works, it stands as one of the best war novels of all time.

Link: http://amzn.com/B000FC0OOU





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