On vacation at the Hilton Suites Ocean City Oceanfront in Maryland

I’m on vacation with the family this week and we’re back in Ocean City, MD. We were here in September 2005 at the Club Ocean Villas II, at which time the Hilton Suites Ocean City Oceanfront was still being built. We all really liked Ocean City, so we wanted to check it out. I’m a bit wary of trying out a brand new resort so I said we should try to get in for 2007, this way you avoid all the early growing pains.

Like last time, we came down the Garden State Parkway to the end and took the Cape May/Lewes Ferry across. The traffic was very kind to us and we made the drive in great time. The Hilton is situated between 32nd and 33rd Street. Checking in at the hotel was pleasant and uneventful, and our room was ready and waiting for us.

Ocean City, MD, July-August 2007

Here’s the view from our suite, #614. The view is fantastic, looking out over the ocean and the two outdoor pools.

Of course, while this is a vacation for the family, in the evenings I’m busy getting work done. Fortunately, there’s fully wired Ethernet in the suite and wireless networks set up in the lobby area. Out of curiousity, I decided to try a quick speed test to see what kind of bandwidth they’re offering:

My outbound connections are coming from 74-95-78-21-delmarva.hfc.comcastbusiness.net (74.95.78.21). It appears that I’m getting 512 Kbps down, 128 Kbps up–not amazing bandwidth, but totally adequate for teleworking.

It’s still early in the vacation, but unless something goes radically wrong, this is definitely a place I hope to be able to come back to again. It’s definitely a plush, five-star resort and a great way to enjoy the Ocean City beach.

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My father’s key to success: Don’t be too smart

Recently I’ve been recounting some very wise words my father shared with me when I asked him how to be successful. I left this comment on a friend’s (protected) blog entry, but I want to repeat it here for others to read:

Oh, K___ … in a sense, you’re lucky you’re only feeling this way now. I went through the “epiphany of stupidity” when I was a young teenager–realizing that I was smart but lazy and when the smart wears off, you start feeling really dumb and incapable.

The beauty and strength of this situation is that you are actually still very smart but now your goals lie outside the bounds of your natural laziness. Being lazy isn’t necessarily bad: it’s what drives really smart people to innovate.

My father, who didn’t complete a formal education, is one of the more successful people I know. One day, I asked him the secret to success and his answer was:

“Don’t be too smart. Be just stupid enough to not realize you’re failing. Then, just keep doing something until you succeed.”

Wiser words were never spoken.

You are fortunate in that you were and still are an exceptionally bright person. The upside here is that you now have the wisdom of your ignorance: you can now see the dirty spots that need cleaning that you couldn’t see before. Set your mind on a goal and be tenacious and persistent until success comes to you. Your ability to achieve is truly without limit.

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Boy, they sure can fit a lot of words on a page!

Tonight, at bedtime, my daughter Charlie decided to read a chapter out of one of her favorite book series, Phantom Stallion by Terri Farley.

We’ve made reading before bed a ritual with our kids since long before they could even speak. Perhaps its no coincidence, but both Charlie and Suzie are very advanced readers for their age.

Normally, I do the reading at bedtime so the kids can just relax and get ready to doze off, but tonight Charlie wanted to do the reading. As she read through the chapter, she yawned and said, “Boy, they sure can fit a lot of words on a page.”

I could only reply, “Yes, they sure can, sweetie.” My girls constantly amaze me at the depth of their keen observations. I hope they can hold onto their ability to discover things with such ease, and I can remain in awe of them.

Charlie taking ribbons at Troy’s gymkhana last Friday

My oldest daughter Charlie has been riding western-style horseback for the past three and a half years, and she’s been participating in the gymkhana‘s that her teacher, Troy Roberto, organizes. This past Friday, she rode with five other students and she did a fantastic job! Here’s her smiling as she receives her ribbons:

Charlie, with some of her ribbons

Here’s a short clip of her finishing up her pole bending event:

(You’ll need JavaScript and Shockwave Flash to view this video.)

Of course, Suzie finds something fun and creative to do while she cheers her big sister on. She decided to create a fun rock sculpture, which she explained was “a painter artist” which was holding his own palette with small rock arms.

Suzie, creating her painter rock sculpture

I’m so proud of my girls!

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All the foam bubbles your heart desires …

My sister-in-law and my niece are visiting from England for the next two weeks. The temperature got up into the high 90’s today, so after my girls got home from school, we set up the bubble foam machine and sent the girls outside in their bathing suits for a little cooling off. Here’s a picture that was taken to record the event:

In the backyard, playing with bubble foam

They had a blast. Afterwards, we hosed them off and they played in the yard. Eventually, we decided to let them have a quick jump in the pool, then we headed inside.

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If you work from home, where do you take your kids?

Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work day, April 26, 2007

It’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work day today, April 26, 2007.  It’s a great idea, but what if you’re like me, working 100% telecommute, from home?

Me: “Come here, kids, let me show you the home office!”

Kids: “Yes, Dad, we’ve seen it plenty of times.  All you do is sit in there in front of the computer.”

I guess this is an aspect about working in an office that I do miss, sometimes.

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The kids at Medieval Times, in Lyndhurst NJ

Charlie and Suzie with their champion, the black and white Knight, at Medieval Times

This past Sunday we took the kids to Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, NJ.
They had good fun watching the show. Charlie, naturally, was focused on
watching the horses and Suzie enjoyed the battles.

Children’s Advil is tasty; Cherry Tootsie-Pops taste like medicine

My older daughter, Charlie, is quite finicky about her medicine and the way it tastes. Ever since she was a baby, the family rule was the grown-up administering the medicine had to taste it first to see how awful it was before giving it to our daughter. Let me tell you, lots of children’s liquid suspension medicine tastes like rat poison. (If rat poison doesn’t taste like this, it ought to, because it’d sure kill a rat.)

This morning, my daughter had woken up with a temperature and had vomited a little, but was fine for most of the day. However, but at bedtime after her bath she felt a bit warm, so I gave my daughter some Children’s Advil before bed. She took a look at the cup and saw it was purple (which usually means grape flavored, which she likes) and said, “I think I’ve had this before and I think I like it.” She took a small sip, nodded approvingly, and downed the rest. Like testing a fine wine, she’s quite the connoisseur. I have to agree with her, those flavor scientists at Advil got the formula right: all children’s liquid suspension medicine ought to taste like this stuff.

My younger daughter, Suzie, on the other hand, is absolutely indiscriminate about the taste of medicine. Hell, she asks for the stuff like it’s candy and we have to keep reminding her that, “If you take medicine when you’re not sick, it won’t work as well when you really are sick.” Tonight, the kids had a bit of candy for dessert after supper, and Suzie ended up with a “cherry” flavored Tootsie-Pop. I put “cherry” in scare quotes because that death-on-a-stick doesn’t taste like any cherry I’ve ever tasted. I knew I was right when Suzie, after taking a few licks of the thing, pulls it out of her mouth and says, “Daddy, this tastes like medicine!” Of course, she went on licking the thing some more, but right away I knew that she’d gotten a “cherry” flavored candy. She quickly gave up trying to eat the thing (smart girl!) and went on to the Valentine’s Day red, pink and white M&M’s she had in front of her. Luckily, those things actually taste like chocolate. 🙂

Increasing the Cuteness Factor of this blog

Here’s a cheap attempt at increasing the Cuteness Factor of this blog. My daughters love to play on our computers — no surprise, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Yesterday, my younger daughter Suzie was playing on the computer and yawning, since it was close to her nap time. I told her, “After you’re done playing, you’re going upstairs for a nap.” A short while later, I noticed she was very quiet and sitting still, so I leaned over from my desk and took a peek and this is what I saw:

Suzie sleeping, 2006-02-15, #1Suzie sleeping, 2006-02-15, #2

I can just hear the collective, “Awwww, that’s so cute.” I’ve often fallen asleep in my chair at the computer, but never as cutely as she did. She’s just a born natural, you know?

Tags:
family,
kids,
sleep,
cute

How was my day? It was Unbelieva-Bill! I mean, we went to Unbelieva-Bills.

Yesterday, the kids had off from school and I had off of work. (Thanks, Martin Luther King, Jr.) We got together with some friends and decided to take the kids out for a play-date. In the winter, it’s typical to go to indoor playgrounds to let the kids run around, since it’s too unfriendly to do play outdoors after a wind and ice storm like we had this past Sunday. Our friends had recently been to a new place we’d never been to called Unbelieva-Bills, so we wanted to try it out. I can’t figure out when they opened for business, but based on what little information I could find, it looks like they’ve been open since mid-2004. The owner, William (Bill) Dubiel has been Unbelieva-Bill for some 25 years as a professional magician, though. I’m surprised that it took a year and a half for us to even find out about this place — needs some better marketing, perhaps? The website has the necessary information but the presentation could definitely use some work.

The entrance to Unbelieva-Bills in Waldwick, NJ.

The picture to the right shows the innocuous little entrance to the gi-normous yellow cinderblock building. I mean, the building is huge, some 21,000 sq. ft. large and two stories tall! What’s strange is that I expected to see “Unbelieva-Bills” above the blue awning, or at least some kind of signage saying what this monstrous building was to the casual passer-by, but there wasn’t one. Luckily, we knew that the place was at 140 Hopper Ave., in Waldwick, NJ, off Wyckoff Ave. next to the Waldwick middle and high schools.

The Enchanted Kingdom play area at Unbelieva-Bills in Waldwick, NJ.

Once inside the place, you see the Enchanted Kingdom playset (see picture to the right). There’s an admission fee for hildren to play on it: the “Kingdom Pass Only” cost us $9.95 per child regardless of age, so we paid for both our five year old and our two year old. They do have a special discounted “Infant/Parent” pass but it’s not clear what age qualifies as an infant. Needless to say, this place isn’t cheap. They do entertainment shows, temporary tattoos, kiddie bowling and a sports simulation video game, and Laser Tag, but all of these things are extra costs on top of the $9.95 Kingdom Pass, unless you buy one of the more expensive admission passes. I’m sorry, for a 5 and a 2 year old, $10 had better buy enough entertainment for three hours. Sorry, Bill.

I would, however, like to take the kids there to see one of the live show performances, though. But, again, $6 per child for the 20 minute Wizardo’s Workshop Magic Show is steep. I’ll probably give it a try once to see if it’s worth the money, at least. Considering Bill’s long experience as a professional performer, I suspect the show’s going to be excellent. I really like live entertainment for the kids, especially if it’s interactive. Of course, you can’t really tell much about the show from the website, unfortunately.

One nice thing about the place is I believe I saw Bill walking around, helping out in the Hocus Pocus Pantry area where we sat and ate lunch. It’s a good sign that the owner’s around, watching what’s going on and personally involved in the business’s success. Maybe I’ll say “hi” and introduce myself next time I’m there with the kids — that wouldn’t be too strange, would it? Oh, and speaking of the food, it was better than I would have expected for fast food at a children’s indoor entertainment place. I had two grilled cheese sandwiches, my wife had a cheeseburger, my older daughter had chicken fingers, my younger daughter had a grilled cheese sandwich and we all shared some nachos with cheese. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the healthiest of meals but the food was fast, hot and tasty. The price for food wasn’t outrageous, either, which really surprised me. I definitely won’t mind taking the kids there to play at lunch time, that’s for sure.

Oh, another nice consideration: the bathrooms have step-stools at the sinks for the kids to step up on! You can’t believe the number of times I have to pick each of them up and hold them hovering by the sink so they can wash their hands after using the bathroom when I take them out to places. Argh! Well, at Unbelieva-Bills, they’ve done the right thing and solved that problems. Thank you!

Unbelieva-Bills

Facility Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday-Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 10am – 5pm.

Telephone Number:
(201) 824-5891

Street Address:
140 Hopper Avenue
Waldwick, NJ 07463

If you have any questions, leave them here in the comments or email me. If you’ve been to Unbelieva-Bills and want to share your experience, leave a comment here or email me, too.