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November 2017

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Holiday Family Fun at the Delaware Beaches

The weather has finally gotten cooler on Delmarva and it is starting to look a little festive.

One of the hardest things for us to get used to since moving to Delmarva is the winter. We used to live just west of Baltimore and I commuted to south-central Pennsylvania for years. We are used to snow. We are used to getting lots and lots of snow. My kids love snow. I love it, too.

Back in Maryland, it was not unusual to get hammered with 24 inches of snow at a clip. One year we got so much snow that my old Volkswagen was completely buried in the snow. The area we lived in had rolling hills and we only had to drive down to Cape Horn Park to find amazing sledding. I regret not going to Ski Liberty before we moved. May be we will go skiing or tubing this year in the Poconos, or central Pa.

The kids still talk about how much fun we had playing in the snow back in Maryland and how we would huddle near the fireplace in the basement to warm up.

I am getting a little misty-eyed just writing that. My youngest was telling me how much he missed those days as we drove over to Cape Henlopen State Park with our dog to go for a walk this past weekend.

As we drove past the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal, he looked over and spotted a Ferris wheel.

“Hey, I have never been on a Ferris wheel before,” he said.

“No, you haven’t.” I said. “Would you like to go?”

“Yes!”

What Delmarva lacks in snow and mountains it more than makes up for in creative events and holiday experiences. Here are some ideas and must-do activities on Delmarva during the winter.

Winter Wonderfest: The kids and I went last year to the light show at Cape Henlopen State Park. It was nice we could bundle up and listen to Christmas music while we took in the lights. The kids and I did not stop by Cape May-Lewes Ferry last year to check out the holiday village. This year, we will be sure to stop by. They have an ice skating rink and if you are interested, they will even give lessons. They also have the Ferris wheel, a major selling point for the youngest child. Wonderfest opened on November 17th and ends December 31st. The light spectacular costs $15 for cars and $30 for vans. The ice rink is a pretty good deal. It is $8 for skaters 12 years old and younger and $10 for skaters 13 and older. What is really neat about Wonderfest is that all the proceeds are used to benefit local nonprofits. Last year, the group that organizes the event awarded $100,000 worth of grants to local nonprofits. So you can feel pretty good that your $15 for the lights spectacular is getting put to good use. For details: wonderfestde.org

Santa will be there the day after Thanksgiving

Rehoboth Beach Tree Lighting: The tree lighting takes place on Friday, November 24th, at the bandstand in downtown Rehoboth. I have to admit we have never been to the tree lighting before in downtown Rehoboth Beach. But, we love the boardwalk and we will make it a point to go. The ceremony this year features singing by performers from Clear Space Theatre. The singing begins at 6:30 p.m. and the lights on the tree will be flipped on at 7 p.m. Make sure to stop by Santa’s House on the Boardwalk. Santa will be available at his house starting at 4 p.m. the day of the tree lighting. After the tree lighting ceremony, Clear Space Theatre will be performing Miracle on 34th Street. The Rehoboth Beach Holiday Farmer’s Market at Grove Park also will open on Saturday, November 25th, between noon and 3 p.m. Details: beach-fun.com

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Ok. This is up state in Wilmington at The Grand. The show is on Sunday, November 26th, at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. My daughter loves Rudolph. In fact, she has asked Santa to bring her a charm from Rudolph for Christmas, so we may head up state for this one. Tickets are $33 and $47. Details: TheGrandWilmington.org

Miracle on 34th Street at Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth Beach, DE

Carriage Rides & Santa: The Farm Stand at The Givens is offering $5 carriage rides through Millsboro on December 9th, starting at 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Santa will be available between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. This sounds neat. Tickets need to be purchased in advance. Details: The Farmstand at Givens .

Christmas at The Train Station: The Historic Train Station in Georgetown is opening its doors on Saturday, December 9th, to show off its model trains. The event will also feature caroling. It is free. Georgetown, if you have never been, has some beautiful old houses. We will do this. It is free and what kid does not love trains? Husbands seem to like them, too. For details: http://www.georgetowntrainstation.org

These are just a few ideas of what is going on over the holidays on Delmarva. There are plenty more, and I am sure the list will grow. If we are lucky, may be it will even snow.

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Salisbury Zoo: The best small zoo on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

A few months after we moved to Delmarva the warmer weather rolled in and we got to meet our neighbors.

Salisbury Zoo, Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The neighbor behind us brought her daughter by one day to play. As we were standing in the backyard, watching the kids play, she told me about the Salisbury Zoo. It is was just about an hour away from where we live, but well worth the drive. Best of all, she told us, it was free.

Sold. As a mother of three children, I can tell you that I welcome all things free. A trip to the movies to see the latest Disney flick can cost our family about $100 between the price of admission and buttered popcorn. When you have three kids costs add up quick.

I cannot speak enough praises about the zoo. It also has a great playground next door complete with a huge sandbox and castles.

#EasternShoreVA #EasternShoreMaryland
#RehobothBeach
#Lewes

The kiddos had off from school one day so we decided to hop in the road-tested minivan and head out for the Salisbury Zoo. Armed with the GPS on my phone, we had no trouble finding our way. For those of you who would like to do the same here is the address: 755 South Park Drive, Salisbury, MD.

Animals Seen

We passed an Alpaca farm on the way from our house in Delaware. The farm will likely be a future road trip. We made it to the zoo in no time. It was well worth the trip. We paid no admission and we had the park nearly all to ourselves. The fall or spring is a great time to visit the zoo.  We got to see some cool animals, too. The kids got to hang upside down like a loveable slough. We wondered who among the adorable spider monkeys got along. We shouted argh matey to the parrot who lives next to the flamingos. We saw bears and we watched an alpaca eat a pine cone. The zoo is actually getting a new bear from Ecuador. We need to go after he arrives.

Alpacas, Bear and Jaguars also call the zoo home.

We also got to stop by the gift shop and buy a pair of binoculars.

The kids loved the zoo. They could act like explorers and they loved to ham it up taking pictures next to the statues placed throughout the zoo.

Great Day Trip

The Salisbury Zoo is a great day trip, particularly if your kids are sick of the beach and want a diversion. It is small. It is walkable. It is within an hour’s drive of the beaches. Did I mention again that it is free? So is the parking. The tour of the zoo takes about an hour. Next door to the zoo is an awesome playground. The first time we visited the zoo, we did not have time to stop by the playground. On our second visit, we made it a point to check it out. We spent about an hour there as my kids played in the castle and in the giant sandbox. The only thing that could have made it better is if someone had a cart selling pretzels, sodas, and coffee. Hum? Maybe, I should do that.

If You Go

If you plan on going, bring snacks, or better yet, pack a picnic. The concession area was closed both times we visited the zoo. Make sure you bring your camera or your phone. You are going to want to take lots and lots of pictures.

Great, free day trip for kids on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Want more details on the Salisbury Zoo? Click here.

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Hablo Español?

One of the nice things about living on Delmarva is that even though we are at the beach and the area is largely rural,  it has a very diverse feel to it.

Sometimes, I joke that it is  Florida North. It is not uncommon to go to the grocery store and hear people speak Spanish or head to the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach or eat at a restaurant in Lewes and hear Russian or Romanian spoken.

Delaware is a small state, but it still manages to have a very international feel to it.

This is very important to me because I want my kids to grow up knowing that the world is a big place. I want them to experience as much of it as they can. Part of experiencing the world is experiencing the people who live in it. I want them to be able to relate to everybody. I want them to be able to experience other people’s cultures and languages.

The really cool thing about Delaware is that the schools also embrace other cultures. This year, kindergarten students in the district where my kids go to school are learning Spanish along with English. I think that is fantastic. My only regret is that my kids are in the first-grade and third-grades and are missing out on a chance to become fluent in a second language.

I am not giving up, though. Before we moved to Delaware, nearly two years ago, we borrowed some Spanish discs from the library and listened as we drove to school and to the grocery store, etc. The kids loved it. I did, too. We actually learned some Spanish. Granted, we can only say “No, No es un grande coache,” but at least we can say “No, no big car.”

Lewes Library Lewes Delaware

 

I have searched in the library in Lewes and in Milton for the Spanish discs that we used in Maryland, but I couldn’t find it.

I recently bought some discs from a local shop in Rehoboth Beach, but the Spanish is  focused on travel questions and was too fast for us to catch on. So the search continues.

Here are some other options I came up with in case you want to help yourself or your children learn Spanish.

The local library

We love the library. They have everything you need to learn just about anything. If they don’t have what you are looking for they will check other libraries and find it. They sure are nice, and it is all for free. The price of admission is your residency and driver’s license. The libraries at the Delaware beaches offer books for kids in Spanish. So, we will try that. In Sussex County, DE kids can even Dial-A-Story in English or Spanish. To use Dial-A-Story, call (302) 856-3535 or (302) 856-3536. We will give that a try, too.

The library also offers Spanish conversation groups, but the groups do not fit our schedule. Our library also offers online courses. I found one on Babble. It is fun and easy.

Want to learn Spanish? Check your local library, because chances are they either offer some opportunities for you to speak with others or at a minimum, they have books, discs and perhaps even some computer games.

Mass Media

On Delmarva, a large portion of the population speaks Spanish. We have radio stations that are dedicated to Spanish speakers. Sometimes, when I am in my car I will put on the station and just listen. I am finding that I understand some of what is being said. The local television group also has added several Spanish stations to the mix. While I have not watched those stations, I have watched “How I Met Your Mother” in Spanish. It is still funny in any language.

YouTube 

Is there anything better than YouTube? You can learn just about anything from YouTube. When my kids struggled with phonics. We turned to YouTube and found Geraldine the Giraffe. My kids learned phonics and reading became much easier. So, we are going to try something similar for Spanish. I have already found a few channels that we are going to try. I like Spanish for Kids. There are others, but I figure we would start here. It is a little long, though.

Spanish Apps

I have headed over to Google Play and downloaded some free Spanish apps. If your kids are like mine, they love paying with your phone and iPad. So now they can learn some Spanish and I can, too. I downloaded Spanish Solo. It was free. It tells you phrases and it allows you to speak into the app. If you pronounce the lessons correctly it gives you a check. If not, you get an X. My kids are goofs and they will probably go for speaking into the phone.

Spanish Workbooks

Ok, I am a true geek when it comes to books. The more books the better. I found some Spanish coloring books that I believe me kids will like. We love to color and work on art projects, so this is right up our alley. Best of all the coloring books are inexpensive. They are actually cheaper than regular coloring books. I really like Dover Little Activity Books. We will give this a try.

Speak Spanish

With so many Spanish speakers on Delmarva, this one seems obvious. Just say Hola and see if some of the people you meet who speak Spanish will teach you a few words. We are trying this. Little by little we are hoping to build our conversational skills.

If you have any ideas or strategies on how to learn or teach your child a second language, please add your ideas in the comment section.

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