Archive for the ‘road trip’ Category

Disney Bound

So our Everything Disney road trip has begun. In 22 hours we should be at The House of Mouse (also known as Disney World). If you’re on twitter you can follow along using the hashtag #EverythingDisney.

Celebrities I Met at BlogHer

So it turns out there were a number of celebrities heading out to BlogHer too. Now I’m not really a star seeker but there were some visiting BlogHer that I made an extra effort to meet:

If you’re a gaming family like us then you probably recognize Raving Rabbids. My kids did, though my son asked where his plunger was. Ubisoft had a booth in the exhibit hall and Raving Rabbids was there promoting his new game Raving Rabbids Travel in Time. Now I know my kids are going to start bugging about this.

Earth’s Best also had a booth in the exhibit hall and Elmo was there to promote the Sesame Street line of food. How could I not resist getting a photo with him. That night, while still in NYC, I skyped my three-year-old daughter and held up my camera. She screamed with excitement when she saw it was mom and Elmo together.

Who doesn’t love The Magic School Bus. I received an invitation to attend the Scholastic BlogHer breakfast and Ms. Frizzle was our guide on The Magic School Bus. Okay, maybe it was just a yellow school bus but I’m still young enough to pretend.

After the Scholastic breakfast we were invited to visit the Scholastic’s store, which was amazing. I wish they would open one of these up here; my kids would never want to leave. While at the store, WordGirl showed up (love her). Clifford was also there but I didn’t get close enough to snap a picture with him.

My real excitement was when I heard Elisha Cooper was in the store. I’ve reviewed both Beach and Farm so I was thrilled to meet him. Of course being a real person versus a character I couldn’t bring myself to get a picture with him but he did do two small sketches for me.

The other celebrity attending BlogHer I wanted to meet was Mrs. Potato Head but we just couldn’t connect. My three-year old enjoyed getting mail from her though.

Okay, so they’re not movie stars. Maybe it’s the kid in me but I was still thrilled to meet these guys. And my kids have a new sense of awe about me. That’s got to count for something right?

You’ve Got Mail, From Mrs. Potato Head

There was a lot I wanted to accomplish at my first BlogHer conference this year, I even made a list to help me focus. But I’ll admit there were a few things I wanted to do that weren’t on my list. Actually it was more like a few people I wanted to meet. One such person was Mrs. Potato Head.

Okay, so maybe you’re not that impressed but when I heard that Mrs. Potato Head was going to be hanging out at the Playskool booth at BlogHer I knew I had to meet her. I mean, when’s the next time I’ll get the chance. And imagine pedestal my kids would hold me on, their faces full of awe (okay, maybe only my three-year old). But even I was excited.

Sadly I guess it was never meant to be as we kept missing each other. But all wasn’t lost. The folks at Playskool had some great Potato Head postcards that you could colour and address and they would mail it back home. I didn’t colour mine because I knew my daughter would love to colour it herself.

When the card arrived the other day in the mail my three-year old was beyond ecstatic. She promptly spend the next hour colouring the picture and displaying her work of art (and the note on the back). There’s been a lot of talk about the great swag from BlogHer, the cool items being brought home for moms and their families. I think this postcard arriving from Mrs. Potato Head has been my three-year old’s favourite BlogHer surprise so far.

Top 10 Tuesday: Things I Hope to Accomplish at BlogHer

I can’t believe I leave for New York City this Thursday, off to attend the blogging and social media conference BlogHer for the first time. I am excited but completely stressed also. I’ve actually been pretty busy so I haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on the event (which also means I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for it either). Some blog posts I’ve been reading have helped (like the ones I listed on my Top 10 post last week).

Now with the day so close I’m starting to focus on what I want to get from this event. So for Oh Amanda‘s Top 10 Tuesday blog post I’m putting together a list of the Top 10 Things I Hope I Accomplish at BlogHer.

  1. Eat Well. Yes it’s a conference but we’re talking about New York City. How can you go to New York City and not enjoy the amazing food it has to offer. My husband wants me to check out the restaurants but I’m really interested in trying some of the unique and delicious street food; stuff we can’t get here.
  2. Organize Myself. Thanks to Michele McGraw (@scrappinmichele) for putting the entire BlogHer schedule online so I could import it into my calendar. I now have everything right on my phone for easy access. Hopefully I won’t miss any of the sessions I really want to attend and the parties I’ve RSVP’d for.
  3. Crack out of My Shell. I’m really, really, REALY, going to make an effort to break out of my comfortable shell. It’s safe behind my computer and on twitter but the times I have met people face-to-face have been so rewarding. I don’t want my insecurities and introverted nature to limit me from some great encounters (I think I can, I think I can).
  4. See the Sights. This will be my first trip to New York City (hopefully not my last but who knows when I’ll be back). I know the days and nights will be busy but I want to get out and see some of the sights that New York City is known for. I’m attending Carol Cain‘s (@NYCityMama) New York City bus tour at night so that should be a lot of fun.
  5. Buy Souvenirs. My kids have a collection of iconic souvenirs based on places they have been or my husband has traveled (like the Space Needle from Seattle, the Liberty Bell from Philedelphia). Now’s my chance to add to their collection so I need to get out to get something that is very New York City.
  6. Take Care of Myself. Based on my calendar and the stories I’ve heard from past BlogHer attendees, I need to make a concerted effort to take care of myself during these few days I’m away. That means drinking (besides cocktails), grabbing more than an appitizer to eat and getting a few hours of sleep.
  7. Be Flexible. I know I have a plan about what conferences I want to attend but I need to ensure I don’t let my schedule dictate my entire trip. This may seem like a contradiction to point 2 but I need to ensure I have some flexibility in my day to take advantage of last minute events or meet-and-greats, even if it means a missed event or a late party attendance.
  8. Take Photos. I’m bringing my camera and my flip and my iPhone (which has a built-in camera) so hopefully I’ll remember to take a snap or too of what’s going on, if only to remind myself what I did over those crazy 3 days. More important than taking photos, I need relinquish control of my camera and let someone else take pictures for me, with ME in them.
  9. Skype Goodnight. I’ll admit it, I’m looking forward to getting away, taking a bit of a break from the kids and household responsibilities, of sleeping in a big bed by myself, of having an uninterrupted shower. But that said, I know I will miss my kids. I’m so excited to have discovered Skype earlier this year (yes, a little slow I know), now I’ll be able to say goodnight to my kids face-to-face so to speak.
  10. Take Advantage of Everything. BlogHer will offer so many opportunities to me: learning how to help my personal blog as well as the work I do at EverythingMom, reconnecting with some fabulous ladies I already know, meeting some others I’ve only known online, growing my own confidence and so much more. BlogHer is only a short period of time and I know it will be over before I know it so I hope I can take advantage of everything BlogHer can offer me.

Hopefully having this list will help me to focus when my mind overloads when I get there. If you’re going to BlogHer this year, what’s on your list?

The Friendly Canadian Myth

There’s this rumour going around. It’s not new; it’s been going around for years now. I’m referring to the myth that Canadians are a really friendly group of people, especially to tourists.

If you’ve ever seen the film Canadian Bacon with John Candy (and I might be showing my odd humour but I love this movie), there’s a scene in which John Candy is rushing through a group of Canadians, pushing them down and the Canadians are apologizing, for being in the way! Ha! That wouldn’t happen now. Heck, I don’t know if that would ever have happened.

Obviously that scene is a bit of an exaggeration, as is the whole film, but in my experience Canadians aren’t as friendly as the world perceives us to be.

I’ve just come back from visiting friends in the United States. It’s incredible how different the people are there. In the United States people are more likely to strike up a conversation with you in line (you’ll be lucky to get a smile from a Canadian) and the number of times drivers cut you off, drive in the incorrect lane, don’t let you in or don’t thank you for letting them in, seems to increase as soon as we cross the border, into Canada.

Perhaps it’s the city I live in. Perhaps people are more stressed about finances and job stability. Maybe it’s because I’m in vacation mode and that changes how I interact with people  I’m visiting versus those I work and live and deal with day-to-day.

Whatever the reason, I think unless we as Canadians start living up to our reputation we need to stop perpetrating the myth. Maybe I’m looking at this backwards but I would rather visitors have a lower expectation of Canadians and be pleasantly surprised versus being dreadfully disappointed.

Do you believe friendly Canadians are a reality or myth?

Going on a Trip: Guest Post on NTFFC

With school coming to an end and the warmer, sunnier weather finally upon us, June tends to have our family on the road more. My June book review post on Allie‘s site No Time for Flashcards shares a few books about going on a trip, to help get your kids in the traveling frame of mind. Pop over for a read. And if you have a travel book your kids enjoy I’d love to hear about it.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Things I Plan To Do In Disney World

In case you missed my exuberant tweets yesterday, I just booked our family summer holiday. We’re off to Disney World! This isn’t our first trip to Disney World but even with that said there are a number of things I have yet to do. Perfect for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday post (a meme started by Oh Amanda, here are the 10 things I plan to do in Disney World this summer:

  1. Enjoy a pineapple drink (or two). We’re staying at the Polynesian for the first time but we’ve eaten there before at O’Hana‘s. They have these amazing cocktails that are served in a large hollowed out pineapple. What can I say, I’m a sucker for kitsch.
  2. Enjoy the hotel pool. Every one of the Disney World hotels we’ve stayed at have had great swimming pools but usually we’re so busy running around that we never use them. This trip I want to make sure to enjoy some down time at the pool.
  3. Eat the Kitchen Sink. No I’m not trying to go for a Guinness record or make-up for an iron deficiency by eating a sink. No, I’m talking about a huge ice-cream sundae with sauce 8 scoops of ice-cream, a whole can of whipped cream, cake, cookies, sprinkles and more served in a small sink. You have to see this video to really appreciate it in all it’s glory. I’ve talked about having one every time we’ve gone but have never made it out to the Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Parlour. Hopefully this year will be different.
  4. Go on Splash Mountain. I think we’ve been on every ride at Magic Kingdom at least once. Every ride but one. We’ve never been on Splash Mountain. I’m not sure why really. Maybe the kids didn’t want to get wet. Perhaps it wasn’t that warm out. Maybe the line was too long. Whatever the reason, I think this year we need to hit this ride at least once.
  5. Stay up to watch the fireworks. There are some amazing fireworks shows at Disney World, so I’ve been told. But as is the nature of fireworks, the shows need to run at night. And with 3 young kids who are used to going to bed at 8p.m. without adding all the walking and excitement of a theme park, staying up late has been difficult. If we can’t make it over to the park, perhaps we’ll be able to watch them from the hotel (I think you can see them from the Polynesian).
  6. Eat a Dole Whip (or two). There are many great places to eat at Disney World, besides the restaurants. I love picking up a turkey leg at the cart vendors and fresh fruit is always nice but my favourite snack in Magic Kingdom is the Dole Whip. I am disappointed they’ve altered it with pineapple ice-cream. The original vanilla ice-cream with pineapple sauce was the best. These things are big enough to share too, so my kids have told me every time I’ve bought one.
  7. Try not to push the kids. We’re only down in Disney World for a week. That sounds like a lot of time but considering the amount of things you can do, the week really does go by quickly. In the past we’ve tried to fill our day to the brim with stuff. The only time we were at the hotel would be to change or sleep. I found by the end of the week the kids would be cranky as would I. This year I want to enjoy the parks, but I also want to hang out at the pool or linger over dinner or walk around Downtown Disney or even just hang out in the room and watch some wonderful cable TV. This year I want to add a little relaxing into our vacation. Maybe it will make our week feel longer too.
  8. Eat at a restaurant I haven’t been too before (at least once). After I booked the hotel, making our dinner reservations was the next thing on my list. We have a few favourites that we wanted to secure right away so as to not be disappointed, like O’Hana‘s and dinner with Cinderella. But there are so many other great restaurants Disney World has to offer and we as a family love food. This year I wanted to try at least one new restaurant. I tried to get into Le Cellier but I couldn’t get a dinner spot for the entire week. I guess it is as good as they say. So this year we’re trying Edo in Epcot. My kids love all sorts of food, including Japanese. And when I discovered they cook right in front of you, I thought the kids would really enjoy that too. I still have lunches to fill so maybe I’ll find something new to try then too.
  9. Have a spa treatment. I’m not big on going to the spa but when I have gone for a message or something I really enjoy it and think to myself that I should do that more often. I never do of course. So what a perfect time to treat myself. Maybe a little mud and feather bath a-la Donald Duck or perhaps a cheese rub a-la Mickey or maybe just a good old fashion message.
  10. Get at least a few (good) pictures of me on vacation. I love taking pictures. I don’t go anywhere without my camera and love to capture my kids during holidays, special events or just being kids. But being the picture taker has it’s draw backs, like not being in any of the pictures. If I look back at our past trips there are very few pictures of me. When my kids are grown and looking back at childhood photos, they’re going to wonder if I was ever there. I think I’ll make a consorted effort to turn my camera over to someone else to take a few pictures, be that my husband, the waitress, a stranger or Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers.

Our trip is months away; my list will probably grow and change up to that moment. I’ll keep you posted if I actually achieve everything on my list.

If you were going to Disney World, what would be on your list to do?

iPad Road Trip

t’s funny to read the different opinions when it comes to the Blackberry versus the iPhone as the preferred mobile phone. I’m an iPhone fan; I do everything with it: surfing, email, music, games, grocery shopping list. You get the idea.

So when I heard about Apple’s iPad I had to have. We tried pre-ordering but couldn’t since we’re in Canada and they were only releasing the US version. So my husband suggested a road trip. This would mean standing in line for hours and still not be guaranteed to receive one; especially after reports that Apple didn’t know if they’d have enough iPads to meet in-store pre-order pick-ups. But my husband had already talked to the Apple store in Buffalo; they would have a lot of iPads and he was willing to go over early and stand in line (while we sleep and watch hot cable TV). How could I pass up a mini vacation with the possibly of coming home with one of the first iPads. Buffalo it is.

The original plan was to leave early, EARLY Saturday morning and stay over that night, but we wanted to be home for Easter Sunday and I didn’t even want to think how early EARLY would have to be to get there on time. Instead we left on Good Friday and good thing too. Traffic from the city to the border was heavy and slow.

It took us twice as long as usual to get to the border and the border wait was almost an hour. Thank goodness for electronic fun. The kids had a chance to try out some new DS games from Disney Interactive that we will be reviewing and giving away soon on EverythingMom.

We checked in at the Millennium Hotel and then went out for dinner and some shopping. Tummies full and ready for some cable TV (which we don’t have at home so the kids were really looking forward to it) we headed back to our room only to find out what they gave us wasn’t what I booked. Thankfully with the help of the Millennium Hotel‘s public relations on Twitter, I was able to resolve this.

There were two lines in the mall; one for those who pre-ordered and were just picking up and another for those buying them. My husband was 10th in the buying line when he arrived at 6a.m.(he was photographed with others hanging out in line), but by the time the Apple store opened at 10a.m. he estimated about 400 people in each line. They started to let the pre-order pick-up line in around 9a.m. though the buying line had to wait until the store opened.

Image Source: BuffaloNews.com

My husband said he was surrounded by other Canadians who had made the trek down to get their iPad too. You can see some video from Buffalo News (with my husband peeking). I received a text message from my husband around 10:30 a.m. saying he had the iPads in his hand (he grabbed two).

When he arrived back at the hotel, we had 20 minutes before we had to check-out but that didn’t stop me from opening my iPad to see it for myself. I even drove home with it in my lap even though I could do nothing with it yet.

It’s hard to believe we made the trip; the experience is a blur. I’m still getting use to my iPad, getting it set-up to work with the rest of my macs, but I must admit I love the experience so far.

This post was done on my iPad in the backyard while enjoying the Spring weather.

Why I love shopping in the US

If we’re looking for a little vacation a trip to the US is pretty easy and satisfies everyone. My kids, they love to hang-out in the hotel room, watch cable TV (we don’t have that at home), jump on the beds and just goof off. Me, I like to shop. Yes of course there’s the outlet malls and Target is always on the list, sometimes more than once, but one great shopping venue often overlooked by visitors is the grocery store.

I know, doing the grocery shopping at home can be such a chore, why would I want to hang out in  grocery store on my vacation? Well, here are x reasons why:

Cupcakes and S’Mores Aren’t Just for Dessert Anymore
The US is so large, which means they can support a huge amount of variety that we can’t get in Canada. Cereals are a great example. And our last trip didn’t disappoint. I mean where else can you find Cupcake Pebbles or S’More cereal. Certainly not in Canada, though that’s probably not a bad thing.

Guns and Ammo
I’m not one to eavesdrop on the conversation of others, but if you have kids you know they can be loud. One trip I over heard an excited pre-teen boy talking to his dad:

Son: Oh cool. I want the one that comes in green.
Dad: Don’t get that one. That’s a cheap one. That wouldn’t hurt a fly. Get the larger one.

No they weren’t talking about a toy or piece of sporting equipment; they were talking about a gun, a pellet gun, but a gun none-the-less. No matter how many times I visit the US, the availability and fascination with guns still boggles the mind.

Bread and Beer
Those US folks have convenience down to a science. At home a shopping trip can consist of a stop at the grocery store, another at the liquor store and still another at the beer store. But in the US, a trip to Meijer or Wegman’s and I can get all my shopping down at once: eggs, bacon, diapers, beer, Cupcake Pebbles cereal. Awesome!

Vinyl Comes in Bottles
If our cross-border visit is long enough, I like to bring back beer from some of the independent breweries, like Otter Creek, Blue Moon, Magic Hat. This trip my husband could hardly contain himself when he found Magic Hat’s seasonal Spring Ale on store shelves (Meijers of course). Vinyl. That’s the name of their Spring Ale. Although it has nothing really to do with music, the audiophile side of him couldn’t resist buying all four cases in the store. And since returning home he has also ordered from Magic Hat’s store some original art work on the label design as well as beer glasses and a shirt. But that’s another post.

Shopping Cart TV
Some stores here have shopping carts in the shape of cars or firetrucks or airplanes so kids can pretend to be driving while you shop. My kids love these carts though they are pushing the boundaries on the size restrictions. We discovered the ultimate cart on a recent trip to Meijers. Yes the car was shaped like a car with doors and steering wheel, but it also had a TV. You read that right, a TV right in the kids portion of the cart. I’m sure we looked like goofs all gathered round in the middle of the aisle trying to squeeze our head into the kiddie cab to see the thing. Kids could watch episodes of Dora as we strolled the isles. I’ve never heard them so quiet.

So on your next trip to the States, after you’ve made the required Target and outlet store stops, check-out the grocery store. You’re guaranteed to find something you’ll never see at home. And if you do, I’d love to hear about it, so I know what to look for on my next trip.

Eating at Tonys

There’s something about a road trip that brings out the desire to eat at a roadside eatery. And a road trip to the US always brings with it unique eating experiences. This most recent trip to Michigan was no different.

Tony’s I-75

My husband saw some video on a place called Tony’s in Birch Run, Michigan. So en route to Monroe, Michigan we made a detour (an hour detour) to try this place out. An hour detour you’re wondering, for food? Well Tony’s on I-75 is known for its huge portions. Specifically their BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich).

Yah, it’s pretty big. It’s not the lettuce or the thin tomato slices. It’s the bacon. Deep fried bacon. They say they include more than one pound, but my husband swears there was more.

We probably should have stopped there right? But how can you pass on dessert. Especially when it looks like this:

That’s a banana split with 1 quart of ice-cream (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla), plus sauce, banana, whipped cream and cherries. The thing was larger than my youngest daughter’s head. While we were eating it, the ice-cream toppled over out of the little bowl on to the plate. Now I know why they give you such a large plate.

Well we didn’t finish everything which is probably a good thing, though we did seem to a better job on the ice-cream.

The food wasn’t spectacular, I probably wouldn’t make another stop, but it was a stop we had to make once. We’ve done it and I’m glad we did.

Tony Paco’s

The good thing about eating a big dinner, we were all still hungry come morning. But as lunch rolled around it was time to eat again. This time we visited another Tony, a different Tony, in Toledo, Ohio. We visited Tony Paco‘s, famous for their chili dogs (and mentioned a number of times on M*A*S*H).

I devoured my Double Dog with chili and shredded cheese. Awesome!

Thank goodness there are only two more days to this trip or else I wouldn’t be able to fit in the van for the ride home.