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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Disney Dreamin'--Photo Friday

Now that my son is a bit older...Big S is 4.5...and my daughter is at an age where she loves the Disney Channel...Little S is a little over 2...the Daddy J and I have been thinking about DisneyWorld Orlando. The last time we went to Disney was in 2005. We went twice in one year...once for a wedding and once for a family trip with the in-laws. Both times, During the trip pictured, Big S was only 12 months old and Little S wasn't even a twinkle in our eye! It poured the entire afternoon but we were able to make the best of it by protecting ourselves in restaurants, rides and under the monorail. Oh, we also bought those really cheesy ponchos with a big Mickey head on the back! We are getting excited about the prospect of going to Disney, but Holy Tickets Batman! Has anyone noticed that Disney's ticket prices are at 75 bucks now? Despite the price, I think we might try to make the trip in March or April for a long weekend. If you have any great budget tips for Disneyworld, let me know!

Disney Dreamin'...Dreaming of blue skies and a bright sun!

Big D and Big S and Big me...64 lbs ago...

This is the great park that was down the way from our hotel room...we spent a lot of time there!

Thanks to Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Friday. Check out other great travel Photos here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do you Twitter?

So Twitter is not very new, but it is definitely new to me. I am still trying to figure it all out! @twokidsandamap has been featured alongside other travel twitter users and bloggers in a comprehensive list called TravelTweet Directory at Travel Notes. Check us out under TravelTweeters/United States/Florida tweeters and make sure you stop by some of our fellow twitter users and bloggers!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday--Hotel sign in Innsbruck

Travel Blogger Tuesday

Kim Mance, of Galavanting, has been quite busy the past week or two! Not only does she keep up with the fantastic Galavanting website, but she is also the founder of Travel Blog Exchange. The Travel Blog Exchange is really the first of its kind. It is a meeting place for all things travel! There are message boards and places to blog. Even though it has only been up and running for a short time, the membership has grown exponentially! I was member number 145 on the 2nd or 3rd day! When I became a member, she took the time out of her day to drop me (and all the other new members!) a welcome message that was personalized. Kim Mance also writes for several other places on the Internet -- Marie Claire and the Huffington Post. She is co-host of the Travel Blog Exchange 09 Meetup in Chicago later this year...hopefully I will be able to attend! Some of my favorite articles...

Great US Destinations for a Romantic Weekend -- I was thrilled to see New Orleans on this list. My hubby and I honeymooned there and we return every year or two with the kids. Since Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilding is still continuing but the spirit of New Orleans is still very much alive.

Historic Christmas Markets--Colmar, France
-- This destination was on our Europe vacation list, but unfortunately we didn't have the time to go. It was great being able to see the markets via the blog instead!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

National Naval Aviation Museum

Today was one of those typical gloomy days...rainy, cloudy, and just downright depressing! We decided that we had to get the kids out of the house but we didn't want to spend another day at the mall or Target. We decided to head to the National Naval Aviation Museum on Pensacola NAS. This is a great museum and we have been to it several times. Big S was cracking us up because he kept telling us that he wanted to get in the planes. He remembered the last trip where he got to climb inside the planes.

The Air Museum is great for all ages. There are so many exhibits, an IMAX theater that shows several movies a day, a small restaurant, a flight simulator, and lots of hands-on activities!

We started out the morning by snapping some pictures of the huge "jet plane" out front. Once inside the museum, we were given a schedule of the IMAX movies and then headed to the Cockpit Trainers. This is our favorite section of the museum! Little kids and big adults alike are encouraged to climb into the cockpits of helicopters and planes. The levers and switches still move! While you are pretending to be a pilot, you can hear sounds of fighter jets and cockpit radio transmissions played over a loud speaker. Today, you could also hear my kids counting down, yelling "BLAST OFF" and "bombs away"!

We watched the flight simulator twist and turn. We chose not to pay the extra money to try it out but the kids loved to see it move around.

If you get hungry, the museum has a restaurant called the Cubi Bar. We decided to just run through McDonald's on our way home, but you should still drop in and see the Cubi Bar. The Cubi Bar was a bar in the Philippines. Now the plaques and pictures hang in the museum as not only a restaurant, but also another exhibit.

Free guided tours of the museum and the flight line are offered several times a day. When the Blue Angels are at home, you can go out to the museum early in the morning to watch their amazing morning practice.

After visiting the museum, we took a drive past the Pensacola Lighthouse.

All in all, we had a great time and it was nice to get out of the house on this gloomy day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Photo Friday -- The rooftops of Innsbruck

When we were in Innsbruck, we climbed the Stadtturm (148 steps if I remember correctly!) to see the view of the city. As we walked around the outside of the entire tower, I snapped a bunch of pictures of the city. I was excited about how cool some of them turned out when I was reviewing them at home! The rooftops are absolutely beautiful. Some have gardens on them. Many of them are a gorgeous rust red color.

My favorite rooftop picture!

I spotted our hotel--it is the bright pink looking one!

More roofs!

The Stadtturm (City Tower)

See other travel photos at Delicious Baby!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Royalty in the deep south!

Big things are happening in my hometown! Pensacola is celebrating 450 years! Pensacola was actually America's first European settlement, settled in 1559 by Spanish sailor Don Tristan De Luna. Unfortunately, a hurricane wiped out the settlement so it is not considered the longest constant settlement. To celebrate 450 years, the celebration is big! Everyone has been gearing up for this year long celebration! The highlight of this celebration is a visit from the King and Queen of Spain! They will be visiting February 18 and 19th and there will be several opportunities to see them. Stay tuned!

Also, according to this article, Pensacola was named one of the top ten family friendly vacation spots by Trip Advisor. I tried to locate the actual Trip Advisor article, but was unable to find it. If anyone finds it, please send me the link or post it in comments!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday--Appalachian Trail

Thanks, K, for sharing these pictures of your hiking trip with your hubby and mine! My poor hubby is looking dejected at his choice of food!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Travel Blogger Tuesday

Travels with Children is written by a woman who has plenty of experience...she travels regularly with four children! She writes often about her travels through Minnesota. On Fridays, she writes an article called "Finding More Fun" where she includes links to other articles about family travel. On her holiday road trip, she kept a journal that I tried to tune into on a daily basis even though I was on my own vacation! Some of my favorite articles include:

Hotel Rooms for Big Families
-- I only have two children so I don't have this problem. However, I often think about what it would be like if we had another child. Where would we put him/her and how could we afford to continue to travel? This article reviews the website SixSuitcaseTravel.

Party Time at Famous Dave's -- This restaurant looks like a place my family would love to go! Check out the sparkler sundae!

Flight 93 Crash Site and Memorial near Shanksville, PA
-- A pictorial account of their trip to the crash site. The pictures are incredibly moving and tastefully done.

Wedding Weekends

This weekend I was in a dear friend’s wedding. We had a blast spending the entire weekend preparing for the special day. As I watched M and C walk down the aisle, I reminisced about my fantastic wedding day…it is hard to believe that it was almost nine years ago! M and C’s wedding was absolutely perfect and I am so happy for them. The bridesmaid dresses were a gorgeous color, M’s dress was just right, and the men looked great in their tuxes.

M and C at the rehearsal

Josh and I at the wedding

Bridesmaids all dolled up and ready to walk down the aisle!

Even though you might not be traveling for your wedding, many of your friends and family are spending a lot of money to travel to you! Most of the time, your friends and family will spend more than just the day of your wedding in your hometown. You will be busy with your own plans…let’s admit…it is one of the few times that you can be self-absorbed! Create a visitor goody bag for all everyone who is traveling from out of town.

  1. The first tip I have is to start collecting the below items and information early. Some places limit the number of items you can pick up at one time. Other places might not have enough for you at the time you stop by. By beginning early, you can ensure that you will have a goody bag for everyone.
  2. A month or two before the wedding go to your local tourism office and pick up whatever free items they have! Get lots! Our beach office gives away free plastic bags with the city name on them as well as these little bags to go collect the gorgeous white sand that characterizes our beaches. Use these bags and other items to put together a little goody bag that you can give your guests as they arrive in town. If they offer city maps for free, pick up a bunch of those as well.
  3. Drive around your city and make some stops at the hot tourist spots. Go to museums, amusement parks, bars, restaurants, and malls…all those places that will help entertain your guests while you are busy. Pick up pamphlets at each stop so that you can throw them in the goody bags.
  4. Make a list titled “Top Ten Things to Do in (your city here)” Include a brief description of each place, cost, and the amount of time they might spend. Make a special note of kid-friendly places to visit.
  5. If you live within an hour of some other great tourist spots, make a note of that.
  6. Create a list of emergency numbers. Include the local hospitals and urgent care offices. Decide who will be the contact person for your guests. Make sure that cell and home numbers are included. The contact person should be someone who will not be incredibly busy all weekend (leave the bride’s mother off of this list!). Do you have a close friend who might be willing to be this person?
  7. Include an itinerary of the wedding weekend with a note of who is expected to be at each event. For example, if out of town guests are invited to the rehearsal dinner make a note of that.
  8. If the budget allows, include an already stamped postcard so that your guests can send a little note home.
  9. Purchase or print off a city map (or see number 2!). Make notes on it highlighting the spots that you have told them about. Photocopy a map for everyone.
  10. Plan a few outings that people can sign up for…you are the director of this cruise ship! Meet in a central location and show everyone a little bit of your town!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Photo Friday

While in Europe, my children were most fascinated by checking the sewer drains to see if anything was there and seeing who could spot the "Old McDonald's" (aka MickeyD's) first! They also looked for birds and horses. However, nothing could top the excitement of spying yet another dog and yelling out at the top of their lungs "LOOK MOMMY!!! ANOTHER DOGGY!!! TAKE A PICTURE QUICK!!!!" I give you "The Dogs of Europe"!

Check out some other travel photos at Photo Friday at Delicious Baby!

Pardon our dust, we are remodeling!

For my daily visitors, you will notice that I have made some changes to the blog today! I have been blogging since October and now that I am consistently posting I have decided to make some changes to my blog.

I have been working on a banner for the top of the blog and I am not sure what I will do...I am working on a second one as well. I have also changed the background color no fewer than ten times while trying to decide what I like!

This week, I started Travel Blogger Tuesday. I will feature a different travel blogger each Tuesday. If you have any suggestions let me know!

I have signed up for a Twitter account. You can follow me at @twokidsandamap. Still trying to figure out how the whole Twitter/tweet/stumble/retweet works! Still not sure what all that means! Leave me a note so I know how to follow you as well!

Thanks so much for dropping by and please pardon my dust as I try to figure out where exactly I would like to take this blog...

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 12, 2009

Travel Blogger Tuesday

When I started this blog a few months ago, my main goal was to share my own experiences to show how easy and how important it is to travel with your children. Traveling with children is not as taxing on the brain, body and wallet as some people may think it is. I have discussed my traveling on my family blog since 2007, but I wanted to expand. Once I started this blog, I found that there were so many resources out there. The travel blogging world is bigger than I could have ever imagined! With my participation in Passports with Purpose, I was welcomed into the travel blogging world with open arms even though I had only been travel blogging since October of '08. Travel Blogger Tuesday is my way to say thank you! Each Tuesday, I will be showcasing a travel blogger. As I continue to showcase travel blogs, I will add them to my links on the right side of the blog!

If you have any blog suggestions or are a travel blogger yourself, leave me a comment or send me an email at twokidsandamap at gmail dot com!

Today's showcased travel blogger is Debbie at Delicious Baby. Delicious Baby is the first blog I found about traveling with kids. What a find! Delicious Baby is all about "making travel with kids fun"! There are great travel tips and reviews of products that are useful while traveling. She writes all about her experiences about traveling with her children, as well as showcases other writers and their experiences. You will find comprehensive city guides that include kid-friendly restaurants, hotels, and activities. Delicious Baby moderates Photo Friday, where travelers all around the world post their travel photos once a week.

Some of my favorite articles at Delicious Baby include:

Why Travel?
-- Reasons why you should travel with your kids

Ten Tips for Keeping a Toddler Busy on a Plane -- Our favorite is tip #3!

Phoenix with Kids Day 3: Taliesin West and the Arizona Science Center
-- A funny (well maybe not so funny to Delicious Baby!) account of a plan that went awry...it is nice to read that other people have "must see items" that probably should have been "must see without the toddlers" too! We have all been there, done that...my must see was Schloss Neuschwanstein...what a disaster!!

Check out Delicious Baby here!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

5 Vienna Sights to See with your Kids

While in Vienna, we saw many of the touristy sights and many off the beaten path sights. These are our top 5 favorite places to take your kids while in Vienna, Austria!

1. The Tiergarten Schonbrunn -- Vienna Zoo -- This zoo is considered one of the oldest zoos in the world. It is on the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace, which was built between 1695 and 1713. Much effort was made to keep many of the original buildings so the zoo has an old, fancy feel to it. The kids checked out the animals that were held in buildings that have been around for hundreds of years.

2. The Hofburg Palace -- The Hofburg is a beautiful complex that housed many emperors and is now home to offices, tourist stops and the Lipizzaner Horses. We chose to avoid the tourist stops, like the museums, because the kids were getting rowdy. Instead, we wandered through the square and let the kids run around, chase each other, and laugh until they had tears in their eyes!

3. Spanische Reitschule -- The Spanish Riding School -- When we decided to go to Vienna, I couldn't wait to see these amazing horses. It is hard to believe that these stark white horses are born with dark hair. We knew that our kids would never make it through a full performance of the Lipizzaner Stallions. The morning exercises are held from 10am-12pm several mornings a week. Tickets are only 12 euro and go on sale at 9:30, according to the office. That being said, we were able to purchase our tickets around 9:15 and then we headed back to Hofburg square to kill some time. Even though the practice is two hours long, we only stayed for about 30 minutes. There were only four or five horses that were working out at the time. They do not do the entire performance...this is just a workout! It was just the right amount of time and the kids had a great time watching the horses practice their dancing. It was noisy so it was okay for the kids to talk out and be excited about the "horseys"! You can also walk across the street and see the horses in their stables. There is a glass window so the kids can see them. If you time it right, you can watch the horses walk across the street to their practice!

4. Cafe Demel -- Although I don't recommend actually taking the children into the cafe unless they are able to keep their hands to themselves, I don't think anyone should miss this place! It is full of amazing treats and makes for a perfect place to take a break! There is a very small seating area in the back. We chose to just pick up some Sachertortes (a wonderful chocolate cake covered with apricot jam and then covered in a rich chocolate) and a few chocolate bars for the road.

5. The S-Bahn -- Even if you live in a big city with public transportation, the underground train never gets boring! We could have ridden it all day long with both our kids. They loved navigating around and looking for the right color train!

Friday, January 9, 2009

2008: A Year of Travel in Review

I know that we are already 9 days into 2009 but I wanted to post a few of my favorite travel moments from 2008.

We finished out 2007 in Gatlinburg, TN...

We saw snow in Wyoming...IN THE MIDDLE OF JUNE...

We learned that we will always rent a mini van from now on so that the little ones can see out the windows on road trips...

I found out that my husband had never ridden a horse before...he and kids checked that off their list of "nevers"

and we all rode an ATV for the first time...

We got in as many beach days as we could all over the Gulf Coast...

I celebrated my 30th birthday with my closest friends in Biloxi, MS...

We had a much needed staycation in Destin, FL...

Enjoyed a family reunion in Ashland City, TN

The hubby got to reenact Bill Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods...

I got to live out a childhood fantasy of mine (don't laugh...I quietly sang "I am 16, going on 17" in front of THE gazebo)...

We closed out the year in Europe...

Where will we be adventuring next? Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for a Brazilian Jiu jitsu Camp, Machu Picchu...if we make it to South America, Disneyworld for a magical weekend, St. George for a relaxing time, Italy to see Rome and Venice, Greece if we can swing it and back to Germany to visit family, we would also like to see Chicago or New York...these are just a few ideas we are tossing around...who knows where we might end up!

Any suggestions?

Where will you be traveling this year?