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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Travel Blogger Tuesday

Kids Go West is a great little corner of the web where Carolina talks about traveling with her small child. Her blog lists some great tips and ideas for traveling with small children. When I read her blog it makes me feel like we are discussing travel plans over coffee while our kids play in the corner. Some of my favorite posts include:

Today's Tip: Make a Day Trip Tradition -- This is something that my family and I do together. There is so much around or outside of your city to do...you just have to look for it and make a tradition out of it!

Today's Tip: Disneyland During Spring Break -- We didn't make this mistake as rookies, however we did still make the mistake! We hit Disneyworld during spring break and we won't ever do it again. Read why here!

Kids Go West Guide to the Best Campgrounds in California -- We love to camp so if we ever head west, we will definitely give one of these campgrounds a try.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Five Things to do in Washington, DC with Children Under Five

One of our favorite US destinations is our nation's capital, Washington, DC. Any child who has had a class in American history can appreciate or at least tolerate the monuments, museums and memorials even if they complain the whole time. But what do you do with your toddlers? You know the children I am talking about! The ones that are too big to throw in your front carrier, too big to be content sitting in the stroller but too small to be expected to walk quietly all day long through museum after museum with their hands by their sides?!? We have two of them ourselves, so we understand your trip planning issues! These are our five most favorite things to do in Washington DC with kids under the age of five.

National Museum of Natural History -- The toddlers will be captivated the minute they walk through the door and see the gigantic African bull elephant. There is a great discovery room on the first floor. Big S's favorite part-and my least favorite-was petting the Madagascar hissing cockroach. Gross.

Play on the National Mall and Memorial Parks -- Start near the Smithsonian Metro stop and head towards the Washington Monument. Have a picnic in the grass, toss a football, watch a game being played or play tag. After your playtime, walk around the Washington Monument and the World War II Memorial. The kids will enjoy looking at the fountains. If you are feeling energetic, head to the Lincoln Memorial.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum -- See real rocket ships up close! When you get there, stop by the desk and see if there is a story time event while you are visiting. There is a great hands-on discovery section in the "How Things Fly" room. Stop by the gift shop and pick up a package of Space Ice Cream!

National Zoological Park -- This zoo will keep your little ones busy all afternoon. The panda bears are so funny to watch and the kids will be surprised by the Komodo Dragons. We loved watching the seals play and the big cats stalk around. Our son didn't want to leave the elephant house even though it smelled! A note to parents: The website says that the zoo is a "short walk" from the metro. With toddlers in tow, it isn't very far but I wouldn't qualify it as a short walk!

Hop on the Metro -- The metro is our favorite mode of transportation while in DC. We do not have a metro in my city so my kids are always fascinated! From riding the escalator to watching the metro zip by, the children will be entertained for just a few bucks. For added excitement, get off at Dupont Circle. Cross the street to Hello Cupcake and pick out a scrumptious cupcake for just three bucks.

An added bonus? Except for the Metro, everything listed here is free!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My First Guest Article!

When I first started this little bloggy blog, I was really just looking at journaling my travels with my family. Friends always ask me how and why we travel with our children as much as we do. I thought that this blog would be a good way to chronicle our adventures, both in writing and in pictures, as well as serve to show the public that it is easier than you think it is. I have had such an awesome time making online connections with other people in the travel blogging world. I am hoping to attend TBEX '09 and meet many of them. Still trying to iron that out, but we will see. Recently I had the opportunity to write my first guest post on Things You Should Do. I wrote about one of my favorite restaurants, The Atlas Oyster House. Thanks so much to Julie for the opportunity to guest blog. If you have a blog and are looking for a guest blogger, I would love to participate. If you would like to do an article exchange, please let me know!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cherry Blossom Festival--Photo Friday

In honor of this weekend's Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, I am going to show off some of my cherry blossom and Japanese Tulip pictures for Photo Friday. Check out some other great travel photos at Delicious Baby. The Cherry Blossom Festival is great for families! The flowers are absolutely gorgeous and make for a great backdrop for a picnic or family pictures. Some of the festival events that I wish I was up there attending this weekend: The Smithsonian Kite Festival, The Lantern Lighting Ceremony, and the Fireworks Show. If you are in the DC area, make sure that you stop by some of the events and tell me all about it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Travel Blogger Tuesday

I first found The Carey Adventures when I was doing an Internet search for Peru (Imagine my excitement when he commented on my blog the other day!). Daddy J and I have decided that Machu Picchu ranks high on our list of things to do in the near future. Barring extenuating circumstances, we are looking into a trip to Peru for our 10 year anniversary next year. If not, definitely for the 15 year! When I start researching a new place, I love to check out the blogs that have been written about the area. Peter Carey went on a trek to Peru and blogged about it the whole way. I love reading his account of the trip. The story begins here. The Carey Adventures also features a Photo of the Day and many guest photographers. My favorite photograph is titled Glimpse.

A few of my other favorite articles:

Healthy Family Travel Tips #16 Scrapbook Together -- I love to scrapbook both digitally and with the actual paper and pictures. This article showcases the importance of working together as a family after your trip to chronicle your adventures.

7 Tips for Helping Fight Headaches on the Road -- Very important for the traveler! Everyone gets a headache once in awhile so use these tips to help fight or prevent them!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are you preferred?

I am a bargain hunter. I have very few loyalties when it comes to companies. If I have found a great deal with a certain company and was happy with the service, I will certainly check with them first before I start hunting for another deal. But if I don’t find a deal, I will move on. Because of this, I have a hard time racking up the frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and free deals. Recently, I was talking to my mom and she said that she always signs up for the reward programs. Even if she might never stay in that hotel or fly that same airline again, she will still sign up. I decided to take her advice and when I booked a room at a Holiday Inn online a few months ago, I signed up for their Priority Club Rewards Program and didn’t think twice about it.

Fast forward to the trip.

I arrived at the hotel and was greeted pleasantly. They informed me that they had my Priority Club Reward number on file and they handed me all kinds of free stuff! I got a room upgrade because the room that I had booked was not available yet. I also received two breakfast coupons for their diner, one for each day that I was staying there. When I went to breakfast the next morning, I found out that each coupon was for any item on the menu up to 12 dollars total! Wow!

Since I am new to the reward scene, I would love your input. Are you a reward card carrying member? Which rewards have paid off? Which rewards are easy to use? Which rewards have you found difficult to redeem?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Dream of New York -- Photo Friday

A few weeks ago, my sister got to enjoy a wonderful extended weekend in New York City. She got to see a play (Chicago...her favorite!), take the ferry past the Statue of Liberty and wander around Times Square. Just color me green with envy. I am insanely jealous. Really. I mean, look...how can you not be jealous of that view?

New York City is one of my top five places to visit. It ranks up there with the Matterhorn and the Sound of Music Gazebo (cheesy I know!), both of which I have seen. It also ranks up there with the Great Wall of China and Kenya, neither of which I have seen! I have visited or at least driven through just about every state in this grand country! Unfortunately, New York is one of the states I haven't made it to.

I would love to visit New York during Thanksgiving. I want my children to see the Macy's Day Parade balloons. I want to wander down the streets and check out the store windows. I want to walk in Times Square. I want to take my children into FAO Schwarz. I want to see the lighting of the Christmas tree. There are no fewer than 10 musicals that I would love to see on Broadway. I want to see the sights mentioned in all my favorite books. I want to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. My list could go on and on and on! However, I will stop here and share a few of the great pictures from her trip. Thanks, M, for sharing!

The Statue of Libery

New York Skyline

Central Park

The piano from Big...ok...now I am dating myself...I loved that movie!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Andrew's Oaks By the Bay in Panama City, Florida

This weekend we went to visit Daddy J's brother Matt while he was visiting their mom and dad in Panama City. While there, we had a family friend take our family pictures. I take most of the kid's pictures (no more Walmart or Sears for us!), but I didn't want to just set the self timer for these. Adria Peaden at Adria Peaden Photography took our pictures at Oaks by the Bay...you can check out our pictures here. After we took our family pictures, I grabbed my camera and took some pictures of this beautiful park!

There are beautiful trees with all this moss hanging off of them and the flowers were blooming. There is a boardwalk over the dunes that the kids can run out on and it leads out to the water. The Marina is just a few blocks away. You can check out the boats or eat at Pappy's German Restaurant. We didn't eat there, but my hubby definitely wanted to try it. It is a very small restaurant with amazing smells coming out of it! It was packed! There is a beautiful gazebo where many residents have had their wedding ceremonies.

This tree is known by many locals as the "four headed palm tree"....so bizarre looking!

The boardwalk over the dunes heading out towards the water

One of many boat docks that have fallen apart due to old age or hurricane

So many cool angles and shots of boats in the marina

We found this dilapidated, old boat just hanging out in the water. There were a lot of people fishing right by it, so it must be a great hang out for the fish!

Some of the storefronts

Monday, March 16, 2009

Travel Blogger Tuesday

Gary Arndt, of Everything Everywhere, is living my dream (I am sensing a theme here!)! In 2007, he sold his house, packed up his possessions and headed out on a tour around the world. He has traveled to over 50 countries. His Daily Travel Photo is one of my favorite parts about his blog. The pictures are fantastic and have made me add many new places to my own "Places to See" list.

Daily Photo -- This one was taken in Thailand

731 Days Later: My 2 Year Travelversary
-- A reflection of his travels during the past two years

Be sure to check out his Travel Scorecard on the homepage and his comprehensive Travel Blog Directory.

McGuire's St. Patrick's Day Run

McGuire's Irish Pub is one of our favorite places to take friends and family when they come to visit us. There are all things Irish decorating the pub and thousands of dollars hanging from the ceilings. The pub serves up great food...I recommend the Shepherd's Pie. They serve up great beer...I recommend them all but my favorite is the Raspberry Wheat. There is great live entertainment...if you don't participate you will be asked to kiss the moose! There is a bagpipe band and the bagpipers are often found playing in the dining areas. Besides its food and atmosphere, McGuire's Irish Pub is famous for its Annual 5K Race. This year, the 32nd McGuire's St. Patrick Day Run brought out over 9,400 people. It was a sea of green! I wasn't able to go because we were spring breakin' it with family in Panama City Beach but thanks to M, I am able to share these pictures!

A sea of green

The Marines running in formation!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Controlled Burn at Gulf Islands National Seashore

On our way to Panama City this weekend, we saw this humongous cloud of smoke billowing out of the National Seashore. We almost turned around to hit the Interstate because we thought that whatever the smoke was coming from was probably going to keep us from moving through the area quickly. At the last minute, we decided to forge ahead. We soon found out that it was a controlled burn site. Behind the clouds of smoke, you could see the sun trying to shine through.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why I Love Living in Florida

The following pictures were taken on March 8--still in the tail end of winter in most states. It is on days like this that I love living in Florida. In the middle of the winter, it can get colder than you would think and in the dead heat of summer walking out into the humidity can make you feel like you just stepped into a shower with your clothes on. However, in the middle of October when many cities are getting their first sleet or snowfall and at the beginning of March when most people are still trying to dig out of their homes wondering when it is ever going to end, something magical happens on the Gulf Coast.

The weather is absolutely beautiful. Blue skies with puffy clouds. Slight wind. Whitecaps on the waves. Powdery white sand. No jellyfish. When we woke up in the morning, we knew we had to hit the beach. The water was a little cold but it didn't stop the kids from jumping right in. It was such a beautiful day and we can't wait to head to the beach next weekend!

Thanks to Debbie at Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Friday. Check out other great travel photos every Friday!