Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Central Ohio Staycation - Holiday Inn Express Polaris

If you were to ask Cora what her favorite thing is, there's a good chance her answer would involve a hotel or a hotel swimming pool.  Things to do at a hotel?  Swim, eat granola bars and drink water on the bed.  That's a vacation in her mind.  

So we decided to go on a preschooler's dream vacation last week.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Polaris Thursday night.  We went there for the pool/toddler water park.  

We reserved a 2 bedroom suite with the hopes that sleeping in a separate room from Lily would get her to sleep in a new environment (SPOILER ALERT: nope).  The room had a kitchenette, fold out couch, and desk area in the first room and a bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom in the second room.  

This room passes the toddler test.

The kitchenette had a fridge, microwave, sink (with dishsoap), a roll of paper towels, and disposable plates, cups, and silverware for four.  It had a peninsula that would have been even better if there was a barstool or two.  

The king sized bed that Cora fell out of after I told her to get away from the edge approximately 45 times.

There was that little sitting area in the bedroom as well as that huge empty space next to the bathroom door.  I think that somehow they could have fit a table and chairs in the room somewhere, but it might involve walls being in different places.  

The pool was great for the kids.  I'd say probably 75% of the pool was 3 feet deep or shallower.  There's a good bit that's only 1 1/2 feet deep, which was fine for Lily to explore on her own a bit.  We swam the afternoon we checked in and went back when the pool opened at 8 am the next morning.

The curly slide is only open on certain weekend hours when they have a lifeguard on duty.

This was our original plan.  It was to be a test run for a vacation later this Spring to see if we could get by with a regular hotel room.

These children are liars.  At bedtime, Lily ran around the room like she was being chased.  Scott finally wrestled her into bed in the fold out couch.  Cora and I watched a movie in the bedroom until she got tired.  She fell out of the bed at about 2 am, but I don't think she actually woke up when it happened.

The next morning, we had breakfast downstairs before heading back to the pool.

It doesn't take much to entertain me.  That includes this pancake machine.  
This was a great way to break up the monotony of this terrible winter.  It was much cheaper than going to something like Great Wolf Lodge and my kids are of the age where they didn't know the difference.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Passporter's Walt Disney World Guidebook Review

Do you remember Blues Clues?  I know it isn't on the air anymore (except in reruns), but Steve always had his Handy Dandy Notebook.

When I start planning for Walt Disney World, my handy dandy notebook is the Passporter's Walt Disney World guidebook.  I wish I had heard of it before we went for the first time with Cora back in 2012.  It would have saved us a lot of just wandering around the parks.

At the time, I'd have said that I knew plenty to get by at Walt Disney World from going pretty often during childhood and adolescence.  1.  I didn't know jack - you see they've change things in the 10 years since I'd been there.  2.  Priorities are different when you're going with a toddler and husband vs. when you're a surly teen with your family.

That's what's so great about this book.  Regardless of your experience level with WDW, there's plenty to learn.  Jennifer and Dave Marx and the (hold on let me count) nine other people that make up the team that wrote this guide know their stuff.  And stuff changes every year, therefore the book does too.

Pro Tip:  You don't *have* to buy the souveniers, just get a cute picture.

Want to find out which resort has the pool that your kids would enjoy the most?  Well, that's on pages 27-103.  The resort section also includes resort maps and illustrations of room layouts.  And a million other things, but those are some of the biggies.

Want to know which rides at the Magic Kingdom aren't going to scare your toddler?  Well, start on page 129.  The attractions are color coded by who would best enjoy them.  (COLOR CODED?  Jennifer is a girl after my own nerdy heart)

Speaking of nerdy, when you purchase a book in hard copy, you also get an eReader copy available for immediate download.

If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon, I'd recommend getting a good guidebook first.  It's a $20 investment for a few thousand dollar trip.  It will help you allocate your time and money to get the best bang for your buck.  Oh, and if you listen to the Passporter Mom's Podcast (also on iTunes), Jennifer gives a discount code each week that can be applied to the purchase of your guidebook.  

I received a copy of 2014 Passporter's Walt Disney World from Passporter Travel Press.  The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Mantle - Quick, Easy, and Cheap

Last week, I looked up at the mantle and noticed that it was still sporting a modified Christmas motif.  It's February.  Oops.

I didn't want to go all out decorating it for Valentine's Day, considering the shelf life (GET IT??) would be a couple of weeks at best.

First up, I used the large photo frame that's been on the mantle for as long as I've been decorating it.  I left the red and white chevron wrapping paper on that had been on for Christmas, but added a bit of a quote.  A bit of a Mr. Darcy quote.  If one can't display a little Pride and Prejudice love on Valentine's Day, then when can one?

My next bit of genius was the paper chain heart chain thing across the front.  Easy peasy.  Still completely free, thus far.

In the center, I used some white metal square buckets I bought from Pick Your Plum awhile ago and stuck some old beaded Christmas tree garland inside.  Next to it is a canning jar filled with Valentine candy.  Yep, this is the only thing I bought for the entire mantle.  Three bags of the sour cherry candy cost me a whopping $5.  

On the far right are the candlesticks I found last Fall at Goodwill.  More info on them here.

Last but not least is Marshall the Moose.


Not bad for $5, all of which can be eaten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nerdy Crushes

I was never one of those teen girls that crushed on a celebrity. You know, a guy like uh...umm...Honestly, I was so out of the loop that I can't even name a Tiger Beat-esque pop star/actor from the 90's. Girls liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas I think, but I feel like that was for a younger crowd, right?

That's mostly carried into adulthood. I don't really *get* the entire Ryan Gosling infatuation. Instead, I've got nerd crushes. I fangirl over men that are smart/witty/funny.  Men who aren't really known for their looks, but their minds. I know, I'm rolling my eyes at me too.  Are you really surprised that something pretentious showed up here?

 As of last night, I've seen all of my nerdy guys live.  For bonus points, I've dragged my husband to all four of the shows too.

Alton Brown
Alton Brown's Good Eats show was super nerdy.  Instead of just the "how to" of cooking, he explained the "why."  Alton brought his "Edible Inevitable" show to Ohio yesterday.  I bought the tickets in June.  For a Sunday night.  In February.  For a venue 2 hours from our home, but 30 minutes from Scott's parents' house (babysitting FTW).  We had fourth row seats.  It was awesome.  He made a reference to "Drunk Aunt Sandy" when he explained that she has established that all you need for dinner is a tablescape and vodka.

Highlights from the show include the burping and farting yeast sock puppets (to explain how bread rises), making carbonated ice cream in 10 seconds using a CO2 fire extinguisher, and a mini-lecture on ten truths he's pretty sure of about food (Spoiler alert: chickens don't have fingers).  He also sang super-witty food songs from an upcoming CD.

Alton Brown sings a lullaby about food

Alton is an avid Twitter user, but prefers to tweet in analog format.  And by that I mean he writes things on post-it notes and uploads the photos to Twitter.  Full of snark.  And win.

PS - I found old episodes of Good Eats on Amazon Prime to get my Alton fix now that we don't have the dish anymore.

Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard can walk better in heels than I can.  If it weren't for Bekah, I wouldn't have heard of him.  His jokes are so obscure and nuanced that if I tried to briefly describe one, it just wouldn't work out.  Cake or Death?

Jon Stewart
Do I need to say anything here?  Nope?  Good.

Rick Steves
On our trips to Germany, we (I) ate, slept, and breathed Rick Steves' guidebooks.  Almost every hotel we stayed in came directly from his recommendations for a "Europe through the back door" (REALLY?  You can't come up with a better way to describe this concept?) experience.

You could say he's talked me out of my clothes before.  

He came to Westerville last Spring.  I went as far as to go to the pre-lecture lecture.  He signed a book for me.  Sigh...
He's got a swagger that does not match those glasses.

You see in the imaginary world of "what if I meet my celebrity crush," mine are all guys that I can totally geek out over.  And I like it that way.