Home Sweet Home…

We are home!  Actually we’ve been home for two days now but I’ve been so busy getting settled that I’m just getting a chance to write a post now.

This last trip was one of our busiest, non-stop vacations ever.  It was also a very emotional vacation too.

As you know, we started our vacation in Hershey PA, then we headed to Cincinnati OH and wrapped it up with an unexpected detour to Canada – 2 weeks has never felt so long.

Tonight I want to write about Hershey…specifically Chocolate World .

Chocolate World is located right next to Hershey Park and offers various attractions to see, all of them revolve around…you guessed it – Chocolate!

Most of the attractions cost money but prices for each are fairly reasonable and they offer packages that give little discounts.  All the attractions end with a taste of chocolate because after all what kind of world would Chocolate World be if you didn’t actually get to try the chocolate!

Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour is free – I think we can all agree that free is good!

It’s a little ride that explains how Hershey makes their chocolate and it’s super cute.  It has singing cows, a roasting oven you ride through and the scent of chocolate permeating the warm air, while a catchy tune plays in the background.

Yes, I’m singing it right now as I write this…

“It’s the milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…

Hershey’s Milk chocolate…moo, moo, moo…”

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At the end of the ride as you exit they give you a fun size chocolate bar to eat.  If you go when it’s not busy like we did, they let you stay on the ride, but if your children are as cunning as mine they will politely refuse, claiming they don’t mind getting back in line.  They weren’t fooling anyone!

We also did the Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar.  That was surprisingly fun and really interesting, even kept the Monkey attention…most of the time.  All three children took it really seriously.

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First we were given hair nets and aprons because it’s a factory atmosphere.  Everyone has to wear them or you aren’t allowed to go in.  They had both adult and children’s size.

The children designed their chocolate bars by selecting various options like white, dark or milk chocolate and sprinkles, butter crisps, pretzels and many other fillings, on a computer screen.  Then we watched as the bars were created going down the assemble line.

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Then as the bars went through the cooler we went into a side room and created the covers for the tin box that the bars were going to be placed in.

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It was around this time the Monkey started to get restless – after all, there’s only so long chocolate needs to cool!  One of our tour guides was kind enough to distract him with her hard hat and that was all it took!

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The kids loved the tin box with their custom packaging.  They were very proud of themselves.

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We also took in the Hershey’s Great Chocolate Mystery in 4D movie which was also really entertaining.  They even personalized our experience by letting us text info to them so they could add it into the beginning of the movie.  The Professor, Princess and Monkey were completely caught off guard when Hershey Milk Chocolate (the character) singled them out and began talking to them.  Apparently I was the only one who knew how to text.  They were even more surprised when it turned into a conversation!  And of course, there was chocolate handed out at the end.

Chocolate World also offers chocolate tasting classes and trolley tours but we were pretty chocolated out by that point.  We just barely managed to drag ourselves back to the shuttle bus and spill out onto our stop.

It was the end of the Chocolate World for us!

Bath Maine and Mae’s Cafe…

We’re just finishing up day 5 of our Maine vacation and it’s been full of adventures so far – some good and some not so good – mostly good.

It’s been hot!  It’s been very, very hot!   So having access to a pool has been wonderful!  The kids are really enjoying all the swimming.

Thankfully mornings and evening are rather cool, so we are able to enjoy them without the oppressive heat beating down on us.

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A lot of mornings have been spent like this while I watch on, sipping my coffee and reading emails.  It’s very relaxing!

This morning, after the usual routine of coffee outside we decided to go out for breakfast.  We’ve been eyeing a little restaurant called Mae’s Cafe and Bakery ever since we arrived and today seemed like the perfect day to try it out.

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If you find yourself in Bath, Maine…do yourself a little favour and have breakfast there!   It’s in an old Victorian house and the atmosphere is so quaint.  We sat on the front porch for our meal and the cool breeze was a wonderful welcome!  It’s like going to your favourite Aunt’s house for breakfast…if your Aunt happens to be the best cook ever!

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I had the Long Reach Egg’s Benedict – Lobster, Gouda and Avacado!  I can’t even begin to explain the flavour harmony that took place in my mouth.  Thankfully there were two eggs involved otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had much left after I shared with Daddy and my three baby birds!

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The Princess had a Cinnamon Bun that was almost as big as her face!  Mae’s also sell something that is called a Mae’s Bar and after tasting one I quickly realized Mae has been to Canada – it was a delicious Nanaimo Bar!

All you Canadians know what that is!

After breakfast we took a walk downtown which is a small little street filled with lots of touristy stores.

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This one was my favourite and I ended up buying some gifts to take home to my loved ones.  It was beautiful inside…the colours and textures were gorgeous and my artsy side was enveloped with inspiration!

After some shopping we made our way down to the waterfront and loved the Adirondack chairs they had in lieu of benches.

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Seriously, how cute is that!?

By the time we had accomplished all of that we were tired, sweaty and full and unanimously wanted to head back for a swim.

I quickly ran into a little toy store we had visited earlier and bought the Monkey a snake stuffy he had fallen in love with.  He was so pleased as it slithered up onto his lap in his car seat.

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After wrapping it around his legs and arms he drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

Roughing it…

We’ve been camping for a week now…it’s been wonderful, even if it’s rained a lot.

Something we don’t mind since we’re not in a tent.

The kids have had fun watching movies, reading books, playing with blocks and wii during the particularly rainy times.

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On the nicer days we went for walks, enjoying the fresh air.

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The kids were on the hunt for the perfect walking stick.  Even the Monkey wanted one and would use it along side of his stroller.

They weren’t the only ones who were attracted to the sticks.

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Jack found himself a stick and walked around with it everywhere like he was smoking a cigar.

Daddy kept doing Edward G. Robinson voice overs for him.  It definitely suits him!

As much as I enjoyed our time at Wompatuck, I’m so glad to be at a campground with full hook ups now.

I have definitely become accustom to the RV.  Even with 2 ovens, 2 fridges and 3 stove tops it still feels like roughing it when we don’t have 30amp and and have to rely solely on our tank capacities.

I was so happy to have a nice hot shower in my own bathroom when we got here and the kids were pretty excited to have the playground and pool.

With all our appliances we’ve managed to have some really nice meals.  The Little Professor has been cooking up a storm for us!

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The other night we had homemade soup and freshly baked bread.

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He even did the dishes for us that night with a little help with from his sister.

It involved a lot of eye rolling at first, but they did a great job.

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It’s been wonderful getting away for while.  We all seem to thrive a little bit more when we’re on the road.  The closer quarters presents the perfect atmosphere for spending good, quality time together and we all really enjoy it!

RV Show 2013

This is our 5th year going to the RV show and we love it!  Even the Professor and the Princess get excited as the day gets closer and this year the little Monkey joined in the fun.  He loved going through the RV’s trying out different seats and claiming beds as his own.

Even though we were not in the market for a new trailer this year, we still enjoyed checking out all the different RV’s.  It’s interesting to see the different types, the layouts and the new features.  There truly is an RV for every person.

For those who like luxury, there were plenty of options to choose from…

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Big kitchens.

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Modern sophistication.

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Big screen TV’s and fireplaces.

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Skylights.

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Comfortable beds.

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Washer – Dryer hook ups.

For those who might like or need something a little smaller…

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Small but has everything necessary.

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A hard top pop up.  Reminds me of a ski chalet.

And for those who want the most minimal camper experience!

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I personally thought this one was the coolest camper ever and I’m not the only one.

They even have it written on the camper itself.

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The show was as great as ever.  If you’ve never been, I recommend checking it out.  Especially if you’re looking to buy an RV.

Disney Quest

Today was the day when I realized we were just not going to be able to do everything we had planned to on this trip.  We’ve been pushing ourselves past our limits up until this point hoping to achieve all our goals.  We have walked miles and miles daily.  We have blisters, and sniffles, sore feet and sun burns.  We have woken up early and stayed up late at night just so we could eat dinner while watching fireworks.  However, the thing about Disney World is that we could stay here for a whole year and still not be able to see all it has to offer.

One thing we did get to do, which actually wasn’t on our list was Disney Quest.  Since we added the Water Park Fun and More option to our tickets we were able to check out the Disney Quest.  We were so focused on the “Water Park” part of it, that we really didn’t look into the other parts to it.

I think Disney Quest is probably one of the most misunderstood and under estimated part of Walt Disney World!  I myself had always thought the ticket just covered the entry fee to the virtual park.  I had it in my head that once we got through the gate we would then have to dole out tons of money for tokens just to play a game or two.  Boy, was I ever wrong!  I was more than pleasantly surprised at all the “Free Play”s blinking on the numerous game screens.  Being gamers, Daddy and I of course spawned three little gamers in training who ran from game to game shooting dinosaurs and racing motorcycles!

Since this was a Disney arcade, the games were not your average games.  Disney does things on a whole other level.  Disney’s big or go home attitude was evident in Disney Quest.  The first game we played was a river rafting ride.  The Little Professor and the Princess ran ahead to the ride and were informed that an adult had to accompany them on the ride due to it’s extreme nature.  We climbed into a raft that was on the floor.  The water inflated around us and we were off.  I was posed to get nice photos of the ride but quickly realized it was more important to hold on instead!  We were tossed and turned as we went down the rapids and eventually fell down the falls.

Even the Milk Monkey had fun riding various virtual rides of race cars and fire engines.  I myself, left our group in search of Cyberspace Mountain.  With the help of Bill Nye, I created my own personal roller coaster with the scariness of 3 out of 5 riders would not ride it.  It was Roller Coaster Tycoon on a whole new level.

Excited I waited to test it out only to be terribly disappointed.  Yawn!  I was determined to get a 5 out of 5 and went back to the drawing board.  The second time around I managed a 4 and after talking to a cast member I was told that in order to have a 5 I had to use only red buttons and I had to have them in the right order.  Two times was more than enough for me.  My attention span isn’t long enough to try for a third and even if I had managed to reach a 5, I knew it would never be as good as the real thing.  I was definitely unimpressed!!  Thankfully I was more than impressed with the rest of Disney Quest!!  It’s definitely a place we’ll make more time for on our next visit!!

  

September 11th at Disney

Today I woke up feeling torn since it’s 9/11 and we’re at Disney.

Personally, it just didn’t feel right being in the happiest place on earth when so many people are still mourning the day.

Like everyone else, I remember the details of that day clearly.

So even though we were at a Disney Park, my thoughts were on the events that took place 11 years ago.

I watched as my children laughed and enjoyed themselves and it lightened my heart to see their innocence.

It also got me thinking that maybe by being at Disney, we were doing the exact opposite of the goals of those who committed such horrific acts a little over a decade ago.  Instead of living our life in fear, which was obviously their goal, we were enjoying our day as a family.  We were in a place that is the epitome of the United States of America, we were happy, we knew we were safe and no one could rob us of our security.

We ended up having a good time at Animal Kingdom.  The Little Professor rode Mt. Everest for the first time and loved it.

The Milk Monkey has not been feeling well for the last couple days.  He broke out in hives a little while back and they have blistered and scabbed over.  We have gotten a lot of dirty looks and comments about him having so many “bug bites” and getting over “chicken pox”.  We’ve patiently explained to those that they are hives and not contagious.  In the meantime he’s also come down with a bit of a cold.  We go from cold air conditioning to super hot and humid heat continuously through out the day..  It’s not helping the little guy.

Tonight he threw up all over me.  I was so thankful that we have a bathroom in our trailer…one that has a nice sized shower.  I can’t imagine having to deal with all that in a tent or a trailer without a bathroom.

We are certainly blessed!

Earlier, this evening, we went for a swim.  The Milk Monkey enoyed the cool water but evenutally it got to be a little too cold for him and he started to shiver.  We wrapped him in a towel.  I just happened to look up and notice the Princess’ life jacket by the side of the pool and not on her.  I jumped up and started to frantically search for her just in time to see her coming down the slide and out into the current.  She can swim but she’s not strong enough to do it alone.  Panicked, I started to hand the baby off to a stranger next to me just as the life guard caught my eye and saw the alarm in my face.  She spotted the Princess immediately and jumped in and saved my sweet little girl.

Thank you, thank you, thank you whoever you are!!!  I can’t express my appreciation to you.  Especially since it was the last 10 minutes of your  shift and you were still so alert!!  I will definitely be calling tomorrow and letting management know you are amazing at what you do!

First Love…

Since we arrived at Disney we’ve had a lot of interaction with Disney Characters.

We’ve waited in lines to do a Meet and Greet, today we went to Chef Mickey’s for a character breakfast and we’ve even spent time playing with Chip and Dale at the campfire in the campgrounds.

The Princess and the Professor love the character interaction.  They are old pro’s at it.  They remember it from our last visit and they’re excited to spend time with their beloved characters from their favourite movies.

For the Milk Monkey this is all new.

The first time he actually saw one of the characters was at the campground campfire.

He had just woken from a deep sleep to the extra large furry chipmunks.  He was petrified at first.  Every time the Princess or the Professor got close to one, he would scream in fear for them.  After a while he began to realize they were not going to hurt his dear siblings and really, they seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Eventually he wanted to get down and play along with them.

Even still, throughout our days here, his caution of each new character has won out over his joy of meeting these new and exciting characters in his life.

That is…

until today, when he met Cinderella!

My youngest son fell instantly in love.

He practically ran to her, he took her hand, he hugged her and I’m pretty sure he was even ogling her!

There was definitely some flirting

and when it was time to go he kicked and screamed as we pulled him from her grasp!

It was definitely love at first sight!

Cinderella…forget Prince Charming…the Milk Monkey is where it’s at!!!

PS…Do you babysit??!!

From the Road…We’re On Our Way!

We are on our way! We left at 2:30am and it’s now almost 4am. So far the drive is going well. The kids are so excited that sleep has been evasive, except for the Milk Monkey. He managed to fall back to sleep almost immediately even with all his excitement. He wasn’t quite sure what we were doing but it’s definitely fun getting up in the middle of the night to go for a drive!

As usual I’ve had minimal sleep and my excitement is keeping me awake at the moment. Because of this I’m able to keep Daddy company with words of encouragement like “Are you ok?” and “Is that a car on the side of the road, watch out, oh no it’s ok…it’s just a sign” or “oh no, it’s ok…that cars moving too”. As you can imagine Daddy is appreciative of my observations and his suggestions for me to get some sleep are purely out of concern for my well being.

I’m testing my remote posting through email from my iPhone. I hope this goes through and is clear to read. I’ll update more later.

Sent from my iPhone

 

Awesome Goody Bags…

  

Four days left until we tackle the long drive to Disney.

In order to make the trip more pleasant for the kids,

and for us,

we put together a bag of surprises for both the Princess and the Professor.

Each bag is filled to the brim with goodies, games, snacks, movies and lots of other fun and time consuming items.

  

More specifically, some of the items are:

Crayons

Scooby Snacks

Pad of paper

Index cards

Colourful dot stickers

Bubble Wrap – at least for as long as Daddy can stand it…Yikes!

Movies

Ninjago DS game – Professor

Pixar Leappad – Princess

Spiderman/Brave Napkins – for those messy little hands

Wet Wipes – for those messier little hands

Stickers, stickers and more stickers

Activity books of all kinds

Flat Stanley Books for the Little Professor

Pop Rocks – to try for the first time

Lots and lots of yummy snacks!

Some of my favourite items are:

and

and these,

which look fun and yummy…

We are looking at about 50 hours of vehicle time on this trip, so we want to be prepared.  We’re going to break the trip up into 11 hours of driving the first day.  At that point we’re going to stop at a KOA and go for a swim, have nice dinner, and get a good nights sleep.  The next day we’ll wake up super early and do another 10 hours and repeat the process.  Stop at an KOA, swim, eat, and sleep.

That will leave us with a 3 hour drive to Disney!

As I’m writing this, Daddy is putting together a playlist of Disney songs that we’ll play for the kids along the way.

We’re so exited to start our vacation!

We will be leaving around 2am so that the kids can sleep for the first part of the trip.  I can’t wait to see their little faces when they wake up to their goody bags and find out what’s in them!