Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Successful Christmas Photo Shoot!

I still like 2012's cry picture better... but, nonetheless, Trent likes to keep traditions alive.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hershey and Home

One of our last days of vacation landed us for two nights in Hershey, PA--home of Hershey chocolates.  Much of Hershey can be kid heaven and parent nightmare, but we managed to squeak some great memories out of our time there.

We started off at Chocolate World, where you can spend a small fortune on various activities or take the free tour.  We opted for the free option, thinking it would be an actual tour of the factory.  Rather, it is an animatronic ride with singing cows that quickly walks you through the candy making process.  The kids loved it, and they especially liked the free candy at the end.  As parents, I felt extremely short changed... it moved so quickly and any real knowledge was drowned out by the constant singing of those cows... that, in the end, I'm not sure I know any more about chocolate than I did prior to my two spins on the ride.

We walked around the candy store forever.

Then, we actually did something interesting.  We visited the Milton Hershey school, which was actually very informative.  The school, founded eons ago, was founded to help orphan boys.  It has since evolved into an amazing campus with over 1,400 students, all of whom have been orphaned or are "socially" orphaned by extreme poverty. Every need is then provided for these kids: from travel to entertainment to a world class education to food and shelter.  It was very touching and awe inspiring.

Then, after lunch (my cute lunch date below), we headed to Hershey Park After Dark.  The Hershey amusement park was opened from 5-10pm, and we eeked out every single possible second of that time riding rides and having fun.  Bret and Grant rode too many coasters to count, and Grace patiently rode some rides with Trent (who is a ride junkie) until her time came!  It was a great evening with lots of fun memories!

Getting ready to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl.  Let me tell you how fast you can spin when you have one plump adult on one side and two little kiddos on the other!

A kiddie roller coaster...

We opted to come home a day early for a variety of reasons.  First, we stopped off at the Flight 93 memorial.  It was humbling to remember those brave men and women aboard that flight.  Grant and Grace didn't really understand, but they were quietly respectful nonetheless.  Afterwards, we made a several hour stop in Pittsburgh to eat and to scope, but instead of stopping for the evening, we headed home.  

This vacation ended up being one of our favorite vacations in awhile.  It was a great mix of culture, city, fun and family.  We have made some lasting memories...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Last Day In Montreal

After a late start this morning, we were up and out and around Old Montreal.  We decided after a brunch of fish and chips (Bret's choice, not mine) to rent some bikes to trail around the waterfront.  Trent loved it; Grace loved it, and Bret and I endured it.  Grant, poor Grant, just couldn't get the hang of having a bike with multiple gears and hand only brakes.  But, we muddled through and had a fun time.

We stopped for ice cream and some quick shopping on the way to Notre Dame, but to be honest, by the time we got there, we had a pretty cranky toddler on our hands.  We had planned on going back all week, but when the time came, we couldn't quite it figured out.  We opted for some final swim time, which I am sure the kids would have preferred anyway.

For dinner, we hopped on the Metro and headed out to some Italian restaurant farther out in the city.  It was great... and it was fun to watch Trent ride "Thomas" as he called the train and the older kids learn some Metro etiquette and some new navigation skills. Even with the language barrier, Grant was able to navigate our stops for us, which was great.

We are in the car for most of the day tomorrow with a big day in Hershey, PA on Friday.  More to come!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another Day, Another Blister (or two!)

This morning was yet again another gorgeous day!  The weather here has been absolutely and unseasonably fantastic.  We start off with sweatshirts until about 10 am, and today, we all would have been in shorts if we could have been!

The day started with a visit to the one of the highest rated French bakeries in the city.  Simply put: to die for good!

Then, it was off by car to the Biodome, Insectarium and Botantical Gardens.  The Biodome is in an old Olympic venue, and it has been converted to a sort of an indoor animal exhibit based on a variety of climate factors.   The Insectarium speaks for itself, and the Botantical Gardens, while beautiful, proved to be a highlight solely for it having a playground!  Bret slept on two different park benches (not creepy at all), and Grant and Grace made a little French speaking friend, proving once again that language isn't a barrier to seven year olds!

We tried Candian fast food for lunch.  Let's just say that Chic Fil A and Zaxby's have nothing to worry about if this place comes into town.

Then, on the way back to the hotel, we all fell asleep.  Bret took that to mean "let's go explore this mountain village an hour away."  But, in the end, we had a great time walking around the shops, looking at the fall colors (no, really, I have NEVER seem leaves like this!), and checking out both an ice cream shop (complete with French cartoons) and a chocolate shop.

After a stop in Montreal suburbia for new tennis shoes for Grace and some Lebanese food, we were in for the night.  
Tomorrow: a lazy day around Old Montreal, Notre Dame, and maybe a bike ride down along the river!