Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bows, Snow, Flying Rats and Dirty Jokes

I haven't written a post about the weekend adventures of Le Kid and I in a while, if you hadn't noticed. There haven't been the normal number of outings because of this....

This what we call a winter storm in the South. My child has missed about four days of school out of the last two weeks for a handful of snow, not that we're complaining. We slept in, played a stupid amount of Just Dance (I finally made it to number in the World Dance Floor!), read over half of The Chamber of Secrets and watched easily 100 YouTube videos on raw food (while eating a block of cheese, of course.) Much fun has been had, but I'm not sharing a picture of me beating nine year olds around the globe at Just Dance no matter how much you beg.

So I had meetups and even a seminar cancelled because of snow! I started writing a blog post about how depressed the weather was making me, but I was too depressed to finish it! But, there was a reprieve in the winter storm this past weekend. It was still cold and gloomy, but I forced Le Kid to come out with me.
Dig those funky threads

Le Kid isn't always a willing participant in the whole arts and culture thing I'm always trying to get her involved in. Really, left to her own devices she would the endless loop of Disney Channel repeats until her eyeballs fell out of their sockets, which is she had been doing on Saturday morning for two hours already when I "strongly encouraged" (nagged and lectured) her to go to the American Girl Doll bow making party at a local library.

I was trying to pitch in, and I guess she didn't want me to so she told everyone my breath smelled like "frozen peas". Meanie.

A master bow-maker had brought really pretty ribbons, needles and thread, hot glue guns and serious bling to the event. Usually with kid crafts, the grown ups do most of the tricky stuff, but this instructor showed them how to make bows from start to finish. We learned a practical skill! She opted for an Angry Birds/ Minions combo. Le Kid was really proud of bow and has been wearing it every day.

"Was Mom right to make you come to the bow party?" I asked. I already knew the answer, but I just wanted to make her say it. I guess I'm a little mean, too!

My daughter didn't want to go to a play because she was watching Dog With a Blog. But the play was free (my favorite word) and had a mostly female cast, which is like Halley's Comet--something you aren't likely to see again in a lifetime. Le Kid didn't take too much coaxing. I told her she could wear one of her party dresses, and we were good to go.

The Odd Couple:The Female Version

Fayetteville Tech does several free plays a year. We went to Meet Me in St. Louis at the school before the holidays, and my daughter couldn't stop talking about it. She begged to see it again and again! You would expect that what is more or less community theater would have some pretty stilted acting, but you'd be wrong. There are some bad ass actors in this little city!

"It looks like our house"- Le Kid

The actresses were so pretty and yet so gritty and funny. Grown up movies and plays often send my child into deep slumber. (We went to see Exodus and my child was snoring when Moses was still in eyeliner and Egyptian panties.) I looked over at her during the second half of the play, and she was laughing;her eyes were glittering. She was into it!

The Odd Couple: The Female Version had some great jokes: "I saw milk standing in the fridge, and it wasn't even in the bottle." There were raunchy ones, too. They went over my kid's head for the most part, but if she caught a few, good for her. There was nothing I loved so much as dirty words and naughty jokes as a kid. Gee, have I changed so little? *Shrug*

Everything is about the kid. I "make" her do things she wants to do but is being lazy. ( I wish I had someone to do that for me.) I also "make" myself do things she wants to do, even when I feel lazy. She wanted to go to the park, even though it was freezing. It turned out to be too cold for her, but we stopped and fed pretzels, which was all we had in the car, to sea gulls at a pond.

They swarmed us and chased us back into the car, but I was clicking the camera button on my phone wildly, and I got some decent shots, despite my running and screaming.

Well, the snow is coming down hard now. A friend just called to tell me the roads were bad. Looks like I'll be house bound with a side of  "wish I were in Jamaica."

Are you under a pile of snow today? What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Zoos With Free Admission

No matter your age, gender, color or creed, everyone enjoys watching animals be animals. Especially if the animal are happy and well-cared for. Especially when it's free!

Here's a list of zoos that are free year round, pulled from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
San Pedro, CA
Offering 10% discount at Gift Shop.
Cape May County Park Zoo
Cape May Courthouse, NJ
Offering 10% discount at Gift Shop.
Cosley Zoo
Wheaton, IL
Offering 10% discount at Gift Shop.
The David Traylor Zoo of Emporia
Emporia, KS
Offering 10% discount at Gift Shop.
Henry Vilas Zoo  Madison, WI Offering 20% discount in the gift shop.
Hutchinson Zoo
Hutchinson, KS
Offering 20% discount in the gift shop.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago, IL
Offering 10% discount on retail, food, education programs and ticketed public events.
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Washington DC  Offering 10% discount at Gift Shop.
Saint Louis Zoo
St. Louis, MO
Offering 10% discount on retail, food, education programs and ticketed public events.
Como Zoo and Conservatory
Saint Paul, MN
Offering 10% discount on retail, food, education programs and ticketed public events.
Salisbury Zoological Park
Salisbury, MD
Offering 10% discount on retail, food, education programs and ticketed public events.
I have been to the St. Louis and D.C. zoos. They were free, and amazingly, the best zoos I've ever visited!
Many zoos with regular admission offer discounts and free days to locals, military, veterans, teachers, etc. Columbus Zoo, for example, offers free admission on certain holidays, like President's Day. In my state, Fort Fischer Aquarium  in N.C. offers free admission to all on MLK, Jr. Day. Check with your local zoo, particularly on Facebook, to see what they offer.
Membership to the AZA also qualifies you for free admission and/or discounts to a large selection of zoos and aquariums in the U.S.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Freebie Alert

The U.S. National Park Service is waving entry fee for President's Day weekend. Those of you living in warm climates or you weirdos who like frigid temps can enjoy a bit of mother nature for free. Here's a list of participating national parks by state.

photo source

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Indiana Jones Didn't Have Heavy Flow Days to Contend With"

I must love a challenge to start a travel and activity blog in the dead of boring, old winter. Genius of me, really. To make matters worse, I had to go and get sick on the nicest weekend of the season. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the 60's. In early February! I could see from my window patches of grass. Green grass!

Saturday was a bust. I dragged my corpse over to our neighborhood for 20 minutes, as not to deprive Le Kid of the rare break from cold. Sunday, I slithered Voldemort style to Smith Lake, a local recreation area, where I could drink unicorn's blood.. woops.. I mean, where I could lie in the sun and recharge myself while my daughter puttered around the playground.

"Play with me," she begged, but all I could do was sit in a pile of sharp pine needles, with my back against a tree, slurping up Vitamin D. Fifteen minutes of that, and I felt like a battery at full charge. "Let's explore!" I grabbed Le Kid's arm and dragged her down trails unknown.

Just the sight and proximity of water, had my spirit soaring. My daughter took this pic of me. Can you tell?

There were bits of bricks everywhere, and the kid had a plan of building a little house from them. she talked me into hauling them in my handbag. Eventually, she collected so many in my purse that I had to where they thing like a back pack. My weak, jiggly arms weren't up for the task!

And several days later, here's the amazing house we built from brick fragments. Yeah. We're more dreamers than doers. We might just have to return the bricks to nature.

At least, we completed a successful little hike, and my daughter dug many holes along the paths. (Which have surely led to many twisted ankles, come to think of it. Sorry!)

So we didn't have adventures of Indiana Jones proportions last weekend. Indiana Jones didn't have heavy flow days to contend with!

Bigger and better things ahead for this weekend. Things I might chicken out of! Tune in and find out.

What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Weekend Getaway Contest Alerts

Here's 6 weekend trip giveaways happening around the web this week. Hope you find one close to you to enter!

* Win a 2 night stay, a dozen roses and dinner for 2 at Buffalo Inn in Buffalo, WY.
* Win a 2 night stay at The Winds Resort in Ocean Isle, NC
* Win 2 night stay, dinner for 2 and goodies galore in San Sabas, TX
* Win a 3 night trip to NYC and a professional job makeover
* Win 2 nights, dinner for 2 and excursion passes to Lake Placid
* Win a 2 night stay at Hidden Mountain Resort in Smoky Mountains

The Most Romantic Place on Earth for $99

Before sexy teenage vampires ruled girls' bookshelves, we had historical romance novels aka corset rippers. Some glistening, Fabio-esque hard body with blowing hair would be locked in embrace with a chesty young lass with blowing hair. Am I on a wild tangent here? Yes. Sort of. The point is: I cut my teeth on this stuff. It totally colored my view of romance. That is why I my vote for Most Romantic Place on Earth doesn't go to Venice or Paris or the rolling hills of Ireland. The most romantic place on earth is Medieval Times.

Glossy-locked gentleman in shining armor sword -fighting, bowing, throwing roses to maidens, sitting astride noble steeds and, at last, winning the hand of the princess. Ahh.. Is it kitschy? Sure, but it's also classic romance!

So I wanted to share with you guys the amazing Valentine's Day package deal at Medieval Times. And maybe hint to my husband a little....

For $99
You'll receive:
Admission for 2
4 course dinner
photo of couple in frame
knights cheering flags
light up rose
a glass of champagne to split
Use Code VDAYWEB15

What are you doing this weekend?

Friday, February 6, 2015

List of Free U.S. Museums

Free Admission Museums

There's no time like winter for museum hopping! And you can save your pennies with this list of free admission museums. One for each state to get you started!

Birmingham Museum of Art
Birmingham, AL

Hawaii State Art Museum
Honolulu, HI

Museum of African-American History
Boston, MA

New Mexico

University of NM Museum

South Dakota

Dahl Arts Center
Rapids City,

Alyeska Round House Museum Girdwood, AK

Herrett Center for Arts and Science
Twin Falls, ID

U of M Natural History Museum
Ann Arbor, MI

New York

Bronx Museum of Arts
Bronx, NY


Tennessee State Museum
Nashville, TN

Arizona Museum of Natural History
Mesa, AZ 

Illinois State Museum
Springfield, IL

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Minneapolis, MN

North Carolina

Airborne and Special Ops Museum
Fayetteville, NC


Contemporary Arts Museum
Houston, TX

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art Bentonville, AR

Indianapolis Museum of Art
Indianapolis, IN

Mississippi Museum of Art
Jackson, MS

North Dakota

Dickinson Museum Center
Dickinson, ND


Fort Douglas Military Museum,
Salt Lake City, Utah

California Science Center
Los Angeles, CA

University of Iowa Museum of Natural HistoryIowa City, IA

St. Louis Science Center
St. Louis, MO


Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, OH


Vermont National Guard Museum
Burlington, VT

The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
Golden, CO

Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
Manhattan, Kansas

Yellowstone County Museum
Billings, MT


Gene Autry Museum
Gene Autry,OK


Chrysler Museum
Norfolk, VA

Yale University Art Gallery
New Haven, CT

The Filson Museum
Lousiville, KY

Joslyn Art Museum

Lincoln, NE


Jordan SchnitzerMuseum
Eugene, OR


Frye Art Museum
Seattle, WA

Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts
Wilmington, DE

Louisiana State Exhibit Museum
Shreveport, LA


Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center
Reno, NV


Fireman's Hall Museum
Philadelphia, PA

West Virginia

Bedford Museum
Bedford, VA

Museum of Florida History
Tallahasse, FL

Hudson Museum
Orono, ME

New Hampshire

Hood Museum of Art
Hanover, NH

Rhode Island

Rhode Island State House
Providence, RI


Rahr-West Art Museum

Georgia Museum of Art
Athens, GA

Walters Art MuseumBaltimore, MD

New Jersey

Heritage Glass Museum
Glassboro, NJ

South Carolina

Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum 
Myrtle Beach, SC


Fossil Country Frontier Museum
Kemmerer, WI

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ten Tips for Hiking With Kids

I have a jet setter's heart but a pauper's pocket book. If you find yourself in the same predicament, there is one thing to remember: Seize every pretty day! If the weather is nice, change your plans around if you can. Spend your money when the temperature doesn't allow for frolicking outdoors.You can go to plays, movies, tours and dinners on the icky days, and on the days when the sun is shining and you have a little free time, go play outside. Go for a hike. No matter where I travel, my kid is with me. Her presence makes my weekend outings more pleasurable because I feel like I'm showing her the world. I'm proving to her how inspiring the world can be. I am passing the torch, if you will. The nomad's torch.

We drove 3 hours Saturday to reach our closest mountain, Pilot Mountain, so my daughter could have her first proper mountain hike. She has at least a hundred hours of hiking under her belt. (Not bad for 7!) She was ten steps ahead of me the whole way round the entire summit! Getting to this point took a lot of work. She used to cry when I would say "walk" or "hike." Trial and error has been the greatest teacher. Here are our tips for hiking with children..

10 Tips for Hiking With Kids

1. Let them stop. And stop. And stop some more. The younger they are, the more often they will need to stop. Just accept that you won't be going as far or as fast as you'd like. You have to work up to a real hiker's speed. Right now, it's about the journey. Children want to stop and look at rocks, splash in a creek, admire the caterpillars. The better experience they have, the more likely kids are to want to hike in the future. If the stops seem too long, you can set a time limit. Two minutes seems like enough time to for a child to get psychological rest without  pushing a parent's patience threshold.

2. Good Old-Fashioned Scavenger Hunt. Many time, I have made a list of items for my daughter to find: pine cones, feathers, birds, mushrooms, flowers, crooked trees,glittery rocks, etc. But if you find yourself hiking with a bored child and no paper, you can start an impromptu scavenger hunt. It can even be a competition for who can spot the most cardinals, birch trees or butterflies.

3. Have a destination. Even I don't like walking aimlessly. A trail that leads to a waterfall, mountain, lake or beautiful overlook gives a child a reason to pick up the pace. Having a purpose, a place to be, makes the hike more of a trip and less of a chore. We've stopped. Not all of us are fortunate to live near stunning landmarks. (I'm from the flat lands of the Mississippi Delta.) Mark your "destination" with a picnic before you turn back around or write "we were here" in the dirt with a stick. Do the hokey pokey. Just something to signify an accomplishment occurred. 

4. Bring a ball. On our hike  on Pilot Mountain, we saw three different families throwing footballs as they hiked. That's a brilliant way to liven up a bored child. Frisbees would work, too, or a badminton set  or a balled up sock! 

This guy was having his mom throw a football to him up the mountain!

5. The Little Photographer. If the kids have a camera or you have one to loan them, let them play photographer. You might be surprised at what they see that the adult eye passes over. You can offer them the added benefit of posting their best shots on social media or working on a project with their photos such as a calendar. 

6. Give the Child a Responsibility. Bring backpacks for your children and give them titles like  "carrier of the water" and "protector of the lunch." Some kids might prefer to be the scout and stay a few feet ahead of the group or be a firewood finder. Having a sense of importance will give them stamina.

7. When You Can't Walk, Run. Keeping a constant rhythm and a slow and steady pace, can make a child feel tired. If the kids start to grumble, "Tired" or "bored," challenge them to a short race. They'll forget their complaints and their energy will be renewed. Plus, you'll make better time!

8. Play Car Games. When you find a dull stretch of path, it's time to pull out the old car games. Twenty Questions, alphabet games, I'm Going to the Moon and I'm Bringing.. If you're in no mood for games, take turns interviewing one another. You could ask, "What would be the first thing you'd do if you were president? Who is the nicest person you have ever met? What is your favorite thing about everyone here?" You might even learn something new about the people you love! 

9. Piggy Back. Obviously, this only works for small children or super strong adults. My daughter used to yell, "Carry me!" before we got a sixth of a mile. We'd tell her, "If you walk for 10 more minutes, we'll give you a piggy back for one minute." Sometimes, she'd forgot about the free ride all together. Sometimes, she didn't, but we'd carry her for a minute, and then, start the process all over again. She felt like she was getting what she wanted, and we got peace, in ten minute increments.

10. Art Hike. Carry little notebooks and pencils in your pack. When the bellyaching starts, ask the children to find a pretty spot to stop and sketch because you need new art for your refrigerator (or to send to grandma or Santa or whomever has most clout with your bunch.) Nothing soothes the savage soul like art!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Giveaway Alert : Win Trips

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts is giving away a 7 day stay and 100,000 mile from United Airlines so you can spend a week wherever you choose in their Do Not Disturb Sweepstakes. (I'd pick Paris, naturally.) Weekly winners could get 25,000 air miles. Yeah, it's a long shot, but if you have an extra minute, why not enter? It's more productive than Candy Crush!

Aching to see the bright city lights? Enter to win The Lunar Chronicles Sweepstakes. The winner will get to meet author, Marissa Meyers and spend a couple of days at Book Con!

My mind is on sunshine these days. If you're ready for bikinis and beaches,too, enter the flyaway sweepstakes to Sarasota, FL from Vacations2Discover.

So...What are you doing this weekend?