Friday, February 27, 2009

Ski and Stay PA Giveaway!



I wish I lived closer to the Lehigh Valley ski area in PA. Why? Because if I did then I could take advantage of the Ski and Stay Getaways at Courtyard at Marriott Bethlehem & Holiday Inn Lehigh Valley that Ski and Stay PA is  currently offering.

How do overnight accommodations,  exclusive Lehigh Valley Hotel all day/all night lift tickets , a $20 food and beverage voucher, breakfast for two, and direct to slope ticketing and access sound? It sounds pretty darn good to me. If you don't ski because you are a clutz capable of injuring yourself on the first run like I am, don't worry, there is a tubing package as well.  They even have a Brew-ski package (get it? Ha ha ha!) where Samuel Adams or Weyerbacher micro-brews are delivered right to your hotel room.  Now that is something I would love to be a part of.  Why are these packages so fantastic? Well here are a few reasons...

  • Direct-to-Slope Ticketing Access means NO LINES! Just get to the slopes and start skiing.
  • Ski Power-Up Station - hot beverages, energy bars, lip balm, ski wax and other essentials are always ready to grab so you can have a great day on the slopes.
  • Indulge at the heated hot tubs after a long day on the slopes, Aspen-style
  • Ski and Snowboard Waxing Station at each hotel
  • Food & Beverage vouchers
  • S'Moresgaboard Roast at the Holiday Inn Lehigh Valley - just be drawn to warm fire and you will be welcomed by the decadent S'mores  topping station offering any sort of chocolate, sprinkles, whipped cream topping you can imagine.
  • I know of at least a few friends who go specifically for the S'mores....

    Alas, Lehigh Valley is a couple thousand miles out of my reach this winter. So you East Coasters/frequent fliers listen up- I have a giveaway for you. Through the generosity of Ski and Stay PA one lucky reader will win...

    · A free nights stay

    · Discounts to book a vacation & bar tab credits

    · A Ski & Stay PA knit ski cap

    · A Ski & Stay vest

    All you have to do is post a comment on my blog to be entered. If you become a fan on their Facebook page (let me know in my comments section) I will give you 3 entries. If you start following my blog I will give you 5 more entries. And if you write a post on your blog about the giveaway, that is 5 more my friend. Pretty sweet right? The contest runs on my blog until March 3rd at 5PM so spread the word!

    Even if you don't win Ski and Stay packages begin at only $199 per night so check out Good luck everyone!

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    There is More to Family Vacation Than Disney World

    Today Trip Advisor came out with its annual Traveler's Choice Awards.  Of course I was giddy with excitement to see the results and I have to say, I am kinda disappointed. Of the list of the top ten family friendly resorts, six were located in Orlando, FL. Now I have no doubt that these are extremely family friendly places and I am not knocking any of these resorts in any way. I am just very disappointed in the rest of the country.  Disneyworld is a great place for a family vacation but there is only so much "imagineered" fun I can take. For me, Disneyworld is one of those once every 10 years kind of places where you take the kids and fully immerse yourself in theme parks for a week. It isn't a once a year family vacation spot. I would much rather take my children someplace new and exciting where they might learn a thing or two about nature or culture. There are so many great National Parks and fantastic cosmopolitan cities across the country to explore with your children. Why isn't there more diversity on the family friendly hotel front? I will say I am so glad there is a hotel in Washington DC on the Family Friendly Top 10. What a perfect place to take your kids on vacation! So much to see, do and learn.  Ocean City, Maryland and Carlsbad, California are wonderful beach towns and have hotels featured in the top ten. What about a cool hotel set amongst the Rockies where children can explore the dramatic scenery or a fun spot near Grand Canyon that traveling families can use as the perfect home base.? Come on innkeepers, step it up. Do you really want to have your butt kicked by a mouse?

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Aliso Beach Park

    Every once in a while you have one of those perfect days at the beach. The weather is not too hot, not too cold. The breeze is slight. The sky and the ocean are competing to see which can be the more beautiful shade of blue. A pod of dolphins swims by as your children frolic and chase sea gulls. We had one of those days recently at Aliso Beach Park.


    My inlaws were in town recently visiting from Texas and I wanted to show them all South Orange County had to offer. We drove through Laguna Canyon and down PCH to Aliso Beach. I had read about it on Fun Orange County Parks and thought it would be the perfect place to take a lunch and spend the afternoon.  Was I ever right! This place rocks! There is a very cool playground right on the beach so you can enjoy the ocean while your kids slide and swing some energy off. Mari enjoyed bridge while Ben enjoyed running up and down a ramp near the play equipment. That boy. Such a Ben. There are picnic benches in  the playground area so you can sit out of the sand and not have a bunch of sand kicked into your sandwich.

    February 20091



    Another great thing about this beach is that they have fire pits. I personally would love to snag this fire pit on the perfect summer evening so I could roast marshmallows and daydream about the mansion up on the bluff being mine.


    Mari enjoyed walking down the beach with Grandma while Ben learned the fine art of bird chasing from Grandpa.


    Not that Mari was to be outdone in that department...


    The icing on the cake was the pod of dolphins that swam amazingly close to shore. Honestly, how much more idyllic can you get?

    February 2009

    If you would like more information on this wonderful beach please check out Fun Orange County Parks.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Little Corona Beach Tidepools

    Author's note: This post was originally written right before I spilled beer all over my computer (a full beer no less, total party foul) and had to get a new keyboard rendering my computer useless for a couple weeks. Somehow the post got lost in the shuffle until I had an ah ha! moment and remembered I never posted it. So here it is in all its glory...

    I imagine quit a few people had a night on the town for New Years Eve. Or maybe they stayed in and snuggled up with someone they loved. Or maybe they played online Scrabble with their brother until 11:45PM. Wow- that last group of people is pretty pathetic. But at least they started off their evening with some sunset tide pooling and shredded beef tacos. Or at least that is what I imagined they did......

    Little Coronado Beach in Newport Beach is a tidepoolers dream at low tide. There are rocky outcroppings filled with tiny ecosystems stretching across the beach.  I saw more sea life at this beach than I have seen in previous Southern California experiences. Maybe we just got lucky. Or maybe the starfish like Newport's real estate as much as the über rich do.  In addition to the giant red starfish (plural- That's hard to get across.  I think the plural for fish is fish and not fishes. So how would you know we saw more than one unless I told you? Stupid English language...) we also saw sand dollars (live ones, not the bleached white sand dollar carcasses (or is it carcai?)  you can find in stores), purple sea urchins, sea anemones, tiny fish, clams, sea snails, mussels, and plenty of plant life.



    The beach is located just south of Coronado State Beach off of Poppy Street from Hwy 1.  It is hidden from the road, just down the path from a bunch of bluffside homes you can't help but drool over. Yes there was even one that had tube slide off the side of its balcony!

    December 200814

    The evening we went (New Years Eve) was incredibly foggy and cool but we were still able to have alot of fun. I can only imagine how gorgeous it must be when the weather is nice. If you are on a Disney vacation make a detour. If you live  in Socal, watch those tide tables and then dash on over. There is no telling what you might find.


    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Tuesdays for Tuesday

    I am so excited about all the fantastic fundraising in Tuesday's name that we are ramping up to do. As soon as we have some things finalized I will be posting them here. I have had people contact me who have never met the Whitts but are passionate about helping the cause. That brings such a huge smile to my face. Anyone who wants to help is absolutely welcome. There will be alot to do. Please contact me if you are interested in having a fundraiser in your home town. I think the entire country is going to know about Tuesday and neuroblastoma by the time we are finished.

    The pendant fundraiser was a huge success. Home Studio donated 10% of the sales directly to the family which came out to be $421.00. Not bad for pendants that cost $7.95 a piece! Steph and Mark at Home Studio were incredibly generous and contributed $79.00 more to bring the total to $500.00!!!! Amazing. Once again showing how one little girl is changing so many lives. Thank you so much to everyone who purchased a pendant and contributed to the fundraiser.  I hope to have many more successes in the future.

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Central Bark

    My dogs may have put on some weight in recent months. Okay fine. They are fat. I am not quite sure when it happened. After we had the twins, Toby, who has always had a propensity for girth, actually lost quite a bit of weight and was looking rather svelte.  Raley has always looked like nothing but muscle and fur. But now, my poor exercise deprived dogs are showing the result of no walks and too many handouts from the kids all over their midsections. Yes, I feel guilty. These dogs used to go everywhere with us and now they are stuck at home. I just can't handle the twins and the dogs on my own yet. Since I can't leave the kids home while I take the dogs for a walk (though the thought has crossed my mind on more than one scream filled afternoon) the poor puppies get the shaft.  Well no more! Paul and I have renewed our commitment to get these dogs out more often. Sure, it won't be much at first since it is dark by the time Paul's gets off work and I am not willing to attempt a full fledged disaster with my 4 unruly monsters. If we are both home I see no reason why we can't take the dogs out for a couple hours at the park.

    Yesterday, since our guilt levels were particularly high, we decided to take our dogs to a dog park. We have been to a few back in Sacramento and our dogs always liked it so I looked up dog parks and found one called Central Bark in Irvine.  We packed up two kids and two dogs who looked as though they were going to have aneurysms from all the excitement and drove towards Central Bark (in the mass chaos to get out the door I forgot my camera so we will have to resort to file footage)

    frame photos

    Holy cow! That place was packed! Dogs, dogs, everywhere. Airedale here, Weimeranar there. Boxers, Boxers everywhere. And that was just in the large dog section. There was even a fenced in section where Miss Foo Foo Teacup could frolic freely without Bruiser the 150lb Rottweiler trampling her  and her perfectly coifed coat. The kids were giddy with excitement.  The dogs were over the moon. All were in their happy place until  we unleashed the hounds. Evidently Raley oozes sex to other dogs (and yes she is fixed). A pack began to follow her and the race to see who could mount her first began. Things got rowdy. Paul was calling for people to peel their dogs of my innocent sweet girl while I was consoling Mari who thought her "dog dog was ow". Meanwhile Ben was acting like he had just won the tennis ball lottery and throwing as many balls as he could get his little hands on. One owner who was slow to pry his dog off my dog's neck explained that it was just how his dog played. Okay buddy well your dog is a pit bull and their jaws can lock so I would prefer it not be around my dog's neck.  Finally we restored Raley's good name and found a quiet corner of the park where the dogs weren't quite as horny.  We played ball with the dogs and had a great time.

    Then as we were getting ready to leave, shit hit the fan. Mari had decided to walk away from me since she heard us talking about leaving and felt like hiding would keep her from leaving the doggy wonderland. I followed her to a corner of the park and told her it was time to go. Suddenly a dog lunged at Mari, barking and showing its teeth. She screamed, I grabbed her, and the dogs owner just smiled at me. Okay...... So I started walking back towards the exit with Mari in my arms and took about three steps before the dog came after me, barking and giving me the death stare. I tried to walk again, same thing. This happened three more times, all  while the owner just watched and did nothing. Finally I asked her to please get her dog so I could get away. She told me her dog didn't like kids and I shouldn't bring kids there. What? Your dog is barking viciously at someone and your response is I shouldn't have my kids at the park? Nevermind the fact that there were plenty of other kids there of all different ages. I tore into her and told her my kids should be able to come to park if they want. She told me she has seen "many" toddlers get their arms and legs broken there. Really. Many. I highly doubt that. But whatever. Just get your damn dog away from me and my daughter you crazy loon! I was ready to start World War III right then and there but I had to get my poor scared child out of there. When I got to the car and told Paul about what had just transpired and how I was going back in to tear that lady a new one, he reminded me that my anger will not do a thing to change someone so ridiculous. Sad thing is, she was right. I shouldn't have had my kids there because people like her exist. Now my kids won't be going back to that park because I can't risk their safety. Its sad. It takes one person with a bad attitude to spoil the entire outing. We will have to just take turns bringing the dogs there. Or perhaps find a different park. I swear though if I ever see that woman again I will have to introduce to my dog that doesn't like crazy people...

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Moving Forward with Purpose

    I am having a very hard time trying to figure out a way to write about my experience in Colorado. Maybe its because the emotions are still so raw. Maybe its because I am not ready for closure. Maybe I don't want to face the finality of it all. I don't know. What I do know is that I never want to have to watch another family go through what my friends are going through.

    The service was beautiful. It started with a "waggie" ride in Tuesday's honor and continued with beautiful music, words of encouragement, and pictures of the child that touched us all. There were no dark colors. Instead there were pink balloons which were released in Tuesday's honor. JK and Charley held themselves together with the same grace that there daughter always showed. Their love for each other gave me faith that they will survive this.

    The Whitts are beautiful people.  They are the type of people who just attract others with their spirit. Even in their sadness and mourning, love just exudes from that family. It often seems like tragedy hits the least deserving.  I believe Tuesday was given to the Whitts because they were worthy of her love and incredibly special gift. Tuesday has touched so many with her smile and her story. Tuesday is going to change the world. She has already changed mine. Through Tuesday so many have found God. Through Tuesday so many have become aware of what truly matters. Now, through Tuesday we are going to raise money and awareness of neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers. In the coming weeks, months, and years I will be committed to helping Tuesday's family with fundraising. I will keep you all posted on our endeavors both large and small. I pray that our efforts will help prevent others from having to endure this horrible disease. Together we will move forward and make sure Tuesday's light will forever shine.

    sept 07 08