Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vacation Packing & Prep

It's almost that time again.....we will be back on the road and this time it is for a much needed vacation.  Even though we may need a vacation from this vacation, I am really looking forward to it!!  So, we are headed to Walt Disney World - again!  I will never get enough of Disney, plus there are new attractions/shows that have recently opened up and I'm so excited to see them.

This trip actually came about because my daughter's dance school was invited to be part of Dance The World in Disney!  This news was very exciting and after talking about it for a year, the days are quickly approaching.  So for this trip, I also have to remember to pack her dance costumes, accessories and make up!  Here is my list:


So as of today, I have almost everything packed except for toiletries, cameras, electronics, food and my planner.  These are usually packed the day before since most of these things I use on a daily basis.  I will be making 1 last stop at Target to buy snacks, and I believe that is all that is left to purchase for this trip.

Since we are driving I don't have to worry about what I pack, I just need to make sure I don't forget anything!  We will be leaving Friday night, hopefully arriving at my grandparents' home Saturday afternoon where we will stay until Monday morning!  Then its Disney for the rest of the week!

I have planned dining and fast passes around my daughter's dance/performance schedule and we should have plenty of time to enjoy the parks.  Let's just hope it doesn't raing!  I'll have more on my trip plans in the next post - hope you come back for that!

I don't think I've left anything out, but please let me know if you have any suggestions for anything I may have missed.  My kids are older so as long as they have their iphones/ipads, they will be fine, so no need for road trip games!  What are your road trip essentials?




Friday, May 27, 2016

Official College Visit ~ Finlandia University

We've seen our suitcases so much this year that I don't know whether to be happy about it or not.  Travel can be exhausting and we still have more to go.

Back in April we set up a college visit for our son, who is graduating this year.  He was accepted to this school, so even though it was far, we knew this was a trip we couldn't postpone.  The baseball coach was very interested in him, so it was even more important to take this trip.

Finlandia University is located in Hancock, MI.  I had to look it up on a map because I've never traveled to Michigan and had no idea where this place was located.



I was in shock when I saw where it was!  All the way up there?  How do they play baseball, I'm sure it snows 95% of the year!!  So many thoughts ran through my head, but still, we had to give it a chance.  Besides, as of that moment, this was the only school that had accepted him and was interested in him pitching for the D3 team.  So the planning began.

I quickly realized that there wasn't an airport nearby that we could fly into at an affordable price.  A flight into Hancock, MI was $800 per person!!  There was no way I was paying that much!  So I kept researching, and looking for any airport within driving distance.

Chicago turned out to be the best option.  I got us flights for $150 round trip, you can't pass that up so I booked hubby, my son & me.  Baby girl would have to stay home with her aunt for this trip.  There was no point in bringing her along.  The drive to Hancock from Chicago would be 7 hours!  That was going to be terrible, but it had to be done.

Since our flight was late afternoon, I thought it best to stay at a hotel close to the airport and then head out early the next morning - like 4AM early!  We are all booked - now to wait on our travel day.

April 18th rolls around and after a few hours of work, we were at the airport ready for our flight!  The terminal was small and wasn't full at all.  Our flight was delayed, but they made an announcement about jumping on the next flight and to go see the attendant at that gate, so I jumped up and walked there as fast as I could.  I was not in the mood to sit around waiting for our flight - We were all tired and wanted to be on that plane already.  An hour later we were on board!


Our seats were all the way in the back and we couldn't recline them but I didn't care.  We were ready to take off!







We arrived and went straight to the hotel.  A friend of ours, who lives in Chicago, met us at the hotel.  He took us around Chicago to check out some sights.  We couldn't do too much since it was so late, but it was a nice ride around the city.





This ride just convinced us that we needed to plan a trip back to Chicago to spend time with friends and visit all these places.  Maybe watch a baseball game, or go see hubby's fave basketball team, The Bulls, play.  This is now on my list of places to visit.

Now on to our real reason for this trip-Finlandia University.
We were up at 3AM, got dressed and out the door.  This drive was torture...LOL!
Trees, mountains, lakes and more trees!!!

Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful, and I really appreciated seeing new parts of my country, but OMG, this was the never ending drive!




It looked and felt even colder by Lake Superior!  I could never, ever, ever live here.

I would visit - but never live here!




So finally we arrived in the city of Hancock!  The university was not difficult to find at all.



We had a nice tour of the entire campus, which was small.  The dorms and classrooms were nice and the teachers we met were very nice and full of information.  Sadly, the baseball team had a game in WI that day so we didn't get to see them play or meet the baseball coach.
Once we were done, I advised my son that he should go back home to think about it and wait to hear from other schools.  I had my doubts.  The school looked good, but it was a very small town.  I wasn't convinced that he would be happy here and I didn't want him to make his decision based on desperation because he hadn't heard from anyone else.

So, we got back in the car and headed back to our hotel in Chicago!


We had dinner and went back to our room to sleep.  Aaaahhhh sleep - it was wonderful!!  The next morning we were able to sleep in a bit.  We got up, I finished packing and we went downstairs for breakfast, then back to the airport.

This morning I had a headache and couldn't wait to get back home!





We arrived in NYC and now needed a ride home so we grabbed a cab.  This was terrible and I will never do this again!  Next time I need to plan a car service.
We squeezed in the back and it was sooooo hot!!
I tried to make the best of it by messing around and taking some surprise pics....




We finally got home and the credit card machine was not working, the fare was almost $200 and after several tries with the machine we decided to just pay cash!  Like I said before...Never Again!

Anyway, we are back home and I was so happy to see baby girl.  She had been texting us the whole time we were in the cab wanting to know when we were getting home.  She was waiting outside for us!

All in all it was a good trip.  We got to see a different part of the U.S. which is extremely different from what we are used to, and I was able to add 2 more mugs to my Starbucks You Are Here Collection!

Here is the one I got in Kentucky during our trip with the high school baseball team, and my two new additions.

Well, this is our last trip for now.  The next planned trip is Disney at the end of June.  I'll have more on that soon....I'm so excited, can't wait to share!!!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2016 Super Prep Baseball Tournament~ April 7-9th

Here we go, our first baseball trip of the year.  Now I say the first because there have been years where we've taken multiple trips.  This year may be different and this may be the only baseball trip we take, so I'm glad we did take it.
The highschool team was going to attend the 2016 Super Prep Series in Louisville, KY.  It was exciting, especially for these boys who have never travelled out of the state as a team.

My son was leaving on the bus with his school, but me & hubby had to work.  So, we went to work earlier than usual and got on the road by 1pm.  

The look of exhaustion~only been on the road for 10 minutes!


Road trips are exhausting, but I really do enjoy seeing new places and nature along the way.  I always keep my camera or phone handy for random pics like these.....



We stopped in West Virginia for a much needed bathroom break!


I was beyond exhausted....




We arrived at the hotel a bit after midnight.  We stayed at the Ramada Plaza Louisville Hotel & Conference Center  
We stayed in the King Bed Hot Tub Suite, and OMG...the hot tub was HUGE!!  Not only was it huge, but it was the first thing you saw when you walked in the room.  I wasn't thrilled about it being in the living room area, but hey, atleast we had a hot tub.  I was really looking forward to soaking in there and enjoying one of my Lush Bathbombs!




The boys arrived after 3AM, and once I got confirmation that they had arrived, I was able to fall asleep!!

The next day we didn't have to get up too early, but since their game was scheduled for 3pm, we all wanted to check out the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory





First stop was in Ripley's Museum...




Everyone had a good time in here...







Next stop was a short film and then a tour of the factory.  The tour was nice and full of information from how the bats are made, types of wood & finishes, to how many bats are ordered for major league baseball players - Amazing!!

There were no pictures allowed during the factory tour, but after we were back out on the museum floor and here we were able to take more pictures























My favorite spot was the Women in Baseball area!















The museum & factory were lots of fun, and would be a great stop for anyone, not just baseball lovers!
This town looked very nice as well, and I wished we would've had some time to explore some more but we had to head back to the hotel so the boys can get ready to play ball!






The first game was held at Ballard High School.  It was a chilly day and there were some light showers, but they played and we watched!


Since my son is a pitcher only, and this wasn't his game, he didn't play.  We still enjoyed most of the game, until the rain/snow came in.  
Memorial lost this game to Riverdale: final score 3-14

Back to the hotel we went, this time to get ready for dinner.  We went to Applebee's with the team, had a quick dinner and headed to Walmart to buy blankets for the next day.  It was that cold!!

Back in our room, baby girl put on her bathing suit and tested out the hot tub first.  I tried to convince her to go to the pool, but she said it was too crowded and feeling a bit shy, so she wouldn't get in.
Hot tub with a Lush Bomb wins!



Next morning we were back at it.  10AM game at Fern Creek High School. This second game was pitched by another player, so my son didn't play.  We just sat back, cheered for the team and took pictures - all while trying to keep warm.


This wasn't for us, but this high school's mascot is also a tiger, so I just had to....LOL!


This game was also a loss against Champaign Central - final score: 1-2

We had a couple hours for lunch, so we found the nearest Taco Bell and went to grab lunch. 

The 3rd, and final game was for my son to pitch.  




Somewhere in the middle of the game, they pulled him out and they finished with another pitcher.  This game would also be a loss to Lincoln Way North - final score: 2-4

My son was not happy - her really hates losing but it was a great experience for all of them.  These teams were not easy so it showed them that they just had to work harder to get better.

The team returned to the bus after this game and headed back home.  We didn't want to driver overnight again, so we stayed 1 more night.

We had dinner at our favorite place: Cracker Barrel and then went back to our room to pack!


We were up at 3AM the next morning - our favorite time to get up and hit the road, even though waking up is sooooo painful, LOL


I caught the beautiful sunrise.....
























  working & yes, eating a Snickers bar...smh










and we stopped to check this out....


























and when we were finally home, we surprised our son with his souvenior from the Louisville Slugger museum....






This was a great and memorable weekend!  I'd love to go back to Louisville someday and plan out sightseeing in other areas....it really was beautiful!