A List Maker's Life: August 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

To Drive? or To Fly?

...when planning a vacation it is always a question!

If arriving at your destination as quickly as possible is your only goal, than booking a flight no matter the cost, is the most effective option. However, if you have the time to enjoy the journey there are many positive reasons to rent a car and road trip it!

Here are the top reasons our family brainstormed for renting a Hertz car and driving the 19 hours to Florida for Family Forward:

10. Less Stress & Quease
No panic about remembering tickets, arriving 2 hours early, and working our family of six through security check points. It is also worth it to me to avoid arriving at our destination with a queasy stomach, tension headache, and plugged up ears (some may argue those are all side affects of a long car ride with kids too).

9. Enjoying Historical Sights and Scenery Along the Way 
We made it a goal to find pit stops at national parks, visitor centers, and local attractions that we would not be able to see in Michigan.

8. Noise
It didn't matter how noisy the conversation got or how loud we wanted to blast the radio for our sing alongs.  Our iPods were loaded with everyone's favorites and the satellite radio in the rental car ensured we never lacked fun music!

7. Set the Pace Based on our Needs
When traveling by car the timing for meals, stretches, snacks, and bathroom breaks  is all in our control

6. Temperature Control
With separate controls for heat, fans, and air conditioners in each row of the vehicle we were all comfortable where we were sitting.  All of us enjoyed feeling the wind in our hair with the moon roof open.

5. No Luggage Limits
When packing for our trip we didn't have to limit the weight of our suitcases.  As long as everything fit in all the nooks and crannies of the car we were able to take it along.  The kids had more space to bring extras such as toys and activities that would have been left behind if we flew.

4. Luggage is guaranteed to arrive with us at our destination

3. Family Bonding
There is lots of time for interesting conversations and imaginative stories when everyone is in the car together

2. Freedom
Flexibility to leave the resort property: to hit the store for forgotten items, to pick a restaurant not geared toured tourists, and to visit other area attractions.

1. Memories by the Miles - the good, the bad, and the messy

With a family of 6 the cost of renting a car that comfortably fits our four car seats and a whole lot of luggage is close to the cost of round trip airline tickets.  In this case our experience with driving was enjoyable and something we are very likely to repeat!

Are you planning any upcoming adventures?  What is your preferred mode of travel?
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Disclosure: Hertz Rental provided the Buick Enclave for our family for the purpose of traveling to and from the social media event we were attending.  They have no specific requirements for us regarding posts on their behalf. However, our service and experience was exceptional.  Their online reservation system is incredibly easy to use.  We will look forward to using Hertz in the future when we travel for business or pleasure.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Top Attractions for Young Children at #UniversalOrlando Islands of Adventure

Everything in Seuss Landing is delightful for young children.  The whimsical Caro-Seuss-El plays a unique musical score and with so many creative creatures it is tempting to ride over and over to try them all.

We twisted our way through Nick and Sally's adventure with The Cat in the Hat, more than once, noticing different story specific details on each ride.

The sky trolley that took us through the story of the Sneeches was a pleasant ride.  The kids especially liked how the trolley traveled through Circus McGurkus (where we later had to eat our lunch!).

Our favorite ride on this island was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  While dodging the water fountains on this spinning ride the narrator gives riders a rhyme to follow along with in hopes of staying dry.  Loved it!

Despite the crazy heat at the time of day we tried to enjoy Toon Lagoon the kids loved playing on Popeye's ship S.S. Olive Oil, called Me Ship, The Olive.

Pteranadon Flyers was another family favorite. Two by two we soared far above Camp Jurassic where it was exciting to play I Spy from the sky. This ride had just enough twists, dips, and turns for the kids to feel like they were on "a real roller coaster."

Kevin and Gavin LOVED the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride with a T-Rex sized surprise at the end, but this one might not qualify as toddler friendly ;)

One of Gibson's highlights at Island of Adventure was seeing all of his favorite superheros swoop in on their ATVs for the Marvel Superhero Parade!  When he is just a bit taller I am certain Gibson will be the one of our children begging for a chance to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top 5 Attractions for Young Children

There are many attractions at Universal Orlando to thrill a family.  There may be a misconception that the characters and attractions are exclusively geared toward older children and adults. We discovered that to be false, there is no shortage of great rides to enjoy as a family from 36 inches tall to 56+. In addition to the few listed here our family also loved watching Shrek 4-D, Twister (although we might have a bed full of little ones during the next thunderstorm), Animal Actors, Woody Woodpecker's Mini Coaster, Crustyland, a magic show, and the AMAZING night time Cinematic Spectacular!

Without too much more gushing, here are the Top 5 rides as agreed upon by my favorite 5:

Fievel's Play Land
Misting fans greet parents as they settle in to watch their children explore this giant play land.  Our kids rode Fievel's water slide over and over and over...

E.T. Adventure
This was another ride our kids asked to repeat x3 (at least!).  The vehicle for this adventure is an old fashioned bicycle that flies through several familiar scenes from E.T. and ends with an "It's a Small World" vibe as E.T. is reunited with his family.

The Ball Factory
Our family had a ball in the factory!  The kids could seriously have spent an entire day with Curious George in his splash pad play land created with sets taken right from the stories.  We were brainstorming how we could bring a ball factory back to Holland.  It would be a blast for birthday parties or a family night out.

Superstar Parade
This well designed parade included something for everyone.  The music and dancing were so entertaining and the colorful floats and costumes are so attractive.  (It didn't hurt that we had VIP seats for viewing)

Minion Mayhem
Everyone from our family enjoyed this 4-D attraction.  Kevin and the boys sat in stationary seating where they watched the screen as a 3-D movie and loved it.  Anne Hope and I took a risk and sat in the seats that move taking us on an inside, outside, upside down adventure.

In Springfield, home of the Simpsons, which just opened last week! the oldest 3 loved Kang and Kodo's Twirl and Hurl ride.  The ride spins with a video game vibe and the kids most enjoyed being able to control how high or low their vehicle traveled.  (Oops, I guess I couldn't resist listing 6)!

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Top 3 Treats in Honey Dukes

I can not even begin to think about getting back in the swing of the school year routine next week.  This year's Back to School Blues are intensified by our wishes to head back to Florida ASAP to relive all the amazing memories our family made at last week's Family Forward Retreat, hosted by Mom It Forward, at Universal Orlando.  There is so much fun to share about this adventure, the VIP treatment was especially unbelievable for our family.  I thought I'd break it down "List Lady Style" in the next several days to fill you in on why Universal Studio should be on your "While They Are Still Young" list!

The conference kicked off with a magical night in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.  The park was closed to the public, so our small group had full access to all the mystery, and delicious tastes, of Hogsmeade without the wait.  

We laughed through Zonkos joke shop, toured the castle, climbed the moving staircase, visited with the Hogwarts Express conductor, ate at Three Broomsticks, toasted with Butterbeer, sipped Pumpkin Juice, rode a Hippogriff, and watched as Gavin was chosen to receive his own special wand in Ollivanders!

Top 3 Treats from HoneyDukes:

(according to our oldest 3 children)

1. Frozen Butterbeer (Cheers!)

 Daddy Note: Slamming 2 of these frosty treats before riding the Forbidden Journey should be forbidden

2. Chocolate Frogs (We like our chocolate treats to appear larger than our heads)

3. Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans
(So thankful I wasn't on the taste testing committee with the creators of these little sweets)
Gibson Note: Eat dirt first, then add grass, finish with a watermelon to grow the best flavor.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trip of a Lifetime

If all goes as planned, next week at this time we will be checking in at Loews Pacific Resort looking forward to a day pool side before an amazing Family Forward conference schedule kicks off!  Earlier this summer we surprised the kids with the news of this unexpected trip to Florida.  Gavin was seriously shocked and maybe a bit skeptical, wondering if this could really be for real.  I felt the same way last night when the schedule was announced and even more unexpected, once in a lifetime, opportunities were revealed!  We can not wait to experience Universal Orlando Resort as a family, to learn more about being a Super Hero success, and to meet the amazing families behind Mom It Forward!

"Dear Gryffindor Gav and the rest of the Meyering Muggles pack your bags.  This summer Hogwarts Express (aka) is traveling from Holland, MI to Orlando, FL. You are headed to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

So Much Good

This summer has been loaded with good things.  There is no way we will look back on these short weeks and lament that we didn't squeeze every ounce of fun out of our days. I refuse to look ahead at the calendar and focus on how little time is left, rather I will focus on all the memories we have left to make before September places its pesky demands on our schedule again.

Today's Gifts:

2 under 4 who slept in until 9:45 AM (unheard of!  our crew is always up before 7...just ask the poor tent campers who have parked next to our pop up for the last 3 weekends)

picking 4 quarts of blackberries

fried egg sandwiches for lunch with the Great Grands

planning a yummy raspberry almond bar tea party surprise for a special anniversary celebration

pre-florida pedis for the ladies in our family, complete with flowers and glitter and a cute new pair of flip flops with a big pink bow

visiting dad at work after his very important (winky face) SNOW & ICE Summit (It's AUGUST, people!) where he successfully spoke to local contractors about how to push a shovel

single stems of zinnias in spray painted pop bottles

blue skies and puffy white clouds

driving with the windows down

a Kristian Stanfill youtbe concert while I work tonight to fill in for the in real life one many of our local friends are enjoying

It's still summer,
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