September 29, 2015

Update Schmupdate

I survived the Pope invasion. If there hadn't been 24/7 news coverage of every move he made, I would have never known he was here.  All joking aside, I'm glad it went well and I'm glad the media will stopping about it soon.

I enjoyed my days off immensely. The puppy was spayed early last week so being home to monitor her activity was good planning on my part. She was pretty out of it for about 2 days but she's perking back up and being a brat again!

Bud had a consultation appointment with an Orthodontist late last week - braces are coming. In fact, they are being put on this Thursday.  He's only looking at 12-15 months with them on so that's a plus.

This weekend is birthday party weekend - Boo is turning 11. Due to schedules, the Pope, and other factors, we are doing a combined (family) party this year for him, my niece and my SIL.  With birthdays of 9/26, 10/4, and 10/5 it's kind of crazy to try a celebrate that individually. My niece is turning 6, Boo 11, and my SIL turns 18.

Decorating that table will be interesting - stay tuned!

September 25, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 12

Edited ... 

We've had more chaos in schedule so once again, meals from last week did not happen. I'm just keeping it real, yo.

Meal 1: Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup (found on Pinterest)

Meal 2:  Pork Chops/rice

Meal 3: Creamy Parmesan Chicken (repeated - never made)

Meal 4: Steak Sandwiches

Meal 5: leftovers/sandwiches

I think the "meal #" will work out much better so I at least know I have the ingredients on hand to make the 4 listed meals each week.

We're almost in soup season too... my favorite time of year!

September 23, 2015

The Pope is Coming...

Some may be excited about this historic event but I am not one of them. Maybe I would be more excited about it if the "officials" had been smarter about planning where this Mass would take place (Hello? Stadiums? You can control the ins and outs of people!?!). But no, a giant stage has been set up right in front of the Art Museum.

Can you say complete and utter logistical nightmare? Does anyone remember what happened to JFK?!? Officials are so focused on road closures and cars I have to wonder if anyone has given a thought to the hundreds of tall buildings in the area.

Major roads and a bridge will be closed. A giant area of the city is considered a no-drive zone so people are forced to walk MILES just get anywhere near the Pope.  I hope they have triage areas set up on every corner for all the elderly who will likely drop dead during their "pilgrimage." 

Why must we parade him through the streets of Philadelphia and completely shut down the city to do it? Security. I get it, but in the mean time, people and businesses are screwed in the process. The amount of conflicting and confusing information thrown at the tri-state area over the last two months is enough to make a sane person stay far away from this circus.

My employer alone is out tens of thousands of dollars in order to prepare for the Pope's visit. Why must we absorb that cost? I'm taking vacation time just to avoid this giant mess. 

Insanity. That's what it is.You will not find me anywhere near the city of Philadelphia this weekend and if you are smart, you'll stay far away too!

Just call me the Pope Grinch.

September 22, 2015

And Last But Not Least - Canada

We did take a very quick trip to Canada. We walked there, in fact! In hindsight, I wish we had devoted an entire day but we just ran out of the time. Sometimes you just can't do it all.

Thanks to a not-so-accurate-map, we thought we were closer to the entrance of the Rainbow Bridge than we actually were. We definitely got our exercise that day!  The view of The Falls while crossing the bridge is stunning ... it really is something you must see. We passed through customs with no issues - thank you passports!

(I'm in two places at once!)

Here's the funniest thing:  we walked all that way and guess where my kids wanted to have lunch? They about leaped for joy when they saw a Wendy's. Wendy's!  I guess that's what happens when you vacation in a semi-rural area and there is no fast food to be found. Whatever makes them happy, right?

After our "delicious" lunch, we had time to pick one thing to do and they chose to tour The Guinness Book of World Records Museum. Totally tacky, totally funny, and totally overpriced. We then spent a good deal of time in a gift shop gathering some souvenirs before we had to head back over the boarder. The walk to and from, lunch, the museum, and shopping, took us three hours to do on foot.

Did you know you have to pay $1.50 per person to leave Canada, walking back over the Rainbow Bridge?  Is there ANY question what the United States of America is doing wrong?!?!!??

While the Canadian side of The Falls was nice to visit, I am glad we chose not to stay on that side.  It was like the New Jersey boardwalks on steroids. People everywhere. Traffic. Loud. Lights. Constant movement. So not a vacation!

I'm hopeful that in the future we'll plan a vacation to a different area of Canada and we can VISIT Clifton Hills and The Falls again.

September 21, 2015

Lockport Cave & Fort Niagara

The Lockport Cave was disappointing. I'm not sure what I expected but the boys were not impressed. I guess once you've seen a cave (Crystal Caves in PA) you've seen them all. It probably didn't help that the boat ride was not operating when we visited. An hour max is all you need if you decided to visit.

The highlight? Was when they realized Sharknado 2 was filmed on location at the cave (LOL)

After the cave letdown, we enjoyed a nice lunch in town and headed to Fort Niagara.  Very pretty scenery and history, but again, kids ... they've come to hate places like this. It's sad really (maybe one day they'll appreciate it, right?)

You can sufficiently tour Fort Niagara in under two hours which was good because they couldn't wait to leave.  It's located on the grounds of Fort Niagara State Park and there's a pool open to the public for a very small fee. It was nice to cool off there after touring Fort Niagara - the highlight of their day.

September 18, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week 11

Sunday: Turkey Breast Loin

Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs

Tuesday: Chicken Stir Fry

Wednesday: leftovers/sandwiches

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner

I know. I'm getting lazy with the breakfast for dinner thing. However, it seems like most weeks something comes up and alters my plan anyway.  I'm thinking about foregoing the day of the week designation and just called it "Meal 1; Meal 2, etc" because of how often I'm changing around the plan now that school & sports are thrown into the mix.

Regardless, it's nice to have a plan, right?!

September 17, 2015

Fishing on Lake Ontario

Very, very early one morning we woke up to go fishing. Boo has been begging to go fishing for quite some time but unlucky for him, we are not fishing people. We know nothing about fishing.

After some google searches of the area, I found a guy who charters fishing excursions on Lake Ontario. You do nothing but show up and fish. That's right up our alley and pretty much ensures we'll catch something!

We were at the boat launch site before 6am that morning - me, Boo and my father-in-law. Everyone else opted to stay home in bed.  They missed out on a beautiful sunrise and fish!

Our fishing excursion lasted about five hours (plenty of time for the kid) and we caught a total of 8 fish. Two got away as we were reeling them in, two were too small so they got a pardon, two were both 25lbs each and the other two were both about 8lbs each.  All in all, after they were cleaned and filleted, we brought home about 40lbs of King Salmon. And it's oh so very good!!

The excursion wasn't cheap of course but worth every penny to Boo for the experience and to me for the fresh we-caught-it salmon!

September 16, 2015

Niagara Falls

Visiting Niagara Falls was the main reason for taking this trip. After some online research of the area, I decided against staying on the Canadian side (more on that later). I wanted a relaxing vacation and Wilson, NY certainly provided that. 

I will say this:  The Niagara Falls State Park is gorgeous. It really is. The Cave of the Winds and The Maid of the Mist are absolute must-do's.  The Discovery Center is in desperate need of a makeover and the place is very, very small and most of the exhibits were not working when we visited.  The boys were disappointed. The Aquarium is small too but nice. We enjoyed it. It only took about an hour to tour. They do have a few shows throughout the day (with the sea lions and a magic show) but as luck would have it, we were there at an off time and there wasn't enough to keep our attention until the next show times.

The Cave of the Winds gives you some very stylish shoes. It's good thing too ... your feet (and the rest of you if you so choose) will get soaked! They are yours to keep.

You don't fully appreciate the force of the Falls until you are subjected to the wind at its base - Holy Wind, Batman!! We laughed and laughed and laughed. The wind and the mist made picture taking challenging!  It was a nice surprise when I realized that I had caught a rainbow:

The park is in the middle of a constructing a new lookout point on the Falls. It's slated to be completed by next summer.  It will up the game on the US side for sure!  Now, if only they'd put some of that money into the areas outside the state park....
I would definitely go back someday. It's worth seeing a second time!

September 15, 2015

Wilson-Tuscarora State Park

It's a beautiful park, about a mile from where we stayed.  There is plenty of open space, picnic tables, and trails as well as a nice covered Pavilion with bathrooms and showers!  There is a fee to enter the park but it's worth it.  The beach area is very nice and well-maintained. A lifeguard is there during posted hours Memorial Day through Labor Day.

There are lots of rocks in Lake Ontario so I highly recommend some type of water shoe for kids. My Boo was smart enough to realize this and kept his stylish Cave of the Winds sandals (which you will see tomorrow!)

So pretty. So peaceful. No crowds. Perfection!!

September 14, 2015

Olcott, NY

After we arrived at our fabulous rental house, the following day we decided to take it easy and get the lay of the land.  We drove about 8 miles west of Wilson, NY to the cute little town of Olcott, NY.  There we found a beautiful park - Krull Park - which does offer limited beach access to Lake Ontario.  The beach itself wasn't really that nice (doesn't seem to be maintained very well) but a lifeguard is there during posted hours.  We did not swim there but the boys did enjoy skipping some rocks into the lake. Olcott also offers some cute little shops and a Carousel Park. Both have limited operating hours so be sure to take note of that before you visit.  The Carousel Park is cute but it's definitely designed for the 8 & under crowd.  We knew that before visiting so no one was disappointed :)

We spent about 2 hours exploring the park, enjoying the scenery, and grabbing a snack.  It was a relaxing time!

We then left in search of some kayaks to rent. This proved to be difficult. You would think that for a "lake area" the place would be riddled with rental places - but this is not the case.  Some local directed us to a bait and tackle shop but we learned his (small) stash of kayak rentals had been rented out for the week.  In the end, this was something we should have arranged ahead of time or brought our own. Who knew?!

During our kayak search, we noticed a bunch of cars stopping on the side of the road. I thought maybe it was a yard sale but no, it was a popcorn stand! There were so many cars stopping at this place we decided to stop too. And we are so glad we did! Seriously - the best popcorn ever. Freshly popped right there on the side of the road.  We enjoyed the plain popcorn perfectly salted and the caramel corn was the best I've ever had (sorry Johnson's - this was so much better!)  So if you are ever in the area, do find Bye's Popcorn. You will not be disappointed!

September 11, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 10

Following through with this for 10 weeks - I've impressed myself!

Sunday:  Salmon! 

Monday:  Macaroni & Beef

Tuesday:  Creamy Parmesan Chicken

Wednesday:  Leftovers/sandwiches

Thursday:  Breakfast for dinner ... this was on the menu last week but due to sport schedules, we never got around to it and I have a pound of bacon in the fridge begging to be cooked!

September 9, 2015

Back to Reality

Our vacation last week was absolutely perfect in every way. The location, the weather, no crowds - just perfect!  If you ever want a get-away-from-it-all vacation, I highly recommend Wilson, NY. We rented a home I found on VRBO that was right on Lake Ontario. In fact, we were on the very last street on the edge of the USA!

Renting from VRBO can be a nerve-wracking experience, but for us, everything went smoothly. The house was perfect in every way, just as it was pictured, and it was well stocked with anything you could possibly need during your stay.  The homeowners were attentive and responsive each time I contacted them prior to our trip. I literally have nothing bad to say!

My goal for this vacation was to relax and mix in some must-sees in the area and I think we accomplished that. My teenager (Bud) would tell you he was bored at times but overall I hope he would tell you it was a nice place to visit for a week. Boo loved every minute of the vacation (he's my easy child!)  It is semi-rural, don't get me wrong, but we did manage to find a Dunkin Donuts tucked away in a gas station convenience store about 8 miles away. That made my father-in-law happy because he is addicted to their coffee and he goes there every morning!

I have much more to say about our trip but for now, I'll leave you with this:

And yes, my kid reeled in that fish. It's a 26lb King Salmon!

September 4, 2015

Meal Plan - Week 9

Sunday: Baked Chicken

Monday: Steak

Tuesday: Ravioli

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner

Thursday:  leftovers/sandwiches

if only my family like casseroles ... sigh.