I unplugged from social media for a little vacation with the family!
Vacation: Niagara Falls & Niagara -on-the-Lake
We recently took a little time off for vacation up at Niagara Falls. We crossed over to the Canadian side – and it was exciting for the kids to have their first experience in another country. It was also a first for them to see one of the natural wonders of the world. My goal was to blow their minds and expand their horizons – and I believe we accomplished that!
We decided start the vacation off a little slow – maybe slower than the kids liked – @ Niagara On The Lake (NOTL). The historic part of the town is very quaint and pedestrian friendly. Way before we had any children – Melani and I had been out there for a weekend and really enjoyed it. It is just a few miles away from the falls (Niagara Falls) and pleasant drive through wine country. So we decided that it would be something nice to share with the kids.
We really wanted to stay where Melani and I had stayed before at Queen’s Landing – but we were unable to, due to my reluctance to book things up until after I had all the documentation we would need to cross the border. Melani and I applied for our enhanced drivers licenses and we had make sure we had certified copies of all the kids birth certificates. Next time, I told the kids, we will be sure to stay there.
Queen’s Landing is a vintage hotel that is located right in the historic part of Niagara-On-the-Lake. It is literally a block or so away from the strip with all the shops. The entire historic area is just bursting with flowers and color – and Queen’s Landing is no different. We actually took the kids inside to show them around and for nostalgia. There is a library in the place that looks like it is straight out of the game Clue! (I think Mr. Pipher did it in the library with a pencil!)
So this time we stayed out a few miles @ the White Oaks Resort and Spa. Very nice – but a little modern for my tastes! Ironically – even though most of the decor was modern – it still had poster beds!
The room had a safe – as most hotels do these days. Much to my chagrin, the kids had great fun playing with it. I did have my enhanced drivers license in there – so I warned them – numerous times – that they better not forget the code they set – because if we had to pay to have it opened – they were going to pay! Well – they kept changing the codes on each other and apparently things got a little confusing. A couple days into the visit I asked Dominick – who seemed to be the last one to have changed the password – to open the safe for me. He couldn’t….
I did a little research on the Internet about default codes for hotel safes and tried to find the manufacturer and model number – to no avail. We also tried a variety of codes – but it kept locking for 30 minutes after something like three tries. Melani finally used some of her abundant charm to persuade the security officer of the hotel to come in and reset the safe password for us without charge. He did so with a little computerized handheld gadget and it only took about 5 minutes. It probably would have only taken him one minute – if it were not for the fact that he had a trainee with him who was somewhat unfamiliar with the entire process. There certainly were a few nervous children there for about a half an hour that saw the potential for all of their souvenir money just about to go up in smoke!
In other interesting news – the resort had some really nice athletic facilities and gyms (multiple!). When we were exploring the facilities and we discovered a squash / racquetball court. We were trying to explain the game to the kids – and they were all running around and playing. Well pretty soon – one lost track of where the glass wall was – and they crashed right into it. No serious injury – just a slightly damaged ego. Hum – I thought my kids were smart….. Apparently not as smart as I would like to believe – as over the next couple of minutes it happened not one more time – but two more times – with three of the four kids crashing into the glass! Unbelievable! I seem to be able to teach the kids how to memorize the periodic table of elements – but am doing a really poor job of teaching them some really basic common sense & life skills!!! How am I going to incentivize them NOT to walk into immovable objects…. Some of them just might have a bright future as crash test dummies! (Due credit to Gracie – who seems to have the most highly developed pre-frontal cortex of the four. She was the only one that did not crash into the glass wall!)
On the second part of our trip we stayed at the Embassy Suites right @ Niagara Falls. Here we paid a premium – for what I consider to be just a stunning view of the falls! We were on the 32 second floor and really enjoyed the view. For our first anniversary Melani and I spent our vacation at Niagara Falls and stayed @ Embassy suites on the same floor! So a lot of nostalgia here too! We used this as our launch pad to do all the activities we had planned with our Niagara Parks Pass (Adventure Classic).
We all had a lot of fun on the Hornblower tour – which is really just the Canadian side’s equivalent to the Maid of the Mist. Gracie wasn’t happy with me as we settled in on the boat – towards the middle of the upper deck She was afraid we were going to miss out on getting sprayed with some of the mist! As we entered into the Horseshoe Falls we were all getting drenched which what seemed to be a downpour – I looked over and asked how she was doing! She was smiling then!
The Niagara’s Fury 4-D Movie was pretty good. The kids really enjoyed it a lot. It explained the formation of the falls and used water, snow and movement to make the presentation a little more exciting and immersive. I did like that the main character of the “movie” was named Chip!
The WEGO bus pass made it easy to get around to all the attractions. We still walked a lot – but it was nice to be able to use the buses when we needed to – or it made sense. Included with the Niagara Parks bass was a 2 day WEGO bus pass.
Ponchos, Ponchos, Ponchos!
So we wore red ponchos for the Hornblower tour, yellow ponchos for the Journey Behind the Falls and blue ponchos for the Niagara’s Fury movie… Ponchos, ponchos ponchos! It seemed like for every attraction they were handing me some different colored poncho!
Friday evening the Boy Scouts hosted a rocket launch at the park. I had a long day at work – so I rushed over there to meet up with them. I was pleased to see that both Gracie and Dominick had constructed some water rockets to launch. Both held up really well – with each only losing one fin on the final launch! We just might have some future engineers in this family!
Birthday Girl: Sophie!
So our youngest turned 3 this past weekend! Where does the time go!!! We had a nice party for her at the park with some family. Gracie , Dominick and I rode our bikes to the park to set up in advance of the party and had a very enjoyable afternoon outside. Melani did a wonderful job with the cake and food preparations.
One night after we had gotten back from Niagara Falls – Melani camped out in the back yard with the kids. I was proud of her for doing so – since last time we camped out in the back yard a couple of years ago she begged out of it for some lame reason like she was 8 1/2 months pregnant or something! So I let the kids have the tent and mother to themselves. I was also super impressed that Sophie made it through the entire night as well! I really thought that only Dominick & Gracie would make it through the night – but I was wrong!
I had a tremendous amount of fun pranking them and scaring them throughout the night! Who ever knew that NOT camping could be so much fun!
The other day Melani agreed to let me trim her hair. I’ve been cutting the kids’ hair for years – so she maybe felt just a little confident that I could pull off a trim job for her? Well, I got her seated and put the apron on her. I was behind her and and straightening out her hair. All of a sudden she hears me turn on the “buzz cut” electric trimmer – and she almost jumped out of her skin! I could not stop laughing! Of course – I was only teasing her – but for a split second there was some genuine panic going on inside her head!
I finished the job with just a pair of scissors – without incident.
The kids and I continue to talk about money. I finally got them all set in collecting some Bing search points (Bing Rewards). They just have to do some searching, some quizzes and polls and they collect a few hundred points each day. When they get around 5,000 or 6,000 points (depending on level attained) they earn something like a $5 Target, Walmart or Chipotle gift card. I was explaining that it was exciting – because all of the other money they earn for accomplishing the existing incentives we have set up for them is money that I have to earn and then payout to them. These gift cards are new money they are bringing into the family. It is easy – but takes some discipline to remember to do it on a daily basis. I tell them to search terms like “Happy”, “Faith” or “trees”. We will see how long they stick with it. IF they do stick with it they can each earn about $10 / month. Not a lot – but it all adds up!
Here is the Bing link if you would like to sign up for the program. If you click on this and follow through – I get a 1,000 point bonus! I’ve been using Bing for years – and actually like it better than Google. Give it a try if you are so inclined.