Friday, November 20, 2015

The Castle in Central Park

New York's iconic Central Park. For some people, it's an oasis of verdant open space in the midst of a concrete jungle. For others, it's a cesspool rife with muggings, rapes and murders. When I first visited New York City as a teenager, my parents leaned towards the cesspool side of the opinion spectrum. In their defense, an internet search of "Central Park murders" does come up with a variety of hits. So with my face pressed to the window, we drove through Central Park but never emerged from the safety of our car. Years later, I returned to New York, and finally, I seized the opportunity to explore the park on my own terms.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Even before we moved back to the USA from Malaysia, I realized that one thing I would really miss about expat life was the abundance of travel. So, I decided to be proactive and mentally started planning a trip long before we packed our bags. What better way to reintroduce the kids to American life than to take them to New York City? It's a crossroads of American ethnic groups with a skyline of iconic, internationally recognized landmarks.

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade
Snoopy and Woodstock have had the honor of floating in 38 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades — 
more than any other balloon

I thought the week-long Thankgiving school break would be the perfect time, but the kids were adamant that after three years of missing the extended family for the big Thanksgiving meal, they weren't going to skip it again, no matter how fantastic the trip. "Besides," my teen asked, "how will we watch the Macy's Parade?" Then, his eyes lit up as he realized that we'd be in the very city where the parade takes place.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Someday, I will visit Budapest

Parliament as seen from across the Danube
(Photo by my hubby)

I scrolled through the photos on my phone trying to find something for a little Weekend Travel Inspiration. Nothing. Nada. Naught. Instead, my life and my photo feed has been filled with elaborate, homemade Halloween costumes, school theatre and musical performances, and Girl Scout ceremonies. It's a good life. It's a full life. But I no longer regularly fly off to foreign countries as I did when I was an expat. So, I turned to hubby's phone.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Disney's Haunted Mansions Around the World

Tomorrow night is Halloween when streets all across the United States will be haunted by costumed kids seeking candy from strangers. It never seemed like an odd tradition to me until we moved overseas and tried explaining it to our international friends. Kids thought it sounded fantastic, and adults thought it was irresponsible. We tried once in Malaysia to organize a friendly, American trick-or-treat excursion with limited success. This is our second year back in Texas, and my children are excited to be back out there going house to house in search of treats. Let's hope that the flash flood and tornado watch we're under right at this moment ends before then. At the rate the rain is coming down, it's going to feel like Venice here soon, and we'll have to trick-or-treat via canoes.

Even though we couldn't always celebrate a traditional American Halloween, we could always rely on getting a little spooked at Disney's Haunted Mansion ride.  Variations appear in Disney parks around the world. I'm not a gal who likes her haunted houses scary, so the Disney version strikes just the right balance between goofy and less-than-terrifying for me.The rest of the park may be cheery and happy, but the mood and cast members are a somber lot at the Haunted Mansion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cruising on the Disney Dream: Youth Activities Clubs

I'll admit that I was a tad apprehensive about the how much fun my kids would have at the Kids Clubs when we went cruising on the Disney Dream. With my youngest one being 9 years old, everyone was far past the stage of being fascinated by princesses, Cars, or Toy Story. I had long ago stopped leaving them in the free childcare at the gym because they were completely bored. As it turns out, I had no reason to worry. Trying to compare a gym's childcare to one on a Disney cruise ship is like trying to compare a tilt-a-whirl ride at the county fair to Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain. When it comes to entertaining kids, Disney truly excels.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Road Goes On Forever

I had a different post planned for this past weekend. It's only half-written at this point, and with a little luck, I'll have it done by next weekend. Ever since we moved back to Texas from Malaysia, I've felt sooooo busy. I'm convinced it's because I now spend all my time in my car driving around. It's something that my friend who repatriated at the same time I did also commented on when we first returned. At least we have great music on the radio!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cruising on the Disney Dream: Inside Stateroom versus Oceanview

Sailing on the Disney Dream

When we decided to take our kids on their first cruise, we chose Disney and ended up setting the bar so high that any future non-Disney cruise will pale in comparison. Since our family has already visited Disney parks in Florida, California, Hong Kong, Japan and Paris, we were eager to explore how Disney handles the high seas.
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