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Travel

Travel

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This past weekend, we took a road trip to Chicago. I still can’t believe that there is so much that I haven’t taken the girls to do in my hometown. Over spring break, I took the girls to see some of the more nationally known sites in Chicago. Usually, we just go to grandma’s house.

But last week, I took the girls home to some of my old stomping grounds i.e. the beach. My girls hear me talk about “the beach” all the time. They know I spent all my summers swimming and playing in the waves at “the beach” but as they’ve gotten older, they are all, “Hey, ma! There’s no beach in Chicago. It’s a lake!” And I‘m all, nope, Mommy doesn’t do “lakes” in the traditional sense because..ewwww, fresh water ( more like doesn’t move water) barely moves and unless there are rapids or waves, I’m not getting in. You’ve heard about those parasites that go up your nose and your urethra. No thank you!

Anyways, I totally digress, my point is I had to show them that my beach was a beach like the coastal beaches they’re used to, not like a rock covered pool of stagnant water buried in tick country. Yeah, don’t invite me to your lake house. I won’t come. I took the girls to the beach twice in 3 days. They get it now. They know what I mean. They loved it. They want to move to “the beach”. This makes me happy.

Aladdin, beach, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

We also consumed lots of food that is indigenous to “the region”. The region is where I hail from, it’s the Chicagoland area but not the city. We are 20 minutes from downtown, on “this side” of the border. Meaning everything we grew up doing was in Chicago but since you could walk to the state line in 5 minutes from my house, technically, I lived in Indiana but I knew nothing about Indiana. I never even saw corn until I went to college. Boiler up!

We hit our usual local eatery favorites; Barton’s Pizzeria and White Castles. You can take the girl out of the region but you can’t take the region out of the girl. Then we hit Portillos. I had a hot Italian beef with all the Giardiniera they could put on it. The spicier the better. It was delicious. My youngest ordered a Chicago dog with nothing on it but ketchup. WHAT? She nearly lost her ish when they brought her a poppy seed bun. Fortunately, she was too hungry to go into a full on refusal.

But this trip was even more special than usual because aside from hanging out with cousins and barbecues and beaches, we took the girls to the city for an extra special date night that included a stop at the Joffrey with my two ballerinas to surprise their besties visiting from North Carolina.

A side trip to Marshall Fields (oops Macy’s! Who am I kidding it’ll always be Marshall Fields to me the way the Sears tower will never be the Willis Tower) because mama made an unwise shoe choice and then we had dinner at the Randolph Tavern about a 1 minute walk from the Cadillac Palace Theater. It was delicious and even on a Friday night, it was perfect for the kids. Even had an awesome kids menu and did I mention the Sangria because I should have. It was delicioso!

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

But the piece de resistance was that we took the girls to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theater thanks to the generosity of Broadway in Chicago. You know how we love our theater. If you have the chance to take your kiddos to go see it…go see it! It was amazing. In fact, you don’t need kids to go see it. If you watched it back in the day when you were a kid, it’s even better on stage. Bet you didn’t think it could be possible did you? Well, it is. I like live productions and 3-dimensional characters. I was in theater heaven.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The Cadillac Palace is a gorgeous old building located in the heart of Chicago’s theater district.

Aladdin the musical, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including, “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

That was the press release version of Aladdin the musical.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

This is my version of Disney’s Aladdin on stage.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The colors are vibrant. The atmosphere is vibrant. It’s electricity and you can feel yourself drawing from the energy of those on stage. It started with a bang. I honestly was not sure that they could pull it off, bringing an animated story to the stage. I thought it would fall flat of my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised by how animated and magical it all felt.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

The music was pitch perfect and so animated that you almost forget that you’re watching it on stage as you are transformed into an animated world of Agrabah.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater, Anthony Murphy

Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, was a show stopper. He was absolutely hilarious and played the part as larger than life. The only thing more grandiose than his stage presence was his powerful voice.

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Aladdin, played by Jacob Dickey direct from the Broadway production, looked a bit like a young Rob Lowe. He was the embodiment of the animated Aladdin. I didn’t think it could be done but he really brought the character to life, literally.

Aladdin, Isabelle McCalla, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

Jasmine, one of my girls’ personal favorite princesses, played by Isabella McCalla, was the tiny, spit fire that I always hoped Jasmine could be. She was feisty and sassy and perfection.

 

Aladdin, Jacob Dickey, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Another favorite character of mine was Jafar’s sidekick, Iago, played by Reggie De Leon . Firstly, I loved that they changed the character from a bird to a human on stage. It just played better. He was a sidekick no more. He was hilarious, perfectly timed and his dry humor was appreciated more than I can convey.

 

I loved that the Abu character was replaced by 3 friends of Aladdin (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) not only did it play better in a live production, it gave the story a new dimension that made more sense in the real world. They were sort of an attractive, endearing version of the three stooges but they had pipes.

I know that everyone loves the “Whole New World” scene in Aladdin the animated movie but I have to say the magic carpet ride in the live production was nothing short of magical. I swear I saw no strings and I still don’t know how they did it. It must be that Disney+Broadway+Chicago=Magic.

Now, I will warn you, if you are a die hard Disney Aladdin animated purist, like my husband, there have been some changes.  I will list them here so that you know they are coming. There are more songs ( because it is a musical), Abu has been replaced by 3 male friends of Aladdin ( so there is no monkey on stage), Rajah has been replaced by 3 female attendants (so again, no tiger on stage. I think that’s safer for all involved), Iago is not a bird but instead a human and Genie is not a cartoon but he is larger than life and very animated.

My personal opinion, I’ll take the live action production on stage.The animated movie is still near and dear to my heart because of the hundreds of times that I’ve watched it with my girls but you can’t beat the magical feeling of being part of a live production. I think my daughters and my nephew totally agree with me.

Aladdin, Broadway in Chicago, Chicago, Broadway, Disney, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Cadilllac Palace Theater

 

Aladdin is now playing in Chicago as part of the North American tour launch at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph Street) for a limited premiere engagement through September 10, 2017.

Tickets for Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre start at $44.  In Chicago, tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to see Disney’s Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago by Broadway in Chicago but all opinions and love of Broadway stage productions are my own.

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado, HardRockHotelSD

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.

This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?

When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!

Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.

If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Balboa Park

Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Chicano Park

I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.

USS Midway Museum

The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)

Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Mission Basilica de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.

The Gaslamp Quarter

I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

If you’ve been to San Diego, what’s your favorite place to visit on a San Diego Road Trip?

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Disclosure: I was invited to San Diego for a press event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. All opinions are my own.

Road trips and travel are things that I thrive on. The open sky, ocean, and road call to my soul. The wanderlust is strong with me. Seriously, put me on a plane, train, boat or automobile to anywhere and I’ll have a good time immersing myself in the culture and surrounding myself with the people. I look at every new destination as an opportunity for adventure and we’re teaching our daughters to embrace the journey as much as the destination.

Now that you have an understanding of my absolute adoration of travel and road trips, I’d love to share one of my most recent trips with you. A few weeks ago, KIA invited me to a ride and drive event in beautiful (heaven on earth, as I like to call it) San Diego, California.

The icing on the cake, I got to road trip and explore all over the city in my pick of the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. I drove the all new eco-dynamic Niro and the Optima Hybrid EX. But also available were the SOUL EV and the Optima Plug-in Hybrid.

 

I explored San Diego with my girls, Becky Boricua and Wendy Nielsen jamming out to Despacito on the amazing Harmon Kardon sound system (sorry about the repeat playlist Wendy. You were a good sport) and we had a blast. It was so nice to drive around knowing that the whole trip wasn’t leaving a nasty carbon footprint.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The new line is not only eco-friendly and good for the earth (which hello, with Trump’s recent antics pulling out of the Paris Act, we definitely need to do all that we can to help take care of this planet for our children’s sake) but they are also fun to drive. I think they are the perfect marriage of beautiful, fun and budget-friendly.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

A few fun facts about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line that maybe you didn’t know. Firstly, did you know that KIA is the only car company on the planet to earn the environmental validation award? I am all for helping the environment. I have a crunchy streak in me a mile wide but there’s a lot I didn’t know about eco- friendly vehicles and I don’t think I’m the only one.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The Optima Hybrid that I drove was completely redesigned for the 2017 model and gets 39 miles per gallon (MPG) city and 46 MPG highway. Since it’s a hybrid, you have the best of both worlds; eco-friendly but still get that torque for a little extra kick. Don’t think an eco-dynamic vehicle can be badass? You would be wrong. You should hear the 630-watt Harmon-Kardon sound system in the new Kia line. The Optima plug-in hybrid can drive from San Francisco to San Diego without stopping, on one battery charge. What? That’s pretty amazing, right? Now, if only I could get m bladder to go as long as that battery.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

If you are looking for something a little bigger, the Niro gets the best mileage around at 76.6. mpg. It is a hybrid with some kick. Want to be an eco-warrior? This is the vehicle for you.

Still not convinced, here are 5 reasons why you should choose the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles for your next road trip:

1. They are good for the environment (duh).
2. They will save you money.
3. They are loads of fun to drive (I know from experience.)
4. The government supports eco-friendly vehicles and there are perks like preferred parking up close for plug-ins and HOV lane access.
5. Never worry about running out of gas and being late again because you forgot to fill up the tank the night before. Simply plug it in at night and go on your way in the morning.

In case you are worried that you are going to run out of juice on the road, don’t be. The battery can charge while you drive. Worried what effect plugging in and charging up with have on your electric bill? Don’t be. The cost is 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt so for the Optima, that averages out to be about $1.50 a day to recharge. You can even contact your local electric company and, in some cases, get lower charging rates in the evening! Who knew it was so easy to be kind to the planet? What are you waiting for?

If you have any other questions about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try my best to get you the answers. Also, the news just came out that after ranking highest in 2016, the new KIA keeps the top spot for 2017 and has more segment award winners than any other brand!

What is your favorite new KIA eco-dynamic vehicle?

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Huawei Mate 9,Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

This is my first post on The TRUTH and I thought I’d tell you about the most fun you can have with your clothes on… the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run. Since becoming a dad, traveling without the kids has become somewhat of a distant memory but once a year, I go with my dad and my brother (depending on whether or not any new babies are being added to the family) on a  guys trip that includes bourbon and hot rods.

By the way, I’m Wayne, referred to as “the Big Guy” here on the blog for the past 8-years. Nice to meet you. I’ll be writing here occasionally to give you the Guys Side of things. Well, this guy’s side, anyways.

For the last three years on Memorial Day weekend, my father and I have participated in the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

What’s the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, you ask?

I know, my wife says it sounds like a Ramones’ song but it’s not. What it actually is is an organized classic car cruise that ends in Kentucky with distillery tours, tastings and some very unique photo ops.

The Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run was started by a car club out of Chicago called the Tin Militia.  This year’s run was especially fun and not just because I got to spend the weekend cruising with my dad in his black 35 Chevy Standard Coupe hot rod with no bickering tweens for miles. There was just something different about it this year; something special.

How does the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run work?

We left the house at 8 am on Friday morning to meet up with the first group of cars.  Many of the drivers from this group drove in from all parts of Ohio.  Once we got assembled at the first stop, we headed off towards the next meet up point.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods

On the way to the second spot on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run we stopped by a garage in this small town that had a lot of old gas station signs to take some photos.  After we were done with the cool photo op, we meet up with the rest of the group coming in from Chicago.

The range of vehicles was large.  There were cars that had been completely restored down to cars that had never been touched. My father’s car is a 1935 Chevy with an LS6 motor in it. It’s a pretty bad ass hot rod if I do say so myself.

From our second stop on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, we all left together and cruised down to the third stop for lunch.  After lunch, we fueled up and the entire group cruised to the hotel.

We checked into our room, collected our souvenirs and then went down to return the car to its pristine state and of course, check out the other hot rods.  After about an hour, we headed to the first distillery on the tour, Peerless Distillery, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

Peerless put on a magnificent event for us for the opening event of the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.

They opened up after hours to give us a private tour, closed the street down and barbecued for us. Before the tour, we had the chance to do some shopping in the gift shop.  They had a lot of cool Peerless and bourbon drinkers merchandise available for purchase. The hardest part was trying to decide what to buy, especially since we had more distilleries to visit the next day.

While we were waiting for our tour to begin, we sat down at a table and started talking to a guy who was sitting there. Little did we know that he would turn out to be the owner, “Corky”.  In fact, he was the fourth generation owner. See, it pays to be social!

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

He gave my father and me a private tour. It pays to be nice to people, you never know who you might be talking to. It was really interesting, he told us all about the family history and the distillery. Let me tell you, it was amazing.

Corky’s father served with General Patton in the second world war and was his right-hand man.  And since they could prove their lineage they were able to get their great-great grandfather’s liquor license number DSP-KY-50 reinstated.

After we got done talking with Corky we had the official tour.  Peerless has a beautiful facility. On the tour, we learned their process for making Bourbon and Whiskey and at the end of the tour, we got to sample some of the product. Aside from the conversation with Corky, that might have been my favorite part.

When the tour ended we went back to the gift shop and purchased a bottle of their “just released” whiskey and had Corky sign the bottle. Then we ate while the others went on their tour of the distillery.

Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run, Guys Trip, bourbon, hot rods, Peerless Distillery

At the end of the event, Peerless selected a car of the show and awarded them a trophy. We took a group photo in front of their amazing building.  When it was all over, we left Peerless with our bellies full and headed back to the hotel to prepare for day 2.

All photos were taken with the Huawei Mate 9  phone which in my opinion, even as a long time iPhone devotee, is the best phone to take on a road trip. It has dual-SIM cards: The Mate 9 features a dual SIM card tray, so it’s easy to pop in an international SIM while still being connected to home and you can also add an SD card for more memory for all of the gorgeous pictures you’ll be taking on vacation. Talking about pictures, the Mate 9 also has a top-of-the-line dual lens camera, co-engineered with Leica designed to be as close to a DSLR experience as you can get in a smartphone – with amazing modes like Food Mode, Night Shot, and Beauty Mode and special features like the Wide Aperture mode for the “bokeh” effect, a standalone Monochrome lens, and the ability to shoot in RAW format. The Huawei Mate 9 also has a long-lasting battery with a huge 4,000 mAh battery that can go for up to two day’s normal usage and safely charges the device for a full day’s power in about 20 minutes.

What’s your favorite travel accessory? Do you have an annual guys/girls trip you take with friends or family?

Coming soon, more of our adventures on the Bourbon Blitzkrieg Run.
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theater, broadway, mamma mia

Mamma Mia, last week was crazy and chaotic but absolutely fabulous. I had been at Mom 2.0 Summit, arrived home on a jet plane on Saturday, celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday and then on Monday, our wedding anniversary, we celebrated by taking the girls on a little road trip to go see the Mamma Mia farewell tour. I was exhausted almost to the newborn standard but it was totally worth it.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

See, I have been waiting to see Mamma Mia on stage for 8 years.

Since that one time Bella, then 4-years-old, told me that “slipping through my fingers” was “our” song while we were watching the movie. Yes, we watched Mamma Mia a lot in those days. It was during the horrible commuter years. The girls and I loved that movie because it was fun and about the mother/daughter relationship at a time when it was just us most of the time.

Anyways, if you have ever heard ABBA’s “Slipping through my Fingers,” you already know that this song can bring any parent to her knees. It was especially hard back then when I was looking at my 4-year-old and knowing that soon she would be leaving me, well, in 14 years or so. Still, her little face looking up at me with those eyes and her sweet face; I still can’t listen to that song without tearing up.

Childhood is fleeting. It just keeps moving on, whether we want it to or not. Believe me, I’ve tried to speed it up and slow it down many times but it never works. When it comes to time and parenting, we are all helpless suckers just trying not to blink and miss a single second. Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture and save it from the funny tricks of time.

The point is Mamma Mia has had a very special place in my heart for a really long time. Bella has been begging me to take her to see this production for years but I was just never sure they were old enough. I know my girls like musicals and theater (hello, have we forgotten the Moulin Rouge 5th birthday party?) but I also know that Gabi has fallen asleep during almost the last half an hour of every production we’ve ever been to because she’s still really young.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

But when the opportunity to see it came, I knew we had to take it. How could I not? It is the farewell tour and there was no way that I was going to miss experiencing Mamma Mia live with my girls. We had to drive almost 2 hours on a school night and missed a couple classes but OMG, it was so worth it. This is a memory that we will never ever forget. Every time we hear the music, we will be back in that theater, the four of us, singing at the top of our lungs like fools. Dancing, singing, incredibly happy fools. I will never forget this anniversary or that night!

theater, broadway, mamma mia

In case you have never seen or heard the story Mamma Mia, it’s about a mother (Donna), her daughter (Sophie) and 3 possible fathers. The entire situation comes to a head when Sophie is preparing to get married at the ripe old age of 20. Talk about a wild walk down the aisle.

Over 54 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia the ultimate feel-good show. The sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek Island Paradise. On the eve of Sophie’s wedding, her quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island that they last visited 20 years ago with Donna.

theater, broadway, mamma miaThe story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship from a good time to the time of their lives. It truly does transport you to a magical moment and if you get the chance, I highly suggest you see Mamma Mia before it’s gone. Chances are it’s probably coming to a city near you soon.

The cast of Mamma Mia was so vibrant and perfectly cast. Betsy Padamonsky, as Donna, took the character to a new level. Her voice was pitch perfect and her big, beautiful personality shone through. Really all of the cast was stellar but I must give a shout out to Lizzie Markson, Cashelle Butler and Sarah Smith. These ladies brought the characters to life in a way that few can. We enjoyed every single second of the show and would love to see it a million times more.

I’m so happy we got to experience Mamma Mia together and before it’s gone. We will never forget it. And yes, I cried when I heard, “Slipping through my fingers.” I sat there in the theater between my two girls, holding their hands while they held my heart.

They aren’t that 1 and 4-year-old anymore. They are growing up so fast and that fact is not lost on me. I know they are slipping through my fingers. It’s like trying to catch sand or water but we will always have this moment, sitting in the theater together listening to this song on a warm night in May when nothing else mattered but being there with them.

I’ll probably never be able to listen to that song without crying and I am totally okay with that because that means I got to love in a huge, amazing way for that Mamma Mia will always have a special place in this mamma’s heart.

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Disclosure: I was provided tickets to experience Mamma Mia on stage but all opinions and genuine love of theater are my own. 

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Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,

Last week was our spring break and we decided on a Disney World vacation with kids. I planned and researched for months. You knew it was coming. After the Frozen party and the making of the  Elsa dress ( because I assure you there are none available to buy anywhere, not even at Disney World), it was time to go all in ..Disney World style. We love all things Disney.

The Big Guy and I have been to Disney World many times but never with children for an entire week. In fact, my first trip to Disney World was 15 years ago on our honeymoon. Believe me when I tell you that Disney World is not just for children. It can be as romantic and magical as you want it to be. It’s all in the planning.  But this trip was all about our girls so I wanted to make it magical for them not like last time.

Here are 25 top secret tips that every parent should know to rock their Disney World vacation with kids.

1. There is a fastpass+ in Beta for the “you can’t get a reservation for the next 8 months” Be Our Guest restaurant. Yep. That is right. It’s not advertised and you are welcome to wait in line on Stand by for a couple of hours if you prefer but if you don’t….check out this secret squirrel beta testing link to fastpass+ for Be Our Guest Reservations. The food is great and reasonably priced and the décor is gorgeous.

Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,Magic Kingdom, Flying Dumbo, FantasyLand, Anna, Elsa, Frozen, Epcot, Norway, Disney World Vacation with Kids

This is what heat stroke looks like. You have been warned. Sun hats & sunscreen are a must in a four hour wait line.

 

2. If you are planning to see Anna and Elsa, they are in Norway at Epcot until the end of April 2014 and then they will move to the Magic Kingdom. If you want to see them at Epcot, plan on arriving when the park opens and plan on standing in line for a minimum of 3.5 to 4 hours. My husband ran to Epcot when the park opened and we still had to wait for 4 hours. Even if you do the princess breakfast at Askershus Royal Banquet Hall 1) Anna and Elsa are not included only princesses before 1993 and 2) you get no line privileges other than starting out in closer proximity. Also, wear lots of sunscreen and bring water. You will thank me when your child doesn’t have a heat stroke.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,Magic Kingdom, Flying Dumbo, FantasyLand, Anna, Elsa, Frozen, Epcot, Norway

 

3. Wait for Anna and Elsa to go to the Magic Kingdom and fastpass them. Fastpass is your friend. Here are more tips for having the best day at Magic Kingdom.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids,Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,Magic Kingdom, Flying Dumbo, FantasyLand, FAStpass

 

4. Speaking of fastpass, with the magic bands you are able to select 3 fastpasses per day. Take advantage of that feature. I suggest using them wisely on character meets and roller coasters. The  new Enchanted Tales with Belle is a must do for any Beauty and the Beast fan. The animatronic Lumiere was awesome.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Royal Table, Belle's Enchanted Tales, Walt Disney World, Beauty and the Beast

 

5. If not using the fastpass feature, hit the princesses and popular attractions first thing in the morning. It can mean the difference between a 15-minute wait and an hour and a half wait.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids,Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,Magic Kingdom, Flying Dumbo, FantasyLand, Cinderella's ROyal Table, Merry Go Round

 

6. Take advantage of “Magic hours”. If you are staying on Disney World grounds, you can qualify for extra magic hours which means the park is open an hour earlier or a couple hours later depending on the day and the park. I suggest using this tool when planning your stay. If you think it’s not worth it, look at the photo below with maybe 100 people in the park, at 9 am that would quickly become 85,000 people in the park that day.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Royal Table, Merry Go Round, Magic Kingdom, Magic Hours, Walt Disney World

 

7. Schedule your trip ahead of time using your MyDisneyExperience.com. Honestly, you will be able to make sure that you don’t miss a thing and if you are a Type-A mom like myself, you’ll be thrilled at how much easier your days go knowing when things start and where to go.

 

8. Download the Walt Disney World app. With this app, you will be able to make reservations and check availability. You will be able change fast passes. Several times we got to an attraction before our scheduled time and rode the ride and either saved our fastpass to go again or changed the fastpass for a different attraction.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Royal Table, Merry Go Round, Cinderella's castle, Walt Disney World, Happiest Place on Earth, Magic Kingdom

 

9. Schedule down time! I am so serious. Between the heat and all the walking, little ones ( and big ones too) will need naps or pool time. I took no less than 3 naps during our spring break.

 

10. Make sure to see the new for 2014 3 pm Disney Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom. It has all the princesses and princes and is sure to delight children of all ages.

 

11. Hit the Kilamanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning. The animals will not be as active later in the day when the sun is high in the sky and beating down on them. They will be resting and hiding in the shade.

 

12. Make sure to see the Wishes nighttime spectacular. It truly is a magical experience and you will all get swept away in the moment.

 

13. Soarin is awesome! I love to fly and this felt like I was flying free as a bird. My girls loved it too but be sure to fastpass it because the stand by line was never under 180 minutes the whole time we were there.

 

14. Get the Memory Maker. You know all those photographers that are standing around asking to take your photos? Well, just spend $150 for the Memory Maker and you get to digitally download all of those photos and bonus, YOU Get to be in the photos!! No more being the photographer. Your kids will look back and know that mama was actually on vacation with them.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Royal Table, Merry Go Round, cinderella, my princesses, Walt Disney World

 

15. Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Rockin Roller Coaster and Splash Mountain are all must rides for us. The kids will love it and you will LOVE the photos, especially if this is their first experience on the rides. The faces are priceless.

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Magic Kingdom,Memory Maker, Space Mountain

 

Disney World Vacation with Kids, Walt Disney World, Merry Go Round, tower of terror, MGM

Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,MGM, ROCKIN ROLLERCOASTER

 

16. Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a once in a lifetime must for every little girl. Be warned it is pretty pricey for breakfast just under $200 for a family of four BUT to see my girls’ faces when the princesses came to our table was something totally worth the price. That magic and belief is a fleeting part of childhood so savor it and indulge while you can.

 

yal Table, Merry Go Round, Jasmine

 

17. Meet Mickey and have your photo taken with him. Firstly, Mickey’s mouth actually moves know. Holy high-tech animatronic head and it’s actually a tradition we’ve been doing since our honeymoon trip and it’s kind of cool to see how we’ve changed and the girls grow over the years.

 

18. Be sure to enjoy a Pineapple Dole Whip (sold at the Dole stand at the Magic Kingdom), a turkey leg or a funnel cake from the funnel cake cart at the Boardwalk. I also highly recommend taking your family to Restaurant Marrakesh in Morrocco at Epcot. The food is fantastic. My kids loved it because who doesn’t love sweet and savory together. There is a live belly dancing show every hour on the hour and it is amazing to watch and there is huge chance that your child will get pulled onto the dance floor. Have your cameras ready!

 

Disney World, The boardwalk, Seashore sweets, surrey bikes, The Boardwalk bakery

 

19. Spend an evening at the Boardwalk. Get a pepperoni pizza from the Boardwalk Pizza Window and grab a seat on the Boardwalk at sunset. Take a surrey bike ride, get a family caricature portrait sketched and watch the street performers. It’s lots of good clean fun and my kids always seem to get pulled into the shows, so have your camera ready.  When the Boardwalk is all lit up at night, it is absolutely magical. End the night with dessert from the Boardwalk bakery ( my favorite is the Tiramisu) or if ice cream is your preference, check out Seashore Sweets. Try saying that 3 times real fast.

 

20. Late night, Sushi at Kimonos in the Swan is fun for the entire family. First, enjoy some amazing sushi and follow that with some karaoke on the Kimono stage. But be warned, if there is a large convention in-house, you may have to wait awhile to get your food.

 

Disney World, Walt Disney, Disney Secrets, Disney with kids, Type-A WDW,Magic Kingdom, Flying Dumbo, FantasyLand,

 

21. The Flying Dumbo ride now has a gigantic indoor play area built into the line wait. It is amazing because kids are notorious for getting squeamish and whiney when in line for too long so how awesome that you get to the middle of the line and enter the play area. The hostess hands you a pager and you can play until it’s your turn to ride. Genius. Bravo Disney.

 

yal Table, Merry Go Round, Epcot, Festival of flowers

 

22. Plan your visit during the International Flower festival and it will make your walk around the countries while you snack and sip even more breathtaking and the kids will love the topiaries of the Disney characters.

 

23. Cool off at the new Casey Jr. splash pad in Fantasyland. It’s cute, it’s convenient and a welcome reprieve from the blistering Florida heat. Make sure the kids have swimsuits or a change of clothes on the day you visit the Magic Kingdom because they won’t want to miss the fun. If it rains and you take a day off of the parks, might I recommend bowling and pizza at Splitsville in Downtown Disney. It’s fun, indoors and very reasonably priced and the food is YUM!

 

24. Bonfire and s’ mores on the Boardwalk followed by a free outdoor movie by the pool under the stars.

 

DIsney World, La Nouba, Cirque du soleil

 

25. La Nouba is 110% worth the cost. My girls are 6 and 9 and they were enthralled with the entire experience. The trampolines and the diabolos were their favorite parts. Myself, the silk scarves and ariel ballet blow me away every single time.

walt disney world, tips, vacation, 25 insider tips, family trip, spring break

These are all things that I’ve learned over the years of visiting Disney World. The most important thing you can do at Disney World ( or anywhere for that matter) with your kids is just enjoy the moments, being there and remember not to sweat the small stuff because in the grand scheme of things…none of it matters. Make a plan but be flexible.

What is your best tip for having the best Walt Disney World Vacation with kids?

482014

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Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

If you are looking for a place to squeeze in one last family vacation, a long weekend for Labor Day or a romantic getaway this summer, I would recommend Ogunquit, Maine. Believe me, you will not regret it. Summering in Ogunquit is taking a break from the chaos of your life. It’s getting back to basics without being eaten by mosquitos in a tent. It’s not forcing yourself to unplug in a world that’s always dialed in but relaxing just enough to be in the moment so that you forget to plug in.

I am a traveler. I have wanderlust in my heart and I can never learn enough about new places and people. We are raising our daughters to have an insatiable wanderlust. I spent my summers in Mexico as a child. I don’t mean we summered in Mexico. We weren’t holed up at some resort. We were on my grandfather’s ranch in the small town that my dad was raised in. Sure they had a lot of the comforts of home but we weren’t allowed to have them. My dad felt like when in Mexico, do as the Mexicans and he was right. He immersed the shit out of us. If we wanted to understand what our grandfather was saying, even though he did speak some broken English, we damned better well be paying attention.

My dad’s idea was that when he came to America, he learned English. When we went to Mexico, we needed to adapt. This was a lesson that shaped the kind of person I would become. That simple no became the foundation for my tolerance and understanding of cultures and people different than me. Who cares if there was a McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the next town over, he said no.

When I was little, I didn’t get it. Why wouldn’t he just let us have the damn cheeseburger? Why did we have to try everything? And believe me when I tell you that we did. I’ve eaten rattlesnake, cactus, tongue and most animals from head to toe because that folks is what you eat in a third world country and your parents give you no options but to immerse completely. And there was no complaining.

Well, there was that one time I tried to complain but my dad shoved a piece of rattlesnake at me (without telling me what it was) and simply said, “Come!” As in, stop asking for cheeseburgers and eat the damn food available to you. You can have McDonald’s the other 11 months of the year. He was not the compromising sort. So, I ate it and I spoke Spanish to my grandpa. There were no concessions made and I learned a very valuable lesson; all cultures are important and the only way to truly appreciate and respect them is to immerse. This is what we teach our girls. This is how we travel. We dare to live open to all possibilities because there within lies our destiny.

This is not just for international trips. When we travel within the country, our girls know that people are different in different regions. People talk differently, think differently, believe and eat differently. Differences are good. We’ve taught them to embrace and respect these differences and from these experiences carve out who they want to be; how they want to live. I don’t want them to be limited by their geographical constitution.

This summer we took a road trip to the East Coast. First a weekend in Ogunquit, Maine and next, 7 days in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s not immersion into a drastically different culture but it is a different state of mind and certainly, a different mentality from the limited experience one normally finds in these fly over states that we live in. If you are a long time reader of The TRUTH, you might remember that we’ve visited both Ogunquit and Boston before. Well, we loved it so much we had to do it again and this time we discovered even more wonderful places.

Let me start by saying that our 15-hour long road trip was saved by my Bracketron phone holder and charger. We use a navigation app on our smartphone so to keep our phones from dying it has to be charging the entire time but then where does that leave me and my iPad. God knows I can’t survive a road trip without access to Netflix and Hulu. Luckily, my phone holder can charge not only one but two devices!

Then there is The Anchorage Inn. We love this place. It is clean, the staff is helpful and friendly and not only is it located on the Marginal way with views of the Atlantic, it is located on the main street of Ogunquit and located in walking distance to absolutely everything of relevance. If you are ever headed to Ogunquit, like so many of my friends now are since I can’t seem to shut up about how amazing it is, it is definitely worth trying to get a reservation to stay at The Anchorage. Just make your reservations early because they book peak season pretty fast.

Places to Eat

ANgelinas Ristorante, Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Angelinas Ristorante Wine Bar and Tuscan Grille

If you like a nice quiet evening with great food, candlelight, delicious food and superb martinis…Angelinas is your spot. I had the chicken franchese with asparagus and linguini in butter sauce. It was some of the best Italian food, I’ve ever eaten and my exotic martini got me knackered. It’s casual fine dining at affordable prices.

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Rose Cove

We ate here our first night there. We were all exhausted and crabby from the all day road trip but the casual atmosphere at Rose Cove was just what the doctor ordered. It’s a small unassuming place and, I won’t lie, we were lured in by the waiter giving out samples of the fudge from their confectionary shop attached to the restaurant. We sat outside under the stars, listening to the singers from the Front Porch piano bar as their voices wafted across the street, and we finally exhaled at our table with the mini fire pit in the middle. Nothing says beach holiday like a fire pit in the middle of your table, a fresh lobstah roll bigger than your head and an ice cold local beer. We came for the blueberry and the sea salted caramel fudge and we stayed for the lobstah.

Sweet Peas

Our daughters love this place for the menagerie of ever changing flavors that they offer. I love it because the kids who work there have endless patience and always greet you with a smile. My daughters ask to sample no less than 4 flavors every single time we go in there and these youngsters have nothing but great attitudes and sunny dispositions to share. We go there every chance we get. It’s the perfect afternoon snack after a day at the beach. Some of our favorite flavors are Maine Black Bear, Coconut chip with Almond Joy, Coffee Toffee with Heath Bar and Phantomberry.

AMore Cafe, Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Café Amore

I’ve got one word for you BREAKFAST! Oh my, this place specializes in breakfast. Firstly, again, beach towns have the friendliest staffs I’ve ever met. Everyone is always smiling and seem genuinely happy to be there. No one seems put out or annoyed when you ask a question about the menu. This time we sampled the lemon and blueberry cream cheese stuffed French toast, the Belgium waffle with strawberries and the Corned beef eggs benedict. I personally, sampled off everyone’s plate and can tell you that it was all scrumptious.

Bread and Roses Bakery

 

It has become our tradition to stop at this shop on the last night we are in town and load up on all the confectionary goodness and pastries we can walk back to our room at The Anchorage. The Big Guy had a praline and pecan bar, the girls had tiny mugs made of chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse and I had a chocolate cake layered with whipped peanut butter mousse. And oh yes, I did have my cake by the ocean. It was more decadent than should probably be legally allowed for people over the age of 30. My shorts fit a little tighter that day but it was worth every single calorie.

Things to Do in Ogunquit Maine

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Ogunquit Beach

When we go to Ogunquit we have one mission in mind and that is to beach. If you’ve never been to an East coast beach town, you may have no idea what the hell I am talking about. Remember the immersion I was talking about earlier? Well, being in Ogunquit is simple. You just let go. There is no planning. You just take a deep breath, walk outside and live and it is glorious. It is perfect for our family because we are always over booked. We need Ogunquit to decompress and get back to normal. Ogunquit pulls my family back off of the ledge where we reside on a daily basis. It’s that good.

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

We truly spend most of our time at Ogunquit beach. It’s a 5-minute walk from The Anchorage and our girls love to play in the ocean; swimming, boogie boarding, body surfing and building sand castles. Thank goodness for the Snapper Rock swimwear, beach pants and most of all the neoprene wetsuit jacket and vest because the water was freezing in June. Thanks to these cute and durable pieces are girls were able to frolic in the surf without their lips turning blue.

perkins cove.Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Perkin’s Cove

Perkin’s Cove is a short 15-minute walk down the Marginal Way in the opposite way of the beach. It is a quaint little harbor full of small sailboats surrounded by restaurants that serve lobster rolls of all varieties and offer stunning views at sunset. It’s also one of our girls favorite places to stroll after dinner bobbing in and out of shop after shop searching for just the right souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate each trip. If you are in Ogunquit, you have to walk to Perkins cove and look around.

The Front Porch

The Front Porch is a restaurant located at the busiest corner of Main street that has great food downstairs and a wonderful piano bar upstairs. Children are allowed downstairs but not upstairs. Upstairs is where the magic happens. You can hear the gleeful singing ringing out into the streets as everyone joins in singing along. It is the place to go in Ogunquit for a good time on your beach vacation.

If you are still looking for the perfect place to have your cake by the ocean this Labor Day, my recommendation is Ogunquit, Maine.

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cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

I’ve taken my family to the Cirque du Soleil live on three different occasions and we’ve seen every DVD available. The first time I saw a live Cirque du Soleil was on my honeymoon in 1999.Since then, Cirque du Soleil has held a special place in my heart and in our family so when I heard Cirque du Soleil Kurios was touring in Boston at the same time we would be there, I knew we had to see the show.

Cirque du Soleil KuriosCabinet of Curiosities is live under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) at Suffolk Downs from May 26th –July 10, 2016.

You can either get your tickets online or you can stop by South Market and pick up your tickets while spending the day at Faneuil Hall. Whatever you do, you don’t want to miss this show.

Cirque du Soleil “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities” is about as close to a transporter device as you can get. Step into the Grand Chapiteau and you immediately enter a magical world. There are 426 props in the show, the most of any production in Cirque du Soleil’s history. Some 65 trucks transport close to 2,000 tons of equipment for KURIOS™ – Cabinet of Curiosities.

This world is simultaneously a retro and futuristic version of a mad scientist’s lab all at once. It’s a mechanized world of the future with people of the 1920’s, at once wondrous and nostalgic. The steampunk ambiance only serves to make this Cirque du Soleil even more astonishing.

From the moment we pulled back the tent flaps, we were transported to another dimension. The energy at a Cirque du Soleil show is palpable. I’ve had the luxury of going behind the scenes on occasion and I am even more mystified of the magic that happens on stage after knowing all the hard work and determination that goes into a show. The 116 tour members come from 22 different countries. Some have been touring with Cirque du Soleil for more than 20 years. All performers are responsible for applying their own make-up every show, which can take them between 40 minutes to two hours. These performers make the near impossible and gravity defying look easy.

When you walk in, the dull gleam of metal is everywhere, from the portal through which the performers materialize to the masses of industrial-duty gears ready to clank into motion in every direction. Towering automated music-making machines cobbled together from giant glass globes, metal bracing and junkyard’s worth of unusual finds adorn the stage defying reason and logic.

The Cirque du Soleil Kurios show, in the Suffolk Downs parking lot, reinvents the wheel.

Anyone who has seen more than one Cirque du Soleil knows that there are certain expectations that will always be met. For example, there will always be a clown who makes you simultaneously think and belly laugh on their witty commentary of society. There will always be amazing aerial ballet (one of my favorite acts) and there will always be incredible acrobats and a trapeze or trampoline act that will blow your freaking mind. This time, even the most familiar acts (13 in total) had new twists and left me gasping and clapping so hard in my seat that by the end of the show, my voice was gone from woo-hooing and my hands were exhausted and sore from extreme clapping. (It’s a thing, look it up.)

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The show starts with the band parading through the audience. My daughters are obsessed with the live music (both being violinists) and fell fast and hard for the singer, Eirini Tornesaki. I know because I had the privilege of listening to the soundtrack for Kurios for our 15-hour drive home from Boston.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

A solo trapeze act is performed not from a bar but from a suspended bicycle (Anne Weissbecker).

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

 

Meanwhile, the Russian cradle duo perform 13 feet above the ground as the strongman turns into a human trapeze.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The rola bola, balancing atop stacked cylinders, is taken aloft on a levitating platform (James Eulises Gonzalez Correa).

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

The aerial straps are commanded by muscular Siamese twins who magically detach when airborne yet perform in perfect tandem while synchronized with perfect timing (Roman and Vitali Tomanov). Every act more exciting than the last.

One of my husband’s favorite acts was the clown (Facundo Gimenez.) He is a miracle of transformation as he changes from a Lothario trying to seduce an audience member to a parrot, a Tyrannosaurus Rex ( our favorite) and ultimately into a feline which is given to hairball hacks and cat-box indiscretions.

cirque du soleil, Kurios, Boston, travel

“Kurios,” like all Cirque du Soleil shows, inspires wonder, awe, excitement and suspense and will leave you feeling like the impossible is possible. My daughters have both decided that they want to run away with the circus…well, the Cirque du Soleil, anyways. I can’t blame them; I want to too. We are completely enamored with all things Kurios. I’m using it as an excuse to encourage them to practice their violin, ballet and gymnastics more.

“Kurios,” times vary, but generally 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 5:00 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 10. Prices vary but currently are about $40-$165, not including VIP packages. (877) 924-7783 or www.cirquedusoleil.com/kurios. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes with a brief intermission between halves.

If you can’t catch this amazing show in Boston, fret not. Kurios is touring and I’m sure it will coming to a city near you soon. Next up, Washington D.C. opening July 21, New York City opening September 29 and then on to Miami!

Disclosure: I was provided media passes to see Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities but all opinions and love for all things Cirque du Soleil are my own.

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Disney, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled

Last week, my family went to the happiest place on earth, Disney World, and I was disabled. We were all very excited. We’d been planning this trip since last year; everything got postponed when my life came to a screeching halt thanks to my slip and fall in my sister’s wedding last fall. Come hell or high water, we were going to Disney World. There was just a couple issues 1) my broken leg is still recovering (it’s an 18-month process y’all.) 2) the week before we left, I was in the ER with a severe gallbladder attack. I was far from 100% but I was going to Disney World.

Here is how I navigated the happiest place on earth with a messed up leg. I can tell you that it was no fun but I figured out a way to get around all of those parks and not end up back in the hospital. This post is just about getting around if you are physically disabled, I will write a separate post about eating at Disney World when you are on a restricted diet because, you know, I couldn’t just be hobbled I had to do it starving.

My advice for anyone who has a broken leg, is recovering from a broken leg, a sprained ankle, a bum knee or broken hip or just doesn’t do well with walking in high heat because they are sickly, especially the elderly…rent a wheelchair! I believe it’s $12/$13 a day or you can get 3 days for $30, which is what my husband did for me. But get to the parks early, especially the Magic Kingdom. Also, the wheelchairs are located to the right after you scan in but before you enter the park (the same place as where you rent the strollers).

Disney, travel, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled

I thought I could do it on my own. After all, I am 7 months out from the original break but I was wrong. I tried everything, ankle brace, ankle wrap, Kinesio Tape for the tendonitis, crutches and even took my walking boot. Nothing can make a recovering broken leg walk around the Magic Kingdom for 15 hours pain free, not even a strong will and multiple vicodin. Believe me I tried.

The first night we arrived, we went to Hollywood studios. We arrived around 4:30 p.m. we returned to our room around 10 pm, in those 5.5 hours, my ankle (that was firmly in a brace) had swollen up to the size of my calf and the pain was excruciating. I knew then and there that there was no way that I was going to survive the Magic Kingdom on foot.

A few things you should know about being physically disabled in a wheelchair at Walt Disney World:

Firstly, it’s not as embarrassing as you might think and don’t worry about your spouse or children pushing you around, they’d prefer that to hearing you complain and be in misery any day.

Secondly, if you do find yourself in a wheelchair, check with the cast members at each ride because some have steps and they will need to reroute you. Sometimes they just give you a fast pass and have you come back so you don’t have to wait in the long lines in your chair.

Thirdly, check when you go to the restaurants, some have special seating for people in wheelchairs and some you need to leave the chair outside but for the most part all the parks were very wheelchair friendly.

Fourth, check with cast members at each park about seating for fireworks and such. They are very accommodating and there are special seating locations for those in wheelchairs. It was very nice that they provide these spaces because it’s hard to see when you are at wheelchair level.

Fifth, and this is the important one, if you are not disabled do not rent the wheelchairs. Leave those for those people who actually need them. Laziness is not a disability. Also, don’t use the handicapped bathrooms; those of us who are actually handicapped need those larger bathrooms for a reason. A wheelchair does not fit in a standard restroom stall.

Disney, Walt Disney World, disabled, tips for getting around Disney when you're disbaled, travel

I won’t lie, being at Walt Disney World in a wheelchair was a humbling experience for me but, like most of these past 7 months, it’s given me a new respect for the disabled and respect for their situations. Disney did a great job of making the parks easily enjoyed by the disabled as well as the able bodied.

If it hadn’t been for the wheelchair rental service, the entire trip would have been ruined. If you find yourself, physically unable to walk Disney World, don’t be too proud to use the wheelchairs. They are there for those of us who are disabled in some way and need them.

Have you ever been to Disney World when you weren’t 100% physically?

 

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Family travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Family travel and exploring are two of my favorite things to do. In fact, if I could do anything in the world, it would be to show my children every square inch of the world introducing them to as many people, cultures, languages and lands as time would allow.

I believe that the key to being a good person is being a good citizen of the world and embracing and appreciating the differences in people and places, all the while remembering that at our core, we are all human beings; that is our shared experience and it all begins with family travel.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

This is the only tie we need to bond us to one another; humanity. It has nothing to do with where we were born, what we eat, what language we speak, our religion, who we love or what we believe. It has everything to do with decency, respect and human kindness. I feel it is my duty to instill this virtue in my children but there is only so much I can do from my neighborhood.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Like you, I teach my children that they need to respect themselves and those they encounter in the world but, right now, their world is still pretty small. It’s home, school, ballet, gymnastics, church and repeat. It’s quite the little bubble.

Family travel takes us out of our bubble and that’s good.

I’ve realized that the more we travel, the bigger their scope for human understanding becomes and in turn the way they move through this world. I see them grow with each travel destination we visit. I see curiosity for knowledge of others growing inside them. I encourage them to go be a part of it, to interact and have new experiences. I demand that we have adventures because I don’t want my children growing up as bystanders in their own lives.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I want to inspire my girls to spread their wings and venture outside of our comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I love 5-star hotels as much as the next person but there is a part of me that is filled with wanderlust and that part is hungry for adventure. I want to see things I’ve never seen and share those with the Big Guy and my girls. I want us to do it together.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I want to be a part of their life adventure so that someday they won’t be afraid to take their children on adventures. I want to not only visit places that are familiar but I want to immerse ourselves in places and cultures unknown. I literally want to give my children the world. As a parent, aside from unconditional love, I think the gift of travel and the perspective it gives, the bravery that comes from unshackling yourself from conventional thinking and inspiring my children to see beyond borders is one of the most important gifts that I can give to them.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

On a recent call as a National Geographic ambassador, I was introduced to National Geogrpahic Student expeditions, summer trips for high school students and middle school students. My girls are still too young to travel alone but I like that they’ve put this program together.

More importantly, I was floored by the National Geographic Family Expeditions, Unique Lodges of World and National Geographic Journeys which just launched 70 Adventures because these are completely organized trips that you can take with your family. You choose your dream destination almost anywhere in the world and National Geographic does the rest. Trips range from 7 days to 22 days.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I am most excited about the National Geographic Family Expeditions for obvious reasons. What better way to introduce my family to the wonder of world travel then through an unforgettable family expedition?

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Set out on one of National Geographic’s family trips and experience the magic of discovery and exploration with your whole family. They’ve crafted their family expeditions to inspire and enrich travelers of any age, drawing on their global resources to create experiences in incredible places that are authentic, immersive, and fun. Watch humpback whales breach and kayak into remote fjords in Alaska; spot lions, elephants, giraffes, and more on safari in Tanzania; or go white-water rafting through Costa Rica’s tropical forest. National Geographic’s expedition leaders and local experts enrich your understanding of the culture, wildlife, and natural wonders of each incredible destination, and on many of their family trips, a young explorer leader facilitates fun learning activities for kids. This would be the perfect trip for our family of four to step put of our comfort zone and experience the world fully immersed. Now, I just need to start planning and saving for it.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

If you want to get your little ones mentally prepared to take a leap outside of their comfort zone and curious for adventure, why not watch some travel documentaries together like Wildest Africa, Wildest Arctic, Wildest Islands, Wildest Latina America, Wildest India and several more to ignite that wanderlust in those little hearts? Or if they are a bit too young for documentaries how about Netflix’s new series that’s packed full of adventure just for the little ones, Dawn of the Croods, now streaming on Netflix.

Where’s your dream family travel destination?

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