Contest Time

It is contest time!  With Fall upon us my family enjoys road trips even more.  We love the cooler temps and beautiful scenery changes.  Why not gather the family for a fun adventure in Atlanta?  Fun for all ages is to be had at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Atlanta.  Go like them on facebook and comment under this blog that you did so.  By doing so you will be eligible to win tickets to the show.

(https://www.facebook.com/MTatlanta)  

I took the kids to this show right before school started and they are still talking about it now.  Asking when can we go back?  The dining experience is one of a kind, a big hit for the kids because it is Medieval Style.  The show is exciting and interactive..I even found myself cheering for the knights!

What is stopping you?  Go like their page, comment under here that you did so.  If you liked them eearlier today from my FB post comment as well because you are eligible.  Good Luck! Winners will be announced at the end of the month.  

Another good reason to go like them:
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Medieval Times, Atlanta is excited to join in the Second Annual FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE! During the month of October, for every new LIKE to the Medieval Times, Atlanta Facebook page<https://www.facebook.com/MTatlanta> (https://www.facebook.com/MTatlanta), the castle will donate $1 (per LIKE) to Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.

Good Luck and Happy Travels,
Melika



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A deal close to home

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We often take road trips to Chattanooga…every time we go we discover something new.  This past summer we experienced the Chattanooga Ducks for the first time!  My boys loved this half army truck half boat vehicle.  Right now you can get a deal on the Groupon site for a ride on the Chattanooga Ducks.  Even though we have done this before, I bought them again.  Why not for $5 per child and $10 per adult I can not think of another activity to spend 2 hours outside as a family!

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“Dinner is Saved”

What do you get when you take three men who have known one another since college or longer, add in culinary and restaurant management experience and mix that with their true passion and dreams?  If you are lucky you get a job you love, smiling customers and fun upbeat co-workers!  Mark Woodard, one of the owners of Supper Heroes located in Huntsville, AL did just that.  He and a few of his friends spent many of their early adult years learning and perfecting their skills in the restaurant business at various dining establishments in the country.  They then came back to their hometown to provide a neighborhood style family restaurant with a comic book theme.

I took my twins there for the first time since they opened about two months ago.  Both boys gave it a thumbs up.  For them the coolest part were the comic books displayed all over the walls (most of which Mark has been collecting since 1972).  The menu is great because it caters to both the adult and the child palate.  See what Rocket City Mom contributor Lexi Robinson Austin had to say when she did a review of the restaurant recently.  After reading the menu and sampling a few of the selections I would have to say that Mark met his goal in serving food that awakens the senses.  The adult selections have unique combinations of sweet, salty, spicy and savory.  Most of the menu creations have a story, the chicken salad for instance was created for his wife!  The Arnold, which is the sandwich I ordered, was a breakfast sandwich served by Mark’s mom when he was growing up.

This Friday night dinner experience was definitely worth the drive.  The restaurant provides an inviting environment.  The menu selections are priced more than fairly.  We dined at a Ninja themed restaurant in NYC in November and in comparison this small Huntsville, AL establishment beat NYC hands down.  I fed my family of 3 complete with soft drinks, appetizers and desserts for under $30.  In NYC a meal for six came to almost $150 and we left hungry and disappointed.

I encourage you to take your little heroes and check out this new restaurant where “Hunger is Vanquished” and “Dinner is Saved”!  You will find this adventure well worth your time!

Do Not Let Distance Get in the Way!

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The older we get the more friendships we have built.  Like many of you I struggle to stay close with friends that have moved away.  Thankfully,  with the use of facebook we can keep up with the happenings in each others lives.  However, nothing comes close to that face to face encounter with a friend.  Even more priceless is watching our children build a bond that hopefully they will carry on for a lifetime.

My friend Brandie moved out of Huntsville about eight years ago.  We promised that we would make time to see one another at least once a year.  The first few years were though and we fell short keeping that promise.  My twins were just born and one of them had serious health problems.  Three years later I found myself getting divorced.  Brandie was also home with a baby by then.  Needless to say we were both busy with multiple aspects of our lives.  When things finally calmed down we were ready to make the first trips.

Our first two reunion trips had us meeting at the family beach condo in Destin.  There are so many wonderful things about mature friendships.  One of them is that there is no need to impress.  Our meetings are always casual, focused on the kids during the day and then having that quality girl time after the kids are in bed.  We do not try to occupy our days with too much activity.  The kids are happy at the condo, at the pool and on the beach.  We kept meals simple and stress free as well.

Then there was the time we had no idea we were meeting.  It was purely fate.  It had been a while since we talked and our phone conversation one evening left us awaiting a BIG SURPRISE!  We were going to be at WALT DISNEY WORLD at the same time!  Wow it really is the most magical place on earth!  My boys and I were already super excited about the trip but this would make it better than we could ever have imagined.  Once again, a seasoned friendship served us well on this trip.  With four small children, a niece and a set of grandparents plus Brandie and me Walt Disney World would never be the same.

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Most recently we decided on a last-minute trip to Birmingham, AL.  We booked two rooms at the Embassy Suites for a Saturday night.  We met for lunch that day at Cosmo’s Pizza in trendy Five Points South.  From there we spent a fun afternoon at the McWane Science Center.  At about 4pm we made our way to the hotel where we spent the rest of the evening swimming and catching up.

For me,  it is important to keep these lifetime friendships alive and healthy.  As adults,  we often find ourselves so busy with life and obligations that our needs to foster friendships fall to the wayside.  It is understandable that life’s obstacles and challenges make it difficult to escape to meet that dear friend.  For Brandie and me, we had those circumstance in the early years after her move.  For now we are both in a phase in our lives where impromptu meetings are a reality.  We look forward to these getaways as do our children.    If you are reading this I hope it makes you think of your lifetime friend that is overdue for a face to face visit!  A word of advice anytime we tried to plan something a long way out it never happened!  We have learned to plan no more than a month in advance.  This has worked for the two of us with Brandie only 4 hours away.  A new chapter is about to begin in her life which puts our distance at about ten hours.  That may take a little better planning…our friendship is worth it!

Let me know what your favorite traditions are with your long distance friends.  Would love some fun suggestions for our next impromptu adventure!

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Set Sail for Family Harmony

Set Sail for Family Harmony
FEB 8, 2013

I was wrong.

For over 30 years I have traveled the world utilizing all modes of transportation yet avoiding cruise ships. Why would I pay to be confined to a floating vessel with thousands of traveling strangers? The older I get the easier it becomes to admit that I made a mistake.

Most vacations have me returning home wishing for just a few additional days for “a vacation from my vacation”. A recent escape aboard the CarnivalElation was just what my family needed to beat the winter blahs – we returned home rested and willing to patiently await the arrival of spring.

Perhaps you, too, are a cruise cynic. There is the misconception that cruises are for retired people, the non-adventurer, or people that live for the endless buffet. I beg to differ. I’m thirty six years young, have plenty of energy and zest for adventure and prefer fine dining over buffets!

Skeptics, allow me to convince you…

1. The Price

Especially off-season, is affordable. Our five-night adventure out of New Orleans to Mexico set us back only $400, not per person, TOTAL cost! Keep in mind, I am very cost conscious, we stayed in an interior room with bunk beds. Balcony rooms and ocean view will add significantly to your cost.

2. Camp Carnival!

If you’re traveling with children, this is the greatest concept ever invented. Supervised, educational, fun activities are free of charge ten hours per day. It allows them to meet other children from all over the world. Your kids are HAPPY and you are getting a true vacation to enjoy quiet time with your spouse or serenity by the pool!

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3. Peaceful Meals

You want to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a well prepared, flavorful dish. The kids are whining that they can’t eat that. Your husband wants meat and potatoes. That entire ordeal is enough to ruin a vacation. A culinary genius trained in the psychiatry of eating must have been behind the scenes creating a way to please everyone! Carnival never disappointed at meal times. There were even evenings that Camp Carnival counselors hosted kid-only dinners leaving you free to enjoy a date night.

On the evenings that you choose to take the children to the dining room, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to etiquette (just in case they have an aversion to fine dining, a children’s menu is available). Room service is available, also free, but I do suggest you tip the waiter! There is a gigantic buffet on the Lido deck, featuring a Mongolian Wok, a Deli, a Grill and anything else you can imagine! Did I mention Ice Cream 24 hours a day?

4. Awesome Entertainment

Although Camp Carnival has the kids covered, I do suggest you spend some quality time with them on your vacation. Take time out for a game of mini golf up on the ship’s deck, enjoy a show after dinner in the Mikato Lounge, or get your dose of laughter at the family-friendly comedy hour! There is a great gym on board the ship. When was the last time you worked out overlooking the ocean? There’s a sports bar to catch the latest action for those who are anxious on vacation if they are unable to keep up with their favorite teams. Perhaps you are one who enjoys the Casino – you never know you could get lucky and even pay for your cruise!

The ship offers endless activities: spa services, trivia games, karaoke, a disco for teens as well as adults, a piano bar, poolside games, a basketball court, a walking trail, a pool with waterslide, shopping on board, wine tastings, chef dinners, behind the scenes tours…something for everyone!

So much to do!

So much to do!

5. Culture Without a Passport

Sometimes you may find yourself or your children without a passport. As long as your cruise begins and ends in the same U.S. port you are able to travel without a one. (For more information visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.)

The opportunity to see how other people live is priceless. I highly suggest doing a scavenger hunt with the kids at one of these ports. Our cruise director, Willie, provided my son with a “Mission Impossible” scavenger hunt! It was a fun idea and a great way for us to build a lasting memory together. There are boundless shore excursions available. For the novice, book them directly through Carnival or the adventurer could rent a car and explore the island. The time before last, we were with a group of 10 and rented a taxi driver for the day who took us to parts of Cozumel we may never have visited otherwise.

A cruise is one of the most restful, stress free vacations that I take with my family. If you are concerned because you are traveling with someone that has special needs, you may be interested in the info they have about guests with disabilities.

I have so much more to share from this experience, if you want to plan your first cruise or have any questions for me feel free to comment below or email me at melikanixon@live.com.