Thursday 29 November 2012

Friends of MKTS - Suitcases and Sippy Cups

Blog Address:
Facebook: Suitcases and Sippy Cups
Twitter: SCasesandScups

WHO ARE THEY? - Living with her high school sweetheart husband and four boys, Jessica is like the action movie heroine, doing battle against the forces of...well...male-dom. I can't imagine what it's like to try and be the voice of reason and sanity in a house full of testosterone, but not only does Jessica keep things together, she does it with all the grace and charm of a true southern lady. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting her in real life yet, but somehow I get the feeling that when I do, I'll feel the need to address her as Ma'am. 

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Decorating by Disneyland

One of my favorite parts of spending Christmas at Disneyland is the decorations. For a place that gets absolutely no snow, it's amazing just how festive of an atmosphere Disney can create simply by stringing lights and tinsel all over the park. It doesn't matter that I'm in shorts and a t-shirt instead of snow pants and a parka, when I walk down Main Street, my mind says "Christmas", and I could spend hours just looking at the incredible job the Disney imagineers do in transforming the park every December.

Disneyland Christmas Decorations

My love of Christmas decorations however, does not extend to my own house. My most hated job every year is the putting up and taking down of Christmas decorations. It's ridiculously time consuming, and no matter how much planning and effort I put in, our display always ends up looking like an afterthought. This frustration probably isn't helped by the fact that I happen to live in a neighborhood that has a talent for this kind of thing. Every time I drive down my street, I'm reminded that decorating is not my forte, and that I live in the proverbial "Ditto" house.

Ditto Christmas Lights

This year though, I thought I would try and take some inspiration from Disney. I figured that if I started early enough, and studied as many pictures as I could of the Disneyland decorations, that I must be able to find some level of Christmas spirit that I could apply to my own home. There has to be a minimal amount of festiveness that even the most un-handy of people can achieve. I mean, if a Mouse can decorate his place with enough flair to make millions of people smile, there must be something I can do to at least not embarrass my kids right? Right?

Disneyland Aurora Castle Christmas Lights

Well, I do own a couple strands of icicle lights, but I think we all know that this one is way beyond my capabilities. It's too bad really, because our house is almost the exact same size and shape.

Disneyland Hotel Christmas Tree Sled

I'm not in charge of the tree at our house, so this really doesn't fall under my jurisdiction. I have one ornament that I hang on the tree each year (a Miami Dolphins ball), and then after that I leave it up to Lori. I can tell you that we definitely won't be putting a giant drum out for the kids to bang on. Apparently some of the imagineers don't actually have kids.

Toon Town Goofy House Disneyland

Goofy's house is getting a whole lot closer to my level, as by the end of the season my lights are usually all twisted and hanging off the roof as well. Still, I think I'm looking for something a little simpler than wreaths and poinsettia leaves in strings that wrap around a chimney. Let's keep looking.

Letters California Adventure

Hmmm...simply covering everything in candy cane colors seems like a super easy way to convey the Christmas spirit. Sadly though, I have neither the red and white wrapping paper, nor the giant 'L' to put out front of my house (Although it did mysteriously disappear from California Adventure just after this picture was taken). How cool would it be if I did though right? That'd put those neighbors in their place.

Reindeer Round Up Disneyland Pluto

Antlers! Of course! Even I can slap a pair of reindeer horns and a little red nose on once in a while. It's simple, it's easy, and it pretty much screams Christmas. I think we've found that level of Disney Christmas that I can aspire to.

This post is a part of Wordless Wednesday over at Focused on the Magic. If you didn't get here from there, you should really head on over and check out some of the fantastic people that hang out there on Wednesdays. Some of them probably have more than a single string of lights on their house, maybe even in different colors! They'd feel right at home in my neighborhood.

Written by Steve Pratt

Monday 26 November 2012

The Quails' Gate Sugar Plum Fair

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads

That's always the point that throws me. I've never known a single child who fell asleep on Christmas Eve with a vision of a sugar-plum in their head. In fact, I don't even know what a sugar-plum is. I like sugar, but I'm not a big fan of plums. How do you know if combining the two is a good idea? Googling doesn't seem to help, as a search for images of "sugar plum" brings results ranging from dusted up flowers to a picture of a naked man on a couch.

...I'm pausing for a minute while half my readers finish Googling "sugar plum".

Last weekend though, I had the chance to figure out once and for all just what a sugar-plum is. One of our local wineries was hosting a "Sugar Plum Fair", and although I don't spend a lot of time at wineries, this became a must-do event in our day. In fact, we decided that it should be a family outing, although we did give the kids an out. Anyone who could convince me that they already knew what a sugar-plum was, didn't have to come.

Winery Sign Quails Gate

Friday 23 November 2012

How Not to Act Natural at a Bus Stop

Kelowna bus stop

It's one of the benefits of living in a town built around a lake. Everywhere you go in Kelowna, there are fantastic views. Even from places like an everyday bus stop.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Hockey - It's Not For Preschool Teachers

A few days ago I was complaining about needing a date with my wife. This weekend we got that chance, and after a quick dinner it was decided that our evening out was going to be spent at a Westside Warriors game. The Warriors are our local Junior A hockey team, one tier level (but two price levels) below the Kelowna Rockets, and with the NHL still in lockout, I saw it as an easy way to get in a little live sporting action without spending a whole lot of money.

Westside Warriors fans

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The Scary Part of Being An Author

While I enjoy writing this blog for you guys, I kind of have this picture in my mind of one day writing a book. I don't know what the book would be about, as I really only know how to write about our family, and since I cover that here it seems a little redundant, but I think I'd like to see my name in print on a bookstore shelf one day. Of course, I'm not really in to that whole "starving writer" thing. I see myself being more of a Richard Castle type, living a life of fame and glamour, regretting the day I gave Oprah's people my number because now they won't quit calling. "I'm sorry I'm holding up the book club, but I'll finish the book when I get to it!"

Monday 19 November 2012

Replacing the Twinkies

Twinkies and Swiss Rolls
There's a bit of a hole in my travel world this week with the news that Hostess is shutting down and stopping production of Twinkies. Everywhere we've gone Twinkies have been one of our go-to snacks, filling our need for both golden spongy cake and delicious vanilla cream filling, but since I'm not willing to tap into our emergency stash that we keep hidden in the basement (gotta be ready for the zombie apocalypse you know) I'm now faced with the task of finding another snack that we can take on the road with us. Fortunately one of my friends, probably tired of hearing me whine about the loss of my favorite breakfast food, pointed out to me that there was a snack expo on at the Kelowna rec center this weekend, and suggested that I could probably find a replacement for my beloved Twinkies there.  

Saturday 17 November 2012

Friends of MKTS - Hike Bike Travel

Blog Address:
Facebook: HikeBikeTravel
Twitter: @HikeBikeTravel

WHO ARE THEY? - Leigh is pretty much the exact opposite of me. She's a wife and a Mom (That's strike one and two), an amazing photographer (strike three), and an incredibly active outdoors enthusiast (strike 4 through 1000). Also, for somebody who actually owns a home, she's there less than anybody I know. I really need to install a GPS chip on her to keep track of where she is, except half the places she ends up probably don't have a GPS signal available.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Waiting for the Four Points Kelowna

As much as I love living in Kelowna, one of the things that drives me a little nuts is the absence of any of my favorite hotel chains up here. We don't have a Hyatt...we don't have a Hilton...we certainly don't have a's kind of a veritable wasteland of promotional opportunities when it comes to hotel chains. Fortunately, we're making our first breakthrough soon with the arrival of the new Four Points Kelowna.

Four Points Kelowna Sign

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Shopping While Traveling - Tips from Mrs. MKTS

Clearance Sale SignI love my wife. She's beautiful, smart, funny, and has an amazing amount of patience considering how much she has to put up with from the kids and I. Traveling with my wife is one of my absolute favorite things to do in life, but you know how they say nobody's perfect? It's possible...just possible mind you....that my wife may have a little bit of a shopping addiction.

Now I know how addiction works, and I know what you're supposed to do, but every time I try and arrange an intervention, Lori ends up talking all her friends and loved ones into going to the mall with her. Obviously they don't understand the seriousness of this situation, but since I'm losing that battle, I decided that I may as well try and get some tips for you guys from someone who, by pretty much any definition of the word, is an expert shopper. Please note however that usage of these tips is entirely at your own risk. More Kids Than Suitcases accepts no responsibility for any overspending that may take place.

Monday 12 November 2012

Christmas Eve at the Crystal Cathedral

I've told you about our tradition of spending Christmas Day at Disneyland but, while I wouldn't call it a tradition, there's something else that we do with reasonable regularity when we're in Southern California - Christmas Eve service at the Crystal Cathedral. While we're not fanatical about attending church when traveling, Christmas is one of those times we like to make sure we get a little spiritual prompting, and the Crystal Cathedral just happens to be convenient for us, being located a short walk from where we usually stay at the Hyatt Orange County.

Crystal Cathedral entrance

Friday 9 November 2012

A Blog Post Full of Monkeys...Sort Of

(Editors note: I have a friend named Laurel who is obsessed with all things monkey related. She even writes a blog called Monkeys and Mountains, and I know that as soon as she sees the title of this post, she's going to rush over here to see any and all cute pictures of monkeys that I may have come across. I'd like to take this opportunity to say "Laurel, I'm sorry, but there are no pictures of real monkeys in this post.)

Have you ever typed in something into the Google search box and then just sat and wondered at some of the results that Google returned for you? For instance, let's say that you went and typed "surfing in Hawaii" into the search box. You'll probably get a few pages of links to websites that keep you up to date on where the waves are breaking and what level rider you should be if you want to be out on the ocean that day, but somewhere in the middle of all those results will be a link to a page titled "How to dissect a Bahamian Sea Turtle during a nationwide power shortage". If you're anything like me, you'll forget that you were interested in surfing in Hawaii and click through to the Sea Turtle post because, let's face it, that's the kind of knowledge that you really have a use for.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Choosing a Vegas Magic Show for Kids

One of the very first magic shows I ever saw in Las Vegas was Siegfried and Roy. It was a few weeks before the tragic show where Roy was attacked by one of the tigers, and it was pure Vegas glitz and glamour. Lori and I sat in the front row, I got my arm slobbered on by one of the white tigers, and I remember leaving the show thinking that aside from a couple of mild sexual references, that was a show I would have enjoyed taking my kids to.

Friday 2 November 2012

Dying for a Dinner Date

Every Friday that I can, I write a post here to link up with Rebecca over at R We There Yet Mom for her Friday Daydreamin' segment. It's supposed to be about something we're longing for while we go about the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, but I quite often end up telling some bizarre story instead (and some are far more bizarre than others).

This week though, I really am longing for something. It's not a tropical beach or a weekend in Vegas, although I wouldn't have an objection to either of those things. It's a little simpler than that. This school year, and all it's extra-curricular activities, has started out so busy that all I'm really thinking about is finding time for a dinner date with my baby.

Laurel Court Fairmont San Francisco
Dinner at the Laurel Court at Fairmont San Francisco