Tag Archive | travel

A new little hobby – Ingress

Everything in my head right now is either boring (dishes, laundry, oppressive pile of to-do) or something I already talked about (kids, summer, is it time for school yet?).  On top of that I’ve just been out of the loop for ‘things’ because I’ve not been reading news or other blogs (or really doing much other than the aforementioned cleaning/parenting) so there isn’t much sparking conversation in my mind.

However – I did start playing Ingress.

There are plenty of tutorials about how to play, I know because I had to find them because just downloading the app is not all that explanatory.  This is not a tutorial, this is a how-orial and why-orial.  Here are some reflections on ‘why’ and ‘how’ this is a great game for anyone, especially a stay at home mom.

Statement; I’m doing so many things already it seems silly to add a game

Reply; This game actually fits in a normal active lifestyle because it is location based as long as you leave the house it is pretty easy to play.  There are ‘portals’ all over the place and they are most often in places you probably go already.  Library – yes, parks – yes, yes, yes (all of them), soccer field – yes, baseball field – yes, Post office – yes, church – yes.  To get to level 100000 you need to do more than just play in your normal run around life but there is plenty of fun to be added to the mundane errands that it is worth it.

Statement; what else is there?  turning it on during my errands is only so fun

Reply; Given that the original game (started a few years ago) put portals at every registered landmark and people have added to the list over the years, there are new fun things to discover if go you hunting for portals.  We had a great time at Shoreview community, a place we have gone weekly for years, wandering around and discovering new spots.  Within a very easy to walk radius we found 6 portals.  Part of the point is to find new things and enjoy the walk between.

A little trail through the woods to find the next portal.

Statement; How can I use Ingress to make my life more fun?

Reply; Open the big map and look for portals, plan around them.  Feel like a walk, find some near each other.  Feel like a run, use mapmyrun to make a trail for you.  Finding a portal in an area of your town you have never been, or, turning it on when you are at a new place and have some time to kill.

Fullscreen capture 8252015 55232 PM.bmp

Ingres map and mapmyrun working together…

Statement; I’m too busy with my kids/I don’t like using my phone around them

They have wanted to go through that tunnel for years – We finally went because of this game. Sometimes moms need a push to do something out of the routine…

Reply; really?  My kids think it is awesome – they love to hold the phone and follow the direction (orienteering).  They like to push the buttons (who doesn’t?).  Good incentive to walk and read, and, something we can easily and enjoyably do together.  Not to mention that half of these things are at parks and playgrounds.  This also keeps me engaged with my kids as I too, try, to not play with my phone while they are playing.

Statement; sounds like geocaching and last time I did that I got ticks and mosquito bites

Reply; This is similar because it is  walking around, but, instead of tracking down trails and poking under rotten logs to find a cache that is supposed to be hidden therefore hard to find – this is mostly in very public easy to get to locations and you just have to be in the area for it to work rather than looking for something the size of a tictac box.  NOTE; I know there are geocaching in the civilized world, and, Ingress down wooded paths – but – it is usually the other way around.  NOTE 2 – nothing wrong with hiking, just does mean more scheduled time and this is more doing during regular life.

Super easy to find spot in an inside place we go weekly :)

Finally, this is a motivator to get out of the house.  I want to go walk past a few of the closer ones daily and that means I find ways to get out and do it with the kids (or without).  Its walking with a purpose and a general goal and that does make walking more fun for me.  This works really well with my lifestyle since I do go out often, I like to walk, and I run fairly regularly and am always looking for new routes because the old ones get dull.  Who knows if I’ll ever achieve ‘big things’ because winning for me is just doing it~  If you want an invite let me know or you can just download the app.

PS.  The walk in the woods was SPESFICALLY motivated by Nerd the brains “go climb a tree” challenge and it is gravy that I got 3 portals while looking at trees.

Pennsic Tuesday 

hot hot hot but I got a nap and we found a babysitter! Once the sun went down a bit the play swords come out. 

NYC Adventure

Did anyone know that I was on a NY adventure over the weekend?  If you did, you had one up on Lars who I forgot to tell. …  oops – Last week I put out a general call to all my NY friends that “I’m here!  Let us do something!” and took the plans from that as they came.  There was one friend I was hopeful had time since I usually see them at Pennsic but I know she can’t come this year and just like good things do – it all fell into place.

She had plans to go see Amma, the hugging saint (mentioned passingly on Orange is the New Black) and was happy to have company and rolled it into a sleepover.  That decided for me that I would take the train rather than drive because just parking in a parking garage is scary (imagine black diamond ski slope pitch ending in a brick wall) but I also didn’t even want to know what the fee for overnight parking might be!  So, rather than face driving stress, I choose to bring 3 little girls on a train with no stroller and only the luggage we could easily carry.  Not really all that hard for just overnight, it would have been simple if the essentials for an over night did not include; a zebra, an owl, a bunny, a sock monkey, a teddy and 2 medium sized blankets.  I decided in for a penny – why not pack some pony dolls too and that was a great choice because it gave them something to play with in a ‘grown up’ house and waiting for the Amma hug.

Niamh stepped up her big girl game and really was quite responsible and helped a lot. She carried her backpack and held sisters hands and didn’t second guess my every word when I made them run through a variety of man-made obstacles while I was recalling ancient knowledge of what is where in Penn station.  She even got into hailing taxi’s,

I remember when she hid behind me when there was a new person in the room…  We successfully arrived at our friends place giving me a total travel success (so far) score

You can’t beat the view from our friends apartment roof deck but it is hard to tell kids that.  For people who still believe in ponies, fairies, rainbows and general child-like wonder it is hard for them to see the value of a gorgeous skyline.

They will figure it out some day.  We stayed up way toooo late and mornings are hard so we didn’t end up with an early start but thats ok, we had a good breakfast :)

The Amma thing was more a set for the day than a real activity because ::spoiler alert:: if you don’t get there very early and get a good number you will wait 12 hours or more.  I could not wait 12 hours…. but we enjoyed the atmosphere and Niamh started to fit the pieces together about strife in the world and kindness – I could see the wheels turning as she heard about Tsunami relief and homes for the homeless and food for the hungry and it seems she figured out that there are people who suffer and die in the world.  We got our tokens and hung out for an hour and a half listening to the opening message and watching the people and figured we were safe to go elsewhere for at least 4 hours so off to the children’s museum of Manhattan we went!

We are members of the MN Childrens museum so it was hard to not compare.  MN has a nicer space, bigger and more open but NYC has more ‘discovery’ to it with multiple entrances to the same place and a cool outdoor section for water on the multilevel fire escape.  Both being in a city they are bound by other buildings and both do a nice job.  We enjoyed the Dora section and most of the other exhibits and in 4 hours we saw it all (MN is bigger, or, more entertaining….) But 4 hours was what we were looking for and a good time was had by all.

Around the block was another perfectly unplanned find; Freds Resturant.  It won on many levels – it was close, reasonable prices, plenty of space (at 4:30pm), good menu and more importantly good food (awesome mustards) and to top it all off a perfect theme.  2 of 3 kids happily looked at the floor to ceiling pictures of dogs!

What about #3?  She passed out after a short fit about quisladellias and slept for the next hour cozy in her sling.

When you miss a meal I’ll save your food but your drink is forfit to your sisters…

Back at Amma we had hope we might get our hug since we got back around 6 and were within 15 letters of our spot.  It took over 2 hours to move up 5 letters and while they were enjoyable hours I did the math and at that rate we would miss the last train back to Sayville.  We cut our losses and hugged our friend instead and dashed to a cab.  A trip full of public transit is not complete without a full out run at some point but thankfully I have fast kids.

My nightmare scenario for the return trip was not crazy off the wall kids, it was kids that fell asleep that I could not wake up to make the transfer.  That’s why I was so happy to see this pup; Lulubell Blue, who entertained and was entertained by my kids for the first leg of the trip.  

I was hoping for more sleepy faces on the second half but you can’t win them all and all three were bouncing off the train at 10pm.  Home to bed and a massive glass of wine and our adventure was at a conclusion.

post script – Fiona made up some of that sleep debt with a 4 hour nap today

PPS. 4 hour naps = extra laundry

PPSS. The Amma thing is actually a pretty cool vibe.  Very cool and mellow and she actually does sit and give real hugs until everyone willing to wait is hugged.  They had it on screens so you can see the love she puts into each hug.  I might make it a point to try again some day and if so, I’m getting there super early and bringing my book~

Bye-Bye husbands good-bye

Like the good 50’s housewives we are, we packed our husbands off back to work after their week vacation is up.  Now my sister and I and our combined 7 kids are at camp grandma for the next few weeks solo.  We have decided that we are a functioning ‘momagarcary’ where the moms are in charge.  Not a bad system in my opinion….

Today was a quiet-ish day since we needed to get Lars to the airport.  We did a bit of tennis, underscoring that I have not played tennis since middle school, but it was fun to try.  Checked off another local restaurant and did the Lars laundry and played a final round of games with daddy and then off to the airport.  We left my youngest sister with my oldest two and she told them they could have unlimited TV while we were gone thus securing her most favored status…  Given she has a 1-month-old and a  2.5-year-old of her own the fact she can take on 2 extras is a testament that she also has the strong kid-zen-fu that runs in our family.

For the next few weeks we have minimal plans but we are looking a day or so out.  It is futile to plan too early since either the weather or a child will foil any prepaid reservation.  I see a lot of beach and picnics in our future.  My goals are to see more of my NY friends, maybe get to NYC and Zoe’s goal is to get ice cream from an ice cream truck.  Ironically all three have about the same level of likelihood since somehow ice cream trucks are no longer roaming neighborhoods.

Otherwise a freeform few weeks that will be as much a surprise to me as they are to you~

On my summer vacation I am

Hey, we made it!  One short day and one long day and a healthy dose of luck and we were pulling into my parents house almost exactly when the GPS said when we set out.  Not bad for all the potty stops, rain and a billion miles.  And now we are here!

We arrived to a much more quiet house then we were expecting because my sister and her kids were attending an emergency funeral on her husbands side of the family.  Not that any funerals are exactly planned but this one was for a person who didn’t get all that long on earth so…  well, at least we can say that every other part of the trip will be better than that.  It was almost funny that they had been waiting for a week for us to arrive and then we waited for them for 2 days and finally everyone was together just in time to celebrate Lars’s birthday!

Ice cream cake with crunchies AND NY pizza would normally make his birthday a total success but for the first time in  ages we were able to go out with a recommendation from my foodie sister to a restaurant with an executive chef (not just a cook) and we were both impressed in general with the experience.  Topped off the night with a board game and that make for a happy man. (and the kids were all sleeping, that was like a cherry on top)

Otherwise our NY vacation –  what I’m calling summer part II – is largely unplanned.  I want to see NY friends and family, go sailing, go to the beach, and enjoy ‘living’ here for a few weeks.  Living is really the right word because I’m joining a gym for a month and Niamh is enrolled in a month of karate and Niamh loved her first class tonight.  When you are toting kids to classes it is living somewhere not vacationing :) Regardless, it is very nice to be able to be here and experiencing this brand of summer.

There is a bit of inborn chaos from all the kids but once you embrace the fact that we are a field trip group it gets easier to just roll with it.

Oh!  I’m also trying something fun with my walks.  Lars and I have been trying to get 2mi walks in daily and given the crazy of the house putting Fiona down for a nap seems unreasonably optimistic I’m combining them.  I’m also seeing if I can make my walking map look like alphabet letters – so far I’ve done A and B

And I’m hopeful that the next few week will be just as good and since I even found a spot to set up my computer I also hope to keep up here too.  (we will see)


so far so good!  Thanks to a few friends I packed and cleaned and never hit the frantic angry wall and we hit the road right on time (after work). We ended up doing VERY well with our random hotel choice- the Residance Inn Marriott Rockford is awesome! For $20ish more dollars a night we get this

That is a door leading to ANOTHER room but it isn’t 2 joined rooms like in a different hotel but it makes all the difference. 

Where has this travel with kids tip been all my life?!?

Not to mention a kitchen and free breakfast… We need to get back on the road shortly but this revelation (while no marriage decision!) was too good not to share.