Category Archives: Vacation

Is There A Handbook For That Stroller?

I will start by saying I am most definitely not a mother; at least not yet at this time in my life.  However, I do work in the hospitality field in Orlando and therefore get to see many families that are on vacation each year.  My friend John once pointed out to me a child that one would assume is much too large to ride in a stroller still and ever since then I have been noticing just how often I see this.  I am aware that there is not a handbook that is distributed for stroller etiquette, as if there is I would clearly not get hit by them so often walking through the theme parks here in town, but I do wonder at what point do parents put their foot down about stroller usage.  One parent in the Mothering.com community posted the following rules as to when a stroller should stop being used:

-he grows to big to fit in the seat,
-his legs grow long enough to drag the ground,
-he learns to propel the stroller on his own, or
-he decides he would prefer to walk than ride.

In my world those don’t seem like bad suggestions.  It is understandable that each child is different and therefore there is no specific age set in stone to stop using a stroller.  In all of these instances I am discussing children who are not facing any type of disability.  With Give Kids the World right down the street I am very accustomed to seeing their sweet faces in strollers and small wheelchairs, but this is specifically aimed at children who have no limitations.  Cafemom.com even did a poll to find out when most people have decided to do with their kids.  Their poll results uncovered the following:

Question: What age did you stop using a stroller?

1 year old: 0%,  2 years old: 27%,  3 years old: 34%,  4 years old: 10%,  5 years old: 3%,  Other age: 24%

Out of 29 voters it seems like the most common answers were between two and three years old.  However, here in Orlando you can walk through any of the major theme parks on any given day of the week and see large quantities of 8, 9, even 10 year old children in strollers.  They are easy to identify by their feet dragging on the ground and the way they are hunched down to even fit under the canopy for shade.  Granted sometimes you can see a younger sibling in toe and therefore you can understand why the stroller was originally brought to the theme park, but usually there are no younger siblings in toe and only an older child directing his or her parents around from their royal stroller seat.

Borrowed from TooBigForStroller.com

This trend is one that I am having extreme difficulty understanding.  I grew up as an only child so I’m not used to having anyone younger than me in tow on outings, but I don’t remember being in third grade and still utilizing a stroller because I just didn’t want to walk.  Is this a sign that parents are giving in to their children so as to keep the complaining to a minimum on family trips?  Or is this one of the many items that is contributing to childhood obesity?  Taking a look at TooBigForStroller.com you’ll see many of the photos that author Laura Miller has collected that demonstrate exactly what we see daily here in the theme parks.  Although many may find her points to be way off the mark, I can’t help but agree with her about how funny a sight this is.  It seems as if pediatricians might be on her side while they say that it could be a disservice to growing children to use strollers well past toddlerhood, but obviously there are parents out there that disagree.

Since I know many of my friends have children (obvious by looking at my Facebook news feed about first steps, first foods, and the lack of adults in most profile photos) maybe one of them will be able to explain this to me.  This isn’t the first time I have brought up this topic so it’s apparent that I am really hoping to understand this, so please feel free to let me in on your opinions and feel free to start a parental debate on the subject so those of us not yet parents can understand.

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Filed under Culture, Friends, Parenting, Vacation

Elevator Etiquette

What ever happened to good old elevator etiquette?  Now I know that there are many cities across the United States that don’t have building that need to utilize elevators and maybe that has something to do with so many people not understanding the etiquette that goes along with them.  Since I am now working in a building that has multiple floors, I use any of the numerous elevators that are at work multiple times a day.  Sometimes I get to observe how guests handle the situation, but mostly it is observing how other employees use the elevators.  During our two recent trips to Chicago we stayed in the same hotel both time and therefore got to witness many elevator usages.

Many of you might be thinking, “Has she lost her mind?  Who cares about elevator etiquette?”  Well cyber readers, I do!  Now I have observed that people have learned over the years that if a button is lit then it has already been pushed and pushing it again will not make any move any faster.  I’m very happy to see this as that used to be a phenomenon that I couldn’t understand adults not comprehending.  However, now I have a new observation that is slowly driving me bonkers.

When the elevator reaches the desired floor, and you are inside of it, who has the right of way?  Is it the person who is exiting the elevator, which would be you, or is it the person who is boarding the elevator?  My rationalization has always been that the person exiting has right of way since this makes more space for those that are boarding the elevator.  I came to this decision by using common sense, special awareness and even mathematics if you want to look at it that way.  However, I am coming to find I might be the only one that believes an elevator works this way.

Each day, multiple times in a day, I use the elevators at work and as soon as the door opens whoever is standing there rushes on and then shoves their way around as there is not usually enough space for them yet.  Now if only something would have left the elevator before they got on then they would have enough space.  I wonder what would help this situation.  Oh yes, I know!  How about you let me get off first!  For starters, that is my destination and by shoving me back into the elevator to make room for you I am not unable to get off at the floor I chose.  Secondly, I’m sure you would rather the additional space and by me getting off so we can avoid standing awkwardly close with your elbow shoved into my rib cage.  I would gladly make the room for you if only you would let me get off.

I know that in the midst of all the “Occupy (fill in the blank)” that elevator etiquette isn’t really at the top of everyone’s list of importance, but maybe one of the Presidential candidates should consider adding this to their list of platforms.  After all, it seems like some of them are just creating platforms out of thin air anyway.  Let’s bring elevator etiquette back people.  I bet there are many that would greatly appreciate it.  After all, there are several websites that are completely in existence due to this subject.  Have you ever visited Elevator Rules?  The website clearly states “While waiting to board, stand AWAY from the door opening. DO NOT board the car unless you are sure no one is getting off on your floor. If there is someone exiting, allow them to clear the door before attempting to board.  What a novel idea.  Try searching “elevator etiquette” and you’ll be amazed how many websites pop up for the search.  Where do you stand?  Who do you believe has the right of way when it comes to elevator etiquette?

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Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Minneci

This week’s theme has clearly been about Chicago and I’m going to kind of keep that going.  The main event for our second trip to Illinois was to attend a wedding of a dear friend of mine.  Oddly enough our friendship started by me cyber stalking his blog after judging a hysterical class project he was a part of during my stint working at a college.  Who would have thought that about 5 years later that we would still laugh about that.  We’ve been connected through various paid and unpaid jobs over the years.  The more I’ve gotten to know him and his family the easier it has been to declare the Minneci’s as kind of a big deal.

As long as I’ve known John he’s told me stories of how wonderful Champaign, Illinois is.  I’ve learned about his time working at the Custard Cup, the fact that you can reach your hand into the stomach of a live cow at the fair, and that overall it is his dream city to return to one day.  After failed attempts to make it to Chicago over the years, I wasn’t sure how I would ever get to Champaign to see what John’s been talking about all these years.

John proposed to his girlfriend, who ironically knew Matt from her high school years, in the most epically (I couldn’t even find a real word to describe how good it was) ingenious way I’ve heard of.  Sandi, also being a lover of John’s home town, agreed with John that the wedding would take place in Champaign and thus I was destined to finally make my visit when they invited us to be a part of their special day.  I thought it was enough that I was going to get to see this town that I had heard so much about and witness their union with the rest of their friends and family.  However, after the date was set and Sandi began her dress shopping John approached me with the most wonderful honor I’ve ever been given.

   On October 9th, 2011 I had the privilege of watching an amazing couple take the dance floor for their very first dance as a married couple.  There were ooo’s and ahhh’s when the crowd quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be any normal first dance.  This couple had turned their first dance into a full-scale production.  The entire reception crowded around the dance floor to watch the couple as they strutted their stuff in true Minneci style.  While others clapped and cheered them on I stood front and center filming them on my camera while beaming.  After only 2 rehearsals I watched Sandi and John take the steps they were given and turn them into so much more.

Over three minutes later the dance concluded and the crowd burst into applause while I teared up with such pride.  I was so very proud of the couple’s performance and honored to say I was lucky enough to be asked to choreograph their first dance.  I don’t know if John and Sandi will ever understand how much it meant to me for them to have the faith and trust to let me craft their first dance as a married couple. 

With a little traditional ballroom, some Broadway, and a lot of style the groom successfully dipped his lovely bride and she kindly returned the favor before the dance was done.  Guests cheered, chucked at their humor, and lovingly applauded their performance.  Watching it unfold in front of us was a memory I’ll never forget.  After many years of taking a chance on John and knowing it would pay off in the end, I am very thankful that he was willing to take a chance on me this time around.  Thank you to the lovely couple and I’m so very proud of what they did out on that dance floor!

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Its Got To Be A Goorin!

Hats have always been an accessory of comfort to me.  I have heard some girls say they feel “naked” without their jewelry or that they have a favorite pair of jeans, but I think a hat makes me feel complete.  Don’t get me wrong, any pair of jeans that I’m wearing is a favorite as I’m a huge fan of jeans in general but I love any day when I can wear a hat.  In the past I’ve always been partial to baseball caps as it has suited my lifestyle, but in the last year my other styles have peaked my curiosity and I’ve just recently delved into trying them out.

While we were in Chicago we fell in love with Goorin Bros. hats at a wonderfully stylish shop in the Lakeview area.  We learned that Cassel Goorin was a master craftsman who, in 1895, sold his first hat in Pittsburgh.  Years later Cassel’s sons moved the family business to San Francisco in 1949 and the start of their neighborhood hat shops began.  After thinking about the style of hats and the location of their first store it makes me wonder if Granddad Senge or Nammy ever visited the original store and owned a Goorin Bros. hat.  Maybe I’m the second generation of the Senge’s to be a fan of a Goorin.

They are now up to 21 locations and I wish I had known about these earlier.  There are three in San Francisco that I missed out on during my 2 trips there and one in the Gaslamp district of San Diego I could have visited during either of my 2 trips there.  Now that I’ve fallen in love with the Goorin hat styles I’m sure I’ll be checking their locations list from now on before any future travels to be sure I don’t miss out again.

The hat shop in Chicago is in itself a full experience and the quaint little shop has an amazing cast of characters keeping it going each day.  We met Drew when we stumbled upon the store during our first trip to Chicago and he’s quickly become a new friend that we wish we lived closer to.  Matt’s love for the hats definitely runs deeper than mine and I think he might even have Drew on speed dial for the new hats that get released.  His collection has grown so quickly that now he’s brainstorming ways to make a unique hat rack that will double as a piece of wall art so he can show the hats off.  Each one is practically a piece of art in its own right, so this shouldn’t be that hard of a task for him to figure out.

It’s not often that you find a company nowadays that still has a small family owned feel to it, but the Goorin Bros. has done a stellar job at keeping that tradition alive.  Drew even knows our sizes now and after one phone call ships them directly to our house complete with a lovely handwritten thank you card.  The quality and craftsman ship of the hats is only topped off by the amazing customer service skills that are demonstrated by the staff.  They’ve made us dedicated customers for life and if you give them a chance they will do the same to you too.  Stop by their website, pick out your new favorite accessory, and then give Drew a call – (773) 348-4287 – and he’ll help you find the right size before getting it on its way to you!  The website it awesome and all, but sometimes it is just nice to actually speak with a human and I can say, without any hesitation, that Drew won’t steer you wrong.

Matt and I were recently at Epcot’s Food & Wine festival and found ourselves semi stalking a couple through the crowd all because of the gentleman’s hat.  While munching on some cheese and enjoying a bit of wine we both spotted a hat that matched the bag I have with me in the top photo.  It’s my prized Goorin possession and the hat is question clearly had to be a Goorin as well.  When the couple walked by us we saw the trademark Goorin logo like it was a glowing beacon on the hat prompted me, like I had just solved some epic murder mystery, to point at it and yell out “IT’S A GOORIN!”  We quickly made the decision to move through the crowd and see if we could find a way to inquire about the hat.

Thinking it would come off a little less creepy coming from me, I stopped the couple as they were leaving the Hawaiian pavilion with their Kona beers in hand.  I explained that we were checking out his hat and they quickly replied that they were checking out ours.  We all laughed for a bit about how the Goorin hats are always a conversation starter and learned that this couple from Connecticut bought the hat several years ago.  We had barely parted ways and, due to the amazement of technology and social media, I was already posting on Drew’s Facebook wall about what just happened.  Before I was even in bed that night Drew and Matt were on the trail and had found out when the hat was released, that the chances of finding one would be slim, and that it was indeed designed by the same artist that crafted my beloved bag.  Now tell me, when was the last time you had service like that?

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Dreams Really Do Come True

Earlier this year I mentioned that my boyfriend was making a HUGE dream of mine come true by taking me to Chicago this year for my very first trip.  I’ve tried several times to make it to Chicago, specifically to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play, and was never successful in making it happen myself.  In August we stepped foot in Chicago and I officially declared my boyfriend the most awesomely (yes, I’m making it a word for the moment) amazing man alive.

     

For one week we got to enjoy all that Chicago could offer us at my pace.  We visited museums, went sight-seeing, caught a show, saw some of my Florida friends who now reside in the windy city and of course went to Wrigley.  Now I always imagined that I would be a bit overwhelmed when I finally got to see Wrigley.  I envisioned myself just standing there staring at the marquee unable to move any further.  What I didn’t ever picture is what actually happened.

Prior to the game we had tickets to I insisted that we not even go near Wrigley as I wanted to see it for the very first time at my very first game.  My boyfriend totally understood and agreed so we made plans to stay on the other side of town when we first arrived.  On game day, dressed in my customized jersey he gave me for my birthday, we boarded the train and rode down to Wrigleyville.  When the doors opened at our stop it took all my strength to not bolt off of the train like a kid set loose in a candy store.  I managed to calmly make my way out of the station and down the street and then I turned the corner and saw I; that beautiful bright red and white sign was lit for the game in all of its glory.

That’s when it happened.  The action that I never expected began.  Matt turned away for just a moment to get the camera and capture my first reaction to seeing Wrigley but when he turned around and witnessed my reaction he just looked at me in complete disbelief.  There I was, standing there looking at the marquee and crying…over a baseball stadium!  Who would have guessed it?  He was so shocked he chucked a little and gave me a hug instead of taking the photo.  I never envisioned a stadium bringing me to tears, but those were just the first of many tearful moments of joy that day.

   

The ballpark was beautiful, my first hotdog at a game couldn’t have been more perfect, and everything was better than I ever could have planned it to be myself.  A few days later we went back for the tour and realized that next time it doesn’t matter where we sit as every seat has an amazing view.  It took me many years to get there, but it was so worth the wait.  Before we even left the city we made our plans to return 2 months later while traveling up north for a friend’s wedding.  We’ve definitely fallen in love with Chicago and even found a place that we became “regulars” at.  The best part of the vacation was coming home and knowing that the vacation was paid for before we left!  This is the first time I’ve traveled with such a compatible travel partner.

We did decide to put all of our meals on one of my credit cards, so that we could earn the points for what we spent, and now that our new iPhones are one order it is nice to know one will be free because of this decision.  The photos have all been downloaded on our computers, the meals were paid off as soon as we returned and we would do it all over again if we could…oh wait, we did!

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Filed under Dating, Vacation

Is That Puppy A Toddler?

If you haven’t frequented a theme park, mall or other prime people watching location recently then I strongly suggest you do.  It’s amazing what you can watch while you sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a small frozen yogurt.  My favorites are the “nothing fights” that you hear couples having.  I heard a great one during March when I was at Disney.  It was between a young couple who obviously forgot they were in the happiest place on earth.

Working in hospitality, I get to do my fair share of people watching, but I still enjoy kicking back on a day off and just observing the world around me.  Today I had the opportunity to witness a family with 3 young girls and 2 strollers.  Normally that would not strike me as odd until I noticed that the youngest was appropriately 2 in one stroller, but the other stroller was being filled by the middle child who was clearly 8-9 years of age.  That raises the question, “When are kids too old to need a stroller?”  A coworker and close friend of mine likes to debate this with me off and on throughout the year.  Generally we both agree that most of the children we see in strollers are well past the age where a stroller is needed and appropriate.

When I grew up I remember having to walk places.  I know if I was too tired to keep up then it was time to go home for a nap unless I wanted to suck it up and walk faster.  My coworker remembers his childhood in about the same manner.  He’s even commented on how he feels like he got to partake in more bonding time with his dad by riding on his shoulders.  What happened to these traditions?  I see fewer kids on shoulders in the park and many more strollers being rented for families to push around two or three kids who are between the ages of 8 and 13.  Did a study come out that said it is hazardous to the health to carry your child on your shoulders and create a memorable experience?  I just don’t understand when this change came about in society.

The other phenomenon that I see to be very popular is people walking their children on leashes like they are puppies.  Yes, the leash is attached to an adorable plush animal that is strapped to their child’s back, however you’re still walking your child like an animal.  I understand for those with young multiples that this is an absolute necessity at times in a very crowded setting.  To those parents I salute you for doing the best you can with the number of hands that you have versus the number of children that you need to hang onto.  The families with two parents and four grandparents who still need to leash the one child they have with them is what I concerns me.

In my childhood years I vaguely remember having that pins and needles feeling in my hand when I was out with my mom.  I remember it being because I was so small and everyone around me was well over six feet tall.  It wasn’t because my mother was unsure how to control me and felt the best thing to do was to train me as she did our cocker spaniels.  On the flip side I see other families making the most out of their time together and making memories on their vacation.  Those families make me smile and remind me of my childhood memories.  I am not sure when these families became the minority, but I appreciate that some families are still trying to keep these old traditions and values going.

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