Friday, June 28, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 101.

Goodbye Super Hubby's birthday celebration with all his faves like ribs and angel food cake with 7-minute frosting.
Goodbye night games all this week; getting home at 10:30 after a baseball game is not fun, especially when it's a loss.
Goodbye lounging poolside pretty much most days and not feeling guilty about it because it's Summertime!
Goodbye feeling the pains of summer with my burnt to a crisp, lobster-red legs - ouch.
Goodbye picnic in the park with $2 burgers, $1 dogs, and live music - love this city where I live!
Happy Birthday, Super Hubby!
Hello keeping up with client obligations amidst all this summertime fun.
Hello low-key time at home getting the yard work finished, if the weather cooperates.
Hello searching Pinterest for a new recipe I'll venture to make and we'll feast on the deck.
Hello wishing we had a gas grill instead of charcoal on those days when you need the heat high fast (but the charcoal taste is so worth the extra effort).
Hello itching to plan a little get together for July 4th and wondering if I really have the time.

My lesson learned during this week of intense heat is when you're going to be poolside ALL day, don't forget to put sunscreen on ALL parts of your body. Shoulders? Check. Face? Check. Arms? Check. Back and chest? Check. Legs? Oops!

I'm paying for it, that's for sure. I'm in so much pain that by the end of the day, I can't even stand, that's how much they are throbbing for relief. I should know better so, in the wise words of Baz Lurhmann, Wear Sunscreen!

Have a pain-free weekend and be smart, lather on the lotion!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When Fiction Means Trouble

Caution: Reading fiction may cause you to lose yourself.

Disappointed by my proclamation of not being a lover of fiction, my bloggy buddy, Michele, encouraged me to give The Dog Stars by Peter Heller a try. I respect Michele and I love reading her blog. She's always in search of good books at the library and I hunted down her recommendation at my own borrowing institution.

I started reading. Then, I read some more. Then I sat down to read some more and was surprised to find Super Hubby home from work and I hadn't even thawed anything for dinner. I read some more and found Kiddo was going to be late to his baseball game (only happened once so give me a break). I then realized why I'm not a lover of fiction. It's that I can't be. Good books seem to take over my life. I want to turn the page and find out more. I want to see where the story is going, how it will play out, how it will end. This brief escape encapsulates my attention sometimes and I don't get a lot done, unfortunately.

The close calls were worth it, though. The book was gripping. There was even one section of the book that may have been along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey (not that I've ever read that one, but I don't live in a hole, either). Yes, that chapter was attention grabbing to say the least.

My most favorite part of the book was a couple of lines at the beginning and I absolutely love the words so I wanted them captured here on my blog. I don't want to forget how important and meaningful these words can be.

"I thought Maybe there is a different translation for meek. Maybe it's not the meek who inherit, maybe it is the simple. Not will inherit, the earth, they already own it." - Peter Heller, The Dog Stars
Oh, how true that is. OK, Michele, I'm ready for another recommendation! I'll keep visiting and see what you got!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I Made Wednesday {Lord of the Rings/Minecraft Birthday Party}

Ever since Kiddo was born, we've always had his birthday party at the house, put on by Super Hubby and me, and always themed to the max. When Kiddo got to be a little older, we took birthday-themed parties to a whole new level. Each party we created whisked the party guests to an imaginary world, depending on the theme. To get a glimpse of the lengths we go to create these imaginary worlds, just check out Kiddo's birthday party from last year, click here.

For every party we made it easy for the kids to really get into the theme. Kiddo has always been into imaginative play and he befriended many kids of the same nature, so you can imagine how cool it was to don a Jedi uniform and pretend you were mastering Jedi skills like at the Star Wars party. Or, how about donning a pirate's sash, eye patch, and bandana as they scavaged the yard looking for doubloons at the pirate party. There has been a spy party, Ninja party, I can go on and on. As wonderful as this was, we knew it would come to an end once Kiddo turned a certain age. That age was 11. Kiddo still likes imaginative play, but he was inviting kids that perhaps could not appreciate getting into the spirit of things and dressing up and pretending to be in another world just wasn't going to go over as a huge hit.
The various adventure locations on the map.

So, how do you have a Lord of the Rings birthday party, create a special world, and get 11-year olds to be willing participants? You create a virtual world where they adventure into a video game, all together as a Fellowship, and complete an adventure Minecraft-style!

Super Hubby has his own computer consulting firm so it didn't take that much effort to procure 8 computers, and all the other hardware we needed to make this work. To see how we prepped for the party, click posts here and here to get caught up. Now, on to the party itself!

The explanation of this party is beyond my comprehension so if you're really interested in replicating this party, please e-mail me directly and Super Hubby will give you all the technical details. Here's our To-Do list for the party from a technical level. Techies should get it.

Dense Forest
Time Portal
Upgrade Beds, chests
Fix mountain pass – stairs out, bridges
Minas Tirith – scavenger hunt
Update syntax of notes
Texture pack
Setup laptops

spawn-animals – false
view-distance- 9(far)
Add my username to ops.txt to become operator
Test move command, etc

On a more understandable level, imagine 8 party guests, brought in to the party as Elves, following the calling indicated by the party invitation, see it here. Each has their own computer and mouse already awaiting their arrival. Each guest sits at the computer and designates their own avatar in the virtual world where adventure awaits. Thanks to a server, each guest is in the same world, at the same time. They see each other. They must work together, as a Fellowship, to complete the adventure. Contrary to Minecraft, this adventure requires no mining or crafting. It is purely an adventure.

At designated areas, there are notes dispersed to our adventurers to help them along their journey. Because I didn't want our guests to be glued to a monitor for the entire party, we had designated stops along the way during the adventure. For instance, when they left Hobbiton, they were to all meet at the Prancing Pony in Bree. There, the elves left their computers and came upstairs to partake in meaty snacks only a Hobbit could love: salami, cheese, crackers, olives, pickles, and ham. To quench their thirst, we served Butter Beer. (I know, it's a Harry Potter thing but it was such a big hit last year, we had to repeat it).

  I purchased iced coffee glasses at the Dollar Store and embellished the glasses with border stickers. Believe it or not, I've washed these glasses in the dishwasher and the stickers have stayed put!

Back to the adventure, and through the portal, our Elves returned to their posts and continued on. They stopped at a cave; another opportunity to take a break from the computer screens. We served them Lembas Bread at that point.

Before the big battle, they reached the Castle in Gondolin. Here, I used our dining room and made a royal spread consisting of very Lord of the Rings-inspired foods like potatoes, steak on a stick, chicken kabobs, more Lembas Bread, corn on the cob, and, of course, more Butter Beer. During the feast, we found some great riddles we had the kids try to figure out during dinner. Great fun!

Finally, the kids went back to their adventure for the climactic end - the big battle. They all had to work together to defeat the enemy. Afterwards, they headed to Minas Tirith for a scavenger hunt. Each floor, 5 total, had at least 4 artifacts in chests which the birthday guests could find. It was a free for all at Minas Tirith.

This 5-hour party was so cool and I know I'm not doing it any justice in describing it in my non-techie way. Everyone had a blast, it was unique, and memorable, and we still created a world, just in a virtual sort of way. So cool! Great job, Super Hubby!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Wishes for Super Hubby

What do you say to a man who holds your heart? What do you do for a man who gave you the world wrapped up in one little bundle of boy? Whatever it is, it just isn't enough to express my love and devotion to Super Hubby. Happy Birthday, my sweet!

Kiddo and I love you dearly, respect you immensely, and cherish you like crazy. There won't be a big party, expensive gifts, or 45 balloons, but there will be love. Love is all we need!

I love you and consider myself the luckiest girl in the world! Happy birthday to my best friend. 

And, since it is a day of gifts, congrats to apham17! You are the winner of the Jack and the Giant Slayer Blu-Ray Combo Pack! Just shoot me an e-mail with your address and it'll be sent to you! Congrats!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

We've hit the 2-year mark at feel LOVD everyday! Thanks so, so much for being here with me. My only hope when I started this blog was to reach out to those needing a bit of encouragement and inspiration on the days when you needed it. This blog also became a source of creative spark that glowed around the world thanks to many What I Made Wednesday projects. The power of the Internet is real and daunting all at the same time. Although my numbers don't even come close to some "professional" bloggers, I'm pretty proud, anyways.

515 Posts.
85,436 Page Views.
75 Countries.

486. I am thankful for 2-years of inspiration and finding the right words to share with you.
487. I am thankful for the blogging community and all its wonderfully talented people.
488. I am grateful for my brand new camera that allows me to capture moments so beautifully.
489. I am thankful Feedburner started working again for my e-mail subscribers.
490. I am grateful for you, LOVD reader, and your interest in visiting my blog; thanks for being here with me.

Here's to more inspiration, more creativity, and more love in the next year of LOVD! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 100.

My Dad and Kiddo
Goodbye blessed week filled with summer sunshine and warmth.
Goodbye celebrating the first win finally of this summer's baseball season.
Goodbye pool time, friends time, and family time.
Goodbye Kiddo sleeping in for the first time - ever.
Goodbye good times pickin' strawberries at the patch.

Hello continuing dental saga for Super Hubby.
Hello hair cuts for the boys.
Hello baseball team pictures, a game, and a graduation party - whew!
Hello putting our picked strawberries to good use with a homemade shortcake recipe.
Hello Sunday lounging and pancakes.

My lesson learned this week is something's got to give. When you're "doing summer" at home, there's a lot of things to do and see, and between it all, blogging falls pretty low on the list. I even missed this week's What I Made Wednesday. I just couldn't squeeze in the hours needed to write the post between Kiddo's baseball game, hours at the batting cage, preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home, and still continuing my never-ending spring clean-up of the yard and garden beds. So, I'm not going to sweat it. If I get out a post, great! If I don't, oh well. There's just too much summer waiting for us and once it's gone, it's gone. I hope you take the time to soak up every little bit of summer, too!

Great weekend ahead! Hope yours is awesome. Happy Summer Solstice!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What? It's Thursday! and a Giveaway

How did Thursday happen? I thought the catalyst for Thursday coming was What I Made Wednesday. Oops, sorry! What happened? Summer happened. 'Nuf said.

Check back next Wednesday for the conclusion of the Lord of the Rings/Minecraft birthday party. To catch up, you can click here and here.

To make up for my lack of post, please accept this giveaway as a peace offering. Winning is easy! Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win this awesome blockbuster movie, Jack and the Giant Slayer. You have until Monday, midnight to leave an entry! Winners to be announced Tuesday, June 25 (Super Hubby's birthday!).

The Giveaway: The Official Blu-Ray Combo Pack

Warner Bros. is proud to announce the arrival of Jack the Giant Slayer released on DVD & Blu-ray on June 18!

Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of this life to stop them and rescue the princess!

The question is... are you courageous enough to rescue the princess? Are you brave like Jack?  Take the quiz to find out!


The prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. Boxes please.
Disclosure: Please note that the assets included within this message were delivered in promotion of the Warner Bros. release of the Jack the Giant Slayer Blog App. I am working with Warner Bros., and Warner Bros. supplied these materials to me for this giveaway.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Emergency Numbers

When life gets a little tough to handle, why is it we grab the phone and dump our frustrations on girlfriends, mothers, sisters, anyone who will listen to our rants? Maybe it's time we turn to another? When life is throwing you a curve ball, try calling one of these numbers instead and see if it helps. The person usually at the receiving end may very well thank you for it!

Pin it, print it, use it.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Gratitude Journal Monday

There will be days of gloom, days of sorrow, days of not being the awesome person God made you to be. You gotta shake it off and change your view. Perspective is a funny thing, you know. Whenever life is going pretty well, I sometimes still find something to complain about. How silly is that? I almost feel my Father uttering the parenting phrase, "If you don't stop, I'll give you something to complain about." Ok, ok, let's not go that far. I'm just fine with the way things are and I am truly blessed and, sometimes only the fear of God will make me see it. It's time I stop looking for a crisis and start thanking the Universe for not having one. That starts with gratitude.

I'm coming upon my 2-year bloggy anniversary. That would mean almost 2-years in keeping a Gratitude Journal. I cannot detail for you all the amazing things that have happened to me since I've started a Gratitude Journal, there just isn't enough Internet space for the entire testimonial. But, I can tell you that declaring gratitude in a purposeful way will change you as a person. Sure, there will be setbacks and days of questions and confusion and, dare I admit it, selfishness, but no matter what, there will always be progress. If you want to be the best self you can be, the self you know was meant to shine in this world, then I don't think you can achieve your full potential with the absence of gratitude. It is the foundation, the root, the catalyst, to being the person only God could have created to "go about doing good". If your mindset isn't naturally there, take time to declare gratitude on a regular basis and your heart will soon change your mind.

You can start right here, right now. Leave a comment declaring some gratitude and see what happens. My beginnings began almost 2 years ago. Click here to see my start.

481. I am grateful for the audience that has been drawn to my blog, receiving positive messages that are delivered at just the right time to so many.

482. I am grateful for the unchanging and steady love of God; regardless of my many setbacks or my occasional triumphs, His love is constant.

483. I am grateful for my caring and loving family; we're tight and we're mighty, unwavering with God's grace and protection behind us.

484. I am grateful the differences between good and evil, excellence and mediocrity, are clear and very black and white in my mind, with no gray area to confuse me and send me down the wrong path.

485. I am grateful for choosing to follow God's light as he reveals His path for me, little by little, and reminds me I do not walk alone.

Only gratitude can give you what you seek in your own life. But you cannot receive these precious gifts until you get started on your path. Plant the seed of gratitude today and see what blossoms in your life.

Happy Monday, friend!  


Friday, June 14, 2013

Goodbye Week. Hello Weekend. Lessons Learned: Take 99.

Goodbye rain and cool weather, preventing us from taking the plunge at our community pool.
Goodbye beginning a new chapter with a new client: thanks, Dad, for watching Kiddo while I was away.
Goodbye sportin' a new bike basket that makes the loads to the library so much easier.
Goodbye delicious meals whose leftovers transition into other meals: homemade chili one night, delicious chili dogs the next.
Goodbye watching Kiddo sprout right before my very eyes and being glad it's shorts-weather so I don't have to go buy him new pants just yet.

Hello celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday - party on!
Hello hoping for warmer weather and sunshine for a birthday party at the lake for Kiddo's school-friend.
Hello prayers for my brother-in-law as he sits in a hospital this weekend with renal failure and water in his lungs.
Hello sending strength to my sister-in-law and nephew as they patiently wait for him to come back home.
Hello honoring the awesome fathers in our lives: Super Hubby, my Dad, Pops, J.B., and Grandpa Allen - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

My Lesson Learned this week is how much I don't understand the concept of a "lazy summer". Kid's have this down-pat and I wish I could learn a thing or two from them. Kids have a knack for being able to do nothing, and have it be the most entertaining thing in the world. How? If I sit down for even a moment, my mind starts racing to what needs to be done around the house. I begin making a list in my mind and nothing brings me more pleasure than the act of crossing out a task on that list. I've got to get a grip and realize that "the list" will forever be there, growing line by line until I'm put in the grave. Oh, and, surprise!, that day will come without everything being checked off before I check out. It's summertime! Time for me to just chill. It's just too bad I have to work so hard at it.

Have a relaxing weekend and Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Technology Takes Away

Cover art: Modern Family on Vacation
I'm not a huge techie of a person. In fact, despite the urgings of Super Hubby and friends, I do not own a SmartPhone of any kind. I still use them-there flip-top phones, y'all! Yet, around me the world is moving forward while I'm dragging my heals into the dirt of status quo. I can only speak for myself, of course, as Super Hubby has the latest and greatest. He has to, as a computer consultant. So, our house is filled with gadgets to which I do not know their purpose. There are remotes lying around the house that I'm not exactly sure how to use. Just to turn on our television you need two remotes and you must go through at least a series of 3 action sequences just to catch the local news channel (I feel so bad for the babysitter). And, there are electronic boxes in our home that go blinky-blinky to which I probably rely on daily and not even realize it (i.e. internet router so I can publish this daily blog).

We have some how become so dependent on our electronic devices that we deem it a personal victory, a declaration of freedom, if you will, to turn off the device for an evening. Or, dare I say it? An entire weekend! Why is this an accomplishment? Yet, we itch for the quick e-mail check, the brrinng of the text coming in, just like a crack addict on the first day of re-hab.

I'm beginning to despise the SmartPhone, the iPad, the iPod, because it's taken away something I'm beginning to miss these days: looking into people's eyes. Yes, that's right. Admiring the beautiful coloring and unique shapes of people's eyes. All I see now is people's foreheads, and I'm wondering as I'm speaking to their hair follicles if I'm even being heard by the person right in front of me. As much as we'd like to boast or believe, multi-tasking is not a human trait that is adopted easily. If you think you've got it down pat, you've probably been misled between the simultaneous texting, scheduling, driving, coffee drinking, and child-rearing. But, anyway, who's going to notice?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I Made Wednesday {An Elevenses Birthday Party: Tolkien-Style}: Setting the Scene

Sharing our birthday details is a huge undertaking. If you haven't noticed, I'm giving it to you in teeny tiny bites, like I did Harry Potter. Not because I don't think you can handle all the info all at once, I do. It's that I'm not motivated enough to sit down for looooonnnnggg stretches and write it all out from beginning to end. That's precious summertime daylight I'd be wasting! Seriously, though, it's just way too daunting of a task for me. So, little batches it is. Thanks for your patience:-)

Last week, I shared with you the the all-important making of the invitations. Click here if you missed it. This week, I'll share with you the party props we made and/or used to carry the theme through.

Oh, yes! The theme! It probably needs some explanation. Kiddo L.O.V.E.S. Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is his fave author and he is so into that kind of fantasy-type world. Additionally, if you have a tween boy in the house, you are also probably VERY familiar with an online game called MineCraft. With me so far? What if you combined MineCraft with Lord of the Rings by creating a virtual world? A virtual adventure within MineCraft, where all the party guests work together, not against each other, but as a Fellowship to complete the mission at hand? I know what you're thinking? Yes, it would be superb, but is it possible? Not only is it possible, my friends, it's what we did for this party!!!! (You can send the Parent of the Year Award to our P.O. Box).

I'll explain all the details of the party in next week's post, but I'll show you all the decor we used to set the mood in this post. We decided to combine the two themes into one so, some items will be Tolkien-based, and some items will be MineCraft-themed. It works, trust me!

The Decor
We used our finished basement to set-up all the computers and equipment we needed to make this adventure come alive. To better set the mood, we replaced all of our spotlight bulbs with black lights. The effect was quite amazing and very awesome!

Super Hubby found a great number of MineCraft-themed posters online via Google images and had them printed on a large-format printer. Although the posters were adequate on their own, I mounted them to neon poster cardstock paper to help them really shine! They came out perfectly.

Super Hubby took the main characters of MineCraft and made life-size cutouts of Steve, a Creeper, and a Skeleton (sorry for the lingo non-Minecraft readers). This was a bit of a challenge to put together because the life-size figures measured over 3-feet. How do you print-out something that big? You print sections of it and piece it all together by taping the backside. (I was geometrically challenged on this task but I pulled through.) If you are interested in re-creating this party and want files of these "sectioned" print-outs to do on your own, please contact me and I will send to you. 

The Cake
The pixels read "Happy B-Day Jack", The coconut is only in the middle!
We continued the MineCraft portion of the party with the cake. Easy, peasy folks! I just made a brown sheet cake. Any normal person would have just used a chocolate box cake to achieve the required brown color for "dirt", but my son doesn't like chocolate. I used a white cake mix, bought some brown food coloring, and poured the entire gel right into the cake batter, resulting into successful results. 

Next, I created butter cream frosting and dyed it the same color green as the grass in MineCraft. To get the texture right, take 4 ounces of coconut, place in a plastic bag, and sprinkle a few drops of green food coloring into the coconut. Shake the bag until all the coconut is green. (Powdered food coloring works best, if you can find it. If not, the liquid will be fine. Just let it dry before sprinkling on the cake.) Set the bag aside.

To frost the cake, take another 4 ounces of coconut and add it into the butter cream frosting before spreading it onto the cake. (This is optional as many kids do not like coconut frosting.) To please all, I frosted both ends of the cake without coconut, and only the middle with coconut. YOU WILL NOT FROST THE SIDES. Remember, you are trying to create a MineCraft block of dirt and grass! Sprinkle the top of the cake with the green colored coconut to give it the texture found in the MineCraft game. When you cut the cake, cut in perfect squares so each guest has a "block" of their own.

Finally, I bought Starburst fruit candies and took all the red cherry ones out. I unwrapped each, cut many into fourths for tiny squares, or pixels, and spelled out "Happy B-Day". For my son's name, I used the whole Starburst square because I wanted it to stand out.

Let me guess what you're thinking. Where the heck is the Tolkien part of the party? Sounds to me like it's only MineCraft! Hold your horses, because the entire adventure is ALL Tolkien inspired, from an elves point-of-view. I'll talk more about this next week.

The Sign
Upon arriving at the party, I did make this famous Hobbit sign found at the front gate of Bilbo Baggins's home. I love how this sign turned out. Definitely a keeper. Here's how I made it.

What You'll Need
Thin, but long piece of wood, already stained to your liking
Black paint marker
Awl or very large, sturdy pin
Print-out of the words, enlarged to fit your wood piece (found on Google Images)
Ribbon for hanging the sign

What You'll Do
Super Hubby found this perfect piece of wood that was already stained and already had holes for the hanging ribbon already in place. What luck?!?! Unfortunately, it was one of those types of woods that was varnished to death. If I traced over the printout onto the wood, I couldn't make any impression into the wood no matter how hard I pressed down. I had to come up with a new plan for this to work (since I'm no artist).

To remedy this inconvenience, I taped my paper across the piece of wood and took a very sharp but strong pin. I followed the outline of the letter by poking through the paper and into the wood. It left a small hole that allowed me to just connect the dots once I removed the paper. That's how I was able to transfer the lettering onto the wood! Then it was easy. I just took my black paint pen and filled in the outline. A black Sharpie permanent marker works just as well.

What You'll Need to Know to Finish
Our piece of wood already had the holes in the corners for hanging. If yours doesn't, take a small drill bit and make your holes. Then, take a ribbon, pull it through the holes, and you're ready to hang your sign, just like Bilbo Baggins did. I wish we had a gate.

The Party Favors
One of Kiddo's birthday gifts: The Ring!!!
The take homes were simple this time around. Luckily, I was at Kohl's before the party and found MineCraft t-shirts. They were already on sale for $8 a piece, and, I happened to have a 30% off coupon. Woo-hoo, meant to be! I purchased 8, one for each party guest. 

Then, at the Dollar Tree, I found these glow-in-the-dark mini swords (see first pic). Those were just so perfect for our elvish adventurers. And, finally, the guests had some really cool candies to choose from like marshmallow ropes, RING Pops, Peach Gummy RINGS, and, of course, Swedish Fish (Gollum's favorite). Are you getting the "ring" theme?

Check back for the party details on next week's What I Made Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Staycation Adventures: Ohio Fun is Child's Play

This road trip is for the young and the young at heart. It's for those who made playing with toys their job and their duty as a kid. This expedition is a time machine back to the days when toys didn't have to be plugged in and when quality was prided, not cut to satisfy shareholders and the bottom line. Time to gas up, pile in, and drive down to southern Ohio for a visit to 3 toy museums. Because it's only a day-trip, the drive is like child's play!

1st Stop: Ohio Toy and Plastic Brick Museum
Get an early start that morning and head down to Bellaire, Ohio. To get in this itinerary in just one day, you want to be sure to get to this first stop at the time they open, which is at 10:00, Wednesday through Sunday.

Because of little licensing laws, they can't exactly call it a "LEGO" museum. But, what do you call a place that wows you with complicated LEGO sculptures, mosaics worthy of holding Guinness Book of World Record records, and also owns nearly every life-sized mini-figure LEGO ever made, now retired? "Brick Museum" doesn't really do it justice. I like their alternate name: the Unofficial LEGO Museum of Bellaire, OH. Has a nicer ring to it.

How many LEGO's does it take?
Kiddo back in 2010.

A mosaic made entirely out of LEGOs!

Ohio Toy and Plastic Brick Museum
Summer hours 2013: Wed-Sun, 10:00 to 5:00
4597 Noble Street
Bellaire, Ohio 43906
Dan Brown, Founder
Admission: $8 adults, $6 child/senior

2nd Stop: Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
You're going to head for the border on this one. West Virginia, here you come! Even though it's another state, it's really not that far, so don't panic.
This toy and train museum brings back so many memories. They have a wonderfully amazing teddy bear collection and toys fill rooms and rooms named by theme: Transportation Room, Miniatures Room, Game Room, Doll Room, and so many more. The toys are housed in an old schoolhouse, equipped with original tin ceilings, fine woodwork from wall to floor.

On our visit, the museum had a fun game you could play while on the self-guided tour (guided tours are available per request). It was a Where's Waldo search of about 7 various characters, hidden throughout the museum. Incorporating the search game is brilliant to keep kids engaged while looking at absolutely everything there is to see in each museum room. A small prize in the gift shop awaits the ones with very keen eyes! There are several hands-on activities, too! Challenge your young companion to a slot car race, for example.

The curator of the museum was working on a brand new exhibit, KINEX, while we were there and he was nice enough to allow us a peak into his progress. WOW! Upon entering the room, you wish for an actual human shrinking machine so you could enjoy the carnival setting that is before you. So many moving constructions, so many parts, so impressive! Every detail is thought out including a series of lighting sequences that takes the room from sunset to sundown, dawn to dusk. Definitely worth the drive!

Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
Summer hours 2013: DAILY, 9:00 to 5:00
144 Kruger Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
James M. Schulte, Curator
Admission: $9 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 students (6-17), children 6 and under, FREE

3rd Stop: LUNCH at TJ's Sports Garden Restaurant
Local places are the best places to explore and eat! If you're ever in a new town, ask the locals where the best place is to eat. They know, and they're usually not shy in telling you. We asked James, the Toy and Train Museum's curator, where we should get a bite to eat and he praised TJ's left and right, up and down, side to side. Enough to convince us so we went.

What a fun place! The sports theme was really family friendly. The big screens surrounding the eating area had every imaginable sport showing. And, your table had its own TV so you could tune in to what you were interested in, including cartoons, which is where Kiddo landed on. The food is American fare and it was really delicious. Lunch hit the spot and we were off to our final destination.

TJ's Sports Garden Restaurant
808 National Road
Wheeling, West Virgina 26003

Final Stop: Marx Toy Museum
You may not recognize the Marx name, but when you see the toys, get ready to be flooded by the memories. Anyone remember Rockem' Sockem' Robots? Then you know Marx, at one time, the largest manufacturer of toys in the world. Only in business from 1919 to 1980, the Marx Company left an indelible mark on the toy industry forever. What a nice collection!

Marx Toy Museum
915 Second Street
Moundsville, West Virginia 26041

I hope you take the time to take a little trip down memory lane, introduce your kids to the toys you grew up with, and even some their grandparents grew up with. It's such a fun trip, all located in the same general area. The trip is so easy, only takes a day, and is super fun for all.


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