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Kid-Friendly Activities in Las Vegas, PART 2

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kid-friendly Las Vegas

One of the most-visited posts on this blog is my list of kid-friendly activities in Las Vegas. I’ve lived in Las Vegas long enough to have some new activities to add, so here it is: Kid-Friendly Vegas Activities, Part 2. Everybody loves a good sequel, right?

Henderson Bird Preserve: I’ll admit it. This place wasn’t really for us. But if you visit when the weather is nice, or if you are an avid bird-watcher, this might be an adventure you and your family will enjoy.

Natural History Museum: It isn’t exactly the Smithsonian, but that’s ok! This museum features several automated, gigantic dinosaurs, an exhibit on ancient Egypt, and much more. My daughter loved our visit.

Neon Museum: This one is best for older kids, since you can only visit the museum as part of a guided tour. The Neon Museum features many of the historic neon signs that once decorated the streets of Las Vegas. You might want to consider booking your tickets ahead of time for this attraction.

National Atomic Testing Museum: Like the Neon Museum, this activity is best-suited for older kids and teens. The museum focuses on the atomic testing that occurred in Nevada. For an extra fee, you can visit the Area 51 exhibit while you’re there.

Flamingo Habitat: Walk through this outdoor garden to see flamingos and other birds. It’s free and is located right on the Strip on the grounds of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.

So, get out there and continue exploring beautiful Las Vegas! But before you go, check out my first list of kid-friendly Vegas activities. Or, if you’re in the mood to venture further afield, you can read my Vegas day trip ideas. Happy trails!

WanderFood Wednesday: Cantonese and Szechwan Cuisine at Shanghai Lilly

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I have a confession. Sometimes we go to restaurants that are not particularly kid-friendly…and we bring our kid. We often walk to our table while receiving skeptical looks from other diners. And we’re cool with that. We know our daughter, and we know that if we come prepared with something to keep her occupied while we wait for our food, she’ll be just fine.

We also know that she’s an adventurous eater for her age. I can’t tell you how many waitresses have looked on in disbelief as E. has gobbled up Chicken Tikka Masala or excitedly declared, “YES! Mushrooms! Yum!” upon seeing her food.

During our recent trip to Las Vegas, we ate at Shanghai Lilly at Mandalay Bay. We went early to avoid crowds. This is not a restaurant that typically caters to families; no kids’ menu here!

Dinner at Shanghai Lilly. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.

We shared three dishes: honey sesame chicken, kung pao chicken, and tofu and vegetables.

E. loved the kung pao chicken (which I wish had been spicier) and the tofu and vegetables.

I’m no expert when it comes to food, but I love trying new restaurants and showing off pictures of our culinary adventures. If you want to check out foodie adventures from Texans who really know their stuff, stop by Defining Delicious and San Antonio Food Nazi.

This post is part of WanderFood Wednesday. To see what other bloggers have been feasting on lately, check out this week’s WanderFood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Texas Photo: A Quiet Moment Outside the Landa Library

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A quiet moment outside of the Landa Library, San Antonio

I took this picture using the instagram app on my iPhone (which I absolutely love). If you’d like to follow me on instagram, look-up my username: wanderingoff. Feel free to share your username here in the comments section, so I can be sure to follow you back!

Happy Friday!

Here’s What We’ve Been Doing

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mosaic, San Antonio riverwalk

Let’s Do the World a Favor and Take Our Kids Outside Today

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
–John Burroughs

Texas shells

Texas cactus

Texas view

Discovery

Texas walk, Ortonish

We need to get our kids outdoors as much as possible. As a mom, I’m trying to do better: less screen-time, more outdoor time.

Why is it important? Watch this:

For ideas on kid-friendly outdoor activities, visit Go Explore Nature, a fantastic blog that features all kinds of nature adventures, many of which can be accomplished in your own backyard.

Dreaming: A Place to Live

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Sometimes we daydream about where we’d like to settle down once all of the military moving is over. We’ve considered all kinds of places, both familiar and excitingly unfamiliar, and we decided the place we love most is…

Drum roll, please…

Columbia, Missouri!

Columbia, Missouri.
The columns, remnants of the 1840’s Academic Building.

What? You’ve never heard of it? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

Columbia is located in central Missouri, just north of Jefferson City, the state capital. It’s fairly small (although I know that assessment is relative). Because Columbia is a college town, it is anything but “sleepy.” It combines the best of both worlds: the ease and friendliness of a small town, but with the sports, entertainment, and culture of a larger city.

The town is home to the University of Missouri, so it seems like there’s always something to do: a basketball game or an exhibition at the University’s art museum, for instance. The campus itself is beautiful.

I can just picture myself taking a nice walk with E. through campus…or going on a hike on the beautiful MKT trail. Built on the old railbed of the MKT railroad, this wide trail is perfect for walking, running, biking, or even cross country skiing.

MKT
The MKT Trail

I love Columbia’s downtown district. Filled with locally-owned shops and restaurants, it is a wonderful place to window-shop or grab a coffee.

There’s a real sense of community in Columbia, something that’s hard to describe. How do I know? Well, that’s the funny thing about our dream. We’ve already lived it! We just didn’t realize it at the time.

Nick and I lived in Columbia when we were in our early- to mid- twenties. We liked it, but we were ready to move on. The grass is always greener, right? Now, we look back and miss our time in Columbia. It is familiar, yet inspiring. Surrounded by good food and nature and art, it’s hard not to feel optimistic. That’s the kind of environment in which I want to live, and the kind I hope to provide for my daughter.

Luckily, we’re able to visit once a year or so, and I’m confident that someday we’ll go back for good.

I wrote this post as part of Mondays are for Dreaming at Mother of All Trips.

Closing Time for 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, I’m already looking forward to our adventures in the coming year.  Not that 2010 wasn’t great, but I’m always excited for more planning, packing, flying, driving, sightseeing, and everything else that goes into our family’s travels.  I hope you’ll join us in 2011.

I’ll be writing about New Orleans (for sure) and Houston (hopefully, if I can ever find a good time to head that direction).  We’re also hoping to visit Chicago next summer and take E. to her first Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  Other potential destinations include a girls weekend in the smokey mountains and some day trips from our new hometown after we move.

Those are the more realistic of my 2011 travel goals, but I also have a few longshots.  By longshots, I mean the places that seem a little more dreamy, the ones that would require longterm planning and saving.  For instance, London and a Disney cruise to the Bahamas have been on my travel wishlist for quite some time, and I’m hoping that 2011 will be the year that they move off the wishlist and onto the “places I’ve visited” list. 

Where are you headed in 2011?  What adventures will the year hold for you and your family?  I’d love to hear about it…just leave a comment!

Should I Stay or Should I Go (Not That It’s Up to Me)

Well, it’s almost that time of year again. No, I’m not referring to the holidays. I’m talking about that time of year when the military tells us whether we’ll be staying here in San Antonio or moving on to new adventures elsewhere.

To be honest, I’m not even sure what I’m hoping for this time around. Last time, I was ready to leave Ohio and embark on a big adventure. But now, I’m not sure what to think: do I want to stay here with my friends? Or do I want (yet another) fresh start in a new place?

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decipher what I want, yet it doesn’t really matter. The decision isn’t mine to make. Now the waiting begins. This is one weird life…

Thoughts on Crying in the Pantry

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Over the weekend, I finally watched Sex and the City 2. It was a horrible movie with no character development and no plot, but with plenty of stereotypes about the Middle East. But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

What struck me was a conversation between Miranda and Charlotte, the two women out of the four who became moms. Charlotte says to Miranda, “Being a mom is hard…and I have full-time help! What do women do who don’t have help?” (Maybe not a direct quote, but you get the idea.)

Earlier in the movie, we see an overwhelmed Charlotte, who is a stay-at-home mom, run into her kitchen pantry to cry after a particularly rough cupcake-making session with her two young daughters. She doesn’t want her children to see her tears or frustration, so she hides. Luckily, the full-time nanny comes in at just the right time and distracts the girls so Charlotte can compose herself.

Well. I’m one of those moms Charlotte and Miranda pity as they sit there drinking their cocktails in the United Arab Emirates. Our nearest family members live about 14 hours away, and although we have some good friends who are willing to watch E. (thank you!), I certainly don’t have hired help to assist me.

Charlotte was half-right. Yes, being a mom is hard. It’s the most challenging, patience-testing job in the world. She was right about that. And I don’t blame Charlotte for hiding in the closet for a good cry.

What upsets me is that the movie lets her off the hook. Someone steps in to save the day. For most of us, we don’t have that. We have to dry our tears, step out of the pantry, and find the finger paints.

Photo Friday: Barenaked Ladies Concert

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This isn’t exactly travel-related, but I had such a good time at the Barenaked Ladies concert last night, I had to use one of the pictures for this week’s Photo Friday post…even though I was too busy dancing around and singing to get a proper picture. I’m not doing a very good job of selling you on this post, am I?

Barenaked Ladies, San Antonio, 11/4/2010

The guys put on a great show, and with over 20 years in the music industry, it’s clear that they know how to entertain a crowd. And they know about music, something that seems to be an afterthought in this world of Ke$ha (yes, that’s spelled with a dollar sign) and Justin Bieber (who performs tonight in San Antonio, coincidentally).

One of the highlights of the show for me: a shout-out to the San Antonio Children’s Museum, one of our favorite places to take our daughter!

If BNL comes to your town, definitely check them out! You can follow them on Twitter at @barenakedladies.

For more Photo Friday fun, stop by the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

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