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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Eve Before the Chile Trip

Our bags have been packed, electronics have been charged, and documentation has been triple checked. It is so surreal that we are leaving tomorrow for our big trip to Chile.

I have once again over-packed. Every time I get a little better but I still can't bear the thought of traveling without two times as many clothes and shoes than I need. One of these days I am going to get it.

I have decided not to bring my laptop with me to Chile. It is too heavy and I lost my Microsoft office on it during the last update. My plan was to write up my diary entries in Word when I didn't have access to internet. Then when I could access Blogger I would copy and paste my entries and add pictures. Instead I have purchased a journal and I will hand write my entries and when I come back I will make blog posts and turn it into a trip report. This will help extend my vacation fun. I also plan on writing restaurant, hotel, and attraction reviews.

Besides the trip report I have a few other ideas on things I would like to do on this blog. I would like to learn about other cultures with the boys and have an idea of doing a weekly thing with them to learn about a new country each week.

I would like to focus on getting healthier. I can't seem to make Weight Watchers or any other calorie counting system to work lately but I can work on making small changes to get healthier. I plan on reinstating my weekly weigh-in when I come back and document the healthy changes I have been working on.

I feel pretty strongly about moving to Chile next year (assuming I love it as much as I think I remember loving it). I would like to document the process of moving to another country. I can then transition the Blog into settling into another country. This would include working on becoming fluent in Spanish, losing weight (I think this is important for whatever next step I take in life), finding a job in Chile, and the logistics of moving to another country with a small child.

Lastly, I want to continue writing reviews of restaurants, attractions, and local events in my area. I would like to do small trips to short drivable locations to me. Portland is a great area and I want to showcase more of it. I also want to do my Saturday Rambling posts more regularly. I like this post for me to look back and see what we were doing during that time.

I am ready for a long 24 hours of travel. The end result will make it worth it. I know this will be a fabulous trip and can't wait to tell you all about it. Stay tuned for small updates and if you follow me on Facebook, you are sure to see lots of preview pictures posted.

See you soon!


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine - Portland's First Friday

We have lived in Maine for about 2 1/2 years and it has taken us that long to realize something special was going on the first Friday of every month. Every month in downtown Portland there is a free cultural event. The Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine offers $2 admission and they are open 5-8 on the first Friday. 

Lesson learned, we should have arrived earlier to find better parking. We ended up picking a parking lot that was charging $5 and headed over to the museum. Gabrian and I love this museum and all the hands on activities they offer. As usual we had a great time.

Gabrian was able to play with magnets and microscopes. 












Climbed Trees







Sailed a Lobster Boat





Played musical instruments




Built a cozy fort




Climbed Rock Walls




Tried on Costumes




Flied a Rocket Ship


Worked in a Fire Station










It was an awesome evening and one we will soon be repeating. On our walk back to the car we enjoyed the lights of Portland.




If you want to try them out for yourselves, the museum is located at 142 Free Street, Portland.

Cracker Barrel Restaurant Review - South Portland, Maine


If Gabrian could eat pancakes for every meal for the rest of his life, he would be a very happy boy. Since that's not going to happen (at least until he is 18), I like to treat him to pancakes for dinner every once in awhile.



Cracker Barrel is awesome and delicious for the traveler and I have visited them on many a road trip. I was excited when we moved to South Portland that we have one so close to us. Funnily enough we only go here for breakfast for dinner, we never seem to make it her for breakfast for breakfast. We were headed to Portland's First Friday, and wanted to have dinner first.




When we arrived we headed to the hostess stand and resisted the pull from all the shopping I would have liked to do. We were brought to our table quickly and ended up in an awesome two seater that felt very private (though I was sad that we passed by that nice looking fire in the middle dining room).







Once seated we settled in and our waitress came by shortly to take our drink order. I went with a diet coke ($1.99) and Gabrian decided on chocolate milk (kid's drink...$1.69).





After receiving our drinks we put in our food order and settled in for the wait for the food. There are always fun things to do while waiting at Cracker Barrel.











It didn't take much waiting and before we knew it our food had arrived.




Shocker....Gabrian went with the kid's pancakes ($4.39). They were everything he could have hoped for. They were fluffy, big, and came with lots of whipped butter! Plus who doesn't love miniature bottles of syrup.





I picked the Country Fried Breakfast ($8.49). It comes with 2 eggs, hash brown casserole (I could have chosen country fried apples), chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy (I could have chosen other toast options), and grits (you have to ask for these). I am sure I ate a million calories but it was so delicious and worth every one!

Overall, this was a winner for us again. Just delicious comfort food. For a chain, they are pretty good. I will definitely be visiting them again during our travels and here at home in South Portland.

If you want to try Cracker Barrel for yourself, they are located at 357 Maine Mall Road, South Portland.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chile Trip 2015 - 15 Sleeps and Counting

Photo Credit: Ariel Marinkovic/EPA /Landov



We are coming down to the home stretch before we leave for our big Trip. While we are so excited to get there we are watching the news and monitoring the internet to hear about the Volcano Eruption in Pucon. Gabrian's Grandparents, Uncle, and Cousins live in Pucon. While it would be a bummer to miss out on going to Pucon, we are more concerned about our family there that could be affected by the Eruption. We will wait to hear news about the Villarica Volcano.

I recently dug out an older camera from my closet. I had recently been thinking about saving for a DSLR camera. I would like to take better quality pictures. I remembered that I had a funny camera I bought several years ago with tax money that was very cumbersome to carry around. Wouldn't you know, it was a DSLR camera. I am trying to practice with it before the trip. I am hoping to get some awesome picture. Other than the Volcano picture (because it isn't my picture), the rest of the pictures are practice from my Pentax K-50.




I finally decided which Vera Bradley purse I wanted to bring with me. I have the Mailbag style in Jazzy Blooms. It has tons of room in the interior pocket to fit my camera and my wallet. I still plan on bringing my point and shoot camera and this will fit as well. The front pockets will fit Gabrian's iPad in case I don't want to leave it in the room. The back has a zippered pocket which I will put my bip! card, easy access to money, and the prepaid phone we will have in Chile.




I find that Gabrian is not the best helper with packing. He takes frequent naps and hogs the bed!







Gabrian's room is started to be taken over with our packing. I am trying to lay out everything I would like to bring with us. Then I will try to make some cuts because I am infamous for over-packing. I know that I don't need everything I bring but I can't seem to help myself. I always worry that I will regret not bringing something. I know that because we will be schlepping our stuff around Chile, I will regret bringing too much.







Gabrian's room is also getting taken over with gifts that we have bought for the family in Chile. I had lots of fun shopping for these gifts in the last few months. Now that it is all spread out, I have the task of fitting it into a suitcase. I look forward to seeing them open their presents. Because Chile has opposite seasons to us, I can often really get great deals. My best find this time around was a Brooks Brother's Dress that I purchased for $7 at Marshall's that originally retailed for $398!










I have been purchasing shoes for the trip. Gabrian is pretty set with his sneakers and Keen sandals from last year. I did order him some Nike Water Shoes from 6pm website. I purchased a few pair of shoes for me. I would prefer to wear just flip flops while we are there but they tend to dress nicer than we do. I had quite a search to find shoes that are comfortable but somewhat stylish. I think I have succeeded but I guess we won't know until the trip. I have one more pair of sandals on their way here but because I ordered them online it is still up in the air if I am keeping them. I won't know if they are comfortable until I can try them on. On top of that, I am not sure if I need another pair so I will have to really love them.




Gabrian likes to volunteer to let me practice with the camera.




I also purchased a seat belt extender from Ebay.  I hate to have to have one but the reality is that I would probably need to request one on the airplane and it is so embarrassing to have to ask. I found myself so stressed about this event. I now own my own and shouldn't have to ask again unless I fly Southwest (they are the only ones that have a different type of seat belt). Hopefully in the near future I won't need the one I have.




I have lists everywhere you look. I am constantly researching for the trip and have notes jotted down everywhere. I am going to have to start consolidating them shortly. This list is for restaurants that we may be interested in visiting while we are in Santiago.

I am feeling fairly prepared for the trip. We are at the stage where I am torn between wanting time to speed up so we can be in Chile already and slow down because I know that I am going to blink and the trip will be over. 

I am using this trip as an opportunity to see if I love Chile as much as I remember. If I still love it, I plan on moving there at the end of Summer/beginning of Fall of  2016 (once Riley is settled in College). Once I get back I will drive you crazy with my action plan on how to make this move happen in a year and a half. If you were ever interested in moving to Chile, this will be the place to come to find out how to go about it. Wish me luck on the next new adventure!