September 30, 2013

Kodak Kiosk.

So last week I was invited to the Kodak Kiosk blogger event at Discount Drug Mart.

I was pretty excited about this.  I take a billion pictures every day but I rarely print any of them.  I just don't have time to sort through them and decide which ones are print worthy.  And while I have a good printer it seems like I'm always out of ink or paper when I finally get around to actually printing anything for myself.  Boo.  So I was open to some new ideas:

The whole hook with these kiosks is that they link to your social media and pull pictures from there.  Right now it's just Facebook but Instagram is happening in the near future.  Also the kisoks can wirelessly pull photos from your phone.  Nifty.

They have all sorts of cool products - photos!  cards!  dvd's! collages!  But I was particularly interested in the photo books.  I've been meaning to make us some nice, family, photo books for a long time now.  It would be nice to have a tangible reminder of our adventures.  And with all of the editing and printing options available it's possible to make a professional, beautiful, displayable coffee table style book. YES.

But here's the thing.  Editing is HARD.  When you have folder after folder after folder filled with adorable it's overwhelming to even know where to begin.   Even just with the photos on my phone.  To sit down and figure out what you want...well... it's overwhelming.  Especially when you consider how many pictures I have on my phone at any given moment:

900.  I have 900 as of writing this post and I cleared a lot off my phone before the iphone update.  YEAH.

Which is why this kiosk is awesome.  Because I already do cull the mass of photos.  Via facebook.  I try very hard to only post to facebook what is interesting or extra adorable.  So while I may take 50 pictures in a day only one or two of those make it to my facebook feed.  Which means that if I want to make a highlight book using only the best of the best using facebook as my sole picture source works out really well:


So I stole the idea from one of the fellow attendees and made a book of our summer.  I went back as far as the pictures from my daughter's last day of school, and stopped adding photos at the first day of school picture from this year.  Easy.

It was super painless and simple to compile.  Plus the awesome Kodak software automatically arranged them in close to chronological order.   I didn't even have to mess with it at all.  So in a few minutes and a few clicks I had this:


A beautiful, simple, bound, high quality, and most importantly finished book of our summer.  Amazing.


But what's even more awesome?  The kids LOVE it.  LOVE.  Like crazy love.  They want to read the "Summer Book" all the time:

Kodak Picture Book
They request it as a bedtime story and read it to each other almost every day reliving all of our fun adventures.  It's so adorable I can't even handle it. 

My kids LOVE the photo book of our summer I made last night at the Kodak Kiosk! @KodakKiosks #KodakDDM #Kodakmoms

And as a parent who works hard to make sure there are lots of adventures to photograph it makes me VERY happy that this reinforces their memories and experiences.

On one page:  Wade Oval Wed at the Cleveland Art Museum, the Romanian Festival, Asphalt Cinema at Impett Park, Boat trip in Geneva, Great Lakes Science Center, and an adorable baby.  It was a fantastic summer.
I want to go back and make one for every season!  It certainly would be easy enough.

So a big thank you to Kodak and Drug Mart for this technology.  I can think of about a million more things that I want to do with it.  Yay!

Disclosure:  I was NOT compensated for this post.  I was invited to attend the blogger event and received a goodie bag from Drug Mart and Kodak for attending.  All opinions are my own.

September 24, 2013

Ingenuity Cleveland and Boogie Boards.

So last Sat. night we packed up all the kids headed down to Cleveland's Lakefront for  Ingenuity Cleveland.

My family loved @Ingenuityfest !  #ingenuityfest #happyincle #cleveland
Three kids, two parents, no stroller.  What up.
 Which was so neat.  I've never actually been to it before.  I'm really glad we finally made it this year.  It's the type of event where you just never know what you're going to find:
More @Ingenuityfest fun. Kids LOVED it!  Highlights were the @boogie_board booth and @DonutLabCLE #ingenuityfest #happyincle

Art! Music! Food!  Innovation!  = Lots of awesome.
Ingenuity Fest
Ingenuity Fest

Ingenuity Fest

The food trucks were out in force but we only tried Donut Lab Cleveland.  Which the kids were fascinated by:

Ingenuity Fest
Machine making mini donuts.  YUM.
Other highlights included the thing that was set up where you press a button and make a giant fire burst:
Ingenuity Fest
And the Boogie Board booth:

Ingenuity Fest
My kids were SO into it.  Especially my daughter... and my husband. (they are more and more alike as she grows up.  It's crazy)  To the point where the woman running the booth told us this "I only have a few of these to give away but it seems like your kids would really appreciate them"  Um.. YES!  So she gave us 2!  Amazing.  And I love moments like that where they learn that being good is rewarded.  Very, very cool. 

The Boogie Board is an LCD tablet that is meant to replace paper.  You can write notes, lists, drawings, whatever on it.  It doesn't take any batteries and is super smooth to write on. LOVE.

Seriously.  We've all been playing with them constantly since we got them Sat night.  Super cool idea, and perfect for kids.  I'm thinking something like this would be wonderful for a long road trip.  And alot easier to pack than the art bin I usually lug along!  The version we have is basically just a notepad.  But the version coming out this Christmas (available for preorder on Amazon) can sync with the ever note app.  WANT.  So many possibilities for paperless organization of life! 

Anyways!  Sorry for that ad interlude.  Just wanted to throw a shoutout to a cool Northern Ohio company / product.

On the other side of that spectrum the Cleveland Monorail oops I mean Skylift also had a booth:

Ingenuity Fest
Monorail, Monorail, MONORAIL!
I... don't get it.  Maybe I'm just too pragmatic and not visionary enough.  But wow does it seem like a waste of resources.  I don't see people commuting via skylift.  And I don't see a skylift being a big enough attraction to draw in a booming tourist trade on it's own.  I do however see our city being vastly enhanced by improving and expanding our already existing transportation system.  For example - adding a Rapid line through the already existing rail infrastructure in Lakewood.  Wouldn't that be amazing?  Maybe not as sexy as a monorail/skylift but something to think about... 

Although I am happy to see crazy ambitious ideas being discussed for our city no matter what they are.  Go big, right?  Because we live in a really awesome city.
Ingenuity Fest

With pretty boats.

Ingenuity Fest
Anyways!  Ingenuity is a great festival.  I was nervous about bringing the kids - the walking, the crowd, the later at night factor.  But all of it was fine.  Yay for Cleveland innovation!

September 23, 2013

Cleveland Weekend Recap: Ballroom and Football.

So!  Lately every Monday I think to myself "wow.  that was an awesome weekend.  I really should write a recap."  And then I'm so worn out (and the kids are so worn out) from said weekend that I never finish it.  Sometimes I upload the pictures to flickr.  Sometimes I even get as far as starting the blog post.  But usually I don't have a chance to finish it.

NOT THIS WEEK. *shakes fist in the air in defiance*

(even though it's midnight)
 (and I had to break this up into 2 posts)

So this past weekend was funtimes. Fri night we finally took the kids to see Planes.  It was... not as terrible as Cars 2?  Let's put it this way - I wouldn't recommend it unless you have kids.  Unlike Toy Story 3 or Brave which AWESOME.  Also I can't even think about without crying.  Pixar just isn't at it's best with this franchise.

full disclosure:  I loathe Dane Cook.
Although I have to admit part of my distaste for this film is coming from the place of a jaded parent.  Every new character introduced I just thought "Great.  Now my kid's going to want that toy.  blerg."

Just what I wanted!  To give Disney more monies!  SOB.

 But the dude LOVED it and has been talking about it ever since.  Also serious crazy happened in the parking lot but I'll leave that one on twitter.

Saturday morning I got to do this:

Dancesport Cleveland competition

Wait, what?

Dancesport Cleveland competition

Yes.  I took my daughter to the Cleveland Dancesport Challenge.  See my cousin has gotten into ballroom dance lately and was competing.  So we went to support her.  As it happens one of my friends from the amazing knitting group that I never get to go to anymore was competing, too.

Dancesport Cleveland competition
My cousin is in purple, my knititng friend in blue.

Both of them rocked it.  And it was super fun to learn about this whole culture that exists that I know nothing about.  Also there were vendors:

Dancesport Cleveland competition
Somehow I took a picture of the simplest dress there.  This one doesn't even have feathers!  or fringe!
Dancesport Cleveland competition
That afternoon we were all worn out from the day's activities. So we all took a family nap.  Those are the best.  And solid naps meant we could do something crazy that evening.  Like take all 3 of our kids to Ingenuity Fest.  BUT.  I'm going to talk about the entire Ingenuity portion of our weekend tomorrow to keep this from rambling on...

Sunday morning we spent tackling some organization projects that have been languishing.  Seriously I don't know what everyone does with ALL OF THE PAPER OMG.  Every day my kid comes home from preschool with another piece of nonsense / valuable piece of artwork.  Add to it the important parent handouts....  We're drowning in it and it's just the tip of the iceburg.  The thought of dealing with it when I have 3 school aged kids....

So if anyone has any school paper organization tips I'm all ears!  I did make some progress, though.  All of the art supplies have moved into a new ikea product in the basement.  And I have a home for the school stuff to live in.  Basically we went from this:

Hoarder cabinet of SHAME next to my kid's art table-turned-PILE OF COLORING AND WOE.
to this:

less craptastic cabinet of random next to an empty corner with a broken lamp.  PROGRESS.
Baby steps, right?

Sunday afternoon was spent as God intended:  Watching football and knitting, with a dog at my feet:

Knitting and football with a dog at my feet. How Sunday should be. #knitting #knit #tomten

 Or for the expanded view:


I have to say.... watching a game with a team that is playing to win is pretty fun.  I hope the Browns play this angry next week.  It really felt like they had a chip on their shoulder.  And they should after all of the talk all week.  One player does not make a team.  That statement came though yesterday.


Pictured: unconditional love for my Steelers fan husband. #gobrowns
Yay for a great fall weekend in Cleveland!

September 20, 2013

A Day at Put-In-Bay with the Miller Boat Line.

So on Sat. we packed up the whole family and headed out to Put-in-Bay.


It was an absolutely perfect day for it.  Beautiful, fall weather.  I know people think of the islands and that whole Sandusky area of Lake Erie as a summer gig but it's beautiful in the fall:

Aboard the Miller Ferry
Aboard the Miller Ferry

Put-in-Bay is the town on South Bass Island on the western end of Lake Erie.  So to get there you need to take a ferry.  We used the Miller Boat Line and they were great.  They run daily out of Port Clinton - about an hour from our house in Cleveland.

The biggest thrill ever for a 2 year old obsessed with cars and trucks and things that go?  Taking our car on a boat:

Aboard the Miller Ferry

Seriously it blew his little mind. CAR ON BOAT! CAR BOAT! BOAT!!!! Pretty awesome.  The ride over is about 20 min so we didn't stay in our car the whole time:

Aboard the Miller Ferry
Aboard the Miller Ferry

Although I did use the downtime to nurse the baby. In a car.  On a boat.

Aboard the Miller Ferry
I have officially nursed this kid everywhere.
Although you don't have to take your car on a boat.  Actually the primary way people get around on the island is golf carts.  Which would have been super fun if not for the baby factor.  I just didn't know how that would work.  Plus we wanted to have our car with us to lug all of our gear - stroller, diaper bag, jammies for the trip home, picnic lunch, etc.  When the kids are older the golf carts will be a blast, though!

Having a great day in PIB thanks to @millerferries !  #lakeerie #PIB
Once were were back on land we buckled the kids in and headed straight to the Perry's Cave Family Fun Center.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center

First on our list was the Butterfly House.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center
Or BOO-FLY house if you're talking to the 2 year old.  BOO FLY DON'T BOTHER ME!  His fav song.
Because my girl wanted to find an Azure Butterfly like in Fancy Nancy.  I wanted to get a picture of the two big kids where they didn't look like crazy people.  Only one of us accomplished our goal:

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center
Guess which one.
Anyways it was really cool.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center

Tons of  BOOFLIES:

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center

 And we even go to see to see the cocoons which was a big thrill:

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center

From there it was on to Perry's Cave:

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center Put-in-Bay just had a huge celebration for the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie and this cave was an important factor.  Apparently Perry's men hid out here waiting for the showdown with the British.  They were able to lay in wait because of the cave's fresh water source. The pool of water is safe to drink b/c the limestone in the cave filters it.  The level of the pool rises and falls with the level of Lake Erie - something I find fascinating.  Anyways with out this cave the battle and therefore the War of 1812 and therefore all of flipping history might have gone very differently:

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center
A very important body of water.
As a former preservationist I love sites like this - that have been tourist attractions for literally over a hundred years.  Because some of the things - actually alot of the things - that early tourists did can be really harmful to the thing they were touring.  So then that becomes part of the history of the site, too.  In this case there were black soot marks from the gas lanterns they used to use.  But my fav part was the remaining parts of an old pipeline that used to run from the freshwater pool to the Liberty Hotel. Yeah someone saw this cool, historically significant cave and thought:  "Sweet.  We'll just go ahead and take that water.  Damage it?  Bah.  Our needs are way more important.  What up."
Kindof like how the southwest looks at our great lakes....  Wait.

Anyways! After the tour the kids needed to run around for a bit.  So we headed to the Fort A-maze-ing.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center
Which is basically just a huge maze.  The kids loved it.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center
I got several turns in and had a crying baby in my hands that needed to eat RIGHT NOW OMG.  I... couldn't find the way out.

Perry's Cave Family Fun Center

But with not to much trouble (and alot of mocking) Matt was able to navigate me back to the entrance. 

From there we left the Family Fun Center and headed across the street to Crystal Cave.  Which is the world's largest geode.  My kids LOVE geodes - my mom collects them kindof so they've seen a few in their lives.  Once they understood what they were seeing it blew their minds.

Crystal Cave
Crystal Cave

We skipped the winery portion of the Crystal Cave tour, sadly b/c the kids were in dire need of some downtime (read:  AWFUL).  So we took a driving tour of the island:
Checking out the IslandChecking out the Island

Checking out the Island

When everyone seemed back to rights again we had a bit more time to kill before the ferry home but not enough for another attraction.  So we went to the park:

Checking out the Island
Always a strong play.
And climbed some cannons:

Checking out the Island

 And got ice cream:

Perfect end to a lovely day.


The ferry home was pretty fun, too!

on the Miller Ferry headed home

We had a great time in Put-in-Bay.  Which you can probably tell just by the fact that this turned into about the longest post ever.  And we still didn't see all of the things we wanted to see!  Matt's super bummed about missing the Longest Bar in the World (yes. that's a thing), and I want to go to the top of Perry's Victory.  So we will be returning to the island again soon.

on the Miller Ferry headed home I'd highly recommend a trip if you're looking for something fun and easy to do with your family this fall!

Disclosure:  Miller Boat Line provided me with tickets to the island and the Perry's Cave Family Fun Center attractions.  All opinions are my own.
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