Tag: Christmas

Road Trippin’ – Winter Fun in Cooperstown, New York!

 

things to do in cooperstown ny winter

When I think of Cooperstown, New York, I think of one thing – baseball.  Similar to how Augusta, Georgia is revered by golf aficionados, baseball fans like yours truly hold Cooperstown in the highest esteem. As such, many people flock there in the summer, especially during the Hall of Fame induction festivities. However, being so closely tied to a summer pastime does pose an interesting  question- what the heck goes on in Cooperstown, after the bases are put away, and the diamonds are cleared up for the season? Fortunately for my family and I, we were able to find out the answer to that question, when my friends at This Is Cooperstown invited us down for a fun-filled almost winter weekend!

Regular readers know that we love road trippin’, and Cooperstown was a perfect destination. To my fellow Canucks in the Hamilton/Toronto area – our drives there and back each took about five hours, with stops. Upon arrival, it becomes apparent quickly how unique a place Cooperstown is. It’s a small village, nestled at the end of a lake, basically. The downtown area has one stoplight. There’s only one grocery store in town. Main Street is lined with restaurants, shoppes and the Hall of Fame, but you can’t exactly drive very fast down it.  I kind of felt like that I was in Stars Hollow, actually, and expected to bump into Rory or Lorelai Gilmore at any time. I don’t mean that to throw shade; I love Gilmore Girls. I’m just sayin’, picture Stars Hollow with a baseball focus, and that’s Cooperstown.

This Joltin Joe Dimaggio song is now on my daughter’s playlist of favorite songs, no joke.

Most of that focus obviously is on the town’s biggest attraction, the Baseball Hall Of Fame. As someone who’s dreamed of strolling the hallowed halls since I was a lil dude, I was in heaven. The amount of history that it covers, and the items and memorabilia on display, is overwhelming, but in the best way possible.  Walking past the walls filled with the plaques of all of the inductees gave me goosies (word to Jennifer Lopez!).  The Hall does provide a scavenger hunt for children to do, with a prize given out, for completing it. B and J, to their credit, were determined to finish it, which was cool. The only thing was that they zipped through the place to find the answers, and didn’t really want to drink in the awesomeness of it all, which meant that I couldn’t either. I left thirsty (for more).  K thought that more interactive exhibits probably would have helped engage them better, which is probably true. Regardless, my family, who range in levels of baseball fandom, all enjoyed the Hall Of Fame to varying degrees, and it’s definitely THE must-see attraction, when in Cooperstown. Be sure to grab a bite at the iconic Doubleday Cafe, too, before or afterwards. Besides having delicious food with generous portions,  it’s like a two minute walk from the Hall, and there’s lots of interesting baseball memorabilia on display there, as well.

Along those lines, a visit to the Cooperstown Bat Company was also in the cards. They offer tours of their factory, including a bat turning demonstration. The people there were very friendly, knowledgeable and legit seemed to love their jobs. To be honest, my kids, while initially really into it, did get bored after a while.  Maybe just plan on a quick trip, if you go with little children.  However, it’s a fascinating place.  Don’t let the size of the facility fool you, too.  Their capabilities and clients are impressive.  One of the coolest things that they offer is a custom engraving service. A high quality wood bat with a name engraved on it makes a great souvenir.  Since they have an online store that ships all over, it makes a great gift, too, for Christmas!

Balancing bats on random things is fun!

Along those lines, the timing of our trip (late November) happened to coincide with some local holiday festivities. For example, we braved the cold one night to check out the Santa’s Arrival Parade. Main Street  was filled on both sides with families eagerly awaiting Santa’s appearance. There was a buzz in the air, as only St. Nick can create, among excited children.  Well, a buzz and a lot of chattering, too. From people’s teeth. For real, it was chilly!

Eventually, after the floats and performers and whatnot went by,  Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived with their ‘reindeer”, police escort in tow, like they were rock stars or something. They set up shop in a park on Main Street, which had been transformed into a Christmas village. Kids then lined up to meet them, which was a nice touch, different from other parades that we’ve been to. Anyway, it was nice to see the community come out, to interact and enjoy the event. I really felt at home there, and not like a tourist.

 

Also on our agenda was an adventure on The Santa Express, courtesy of the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad.  Train cars were decorated on the inside and outside with a holiday theme. While on board, we went for a slow, relaxing, heated ride along the tracks, while enjoying goodies and Christmas music. The highlight, of course, was an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus. They had gifts for each of the kids on board, and handed them out to everyone, by name. B and J couldn’t believe it, when they received a couple of toys on their wish lists.  The magic of Christmas, I tell ya.

 

Along those lines, we were magically transported back in time, while in Cooperstown, too! Well, not really, but we did venture out to the Farmer’s Museum, to see what life what life was like 100+ years ago. Cooperstown in general has a throwback, old-school vibe to it, especially in terms of the architecture, but the Museum takes it up a notch. Past the main barn (which had various interactive exhibits and displays in it) was a historic village. It was comprised of buildings and characters which would have been common in the 18th and 19th centuries, like a school house (with a teacher) and a tavern/hotel.  There’s also a farmstead on site.  My kids’ favorite part, though, was the Empire State Carousel, a retro merry go round.

Alright. Maybe it was my fav part, too.

Along those lines, my family LOVED our accommodations for the weekend! We stayed at the Oneida Lodge North, courtesy of CooperstownLuxury.com.  This was basically the most spectacular cottage that I’ve ever seen. The lodge was multi-levels,  featuring a beautiful, intricately designed staircase that wrapped around a pine tree.   It was huge and spacious, too, which meant that the kids had lots of room to run around acting lit, or in B’s case,  to work on his Fortnite dance moves. I tried to play hide and seek with B and J at one point, but I gave up after one round, in trying to find them. The place was that big.   It’s also located on a lake, with access to a boat house, and a dock. In the summer, it would be dope. However, even during a frosty November weekend, it was still fun.  There was a games room, loaded with board games, and plenty of flat screen TVs throughout. Fireplaces, too, if you want to level up the cozy factor.

With lots of windows and balconies, the views were outstanding, and peaceful. Nature rules!

The kitchen was well stocked with utensils, and lots of modern appliances, including a dishwasher. No paper plates and plastic spoons for us. Everything about the lodge that I could see was high quality, made with a fine attention to details. The owners and staff were even nice and responsive.  They were in communication our whole time, making sure things were going well.   If you’re planning on staying with a large group of people, this is a great option, too, as our lodge could sleep 10, with bedrooms that were very roomy.  Seriously, if want to treat yourself to something a bit different and more secluded than a regular hotel, I can’t recommend staying at a CooperstownLuxury.com property enough.

 

So there you have it. After spending three days in Cooperstown, I think that the question has been answered. What goes on there, after the baseball season has ended?

A lot of fun stuff still, that’s what.

Until the next one, peace!

 

Disclaimer:  while we received complimentary accommodations and tickets/passes to various attractions, thoughts/opinions expressed are 100% my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Kids!

Note: While I was compensated for this post by Imports Dragon, the opinions expressed are mine, as always.

Every year in our household, Santa Claus covers off the main presents, no problem, but he slacks off on the stockings. In fact, typically, he scrambles last minute to fill them, and pretty much just hopes that the kids won’t go ‘WTF’ when they empty them. This year will be different, though. My, err I mean, Santa’s good friends at Imports Dragon got it covered. As a distributor and manufacturer of numerous brands of toys, they offer a wide variety of products to satisfy kids of all ages. Available online, or in stores nationwide, here are some that I think make great stocking stuffers for my kids (and hopefully the children in your lives, too!):

 

Shopkins Cutie Cars, Single Packs or 3 Packs

I’ve mentioned before that Shopkins are big in our house. Cutie Cars are a natural extention of those. Cute little collectible cars that you can put mini Shopkins in, and take for a cruise!

NHL Figures, Various Sizes

Speaking of collectibles, these high quality, licensed NHL figures, available in various sizes, are a sure shot to please any hockey fan’s stocking.

Pikmi Pops Single Packs

Pikmi Pops are toy lollipops with an element of fun surprise inside. If your kid loves making videos of them unboxing stuff, they’ll especially love these.

Ooshies

Another cool collectible. Ooshies are tiny, squishy figurines of licensed characters, like DC, Marvel and Disney Princesses. They also double as pencil toppers, ensuring your child will have the most lit writing utensil in the whole school, fam.

Peg + Cat Plush Toys. Peg + Cat Memory Card Game

Peg + Cat is a popular children’s TV show, so fans of that show will really appreciate the plush toy, and the themed memory card game!

Twozies

 

More surprise toys! Except instead of just one mystery inside a pack, there’s two – a cute little baby and a pet. The fun is in collecting them, and mismatching the duos.

Happy Places Shopkins Packs

Here’s another one from the Shopkins universe. Happy Places are collectible, miniature decor toys.

Drawmaster Drawing Kit

Drawmaster is exactly what it says it is. A drawing kit that helps you draw the perfect piece every time. Sweet!

When And Where To See Santa Claus In The Hamilton Area

 

One of our annual holiday traditions is taking the kids somewhere to sulk, act scared and cry get their picture taken with Santa Claus. This year, while looking into when and where Saint Nick is at, in and around the Hammer, I figured I’d pass on my findings, so here ya go. Cheers!

Limeridge Mall

From November 18 – December 10th:

Monday to Friday – 11 to 8pm

Saturday – 10am to 8pm

Sunday – 11am to 6pm

From December 11-23:

Monday – Saturday – 9:30am to 9:00pm

Sunday – 10:00am to 7pm

Christmas Eve (December 24th): 9am – 3pm

Santa’s workshop will be located on the Upper Level, Centre Court. All visits with Santa are free of charge. Photo package pricing varies.

Eastgate Square

Santa arrives November 19 at 2:00pm with his friends Nutcracker, Teddy Bear, Bella the Snowflake Doll and the Christmas Elves!
A fun interactive musical Elf show will accompany the character toys. They will be performing “A Toy Box” Christmas. The show starts at 2:00PM-2:30PM in  Sears Court!

November Hours:

Monday to Friday  10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday  9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Extended Holiday hours begin December 1st:

Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Black Friday (November 24)-  7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Christmas Eve (December 24) – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

Photo package pricing varies. See pricing here.

Note these special events:

Friday December 1st – 9am to 3pm is a Babies’ First Christmas Event. Donate a new unwrapped toy or a gift card for the CHCH Christmas Toy Drive and receive a preselected FREE photo with Santa (Newborn babies until age 12 months).

Sunday, December 3rd – 8am to 10am – Before mall opening is Quiet Time With Santa. Children and teens to age 18 with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other
special needs will enjoy a craft area/entertaining Elves and St John
Ambulance Therapy Dogs for a preselected FREE Santa photo package.

Dog & Cat Photos with Santa:

Saturday, November 25th – 3pm to 6pm
Sunday, December 3rd – 3pm to 6pm
Saturday, December 16th – 6pm to 9:30pm

Regular Santa photo charges apply. Children are welcome without a pet,
too, provided they do not have a pet allergy. $5 will be donated to the CHCH Christmas Toy Drive from each pet photo package purchased.

Mapleview Mall

Free 5″x7″ photos here!  Just bring a donation in support of McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation.

DECEMBER 1 – DECEMBER 10:

Thursday – Saturday 10 AM – 8 PM
Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM

DECEMBER 14 – 23:

Monday to Saturday 10 AM – 8 PM
Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM

Burlington Mall

Santa will be arriving  on Saturday November 25 at 10am.  There will be entertainment and free hot chocolate while we  wait for him to arrive by helicopter (?!?!), in the north parking lot on the corner of Fairview St and Guelph Line. The first 1200 kids will receive a free gift!

November hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am – 8pm and Sunday from 10am – 6pm. Note that Sundays November 26, December 3 and December 10 are also pet photo days (after hours) and Saturday November 25 is a Baby’s First Christmas event (the first 300 babies will receive a free ornament).

 

Royal Botanical Garden

Visits with Santa are included in your general admission on these days:

Wednesdays (November 22, 29, December 6, 13, 20) 5 p.m. to 8 p.m (Hendrie Park)

 Fridays (November 24, December 1) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m (Hendrie Park)

The RBG has a bunch of other cool holiday-themed events going on, too. Check them out!

Stoney Creek Santa Claus Parade

The Hamilton parade will have come and gone by the time I post this, but you can still get a glimpse of Kris Kringle at the Stoney Creek Parade on December 2nd, 2pm, King Street East, Downtown Stoney Creek!

FINALLY, NO SANTA, BUT IT’S PRETTY AWESOME:

CP Holiday Train

Gage Park

November 28, 2017

7:45 PM to 8:45 PM

The train  features 14 rail cars decorated with hundreds of thousands lights and a modified boxcar that has been turned into a traveling stage.  The Hamilton stop will feature music artists Kelly Prescott, Jim Cuddy and Devin Cuddy. Concert starts at 8 pm. It’s a free event, just make a cash or non-persishable donation to the Hamilton Food Share.

It’s The Thought That Counts

 

boxgift

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not an expert on parenting by any means. And as you’ve probably noticed, this isn’t one of those blogs where the writer gives you all kinds of tips, suggestions and examples of how to be a great parent with perfect kids.

With that being said, I do consider myself to be very fortunate. Started from the bottom…..and now we are slightly above the bottom.  Hey, I’m not Drake, but life could be a lot worse, for real. Within our modest means, B and J are taken care of. Things like extracurricular activities, going to birthday parties and buying a gift, or even being able to take part in pizza days at school, everything has a price. We don’t take for granted that we are able to afford these things. First world problems, yo. Shoot, I was pretty ghetto as a child; you don’t have to tell me what it’s like to be without! So yeah, K and I do try to instill a sense of gratefulness in the kiddos. All you can do is hope that what you’re putting down sticks, and that they don’t become a couple of spoiled, entitled brats.

Since it is the holiday season, we asked B to pick five toys that he didn’t play with anymore, which he could donate to a local charity (along with some stuff that we were giving away). You know, for some kids who didn’t have many things. Not in a patronizing way or anything like that. It’s just that you’re never too young to learn about lending a helpful hand, right?  So we told him to think about it. But you know how children are. Think?! Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Better to do it with no thought, while it’s fresh on the brain. He immediately went to work in the playroom, and randomly picked these, no joke:

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 Uhh….a marker lid?!  Don’t want to give up the marker that went with it, eh? It’s kind of a package deal, you can’t have one without the other.  But OK. At least you won’t have to worry about the kid’s parents scrubbing blue doodles off the wall, because you kept the marker.  Hmm…that actually was kind of considerate, when I look at it that way. However, it’s not really a toy, B. I mean, it might work as a pint glass if the kid is playing Pub Crawl with their action figures. Or maybe as a telescope if their Ken doll wants to stargaze or spy on Barbie or something. But that’s about it. What else do you got?

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A…a piece of paper?! What? Are you sure that you don’t want think about these? And not just grab the first thing that you see? Well, I guess this makes sense. Whoever gets the paper can pretend to write on it with the marker that you didn’t give them.  This isn’t even a fresh sheet. You drew on the back of it, eh.  OK, fair enough, it’s artwork, and it might have some value one day if you’re the next Picasso, baby. However, for the time being, you’re supposed to be hooking up toys, remember? I’m sure that there is probably someone who wants a used piece of paper. The people who we have in mind probably aren’t paper airplane connoisseurs, though, so let’s try something else, alright?

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 Aww, now this is more like it! An actual…..hey wait a minute. This belongs to your sister! And she still plays with it! You can’t volunteer her toys! Try again!

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A plastic tomato slice?  Really? Why did they make a toy of this, anyway? I think it came with a BBQ playset, but who wants to pretend to eat a tomato? We should have used this as punishment:

“That’s it! Timeout, B! Get the tomato slice, and play ‘Subway Sandwich Artist tries to make BLTs without the B or L’ now!  I know that game sucks huge, but it’s the only way that you’ll learn your lesson!”

Dude, did you ever having fun with this thing?  Hey, remember when we told you that we were going to put the Christmas tree up, but we got home late and we couldn’t do it, and you were super disappointed? If you give away this tomato, whoever gets it will have that same disappointed feeling. Now you don’t want to do that to someone, right? Didn’t think so. Keep on picking. Again, you might want to put more thought into what –

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Oh, you’re still not thinking hard about these, eh, bud? Still just grabbing at will? Well, at least you’re on the right track now. You’ve played with this garage toy a lot. It’s pretty beat up and broken, though, plus a bunch of parts are missing. The cars are supposed to gradually roll down the ramps, and now they just plunge and crash. It’s a little sadistic, but I guess it will do. Hey I got an idea, since it is a car garage, and you have a lot cars, what if –

 

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Whoa, didn’t see that coming. Aaand we’re back at square one. We’re picking toys, man. This is a bin that you put toys in. If you give this, lil homey/homegirl that receives it is gonna be like ‘where the toys at?’ This is worse than giving someone coal. It’s like you’re on the naughty list, so here’s your empty bin which would have been full of cool stuff if you hadn’t been such a nitwit all year. For maximum effect, you should put a single plastic tomato slice in it. OK, OK, I’ll stop hating. This does have some minor potential as an object of play.  James Naismith would have put this on a pole and invented basketball with it. If the kid that gets this bin is into using household objects to invent sports, they’ll be tickled pink. For the nautical fan, I guess this might work as a boat. You should really think about giving up some cars, though. I’m sure someone would love –

 

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Oh, you found a real boat instead.  Wait, what happened to this thing? It was pretty dope before. It had flagpoles, and lights, and oars. Now it’s just a raft. Where’d all the cool parts go? Scratch that. I don’t know where they are, but I know where they’ll end up – embedded/impaled in my foot when I step on them somehow. Why does stuff always go missing, anyway? Before you and J, I could keep track of everything.  These days, I’m lucky if we all leave the house with matching socks.  But back to this boat.  It used to be cool, but then it got stripped down, so now it’s not so great. It’s like reverse Pimp My Ride. Xzibit would not be impressed. Whatever.  It gets a thumb’s up.  I think we’re done for the day.

Good job buddy, and don’t mind me. Always remember – it really is the thought that counts!

 

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