I’m telling you the angels were singing to me the day the nurse told me during my ultrasound that the baby I was carrying inside me was a GIRL. I could cry now just thinking back to that exact moment. If I had to name one best moment of my life, I think it would be this one. I was a Momma to triplet sons less than a year old at the time. I was just sure one of them was going to be a girl, but they all came out male. Then, unexpectedly expecting a fourth I needed to know if this special surprise was indeed my daughter. And yes, she most certainly was.

She is still the love of my life, but some days I have to really strain to hear those singing angels. But, I couldn’t be more proud of her and who she is today as she turns 12. I was nothing like her at this age, so she is fascinating to me. I was scared of anything and everything. She fears nothing and enjoys all.

Did you see the Always #LikeAGirl Super Bowl commercial or have you seen the campaign? It was my highlight to watching that game. I wanted to jump up and shout, YES girls, YES!! Instead, tears welled up in my eyes, as my sons stared at me in horror. I am all for raising and being a strong, confident woman. I know the Always campaign uses verbs like Run#LikeAGirl or Skate #LikeAGirl, but I want to use adjectives that describe my youngest who is growing up with three brothers ahead of her.

Here are 12 words that embody my daughter, along with my favorite pictures of her from our USA travels, in honor of her 12th birthday today. Turning 12 #LikeAGirl.

Brave

strong

daring Independent

curious

carefree

fearless

Happy

athletic

silly

beautiful2

confident

I truly don’t get the infatuation with Mickey Mouse. I have good friends and close family that plan nearly all of their vacation time to Disney parks. My dear Aunt even has a Mickey Mouse tattoo on her ankle and an old friend used to drive around her SUV with stick figure people wearing Mickey Mouse ears on the rear window. I really don’t get it.

worldsoffun2

I know Disney does some amazing charitable work. I love them for that. But, who in the world feels right about the cost of a Disney trip these days for the average family? Just last week ticket prices into Mickey’s Magical parks rose again! DisneyWorld Magic Kingdom admission will cost you $105 per person for a day’s worth of entertainment and spending a day in Disneyland in the west will cost you $5 less. Ok.. if you have a young one under 10, you will save about $6 a ticket. This is absurd money for a family to spend time at a man made theme park touting employed costumed characters. Disney has done a fabulous job of branding I have to say. And yes, I’m aware that if you spend five days in the parks that your cost per day goes down immensely.

Our family of six has been to almost every park that Disney owns in California and Florida. None of those trips have been our idea or planned by us. We went because we were asked to go meet family or friends there. Some instances were fun and others not so much. Keith also used to play for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks when they were owned by Disney, so we spent a little more time at the California parks because we could get in for free. Plus, we could drive 20 minutes up the freeway to spend a few hours there. Now you’re talking….

Don’t get me wrong, our kids LOVE roller coasters, waterparks, junk food and an entertaining show thrown in the mix. They may beg to differ our aversion of the Disney parks, but they aren’t the ones paying $630 for our family to just get through the Magic Kingdom turnstiles. Don’t get me started on how much hotels, food and everything else will cost you while you are in there.

BUT, IF NOT DISNEY, THEN WHERE?

Theme park visits were not on our radar during our recent motorhome tour of the United States. We had no intentions of going to any, except Kings Island in Cincinnati and that was to go with the cousins who live near there. Amusement park entertainment is not something that Keith and I really enjoy or seek out when it comes to our family travels. Well, when we ended up booking this RV spot at Worlds of Fun Village in Kansas City, Missouri guess where we ended up? It would’ve been downright cruel to say no with this as our view.

WorldsofFun RV

I have to tell you Worlds of Fun was a blast. It was a nice break from our “normal” and cost us only $35 a person for a full day’s entertainment. We could walk to the theme park and the attached waterpark, Oceans of Fun, for the one low price. We even walked back to our RV for lunch and to change into our swim garb for the second half of the day. Rent one of the cabins at Worlds of Fun Village if you don’t have an RV!

Worlds of Fun

Worlds of Fun is part of the Cedar Fair Entertainment group, which operates 11 theme parks and 6 water parks across the United States. Worlds of Fun is a traditional amusement park themed around Jules Verne’s adventure book Around the World in Eighty Days. The park has more than 235-acres of rides and attractions, including seven world-class roller coasters, thrill rides, and live entertainment.

waterpark

Oceans of Fun is one of the largest water parks in the Midwest. The park offers a wide variety of attractions for guests of all ages, including a four-story interactive water playhouse, a giant wave pool, a large water slide raft ride, several children’s activity areas, and more. Admission to Oceans of Fun is included with all tickets, and is open seasonally from May to September. We definitely could’ve used another day here!

KIentrance

The other midwest Cedar Fair park we hit was Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up driving over to this amusement park from Indianapolis, so I have many fond childhood memories of this place. The cousins all had a blast together here and once again it cost us just $35 a person to enjoy both the Kings Island rides and their attached Soak City waterpark. (Well, we honestly got rained out of our time in Soak City but it made for some good family memories and photos.)

KIscrambler

My niece and daughter humored me by riding my favorite childhood ride, the Scrambler, with me.

I don’t think you need a Mouse to make your theme park vacation a success. What you need is your family and friends by your side, laughing and enjoying time together. And having a little more money in your pocket is always a plus! Worlds of Fun and Kings Island will be opening back up in April!

The NHL trade deadline is today. I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it and our family hasn’t had to worry about this in 7 years. But, I know all too well how NHL families are feeling today and it simply could be the toughest day of the season for us wives. Most fans and people unrelated to the sport don’t have any idea the anxiety that today brings.

keithtrade

All day you are scared to death any time your phone rings. Are the rumors you’ve heard about you moving on true? You’ve wrapped your head around the thought of you getting traded and then there’s no phone call. I guess we’re safe and not going anywhere. But, wait we kind of wanted to go. Didn’t we?

As a wife of a former NHLer with a 17 year career, I spent many years feeling the nervousness that today brings for those following in our footsteps. It’s not fun at all. Because even if you are stable and going nowhere, you will have to say goodbye to teammates and friends today. Guys will inevitably leave their wives and families behind to get on the next flight to their newest NHL home. But, even so, it may just be for a short time, so you can’t get ahead of yourself because most likely you will be making yet another move after the season. That is, if your presence doesn’t lead your new team to the playoffs promise land.

Our friend and ex-teammate on the Phoenix Coyotes, Shane Doan, was quoted in the Arizona Republic this week saying, “When it’s your friends and peoples families that you know, it’s so much harder. There’s amazing things to playing in the NHL. There’s a lot harder things to do, but I don’t care who you are. It’s no fun.” Shane has spent his entire career with the Coyotes since he joined the team in 1995. He and his wife, Andrea, have four children like us but haven’t had to experience any of the moving around. She and I talk about how nice that is yet how change is not necessarily a bad thing.

Change is pretty much inevitable when you are married to a professional athlete. Sometimes a trade feels exciting and other times it feels like your world is coming to an end. It isn’t a whole lot of fun to not have any say in where you are moving to or when you might do it. It can and does happen in an instant. But, nonetheless you pick up and go and make the best of it. And I have to say I am a different, more well rounded, confident person because of it. I now have amazing friends all over the US and Canada because of NHL trades. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Back in the day, Keith and I never would’ve dreamed of retiring to the desert. When we married we pictured ourselves raising kids in a brownstone in downtown Chicago. Ah yes, life is a wonderful journey, isn’t it?

Flexibility is the key to this lifestyle. I learned to go with the flow as we moved around to four different teams. Two trades came at the March deadline. I can say it was much simpler when we were just a newly married couple moving from Chicago to Phoenix. Somehow it didn’t feel quite the same getting the news with four kids in tow going from Anaheim to Vancouver. But, we definitely grew with each move. I learned to reach out and connect quickly with other women who gave me advice on where to put the kids in school and overall help me navigate my new city.

Today is tough. I’m feeling it for all of you who will shed tears and hug your man before he heads off today. I’m sorry for that. Change is difficult but it also creates opportunity. A new world awaits you so take advantage of it. This NHL craziness certainly doesn’t last forever so hang in there and enjoy your ride.

keithsbin

I dug into Keith’s hockey bin of memories for articles on the trades and ended up sitting here for awhile reminiscing. So blessed…. even for all those darn moves.