Weekend Escape: Reliving Our Past and Planning Our Future in Birmingham

BY: - 4 Oct '16 | Reviews

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TNM_BirminghamTravelMANager

Recently, we had the chance to do a weekend getaway, just me and my wife Ronnie without the kids. The great thing about living in Atlanta is that we’re so close to so many major cities, so we have plenty available options to travel for short overnight and weekend vacations to interesting destinations. But what’s surprising is that since we moved here six years ago, we still haven’t taken the opportunities to visit many of them.

We travel often between work and play, but most of the time we’re flying in and out for longer amounts of time. With so much travel, I’ve become the go-to Travel MANager in our relationship and the person who often provides tips for the other husbands in my circle (as I encourage them to take over their travel plans, too.)

For our weekend getaway, we spent two nights in Birmingham, Alabama, and it was a great introduction to the city for us. Our weekend was a combination of the past with a walk through history and a look into our future as we talked, enjoyed each other and renewed our marital bond.

TAKING A SURPRISE DETOUR – TUSKEGEE

We started with a road trip into Birmingham, Alabama from Atlanta.  However, instead of going directly to Birmingham, I surprised my wife with a quick detour to Tuskegee, Alabama, where we visited the home of the Tuskegee airmen.  And we also visited the George Washington Carver Museum on the campus of Tuskegee University.

TNM_Tuskegee

The actual hangers and airfield where the Tuskegee Airmen trained in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Tip: As the travel Manager, it’s your job to know what your spouse likes to do on vacation.  My wife loves to take tours and visit historical sites on our vacation getaways. So she was very, very happy about our little detour to Tuskegee.

OUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Going to Tuskegee was a 1.5 hour detour from Birmingham. So after our inspiring trip, we checked into our home away from home, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Birmingham-South/Iverness.

HWSBALOutside

Our home away from home, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Birmingham-South/Iverness. We stayed there from June 3 – 5, 2016 for a quick couple’s getaway.

The Homewood Suites turned out to be the perfect destination to use as our home-base for our weekend escape without the kids. When we wanted to venture out, we were within 15 minutes of downtown. But we were also surrounded by stores, shops and tons of eating options.  And when we were tired from seeing the city or just needed a chance to rejuvenate, we returned to the hotel, which had a host of great amenities.

HWSBALPool

Check out the relaxing pool at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Birmingham-South/Iverness.

They served free breakfast every morning, had a clean and spacious pool, a Gazebo area with a gas grill and a half-court basketball space.

HWSBALFitness

My wife and I got in a quick workout in the fitness room before we hit the streets for the day at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Birmingham-South/Iverness.

On our first morning, we even got an early start before the free breakfast by working out in their fitness center. I also loved the kitchen in our room, which allowed us to bring back food and drinks to the room and then have the ability to reheat as needed.

Tip: Fellas, please pay attention to the details. Picking the right hotel accommodations is just as important as selecting the right activities.

RELIVING THE PAST

TNM_16thStBaptistChurch

The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was the target of the racially-motivated bombing that killed four girls in the midst of the American civil rights movement.

While in the city, we visited the historic 16th Street Baptist church and the Civil Rights museum that sits right across the street. We both agreed that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was the most impressive museum either of us had ever visited. The way they chronicled the civil rights movement and important moments in the struggle for equality and the role that Birmingham played was both breathtaking and almost unbelievable.

We also walked across the street and took a stroll in the Kelly Ingram Park, the very same park where many large protests and demonstrations started and where teens had fire hoses sprayed on them and police dogs set to attack.  It was very surreal and like taking a walk down memory lane.

PLANNING THE FUTURE

TNM_KobeBirmingham

We had an amazing Japanese steak house dinner at Kobe outside of Birmingham, Alabama.

The weekend in Birmingham also gave us the chance to focus on our future. We talked about plans for our business, our life and our family. We spent a portion of one day at a great mall called Riverchase Galleria. And had an amazing Japanese steak house dinner at a restaurant called Kobe, which was just a few miles from our hotel. We actually ended up sitting next to a couple that was from the same town that our business office is in.

Tip: Concerts, amusement parks and movies are fun, however you’re not able to really talk and connect as a couple while there.  So please make sure you schedule some time to get re-connected as couple over dinner, back in the hotel or on a relaxing stroll or tour.

We really had a great time, and I was able to pull together my go-to keys for successful travel to make sure the trip went off without a hitch.

Now the only question left is where do we go next and will we see you there?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton. I’ve partnered with them as a #WeekendEscapeArtist ambassador to empower men to become Travel MANagers! All content and opinions are my own.

About the author

Lamar Tyler wrote 2227 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator BlackandMarriedWithKids.com. He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.

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5 Little Known Facts About Chuck E. Cheese’s that Literally Blew My Mind

BY: - 24 Oct '16 | Parenting

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Me and Chuck E Cheese_feature

Let’s face it, our kids love Chuck E. Cheese’s.  If nothing else, they’ve always lived up to the motto: “Where a Kid Can be a Kid.”  But if I’m being totally honest, it wasn’t exactly a place where parents wanted to be parents.  For me, personally, I took my kids there because of the joy that it gave them… but it wasn’t my favorite place to hang out.  But that’s all changed.

They Blew My Mind

I am proud to announce that I have been invited to be an ambassador for Chuck E. Cheese’s along with several other online influencers – and we’re known as Chuck E’s Champions (cool name …right!).  So for the next year, we will be sharing all of the amazing changes that Chuck E. Cheese’s has made to make the experience even more enjoyable for both the parents and the kids.

And the first thing we did as a group was to fly down to the CEC Entertainment Headquarters (Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company) in Dallas, so we could learn about all of the exciting changes they’ve made. Our first stop was to the Chuck E. Cheese’s at the Grapevine Mills, Texas’ location, so we could experience their changes first hand.

Champions

Chuck E’s Champions, a panel of online influencers (and moms) who will be given the scoop on what’s coming up for Chuck E. Cheeses.

Next, we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s headquarters to meet their amazing team and learn about how they have really been focusing on improving the experience for the parents.   (But they also made it clear that their main priority will always be to make kids happy.)   Chuck E. Cheese’s CEO, Tom Leverton, shared that they want to transition parents “from tolerate to appreciate to love it.”

Here are a few things that I learned during my visit, which actually blew my mind. And some of these things are not new…I just never knew them.

They completely redesigned the food

They brought on celebrity Chef Gregory Casale to completely revamp their menu and provide more “grown-up options” that will appeal to adults (especially moms.)

We want to give the parents an extra reason to say ‘yes’ [to coming to CEC] and what better way than through the food. We’ve elevated the food so that it appeals to moms and parents. ~ Chef Gregory

Their newest menu options include their Cali Alfredo pizza (creamy Alfredo sauce and whole milk mozzarella with fresh spinach, Italian sausage grilled chicken breast and fresh mushrooms), BBQ Chicken pizza (with a smoky BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, red onions and topped with fried onions) new and improved wings (bone-in buffalo wings or boneless oven-baked, all-white-meat nuggets in sweet chili sauce, smoky BBQ sauce or hot buffalo wing sauce.)

Their newest menu options include their Cali Alfredo pizza (creamy Alfredo sauce and whole milk mozzarella with fresh spinach, Italian sausage, grilled chicken breast and fresh mushrooms), BBQ Chicken pizza (with a smoky BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, red onions and topped with fried onions) new and improved wings (bone-in buffalo wings or boneless oven-baked, all-white-meat nuggets in sweet chili sauce, smoky BBQ sauce or hot buffalo wing sauce.)

Salad Bar at CEC

Chuck E. Cheese’s has a Garden Fresh Salad Bar that has a selection of more 40 items, including fresh-cut vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses, plus pasta salads, dressings and other toppers.

No More Tokens

CEC Play Pass

Chuck E. Cheese’s is proud to offer its guests a Play Pass, which allows you to assign a value in order to play games at participating Chuck E. Cheese’s locations in the United States.

They are replacing tokens with the Play Passes, which will allow you to load a card with points and play games via tapping the pass. You can even register the passes so that if you lose it, then it can be replaced. By the end of 2017, play passes will be rolled out to all stores nationwide.

WI-FI in every restaurant

Need I say more.  I think we all know the benefits of Wi-Fi in the restaurants.

Easy listening

Their music levels now allow for conversations, and they’ve even started playing top 40 music (kid-appropriate of course). And yes, they’ve kept our favorite original Chuck E. Cheese’s songs too.

They serve beer and wine

This is not new…but it is new to me.  I had no idea that Chuck E. Cheese’s has been serving beer and wine for years now.

Me and Chuck E. Cheese. I'm definitely loving it!

Me and Chuck E. Cheese. I’m definitely loving it!

All of the improvements that Chuck E. Cheese’s has made and continues to make are definitely appealing to me as a busy working mom. I can take my kids there, enjoy some good food, play a few games with the kids and sit back and relax while they play in a safe clean environment.  What more can a parent ask for?  And over the next few months, I’ll be sharing with you all of the great improvements that Chuck E. Cheese’s will be rolling out to make the experience more enjoyable for both parents and kids alike.

 

BMWK – When was the last time you’ve been to Chuck E. Cheese’s? Are you surprised to learn about all of the great changes they’ve made?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Chuck E. Cheese’s. I’ve partnered with them to share with you all of the exciting changes the they are making and all opinions are my own.

 

 

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 512 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.

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