The Family

The Family

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The land of alohas, leis and luaus seems like a wonderful place to forget the turmoil that daily life can bring.

Come to think of it, I sure could use the laid-back atmosphere right about now. Based on afternoon developments, I'm about ready to take my bunch and fly this coop.

North Shore here we come.

I wish!

Monday, February 25, 2013


I know nothing about Prague other than accounts from those who have traveled there.

Several people, of different age groups, have all described it as one of the most beautiful cities they visited.

In fact, two world-traveling, beer-loving friends said it was the BEST place they had ever been. Because I used to travel extensively with one of them for work, I trust his judgment.

He especially knows how much I love to eat at great restaurants and how important the atmosphere of a place is. I know he wouldn't steer me wrong.

It does seem quite lovely and picturesque.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Yesterday we participated in our first 10K.

Before anyone gets the wrong impression let me state that we are not runners.

We aren't bikers either - part of the race was a bike ride.


If we didn't run or bike then you are probably wondering what we did.

We had the all-important job of manning the water table!

It's a big responsibility standing by with cups of water that spill too easily if they aren't filled to the appropriate level. You don't want to be responsible for slowing those runners down, especially those leading the pack.

Joking aside, the Love Your Heart Run/Crank Your Heart Ride benefits a great cause. Because one of my dearest friends is responsible for organizing the race, I volunteered the entire family.

It was a rain or shine event, but the rain didn't damper anyone's spirits. There were hundreds of participants.

Next year I'll make sure to have a pair of rainboots for each of us. I have no idea what happened to the two pair I used to have, but I came prepared with multiple shoes and pairs of socks (OK, so maybe I went home right before the race started to get a few more things).

Jack loved it - mud, rain, cold weather and and all!

Friday, February 22, 2013


Long before I visited France or England, I wanted to travel to Ireland.

I think it has something to do with believing for years that I was of Irish descent. Actually, I still believe my maiden name is Irish, even though my uncle swears it is Scottish.

It's not easy giving up an ethnicity you've claimed for years.

In high school, one of my best friends, who also swears her maiden name is Irish, traveled with her grandmother and a group of senior citizens to Ireland.

I was so jealous - minus the large group of senior citizens part.

I can still picture the photo of her hanging upside down kissing the Blarney Stone.

Shortly after Mattie was born, Matt's mom and step-dad visited Ireland. She brought back brochures about the city of Killarney, a place I'd never heard of.

She said it would be the perfect spot in Ireland to visit with children.

It was around that time I renewed my intent to one day visit the land of leprechauns, shamrocks and St. Patrick and to find out for certain where my Irish roots might lie.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Key West

If I had been writing about traveling in my early 20s, I probably would have written solely about trips to the beach.

I still love the beach. In fact, we're heading to the Gulf in a few weeks with some friends and their children.

But the older I get, the less I find myself drawn to beach destinations.

Maybe it's the age spots and lines I notice more and more everyday. It think it also has something to do with me breaking out in a weird rash on my legs and stomach the last few times I've spent more than a day in the sun at the beach???

Never the less, I'd like to spend about a month in Key West.

It's been so long since I've had a beach vacation that lasted more than a few days. As relaxing as even a few days can be, I long for the days when we can slow down for longer periods of time and enjoy life at a snail's pace.

I don't know what it is about the beach, but it seems to make you do just that.

When I was in junior high and high school, my grandparents had a condo in Panama City, Fla. I can remember spending weeks at a time there.

I would love for my own children to be able to spend more time by the water enjoying the sea air.

Key West is so remote, I think it would be the prefect place to unwind and enjoy a long vacation in the sun and sand.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

South Africa

I can't explain why I want to go to South Africa.

I just feel drawn to it.

It may be that it would be an awesome place for Jack to get a glimpse of massive great white sharks.

It may be that I recently heard a student discussing her time in Capetown and Johannesburg and it sounded almost mystical.

It may be that it's an entirely different continent and that alone draws me.

It may be all the stories the The Gypsy Mama tells about her homeland.

It may be the history.

It may be the beauty.

It may be that the soil and story of a land so different from my own has an unexplainable allure.

Whatever the reason, it's another place on my travel wish list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Pink Palace

All these years of not wanting anything for Christmas, Valentine's Day or our anniversary are going to add up.

When it comes time to collect, I know exactly what I want.

Two nights here:

It's affectionately known as The Pink Palace.

There's no telling what its walls could reveal.

I'm thinking our 10-year anniversary coming up in two years will be perfect timing!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Breakfast With a View

When I get my mind set on something, it's hard to change it.

Hence the hour-long drive for breakfast this morning.

Going out for breakfast is not something we typically do. It's easier to fix breakfast at home with two young children. There's the getting dressed, going to the bathroom multiple times, changing diapers, brushing teeth, fixing a bag filled with snacks incase the wait is too long or, goodness forbid, one or both don't want to eat anything once we get to the restaurant.

I think you get the picture.

But as I was going through the fridge on Friday it became apparent that we would not have enough breakfast food to make it through the weekend. It was at that moment I began to contemplate our breakfast choices and remembered a place in Pine Mountain, Ga. that we ate at years ago called the Country Store.

The plan was in motion.

It was a good, cold morning to enjoy a huge breakfast and hot coffee.

We were able to sit in the back room, which offers a view overlooking the woods.

Jack and I both ate pancakes and bacon, plus I loaded up with sides of grits and baked cinnamon apples to share with Mattie. Matt ordered and devoured an omelet, ham, hash browns and biscuits. He's not as much as a breakfast lover as I am, but he has improved throughout the years!

Here are the kiddos, waiting on the food to arrive: 

After breakfast we enjoyed the chilly morning at the lookout point across the street.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Grand Canyon

The majesty and beauty of a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon speaks for itself.

 I think every travel lover has a trip to the Grand Canyon somewhere on their list.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mt. Rainier

In the posts about places I long to see, I've yet to write anything about the West Coast.

I mentioned last week that I'm more of an East Coast kind of girl, but there are some places located in middle America and in the western portion of the United States that make my list.

One of those places is Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington state.

I would love to take a two-week vacation to explore Mt. Rainier and its surroundings.

There's an inn located within the park, as well as campgrounds.

I'd also like to take some time during those two weeks to visit Seattle (it's one of the few major cities in the US that I haven't had the chance to see).

And what Twilight fan could visit Washington state without going to Forks?!?!

Speaking of Twilight, it's been so dreary and rainy around here lately that someone took to posting on Facebook yesterday about feeling like they were living in a Twilight movie.

That wouldn't be half bad!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Presidential Homes

While I'm not planning on visiting every presidential home or birthplace, I would like to travel to Virginia to see some of the founding fathers' homes.

I remember Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home, from a school trip I took in the 6th grade. I was fascinated by what I saw.

One day it would be fun to take a history trip to Virginia to re-visit Mt. Vernon,

 as well as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello,

James Madison's Montpelier

and James Monroe's Ash-Lawn Highland.

I think this is something my history-buff husband and president-loving son would thoroughly enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mission Trip

On this Ash Wednesday, as the Lenten season begins, it seems fitting to talk about a different kind of trip.

Not one where fun, adventure and relaxation are the guiding principles, but one in which service and helping those in need reigns supreme.

To reach out a hand to those in need.

To care for the poor, the orphaned, the sick.

To show the love of Christ through the work of our hands and the outpouring of our hearts.

To not worry about the rewards we will get in return, but to look into the faces of those in peril and show that there is a light that shines bright despite the oppression.

I don't know where we'll go.

When the time is right, God will lead us.

It may be to somewhere like Haiti, or Africa, or Ecuador or Honduras.

It may be stateside to assist after a natural disaster.

It may not be an easy trip, emotionally speaking, but spiritually, it is likely to awaken us to the call of Christ.

"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, the privilege is ours to share in the loving, healing, reconciling mission of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, in this age and wherever we are. Since without you we can do no good thing:
                  May your Spirit make us wise;
                  May your Spirit guide us;
                  May your Spirit renew us;
                  May your Spirit strengthen us;
So that we will be:
                  Strong in faith,
                  Discerning in proclamation,
                  Courageous in witness,
                  Persistent in good deeds.
This we ask through the name of the Father."
                                               Church of the Province of the West Indies

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Treehouse Hotel

I'm not sure this will come to fruition, but it would be SOOOOO COOL to stay in a treehouse hotel.

I've seen some profile stories on these hotels and think it's such a fun idea!

The only problem is that everything I've found is beyond our budget or anything we'd be willing to pay for 2-3 nights:(

Monday, February 11, 2013

London Museums

It may seem strange that the main reason I want to go to London is to visit museums.

That's because I saw most of what there is to see in London in 2005 when Matt and I went. I did not, however, see enough of museums.

We were on an educational tour and had about two hours of free time one day. Matt headed to one museum while I spent my two hours at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Two hours was not enough time.

There's the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery I missed.

Well, maybe museums aren't the only thing I'd like to see while in London.

London has some great parks. When it's not raining, they would be wonderful places to spend the day reading, eating fish and chips and enjoying the British accents of the passersby.

I also wouldn't mind heading to the West End to catch a few shows.

I think London is totally doable with young children.

It's fairly easy to navigate the city by riding the tube.

The cuisine is also not as bad as some make it out to be. We ate a lot of pasta while there. The only thing I couldn't develop a taste for was the pepper. It had a distinctly different taste than American pepper. By about the fifth night I'd sworn it off because it made the food taste terrible to my palate.

If we do make it back to London in the next few years, I'd like to stay in an apartment in the Kensington area instead of a hotel. When you travel as a family, apartments provide more options when it comes to cooking and laundry.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Canadian Train Ride

I once thought it would be a grand adventure to travel by train.

Then I heard about horrible, cramped, smelly rooms on trains and realized it might not be for me.

I put the idea aside.

Then one day, I gave birth to a precious boy that would grow to love trains.

The idea of traveling by rail suddenly had a new appeal.

After looking into numerous overnight train rides, I've come to realize that one of the best train experiences might be to travel through the Canadian Rockies on The Rocky Mountaineer.

Like some of the other destinations on my wish list, this one is probably going to have to wait a few years. From what I can tell, this is not designed with young children in mind. There are a lot of champagne and fancy dining ads for this trip. There's not a young child in sight in any of them.

This might be a good experience as we're nearing the pre-teen years. Of course by then, that boy probably won't be as fascinated by trains as he is at present.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Niagara Falls

Jack likes waterfalls.

We hiked a short way today through our local Forest Ecology Preserve to see the waterfall there.

After yesterday's rain, I expected it to be gushing. It was flowing nicely, but it was not to the extent I had hoped.

While standing at the lookout point we read the information posted on one of the signs that also pictured numerous waterfalls, including Niagara Falls.

Jack quickly reminded me that I once said we would visit there someday.

Both children need to be older before we make this trip in order to appreciate not only the beauty and majesty, but also the joy of the drenching that comes along with a visit to Niagara Falls.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Places to Return

Not every place on the travel wish list is somewhere we've never been. In fact, several are familiar places.

Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom in Orlando truly is a "magical" place. We went when Jack was 2 and are hoping to possibly go the week after Thanksgiving this year. Mattie will be 2 by then and at 6, Jack will still be young enough to enjoy it. Last time we went we bought a park-hopper pass and visited Epcot and Animal Kingdom as well. As great as that was, I'm thinking this time we'll spend the 3-4 days solely at Magic Kingdom.

New York

I feel at home here. I literally exhale in a dramatic fashion as if I'm finally able to breathe once my feet hit the pavement. I love the hustle and the heritage of the city. I can't wait for the children to be old enough to sit through plays and ballets. This is the place we're going when that day comes.


If there is any other city that compares to New York, it would be Paris. I love the history, the cafe culture and the food - bread, cheese, wine. The arrondissements are something I'm going to have to become more familiar with if we make it back. We went on an educational tour when we went to Paris before, so we had a guide. I would love to go back and stay in some swank hotel and explore the city and the Louvre, which could take days on its own, at our leisure.


This is a picture of the Bar Harbor Inn. We stayed here on our trip three years ago. Maine is somewhere Matt keeps saying he wants to re-visit. August was a great time to go, and, ideally, we'd like to go that time of year in the future. It's a wonderful town to take a stroll and to indulge in some lobster.

If money were no object, I'd go to all four places this year. But it is, so that's obviously not going to happen.

It is likely, however, we'll be going back to one if not more of these destinations before many of the other places I've posted about.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My sister-in-law, Sayaka, is from Japan.

When she and my youngest brother married in 2008, Jack was barely a year old. I was slightly concerned about a 23-hour flight with a baby, not to mention the cost of the trip. Unfortunately, we weren't able to be there for the wedding.

They married in her hometown, the city of Kitakyushu.

My parents went, and when my dad tells stories of the trip he always emphasizes the politeness and friendliness of the Japanese people.

When the massive earthquake hit Japan a couple of years ago, many people called us to ask if her family was alright. Thankfully, they were not directly impacted by the devastation.

I don't feel like I know much about Japanese culture other than the few things I've learned from her. I think it would be fascinating for the children to experience somewhere so different and distinct.

One day, we are going with Sayaka to meet her family and visit her native country.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Alaskan Cruise

I've been on two cruises.

When I graduated from high school I went on a senior class trip to the Bahamas. It would probably be better to forget that trip.

About five years later I went with two friends on a cruise to Jamaica and Mexico. While it was a blast, I decided after that a cruise did not allow enough time to explore one particular place.

That's why I haven't been on one since.

But when it comes to touring Alaska, a cruise is probably the best option. The whole idea about visiting Alaska for me would be to travel as much as possible throughout the entire state in a short time period, and a ship would be the ideal way to do that.

Matt has never been on a cruise. I know he would love the midnight buffet. The unlimited food, in my opinion, is the best thing about a cruise. I tried escargot for the first time on a cruise and LOVED IT!

Years ago, my fourth grade teacher and her family spent part of a summer in Alaska. I wasn't too impressed at the time by all she had to tell us about the state. It's only as I've gotten older and been bitten by the travel bug that I think that would be a great way to spend a summer.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vienna, Austria

Through my travels I have found that two geographic regions have strong holds on me.

The first would be the eastern coast of the United States.

The second is Europe.

I think the history and culture of both places is a strong attraction for me.

I also love European streets and shops.

About seven years ago Matt's mom and I were on an Austria kick. Her cousin is a pilot and at one point we were talking about meeting up with him there as well.

I'm not sure what happened to those plans, but none of us have ever made that trip.

I've been reading a lot of Sally Clarkson's posts about her time in Austria as a missionary, and it has re-kindled my desire to travel to Vienna.

Matt thinks the children are too young to travel to Europe at this point. There are moments when I agree, then I'll hear someone talking about a trip to Europe with their young children that makes me want to renew my passport and hop on a plane, kids and all!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cape Cod

When I was in 8th grade I read a biography on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Since that time I would say I've been obsessed interested in anything Kennedy.

Part of that interest has been about where they vacationed and at times lived in Hyannisport, Mass.

 The home is almost always referred to as the Kennedy Compound by news media.

As I write this I am wondering why I still haven't been to the Cape.

Considering how much I really, really, really want to vacation there and that we are travel lovers, I'm surprised that I haven't made this one more of a priority.

Maybe I'm afraid I'll be disappointed?


It's more likely I will love it, and no other place will ever compare.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Covered bridges, old barns and country roads that wind through idyllic New England towns.

I'm kicking off my February posts with Vermont because it's where we hope to visit next.

If all goes well with this year's income tax refund, we will fly to Stowe, Vermont in late spring and spend a week in a cottage in the woods. If it doesn't, it may be late summer before we make the trip.

I found this website for some cabins near Stowe.

I brought up the idea of traveling to Vermont back in September, right before we flew to Washington D.C. I guess Matt thought I was going to book it right away because he begged for a break.

Now, he's ready to go somewhere again, especially since we are going to try to make this a laid-back vacation instead of an activity-based trip. We hope to spend time relaxing and enjoying the outdoor areas near the cabin more than anything.

We will need to rent a car to get around, and I'm thinking it would be fun to drive to a few historic markers that Jack might get a kick out of - the birthplaces of former presidents Chester Alan Arthur (there's actually a bit of controversy about whether he was born in Vermont or Canada) and Calvin Coolidge.