Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year's

Every year it seems as if the days get shorter and shorter.  Maybe it is because my kids are growing up and they are so incredibly busy that I don't have time to just sit around most days.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is we can start earlier, which means that we can take an entire month off in December to spend time as a family.  Then before we can blink, January is here in full force.  New Years is a time for me to reevaluate life, a time to reflect the good, bad, and downright ugly the year prior.  My motto in these last few months has been to "Love God, love people, and be a wanderlust."  

This up coming year, I plan on making family priority.  Time and again I am reminded just how short life is.  One of the beauties in homeschooling is that my kids are with me a lot, I have seen every major milestone of their precious lives.  I have taught my children how to read, write, do math, science, but also other subjects that are more important like loving people.  Sometimes social media sucks up too much of my time, so this year my goal is to focus more on my family.  One day they will all be grown up, and never do I want them to remember me spending all of my time on social media. 

Kids mirror the behaviors that they are taught.  I am a true believer in the old adage, "What comes around goes around, or you reap what you sow."  Kids need to see you put others before yourself.  2015 was a year of realization for me, before 2015 my world seemed wrapped up around myself.  After reading Interrupted by, Jen Hatmaker, life changed.  It seemed that things that mattered before no longer mattered.  There were hurting people in this world, and whether or not my house was perfect didn't matter to them.  So my family started volunteering around town.  I will never forget when we were volunteering at a homeless shelter.  They'd asked us to pick up trash, my children not only did it, but they were so excited to clean up trash.  My husband had been away on a trip, they called him giggling and bursting with joy over trash.  Teach your kids that life is more about others than themselves, because it is.  

Another beauty to homeschooling is the fact that we can take the classroom anywhere, whether that be my backyard, or a plane ride away.  This year I want to take our kiddos further than they've ever been.  I want them to experience this spectacular earth that God created.  Whether this year or in years to come I want them to see the snow covered Rockies from the sky, the majestic hidden waterfalls in Hawaii, the colossal red woods in CA, and many other locales around the world.  
I encourage you to step out and see all that you can see in this world.  If you are not a traveller, try it, it is addicting.  My children look forward to spur of the moment trips-anywhere.  Happy New Years from my family to yours!

God bless,


Monday, December 21, 2015

NYC With Kiddos

View from top of ESB

New York City is the quintessential Christmas vacay spot, there is so much to see and do there during the holidays, that are not to be missed.  We have been wanting to take our kiddos for awhile, but while they were so young it would have been difficult.  This year the weather has been incredible there, so we jumped on the chance to go.
Rockefeller Tree

My kids have been all over, and I thought Disney World, and the Disney cruise would remain their top favorites of all time.  NYC has taken over that spot, my girls loved the big city.  My oldest has vowed that one day she will live there.  While we only had 24 hours there, we made the most of our time.
Enjoying the decor

Arriving at 830 pm on Tuesday, and leaving at 830 pm on Wednesday didn't give us a whole lot of time.  Researching the MTA website before leaving, it was decided that public transportation would be easiest.  The MTA has a handy tool for you to type in your starting point and destination, and tells you exactly what to use to get there.  The employees were incredibly helpful too.  From LGA we took the Q70 bus to Roosevelt and then caught the 7 train to Times Square, which takes about an hour.  On the return flight we left early-around 430ish, and it took a lot longer.  We ended up on an express train, which makes limited stops, and being rush hour it was packed.  My kids didn't enjoy being touched on every angle, surrounded by strangers.
She was freezing

Rockefeller is a must do at Christmastime.  The tree was beautiful, and my girls were mesmerized by the ice skating.  Saks was lit up with a light show, and the window displays were beautiful.  The kids also loved all of the lights on Times Square.  We ended up walking around until after midnight, we felt completely safe because there were NYPD all over.
Macy's all decorated

Wednesday morning we got going around 930 am.  We hit up Macy's in hopes of seeing Santa Clause, but the line was extremely long, and they have him hidden behind a display so you can't take a photo of him.  Being on a tight schedule we didn't have time to wait in a long line, if you want to see him plan for it, he is hidden on the 8th floor, amongst the home goods.  The windows were done in a Charlie Brown theme, absolutely adorable and creative.

She was freaking out

After Macy's we walked to the Empire State Building.  My kids are obsessed with Elf, my youngest can quote the movie.  The ESB was on the top of their must do list, they wanted to see where Walter Hobbs worked.  I am not going to lie, I reluctantly paid the $130 for the tickets-a bit insane in my book.  The kids loved it though, seeing Lady Liberty was the highlight of the view for them.  A word to the wise, if you'd like to go into the Statue of Liberty, you must book months in advance. My husband and I looked forward to seeing the Freedom Tower, it is a beautiful sight.  If we go again, we will not pay to go to the top, but if you've never done it, I would recommend you pay the price.
My goofball husband

After Macy's we walked back to Rockefeller to go to the American Girl store.  If you have girls, you get it, it is the holy grail of destinations for girls.  We've been to the one in Dallas and Atlanta, and Dallas is large, but this one is huge.  They have a layout on one of the floors with Grace's bakery, a place to make t-shirts, a doll salon, a hospital, and the restaurant among other things.  They also have a display with all of the retired GOTY dolls.  It was a really cool store for the girls to see.
Pretending to be Matt & Savannah

We hit up lego, NBC, and the stores in the NBC building.  Lego was incredible, their designs are bar none to anything I've ever seen before.  Inside NBC my girls tried sitting at a replica chair for The Voice, and The Today Show.  They'll even create a video and send it to you via email.  There are several stores in the building, my favorite was Rain Africa.  The entire hallway smelled delicious, all coming from this store.  They have body butters, lotions, body wash; all cruelty free-I kick myself for not buying the Wild Cotton body cream.

Having a celiacs child, we sometimes run into issues with food here in TN.  Sadly, a lot of places do not accommodate for us; however, we had no issues in NYC.  The first night we ate at the first restaurant we saw getting off of the subway-Ruby Tuesday's.  The staff there was phenomenal, they sent the manager to speak with us, ensuring her food would be kept separate.  Kudos to Ruby Tuesday's!  The next day we ate at PizzArte , hands down the best GF pizza we have ever eaten.  Usually, GF pizza's taste like foam (I've never eaten foam, but I assure you it must taste like that).  My husband and my girls also ordered a pizza with salami, and another one with sausage.  I tried the sausage one, and it was very good, but truth be told, I actually liked the GF pizza better.

Overall fantastic trip, my husband wore his fit bit and we ended up walking around 14-15 miles.  My older girls walked the entire time, our youngest wore herself out only two times.  By the time we boarded our plane our kids were plumb wore out!  The Gremlin sprawled out across the seats on the plane, and slept the entire flight home, we couldn't even wake her up when we landed.  My older two are already planning a trip back next year.

God bless,

Happy holiday's from our family to yours

Monday, December 14, 2015


Beautiful Sunset in Maui, HI
Manhattan Beach

In May my husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary, we had scouted several locations for a anniversary trip, but finally settled on Maui.  While he had been to Oahu several times, he had never been to Maui, I had been to Maui and knew just how beautiful it was.

The view from the pool

After spending the night in Manhattan Beach, CA, we flew direct from Los Angeles to Maui.  Having secured a last minute rental at Kaanapali Shores Resort, we were able to get an incredible deal.  The room had a gorgeous view of the ocean, and stunning grounds.  It is nestled on Kaanapali Beach right next to the Papakea Resort.  They have a pool that overlooks the ocean, and is the perfect retreat in the early mornings (for us East Coast folks) to drink coffee while reading, and observing the sunrise.  With the time change we found ourselves awake at 4 am most mornings, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the pool.
The view from our room

The chickens kicking us off of our towel
As I said in my Tampa post, I love finding hidden beaches.  While in Maui, we took a drive one day and found the most beautiful beach.  It was located near Makena, but it was hidden amongst multimillion dollar homes.  There was parking along the street, and a trail that was marked to the beach.  There were maybe ten people on a 1/2 mile stretch of beach.  While lying there, we were visited by the most unusual visitors-chickens.  They were quite bold, and booted us off of our towels even.  It was one of the most incredible beaches that we found while we were there.
The hidden beach

Another day we visited the Maui Winery, which was incredible.  They have a tasting room that was free, along with the tour.  They have stunning views that surround the property, the entire drive was photographic.  While the tour is short, I highly recommend it as a place to stop while in Maui.

One of my all time favorite activities in Maui is the Trilogy Catamaran.  My husband and I did not go this trip, as the water was still too chilly for me, but plan on returning this year hopefully and taking our kiddos.  The boats are a lot of fun, because of the crew.  The food was incredible last time we went, I am just hoping they have GF options for our celiac child.

The food in Maui is some of the best in the world in my opinion, between the BBQ, the desserts, the ambiance, it is an amazing place to eat.  For breakfast, my uncle told me about the Gazebo Restaurant.  They have the best pancakes on the island we heard, and I would concur with that.  I highly recommend getting there early or you will be waiting for a while.  Our favorite restaurant for lunch the Hula Bar & Grill, it is located right on the beach.  We typically ate an appetizer instead of a meal.  The pork sliders are delicious!  I loved the fact you could slip your toes into the sand.  The dinner that was hands down the best was Dukes Beach House, located on the Honua Kai Resort grounds.  After dinner definitely get the Hula Pie, there are no words to describe how good it was-my mouth is currently watering.
Hula Pie by Kim

Maui is the perfect island for families and romantic getaways, I hope our trip pans out this summer.  Our girls would be in awe of the beauty, and would be in foodie heaven.

God bless,


Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I have a love affair with warm waters, beautiful beaches, and clear blue water.  I also have a love affair with islands/beaches that most people don't know about.  There is nothing like sitting nearly by yourself on a beach, surrounded by the waves and sand.  I found that in Tampa, this summer.

It was stifling that day, so they cooled off on a water ride
After a lot of searching for places to take our kiddos on a retreat, we finally settled on Tampa.  Having been there once before, I knew how beautiful it was, but hadn't really explored the city.  During our recent trip, we fell in love with the city, and will hopefully be making many more trips there.

Having only four short days there simply was not enough, we crammed in what we could, but plan on making a trip in another year or so.  Being a homeschooling family, I wanted this to be a somewhat educational trip.  With that in mind, we decided on Sea World, Clearwater Aquarium, and Caladesi Island.

Ferry from CWA
Having been to Sea World numerous times before, I knew what to expect (or so I thought), and knew that my kids loved it.  Things have changed a lot since the last time we had gone, since the attacks on trainers is my guess.  The shows were honestly lackluster, while the kids enjoyed them, my husband and I found them to be cheesy.  Most of them were video shows, with just a few minutes of seeing the animals.  My kids enjoyed the rides more than anything else, definitely not worth the pricey admission tag.

That is all the chairs out on Caladesi
My oldest daughter is an animal lover, she had studied marine zoology last year, so we decided to also hit up the Clearwater Aquarium.  Several friends had recommended it to us, so we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  The aquarium is small, but wonderful.  One of our favorite aquariums that we have been to actually.  The "shows" are completely different from Sea World's, they educate you during the shows, and are really good about answering questions.  They have manta rays that you can pet, and my girls stood over them for probably an hour petting them.  They got to see Winter and Hope from Dolphin Tale, and that was the highlight of their trip.  They also have turtles, river otters, and other animals.  They periodically release animals back into the wild and you are welcome to join them and watch the release.  You will find employees walking around asking questions and teaching the kids interesting facts.

Beautiful Caladesi
The last day we had found this island that is only accessible by ferry, called Caladesi Island.  This island was incredible, one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to in the Continental U.S. The island is raw, natural beauty-in fact they warn you of rattlesnakes.  The ferry is not free, but not terribly expensive, and they have chairs that you can rent too.  There were only 26 people on the island with us, and the island is about 3 miles roundtrip, I believe.  You can catch the ferry from Honeymoon Island to get over there, and I highly recommend it.  Make sure you get there early so you can really enjoy the entire day there.

Picture I took on the Island

Hope you have a chance to visit Tampa here in the near future.

God bless,


Monday, December 7, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things- The Christmas List for the Wanderlust

Christmas is upon us, which means gift buying.  If you have someone on your list that is a wanderlust here are a "few of my favorite things".  I've included some splurge items, and some budget friendly choices too.

First a great tote is a must have! I love the Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Tote in Black, which can be found here. It is large enough for you to carry snacks, electronics, and a water bottle, yet it will still fit under the seat in front of you.

Michael Kors Jet Set Tote by Spera

I always carry empty water bottles for the kids and myself, a lot of airports have refilling stations now, which is ingenious!  I love stainless bottles, to avoid BPA.  My kids have the Contigo stainless steel water bottle, that I actually bought at Costco, but you can find them here. I have a glass one that I love, it is an Ello water bottle. 

While, I don't usually have to worry about luggage, because we usually carry on, if I did I would highly recommend one of these scales. I remember one time we were flying, and we were over the weight limit in one bag, and had no room in another bag. We were playing the shuffle game in the middle of the airport, what a nightmare.  It would have been nice to have a scale to see that we were over the 50 lb. weight limit in the one bag.  

Not the same one I recommended, but you can see how they work
Luggage Scale by Ari Helmenin
If you have a female friend or family member that you would be willing to splurge on, I have heard rave reviews on Tieks.  What is not to love about shoes that fold flat in your bag, but are super cute.  They come in an array of colors and prints.  I'd love to have the red, chestnut, and leopard print. I will warn you, a pair will set you back about $175-$270 (ouch).  These are really the perfect airport shoe though, as you can slip on and off easily, which when you are rushing through security will make your life much easier. If you can't swing those, Toms are my other fav shoe for traveling, I've even been known to wear my Tom booties when flying.  

Are these not so adorable from box to foot?
Tieks by Bethany King

When you are going through the airport and onto planes there are millions of germs that you will encounter.  We are germaphobes, something I cannot live without is Thieves hand sanitizer from Young Living.  It smells amazing and works wonders for us.  I also always carry Lavender and Purification.  My kids' ears will sometimes bother them and both Lavender and Purification have helped them in the past.  I am a distributor so you can buy from here.

My two favorite oils for flying

For the child or adult that doesn't have one already a Kindle Fire is a wonderful gift, or an iPad as a splurge item.  My husband has a Kindle and I have the iPad mini, our youngest has an iPad Mini and our older girls have an iPod each.  My husband and I are both readers, so we love reading in our few quiet moments.  We've bought DVD's with the digital copy on it for our children to download the iPad so they could watch it.  Whoever thought of a digital copy is a genius!  I highly recommend a case like the i-Blason ArmorBox, it has a handle on it, which turns into a stand for their iPad.  Plus, they can drop it and it does a really good job of protecting it-knock on wood.  

Kindle Fire on Books by Zhao

God bless,


Monday, November 30, 2015


I have had a blog for years now, but never really knew what to write about.  I shared our trials, tribulations, homeschooling adventures, and travels.  My heart is Jesus, people, seeing the world, and food. It was time to hone in my blog into something that I am passionate about, family travel.

A little background on our family, my husband is an airline pilot for a wonderful airline; I am a stay at home, homeschooling mama to three little girls.  My life consists of schooling children, being a chauffeur, and running.  My oldest, whom I call Miss Thing is almost 9 and has been on over 60 flights in her short little life.  She has been playing the violin for over two years, and is currently in the 3rd grade.  My middle daughter, whom I'll call Curly Cue is almost 7, she has probably been on 50 flights.  She has been playing the piano for about a year now, and is in the 1st grade.  The littlest one we call the Minion, she is a mess y'all, has been on probably close to 50 flights too!  She wants to learn to play the bass cello, and is in pre-k.  She is also our child with celiacs disease, so her diet is always at the forefront of our decision for vacations.

Here are some of the places we have been with our kids:

  • Disney Magic 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise
  • Disney World 
  • Tampa
  • Hilton Head
  • Dallas
  • Destin
  • Carnival 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise
  • Seattle
Here are some of the places my husband and I have been to either together or on our own:
  • Hawaii-Maui, Kauai, and Oahu 
  • Carnival 5 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
  • Carnival 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise
  • Royal Caribbean 7 Day Caribbean Cruise
  • Spain
  • London/Isle of Wight
  • Mexico
  • Numerous States
Places we want to go:
  • Paris
  • French Riviera
  • Greece
  • Hawaii 
  • NYC
  • Bora Bora (My 5 year old has this on her bucket list)
  • London
As you can see we are an incredibly busy family, who loves seeing all of God's creation.

Our latest trip took us to Tampa, Florida, which happens to be one of the coolest towns for kids.  We had a blast, I will be blogging out about some fun things that we did. 

God bless,