Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getaway From the Cold to St. Thomas

Our stunning view
Are you ready for some warm, tropical weather?  Me too! In November of 2014, our family went on a Disney Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.  I will blog about my thoughts on the cruise later, but today I will be discussing one of my favorite ports-St. Thomas!  This was my second time to St. Thomas, and I surely hope to visit there again soon.

St. Thomas, is located in the USVI, right next to beautiful St. John.  While we have never been to St. John, I have heard that it is a notch above St. Thomas.  We have been on two different cruises that have docked in St. Thomas, neither afforded us enough time to be able to go to St. John.  Personally, I think an independent trip is a must do.
Magen's Bay by Jackie

Our first trip to St. Thomas, I was not impressed, in fact I was incredibly disappointed we'd be stopping there on our cruise.  However, this trip, I fell in love with the island, and the people.  Our first trip we headed to Magen's Bay, and took the sky ride that was near the port.  Personally, both were a bit touristy and pricey in my book.  Magen's Bay was pretty, but it was incredibly busy and the beach wasn't that clean, in my opinion.  The sky ride was overpriced, around $20 a person if I remember correctly, and while the views were stunning, you can see them on a van ride to the beach.
Skyride to Paradise Point by Prayitno

This trip, we were hoping to do an excursion with all of the kids, ranging in age from 4-7; however, Disney does not allow younger children to participate in any of the beach excursions we were interested in doing.  My older children accompanied my husband, dad, and brother on a sea turtle tour, which they loved doing.  While the women took the younger ones to the beach.

We found a wonderful local cab driver, who was full of advice.  She suggested we go to Coki Beach, as it wasn't as touristy in the mornings, and was smaller for the kiddos.  I would be lying if when we pulled up, my mom, sister-in-law, and myself looked at each other with nervous eyes.  Off to the right was a tiny beach with dinghy's, and off to the left a small shopping center.  She said, "Don't worry, you will be fine, just go up those steps."  She led us to the steps, and as we crested the top of them, we were surrounded by the most beautiful place I've ever been too.  We paid for some chairs, and pretty much had the beach to ourselves, besides the locales.  We stayed for a few hours, until an excursion that had visited the aquarium next door, showed up.  Coki Beach, has stunning views, clear water, and clean restrooms; all things necessary, when you're traveling with little ones.

My nephew and daughter played freely in the shallow waters
After we left, we hit up the local shopping district.  My sister-in-law and myself ended up taking the kids back to nap, but my mom stayed out shopping for quite awhile, and felt completely safe.  If you are looking for a beach getaway this winter, St. Thomas is at the top of my list.

Coki Beach, much cleaner than Magen's
God bless,


Friday, January 15, 2016

Dallas, TX

It's January, which means that it is cold outside, dreary, and germs are everywhere.  I've had a sick kid since Christmas, I thought I had gotten them all well, only to fly to Dallas for the weekend and come home to three sick kids!  As luck would have it, I had a passenger on my flight hacking their lungs up on me the entire flight.  Sure enough two days later, I had come down with it.  Thanks a lot lady, why can we not be like all of the Asian countries?  It was worth the sickness though to fly to Dallas, one of my favorite cities, I could be partial though because my family lives there.  Dallas has something for everyone.  They have top notch shopping, museums, parks.

Whenever, I fly into town my mom and I go shopping.  I happen to really love the Paragon Outlets in Grand Prairie.  They also have a Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, which are two of my favorite stores too.  If you have kids hit up the Galleria Mall, there is an ice skating rink, and an American Girl!  If you like high end shopping my favorite shopping center happens to be an outdoor shopping area called Southlake Town Square.  They have a Kendra Scott (I just discovered her stuff, it is adorable), Lily Pulitzer, Janie & Jack, Anthropologie, amongst many other stores.  They have great food choices and a Hilton!  The North Park mall is another great high end shopping mall, there you can find Louis Vuitton.
Galleria Mall by Kumar Gauraw

My youngest at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
My children beg to go to Dallas, I am not sure if it is so they can hang out with Noni & Papa or if they want to hit up the museums.  They have been to almost all of the museums in the area, along with the Fort Worth and Dallas Zoos.  Their favorite museum when they were really little was the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  They don't change their exhibits that often, my kids got bored with it, but if you have never been and have younger kids they will love it.  My kids have moved onto bigger and better museums, they now have a new favorite-The Perot Museum.  The Perot was named in honor of Ross Perot.  This museum is incredible, they have several floors, and the kids cannot get enough, they could stay there all day and still not see everything.  My kids love all the hands on exhibits.  The kids can learn about the human body, gems and mineral, birds, energy, the earth, amongst other things.  My kids love the earthquake simulator!  For adults, I highly recommend the John F. Kennedy museum, where you can learn about his death.
Perot Museum

Dallas/Fort Worth has a lot of parks.  My favorite happens to be the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens, the kids can see all types of flora and study etymology here.  Fair Park is the site of the famous State Fair of Texas, even when it is not fair season you can still see Big Tex, there is an Aquarium here, and you can ride the paddle boats.  There are too many parks to hit on in the area, but you are sure to find one close to you anywhere you stay.

My kids at one of the many parks

If in town, take your kids to downtown Fort Worth, there you will find a train called the Tarantula, your kids can see the long horn cows run through the street daily, amongst other fun things to do.  The other place my girls really enjoy is the Fort Worth Zoo, it is located in downtown Fort Worth, and is nicely shaded.  They usually go a few times when my dad has them.  If you do go, check out a locally owned ice cream shop right down the road, called Melt, you can thank me later!
A Genuine Long Horn Cow! by Bonita de Boer

Dallas/Fort Worth has a plethora of things for adults and kids alike.  I only hit on a couple that we enjoy, there are so many things to do there.  You will never run out of ideas.  Dallas is only 1.5-2 hours from Waco, check out Joanna Gaines or the Czech store.  A 5 or so hour drive from San Antonio, check out the Riverwalk or Alamo. Roughly, 4 hour drive from Austin, which has a lot to do too for the artsy person.

God bless,


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Birthday Travels

It is Travel Tuesday! Where do you want to go today?  My older girls are coming up on their birthday's.  My oldest, Miss Thing, is turning 9 (she has got to stop growing), and my middle one, Curly Cue, is turning 7.  For their special day they want to go on a vacation instead of a birthday party.  Sound the celebratory band, this mama hates parties with a passion!  I know go ahead and give me worst mom of the year award, I don't care.
Salt Lake City from airplane

So when Curly Cue said, "Mom for my birthday can we go somewhere?" I didn't even hesitate to tell her yes!  My oldest daughter's birthday happens to be two weeks later on Valentine's Day, she said she'd rather go someplace too-praise Jesus! Honestly, parties are so dang expensive, I'd rather spend money taking them somewhere.
My girls in girl heaven at AG in NYC

Curly Cue said she wanted to hit up NYC again and go to American Girl doll, which was fine, it is her birthday.  We just went to New York a couple weeks ago, I kindly suggested we do something else.  She suggested Bora Bora, while I'd love to go there, I almost fell out of my chair at what that little trip would cost us!  Not to mention we only have about a week if that, since my oldest daughter is on the youth symphony in our town.  I kindly suggested somewhere not quite so far.
Blue Lagoon by Moyan Brenn

They have been wanting to go someplace cold to learn how to ski, I have never been skiing in my life, but wouldn't mind to try it once.  I suggested, Salt Lake City, my husband suggested North Carolina.  My girls started googling around on the internet and are now torn between two very cool destinations: Iceland and Germany.

Castle Neuschwanstein by Steffan Dubois

I haven't been to Europe since I lived there in 2002, and I have never been to Iceland, only Greenland.  My oldest started googling around and found a hotel in Munich that looks beautiful, that also has ski lessons for the kids.  Munich is also a 1.5 hour train ride from Salzburg, and my girls happen to love the movie The Sound of Music, and are dying to see Salzburg too!  Iceland looks incredible!  My girls are obsessed with the movie The Polar Express and when they saw that you can see the Northern Lights they were sold, not to mention the Blue Lagoon looks like a piece of heaven on earth.  Both places look spectacular, we are completely torn!  Hopefully, my husband can get off a week when we are off for symphony to sneak away.  If you have been to either, I'd love to hear your opinions, especially if you have travelled with kiddos!
Do-Re-Mi by Nagesh Kamath 

God bless,


Friday, January 1, 2016

So, You Have Kids

Just because you have kids doesn't mean that you can only go on vacation to Disney.  Let me say that again, you do not have to go only to Disneyland or Disney World because you have kids!

Don't get me wrong, I love Disney!  I love the magic, the smells, Main Street, the rides, I love it all. Nowhere in the world can it snow while being 70 degrees, that takes some magic, only found at Disney. With that said, it is the most EXHAUSTING vacation.  By the time that we are finished, we all are ready to kill each other.  Don't even get me started on the germs (okay the cruise is a germaphobes dream, seriously wish they'd implement the sanitizing stations at WDW), my kids never get sick, but they get sick every. single. time at Disney!  While Disney is geared towards families, and they do a WONDERFUL job, you are not confined to only traveling there.  

My kids started flying when they were infants, when the TSA used to require you to take off their shoes too (try that one handed, while folding a stroller, and shoving a car seat onto the conveyor belt). They are pros now, because we did it so often.  Don't get me wrong, when the girls were young we had to take a lot more, but it can be done.  Now there are awesome baby carriers like the Tula, Ergo, and others that were not available when my kids were little.  I had a Bjorn and while it killed my back, it was perfect for travels.  They have also come out with portable carseats, my kids have a Bubble Bum, which I love.  I can fold it flat and carry in my carryon.  

So here are a couple of our favorite non Disney locations!

Tampa, FL: (Read about it here)
On the beach in Tampa

St. Thomas, USVI: (Read about it here)
Coki Beach, USVI

Seattle, WA: My youngest hasn't been yet, but I hope to take her up there this year.
View from Space Needle (2010)

Destin, FL: Can you tell we love the beach? 

Watercolor, FL (2012)

And my girls' favorite location, that they are already planning on going back to is, NYC!

Most of these are within driving distance for us East Coast people, and St. Thomas is just a plane ride away.  These are just some of our favorite locations.  London, England is a lot of fun, my kids have not gone yet, but I hope to take them soon.