I have never taken the time for a girls’ weekend with friends. I’ve done girls’ night out, lunches, breakfasts, and day outings, but never an extended period of time, with just my girlfriends. I’ve been married for 14 years, come this October. Those of you that have had girls’ weekends, bravo!
The truth is, life is so busy, it’s difficult to find the time. With our family, we treasure travel time, and each weekend together, and work to maximize our moments together. With family as our primary priority, fun extras like a girls’ weekend, tend to get pushed further down our list. I was thrilled to participate when Choice Hotels said they want to get people out there, into one of their 5,000 locations across the US, and connect face-to-face. You can do the same. Remember to sign up for a free membership with Choice Privileges and start earning points, and perks, with your stays.
So being forced to get out of our routine, and get together with my friends from middle school days, was invigorating. Most of us hadn’t had a girls weekend, since we’d been married, and the trip to Napa was the first for a couple of my friends … >> find out more...
My oldest turned thirteen this year. As a parent, my boy entering the teen years felt huge. I mean, how did my baby get to thirteen so fast? I know. I know. It’s cliche jargon, but I have to say it.
My husband and I decided his rite of passage to the teen years would be a special trip, just him and dad. “Where would you like to go?” we asked him. “Thailand,” was his response. Perhaps his desire to go there was fueled by the fact that he was made in Thailand, or perhaps because his cousins live there. Whatever the reason, we were surprised by it. “We were thinking somewhere in country,” we politely told him.
It was a beautiful moment, realizing that my boy saw the world as his oyster. He didn’t get to go to Thailand, but I loved where his dreams took him.
I’ll admit. It’s easy for my kids to think about travel, because we do it often. We hop across oceans like it’s no big deal. I still remember about five years ago, when my daughter was in kindergarten and my son was in third grade. They came home incredulous that there … >> find out more...
As a family we really enjoyed downtown Boston. While we adore San Francisco, and New York, we love Boston because of how clean and open the city feels. The North End of Boston with the ocean breezes is absolutely lovely. While San Francisco can feel overwhelming and crowded, and New York can feel stifling and slightly smelly, we didn’t find that in Boston. Granted, we weren’t in Boston during the winter, I don’t think we would’ve survived if we tried winter on the East Coast.
Walk around the North End and enjoy the breezes. You’ll also find Paul Revere’s house. In fact, find and follow the Freedom Trail. Look for the red bricks, or grab a visitor’s guide at the visitor center at the Boston Common. Everyone was telling me to do the trail, but I had no idea where to start. Going to the visitor center is super helpful.
While you’re in Boston Common, look for the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture, which is one of Boston’s most famous attractions. The statues are of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings. The sculpture is based on the 1942 Caldecott Medal winning picture book by Robert McCloskey.
The … >> find out more...
This summer we had the unique opportunity to spend two months in the Boston, Massachusetts area. While there we tried to squeeze as much out of our time on the East Coast as possible.
Our first weekend exploration adventure began in a quaint town just 30 minutes from where we were staying in Andover, MA. If you’re driving from Boston, it’s only 50 minutes. Newburyport is absolutely darling. If you’re looking for boutique shops, homemade ice cream, gelato, strolling down streets and great eats to enjoy a breezy day, Newburyport is it. Our family are official fans of Newburyport and Plum Island, MA.
Best of British is a quaint little shop filled with everything an Anglophile like me would want to browse. They also have a selection of loose leaf teas. We brought three different flavors home with us.
Village Silversmith is filled with all things silver, crystals, fossilized gifts, and gemstones, along with many more fascinating finds that my daughters loved.
Pawsitively Best Friends is a darling shop for pet lovers. They have so many cute signs, gifts, and supplies for the discerning pet friend. We also noticed that many of the shops, not just the pet shops, had … >> find out more...
September 11, 2001 is a date that is etched in every American’s mind. Most of us can remember exactly where we were when we heard the news that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. I know I certainly can. It was a day that brought fear around one of the greatest joys in life…travel.
My husband and I were in transit on 9/11. It was our second anniversary, and we were traveling with a group of friends to a small nominally Muslim country. We had a full day layover in London on the 11th, so we ventured out to the city for some sightseeing. Even though we were exhausted from travel and in the company of several people, it felt romantic and adventurous to be walking down the streets of London, celebrating two years of wedded bliss. We snapped our mugs in front of Big Ben, admired the beauty of Westminster Abbey, strolled by Buckingham Palace, felt the cool grass of Green Park between our toes, and stuffed hot pizza down our throats (a welcome change to airplane food) all before catching the Tube back to Heathrow.
As we joined fellow commuters on the train, there was a strange … >> find out more...
As my daughters started school this year, I started thinking about what it was like when I was kid. Things were different. We had a TV where you had to walk to the screen, and turn the knob to change channels. Sometimes the channels were just black and white fuzz. Sitting through commercials was still torture. I remember when we had a Beta and a VHS VCR, that’s a video cassette recorder for you young people. Back in the day Beta and VHS were two different video recording formats. Beta was the superior format, but VHS won out because they had better price points for consumers.
Wow, I’m rambling like an older person.
Well, back then we didn’t even have Facebook, so if you moved frequently, like I did, you had to write letters and wait days, perhaps weeks for a return letter from your friend. This is why I love Facebook, and all things social media. I thoroughly enjoy seeing my friends enjoying their lives, and keeping up “virtually” with all the good my friends do in their daily lives and for those around them. My friends inspire me.
Life is busy, and with Facebook, and tools like it, … >> find out more...
We spent last Christmas in Durban, because that’s what you do here in S. Africa. You spend Christmas at the beach. It’s hotter than hot that time of year, and the only respite you can find is in your toes touching that cool water. Durban resides along the Indian Ocean making it more popular in my book than Cape Town which borders the arctic waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
There’s loads of touristy things you can do in Zulu nation, but if I had my choice, I would take my tourist hat off and spend my time doing two things.
1. Going to the beach. In my opinion, the best beach spots are found just outside the city. Aptly named the Dolphin Coast, Ballito is the best with its beautiful beaches and cafés. It’s perfect for families, but even if you’re not in that season of life yet, Ballito offers a peace and tranquility that the big city lacks. Get up at sunrise and watch the dolphins ride the waves of the surfers. Who wouldn’t like that?
2. Eating a good curry, like all the time. I’ve heard it said that every person in India has a cousin either in … >> find out more...
We finally came limping home from our big vacation to Walt Disney World, exhausted and happy and bursting at the seams with great memories, a couple of blisters and perhaps the evidence of a few too many churros. We did everything that was important to us, though not even close to everything that’s possible at Disney World. It’s a massive magical place. And hot. Really really sticky blazing hot. Today I’ll give you our favorite highlights from each of the 4 parks, and Typhoon Lagoon. I’m sharing a ton of info today, so prepare for a lengthy post you may wish to bookmark.
The Magic Kingdom was our first stop, and also our very last. I love starting the Disney World circuit with that magical stroll down Main Street U.S.A. and finishing our trip with the Main Street Electrical Parade, Tinkerbell, and those amazing fireworks. All are musts for anyone visiting the Magic Kingdom. I get goosebumps every time! My boys especially love the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s the newest attraction in Fantasyland and it’s great–a fun interactive queue to help pass the time, and just enough thrills to please, but not very frightening. My rather … >> find out more...
Walking with giraffes. I swear that sounds like a movie title starring some animal conservationist that is trying to save the giraffe species. Well, that’s not quite what the story is about. Although, if that movie had the tagline, “Based on a true story,” then these narratives would have something in common. Venture with me as I tell the tale of walking on the African plains with one giraffe.
Once upon a time there was a gal named Jen (that’s me!) who lived in South Africa. She loved the country for its beauty, animals, and people, even though it was a long way from her friends and family in the great state of Texas. Her scenery was much different than her Dallas homestead, but her days were much like those of her friends across the ocean…shuttling kids to and from school, keeping the house clean, working hard to put healthy, home cooked meals on the table. She worked, too, but her work was where things were not so much the same. Everyday was different, and Jen loved it that way.
One day her bestest friend from Texas came to visit her in South Africa. They laughed. They played. They explored … >> find out more...