In Category: ‘Travel’

June 28, 2016 Istanbul

So sad to hear about the bombings in Istanbul airport today. When it is somewhere I have been…. It becomes so much more real to me. My heart is heavy tonight for lives lost and lives forever altered in the blink of an eye.

Here is a glimpse into the sights and streets of Istanbul from last year…

evelyn 4 zpsgjg5ih0z Istanbul

IMG 6970 2 zpsxzwn8s1w Istanbul

IMG 5075 zpsqd6eqdqf Istanbul

evelyn 3 zps0xjsfuuv Istanbul

IMG 5056 zpsfsazasmc Istanbul

evelyn 2 zps5mu3tqxl Istanbul

IMG 4971 zps6ranasyg Istanbul

evelyn 1 2 zpsjy4dokp3 Istanbul

IMG 4901 zpslj71yjyd Istanbul

IMG 4880 zpsxxgyx2cu Istanbul

IMG 4869 zpsaihgxstf Istanbul

IMG 4862 zpsgloprjp1 Istanbul

IMG 5105 zpsutrcw6d9 Istanbul

IMG 5090 2 zpsevkpfifw Istanbul

IMG 5065 zpsznzomhhc Istanbul

IMG 5036 zpsygftd3p6 Istanbul

IMG 4958 zps2spt4x1y Istanbul

IMG 4930 zpsmqkvmuyz Istanbul

IMG 4917 zpsp6d3ya4o Istanbul

IMG 4914 zps0j5bmskd Istanbul

IMG 4878 zpsanaeoyox Istanbul

Celebrating life and love,


February 17, 2016 Air Bnb in New York City

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we stayed at our first Air BnB on this trip to New York City. I have spent hours looking through AirBnB for our last few trips – but it never worked out for us as either they were all booked (darn my procrastination habit!) or they had a minimum night stay that was more than what we needed. [When we were in Maui last month, we stayed at a VRBO which is "Vacation Rentals by Owner" - similar... but not quite as cool. icon smile Air Bnb in New York City ] I was so excited the stars finally aligned and we could try out an Air BnB on this trip! If you aren’t familiar with Air BnB – you should look around on the site! Their definition is “Rent unique accommodations from local hosts in 190+ countries. Feel at home anywhere you go in the world with Airbnb.” You can find the coolest places to stay from treehouses to castles, yurts to luxury homes! And often for less than a traditional hotel would cost! If you want to get sucked in to losing hours to scrolling through “some day” vacation spots – check out this link HERE.

We were fortunate as it’s not the most popular time of year to go to New York – and when we finally remembered to actually book something a week before we left, we found somewhere with availability still!

We have found that on Staten Island you can get more space for your dollar – and it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The (free!) ferry ride between Staten Island and Manhattan is fun for the kids (ok – and us too) with great views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty too. And did I mention it’s free?! Staten Island isn’t the ideal place to stay if you like to come back to your room during the day – but if you’re like us and want to spend the day in the city and then relax at your accommodations for the evening, it’s great! If you’ve never stayed in NYC before – you pay a lot for hotels – and they’re small! I remember one time Mark and I had a room where we had to be pressed right up against the bed to walk around it to get to the washroom or door. But it was walking distance to Central Park. So you need to weigh out your pros and cons. I just find when travelling with kids – we like a little more space. (Space = sanity).

Okay – so we found his great house. The reviews were great too! ALWAYS read reviews is my biggest piece of advice! You learn to weed out the good and the dumb – if someone rates it 2 stars because they didn’t like the paint colour or the towels were crooked – that goes straight into the dumb category and is not taken into consideration on the basis of being purely stupid. Anyhow, I digress… the reviews for this place were great. There were a few quirks people mentioned – but Mark and I have lived in old homes and know choosing character and age means having to let somethings go. Creaky floors. I’ll take a gorgeous original wood floor that creaks – over a boring new flooring option any day.

Before we went, Eden and I looked it up on Google Maps. It was hard to tell from the Google Maps photo what it really looked like. And even when we pulled up – it could be cool… or it could be a dud. Was really hard to tell. There were some other beautiful character homes in the neighbourhood so we hoped it landed in the cool category. It did. Oh – and did you catch when I said we “pulled up” – another beautiful part of Staten Island. Actual parking without paying through the nose! We found a parking spot on the street immediately in front of the house. This makes me happy – especially when it feels like -100 outside.

nyc052 zpszfpdswoj Air Bnb in New York City

We walked in and a huge sigh of relief. The details – bannisters, light fixtures, and more – had me at hello.

nyc054 zpsqm42awyg Air Bnb in New York City

As soon as you walk in you see this gorgeous staircase – and on your right this incredible living room that went through to the dining room. The Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen are shared with the other guests – and we shared a washroom with one other room/guest. But – except for a quick “hello” in passing in the hall, never saw anyone else. What a treat to stay in this gorgeous home!

nyc020 zpsowznno3l Air Bnb in New York City

nyc056 zpsnaxuuj1y Air Bnb in New York City

nyc059 zpsnuiye2d2 Air Bnb in New York City

nyc055 zpsmygjz1dh Air Bnb in New York City

nyc057 zpsybmsnrw3 Air Bnb in New York City

nyc058 zpsf8jmnl3f Air Bnb in New York City

nyc066 zpsxmca1bak Air Bnb in New York City

We stayed on the third floor in the “Famous Artist Loft”. Our only complaint about this whole place was the heat. Now – we’ve lived in big old houses and completely get it that you can’t really regulate heat like you can in a new (boring) home. The difficulty was, because there were others in the house – it felt awkward to leave our door open to help balance heat. Our room was like a sauna – the hall was quite cool. So we left the door open as much as we could to help balance it. A fan could have made a world of difference. But at least it was warm – we were concerned it’d be freezing – it’s hard to heat these old places!

nyc060 zpsxf4hnbdd Air Bnb in New York City

nyc061 zpscpgkaad0 Air Bnb in New York City

Two big super duper comfy beds – and it was nice to have Netflix installed on the TV in the room! As Canadians – American Netflix is an extra special treat as there’s shows on there we don’t get. Nice to relax at the end of the day!

nyc062 zpsnpgr4es3 Air Bnb in New York City

nyc063 zpstzq2sgjj Air Bnb in New York City

nyc064 zpsyzkzctdp Air Bnb in New York City

All in all a great place to stay! If you’re a light sleeper I’d suggest the third floor rooms as the floors are creaky (as to be expected) so would be noisy if you had neighbours above you. We drove to the ferry terminal – about 5 minutes away – and it was Sunday and parking was free! Normally parking is $8 for the day. We were going to take the bus to the terminal – which you can catch super close to the house – but realized for four of us was cheaper to pay for parking than four bus tickets! Really convenient location though.

I’ll end the post with a few of the fun details from around the house!

nyc067 zpsepwudsmw Air Bnb in New York City

Totally recommend it – and did I mention it was way cheaper than a hotel? We had a winter rate – I’d expect it to be higher in summer – but it came to roughly $100Canadian a night! Although ALissa, the owner, isn’t on site – I texted her with a question and she responded with a couple minutes! If you’re interested here’s the link!

February 16, 2016 Freezing in New York City

For Christmas over the last few years, we try to give the kids a gift of a memory rather than “stuff”. For this year’s Christmas, we said we’d do a weekend in New York City. The girls hadn’t been in a number of years and were eager to visit again. We went this past weekend – you know, the coldest weekend in the history of humanity. I’m still thawing out! The cold changed some plans – there was no way we’d be walking over the Brooklyn Bridge for example – which had been a favourite spot on the last family trip there. The cold did not stop us from having fun and enjoying NYC though!

We love car trips – audio books, reading, good music, dumb games and the likes! NYC is a short drive from our house – 8 hours – but we decided to split it up and drive halfway after work/school on Friday and get there at a decent time on Saturday then.

Our black car after driving down. Yikes!

nyc001 zps29nijmox Freezing in New York City

As we were getting into Manhattan – we realized we had no plan! So we went to Central Park – we always love it there and see something different each time. There was suppose to be an ice sculpture festival there – but it was cancelled because it was too cold! Too cold for ice!

nyc002 zpskbdpyaqy Freezing in New York City

nyc003 zpsxsp1tr3e Freezing in New York City

nyc004 zpsb06zcyxr Freezing in New York City

nyc005 zpsrdnly12a Freezing in New York City

nyc006 zps5wmbaili Freezing in New York City

nyc007 zps0niamhyi Freezing in New York City

I had read about a granite slide at one of the playgrounds in Central Park – and although busy in summer – we were the only ones crazy enough to be there this time of year! We all enjoyed the slide over and over and the small, quaint playground with it’s stone bridge and little oasis in the heart of the city. It also was pretty protected from the bitter wind – another bonus!

nyc010 zpsomobhv2f Freezing in New York City

nyc009 zpsw3nhuapi Freezing in New York City

nyc012 zpsu6ktneqk Freezing in New York City

Another favourite was reading the park bench plaques outside the zoo area. Some were funny – others inspiring. We all loved reading them and imagining what we’d have on our own park bench!

nyc013 zpsp9kthja3 Freezing in New York City

nyc014 zpsf0l0d9sz Freezing in New York City

A bench for book lovers… girls had to sit and enjoy it!!

nyc015 zpszroqxftj Freezing in New York City

We then wandered down 5th avenue and admired the crazy window displays!

One thing that was so sad – last time we were in NYC with the girls we didn’t get around to Fao Schwarz. We said “next time”. Well – it’s closed!! (and so we said we’d take them the next day to Toys R Us at Times Square as we loved it last time – also closed down! What?!?!). We went in the Apple Store to warm up – I think everyone in Manhattan also came in. It’s crowded – but so fun to ride the glass elevator down and see the latest technology!

nyc016 zps7jayrw3h Freezing in New York City

nyc017 zpsjgqvr19q Freezing in New York City

One thing I love about NYC – every corner has some hidden surprise. We turned the corner and found these trees lit up like this – so beautiful!

nyc018 zpscyiezogy Freezing in New York City

We went out to eat at a hole in the wall place recommended for their burgers (great!) and had a rousing game of x’s and o’s. One thing I love about traveling with the girls is it doesn’t take much to entertain them! We made a board out of napkins and pieces out of sugar packets – all set to play!

nyc019 zpsf4ewpcl9 Freezing in New York City

We stayed at an AirBnb on Staten Island – but I’ll write about that tomorrow! Here’s a sneak peek though! It was nice to get to our place at a decent time and have some time to relax and hang out. I’m use to when I travel I go, go, go from dawn until late as I don’t want to miss anything! Traveling with the family forces me to slow down and enjoy time “off” too – which was great!

nyc020 zpsowznno3l Freezing in New York City

The next morning we took the Staten Island ferry over to Manhattan. If you ever go to NYC – can’t recommend this enough. It’s totally free – gives you great views of the city and the statue of liberty – and is just fun! We also love the aquariums in the ferry terminal!

nyc022 zps6jvrirg8 Freezing in New York City

It was a ridiculously cold day – so the river was steaming! Crazy to see!

nyc023 zpsirr8jli6 Freezing in New York City

nyc024 zpsynk0zba0 Freezing in New York City

nyc025 zpsarzmkokr Freezing in New York City

nyc026 zps2su4yxvo Freezing in New York City

The girls have both learned about 9/11 in school since we last visited – and so we really wanted to take time out to remember those who lost their lives. Eden said it was somber while Madi said it was surreal. Agreed with both sentiments! To see all those names – putting a name to a tragedy makes it so much more real than just statistics and numbers of lives lost.

nyc027 zpsijmj50ex Freezing in New York City

nyc029 zpsfr91a9nj Freezing in New York City

ANother day of lots of walking in the frigid cold!

nyc030 zpsrs00xl4e Freezing in New York City

On a side note – it was Fashion Week in NYC while we were there. Which was ironic as it was so cold we could not even think about fashion only how to stay warm! But, one day we came across a building where there were swarms of paparazzi – a model came out and we were able to see first hand the hunt for the photo. It was disturbing and seemed so wrong on so many levels to hunt this poor girl as she exited the building and all down the street. I love People magazine as much as the next – but I think this taste of the paparazzi in real life makes me value photos that an individual has agreed to – rather than the ones they were hunted down for – all the more! Needless to say I have no photos of her even though we walked down the sidewalk with her (and the photographers).


I was excited to hear the Chinese Lunar New Year parade was happening while we were there! So much colour and energy!

nyc031 zpskgxitfyd Freezing in New York City

nyc033 zpsef4ndk63 Freezing in New York City

nyc034 zpsujoen0pn Freezing in New York City

nyc035 zpsn1jl4vcw Freezing in New York City

nyc036 zpsh2ow0nks Freezing in New York City

And then it was down to the subway – nice break from the cold! And fun for the kids who rarely get to ride one!

nyc037 zpskfgcgbc3 Freezing in New York City

We took some time to enjoy Grand Central Station – including the Whispering Gallery I’d read about. In this noisy bustling corridor – you can speak into one corner – and it comes out clearly as a whisper across on the other side! It was so noisy around us so wasn’t sure it would work – but it did! There’s no signs – just go outside the Oyster Bar and give it a try!

nyc039 zpsdjvgdulm Freezing in New York City

nyc040 zpsgkdkrkil Freezing in New York City

Eden loves astronomy – and so loved the ceiling. Did you know it’s actually backwards? Theirs conflicting theories on if that was intentional or not!

nyc041 zpsnjfdfmy6 Freezing in New York City

We then took our book lovers to the beautiful New York Public Library. It’s gorgeous, amazing – a beautiful (FREE!) place to explore… but we did not see one book! The girls were very confused by that! Lots of places to study and a beautiful art gallery (the exhibit this time was of female print makers) but no books perhaps because the main reading room is closed for repairs.

nyc042 zps1fbngz7i Freezing in New York City

nyc043 zpsfljzu1oh Freezing in New York City

nyc044 zps3mgoyf9c Freezing in New York City

nyc045 zpstkhlq0t9 Freezing in New York City

nyc046 zpsbeha9ghz Freezing in New York City

In between all our stops, we popped into stores and quaint shops to warm up. It sure was cold! And we ended the day with freezing at Times Square!

nyc047 zpsagaudg9g Freezing in New York City

It was then back on the ferry to Staten Island!

nyc048 zpsxwpmmoul Freezing in New York City

nyc050 zpshkywgbor Freezing in New York City

Good night Lady Liberty!

nyc049 zpshejmw0kr Freezing in New York City

And into warm PJ’s, cup of hot chocolate and a good book to end the day!

nyc051 zpsztc11eji Freezing in New York City

And I’ll end with a goofy video of Eden entertaining us while we grocery shopped for supper that night. icon smile Freezing in New York City A great weekend getaway!

Celebrating life and love


January 23, 2016 Maui

Started this new year off with something I’ve talked about for years. My two long time friends, Cherie and Monica, and myself have wanted to do a trip together to celebrate being 40 while we are all in our 40th year. We had a window from my birthday in December to Cherie’s birthday in April where we are all 40! We kicked around ideas of places for months and months. Then one night late in November – we decided we better decide, found a seat sale and… the rest is history! We decided on Maui for a couple reasons. First – Monica now lives in Edmonton and had the least amount of time off for the trip – we decided we’d need to go somewhere west to maximize her time. Second – Cherie hadn’t seen her brother in three years – and he was going to be in Maui the time we were looking at going! We wanted to stay within a budget that we would have spent going to an all inclusive – and by splitting costs like our condo and car, and minimizing costs of food and such we were able to do it! YAY! Here’s a lot of photos to look at this trip – they are a mix of “real” camera photos and iphone snaps!

The trip started the evening of January 13 when Cherie and I flew from Toronto to Calgary. Yay! This was actually happening!!

maui001 zpsvqkclwzw Maui

We met Monica in Calgary – yay!! She of course had made a new friend, Eileen, so we had to get a group photo of us all! Then we headed to a hotel for the night where we were able to chat and catch up before our early morning flight to Maui! Great way to start the vacation!

maui002 zpsihzkubwp Maui

Now I had been to Hawaii once years and years ago on a layover home from Australia – so I should have known better – but I was shocked how far Maui was! There was a 5 hour time difference from home and the flight from Calgary was 7 hours! I was expecting about a two hour flight from Alberta. Whoops! But it makes sense once you arrive – it really does feel like you stepped into a whole new world!

We arrived and made our one splurge – after we did a lot of bartering and talking them down! We upgraded to a Mustang convertible! So fun!

maui029 zpskbhdtjdc Maui

We started meeting some fun characters in our travels – including the artist who designed the rolling stones trademark design. Ruby Mazur was a lot of fun to chat with and gave us some great tips for travelling Maui.

maui003 zpsgarnmz3t Maui

We finally arrived at our condo which was just north of Lahaina (near Kahana)- right on the ocean which was amazing! We slept with the only the screen door shut most nights and one night I even got splashed by a crashing wave we were so close! We loved having breakfast on the patio each day and watching whales from the condo.

maui006 zps7ojvmags Maui

maui007 zpsaea0rquc Maui

We then went for a walk and explored the beach around the condo and more heart to heart chats…

maui009 zpsiveo4jka Maui

maui010 zps7bxaltdl Maui

We decided to go up Haleakala volcano to watch sunrise on our first morning as our bodies still wouldn’t have adjusted to the time difference so getting up at 3:30am wasn’t as painful. We left by 4am and got there just in time for sunrise. I would recommend going even earlier though as people line up for a good view long before sunrise. It was frustrating to try and get a good view between all the other tourists! Most people are very friendly and cooperative and would share their space -but some were super territorial and not as friendly. We were at about 10,000 feet at the top here – and so we were above the clouds! It was incredible watching the sun peak through the clouds. And then one of the park staff came out and gave a Hawaiian blessing as the sun peaked and told us all to go out and make the most of this day! A great way to start the day! We definitely had to bundle up as being that high up before dawn is cold!

maui012 zpsrf2n7kkp Maui

maui015 zpsbd2qvorr Maui

maui016 zpsacqxfhoo Maui

maui017 zpsdp0npx97 Maui

maui018 zpseqm9uohy Maui

maui019 zpsw6csflav Maui

maui020 zpsdehfbtqm Maui

While most people were quick to leave as soon as the sun came up – we took some time to explore and hike a bit. Totally recommend this as it’s just beautiful up there!!

maui024 zps2rbvvskp Maui

maui025 zpshaby6941 Maui

maui026 zps8j0dogfz Maui

maui028 zpsirwusv1x Maui

maui027 zpsqykzn41y Maui

maui004 zpskzcxtyus Maui

maui005 zpsa79tfhbv Maui

We spent that afternoon enjoying some beaches – and then visiting with Cherie’s brother and his family. We went snorkelling with Chris – and even saw some sea turtles which was fun!

maui030 zpsx51hunvr Maui

maui031 zps6kkcfrdf Maui



The next day we took as a relaxing day – spent the morning snorkelling and enjoying beaches… and then we decided to go out to see the blowhole we had read about. As we drove, we saw a neat little spot on the side of the road we had to stop at. It felt like we were deep in a magical rainforest!

maui032 zpslaswmrzi Maui

maui033 zpshhn5fdgj Maui

maui035 zps55jcfo1e Maui

maui036 zpsag7cm49n Maui

maui038 zps1ykxb9ry Maui

maui039 zpsjfnwtmsm Maui

We spent so much time here we had to hurry to the blowhole before dark. We were the last people there – and it was pitch black when we hiked back up to our car. Not recommended to go so late – but definitely to go! It was so cool to watch!

maui040 zpsqfurqmsb Maui

maui041 zpss29hhher Maui

The next morning was another early start. After much debate – we decided to do the Road to Hana. Some people raved about it – while others told us to skip it. We decided to see what we see and to agree we could turn around if needed. The “Road to Hana” isn’t so much about getting to Hana ( a small little town) but about enjoying the drive and the stops along the way. The drive can be intense – as one website says “The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves and 59 bridges. The road leads you through flourishing rainforests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes”. I was the driver on the trip – and I’m just thankful I got these two through the drive safely! The best advice we received is to decide ahead of time what stops you want to make (do your research!) and don’t get sidetracked. You definitely don’t want to get behind in your schedule and be driving these roads at night!

maui044 zpscxhxkvmw Maui

The Twin Falls was our first stop and I couldn’t resist jumping in!

maui046 zps4meuyjxr Maui

maui047 zpsxo340uvx Maui

While I swam, Monica and Cherie grabbed breakfast here – we all got a great start to our day!!

maui048 zpsonjjx01v Maui

maui049 zps2gomvlil Maui

Keep your eyes open along the road to Hana! We wanted to see the Painted Eucalyptus trees but didn’t know where to find them – but when we spotted them we had to pull over! They were on private property so couldn’t get as close as we’d like – but wow! They are beautiful! Rainbow coloured trees – wow! Nice work, God! Definitely saw his creativity on this trip!

maui051 zpsb4pwiqpi Maui

maui052 zpszxowzpfh Maui

We then went to Wai’anapanapa State Park along the road to Hana – a favourite spot for all of us! With it’s black sand beach, caves, blowhole, lava rocks and cliffs – it was a great spot! We enjoyed our lunch here too at the picnic tables. We could have stayed all day here.

maui057 zpsa1c7qvc0 Maui

maui054 zpsyxopcc1h Maui

maui055 zpscu7nvuv6 Maui

maui056 zpslbt158xz Maui

maui058 zpsaivkmrve Maui

maui059 zpsyergqjl8 Maui

maui064 zpsohyocqwq Maui

maui062 zpsmngmra9c Maui

And lots of quick stops at waterfalls along the way…

maui066 zpsyequzohm Maui

maui067 zpssdpahkwo Maui

The last stop we made was the Bamboo Forest. We really debated on if we wanted to see the Bamboo Forest or the Seven Sacred Pools – our time before sunset was getting close and we knew we had really limited time so could only see one thing. We decided that we hadn’t seen bamboo yet but had enjoyed several waterfalls and pools so we would go to the Bamboo Forest. It was a tough walk up if you’re out of shape like me – it’s only about a mile – but it’s ALL up hill climbing old stairs the whole way. Once we arrived in the bamboo forest it was so dense it got dark inside! It was magical! We wish we had time to go on to the waterfalls and such – but our light was quickly going! On the way to the bamboo forest we passed this amazing huge Banyan tree!

maui069 zpsyabgjcrg Maui

maui070 zpsraescgye Maui

maui071 zpsvz48vhwu Maui

We then had to decide – do we finish the loop and take the lower half of the road back or do we turn around and go back the way we had come? Everything we read talked about how treacherous the road could be – we talked to several people along the road to Hana and they all agreed if you take it slow you can do it. WE decided to go for it. I think Im just starting to release the breath I was holding now! Definitely the most intense driving I’ve ever done – right up against cliff rocks on one side – and the ocean on the other side. Most of it was only wide enough for one car. The hardest part though was driving it at sunset meant the sun was right in my eyes blinding me! I started to honk around some of the corners as I was driving blind with no way to know if someone was coming. A HUGE sign when we finished this drive!

maui074 zpswq7pg7yl Maui

The next day we packed up our condo and drove Monica to the airport. We saw SO many whales this trip – most from our balcony. This last morning of the three of us we sat on the balcony for over an hour and watched multiple whales jumping, splashing and playing right in front of our eyes! I didn’t want to leave to get my camera so I will have to trust Monica and Cherie got the photos!

It was such a joy to all three be together for this trip! Wish I had counted how many times we had said “We are in Maui!!” or “Wow!” or “we have the best husbands ever!!” (so thankful they could stay home to watch the kids!)

maui077 zpsuqdf1qxg Maui

Cherie and I decided to spend the rest of the day at the beach – we went to Baldwin Beach which was phenomenal. Now looking at this photo of Cherie walking out to the water I see the warning flag to the right of her. That water was WILD – we thought we’d go in quickly to cool off. Get beyond the breaking point and we’d be fine. Don’t be idiots like us – we both got walloped by the waves HARD and have a new appreciation for the strength of water.

maui078 zpsw67td3lr Maui

maui079 zpskuscw7v4 Maui

maui085 zpsnbgxiixy Maui

Speaking of the power of water – we then went up to Jaws just up the road from Baldwin Beach to watch some incredible surfing. Jaws is hit and miss for waves – but we were fortunate to be there for some of their great waves! Yay! It was amazing to watch the surfing at sunset – and to have humpback whales breaching in behind the surfers!

maui086 zpsbkmnakpz Maui

maui082 zpsk81ijkoi Maui

maui087 zps6glkhw5g Maui

maui088 zpsri1veqn9 Maui

A surfer with a whale splashing in behind!

maui089 zpsnqbmfawp Maui

maui090 zpsbwnapuop Maui

maui092 zps1dufnuif Maui

Some were crazy enough to boogey board on these waves!

maui091 zpsrjinipe7 Maui

And of course lots of wipe outs!

maui095 zpsrp6iw4h0 Maui

maui104 zps71atrreg Maui

maui105 zpskepjqgsy Maui

maui106 zpsiwasxmnx Maui

A little ukulele music by a random musician at sunset was a nice treat.

maui107 zpsd6vo5mkx Maui

Our last night together, Cherie and I camped on the beach at a campsite. It was great – except for the roosters! Fortunately we are both deep sleepers! I had brought a tent with me and Cherie brought sleeping pads and blankets. I forgot bedding so I just used my clothes – ha ha. Fortunately it worked as we were in a warmer climate!

12400989 10153861213212629 6124195680599750934 n zps2hss03k0 Maui

My last day… my flight was at midnight so after a morning on the beach, and returning the car – we went and spent the afternoon with Cherie’s brother’s family again. We enjoyed beach time and I enjoyed a shower before getting on the plane!! I did a photo session of their family that night too which was a lot of fun! More on that to come! All in all it was an amazing trip full of incredible scenery topped only by the great company and conversations. I prefer a trip where I’m seeing and doing and exploring, to only lying on the beach so this was perfect for me!! I absolutely love Maui – how can you not love a place where their greeting “hello” and “goodbye” is “Aloha” which means LOVE.

maui111 zpsgmxre2hi Maui

Celebrating life and love,


jefferson%20journey zpswuhchnuu Jefferson Journey: Inspired

This past summer my girls and I did a 12,000km road trip all across the United States with people joining us along the way (my husband, my mom and my dad). I’ll be sharing about our trip over time here – to follow it you can search the “Jefferson Journey” category!


I’ve been asked “why” we did this big road trip and spend time & money travelling.

There are so many reasons – travel is something that is so important to me personally and something we try to share with our kids. I was fortunate to grow up travelling since my dad is a pilot and my parents encouraged exploring. Mark is one of 11 kids so he was not able to do much travelling – and saw the ocean for the first time when we were on our honeymoon! When we were first married, Mark and I would take a trip each year (enjoying the perks of my dad’s airline discount) and we both got the travel bug. We enjoyed traveling through America’s southwest (which inspired this current trip), Europe and Australia. Each trip inspired us, stretched us and left us wanting more.

When we travel – we have never stayed at the fanciest hotels and ate at the best restaurants. We more often are sleeping in cars, above pubs or in a tent. Our food is usually cooked on the beach or a packed picnic rather than off a menu. We see as much as we can, try to see how the locals love, and soak it all in.

And so we’ve raised our kids the same way. We haven’t changed how we travel since we have kids – we still sleep in cars and in tents and cook on the beach. But more importantly – we still try to soak it all in.

And that’s what we aimed to do on this trip. Soak it in. Experience new sights. See how the geography changes. How people are the same and yet so different all across our world.

I also had one other goal on this trip. Our girls both love art. Eden dreams of becoming an artist one day. They spend hours of sitting at the kitchen table drawing. Designing. Creating. And so we wanted to show them also art across the country. How art can be a million different things. And so I researched different artistic pieces to visit on this trip – and it opened up lots of discussion. What makes something art? Some of the art we visited was intricate, difficult pieces to design – and some could look simply like piles of second hand treasures. How can both be considered art? Why create? Lots to think about – fortunately we had thousands of miles to chat about it…

Here’s some quotes from around our visits that inspired us…

IMG 4192 zps3jhz92oc Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4180 zpsuq9raexl Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4179 zpslyn6lwh0 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4245 zpsnxtn3nfw Jefferson Journey: Inspired

Here are a few of the places we visited, a couple of them I’ll post more about later as I’d like to take more time with sharing them!

The first day we stopped at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan. It’s a city block in the third most dangerous neighbourhood in the USA being transformed by art. I’ll share more about this later!

IMG 4235 zpsfpvozq4a Jefferson Journey: Inspired

The second day we stopped at a sculpture park in Des Moines, Iowa. It was pouring rain and miserable out – but it was fun to be the only ones there as we wandered through the sculptures and picked out our favourites.

IMG 4290 zpsffvn25mg Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4265 zpsxugds4k9 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4267 zpsbidlubws Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4271 zpsbxn97cqj Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4274 zpstx8fnck5 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 4286 zpsmxlveagp Jefferson Journey: Inspired

In California, I was out with friends one night and we went into Beverly Hills. As we were driving I spotted a familiar looking sculpture in a park.

IMG 5162 zpshh7dhqnx Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 5164 zpsfvz9mvit Jefferson Journey: Inspired

Before we left California, we headed south to Salvation Mountain. This too I’ll blog more about later – such a fun place to visit. Despite it being about ten gazillion degrees outside.

IMG 4516 zpsymxcvlz6 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 5659 zpswpsrgzal Jefferson Journey: Inspired

Then we went into Texas to a place Eden has been wanting to see since she read about it in Kid’s National Geographic. Cadillac Ranch was such a fun place to stop – I’ll blog about that too later!

IMG 5920 2 zpsso4zut9w Jefferson Journey: Inspired

IMG 5932 zpsw6sycro4 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

I’ll leave you with this one question… Are you inspired?

IMG 4253 zpskdtuttg4 Jefferson Journey: Inspired

Celebrating life and love,


jefferson%20journey zpswuhchnuu Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

This past summer my girls and I did a 12,000km road trip all across the United States with people joining us along the way (my husband, my mom and my dad). I’ll be sharing about our trip over time here – to follow it you can search the “Jefferson Journey” category!


So, I have been wanting to blog about our trip this past summer – but haven’t had the chance yet. I figured I just need to start! The first thing I thought I’d write about is some travel tips as I’ve been asked lots of questions! If you don’t know – the girls and I did a 12,000km road trip this summer across the United States. We camped along the way – and had my husband, my mom and then my dad join us a different places along the route!

The number one question I get asked is “how did you know where all to travel to?

Research. I probably spent double (or triple) the time planning the trip than I did driving on this trip. Our first destination we knew was the Grand Canyon. So we would put that into Google Maps. You can see there are two routes there the same length of time to travel – so we decided to do one each way. Then we would start to break the drive into bite size pieces. I figured 8-9 hours a day would be about our maximum to drive in a day as it was usually just me as the only driver. Didn’t want to get too tired. So I would look on a map for a good place to stop, and then for something interesting to do each day. Lots of googling. Researching. Searching. And then some more googling.

Screen%20Shot%202015 09 17%20at%2010.35.48%20AM zps6hmo6zft Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

I would then print out our plan for each day – the map and step by step directions (just in case the GPS konked out) to our “fun stop” that day and to where there were some campground options. Now, this went out the window day one when we hit a traffic jam and got way behind schedule and had to stop before we had planned. You definitely have to be flexible!! I probably changed our route 100 times before we left as I kept finding something else I’d like to see. We definitely couldn’t see everything so had to weigh our options and pick the best. Hard to do!

Because we didn’t have a set end destination (everywhere was our destination!) – where we were going to that day became our goal. Instead of thinking – only 40 more driving hours to go! We could look at the fact we only had three hours until we stopped at our first interesting pit stop – and then four hours after that to go to camping. Bite size pieces.

Some packing tips…

We bought dry erase markers – the girls can then write on the windows with these and just wipe them off! Some things we used them for…

-keeping score of random games we played
-practicing math (clearly my idea not theirs)
-x’s and o’s
-memorizing verses (writing them out)
-and random doodles!

IMG 3498 zpskneblo3i Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

IMG 3500 zpswai4ndia Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

We also brought those small suction cup soap holders for inside the shower from the dollar store. Each girl had one on her window – and this was a great place for putting the dry erase markers, sunglasses, phones, etc.
mrcSz7nouKwSo1LXUolrxOg zpsxhuwqqor Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

A few campgrounds we stayed at did not have showers and were more primitive. I’d highly suggest dry shampoo to avoid the greasy hair look! And while on this topic – baby wipes are divine when there’s no showers available.

A blue tooth speaker was one of our favourite items with us. We love listening to audio books and music while we drive – the blue tooth speaker allowed us to listen easily.

We wanted to keep camping simple – did not want to be blowing up air mattresses each stop, but also did not want to be sleeping on the ground! We bought these spongey floor mats that lock together. They would cover the floor of the tent – leaving just a small space without them at the door of the tent for our shoes and such. No rolling off your mattress or blowing up air mattresses. Worked for us! And kids had fun putting it together in a different pattern each night!

IMG 3762 zpsxbegauji Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

I did not want to get into a big clunky stove and such – so we brought our Coleman one burner to cook on. It’s surprising how much you can cook on this little thing! And being so small – we could use it at rest stops, parking lots or even on the beach – very easily!

IMG 4479 zpsr5ym7h7g Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

IMG 3611 zpsttgylgts Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

We were living out of the car so everything packed had to be minimal – we even left our pillows at home and just brought pillow cases that we could stuff with our sweatshirts and such!

Speaking of minimal packing – a few things we overpacked on…

Books. I know – I am usually of the philosophy you can never have too many books but in this case… we did. Madi narrowed down her first packing list of 23 books down to about a dozen. But she still did not get through all her books – I think next time we’ll go back to our kobos (even though we all prefer paper books). Or allow them 1-2 books and agree to buy a new one once they are completed as a reward.

IMG 3291 zpsrcc4lg6t Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

We also packed too many clothes – as much as I travel, I’m a terrible packer! I knew we were going to have hot weather as well as cooler weather. Need shoes for hiking and also for the beach. And so we needed a variety of clothes. But we did not need a wide selection of each item! I’d pack less next time and do more laundry!

I had printed off a ton of fun car games and activities. An activity/info sheet for each state. Car bingo and other car games. And so on. I had tons and tons of options for the kids. Honestly? Most went untouched!!

Some car rules…

We have done a few road trips with the kids now (across Canada, out to the east coast a few times, around Iceland, etc.) and our number one rule is – if someone needs to stop and use the washroom we ALL use the washroom. Even if you don’t think you need to. Because without fail – you will need to as soon as we get back on the highway!

We have always had a no electronics rule on our road trips. No watching DVDs or playing video games. The trip is about the journey not just the destination – so look out the window! The girls were allowed to bring their ipod for photos and music though. And another rule we have is music is for us all to hear – no plugging in earphones and tuning the family out. They’ve grown up with these rules so they’re fine with them!

We started our day with a bit of a routine… we would read a Psalm, pray for safety and then listen to “my” music. I was the only adult for much of the trip and had to keep my sanity in tact. If the day started on a poor foot – the rest of the day was a mess too!

Likewise, there was a no audio book until I’m on the highway rule. I find the excess noise of a narrator and characters while I’m trying to navigate city streets in a foreign place a little overwhelming! Until the car was on the highway and things were going along smoothly – no audio books!

I am a Diet Coke fanatic – but we had a “water only” rule for drinking on this trip. Was hard to do – but felt so much better!

Each spot in the car had it’s role – front seat passenger had to help with navigating maps and GPS. Back seat passenger had to hand out the food and drinks from the cooler. Likewise, at our campgrounds everyone had a role. I’d make supper and get things organized while Madi would set up the tent and Eden would lay out the mats in the tent and sleeping bags. This made things go so much smoother!

IMG 3308 zpsnvv4ysc0 Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

Oh! And a super helpful tip from my dad! If you are a Canadian driving through the States you know that it’s such a pain when they ask for your “zip code” at the gas pump because we don’t have one! I use to use “90210″ as my zip code because it was the only one I knew. icon smile Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips Now that doesn’t work anymore. The secret is… take your postal code, remove just the letters (you’ll have 3 numbers remaining) and add “00″ to the end. Works like a charm! For example – my postal code growing up was P7C 4T9 – so I’d enter 74900 as my zip code! No more having to go into the gas station to prepay because I don’t have a zip code to use at the pump!

Now that you have a glimpse into the “how” of the trip… we can start the fun of reliving it over the next few blog posts!

Celebrating life and love,