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How Travel Revives my Soul

The best journeys answer the questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask…

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to travel…my favorite memories from my childhood are from the times we would travel as a family. I certainly don’t remember what I got for Christmas when I was 12 or 13, but I do remember the places we traveled that year, the things we did and how it made me feel. My brothers and I didn’t always get along, in fact we fought quite often, but the memories and times we spent together were still amazing. That I one thing I will always feel grateful to my parents for – they knew it was important to travel together! As a kid my absolute favorite place that we went to was Majorca (one of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain) – my Dad’s company owned a Villa there and we would go and spend 3 weeks the summer there!

When our kids were very young Brandon and I decided that we wanted to create similar amazing memories for our kids, so we always made sure that we took at least one memorable trip each year with the kids. We have traveled many places with them, including road trips, long flights and of course we had to do the Theme parks both in Florida and California. The face that I have all boys meant that of all the theme parks, they loved Universal in Florida which also has Islands of Adventure.

Now they are a little older, we find things on the agenda such as: cliff jumping, kayaking, river rafting, snorkeling & swimming with Manta Rays, hiking down to sea caves filled with sleeping turtles (the hiking part is a little more for Brandon and I but they go along with it), zip lining, trying new cuisines, boogie boarding, surfing, paddle boarding, and many, many more things. The thing that I love about traveling with my boys is that they will pretty much be open to any new adventure and give it a try. It makes the trip so much more fun when new things are tried and places seen!

For spring break this year we booked our trip to Hawaii and decided to explore 2 islands: Kauai first then the Big Island. If you don’t know anything about the islands, Kauai is filled with Roosters that crow at dawn every morning…it may take a couple of days to get used to it, but it’s worth it! Brandon and I have been to Kauai a couple of times but always stayed on the dry side (Poipou), the kids have never been here. This time we are staying up on the wet side, Princeville. It is beautiful and tropical, and of course rains almost every day (at least for a little while). I have this love/hate relationship with rain but I can honestly say that I don’t hate it here…how could anything ruin the fact that we’re in paradise?!

It is also really important to Brandon and I to take time and travel without the kids to make sure we are nurturing our relationship, because there would be nothing worse than waking up one day when the kids are older and realizing that we have nothing in common. We take at least one trip (aside from our business trips) a year to somewhere new and exciting and explore together, here are some places we have been without the kids: Greek island cruise, Rome, Milan & Venice, Costa Rica, Norway & Scotland, Kauai, Maui, Playa Del Carmen, we are taking an Alaskan Cruise in June and next year we have a European trip planned with some friends – including a Danube River Cruise.

I will definitely admit that if I don’t travel I start to feel a little twitchy, even if it means we take a road trip down to California or North to Seattle area… Travel is something that makes me feel whole, it fulfills the part of me that always needs to experience something new, the part of me that is a little bit of a nomad.

Do you have a favorite place to travel? I would love to know, because I’m always looking for new places to go…

Snow – a Love Hate Relationship

When it snows you have two choices…shovel or make snow angels!

The beauty is all around us, the serenity, the wonder, the bleakness. Sitting in a cabin looking out over a gorgeous valley of rolling hills, mountains and farms and watching my kids sled and ski down the hill. It is a beauty that I can’t deny but for me that’s much easier to say when I am sitting inside the cabin by a cozy fire rather than being outside.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with snow – I can’t deny the fact that there is true beauty but I am also not a fan of how cold it can be.

When I came over and went to the U.S. I had never skied before, so for one of my classes I took skiing at Grand Targhee ski resort. My roommate and I were actually featured in the local newspaper and they named us the “snow angels” because on a snow/powder day we went up there and they captured our pictures with snowflakes in our hair and on our eyelashes…I guess they thought we looked cute.

I did actually love the experience of skiing but as the years have progressed, as I’ve been unable to ski due to being pregnant or having young kids, the fun just seems to have gone away. That’s not to say I won’t ever get it back, but for now the feeling that I don’t want to pay to be cold is kind of where I’m at. I love being with my family, and I have promised the boys that I will go at least once this year, but that’s probably all I can muster.

Many, many years from my college days, but not too many miles away from Grand Targhee resort we are in Star Valley, hibernating in the cold and enjoying family time playing games.

I did spend a little time outside today, but only a little. I sledded with my youngest, Reiken, and actually had fun. I found that I liked sledding in the inner tube kind of sled much more because those kind of sleds don’t hurt when you go over bumps…am I really turning into the fun sponge my kids say I am? I think not – at one time a few years ago I would have been content not going outside at all…

As I think about these winter months stretched ahead of I’m not going to deny that a lot of the time I will be wishing for warmer days, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find some fun in the winter as well. My winter goals for this year are about finding things to do with my family that don’t have to involve just being inside, but that also involve some outdoor and chilly activities. Let’s see how this goes…

Look for the Good

 

“Maybe the best thing to do is to stop trying to figure out where you’re going and just enjoy where you are!”

 

For those of you that know me, you will know that I absolutely HATE rain!  I think it must be the fact that I grew up with so many rainy days in England that I truly would be OK if I never saw rain again.

For my birthday this year we planned a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii (the only island I haven’t already been to – at least of the most popular ones), and we brought the kids.  We have had a wonderful few days here already, and today we planned a trip to the Volcano to go and see everything there.  We have heard stories of lava flows, views of the crater making the sky glow and walking on the lava to see the lava underneath glowing.  We had heard that there might be a storm coming in later in the day, so we set off early.

As we drove to the wet side of the island, all was great until we hit the town of Hilo (which by the way is the rainiest city in the United States with an average of 22 days a month of rain).  As we approached the National park, the rain became harder and stronger, and by the time we made it to the visitor center we pulled out our raincoats just to make it across the parking lot without drowning.  We found out some information about things that we MIGHT be able to see without all the rain and cloud coverage getting in the way.  We explored the inside of a lava tube, got really soggy and ran back to the car.  We then drove down below the clouds and actually found a place to walk out onto the lava without rain and had fun looking at petroglyphs.

All in all we had some fun times, with lots of driving in a wet dog smelling car because of the all the soggy clothes!  We then decided to go to the famous Black sand beach to hang out for a little…well, that didn’t happen.  As soon as we got out of the car, the skies opened up again and we got soaked.

Now, with all this rain coming down, things not looking how I might at one time have imagined they should look, this is the time I might have started to lose my cool.  Instead, I decided to take a different tactic.  I actually didn’t let the weather and my inability to control it, stop me from having a fun day with all my boys. A miraculous thing happened…I actually enjoyed myself.  I found myself not worrying about my hair looking crazy, I didn’t get worked up about being wet, I didn’t try to hurry the kids back into the car so we could hurry and get out of there.  I actually just let it be what it was!

 

Brandon and I talk all the time about “fighting with the weather” and how I get worked up or disappointed because I have expectations about how the weather should be!  I realize this is probably a crazy notion, but it is still something I fight all the time.  Have you ever been so excited about a vacation, an outing or an occasion, so much so that if the weather when you get there is not what you imagined it would be, you start to become frustrated or disappointed?

Brandon and I were in Hawaii last year for my birthday and every day was amazing EXCEPT for on my actual birthday.  I woke up happy until I saw the rain pouring and I actually felt a little depressed.  I found myself thinking “why did it have to rain today”?  For those of you that have never thought any of these things, I promise I’m not crazy, it’s just an example of something I like to try to control but I absolutely can’t.

The idea of managing expectations and letting go of control works for so many other things that I thought I would share with you my experience and how I am still only learning, but I am definitely working on it – which is the first step, right?

 

Are Electronics Ruining our Relationships?

“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master!”

 

As you know, I have 4 boys and just when I thought I had this whole parenting thing “down” along came another, completely different boy, with his own challenges.  Not to mention, everything changes and the challenges become even more real.

We have noticed that our kids like to come home, excuse themselves to their rooms and hibernate by playing video games online with their friends.  It’s hard to not think that the art of conversation is gone because communicating comes mainly in the way of texting and Snapchat or other such apps.  Now, I could despair, but I prefer to take action…

Our number one priority each year as we plan what trips we want to take and the activities we want to involve our kids in, is a was we can keep the boys busy and make fabulous memories!  In fact, as I write this, we are headed on one of our planned vacations this year, to beaches, and a tropical paradise.  Not that while we are on the beach phones can’t be used, but the electronic distractions are definitely less than at home.

Taking action doesn’t just mean traveling or entertaining the kids 24-7.  And, as sad as it is, it doesn’t just mean that our kids are the only ones that are distracted because there are definitely times when I am sitting with Brandon and neither one of us is paying attention to the other.  I don’t want my relationships to suffer so I am always looking for ideas and ways to shake things up a little.

 

I came across a great idea – it’s called Rehab Gaming – and they specialize in creating simple card games that ask some fun questions that can really get some interesting conversations going.  They have games for families, for couples and for groups of friends, each has specialized questions that focus on the perfect topics to get you thinking and talking with those that are important in your life.

The best part – no long term contract, no high priced ticket and each deck of cards only costs $11.95. You can click here to get one for yourself, for your family or even as a gift!

Back to Reality

 

 

“One small crack does not mean that you are broken.  It means you were put to the test and did not fall apart!”

I had the most amazing Thanksgiving with my family up in Midway, so much so that when we came back down to our house and started getting ready to go back to work and school today, it seemed almost depressing.  When I woke my 2 younger boys up this morning, one said he had stomach ache and the other said he had so much fun with us this last week that he didn’t want to go to school but would rather hang out with us.  I have to admit that when my alarm went off I had similar thoughts and even went to a place of thinking what could I do to rearrange some things so I could just stay home.

 

Needless to say, I got up, got dressed in a great power outfit, and went to work anyway.  It makes our family time so much more precious when I realize that my boys loved it as much as I did, and that even though part of their stomach issues and sadness this morning was more about not wanting to go to school, I’ll take it 🙂

 

So how do we beat the blues when we have to come back to reality after a vacation, the holidays or even sometimes just a weekend.  I have found that the only way that works for me is to think about the things that I do love about what I’m doing and what I am doing them for.  For example, while I do love sales and having great relationships with my clients, I go to work so that I can buy the things I want, live in a nice home, travel a lot and not have to worry about whether I can buy something that I like.  I also focus on meeting with my clients (who are also my friends) and let that drive me more than the monotony that I have to go through with paperwork, etc.

 

It is hard to explain this kind of thinking to younger kids, but I do believe that my boys are starting to get it at least a little bit and realize that by going to school it means that they can get a good education, which will translate into a good job and great pay (obviously with work to get them there).  I definitely have to remind them quite often, especially since they can hardly remember to brush their teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, and only the best habits are formed by repetition and determination.

 

We enjoyed the most amazing temperatures and weather this past weekend, but last night the winds came in and now the rain is here, which I know is soon going to turn to snow.  We truly will be in our Winter Wonderland here in Utah in no time…which is perfect for Christmas and the Holidays (see, I am being positive 😉 ).

 

 

As you probably have already heard me say before, rain is my least favorite weather so I have to work really hard at not letting it get me down.  The prospect of a lovely warm fire, hot chocolate, and snuggling under a blanket with the boys is what gets me through.  I am a firm believer in energy…I believe that there is always a transfer of energy between people, and if you surround yourself with negativity or positivity that will eventually rub off on you.  A trick that helps me when I have had a bad day is to hug my husband or kids for a minimum of 20 seconds, until I feel that transfer of energy and love which will erase most bad feelings from the day.  Admittedly I sometimes have to hold them there for that long (20 seconds seems like eternity for a 10 year old), but they are mostly accommodating to their crazy mum!

 

What tricks do you have to help you through days when you just don’t want to be doing what you have to, or those days when things just seem to go all wrong?  I would willingly try anything new to help me, and maybe some of mine will work for you!

 

Disclosure:  Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.


What does Halloween mean to you?

“You’re a parent, it’s your circus, those are your monkeys!”

I have never been a big Halloween costume wearer, in fact I have always kind of thought of Halloween as something I do for my kids.  Yes, I know that may make me the equivalent of Ebeneezer Scrooge at Christmas, but it’s not my favorite holiday.

We have never been big adult party goers, and maybe if we had been I might get into it a little more.  This morning I did wake up and threw on a pair of “Halloweenesque” tights and a black dress, which I consider a win!

As Brandon and I sat at the Halloween parade this morning we realized that we really only have 1 more year of elementary school parades and it makes me kind of sad.  Yes, I know I’m getting older but a small part of me wants to immortalize my kids at their best ages so I can keep enjoying this stuff.  They can sometimes be tedious but I know in 2 years I’m not going to know what to do with myself…

Halloween will always be my kids day to me, thank goodness I have lots of memories and pictures to remember them as they were small enough to need me to take them Trick or Treating!  It is easy as you’re a young parent, especially when you have multiple kids, to wish away time and say “I can’t wait until they’re old enough for…” – I don’t do that anymore.  Maybe it’s because I am almost to the point of my kids not needing me at all, and while I welcome their independence, I am also a little sad that a kiss from mum or a hug doesn’t have the effect it used to (that is if I can even get a kiss).

This halloween I commit to not wish away the time but rather feel blessed that I can go Trick or Treating and spend time with my youngest.  What will your Halloween look like?

 

California Days…

 

“It’s not about “having” time, it’s about “making” time!

Having so much fun hanging out with the boys today in Hollywood.  From visiting Mann’s Chinese Theatre, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, La Brea Tar Pits, the Hollywood sign to Universal Studios, we had a jam-packed day!  Reiken’s favorite character is Predator so when we found a statue in a souvenir shop we had to take some pictures!

Vacations are my favorite time because even though we really haven’t done as much as we normally do during a work-week, at the end of the day when my head hits the pillow I fall straight to sleep.

We had minimal fighting and arguing and actually agreed on a lot of things!  I am loving spending time with my family (even though I miss Dalton).

While I’m on vacation I always like to find a few items of clothing from stores we don’t have in Utah, such as Zara and other unique local boutiques…it would be rude not to check them out 🙂

In this post you can see some pictures of the boys having fun…

 

 




 

Spending Quality Time…

“You define what is important to you by what you dedicate your time to!”

In honor of Spring Break this week that I am spending with 3 of my boys in California (Dalton already had his spring break so he is holding down the fort at home).

Road trips can either be really fun or similar to pulling off your fingernails one by one, depending on whether the kids are fighting or not…

So far, things are going remarkably smoothly (as I knock on wood).  We have played a few games, eaten lots of snacks, been stuck in traffic and had plenty of bathroom breaks.  Sometimes we have to enjoy the road trip or any other journey we take to get to our destination – so I am consciously sitting back and making sure I breathe!

More pictures of family fun will follow but for now, the latest trip Brandon and I had to Kauai, and our trip with all the boys to Maui will provide the pictures for today’s post!

I hope, if you have the opportunity, you get to spend quality time with your family because they will always keep you those memories!

 

Vacationing in Paradise

“Take vacations:  You can always make money, you can’t always make memories!”

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending a week in Kauai with my husband and now that I am back and have acclimated (or some degree of), I wanted to post some pictures of the amazing scenery, and fun that we had over there.

While I love vacationing with my boys, I also love it when Brandon and I get to spend time alone away from them.  I think this is what makes marriages stronger!  It’s hard to get away more than a couple of times a year, so when we do, we definitely make it amazing and worth our while…

Kauai is the first Hawaiian Island that I went to, so we decided to go back there this time.  I had forgotten about the Roosters, but they certainly reminded me of their presence at 4am the first morning there.  After a few days we kind of got used to their noises, but the first few nights were a little rough (it’s a good thing that we didn’t have to be up early 🙂 )

While I am on vacation I like to be really simple in what I wear…for the beach a cover-all with a swimsuit, hiking is just shorts or workout clothes with running shoes.  I do like to get a little more dressed up in the evening but still not too much.  For me, it’s so much more relaxing if I don’t have to worry about being fancy all the time!  Relaxation and practicality go hand in hand, and I definitely maximized my relaxation on this last trip…

 

Feeling Thankful

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“I’m thankful for my struggle, because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”

Now that the Fall is in full swing, I have seen some amazing scenery and experienced some great things, so it has given me the opportunity to contemplate what I am thankful for!

Thanksgiving is going to be upon us really quickly, so as you think about what you have in your lives that you are thankful for, I wanted to share you some things that make me really happy and make my life worthwhile:

  1. The first has to be my amazing family.  I am blessed to have a wonderful Husband who goes out of his way to think of me.  I also have 4 fantastic sons that have taught me love, understanding, how to not be a “fun sponge” and, of course, patience.  Every day is a learning experience and I am grateful that I get to grow this much!
  2. My parents have always taught me that I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, and I appreciate that they have always believed in me.
  3. My brothers, nephews, nieces and in-laws help to teach me that judging is not something I should be doing and that I need to forgive, forget and move on.
  4. I love that I have been fortunate enough to move over to the US from England, and create an amazing life for myself and my family.
  5. I am grateful for the amazing friendships that I have already made and those I know I will continue to create, because as humans something that gives us energy is by being around the energy of others.  I am very careful about the energy that I surround myself with and know that I have been blessed because of the friendships that I have in my life.

These are just a few things that have blessed my life,  there are many, many more…

Growth is sometimes something that is uncomfortable, and I can attest to the fact that I didn’t think patience would ever be something I could take on.  I am definitely still not a patient person but I have learned how in some situations patience is necessary and in fact, it is part of the journey…so I embrace it and let it go (at least sometimes :))

I hope your Monday starts off your week in the right way and that you find the joy and blessings that surround you!

 

Picture 1:  Hiking Haleakala with my Boys  (smiles were a little more strained by the time we reached the top again)
Picture 2:  Outrigger Canoe fun in Maui
Picture 3:  New Years Eve 2016 in Mexico