adventures with kids · travel with kids

This May Change the Way You Travel with Kids

There are three things our family does when we travel, that I find are a little different than the norm, but they serve us extremely well. Once you’ve given them a read through, I’d love to know your own ideas of things your family has done to make your vacation experience more enjoyable. Please share in the comments!

Set a goal of seeing the country, maybe even the world.

I was writing on the patio at Starbucks one day, and overheard two girls talking about their vacations. One was explaining that they went to Destin, Florida every year and that was where they were going. The other girl replied, “Why would you take the same vacation every year when there’s a whole world to see?”

That was a lightbulb moment for me, because at that point taking the same vacation every year was exactly what our family had been doing! Not anymore.

We have made it our intention to visit a new state each year, and we pass through other states on our way to our destination. Fifty states goal! It is my hope that my girls will see all 50 states before graduating from high school.

Be a traveler, not a tourist.

Chef Anthony Bourdain taught us to be travelers, not tourists, and changed the way we visit new cities.

So now, instead of focusing on the popular tourist attractions, we try to find places that cater to each family members’ interest when we travel. I love yoga, going to the beach, knitting and jewelry making, so I try to incorporate these into our trips. One of my daughters loves music, plays guitar and loves to read, so guitar shops, record shops and bookstores are on our itenerary. My younger daughter is an avid swimmer and loves ice cream, so pools and ice cream shops are a must. Both girls love visiting coffee shops and doing art so I research those too. My husband is a classically trained chef so I research the best grocery stores, butcher shops, farmers markets and seafood markets. Of course we make sure to get a rental with a kitchen so he can cook!

We all want to check out the food scene, so researching local favorites is imperative. But the best way to find the really best food is to talk to the locals. Ask someone who lives there for their recommendations!

Avoid the crowds

The saying, “Look at what other people are doing, and do the exact opposite,” serves us well on vacation. Most people go to the beach in the afternoon and stay til sunset, so instead we are willing to get up early and see the sunrise. Then we can stay at the beach until around lunch time, or even pack a picnic lunch. We find that as we leave the beach, it is just beginning to get crowded. Getting to the beach early also helps us with parking! Visiting popular venues on weekdays and studying peak times helps us visit when they are the least crowded.

Dare to be different.

There is no right or wrong when planning your family vacation, but I hope these ideas have helped stretched the scope of your imagination for what your next trip could look like. Whatever your plans may be, you know your family best and you’re the best person equipped to make it the best one ever for everyone.

health · parenting

Hey Mom! Want to Sled with Us?

I had my children a little later in life than most. I’m in my mid-forties, and have an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old. They REALLY want me to play and sled with them on snow days. And I really want to play with them.

As we get older, mentally we want to have fun and do the same things we did when we were younger, but in reality, our bodies have changed and we have to be more careful to make sure we don’t end up hurting ourselves.

There are three things I do to help prevent injury when I know I’ll be sledding with my kids and they work wonderfully:

  1. Take an Aleve beforehand. I’ve sledded without doing this and have paid the price. The last two snows where I had the forethought to take one before sledding, made a huge difference!
  2. Keep your abs and core tight as you sled. If I’m going to injure myself sledding, it’s going to more than likely be a back injury. I know from taking yoga and pilates, that when you tighten your core (in other words your abdominals, gluteal and back muscles) you are protecting your back! Not to mention, it’s a good core workout!
  3. Apply essential oils beforehand. If you have Young Living’s Panaway or Deep Relief blends, they have been the best that I have found. Ortho Sport or Ortho Ease (also Young Living) work great as well. I prefer Ortho Sport and Ortho Ease since they are already diluted. If you use Panaway, you may want to dilute with a carrier oil. I apply not only to my back, but also to my knees as a preventative measure. If you use other brands of essential oils, I recommend any blend with wintergreen and peppermint. If you would like to buy any of these life-changing oils, you can buy them here.

I was able to sled with my children again today, and can happily report I have no injuries whatsoever, had a great time, and my kids’ love watching me have fun too.

Uncategorized

Beach Hopping on North Shore Oahu

The Honolulu/Waikiki beaches may be more popular on Oahu, but you should definitely consider exploring the beaches in the North Shore part of the island.

Our family visited 4 beaches in one day, and each one was so unique. It’s amazing how just traveling a few miles along the coast can make such a difference in current, sand texture, types of trees, rocks, or mountain view.

Banzai Pipeline

The first beach we visited was the Banzai Pipeline, also known as Ehukai Beach. This was the most impressive to us because the waves were huge! We love seeing “pipeline” or barrel waves and watching how powerful they were as they crashed on the shore. Banzai pipeline is known for drawing world class surfers, and national surfing competitions are held here! My daughters and I had watched several surfing movies before coming to Hawaii so it was really fun to see some awesome surfers in real life. The sand here was soft, but there was a steeper slope down to the water than what we were used to due to the current. I didn’t let my kids get in the water here. We liked that there was a restroom and a place to rinse sand off your feet.

Papa’iloa Beach

This was my older daughter’s favorite. The sand was soft, and the view was stunning. To your right, palm trees, and to your left, mountains. The black rocks added more dynamic to an already picturesque landscape. We came to this beach in hopes of spotting sea turtles but never saw any. It is not as well known as some of the more popular ones for sea turtles so this is the one I was most excited about. I was hopeful we could spot turtles and have a really pleasant experience since it wouldn’t be as crowded. I wish we had talked to my friend who lived on Oahu before our trip – she shared after we returned that you can easily spot them under rocks or when snorkeling. I guess we were expecting to just spot them on the beach area. We should have looked more carefully!

You can find it by entering the name of the beach on your GPS, however, the parking lot is in a very nice neighborhood where you will see a “dead end” sign. But keep driving and you’ll see it on your left! The parking lot itself looked a little foreboding with a “lock your car, high theft area” sign and the cars in the lot were very old and run down looking. You couldn’t rinse off your feet here, so in hindsight, we would recommend bringing a jug of water on your visit.

Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach is a very popular beach known for spotting sea turtles. We drove by the day before we actually visited, and saw a huge group of people huddled together making videos with their cell phones, We assume it was to video the turtles. When we visited ourselves, there were many cars parked in the lot across the street but it was easy to find a spot close to the beach path. Be careful on your way down and along the beach. Some of the rocks are slippery. We even saw a girl slip and fall pretty hard while we were there. We didn’t see turtles, but as I explained with Papa’iloa Beach, they like to be near the rocks and we didn’t explore very long since my crew was tired from exploring the other three beaches. i would recommend allowing more time here and think we would have seen turtles if we had just stayed longer and looked more closely. I also read in a blog post that they are more easily spotted late afternoon, like after 3pm. Although there was high potential for spotting turtles, with it being so crowded and all the rocks (large and small), I wouldn’t recommend it for snorkeling.

adventures with kids

The Adventures of Oakley and Madeline on Oahu

On our vacation on Oahu, two cousins, Oakley and Madeline had the greatest adventures. You never knew what they would do next!

They had “kids’ meetings” (Madeline and Oak called them “keetings”) to discuss their plans, usually related to the cake they wanted to bake.

One day while they were swimming, Madeline was struggling for air and had gotten water up her nose. She came up and Oakley thought she needed to be saved. He grabbed her, and was reassuring that he was trying to help her. He really cares for his cousin!

Later on, Oakley decided to style Madeline’s hair, only something didn’t go quite as planned. He went to get his mom Emily, and told her he needed her help – he couldn’t get the brush out of her hair. Emily asked if Madeline was panicking and Oakley told her “no.” When his mom saw Madeline’s hair, she saw that the hair was so wound around the brush that the brush wasn’t even visible. She slowly untangled the hair. Oakley said, “Madeline I wish you could have seen your hair. It was so beautiful.” Madeline replied, “I do wish I could have seen it, Oakley.”

It was often a challenge to find the two in the large house we were staying in with many different rooms. One time, we found them in the guest house and Oakley was under the bed!

Thanks to Oakley’s mom, Madeline and Oak were able to make their cake! Oakley especially loves to cook. At first they planned for it to be a tropical cake with pineapple, but they decided the pineapple could make the cake soggy. They ended up making a vanilla cake with three layers! They took turns stirring and with other parts of the cake making process. They had thought about crumbling something to look like sand on top, but ended up crumbling oreos to look like lava rock and using ocean blue gummy candies to look like water.

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Oahu for Foodies: Best Grocery Stores

When our family travels, one of the things we research before visiting is where to find the best grocery shopping. Lovers of fresh fruit, shellfish, good steaks, poke and really foods of all kinds, it’s important to us to procure the best food available since we tend to cook a lot when we travel.

My husband is a classically trained chef, and on the rare occasions we’ve paid major bucks to eat out when we travel, my daughters and I will often feel that dad could have made the food better and we should have just eaten at home. Hence the importance of finding the best groceries!

We have a Foodland 3 minutes away from where we’re staying in North Shore, which is super convenient for staple items and interestingly, the best tuna poke. But when you’re on Oahu and looking to do the most of your shopping, you’re best bet is to go to Honolulu.

In Honolulu, we were delighted to find two of our absolute favorite grocery stores that we frequented often when we lived in San Francisco: Nijiya and Safeway.

Nijiya is a Japanese supermarket and an absolute gem. We love to grab ikura (salmon roe) and tekka maki (smaller sushi rolls, and we adore raw tuna). We can’t wait so we usually just consume in the car! Just do it! We have also appreciated finding some harder to find produce there such as daikon, and enoki mushrooms. I love their miso and edamame as well as sake.

Safeway is a wonderful and large grocery that we love for two reasons: It has just about everything you could possible think of and need so you can accomplish most of your shopping there, and it’s fairly affordable! There is plenty of parking on the lower level and the store itself is on the top level. They have an outdoor patio on the upper level where you could grab a bite at the deli and eat outdoors. but it was closed when we visited due to Covid. You will also need to wear a mask anywhere you venture indoors (as of the date of this post, July 2021).

I saved the best for last, Foodland Farms. I have heard Foodland Farms referred to as “the Hawaiian Whole Foods, and also as “Whole Foods on Steroids.” Unfortunately, it also shares higher prices as a characteristic of Whole Foods, and as a result, we only bought some specialized items there such as crab legs, shrimp (amazing!!), some fruits, and a few pantry items. The wine section was epic, and also wine can prove to be harder to find on North Shore since it is a dry county. So stock up here!

It is important to note that Hawaiians are huge on respect and the environment. You will want to purchase some reusable bags while you’re there as they frown on waste and you will bag your own groceries as well. They also are on island time, and view someone rushing around, impatient and in a hurry as rude. So just relax!

These three stores in combination are the reason my eyes light up each time I open up our fridge or look in our pantry. It’s so fun having this bounty of foods available to us that we can’t find back home.

adventures with kids · parenting

Enriching Your Children’s Lives with Experiences

When I was just starting out as a mom, I sought out a friend who had older children, and was the kind of mom I hoped to be one day. I asked her for advice and I will never forget it: fill your house with books and give them lots of experiences. Let these become your top priorities as a parent! What you won’t expect, what will delight you, is that by enriching your children’s lives with experiences, you will also be enriching your own.

Make it a priority as a parent that your children be cultured. Take them on annual vacations to the beach and to different parts of the country. Make sure they are knowledgable about arts, music, the theater and food – not just to know about them but to experience them! Find and follow other parents who share experiences that their families were privileged to do. This will help keep you aware and informed about the many experiences available to kids that are possible for you as well.

Dream and imagine how your children will have this kind of life! Daydream, create bucket lists and vision boards. Encourage your children to do the same. They will have all of these experiences! They will travel and explore. They will be knowledgable about foods and arts because they experienced them first-hand.

Unpopular outlook: Creating an enriched childhood for your children, does require a more open and flexible schedule. You should avoid over-scheduling them if you want to provide a rich life full of culture and variety. Consider choosing one extracurricular per season. If your children want to play sports, they can. If it turns out it’s not for them and you KNOW it, let them try something else next time. If they wanted to learn musical instruments they can, but if they decide it isn’t for them, they can move on.

The Arts

Most parents would agree that art is extremely important element in a child’s life. Expose them often and in a variety of ways. Take advantage and participate in opportunities locally, such as pottery classes and as well as painting pottery and canvases. If you live near a big city, or have a chance to travel to one, be sure to experience art museums, the symphony and the ballet. Some art museums allow you to purchase a membership which is a wonderful resource, especially if a children’s program is offered. When we travel, I try to make a point to book at least one artistic experience related to our artistic interests – this could be anything from a concert to a tie-dye experience! Investigate what is available and think outside the box.

Animals

Some of the most memorable experiences for your family involve animals. If your children are animal lovers, zoos, farms and other animal encounters should be high on your list. Whether you’re horseback riding, swimming with dolphins or volunteering at an animal shelter, these are bucket list items that your family will never forget. We are members at Nashville Zoo and love visiting the veterinary center to see what cute babies they have on a given day. Many of the books I’ve checked out for them have been related to the animals they are interested in currently.

Books

Many cities have amazing public libraries, and they are often an under-used resource. If it has a children’s library, you are especially fortunate. Often, the librarians are kind and knowledgable. Some libraries offer a program for children in the summer, with story time, fun themes, songs and dance.

If you have never been, you will need to start by signing up for a library card, typically best done in person. Every couple of weeks, get your children books that they request, or choose them based on their interests. They are never too young for the library. If you have a baby, they will love being read to. It’s such a special place!

When you are thinking about what books to check out, try to choose between 5 and 10 books per child each time you visit. When they are with me, they choose, but sometimes I pop in and choose books thinking about any one of the following criteria: chapter book series they like, characters they like, non-fiction books based on their interests or things they want to learn about, things they are learning about in school.

Food

Another way we have provided rich experiences for our children is through food. My husband is a classically trained chef, so the girls are naturally immersed in much richer food experience than I ever was. But surprisingly, one of them is an extremely picky eater!

However, that is where I feel I’m able to offer the most help. Most moms I talk to share that they also have a picky eater in the family. If you would like to know more and read about ideas for broadening your picky eaters culinary horizons, check out the blog post I wrote on this very topic.

Experiences Instead of Gifts

One of the greatest shifts I have made was deciding to gift experiences and items the children can use for these experiences, instead of toys which often end up being discarded after a week or so. When birthdays or Christmases roll around, consider your child’s interests and enroll them in a cooking class, basketball camp, or horseback riding lessons. Use the money you would have spent on unneeded gifts and use that money for a family trip or experience.

The Big Idea

The memories that you create from giving your child rich life experiences are priceless. Things come and go, but what children really want is your time: presence instead of presents. In this modern day and age where we are led to believe we need a certain gadget or brand of clothing to make us happy, what hasn’t changed over time is that those items lose value the moment we finally possess them, but the family adventures we experience together are treasured for a lifetime.

personal development · wisdom

You are who God says you are.

Life is challenging during a regular year, but especially during this past year; so many are struggling. Struggling with being the person they want to be, finding the friends they long to have, getting out and doing the things they wish they could do.

I’m reminded of the scene in Disney’s Moana where Moana approaches Te Kā the lava monster. Te Kā had her heart stolen and is blinded by rage and anger. Maybe we have lost heart and have become taken over with bitterness. Maybe we’ve shut others out and like Te Kā, we are blinded by our emotions. A turning point in the film happens when Moana reminds Te Kā, “They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” We may need someone to remind us that we are off course and that we are not defined by what has happened to us or what has been done to us.

Maybe you’ve been hurt or isolated or unworthy. Perhaps you have felt betrayed, excluded, or written off. Maybe you have been misjudged, gossiped about or rejected. Or it could be that you have made legitimate mistakes and experienced guilt and condemnation. Whatever the case may be, you can let circumstances and misperceptions cloud your vision of the person you were put here to be. When this happens, more than any other time, we need God. We need to remember who he says we are and who he put us here to be:

God says you (yes you) are beautiful, unique, loved, special. You are created with a purpose. You are cared for, lovely, and precious. You are strong, important and forgiven. You are a new creation. You are protected and empowered. You are chosen. You are family and you are his.

God is God for all of us, no one is excluded. No one is written off or rejected by him.

If you struggle with seeing yourself irrationally through your own eyes, or make the common error of trying to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. Take a step back, and remember who you are in God’s eyes. That is the only perception that is 100% true and real.

kids · parenting

15 Fun Indoor Ideas for Kids in the Winter: Screen-Free!

In the past year, just like most families, we find ourselves home more, especially in the winter months. We watch movies, learn virtually, and spend lots of time on zooms. My youngest daughter loves her tablet, and my oldest loves her phone. But it is so important to time aside each week and even daily where they need to find something to do, off screen.

I have tried to become intentional about setting time aside and asking them to put all devices away so that they are giving their eyes and minds a break. In the spring, summer and fall we spend lots of time outdoors and we go on lots of adventures outside the house. It has been more challenging as the weather has turned much colder and the wind can make it downright unbearable to go outside. Despite the weather, it is important to me as a parent that our children don’t grow up addicted to screens and that their hearts find delight in the simple pleasures in life. I thought I would share a list of indoor activities we have enjoyed that bring joy with no screen involved. I hope these help and inspire your family and I would love to know if you have suggestions to add in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

  1. Reading: We are regulars at our local library! We check out new books every few weeks so they are always options around that are new and enticing.
  2. Blocks: Wooden blocks (we have these), legos, Magformers, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs.
  3. Art: Coloring, painting, cutting and pasting, jewelry making, knitting
  4. Writing: journaling, making lists, goal setting, bucket lists, making cards, writing letters, crossword puzzles, word searches
  5. Board games: Scrabble, Pictionary, Sorry, Connect Four, Guess Who, Checkers, and Yahtzee are some of our favorites.
  6. Music: Play piano (or take up another instrument), play records on the record player, read and learn song lyrics, create a music center (we have harmonicas, kazoos, tambourine, drum, recorder, xylophone and more)
  7. Puzzles: large floor puzzles or consider investing in a puzzle board or table for more complex puzzles.
  8. Build a fort: include blankets, pillows, sheets and flashlights.
  9. Cooking: our kiddos especially enjoy baking and making pizzas.
  10. Chores: there are some they actually like. Both like folding laundry and bringing in and putting away groceries.
  11. Indoor trampoline. One of the best investments we’ve made. It lets them get out energy even when the temp outside is freezing.
  12. Decluttering: Both of my children will take on decluttering willingly. They love the free feeling of getting rid of unwanted things and making space. They also like knowing some other families in need may receive the items they are letting go of.
  13. Make-believe games: Playing house, school or doctor
  14. Tactile fun: kinetic sand, play dough and modeling clay are always a hit.
  15. Bring on the classic toys: Lite Brite, dolls, cars, rubix cube

I hope you and your kids are inspired by this list. Once you are armed with fun ideas, you may find hours go by without anyone wanting to look at a screen. Raising kids who aren’t addicted to screens is really important, and it starts when they are young. The habits you instill in them now will stick with them for years to come.

Uncategorized

6 Healthy Ways to Process Emotions as an Introvert

Processing emotions in a healthy way looks very different when you’re an introvert. Where extroverts may vent and confide in others or go to therapy, introverts can be more at risk of keeping things in. So we have to have strategies and coping skills to allow us to process our feelings too. Here are 6 techniques that any introvert can use to process and move through emotions, and can even help you move to more positive emotions.

1. Quiet time. While someone outgoing can feel replenished by talking with others, it’s draining to an introvert. Quiet time, and especially meditation can help you to recharge your battery and feel refreshed, especially if you have a job or other situations on a daily basis that require you to be social.

Meditation isn’t nearly as complicated or hard as you might think. Just sitting in a quiet place and clearing your mind of thoughts is a form of meditation – no need to chant or repeat a mantra necessary. If you are experiencing negative emotions, clearing your mind and shifting to no emotion will provide you great relief. And if you find sitting and meditating challenging, take a nap!

2. Journaling. It’s so important to have an outlet to express how we feel. Journaling is a great and safe way to release and process our thoughts and feelings. Not only is journaling amazing for releasing and sharing the things that have happened to us, it is a good way to help us create and plan for what’s ahead.

When you’re journaling, a great technique is to make a list of positive aspects. Whatever you’re having negative feelings about, try shifting to thinking of positive qualities about that topic or individual and it will provide you with relief. There aren’t many concepts that don’t have positive aspects.

If that seems too difficult, or you’re too upset to write on that topic, consider making a general list of positive aspects – things that are going really well in your life or things that you are grateful for. Sometimes you’ll find you need to completely change the subject to feel some relief.

3. Get outdoors. When emotions are getting the better of you, there is no better distractor than Mother Nature. Taking a short walk or just standing outside and watching the clouds move across the sky or the trees blow in the breeze will soothe you and calm you. Grounding is effective too. If the weather is nicer, try taking a barefoot stroll: this is grounding. It shifts your energy and can be very relaxing.

4. Tap into your five senses. By tapping into one or more of your five senses you can calm yourself pretty quickly. Take a deep breath, and if you’re at home, feel the texture of a nearby blanket or fabric. If you’re at work, feel the smooth surface of your desktop or workspace. If you’re driving, just feel the texture of your steering wheel with your fingertips. Have a healthy snack or a drink of water. Turn on one of your favorite songs, or sometimes it’s helpful to turn the music off and listen to the air conditioning or heating unit which may sound like white noise. Look around you and notice your surroundings. Tapping into your five senses may sound simple, but it forces you to be present and stops the momentum of your worry or concern.

5. Self-care. Indulge in a form of self-care. For you, maybe that’s a relaxing bath, getting your nails done, or making yourself a cup of tea. Do whatever you know brings you peace and calms you.

6. Get crafty and be creative. Creativity is one of the best outlets we have available to us. Whether it’s creating art, music, writing, or maybe a craft like knitting or baking, it gives us a way to express ourselves and in the act of creation we feel a sense of renewal. You may or may not consider yourself to be artistic, but regardless of that, you will find that expressing yourself and making something new will force you to be present and be in the here and now.

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’s character Maria sings “My Favorite Things,” where she recounts the things that bring her joy, and help her cope when she is down, and to her list I would add all of the above. I hope this list inspires you and brings you hope, calming and peace.

health · quarantine

Supplements to take during Pandemic

Vitamin B, C and D.

Do you have these? I’ve noticed lately that these are recommended for those who test positive. I also know well before this these same vitamins were recommended to stay healthy and be taken preventatively. I take all three daily and will continue to do so.

Do you know why each of these are needed?

Vitamin C probably goes without saying, during the winter months especially.

Vitamin B is great for energy! Super B contains all the B vitamins you need.

Vitamin D is what you take in from the sun and is lacking in winter months. I read recently that 80% of those who tested positive had low vitamin D levels. Take a look at the graphs below of this correlation. Low vitamin D is also linked to depression.

I encourage you to add these to your daily supplements