Photo Friday: New England Favs

Here are a few from our girls’ trip to New England- Newport, Boston, and Salem. 

There’s MUCH more content to come, including our itinerary, but these are some of my favorites, not just because of the quality but because of the memories. 

House of Seven Gables…can I be honest and say I don’t remember the book???

We went to Peabody, Massachusetts to the house that my dad, Aunt Karen, and Aunt Lynn lived in for a few years of their childhood. Believe it or not, this was only after a drink or two…we just had that much fun celebrating my cousin, Sarah’s birthday. These four photos above were at Marble House in Newport. You can see that Mom is telling us all about everything!Isn’t my Mom gorgeous? She was the mastermind behind this whole trip. This kitchen was at The Breakers. Who wouldn’t love to have a kitchen like this?!?Or a bathtub like this???Or a living room like this??? Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t like to have to clean this. As the daughter of a mason contractor, I’m in love with this entryway!This is the servants’ stairway. Nice, right?This is how full our little minivan was with all of our stuff. Who needs sand in your toes when you can be on the rocks?What a great way to end the day……picking up seashells……and enjoying time with my Momma!This is one of my favorites…my Aunt Karen and Cousin Sarah. This was obviously before we climbed the 297 steps to the top of the monument. You can tell by the smiles. These three ladies made the trip a blast!The Holocaust monument was amazing and very touching. 

It was a great trip, spent with great ladies!


Wellness Wednesday: What is a well being?

I’m branching out here with Wellness Wednesday in an effort to be a well being.  So, for starters, what is a well being?  I think that this is a very personal question but, for me, being well means the following:

  • Enjoying family
  • Staying Positive
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Having energy
  • Eating healthy
  • Staying active
  • Keeping my mind active and constantly learning

You may notice that I left off happiness.  That is because I think happiness is the end result of one or more of these things occurring.

This post got a little deeper than what I originally planned it to be but I think it is a good reflection and reminder to us all.

With that said, today has gotten started great for me.  Here’s why:

  • Got out of bed using the 5 second rule
  • Immediately put on my work-out clothes
  • Got some quality time with Garen and the girls, as we got them ready for school
  • Gave kisses to all three
  • Worked out at home
  • Walked to the end of our street as I cooled down and reflected on everything good in my life
  • Set timer for 20 minutes of blog time and here I am

And, you know what????

It is well with my soul….

Mommy Review Monday: Wilderness Club at Big Cedar

You’ve probably ready a LOT about our trip to Branson/Ozarks. Sorry if it’s a little much but for those who are looking to go on a family trip that has a little bit of everything to keep everyone entertained, this post might be helpful. If you want to learn more about our trip check out my post about our Branson/Ozark Mountains Itinerary. 

What we liked:

  • Spacious rooms
  • Full kitchen (in most rooms)
  • Window to living room 
  • Balcony with a view
  • Jetted bathtub
  • Separate bathroom 
  • Big dinner table
  • Movies and games to check out
  • Indoor pool with small slide
  • Lazy river and big slide (With lifeguards around these)
  • Shuttle service to anywhere on resort 
  • Free use of paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks
  • Activities for kids and families (like fishing and tyedye)
  • Childcare available 
  • Free putt putt
  • Fun Mountain with bowling, bumper cars, laser tag, rock climbing, huge slide, and arcade (not free though, except slide)
  • The staff is amazing. They were all friendly and helpful the entire time. 
  • We liked how close it was to Top of the Rock- also owned by Bass Pro Shops. 
  • Nice dining. 

What we didn’t care for (the way we are teaching our kids to nicely say this):

  • Not clear instructions for Wilderness Club VS Big Cedar. We went to Big Cedar Lodge first, which is really nice. It was a little disappointing when we went to the Wilderness Club, which isn’t as luxurious. It is still very nice though. The clubhouse is just more practical and family oriented. 
  • Fun Mountain is pretty pricey. We knew this was going to be the case going into it. My biggest advice would be to get a package that has the activities that your family wants to do. We loved the laser tag. It was really fun and so were the bumper cars. The arcade sucks your money faster than anything else but for whatever reason the kids always love them. The slide is free there and can handle adults too but beware that you can easily get a burn going down because you slide so fast. We didn’t do bowling but it is surrounded by an aquarium and looked super cool!
  • The timeshare presentation was really long and very high pressure. Being in sales, I get that this is their job but it still felt way too pushy when asking people to make a very big investment. High dollar sales like this take people more than a couple of hours to decide on. If you go into it knowing this, it’s not so bad. We did. It it was still not fun and Garen I both felt sorry for the poor salesman that had only been in sales for a couple of weeks. 
  • I would’ve liked to see a snack bar at the pool for convenience. There was one at the clubhouse pool but not at all of the others had one available. 
  • I think it would be beneficial to have one restaurant that was a little cheaper for families or maybe a market onsite to buy some groceries. I didn’t think the dining was outrageous but it would be nice to have a little variation as the places were all pretty similar in cost. We will probably plan to cook one night next time we go since there’s a full kitchen. 

There you have it- the good, the bad, and there was no ugly. We really liked it and feel like it’s a great place for families that want to enjoy a little outdoors with all of the comforts of home. And being within driving distance for us, it’s a great little getaway. Check out more photos from our trip here: Ozark Beauty and But Wait There’s More

Disclaimer: I am not receiving ANY compensation for this review or writing this itinerary. These are 100% my own opinions and experiences. I hope they’re helpful if you’re considering a family vacation!

Mommy Review Monday: Maybelline Makeup “Stick”

I hate putting makeup on. I like the way my face looks when I wear it but I hate, hate, hate taking the time to do it. Some call it lazy but I call it prioritization. There are about 10 million things I’d rather do with my free time. 

So I’m always looking for the easiest and fastest ways to get my makeup on and still look decent. In my search, I happened upon this:

Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Eraser Treatment Makeup

What I like about it:

  • Easy to use. Open lid, twist, spread makeup with sponge top. 
  • Faster than squeezing from a tube. 
  • Inexpensive 
  • Found at at any grocery, pharmacy, or Amazon (Prime for $9.98 regular or $9.48 subscription), saving me a trip to the mall- where I end up buying more. 
  • SPF 18. I like having sunscreen built into my makeup. 
  • Supposed to be anti-aging. Can’t really tell any difference and, honestly, not a huge believer in claims like that but I know that’s a big seller for other women. 
  • Decent coverage without being too much. I don’t ever top with powder. 
  • Smells fine. No strong sent. That’s a big deal for me. Weird, I know. 
  • Lasts me a long time- although I don’t wear it everyday. I think the sponge spreads it out well, requiring less each time to be used. 

What I don’t like about it:

  • Can’t think of much
  • Only thing would be right now my skin is a lot more tan than when I bought it so when I put this on and spread with the sponge it looks a little “streaked.” I think that’s more laziness on my side than Mabeline’s fault since I need to get a darker shade for summer. Just be sure you have the right shade and it shouldn’t have this problem. 

Celebrating Dad

As I started to write this in preparation for posting on Father’s Day, I saw this….
Looking at this screenshot, you might not even know what struck me as important. 

          Share your story here…

As I sat for a minute, pondering, I wondered how I’d never looked at that phrase before. I had intended to simply write a post about how great my Dad and Garen both are. 

However, after having this phrase jump out at me, I thought it would be great to take the advice and tell a story about each that displays a special memory of each. 


When Garen and I started dating, we both knew that we needed to wait a while and make sure things were serious enough to bring him into Will and Anna’s life. It took a while for us to get there- I honesty can’t remember how long- maybe 4 or 5 months. 

When we were ready to take that next step, we planned a trip to Fossil Rim with the kids. We met there and had a great time. Looking back now, Anna and Will were so little then. Garen immediately jumped in with them and even though he’d not been around a lot of young kids, he seemed to “just know” what to do. 

After Fossil Rim, we went to Loco Coyote for lunch. Although this place is AWESOME, it’s honestly not the easiest place to take kiddos. Little kids have a hard time sitting on the benches of adult sized picnic tables. He helped us eat lunch, was patient when they made a horrendous mess, and  held Anna when she was freezing cold while we waited forever for our food- all while the kids were overdue for a nap. 

From that moment on, he has treated Will and Anna as if they were his own. He jumped into to our crazy world without blinking twice and never looked back. 

Now, with the other two munchkins, our life is complete. But, I will never forget that wonderful day when a 37-year old bachelor jumped into my mommy-mobile with a 2- and 5- year old, not really knowing where that ride would take him. And we are all so fortunate for the trip it has been! 

Dad (AKA YaYa)

When I was in junior high, our youth group decided to take a group on a backpacking trip in Colorado. My dad is an Eagle Scout and loves the outdoors, so he volunteered to go with our group. The camp was on its first year of doing these backpacking trips, so there were some surprises and it was interesting with a group of junior high kids. 

Actually, interesting is probably putting it lightly. Here’s some of the more serious issues that came up:

  • A few of us got food poisoning from some of the food they provided us. Super fun in the woods!
  • The camp didn’t anticipate snow melting would make a normal  little stream a roaring rapid, requiring us to zip line our packs and any kids under 100 pounds. The rest of the group had to wade across hooked to a line. One of my friends slipped and would’ve drowned had my dad not gone in after him. It was really scary. I can vividly remember my dad as we got ready to cross in his shorts, white legs, and flip flops tied onto his feet. 
  • Not everyone was in great shape so a few of the kids could not carry all of their stuff after the first couple of days. Because of this, my dad ended up carrying a huge load. 

It was probably the most poorly organized backpacking trip ever but my dad pushed forward and stepped up to help out the poor counselors that didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Disaster as it was, for me it was an experience I will never forget and I will cherish those memories with my dad forever. 

Cheers to these two great men. I love them both and I’m so glad to have them in my life. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Photo Friday: But Wait, There’s More

Here’s a few more from our family vacation that Garen took. Like I said, we all had a great time. 

The kids are leaving to go to their Joe Daddy’s today for a couple of weeks and, man, oh man, am I going to miss these smiling faces!

Check out last week’s Photo Friday and my post about our trip for more pictures and details. 

In case you were wondering, Garen took these with his small camera, a Olympus TG-4 16 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD . It’s been nice for times when he’s not wanted to risk taking his good (and rather large) camera on adventures. He’s told me numerous times that he loves it so I think it might make a great Fathers Day gift for any adventurous types who like photography. It takes in raw images (which I think is something important but I’m NOT a photographer so I can’t really speak to that). I just am glad he takes them! There is a new version, the T-5, out now. I can’t speak to it but you may compare because it is substantially more expensive. 

Happy Photo Friday!!!