Travel

Orlando is for Lovers

Loving in the Sunshine State

Orlando 2016-10

Every Mom and Dad needs some “away time”.  It’s good for you, and it’s good for the kiddos.

A week ago we did just that.  We got away for the weekend and went to the Sunshine State.  We left our babies with their amazing grandparents and scoped out Disney, Universal, and all the magical things Orlando has to offer.  We can’t wait to bring our girls back one day.  We even made of list of all the places we plan to take them (so this was kind of a scouting research trip).

We went to Universal and yes – we were the biggest kids there!  There is no other theme park like Universal and it’s tough to say but… it may be my favorite ever (as opposed to Disney)!  Every little detail made you feel like you were part of the show.  Harry Potter World… all I have to say is AMAZING!

We scoped out some of the Disney resorts, and ate at Disney’s most famous dining experience, “Ohana”!  The word “Ohana” means family in Hawaiian.  The food was surreal.  Still dreaming about it as I type (and drooling on my keyboard).  Don’t miss out on the bread pudding!

We stayed in the cute lil’ town of Kissimmee.  Amazing little resorts only 10 minutes from Disney!  Highly recommend staying outside of Disney to save $$$.  We were gone 4 days and missed our girls something fierce!  We were ready to kiss them all over when we returned.  Daisy’s reaction when she saw us after being gone 4 days was priceless.  Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

Sunshine Getaway

Sunshine Getaway

Video – Orlando is for Lovers

Video – Orlando is for Lovers

San Antonio Charm

San Antonio-11

 

It’s incredible how refreshing it is to get away for just a few days.  Last week, we did just that.  My husband’s work called him to Texas and I decided to go along with him.  We left our 2 month old Daisy for 3 days with mamaw and papaw.  Yes – it was hard to leave her and many people may think I’m crazy but I Iove the bond that she developed with my parents while we were gone.  I facetimed her every day and night and we definitely missed her. 

We stayed in San Antonio, which was close to Fort Sam Houston Joint Base where Drew was working for 2 days. 

San Antonio had it’s own kind of charm.  The weather was in the 90’s and it was the last great weather we were going to have this year so we took full advantage.  I’m having a hard time saying goodbye to Summer so this is just what I needed.

I spent my days relaxing by the pool waiting for my hubs to get off work.  The evenings were spent on the Riverwalk – a highlight and must-do in San Antonio.

We’re big foodies so we asked locals about the best places to eat and got a lot of suggestions as San Antonio has a ton of options, primarily BBQ, steak, and Tex-Mex.  We both agreed our favorite dive was “The County Line” and these ribs looked like dinosaur bones!

On our last day there we went to Sea World!  Rode some dizzy-ing roller coasters and saw the infamous Shamu.  We kept singing that Michael Jackson song from Free Willy lol.  Have I ever mentioned that penguins make me laugh?  Something about them is so hilarious!  It’s always fun to be a kid again.

It was delicious, adventurous and good for the soul!  Take a peek!

Take a Peek at San Antonio’s Charm

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun Edits-3

We’re back!!!  After a brutal cold winter in Ohio it was so nice to get away and enjoy the hot sun!  We got a bit more toasty on this vacation than we ever have before… but we didn’t mind as it took a lot of sun to melt off the frostbite from the “Polar Vortex”.  Let’s just say the Mexican sun is very deceiving.  We were staying at the Grand Park Royal in Cancun and between the amazing pool/lounging areas and the beach 10 feet away, we really didn’t need to leave the resort to enjoy our vacation.  Mexico definitely has the best beaches – white sand, baby blue waters and beauty that stretches for miles.  Every time we go somewhere, my hubs and I become like 5 year old kids and act like it’s the first time we have ever seen the beach or ocean.  It’s quite embarrassing, but we just want to make sure we take it all in!

We called this trip our “babymoon” as it is the last trip we will take before our family grows by two more feet.  It was bittersweet and calming to spend time together and discuss what the near future holds as we will become parents.  We can’t wait to take our baby girl on all of our adventures with us!

One of the attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula are the Mayan temples.  This was one of my favorite things we’ve ever done in all of our adventures.  We chose to see Chichen Itza which is the 7th Wonder of the World and wow were we blown away!  We learned on a tour a lot about the architecture and mathematical feats that this culture accomplished with primitive tools and no education.  The Mayans were truly brilliant people that were centuries ahead of their time.  Also on this journey, we unexpectedly got to swim in a Cenote, or what we would call a “sinkhole”.  It’s always fun when you see beautiful nature and God’s creation all the time… But when you get to swim in it, its a whole other experience.  It’s not everyday that you get to swim in a hole 300 ft deep filled with catfish in a cave-like atmosphere with tree roots and waterfalls coming down through a skylight… Speechless.

See how Cancun was a great Babymoon

Babymoon 14

Beach Maternity-6

We couldn’t take a Babymoon and not spotlight our baby!  If you know my hubs and I, then you know that we love pictures and taking in every moment of our lives together.  Enjoy our baby girl’s first photoshoot and some of our most special photos.  We love this baby girl so much already!

Props to my hubs, he is quite the photographer 🙂

Beach Maternity-4

Happy Campers!

Red River Gorge-7

Sunday after we got our praise on at church, we headed to Kentucky to go camping with our dear friends Zach and Sarah!  I love everything about Fall so this was a fun way to kick off the beautiful season of colors and nature beauty.

Nothing is better than enjoying great friends in God’s playground of the wild.  Drew and I don’t camp alot (or at all) so we were glad to have the outdoors experts with us to teach us the ropes!  One thing we realized about camping is that not only do you need good gear, weather, etc… but camping is about being with GOOD PEOPLE.

We went to Red River Gorge and explored the Natural Bridge and hiked the surrounding trails.  The bridge is a natural (not man-made) arch of rock and it really shows how creative God is to make this just for our splendor and wonderment!

From cooking food in the rain under the “Tiki Bar”, to taking a hike on the mispelled “Nature Trial” (gatta love Kentucky spelling) – this trip was full of laughter and awe of His Creation.

Best quote of the trip from an old Kentucky man making fun at his wife – “Give her shoes and she thinks she’s smart!” (yeah we’re still not sure what that means lol)

Check out some lovely photos here.  Thanks for a great trip Zach and Sarah!

Fallin’ for the Falls

Niagara-28

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10AM we officially found out that the government was shutting down.  My husband and I are both federal employees so we were sent home with all the other 800,000 workers due to our top government not deciding on a budget.  While we pray for our nation and leaders, we decided to take advantage of this time and go see Niagara Falls in New York 🙂

There is no better rush than quickly packing your bags and heading on a last-minute unplanned adventure!  After a 7-hour road trip, we arrived at the US/Canada border where the lovely horseshoe falls greeted us.

The one thing everyone must do when they visit Niagara Falls is take a wet ride on “The Maid of the Mist.”  If you can remember from The Office (our favorite TV show), this is officially where Jim and Pam were married 😉

Niagara Falls is the combined water from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and it forms the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.  Niagara Falls is considered to be the Honeymoon Capital of the world, in fact, my parents honeymooned here in 1981 so it was quite memorable to finally come and see this gorgeous view after all the stories I had heard my entire life.

The final thought about this mini-adventure is – how creative our God really is!  What a sight to see his handiwork, how magnificent, and monumental He is!  Take a look at these breathtaking photos here and get out there and see more of His creation!

Lake House Weekend

Lake Waynoka 1

A few weeks ago a bunch of us girls piled in and went to Lake Waynoka to celebrate our beautiful friend Kristin!  This was her last Girl’s Night as a single lady!  We stayed up and watched wedding movies and I’m pretty sure the bride fell asleep at 11:00 PM.  She parties hard 🙂

The next morning we woke up and headed out on the lake.  We even figured out how to drive the boat!  If anyone would have seen us trying to figure this out you would have died.  I’m so proud of Jen for taking us out.  You rock girl!

The whole weekend was relaxing and enjoyable.  My dear friend is getting married next weekend!  I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of her big day.  Yes, there will be many tears.

Pure Religion

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress… James 1:27

Brazil-16

We’re back from Brazil and I am finally able to sit down and share with you about the amazing work we were blessed to be a part of in Brazil!  Just a few weeks ago our team of 20 left Solid Rock Church and headed to São Paulo, Brazil to spend 9 days of caring for orphans, repairing the facilities, and ministering to the area community.

There were about 20 orphans in the orphanage that is located in the heart of the city.  I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly beautiful each one of these precious children are to us and to God.  Their laugh, their smile, their hugs…

Just to give a background on these orphans – every one of them have either been raped, abused, left, or abandoned.  Despite the bleak circumstances, our orphanage (operated by Solid Rock Church) and the incredible staff provides everything they need… Food, clothing, beds, education, and most of all LOVE!

They all began to take our breath away as we grew closer to them each day.  We saw Jesus everywhere we went and He is continuing to work in each one of the children’s life and to provide healing to their situations.  Many memories were made as these sweet children stole our hearts!

One of my favorite parts of the trip was ministering at a community youth center in one of the worst parts of Sao Paulo.  Solid Rock Church recently took ownership an organization similar to a YMCA or Latch-Key.  Our team went into this area which is drug lord territory.  The youth center has 250 kids who are able to come in to safety, eat a meal, participate in activities and most importantly – find out who Christ is and what He can do in their life!  God is starting an amazing movement of world changers in the scariest places of Sao Paulo!

This is just the start of a massive revival in Brazil and I am excited to be a part of it!

I could not have been more blessed to go with a better team of people who were so passionate about sharing the Love of Christ.

Take a look at the photos from the trip HERE and this awesome video my husband made that shows an overview of the trip.

Love Takes us to Brazil

Brazil 1

We are heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil this evening to do Kingdom Work.  Brazil is one of the leading countries in drug and sex trafficking.  Specifically, orphan children are involved in the sex trafficking and transportation of drugs just to make enough money to survive on the streets.  Solid Rock Church started an orphanage in Sao Paulo about 10 years ago.  Since that time they have graduated many kids out of the orphanage as Godly adults living an honest life and even helping at the orphanage to the younger generations.

Drew and I have always been very involved and burdened to work in foreign missions.  We both have been on several missions’ trips to Nicaragua and when we had heard about the Brazil mission we knew we had to be a part of this great work in a different continent.

Our mission while we’re down there is to make facility repairs at the orphanage, provide encouragement to the staff, and love on the sweet children that have been left by their earthly parents…. but adopted by a GREAT GOD. We could not be going with a better group of people.  God truly sends specific people into your life at just the right time and we are forever grateful for this team!  I want to thank everyone for your prayers and continued intercession while we’re down there.

Keep an eye on this website for photos and videos of what amazing experiences God takes us through!

Europe Closing Thoughts

Never Stop Exploring

Last month was truly an experience of a lifetime.  I wanted to take this chance and write about what we learned, experienced and enjoyed the most about European Culture. 

My husband referred to our Europe Trip as being on the “crib list” and I think I have to agree with him 😉  We have definitely always lived life to the fullest but the memories and adventures we created on this trip put the icing on the cake!  Everyone thinks their husband is the most amazing man in the world but mine really is!  I couldn’t have asked for a better traveling partner. He navigated us everywhere, was so patient and kind and A LOT OF FUN!

God helped us in so many ways.  I will say that there was one, yes just one, meltdown on the trip.  When you plan a trip like this by yourself (as opposed to a pre-planned tour) then most likely you will have some issues somewhere.  Europe has an amazing train system called the Eurail and many trains you have to make reservations on. Well the one time we forgot to make a reservation was when the meltdown occurred. Amidst border police, angry train conductors, and sweaty Italians – let’s just say that God helped us out of this situation pretty miraculously.

Just some closing thoughts that you may want to know before traveling to Europe:


  • You have to pay for water everywhere. Make sure you buy water at the grocery stores and not in restaurants (we learned this the hard way).  Tap water is not offered either.

  • Smoking is everywhere in every country and at young ages.

  • Bathrooms are more commonly called “toilettes” and you have to pay to use public toilettes so we learned to use them in museums, restaurants and your hotel.  Restaurants will not let you use the toilette unless you are a paying customer.

  • Transportation on trains is cheap an easy. Trains are the way to go!  Busses are cheap for local in-town travel.

  • Students in Europe travel, whereas in the USA it seems like many get a job out of college immediately.

  • You can identify Americans a mile away by their luggage, tacky clothing (quite funny)

  • Many people are happy to help you – as long as you are polite and ask if they “Speak English?”

  • Rural Italians have the best hospitality

  • Cinque Terre, Italy– Let’s just say this should be on everyone’s bucket list!

  • The Swiss love being outdoors and are all about extreme sports.

  • No country has a big breakfast like Americans (They have a croissant and go on their way).  British are a close second but eat beans and mushrooms in the morning?!?!

  • There was interesting fashion but we didn’t buy much as we were backpacking and had limited space.

  • Paris was dirty – very surprised!  Always imagined it to be immaculate.  Streets, subways, public areas – all needed a good bath and some soap.

  • Europeans have no problem with walking (many walk miles to work, grocery stores etc.)

  • Nutella is everywhere! Let me repeat EVERYWHERE!  Conversely, we did not see one Peanut Butter product anywhere.  We think its because they can’t grow peanuts there.

  • Lots of bakeries on every corner.  Fast food restaurants are very modern and classy!  It’s sad to say that the nicest McDonald’s I’ve ever been in was in Munich, Germany.

  • Portions are smaller which I loved!  Food is very bland. Americans have a lot of sugars in our food.  Pop is insanely expensive – probably because it is so bad for you and too sugary for their palettes.

  • Everyone in Europe drinks strong coffee.  Whipped cream, syrups, and toppings are either nonexistent, or unpopular so no one has it – even our beloved Starbucks had 1/5th the menu that we have here in the states.

  • Soccer (football) is all the rage.

  • Converse shoes were worn by everyone, even styles we’ve never seen in the USA.

 

The precious things we missed:

  • Flavored coffee
  • Our bed
  • I got to admit we missed OUR FOOD!
  • Basic understanding of signs and words
  • Not communicating with people
  • Family and friends
  • Having a place to call home
  • Our church

Things that we are glad we packed:

  • iPole (if you’re wondering how we shot all of our pics, this was the secret, if you would like one contact me)
  • Rick Steve’s – Europe Through the Back Door
  • Backpacks – best thing we bought!
  • Laundry detergent – did laundry in our rooms
  • iPad Mini – maps, itinerary, tickets, movies, everything!
  • MacBookAir – I love my air! It was so tiny and we were able to do everything we needed with it.

If you have always wanted to go to Europe, DO IT! Don’t think about it, kick it around, or underestimate it – start saving up money now and you’ll be glad you did down the road when it is time to start booking stuff.  If you’re willing to do a little bit of research and planning ahead of time, then you will bring a wealth of travel and culture home with you!

We can certainly tell you that this trip to Europe won’t be the last.  There is so much left to see that 20 of these trips could never cover it all!

I hope you all enjoyed our journey through Europe.  This will probably be my last post about Europe; I apologize for dragging it out. There will be a few more videos to follow this soon!

Page 1 of 212