When I realized I was in Florence, Italy

July 25th, 2014

This May I attended the Master of Wine Symposium in Florence, Italy.
In preparing for the trip I studied up on Italian wine, labored over what to wear to look professional, made sure I had enough business cards and converters. But it wasn’t until I was sitting outside on the balcony of the hotel bar at the Westin Excelsior that I saw this, and realized my trip was to FLORENCE, ITALY!!!



That’s when it hit me. How in the world did I get to be so blessed to take another gorgeous trip? I sure don’t know.
But I was. And it was.
And I hope to share more pictures and adventures soon. Because it was spectacular.

Summer Camp Care Packages

June 26th, 2014

A big part of summer has always been summer camp for me. Now that my kids are all into it, too, I relish packing and sending summer Camp Care Packages!

Unlike the camps I attended as a child, their camp allows candy and food in the care packages- I think they even encourage it! So far, only two of our three kids have been to summer camp this summer.

Here’s what I’ve sent in their care packages this summer:

Summer Camp Care Package 1

What’s inside:

  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Bic Pen with 4 colors
  • Tic Tacs
  • Blinking Yo-Yo

And here’s another one:

Summer Camp Care PAckage 2 What’s inside:

  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Heart Stickers
  • Rice Krispie Treats
  • Easy Crossword Puzzle Book


One more:

Summer Camp Care Package 3


What’s Inside:

  • Rice Krispie Treats
  • Pixie Sticks (leftover from a birthday party!!)
  • Deck of Playing Cards

And, of course, no summer camp care package is complete without a sweet note from Mom and Dad. I always try to ask about the friends my child is meeting or the fun times they are having to keep them focused on camp. I don’t want to point out that I miss him or her and open the door for homesickness. So far, all has gone well and I always get stories of crazy adventures, sillier dress-up days and sharing their treats with their friends.

Long live summer camp… and summer camp care packages!!


What about you? What types of things do yo send in your care packages? Let the rest of us know in the comments.

It’s National Park Week!

April 23rd, 2014

Did you know it is National Park Week here in the US this week?

There are tons of special events at our parks this week celebrating, so make your way there if you can and take it all in.

If you can’t make your way to a national park THIS week, then really do make plans to visit sometime. There is so much to do and explore at each of them and the prices are super amazing for the adventures you can experience.

You can see stars like you cannot see in the cities, birds, trees, gorgeous wildlife and your kids massive smiles as they take in all the beauty, too. And what’s better than that?

Here’s an infographic from NationalParkWeek.org to give you some insight at what else you might find at our country’s national parks: Check it out, then let me know in the comments what you might like to explore in our national parks. I have to admit the idea of seeing 8,000 stars (at once!!)  at Great Basin National Park seems pretty incredible to me!!


National Park Week 2014

If you’re having a tough time seeing all the details, you can click the following to see the National Park Week Infographic, too.

Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland! Again. :)

March 8th, 2014

Good morning, friends!

It is 9 am here in Edinburgh. We arrived here just under 24 hours ago and I am in love. Again.

Let me back up a bit. About one year ago I asked my husband if we could return to Edinburgh to visit some very dear friends. You know those friends that you don’t see in years and yet when you meet up again it feels like no time has passed– except you want to catch up on everything? Well, that’s how these friends are. And, amazingly, it even felt that way when we met for the very first time. And our kids are even really enjoy each other, too.

So I asked Gary last February if we could go to Edinburgh, he said “yes,” and a trip was planned for November 2013. Except then we had to postpone it so we could get more wines evaluated for the the new Wine4.Me app we are developing at VineSleuth. I am dedicated to the new business, but was sad to reschedule and wondered if the reschedule date we picked for March would really happen.


We arrived yesterday and grabbed a taxi to the hotel.

As we were loading our luggage into the taxi, we caught a look at the taxi driver behind us and realized that he is a friend of ours! His son was at our wedding in Houston! We enjoyed Friday brunch with him a few years ago in Dubai… What are the odds?! Unfortunately he didn’t see us, so we’ll have to tell him later but still– crazy! And what a nice welcome sight. :)

So we headed to the hotel and checked in.  I will fill you in more about the uber cool hotel later. Just trust me that it is pretty awesome. And that I love the heated tile in the bathroom. And the gorgeous garden outside our window. And the fact that my boots showed up polished outside of my door this morning. And that the sheets are super soft. And…

Soon after check in, I headed for my very favorite spa in the world, OneSpa, which is in the Sheraton here in Edinburgh. I love the spa’s thermal suite which has saunas and rain showers, and aroma grottos and a rooftop jacuzzi and so many ways to just relax and rejuvenate– and that’s before the spa treatment!

For my spa treatment I had the Mala Mayi, which was an exfoliating scrub, decadent mud wrap, scalp massage and body massage. OH MY GOODNESS was it awesome and my skin is still super soft and hydrated– no small feat considering I just had a trans-Atlantic flight!

During my treatment I’ll admit I fell in and out of sleep and I think I might have caught myself snoring at least once. Or something like that.

Afterwards I met back up with my family and also our dear friends at an Italian restaurant called Gusto where we had some fantastic pasta, handcrafted cocktails, wine and a great reunion. I was thrilled to see the Cusack’s again and look forward to spending more time with them during this trip. Watching all four of our boys caught up in conversation with each other was such a great gift, too. :)

In our conversations last night, we counted our trips to Edinburgh. In the last 15 years, I have been here 6 previous times! How crazy is that? I came for some friends’ wedding in a Dalhousie Castle in 1999, then back for the Millennium Hogmany, another time when I was pregnant with our first child, one summer during our oldest’s birthday and for the Fringe Festival, another time during the World Cup (It was in Germany, but Gary flew over for a game or two while the rest of us were in Scotland). Then we came back for a family vacation in conjunction to a trip to London and some more crazy Fringe experiences and now here we are, back again. I am one fortunate girl to have been here so many times and to have such wonderful friends. Really, I am.

This morning I was up early, so I crept out of the room and exercised a bit in the stairwell (Thanks, Mary of Vindulge for the inspiration here.) showered off, had a little time with God, wrote and scheduled a post for Bible in 90 Days on MomsToolboox and now am sharing with you.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve shared much here and wanted to jump back in to let you know what’s going one. If you are in the part of the world were it is Spring Break, I hope you’ve got some great times planned– even if those great times are chilling out and enjoying your family around the table playing games, or just laughing while telling stories or reading books. If you have any travel planned, you know I’d love to hear about it in the comments….

That’s all I have for you now. I’ll try to report more through the trip– we have quite the itinerary planned. My husband has made some great choices for us and for that, I am so thankful.


Canoeing on Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Canada

January 31st, 2014

lake louise Canoeing

Have you ever canoed in more beautiful water?

That’s my younger son canoeing in Lake Louise, Canada, in Banff National Park in June 2013.

I snapped that picture with my iPhone and without any fancy filters.

When we walked up to this lake and saw its beautiful turquoise waters, I turned to my husband and he knew, without me even saying a word, that I wanted our family to canoe on Lake Louise.

We had already been blown away by the incredible mountain peaks, waterfalls and wildlife-spotting in Banff. This still grabbed me and I knew I wanted to do more than just look at that water.

And so, my gracious husband reserved two canoes and we were off for 30 minutes of paddling on water that was gemlike.

It was quite different than the canoeing I did in high school in central Florida… and that wasn’t all too bad.

Our kids loved it. My husband and I loved it. It was a magical afternoon with nature.

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