Skiing for Spring Break

Since we are just 2 days away from being done with school this year I thought that now would naturally be a good time to share some spring break photos. For their Christmas present this year, my sister and her boyfriend gave our kids a ski trip to Blue Mountain in Ontario, Canada. The kids and I had never been on skies and my husband had only been on once decades ago. We were excited but a little nervous.

We flew up to Toronto and then took about a two hour drive to Blue Mountain. Our hotel sat right on this skating pond and had little shops all around.

Here are Caroline and Andrew wearing their “Dallas Winter Wear.” We had to borrow real ski clothes from Derek’s sister and all her generous friends who let us borrow clothes.


And yes…we did go swimming on this snow covered day.


We signed up the kids for ski school which was from 10:00 – 3:00 everyday (with a 1 hour break for lunch). Caroline had just turned 6 ten days earlier so she qualified to go to all day school with the boys. She was a little reluctant on the first day but went along since “her boys” were with her.


She’s the littlest one on the right.


It was amazing to see the kids in ski school. The instructors had the kids going up the magic carpet (ride that you stand on to get you up the hill) almost immediately and even more impressive is that they were coming down almost as fast. Our kids enjoyed their first day but I know Caroline definitely got tired of falling down.

Once the kids were situated in their lessons, all of the adults took a beginning lesson where I promptly fell down. Did I fall while moving? No. I fell while standing still listening to the instructor. Once the beginning lessons were over the instructors sent us over to practice on the same little hill the kids were already practicing on. My first attempt at getting on the moving magic carpet? I fell. They had to stop the whole dang thing for me to get up. Complete fail.

Once we had gone through the various stations and practiced what we were supposed to practice my sister and I asked the instructor what was the next station. The guy pointed up at this enormous mountain and said practice on that. What? That can’t be. There must be more stations. After practicing on the baby hill a few more times my sister and I worked up the courage to try Mount Everest. Trust me. It seemed enormous from the bottom.

When  my sister and I attempted the chair lift for the first time we got on with two other people. For some reason they never pulled down the bar which is supposed to go in front of you so to say that my sister and I were panicked for about 4 minutes is a complete understatement. We held on for dear life and were never so glad to be at the top of a mountain.

Until we looked down to the bottom and sheer panic took over.

Somehow we each manged to get down. I’m pretty sure toward the end I was racing down the mountain at 40 miles an hour. After that experience we promptly went back to the baby hill and told the instructors that we needed some serious help. With some help and a private lesson the next day we did get a little better but it’s a safe bet to put your money on Lindsay Vonn this world cup racing season and not one of us.

After ski school ended at 3:00 we picked the kids up and headed back to the hill/mountain until 4:30 everyday. For us it was like when we go to Disney – up at the crack of dawn and at the park until the fireworks at night – we were committed all day.

The kids at the top of the practice hill


Aunt Kelly & Caroline


Andrew & Uncle Duke


Alex, Dad, and Caroline (in her tuck) coming down the hill


20150308_154423(0)At the end of day one the boys were begging to go up “Big Baby,” also known as Mount Everest to me. I kept saying no but their dad and uncle won out (caved) and took them up. Once Andrew got off the ski lift and looked down the mountain he threw himself down on the snow and said, “I can’t do it. Get me down.” He was completely heartbroken to find out that he had to ski down. It took a loooooong time for him to come down the mountain with my husband. He’d ski a tiny bit and then fall. Ski a tiny bit and then fall. And so on. For a long time. But…he finally made it down and promptly announced that he was done for the day.


After spending 6+ hours on a cold mountain what treat do you naturally turn to?

Ice cream of course!


Day 2 – Andrew & Alex take snow board lessons, Caroline continues with ski lessons


Lots of falling on your bum is apparently par for the course when learning to snow board.


Alex ended up loving snow boarding so much that he took lessons again on his 3rd day. He impressed everyone by even going down some blue trails on the 3rd day.




Dad and Caroline going up the magic carpet like pros


Snow board victory!



Aunt Kelly



Finally a picture of me coming down Mount Everest / Big Baby.



Ski Lift Fun – Andrew and classmate below


Mom (me) & Caroline


Caroline &  Dad


IMG_2609Andrew & Alex


Day 3 – Last run of the trip – from the top down – Andrew, Alex, Derek (Dad), Caroline, & Uncle Duke – not pictured, me: I was too slow and still making my way down Mount Everest / Big Baby.


Blue Mountain Photo Spot documenting the miracle of no broken bones!


And finally a family photo at the top of the mountain…could it be we already have our Christmas card photo in March?

20150310_154211(0)Great trip…wonderful memories…thank you Aunt Kelly and Uncle Duke!

London Gift Options

Dear Family,

We really would have gotten you something from our trip to London, it’s just that there were so many wonderful options to choose from in the gift shop that we became overwhelmed and had to leave immediately.

But we did manage to take some pictures of the sweet, adorable, and loving gifts this town has to offer.




I was thinking my nephews would just love their very own catapult.




And some dream inducing bedtime reading for my niece…


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Yes, thank you London for all of those wonderful gift ideas. We thought about purchasing many but may have in fact been  swayed by the dish towel display at Target.

Until next time,

Jennifer, Kelly, & Alex

London – Day 2

Alrighty, last we left off in London we were following a group of men in their Speedos.

You know, typical London stuff.

Onto day 2…Buckingham Palace to start.



Here’s a picture of the back after we took a tour of the palace. No picture taking during the tour so you will just have to trust me when I say it’s luxurious. The whole time I was there I kept thinking, I wonder if the queen walks through here in her nightgown at night to go get a midnight snack and Is that weird to be in charge of washing the queen’s underwear? Why? I don’t know but that’s what I was thinking.



Inside the gift shop, which just happened to be about the size of Buckingham Palace.


As we were exiting the palace, the changing of the guard was beginning.

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We rushed Alex up to the gate so he could get a look.

He found himself a place to climb up on.


“Mom, mom, mom. Give me the camera.”

I like to title this one – Alex and the Japanese Tourists, July 2013 – and then I gave him the camera where he looked exactly like everyone else around him


I would show you a picture of that but I can’t since he had the camera and was taking 754 pictures of the guards.


After eating a lunch at Wagamama, one of my  favorite places to eat in London, we went to the Tower of London, probably my favorite place in all of London.





He was in heaven the entire trip – young jedi of history that he is.

Sidenote: This kid is amazing. Seriously.



I, on the other hand, have a rule of no more than 2 museums per day.

I know, party popper.

Thank goodness he had his aunt there.


This was our tour guide, a retired beefeater.


The Tower tour is fabulous & full of amazing stories and tales.

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I also like the juxtaposition of architecture you see everywhere in London – very old with very modern.


My son made sure to take pictures (for his brother) of a special exhibit telling about all the animals that were held in the Tower through time.

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The Tower of London is also where the Crown Jewels are held. We couldn’t get any pictures but trust me, if you need a little brooch for your Christmas outfit, you might want to see what they’ve got there.

Also at the Tower of London is the White House which displays many of the military pieces of the royal family.

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No historical tour can be complete without taking a picture of the toilets they once used.



And here are the travel guides checking the map to see where we were headed.

IMG_1235 I did not look at a map while we were there and it was great. I just followed them around like a little duckling.

We ended the day walking around a little more and then headed back to the hotel for a well deserved rest.



Next up ..Day  3


London – Day 1

My sister Kelly gave our Europe trip to my son as a gift so she could share her love of travel with him.

As an added bonus, she let me come too (score!).

Alex and I flew to New Jersey where we met up with my sister who flew in from Chicago. My sister and I didn’t sleep on the plane but Alex did manage to get in 3 hours – thank goodness. Together we all flew to London, arriving at 6:45 am. It was really 12:45 am to our bodies so we were in for a long day. Our plan was to go, go, go until we just couldn’t go any more.

After clearing customs where I was thoroughly questioned – I must look suspicious since the custom agent in Berlin was not impressed by me either – we dropped our bags off at our hotel concierge and went off exploring.

The Bus Tour – this was perfect for tired travelers since we were able to see a lot of sights without having to move too much. Plus, our tour guide was fabulous – funny and informative.

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We arrived 5 days after Prince George was born so there were congratulation signs and messages all over the city. I was supposed to meet up with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, but unfortunately we could never make our schedules coordinate 🙂


On the first day our mode of transportation was the bus since it was an on/off situation. The rest of our days in London we used the tube or the underground which I love. After the first few rides on the tube my sister and I never looked at the map. My 11 year old enjoyed the underground so much he lead us around everyday saying things like, “We have to take the Marble Arch line to Tottenham Court Road where we switch to the black line and get off on Charing Cross.” It was kind of nice to just trust him and follow.



More sites along the way.

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This controversial blue hen statue sits on a corner of Trafalgar Square as part of a rotating sculpture display. The other three corners are permanent and boring (in my opinion) statues of important figures. I love this idea of rotating art and think this concept would be a wonderful addition to any city.


Typical London, love it.


Outside of St. James Palace, where my good buddies Charles and Camila live.

And also a picture of one of the 8,672 Japanese tour group that we met along the way.


The Parliament building and Big Ben.IMG_0946 IMG_0950

Tower Bridge


The Tower of London – one of my favorite places to visit in London – fascinating – more on this later when we are well rested


City of London School where Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter, went to school.


We’re getting sleepy….


The London Eye – a giant ferris wheel standing 443 ft tall which sits on the River Thames.


Big Ben again!

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Canada Gates in Green Park


Guard outside of Buckingham Palace


Buckingham Palace – where the Queen of England lives most of the year


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Be kind people – at this point we were approaching 27 hours of being awake.


And naturally, almost naked men.


You know, that famous street in London, the “Running in Speedos Lane.”


Apparently this was a fundraiser as the men were collecting money for … pants?


Or maybe it was for children or animals, I don’ know, but I believe it was associated with the London Triathlon which was occurring the next day.

IMG_1046 IMG_1047Once we were all knackered we headed back to the hotel where everyone showered and took a sleep advil at 6:00 pm, thus falling asleep immediately. Not until our alarm woke us at 8:00 am the next day did we move. I guess that’s what 30 straight hours of being awake can do to you.

Until next time, have a bloody wonderful day!

A Weekend Project

Why do weekend projects always end up taking until the following Thursday to complete?

Maybe it’s just us but we can never seem to complete a project in the estimated time.

Our family began collecting magnets several years ago as a keepsake from the all the places we visited.

After putting on the most recent magnets from Rome, London, and Berlin our collection looked like this…


IMG_2148A big jumble of not cuteness.

It hasn’t been displayed in our new house (which we’ve been in for 3 years) so the mess was never really a problem before.

That is, until I decided that WE. MUST. COMPLETE. a weekend project and so… a new magnet board it was!


I took a 36 x 24 inch picture I bought at Goodwill for $5 and popped out the picture.

Next we bought a sheet of metal ($20) at Home Depot and my husband cut it down to size.

He then nailed the metal into place.

And voila! 6 days later our weekend project was complete!


Looks like we are going to have to travel a lot more to fill this up.

Actually, I’ve got a list going of the places I, We, Us, and/or &  Them have gone but forgotten to buy magnets for: Fayetteville, AR, Seattle, WA, Calloway Gardens in Georgia, Ann Arbor, MI, Gulf Shores, AL, New Mexico, Virginia, and many more.

But here’s a few of what  we do have:

Las Vegas, Fort Worth, Chicago, New Orleans


Louisville, Graceland, Scotland, the USS Alabama

IMG_2187Mammoth Caves, Toronto, San Francisco, Water Color, FL


Here’s the before (the picture just got moved to the dining room)

IMG_2141And the after:


Can’t wait to figure out our next 6 day project!



I have a confession.

For the past 10 days I have been in Europe with my 11 year old and my sister.

As you are reading this I am probably on a 10 hour flight, standing in line for the bathroom with 15 of my closest friends.

In a few days I hope to tell you about and show you our trip to London, Berlin, and Rome.

But for now, I’ll continue standing in line and pretending like I don’t hear the man in seat 32C snore, tell the people with the screaming baby, “no worries, we’ve all been there,”, and weigh the consequences of stealing the blanket from the little old lady in 35D 🙂

Disney Fun

Well, that was quite a long break for me but one that was quite necessary.

You see, we had the holidays, then we went to DISNEY, and then my middle child got the flu.

Yep, even though he received the flu shot in October, he got the flu.

Apparently the flu shot covers three out of four types of the flu.

Well, he got the 4th one sometime while we were at Disney.

Mickey Mouse, roller coasters, and the flu.

Thankfully, he only missed the last day of fun and he felt so bad he didn’t care that he missed going on rides.

Here are just a few shots from our trip:


Only rained one day





Animation Class

Fun Fact: I won the teacher’s artwork by answering the following trivia question:

Name one of Mickey Mouse’s nephews... answer at the end


Yes, we spent $45 on face painting on this trip but it was completely worth it



Me: Let’s all three of us ride together

Alex & Caroline: No

Me: Please can we all ride together

Alex & Caroline: No

Result: Loser Mom is riding the Dumbo ride all by herself and trying not to look anyone in the eye


Little girl souvenir haul: one princess nightgown, one cheetah, one princess bank


Oh, and one princess hat


And in case you were wondering, Mickey Mouse has two nephews, Morty and Fergie.

Years of reading Disney storybooks finally paid off.

Hope your holidays were wonderful!

New Orleans Mini Vacation

We were supposed to be at a 3 day soccer tournament this weekend but sadly it was cancelled.

And by sadly, I mean YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

So instead of sweating all day long watching kids run back and forth, we decided to sweat all day long while eating beignets, crawfish, and shrimp po-boys.

Definitely a better option.

So as you read this we are on our way back from visiting New Orleans and headed directly on our way to a week straight of Lean Cuisines.

Look Here!

Things intelligent adults say to try and make kids smile in a picture:

Look here!

Hey! Hey!! Hey!

 La la la la la la la la la


Grown up people yelling, flailing body parts, making faces, all to get a child to look at them.

Really foolish but for some reason it’s parenting skill #1,542 that you must have.


Taking pictures with one child can be challenging.

Throw in a few more kids and you’ve got yourself a real party.

We attempted this impossible feat when we were in Florida a few weeks ago.


I now present to you, “The Cousin Pictures: A Contrast in Feelings.”

The following two pictures are an ode to their love of animals.

Ahhhhhhh! So close. Three children looking, two children pointing out passing adults who might be willing to rescue them and take them away from these awful adults who keep yelling at them.

Oh no, the tables have turned, now it’s only two who are looking and the littlest one thinks everyone is crazy.

I think these are my favorites.

I call them, “A Portrait of Misery Meets Joy.”

A mercy peek to see if there’s been a change.

Is his misery making her happy? We might have some issues in a few years.

And sadly this is the best of them…

Two kids smiling at the camera, one smiling at the other, a happy baby, and a gorilla.


***Free Slurpee Day is tomorrow (Wed) at 7 – Eleven from 11 am – 7 am ******