Stitches to Tickets (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

We have been very busy on this trip. Tackling these big cities in such a short period of time leaves one quite tired at the end of the day. Luckily we were heading to the relaxing area of the Shenandoah. We arrived around 12 at the cabin, we sat down and relaxed for a second after unpacking. Then we decided to go to the grocery store to obtain some supplies for dinner and smores for dessert. This is where the trouble started!


The boys played outside for a bit and then we headed to the store. Dre was running around and ended up picking up every snack he could find. Jeff continued to tell Andre to put back the snacks, which turned into a game of picking up items and then running to put them back on the shelf. Well, the ice cream cones were the final play in the game because Andre slipped on the floor and fell into the shelf:


After the “Great Fall of Shenandoah”, Jeff and I went to the freezer section and grabbed a bag of peas. Then we ran to the bathroom to get paper towels and off to the ER we went. We waited about 30 min in the ER before going back and that’s where the real trauma took place – the anticipation of stiches. Needless to say, it was a pretty rough experience but after it was all over, he looked much better.


We closed the night with some BBQ and smores as originally intended and then we watched TV and chilled.


The next couple days were great. We hiked the mountains and explored caves. We ran around a life-size maze that Dre absolutely loved.

**This was the last blog we made on our East Coast Road trip. We had about 15 more days to go when we just got demotivated after the injury.***


The Heart of DC

We had a great stay in the heart of DC. We stayed within a 5 minute walk from the White House and upon arriving decided to walk to the National Mall. We stopped at the Washington Monument and then the Lincoln Memorial.


The kids had a blast running next to the water which helped to burn off some of the time spent sitting in the car. We headed to a relaxing dinner and then to bed, excited about or tour of the Capitol the next morning.

After a great night’s sleep, the kiddos woke up super happy and excited. Jeff slept in for a bit while I fed the kids and got them ready. We needed to be at the Capitol about 30 min before our tour. I tried to get everyone out of the house but it was not happening. Jeff really didn’t seem too worried.

Then we started down to the Capitol. HOLY CRAP – it was a 30 minute fast walk. I was not into running but Jeff was not going to miss this tour. As he raced down the streets, O-Dog and myself walked at a decent pace. Once we finally arrived, I had lost Jeffrey. I went to the front of the tour line (which was about a 15 min wait) and asked the beefy security guard if he had seen a guy with a pink backpack go through.

He was super nice and let me borrow his cell to call Jeffrey. No answer, but as I ran down the long line, I found Jeff halfway. Once we arrived at the front of the line, the same security guy asked if I found him. He worked to see what this mystery pink backpack man looked like. The look on his face was priceless – he raised one eyebrow and then looked at me and said, “Is this him?” I said yes, and he just stared in a confused way. It probably had nothing to do with this hair:


We enjoyed our tour of the Capitol. We weren’t able to see the main House and Senate areas because it was a holiday, however, we were also able to tour the Library of Congress.  The private reading room was open to the public when we were there, which was really lucky since that only happens two days a year.

Then we stopped and had some ice cream in a park and headed over to the Smithsonian. Along the way we stopped at a merry-go-round.


We had a great time in DC – we took one last look at the White House and finished the night at a fancy dinner where we behaved perfectly.

NY to Philly Time

We stopped in New York, NY and had the pleasure of hanging with my good friend Rachel. Rachel lived in NY for many years, so she was able to show us some NYC tricks, like taking the free commuter fairy to Staten Island to have a good look at Lady Liberty.


I was super excited that I successfully drove in New York City. Granted we didn’t go down to Times Square… due to time constraints  (haha, damn I’m punny) because we had to move on quickly to Philly. You can have the real life experience of driving in NY by watching the time lapse video below:

My guess was that Philly was about the size of Boston. Turns out, Philly is not the size of Boston; it is 3x larger! I had no idea this city was so large. Due to my lack of research and experiences, I booked us a place right in the heart of downtown. As we drove in late at night and on the weekend, I was questioning my decision greatly.

When we arrived, I parked illegally due to the gentleman behind me just hanging out in the loading zone, so Jeffrey unloaded while the van sat crookedly off the curb. While he was carrying each individual bag up to the 15th floor of the condo apartment because there was no cart, I witnessed a drug transaction take place with the gentleman behind me. At that point, I thought for sure I had made a mistake staying downtown.


We ended up unloading everything and going straight to bed. The next morning was anew! The stormy weather wasn’t too bad and the city felt significantly safer. We took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and completed a walking history tour.  We saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was drafted. I would recommend the bus for sure if you a visiting a large/new city and only have one day.  Below is a shot of China town from the bus.


Of course we had to do the Rocky staircase workout:

Then we did the most important thing of all: FOUND THE #1 RATED CHEESE STEAK establishment. That establishment was Jim’s. OMG – I am craving one of those right now. We waited in line and experienced the mouthwatering amazingness of an authentic cheese steak sandwich. I have no earthly idea what the hell the other damn restaurants are doing saying they sell cheese steaks. This was unlike anything I have ever had. SOOOO GOOOOOOD!!  Secret ingredient?  Cheeze Whiz.

We headed to Washington DC the next day. As we passed Baltimore, Jeff looked up the top 10 crab cakes in town, and we tried the #1 place. They were good – very little filler and a TON of crab meat. This is totally turning into a foodie trip!


DC here we come!


Vermont Trees to Boston History

We had a great final day in Vermont by taking a quick hike and exploring the property we were staying on. We also took a gondola up the mountain. The kids loved the ride and the foliage was starting to pop.

We also stopped at the Quechee Gorge based on the recommendation of Jeff’s mom. It was a very small town with a little gorge running through it. Jeff saw a neat restaurant overlooking the gorge, so we called and ended up with one of the best seats in the house! Score!!

The next morning, we headed to Boston. We arrived a little late, so we just had the kids play in a park before heading to bed. The next morning, we were ready to conquer Boston. We absolutely loved this city. The history was fantastic, navigating the city was easy and there were so many things to do. We started with a Duck Tour, which Little O fell asleep for pretty quickly.


Dre had the awesome opportunity to drive the boat! Taking after his Papa!!

After Captain Dre conquered the Mass river, we headed over to the Science Museum where Owen became a Dentist. His technique was quite curious:


After this activity we ran around the highlights of the Duck Tour. We stopped at a lot of the historical places and walked along the freedom trail for a bit. At the end of our history tour, we grabbed a Boston Pie from the creators at the Parker House:


But that’s not all!! We decided to stop by the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. This was by far the best Museum we have been to for the kiddos from an interaction standpoint. The guide was so fun and the information was excellent!

At the end of the day, we went to dinner at a nice restaurant (yes we did all of the Boston activities in one day). Probably not the wisest idea after all of the activities. The boys started to lose it as soon as we sat down. We recovered as soon as food was placed on the table but after the food was consumed, Dre started running around the restaurant with me chasing him, and he wouldn’t stop. Here is a pic right before the Great Chase:


We left Boston with very positive feelings, and we will definitely be back!


Surprise Trip to Niagara Falls

This post covers 13 hours of driving and 3 days of activities!

We had a quick stay in Syracuse at a Super 8 that was booked through Hotwire. I must say that I was pretty concerned about the hotel because it was $57. Turns out it was surprisingly nice and clean. We had a great night’s sleep, and the boys were ready for another long drive.


We headed on our way to Stowe, VT. We may have been getting a little stir-crazy in the car.


BONUS SURPRISE FOR US – Niagara Falls was close to our route from Columbus, OH to Syracuse, NY, and I had no idea. We planned this trip on such short notice that I haven’t had time to plan way points. We were so stoked because we both have wanted to visit there.

TIP – Make sure when booking your dinner reservations at N-Falls, you should check the country of the restaurant. We didn’t bring our passports and booked an awesome restaurant in good old Canada. Obviously, we didn’t eat there.

Our next fun activity was taking a Brunch Cruise on Lake George. The boys loved looking over the edge, and it was a great break between Syracuse and Stowe. This is one of my fav pics from the boat:


Dre was really excited to meet the captain and both of the boys loved the water:

Finally we arrived in Vermont and have been having a blast exploring! On the docket today was a tour at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream headquarters:

We went to a Maple Tree Farm and learned how sap is extracted from a tree. The sap comes out clear like water and the trees only produce sap for 2-6 weeks in the Spring! Also, the flavor of the sap changes as the weeks go on, starting with a light taste and growing to a much heavier, rich taste.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.


Finally we stopped at an Apple Cider Mill and had some warm cider and donuts while sitting on the swinging table bench. The weather has been fantastic, and the boys are having a blast.


We have one day left in good old VT, then we will be heading to Boston!


I’m From the Lou and I’m Proud

We have now traveled 14 hours of the long 21  long stretch. Thus far we have been pretty terrible about documenting. I will say the children have done an exceptional job in the car. This part of the trip was the most concerning due to breaking Rule #1 – no driving over 5 hours – max.

The only planned activity for this 21 hour stint was to see the Arch. When we checked online, Google showed the Arch being open until 10 pm, so we were taking our sweet time getting there. I let my good friend Rachel know that that was what we were planning on doing when we arrived in STL, and she did a little research.

Well, it turns out the last ticket to the top of the Arch is sold at 4:50 pm, and our ETA per G-Maps was 4:46! This meant we would have 4 minutes to find parking downtown, buy tickets and get into the door. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

So I quickly called my other good friend (and the person we were going to be staying with) Kelley. I informed her of the situation, and she immediately said she was “on it” and started to drive to the Arch to purchase the tickets.

Even though Kelley was on it, we still needed to make up some time. Jeffrey put on his super efficient driving hat and we arrived at 4:30. The kiddos were able to make it to the Arch and O was really into it.

After getting our Arch on, we headed over to Bush Stadium to check it out.


Then we feasted at my most favorite restaurant – Cunetto’s House of Pasta. We had a lovely dinner with Rachel, Kelley, Josh and the fam. The food was amazing, but we ate it all too quickly, so I only have one photo.


After our night out – we went to bed and started everything over again the next morning. We headed to Columbus, OH. We were excited to stop by Jeff’s cousin’s house. We had a mini-fam reunion with Beth, George, Denise, Dale, Katie and Jon. Dre and Owen had a great time hanging with their cousins Madison and Kenzie (happy birthday Kenzie!). It was a really fun night, filled with banter, ping-pong, pizza and relaxing. We were having so much fun, we didn’t even think about taking a pic – which really bummed me out once I remembered and we were back in the hotel.

Katie and Jon were great hosts, and we hope to hang with them again! Finally we headed back to the hotel and took the boys swimming. I would say the trip is off to a great start.


Here we go again!

Soooo – this is happening. We have one year left until Andre is in Kindergarten and we will become more restricted with our time. Due to this guaranteed change, we have decided to take on the East Coast!

We had so much fun conquering the West Coast, that we decided what better time to tackle the East than in the Fall. When the leaves of the Maples are changing colors and the crisp air starts to relieve the summer of it’s humidity and death heat. Yes – death heat, did you know that extreme heat kills more than 10,000 people a year!

Now that I got that quick Google fun fact out of the way, it’s time to discuss changes to this trip from the last:

  • Crap – Owen can walk. This will create some challenges as we are touring some pretty big cities this trip.
  • We will not be taking the portable rocking chair. It just wasn’t that useful.
  • Toddler cot is being introduced. We will not be charged to bring a roll-away bed to the room and it allows us to be more flexible in the places we stay.
  • We purchased an awesome REI kid carrier for our travels this time so we can all be more comfortable. Normal cost $250 – got it for $40 on Craigslist!! Score! Never been used.
  • Staying at a lot more VRBO than hotels this trip. We like the idea of having more space to sleep and to feel what it is like to live in the cities. We will see if this was a bad idea.
  • We planned this trip in 1.5 weeks, last time it took me over a month to plan. My schedule has been packed this last month and I just didn’t have time to devote to the itinerary. Suggestions for the cities are welcome!
  • Packing significantly less:
    • 1 bag for family regular clothes
    • 1 bag for coats and hoodies
    • 1 bag for shoes, swimsuits and specialty items
    • Small bathroom bag
    • Pillows and blankets
    • Technology
    • Books and toys for the car
    • Cooler and snacks
    • Cot and Pack-n-Play
  • We will be meeting up with my family down in Atlanta.

We are very excited about this trip. I am most excited about what we will all learn this trip about the US.

Also, we are totally breaking RULE #1 – Don’t drive more than 5 hours at a time. We are going to drive 3 days for 7 hours each day. If we didn’t do this, we would have needed to extend the trip for an extra 4 days or so and we would be making one day stops, that would just be a waste of money.

So hopefully the kiddos don’t get burned out right off the start. I think we will find some fun along the way! As long as they are content like this, all should be well!



White Water Rafting (Day 8)

We had an epic adventure today. We booked a rafting tour on the Gunnison River. We thought we would be more “floating,” but it turned out that we were rafting on Class 2 and Class 3 level rapids!!

We went on the Scenic River Tour group and our guide was Jeremy. He did an excellent job and kept us all safe. We learned the basics of rafting and how the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon is the only river with its own class system for rating rapids. The normal ranking system goes up to 5, but the CO river goes to 10 in order to eliminate the “half” convention. So a Class 10 in the Grand Canyon is basically a Class 5.

It was an awesome and informative experience, and I would highly recommend it to everyone!


After our epic adventure of white water rafting with a 4 year old, we decided it was time for… guessed it, another hike!!

This time we went to the Lost Lake trail. We attempted to go to the actual Lost Lake, but my folks were not so into the mosquito ridden trail. We did have a good time anyway, hiking about halfway and turning around.  We had a great time hanging in nature though!


Tip #31 – Always have water in the car. Similar to the sandal tip, just keep a couple containers/bottles of water if you decide to do an improptu hike. Today we had 1 1/2 bottles, which wasn’t nearly enough for 4 adults and 2 minis.

By the time we had finished hiking and driving back to the house, it was yummy dinner time. We ate at the Italian restaurant in town, and it was delish! Owen enjoyed spilling milk all over himself, and Andre had a blast mixing Nana’s coffee.

Finally we ended the night by going to Third Bowl for ice cream. I think we have eaten ice cream every night we have been here. I am not sure what we are thinking hyping up the kids with sugar right before bed, but it’s vacation so we are just living it up. Here is a taste of our ice cream nights:

We are super excited my folks are able to enjoy this time with us! Looking forward to taking them on the lift tomorrow!

Pizza Pizza (Day 7)

So today we had the best conversation at dinner today. We were eating at a local pizza joint called Secret Stash. I would like you to count the number of times pizza is said by Dre and Leo. This convo is super deep:

After our early dinner, we decided to get some fresh air and walk to the park. The boys were feeling super happy due to the pizza, hiking and nature that they started to be super loving to each other. First there was this hug that came out of nowhere:


Then as we were walking to the park, Owen reached out his hand to hold Andre’s hand and we got this sweet video we are going to cry about when Jeff and I get older and the boys are all grown up:

We enjoyed our time in the park for the 4th day in a row and made our way back to the house. What a great day for memories with great friends.

Tip #31 – Bring friends on your adventures. I think vacations may feel like an opportunity to get away from everything and everyone but having friends join us on this trip has been awesome. Dre has been having a blast with his buddy Leo and would not be having nearly as much fun without him here.


If you look close enough, you will see a double rainbow. This was by far the brightest rainbow I have ever seen in person. The pics really don’t show how bright it was because I really don’t know how to use my camera.

This was just along a little hike called the Woods Walk. We have walked it before but the weather was just perfect for this awesomeness to happen.


We also found these awesome shelters that the boys just loved!


We continued on our hike in an orderly fashion for about 10 seconds! Luckily I was able to catch the one moment:


We had to turn around and end our hike after we came to a stream that was just a hair to dangerous to pass with the little ones:


We ended the day with grilling out. It was my first time to cook hamburgers, and they surprisingly turned out awesome!


We had a great day hiking and eating again. We are on a 3-1 ratio of eating and working out, so unfortunately we are not becoming any more fit.