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Family Travel: Vancouver Part 2 Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

On our second day of our trip to Vancouver we took it easy in the morning. We had cereal and fruit for breakfast and Madeleine napped while the kids swam in the pool. Honestly, they would be happy to go anywhere as long as it has a pool! After we packed up our car, we drove to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which was about an hour from our timeshare in Blaine, WA.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Grouse Mountain or Capilano and since it was already so cold and we hadn’t brought our snow clothes we decided to stay off the mountain. Cost wise it would have been almost the same but I really didn’t want to be cold and miserable. The Suspension Bridge Park is pretty much a park with suspension bridges to cross around the beautiful green surroundings. You get beautiful views and they have these Treetop Adventures for kids which is just a series of small suspension bridges that are attached to the trees, hence the name. When we pulled into the parking area I started getting a little nervous about the suspension bridges. I have crossed high bridges before when we went to ____ and it was terrifying so I expected it to be the same in this place. It really wasn’t bad at all- I just didn’t look straight down. The place where it was terrifying though was the Cliffwalk. My kids were unphased, especially Madeleine as she crossed all by herself. I was holding on to the railings for dear life. The bridge is hooked onto the side of the cliff and the walking area is so narrow. They, of course, have netting on the side so you can’t fall off but you can clearly see down and how high you really are. It was beautiful but I just cruised on by because you know, I thought I was going to die. Then we crossed the main suspension bridge which you really should take a photo at the beginning off. It is so beautiful and just take a moment to stand in the middle and look out. As much as I complain about the Pacific Northwest, it really is incredibly beautiful. And that is due to the crazy amount of rain we get. Once we crossed we treated ourselves to some delicious hot cocoa to warm up our bodies. Dress warmly because Canada is cold even when it is sunny outside. And wear comfy shoes because you do walk around for hours there. It’s funny, my kids see the sun and put on shorts and I have to remind them that it isn’t summer time. They just associate sun with summer because it rarely comes out during the rest of the year. Then we headed to the Treetop Adventures. When you get there the kids can get a scavenger hunt booklet as part of the Kids’ Rainforest Explorers Program and learn a lot about the things in nature you can find there. My younger kids, since they can’t read, weren’t too interested in the booklet but they did help their brother find some things. And when you complete it you get a pin in the color of your choice. Our other option was to go to Raptor Ridge but the best time to go there is the summer when the birds, like bald eagles, are out. We wouldn’t have seen hardly anything at that time (February). 

I would highly recommend coming here when it is sunny because you get to enjoy the beautiful nature that this part of the continent offers. I don’t think it would have been as enjoyable if it were raining since you are outside the whole time but our kids are explorers and so they wouldn’t have minded. I think if you give yourself a good 3-4 hours you are able to do everything. We obviously are slower walkers since our kids like to explore and Lorin likes to read every single dang sign in the whole park.

Right before we left we stopped by the shop there. We usually don’t get trapped in places like that but it had some really unique items. I bought an art print and the kids bought some uniquely flavored marshmallows. The lemon meringue one was delicious but we didn’t like the salted caramel chocolate one. On our way home we stopped at this Thai place in downtown Vancouver called Krung Thep Thai Cuisine. Even the mild red curry has a bit of a kick to it so the kids preferred the chicken satay and crab rangoon. Lorin and I gobbled ours up. I always prefer what Lorin orders better- haha!

. It was so so good however they lacked a good dessert option for kids. We ended up going to a little candy shop around the corner so they could get a treat for the 3.5 hour ride home.

I think when we go back we will go to Grouse Mountain and ski for a day. I know it pained my skier and snow loving husband to not go there this time. When I would really like to go back is in the summer time so I can see more bald eagles! Have you ever seen one in the wild? They are amazing!

If you missed Part 1 of our Vancouver BC trip, you can find it here.

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Family Travel: Vancouver Canada

We love our weekend getaways. We live for them. If someone could please sponsor our lives so we could travel the world forever that would be grrrreeeat. Thanks.

We went to Vancouver a couple of weekends ago and I wish we could have stayed longer! We only went for 2 days and both those days were sunny. SUNNY! It was a miracle because the weather there is similar to Seattle and all we’ve had is rain. I am so over you, Seattle. Anyway, on our drive up was short (about 3 hours) but we managed to watch 2 movies and the husband and I managed to get into a heated discussion. Awesome. And then the hotel we were staying in Vancouver (part of our timeshare program) called to tell us we wouldn’t all fit in the room we booked. Usually the rooms we’ve booked are a 1 bedroom but it has a living area and kitchen and a pull out sofa so we can all fit. However this one really was just a one bedroom with a single bed so there was no way we could stay there. We managed to snag a room in the US at the last minute but we’d have to cross to and from Canada. It wasn’t too bad but just took away time from our adventures!

Just as a warning, this is going to be a picture filled post. My kids are just too cute to not photograph. And I may as well tell you what we did there sooo here goes:

We asked Facebook friends what their favorite things to do in Vancouver, Canada so we broke it into 2 days.

Day 1:

Stanley Park: When we got there we went straight there. It is a huge park. Take a look at a map before you go so you know where you want to stop because it is one big loop and if you miss your stop you’ll have to go all the way around again. We were starving so we headed to the restaurant and of course it was closed. So we walked around the trails and saw the beautiful view at Prospect Point which overlooks Lions Gate Bridge, North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet. We also saw what we thought was the Hollow Tree on our walk which was pretty cool and a little spooky for the kids- only because they were afraid to go inside. Except it wasn’t the true one, just one that looked just like it but smaller. The Totem Poles were really cool and our oldest son was in awe because they had just learned about them in school. He began to tell us his own versions of the stories the totem poles represented. Kids and their imaginations! 

A-Maze-Ing Laughter Statues: These are a bunch of giant statue people laughing with silly poses that are right by the bay. The kids loved running around and through them. We ate a late lunch while we walked around the bay and looked at the statues.

We finished the day at a nearby playground- Madeleine loved the swings while the kids loved the playground and kicking the soccer and football around. Then we got to our timeshare apartment, swam in the pool and had dinner. We stayed in a 2 bedroom place. The older kids slept in one bedroom, we put Madeleine in a pack n play in our bathroom and we took the other room.

Where to eat:

For food we went outside of Stanley Park and found this yummy Greek/Persian place, Mediterranean Grill, and a hotdog stand right by the Laughing Statues for my picky eaters. I know, hot dogs right? The food was really delicious. I got the Chicken Shawarma pita, Lorin got the Lamb pita and Ashton got the Chicken Souvlaki. The Pistachio Baklava was quite tasty.

Then on our way home, we just stopped by a Whole Foods type store and I picked up some fruit and milk for breakfast the next day. We had packed Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese that the kids gladly ate with some grapes and popcorn. Simple. And very little effort on my part. I don’t want to cook when I am on vacation, am I right?!

I will post about Day 2 soon! While we could have used an extra day to do the one thing my husband wanted to do (Grouse Mountain) we saw what we wanted to there in 2. Granted us driving into Canada did take some time that could have been used to sight see some more but we couldn’t really help that. I won’t say no to another trip to Vancouver! Ohhh also, it is freakin’ cold. The sun may be out but it is cold. We went in February (winter) and puffy coats, hats and gloves are a must. My kids obviously don’t think it is as cold as I think it is but we carried them around and they always ended up asking for their coats and hats.

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Family Travel: What to Pack for Disney World

“Google, what should I bring to Disney World?” I scoured the internet soaking up everything about Disney World…and Disney cruises- but I’ll post about our cruise later. You don’t want to forget anything and risk a soured trip- especially when you have kids in tow. I wanted to be super ultra prepared because not only would we have just our little family, but my parents and siblings and their families as well. I will admit that Disney World was on the back burner as I was more concerned with getting acquainted with the happenings on the Disney Cruise.

What to Pack for DisneyworldThis post was sponsored by Disney but all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

I may have annoyed my husband with the stuff we “had” to bring but after 10 years of marriage, I don’t care. 97% of the time we end up using everything. And then our trips are much more pleasant because I am not running around like a mad woman looking for stuff to tame the wild children. Continue reading Family Travel: What to Pack for Disney World

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Keep Your Home Safe While Away for the Holidays

Tips for keeping your home safe while you are away. By Brenda BirdAs we walked to our departure gate I could feel my phone vibrate. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the alert from my security system: motion was detected. Already? Really?! We’ve been gone for 2 hours at the most and someone is already breaking into my house?! We really don’t have much of value in there anyway. Hahah. Luckily, I was able to watch the video and saw that the motion it detected was the wind that knocked a branch into the window. Continue reading Keep Your Home Safe While Away for the Holidays

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Family Travel: Peru Part 2- Andahuaylas, Peru

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

As we, two kids per grandparent and me with the baby, boarded the tiny plane I couldn’t help but feel butterflies in my stomach. One part of that was the uncertainty of handling the cold nights, cold water and very very rural area we would be staying in. The other part focused on seeing family I hadn’t seen in 25 years and seeing where my Dad grew up. His older sister inherited the family home and her children built their homes along side that home. It’s almost like a compound with the kitchen outside, a common area for all the children to run around in and connecting yards for the children to roam as they please. It’s always a little nerve wracking to immerse yourself in a new location with new people but it felt a little different since we were staying with family.

It was very much like we traveled back in time. Sheets hanging up on clothes lines, animals running around, water shut off at 7, very very limited hot water, kids playing outside, hardly any screen time…we did have wifi though so I was happy to be able to talk with my husband!  Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

We flew from Lima International Airport into Andahuaylas, a province in Peru, which was a short flight, just shy of an hour and a half. The drive to our family’s home in Talavera was about an hour….if you get car sick pretty easily I’d suggest taking a dramamine and altitude sickness medicine with the winding roads and high altitude. I also would carry small bills or coins because your heart will ache seeing all the young children shining shoes or trying to clean your windows for very little money.

The first day, we were greeted by many faces I recognized but hadn’t seen in ages- they looked the same. This family has some good genes! I saw the cousins I grew up with and the youngest 80 year olds I’ve ever met. They partied on while I slept with my kids- we cheated and brought a mini space heater. One thing you have to know about Latinos is that food is their love language. They sit, eat and chat and eat again. It’s my heaven. We did have to be careful about what we ate because we didn’t want to risk getting food poisoning or any intestinal illnesses.  Foods that are cooked and drinking/brushing teeth with bottled/boiled water, bottled drinks are usually safe. Also because you are so high up (9,600 ft!) food doesn’t digest as well. I found that out the hard way the last day we were there. I should have also avoided heavy fried foods. Drinking a hot herbal tea helps with digestion and it is custom to drink un mate along with every meal. Also, their gatherings always include loud music and dancing. They are a lively bunch! Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird   Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

On the second day we had an awesome breakfast consisting of rolls, the most delicious rolls that I am still dreaming about, butter, and other stuff but I just went for the bread and butter. Then we took off to Sondor Ruins. It is a realtively short hike up and if you are not living a 100% sedentary lifestyle, you can do it. I did it with a baby on my back- but take breaks (+ water)  because the air is thin up there! The views are spectacular. I can’t even describe nor show you adequate pictures of its beauty. And you can see the beautiful Lago de Pacucha from there. When we were there there was someone offering a guided horse ride for the kids. You may want to take that Dramamine with you as the drive down was a little curvy.

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

The family had packed a picnic of a special hominy soup (patasca) that needed to be heated up. An old friend of my family joined us on our trip and was able to speak Quechua to one of the villagers there. Actually, what happened was that we stopped at a random person’s house and built a fire. The owner came by and our friend asked if it was okay that we were heating up our food. Fortunately, these people are super friendly and gracious. She even built a bigger fire in her hearth and heat up the second ginormous pot of soup for us. She was an elderly woman but her skin was fantastic and her spirits high. She was lovely and humble and I just loved listening to her speak a language that many no longer speak. She smiled and was excited to show us her animals and her hearth. You would have thought we were part of her family the way she welcomed us. She even asked us to come back and she would cook us her finest hen. I could just hug her! After our food was adequately warm we gave this gracious woman a ride to her nephew’s wedding. We drove through dirt roads, passing these tiny brick homes with metal roofing, stray dogs running around and kids playing soccer.

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

We ended the day at Lago de Pacucha. We picnicked on the grass overlooking the eery lake. The story about the lake is that it is a female lake because apparently only men have died while swimming in it. It was too cold so no one went in the water. We did, however, have a great soccer match with the kids and some of the parents and some dogs ended up joining as well. We would have stayed longer but the wind picked up and when the sun goes down it is cold! I wish I had more pictures of this lake but my camera was on its last limb!

We took one day to explore the center of town. We found a park the kids could play in and of course there was a cart vendor selling some of our favorite peruvian candy and treats. If you ever find yourself in Peru and ask yourself what Peruvian candy should I get, try these: sublime, cua cua, lentejas, ole ole and besos de mosa. Also bring some for me- haha! You can also check out the Plaza de Armas which is the city center. It has a fountain and a couple of statues. When we walked by there were dancers performing typical Peruvian dances in vibrant traditional dress.

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

Andahuaylas as a city is more low key. There are only a few key places to visit. Most people make this a stop on their way to or from Cusco. Since we were there with family, we spent lots of time talking, reminiscing and the kids loved being able to run around through fences, play soccer and learn a little español. What was beautiful to me was seeing the home my grandparents raised their kids in. Everything pretty much remained the same architecturally speaking. They made some additions but the original hardwood floors, furniture, doors were mostly intact. As I watched my dad look around at those familiar elements, I could see he saw his childhood- his parents. My paternal grandparents have both passed away so I knew this would be an emotional nostalgic experience for him. He was beyond thrilled to be sharing it with his kids and more so with his grandkids.

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda BirdMy brother served his LDS mission in the Cusco area and my dad was overjoyed when my brother served in the area he grew up in. My dad is the only LDS member in his family however my aunt, uncle and cousins welcomed all the missionaries every Sunday to their home for delicious home cooked meals. Most of the time, these young missionaries rely on the goodness of others to be fed or else they eat very meager rations as they don’t have time to cook elaborate meals. Feeding several young men every week is an arduous task but they lovingly fed them all. They even threw my little Adelle a birthday party with a clown to entertain us all and all the works. I felt so loved and cared for- which is amazing since we haven’t seen each other in decades. But they are my family and that family bond is never broken.

Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird Family friendly trip to Andahuaylas, Peru- Brenda Bird

We spent 3+ weeks in Peru. You can read about the first part of our adventure here. I will continue with part 3 next week. Going to this very rural part of Peru wasn’t exactly on my bucket list but I am so so happy we got to spend several days here, in spite of the cold nights and lack of showers, because my kids met their relatives and their bond transcended any language and cultural barriers. Kids will show you how pure their hearts are and bonded almost immediately. Do you guys know or have visited where your parents grew up?

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Family Travel: Peru Part 1- Ica, Peru

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

I set down the berry pink and black tapestry my husband bought from a lady in Cuzco 8 years ago on our faux fur mid-century modern bench I reupholstered. I look at our gallery wall and smile at the picture of my son standing in front of the President of Peru’s palace. I see the empty frame where a painting of a llama will go- another project I have yet to complete. I love glancing around my home and seeing evidence of the country I was born in and the country where I took my 4 kids to visit this past summer.

If you follow me on social media (IG, FB, Snapchat- @frommewith_love) you may have seen our adventures this summer. My parents graciously offered to take me and the kids to Peru and visit our extended family. I said yes, and then I got nervous but finally sucked it up and went. My husband would have loved to go but he couldn’t get any more time off work so he lived vicariously through our pictures, videos and whatsapp. It almost doesn’t seem real that we explored the city, mountain and deserts of Peru but we did and it was incredible.

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

First, before you get all wanderlust on me, let me just tell you while our trip was amazing and crazy beautiful, these pictures don’t capture everything. It was hard. Really hard. And I wanted to go back home the first week we were there. SO much to get used to and making sure my kids were safe was my priority and it was exhausting. My kids got very sick the first week and one of my sons had to go to the hospital for breathing treatments. 3/4 of my kids were put on antibiotics because their chests were so congested- the climate change was hard on them. While it wasn’t super cold it was muggy so it fooled us into not keeping warm enough. If you want to travel to a different country, make sure to do your research about safety and health conditions.

  1. So while in Peru we couldn’t use tap water- not to drink or even brush our teeth or wash our food.
  2. Also, petty thefts can occur at any time. It is wise to just use your brain and not pull out your expensive camera out for all to see. Most of the time you are fine, but it happens and they’ll just pick pocket or run and take that camera away from you. Sometimes worse so just use your best judgement. And don’t carry lots of money or expensive things on you. Put them in a safe and leave them at home.
  3. Keep your kids close. Some crazy lady tried to take Adelle when we were in Lima. It was the most frightened I have ever been. It doesn’t happen all the time but it happens.
  4. Traffic isn’t the same. No one really obeys the traffic laws so as a pedestrian you have to have your guard up at all times.
  5. Research what is safe to eat. We avoided fresh cheeses, deli meat that wasn’t prepackaged and unfortunately, eating out in the holes in the wall restaurants. It was so so hard because everything smells so delicious but the last thing we wanted was someone to get a parasite.

These aren’t to scare you. Like I said, once we knew this and got into the habit it was fine. Knowledge is power people. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Ok, now onto ICA! I had no idea that there was a beautiful oasis in the desert in Peru. My parents took my brothers there a few years ago and when I saw the pictures I demanded I be taken as well. I know, I’m a brat. So we went!

We traveled to Ica on a bus. There is both a direct bus and one that has a stop in Paracas (where you can take a boat out to see cool animals). We took the one with the stop because we planned on stopping there on the way back. It was about a 5 hr drive but we had reclining seats and tvs in front of our seats. The kids were champs. I loved/hated looking out the window. The scenery was beautiful and seeing as it changed from city to farms to desert was eye opening. Along with those changes you see the decrease of wealth- you see the real poverty: old old people carrying who knows what on their back to sell on the side of the road, young children running up to cars in an attempt to earn pennies for cleaning their windows, young adults standing on their heads amongst other street acts to earn anything to bring back to their families. I felt guilty as I looked at my kids with their headphones on watching a movie on a cushy bus- their very own bubble from the reality outside. This could have been my life. This could have been theirs.

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

As we arrived to our hotel, Las Dunas, I looked around and felt like we were in a small paradise. This resort seemed out of place considering everything I saw on the outskirts. It really was a little oasis in the desert. While my guilt still followed me throughout the trip, I was overcome with gratitude. I know people may think I just forgot about all the sadness outside those gates, but the longer I was in Peru the more I learned that everyone has sadness as well as joy. Most of these people were genuinely happy. I didn’t have to feel sorry for them just because their lives weren’t like mine and they didn’t have the luxuries I was accustomed to. They were happy with what they had- they didn’t know anything else.

We walked around and could see the top of one of the sand dunes. The palm trees, the warm sun, the aroma of traditional Peruvian food and the happy chatter made us feel like we were in paradise. I can’t say enough great things about this hotel. It was beautiful, the food was great and the rooms were spacious. We went in July, which is winter there, so while it was sunny and warm in the late morning/early afternoon, it got super chilly in the evenings and mornings. Like, I should have brought a freakin’ puffy jacket and not my utility jacket. I was also expecting more tropical weather but it was like a dry warmth- not hot enough for just a swimsuit and coverup. That was a fail on my part. It was warm enough to go swimming though but that breeze! Just have a towel handy.

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Swimming Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

My kids got sick our first week in Peru. Like really sick. And this made me want to go home because we were in a tiny village and the resort misinformed me about medical care. Perhaps I misunderstood but my daughter had a fever for 2 nights and when I called to see where I could take her they told me there wasn’t a doctor around but I’d have to go into the village. Now, not to be a snobby brat but I didn’t want to take my daughter to some random village doctor. We gave her tylenol that we brought from the states, and took her to the sauna to clear up her lungs. At first they didn’t want to let me into the sauna with her but after I cried, like really cried because I was at a loss of what to do, they let me in after I signed my life away and released them from any responsibility should anything happen. The girl helping me was so sweet and tried to make Adelle’s time there comfortable. She brought in toys from the daycare and accommodated us when the noise was too scary and loud for her. All I wanted was to be understood and this girl put herself in my position as a Mom and helped soothe us both. After a couple of those sessions we asked about any LDS missionaries serving in that area. We were blessed to have an acquaintance at the hotel call the missionaries to come to the resort. They gave my sick kids as well as my dad who had gotten some sort of food poisoning (He knew better but was tempted by the octopus and cheese!) a blessing of health. We believe in miracles from God, and my dad was better that day. My kids’ fevers went away and a doctor was able to come by the same day and prescribe antibiotics for the kids. I truly believe God heard my prayers and knew the turmoil I was in as a mother who felt so helpless. He sent these people to aid us so we could enjoy our travels. 

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

The activities they held were so fun- water aerobics, sliding down the sand dunes, basketball, horse back riding, etc. We also purchased the buffet meal plan for all of us. If you have picky kids like mine, I’d advise you NOT to do that. My kids ate one meal and we could have just paid for a la carte and saved a lot of money. For the adults though…I ate to my heart’s desire. And you must try the lucuma ice cream which is very popular in Peru. I don’t even know what it is in English but it rocks my world. I crave it. We even celebrated Adelle’s birthday there- they had a special theater and dinner night where they brought people up on stage to sing them happy birthday. She even got a little treat brought out especially for her. These pictures actually make me sad because you can see how crummy she feels.

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Horse Back Riding Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Horse Back Riding Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Lucuma Ice Cream

If you aren’t stay in the resort type, which we usually aren’t, exploring around Ica is pretty cool. We left the resort one day to ride the dune buggies down the sand dunes. You basically go to this spot and pick someone to take you. They aren’t regulated so they may not be particularly safe or licensed- you are taking a risk. We found a guy that would take us and take us on a super easy and slow ride because we had the kids with us. Let me tell you, if that was an “easy” ride, I do not even want to go on the adult rides. It was bumpy, fast and awesome. The boys were having a blast while sister was screaming her lungs out which sounded more like a hoarse pteradon. She was also quite sick so she her nerves were heightened. You MUST go on a ride on a dune buggy and board down the sand dunes. MUST. Our driver took us down a baby hill and that was a thrill enough for me. On our way back stopped atop a hill overlooking Huacachina and the lagoon. You guys. Ahhh. This is the exact picture I saw that made me want to come here. It’s like from a movie but it is REAL.

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

Family Travels Ica Peru Huacachina Las Dunas

Sorry for the long long post but I also want to write it down for my family to remember. My kids are still young so they may not remember, especially the baby, but our time there was incredible. We got to experience things we wouldn’t here. Peru may not be the first place you think of when you want to travel with your kids, but I assure you it is worth it. Yes, we had our ups and downs and scary times but in the end it was absolutely worth it. If you have any questions about traveling abroad or Peru, places to stay, safe transportation, etc. please ask! We have safe and trustworthy people that have helped us with all those things.

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Family Travel: Connecticut (Fairfield County)

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut

I went back to my alma mater a few years ago and as I walked along the campus I couldn’t help but feel completely out of place. The college kids looked younger than when I was there as a student…but that could be because I am a lot older than them now. Man, we must have looked like babies. All the paths I frequented as I walked to class, the bench I used to sit at waiting for my husband’s class to get out, the smell of the fresh bread coming from the Cougar Eat….all those brought back wonderful memories yet also felt like I had outgrown that part of my life. Are there places like that in your life? While I love visiting the place where I experienced some awesome times, there are other places that feel more like home to me.

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut with Little Sun Hat

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut with SwimZip

Every summer for a few weeks, I take the kids back to my parent’s house although it’s not the house I grew up in. The house itself doesn’t hold many memories from my childhood because I wasn’t really there. I was already in college about to get married. The town they live in as well as the surrounding areas do have special places in my heart: the beaches, pizzerias, ice cream shops, amusement parks, etc. I remember going to those places as a child and coming back to them as an adult with her own children brings a sort of reliving that memory. Seeing you children run down the same walking paths and swimming in the same waters as I did, this time with grandparents, is magical.

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut with Rad Revolution Kids Swimmers

swimmers c/o rad revolution kids

*these swimmers are my favorite! great quality even after many washes and many dips in the water*

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut

Cove Island Park is in Stamford, CT (the town I grew up in) and as children, my brothers and I used to ride bikes on the paths, go for walks, dig holes and build sandcastles in the sand, kayak in the water (p.s. wear water shoes!) and have a bbq with family. When we went there with my kids it was like seeing little figments of my brothers roaming free, kicking the soccer ball and splashing in the water. They loved playing at the playground, which wasn’t there when I was little, rolling down the hill and blowing bubbles next to the ice skating rink. And taking a ride on the train is always fun for the kids.

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut

infant sun hat (similar linked) c/o little sun hat

*love a hat that a baby can’t rip off! and has awesome coverage to protect her from the sun’s rays*

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut

A stop at Cove Pizza completes an eventful day at the beach. Pizza is a staple in our family and while we LOVE New Jersey pizza the best, we love pizza on the East Coast. Sorry other places, the East Coast just has something in the water with pizza. You just can’t compete. That and bagels. The ice cream is pretty dang good, too. Mr. Frosty’s in Norwalk is close to the water and has that small town feel to it. I love seeing people walk around smiling with their families just enjoying the joy that long summer days bring. And while I don’t live in Connecticut anymore, I still feel a connection to it and am so happy that my kids get to see the beauty New England has to offer.

Family Friendly Travel Cove Island Park Connecticut with Lime Ricki Swimsuit

swim top and bottoms c/o lime ricki

*if you’re looking for modest bathing suits this is a great one. also nursing friendly!*

Do you guys like going back to your hometown?



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Adventuring with Kids and OXO Tot

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
The scramble before an outing- it truly is a scramble. The repetitive reminders: “your shoes, brush your teeth, grab a sweater, put some underwear on, go potty!” You’d think they’d know by now what we needed to do to get out the door. While the older boys can get themselves ready with some cues, we still have the younger ones that need us to be prepared and prepare things for them.
Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
Going anywhere with kids you have to be prepared….and patient. Many times before we’ve had to stop by the store to get some more snacks or drinks, buy more diapers after a a series of explosions, or stop for a bathroom break 5 minutes after our last one. You just go with it…especially if you don’t have the right products to help you along the way.
Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
As a family, we have made it a goal to explore where we live a bit more. Each neighborhood in Seattle has so much to offer if you just take the time to look. We’ve gone on many adventures in nature (you can read my tips here!) but now we want to explore our city. I was so excited when OXO Tot sent us some goodies to make our adventures with kids easier. When we took a short drive to Lake Union, I packed up our beach bag that includes our usual:
Beach Towels
Bug spray

2-in-1 Go Potty™ with Travel Bag

Transitions Soft Spout Sippy Cup Set

Flippy™ Snack Cup with Travel Cover

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

The travel potty is the biggest life saver considering as soon as we got to the lake two of the kids needed to go potty. You can’t let something like potty accidents ruin a trip. Madeleine was entertained by her snacks and drink. Afterwards I cleaned up the kiddos’ hands with my favorite wipes so they, too, could grab some snacks.

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

The water is a bit warmer in the lake. It also has a great view of the city skyline from the water. The kids love seeing the little planes take off on tours- they feel like they are swimming with the planes. There is a grassy area surrounding the lake where people can sit and enjoy the views. There are also small rocks on the shore that kids love to skip and babies love to eat… Also, Warning- lots of geese poop.

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot

We love coming here because while we are in the city, we can still enjoy nature. A few blocks away is my husband’s office and there are several restaurants and stores to visit downtown. Are there any hidden gems in your city?

Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
  Traveling with Kids OXO Tot
The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
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Ain’t No Mommy Got Time for That

Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, PeruWe got back from an awesome trip to Peru a couple of weeks ago. It was a fun and incredible experience doused with exhaustion and topped with a dash of crazy. A few months ago my dad asked if we wanted to take a trip there to visit our family. While I really wanted to, I didn’t want to go without my husband. He had already taken so much time off earlier in the year to spend time with my ailing mother-in-law and her subsequent death, he just couldn’t take off any more time. I knew I’d have help from my parents but it just isn’t the same as having help from your spouse. You can’t give your parents “the look” and make them put the kids to bed. That being said, I took a leap of faith and went to Peru for 3 weeks with my 4 kids, my parents and my little brother.

Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

If you know me or have read my blog posts you’ll know that I am not really the adventurous type. But in order to give my kids the experience they would have gotten if their dad was there, I had to step up to the plate and be the adventurous mom. It’s here that I learned a few things about myself.

Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

I was reading a comment on a friend’s facebook post about body image and someone said since becoming a Mom she had to set her priorities straight so she didn’t give time to wishing she were somebody else. Isn’t it true though? After becoming a Mom and/or adult I find my time is precious. WHen I map everything out I only have a few small blocks of time to devote to other things that aren’t for the home or the kids. Do I honestly want to devote my time to things that won’t bring me joy?

Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

ain’t no mommy sweatshirt c/o friday apparel (promo code below)| jeans (old banana republic) | sneakers (last season zara)

*Use code BRENDA15 for 15 % off Friday Apparel

  1. Drama: While I had a pretty awesome high school experience, I just want to say that we are adults and aren’t in high school anymore with the whispers, the gossip, the exaggerations, playing victim, etc. I honestly have my own kids to worry about so I don’t need to worry about anymore juveniles. Sound mean? Sorry, but it’s true. Mentally, I just can’t with adults behaving like kids. You can’t brush it off anymore and think “oh, they are just kids and will grow out of it.” You’re 30 and still haven’t grown out of it? Mmm…. sorry. I can’t have that in my life. I love you and I’ll help you but I cannot surround myself and my family with that mumbo jumbo.
  2. Fear: Ah. So much fear. Fear of failure. Fear of judgement. Fear of rejection. Fear of heights- haha! But for real. Fear is real and can very much paralyze you from achieving great adventures. When we were at the resort in Ica, Las Dunas, the guides led us up one of the sand dunes so we could sand board. I got all pumped and climbed up with my kids. Every step my heart started beating faster in anticipation of the steep inclination down we were about to sand-board down. I chickened out and did the walk of shame with my kids. I honestly was so disappointment in myself. I wanted my kids to experience something new and exciting but I stood there, gazing out at this gorgeous view of the resort and surrounded by sand dunes- paralyzed. That evening I was deteremined to not let those fears dictate me again. A few days later we jumped on dune buggies and sand-boarded down the sand dunes (a much less steep one- ahhah!). My kids loved it. I loved it. I loved being able to experience that with my kids.
  3. Perfection: Scrolling down and seeing all these beautiful and clean homes, stylish and dolled up moms, on trend kids, organic meals, luxurious vacations, perfect moms baking perfect cupcakes for their preschooler, etc. on instagram can really do a number to your self esteem. All you see are snippets of a filtered life. Some of these people actually do this as their job. I do it as part of my job. Is it real life? Yes. In a way. But it is also curated. So I can’t compare my worst to their best. Or my best to their best really. Everyone has their talents and I can’t be awesome at everything. I can cook a good meal but I can’t cook like Giada. Her best and my best are like on totally different levels. So, I’ll just compare myself to my old self. And try to be better. Not to be better than that girl on IG who goes on these beautiful adventures and her kids are dressed to perfection but be better than the Brenda from yesterday who lost her patience with her kids, to not give my kids cereal for dinner, to take a shower. Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

Everyone has so much to offer to this world. Everyone has these talents to share with the world, whether it is your baking skills or the gift you have for listening. Let’s not waste our precious mommy time on trivial things. Let’s use our time for something productive and uplifting. Love you guys! Ain't No Mommy Got Time For That- Huacachina, Ica, Peru

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A Tour of Herbert Glacier (Part 1 of our Alaska Trip)

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter TourIf you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (brendakbird) you saw that my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in Alaska. Juneau is such an awesome place to go especially if you are in Seattle. It’s only a 2.5 hour flight.

I’m going to skip around a bit since my posting isn’t in chronological order. On our second full day there, Sunday, we were giddy with excitement. We hadn’t planned on this helicopter tour but when we got in touch with Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau and they offered us a helicopter tour with Coastal Helicopters we just couldn’t say no. We had planned on a day at a spa and a couples massage but we could get those in Seattle- a helicopter tour and walking on a glacier isn’t something you can always do. We say yes to adventure!

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0072I’ll admit I was incredibly nervous. I am terrified of heights….you can add that to the list of things I’m afraid of. But I was assured it was just like flying in a small plane. The helicopter is enclosed to keep everyone in safe and sound- to my relief. We met up in town with a few other passengers and a van picked us all up to go to the station. There, we watched a safety video (you cannot use your phone as you are boarding the helicopter!) and they gave us boots to put on to help you walk on the ice. They then placed us in order of size to board the helicopter. I’m only 5′ so I sat right up front with the pilot and another gal. While it was very loud we had an amazing view!

Garden Baby Shower_0069 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0070I know I keep saying this but I am not a nature person so the fact that this was amazing to me means that it will be amazing to every non-nature lover alike. Haha! The forest trees. The glacial white and blue ice. The haze with pops of vibrant colors. Everything.

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0071 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0085 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0087We landed on the glacier where the jagged ice varied in color from white to a vibrant blue where ice had caved. You are surrounded above by these beautiful green trees and right out in front of you is this sheet of ice that extends miles and miles. We ventured, me more cautiously than my husband, and could look into where the glacier       I don’t know why we didn’t drink some of that pure glacial water!

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0083 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0084 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0082 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0081So, we went towards the end of May and while I was ok with a rain jacket and sweater in the city I was pretty cold up on the glacier. I wish I had brought a hat and gloves with me….and a GoPro wouldn’t have hurt either. My hands were cold from holding the phone! Our pilot was awesome and was happy to snap some shots for us. I told him my vision and he snapped away.

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0086 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0083 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0079 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0077 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0076Lorin was like a little kid. He was so happy up there in his home turf. Snow and mountains are his love language. While it would have been super relaxing and awesome to get a massage and get pampered, just seeing him so happy was totally worth it. Love is about sacrifice right? But in all honesty, it wasn’t really a sacrifice. I mean, I wish these pictures could do what we saw justice. This helicopter tour was more than just trite overused adjectives like amazing and incredible although I am not sure what else I could use to describe it. And it was even more memorable because Lorin and I got to do it together.

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0074 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0073Here’s to more adventures together!

Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0090 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0089 Juneau Alaska Herbert Glacier Helicopter Tour_0088We got to make a fun video with the help of one of the employees who captured some video of us boarding the helicopter (See? Safety first!)