DIY, Hawaii, Kids, travel, Uncategorized

Maui 2018

Here’s a quick overview of our most recent trip to Maui.

This time we decided to head straight to Hana for a few days before ending the trip on Ka’anapali Beach. In the past, most of our flights have landed in Hawaii right around dinner time. This makes for a stressful evening trying to navigate, grab groceries, and also eat while everyone is tired and grumpy. This year we took a somewhat earlier flight which had us landing around 3 pm. Also, to avoid making the drive to Hana in the evening, we had booked a room at the Maui Seaside Hotel. After grabbing our bags and our car, we stopped for a quick lunch/dinner at the Queen Kaahumanu Center, a nearby mall with a food court. There’s nothing amazing here but there is enough so that everyone can choose. Personally, I like Maui Tacos– pretty good for fast food and gives a nice island spin on tacos.


We headed to our hotel which was just perfect for a recovery night. There was a nice pool and even a small beach area. The kids swam while I ran to get groceries, enough to last us for 3 days in Hana. Whole Foods was very close by and had everything we needed. If you think of it, pack a few reuseable bags for shopping- they have paper bags but they just don’t hold up well for travel.

Next up, Hana!

hiking, Kids, travel, Uncategorized

Chicago with kids- Travel and Day 1

Travel Plans

School is starting soon but we decided to take a quick trip to Chicago after finding a great deal on flights through Frontier! It just so happened that dad had a business trip there so though he was on a different schedule, we did get to meet up for half a day. I decided on Hampton Inn Downtown which was the perfect location for our quick itinerary. They included a great breakfast and also had an indoor pool which is always a great thing to have with kids.

When you are planning out your trip, you will find lots of recommendations for the City Pass or the Go Pass. It can be a great deal but it is worth taking the time to price out the activities you think you will actually do. For us, it made sense to get a pass for me but not for the kids. Our top attractions were: Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Sky Deck or 360 Chicago, Art Institute and an architectural cruise. The kids all get free entry (13 & under) to the Art Institute so that determined that a City Pass for them was not a bargain after all. We ended up not making it to the Field Musuem but my pass cost still evened out and the bonus was that it gave us VIP access to bypass most of the lines.

Because of our great (inexpensive!) flight, we arrived close to 10pm so I went ahead and booked a car through A1 limos  . With four of us, a group shuttle or a taxi would not have been much less and the difference was worth not having to stress about hailing a cab with 3 tired kids. Our driver was early and very friendly and got us to the hotel quickly and safely where we went straight to bed!

Day 1

We started our day at the Shedd Aquarium where we met up with dad! We got there right after 9 when it opened which was great because we walked straight in and there were no crowds. My City Pass included a 4D movie but we had to purchase for everyone else ($5). It was fun but definitely not necessary and it was only 15 minutes. You won’t miss out if you pass on this one. We did get tickets to the aquatic interaction which are free but first-come, first-serve. It was a fun show with dolphins and a sea lion.

Outside the Shedd







Excited to see the “Bean”!

After the Shedd, we walked north along the shore first stopping at Buckingham fountain which the kids were very impressed by. We continued on towards Millenium Park and took our time looking at the fountains, Cloud Gate (the bean sculpture), and even got to listen to a symphony practice at the Pritzker Pavilion.

It was lunchtime so we went another block over to Giordano’s for deep dish pizza! They offer great lunchtime specials if you can’t get everyone to agree on toppings but we went for a small half cheese, half pepperoni. The pizzas take 30-45 minutes to bake so with kids it’s probably worth ordering an appetizer. We went for the sampler which was a great choice!

After lunch we said goodbye to dad who had to go back to the office for a bit and we headed a few blocks back to the Art Institute. The kids were full and still in a good mood so we grabbed a map and began at the Thorne Miniature Rooms. This was a great choice- the kids were fascinated! The exhibit was perfect for kids- there was a step ledge along the entire wall and the room went in a loop. The kids loved going from frame to frame to peek into the rooms.

After the rooms we headed up to the 3rd floor to see the Impressionist Exhibit which included several Monet, Van Gogh, and also the famous Seurat painting which was fun to see up close (to see how it was truly made from tiny dots of paint). IMG_1021  IMG_0870.JPG

River Cruise

I had booked our river cruise for 6:30 pm. After looking at the options, I decided to go with Wendella– they had the best reviews and also their tour was 75 minutes versus 90 on some of the other boats. I figured for the kids, we needed to keep it short. Adult tickets are $35 and kids are just $16.50. If you are early, check out the Ghiradelli store inside the Wrigley building. 6:30 was a great time to go- the weather felt great and we ended the tour right at sunset. The kids loved the boat ride and even enjoyed learning about the city, the Chicago fire, and the architecture!

IMG_0897.JPG    IMG_0910.JPG

I had intended for us to head back to the hotel and swim after the boat but the kids still had lots of energy! We needed dinner anyway so we decided to go ahead and check out the nighttime view from the top of the Hancock Tower! The kids were so awesome, they walked all the way down there (with a quick stop in to see the American Girl Store). We had a blast riding to the top (my entry was included in the City Pass and we also got to skip the line because of that!). We also opted to do the Tilt– basically you stand in a glass section and they tilt you out 30 degrees over the city! The kids thought it was the best thing ever- it was definitely a thrill! Last year we went to the top of Rockefeller Center during the day so it was cool to see a city view at night this time. IMG_0936.JPG

We ended our night with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which is at the bottom of the Hancock Building. Easy to find something for everyone and then of course cheesecake for dessert! It was a fun and full day!

Kids, travel, Uncategorized

Chicago with kids, Day 2

Day 2- we were up and had a nice breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. On our list was Navy Pier which also gave us a little more time on the Magnificent Mile. First stop was Tribune Tower to see all the different pieces of buildings from around the world! The kids thought the Neo-Gothic style was pretty cool too. We walked into the lobby just to get a glimpse- you can’t go any further without clearance.

Right at the bottom is Dylan’s Candy Bar, a 2-story candy heaven. We stopped to grab a treat since we had a lot of walking to do. We hadn’t gone far when we saw a sign advertising the free Navy Pier Trolley! It was pretty warm and we still had a ways to go so we followed the signs and waited for the trolley. After 20 minutes the trolley came and it was a cute, old fashioned trolley. We got on but soon wished we had just walked because apparently the stop we had chosen was the first one and we actually ended up backtracking all that we had already walked! Lesson learned, next time we would just ride the trolley on the way back.

Navy Pier

IMG_0955 (1).JPGWe finally got to the pier and by now we were just about ready for lunch. We headed to the food court – the options are fairly limited but we ended up grabbing Jamba Juice and pretzels which was perfect for an early lunch. If you aren’t doing a boat ride or carnival rides, there actually is not a whole lot to do at the Pier but I had heard good things about the Children’s Museum and we decided to check it out. At $15 each it’s a little pricey but in my opinion well worth it! We stayed here for several hours- the exhibits were amazing and there was something for every age. We had a blast doing a family skyscraper challenge. IMG_0956 (1).JPG  IMG_0958.JPG

As a last-minute idea, I had booked some discount tickets to see Aladdin that night at 7. Josh had already gone back to Colorado and we still had one more night in the city so we thought it would be fun to go out with a bang. We had wanted to see it in NYC but the tickets were crazy $ so here it felt like a bargain. After the Children’s Museum, we walked back to the hotel to have a little rest time before our big night. Not far from our hotel was a Rainforest Cafe which was the perfect choice for our pre-theater dinner. We dressed up and walked on over where we had a blast and actually a really good dinner! We grabbed an Uber over to the theater to save some time and found our seats. For some reason, I wasn’t really expecting much from this show and I will just say that it blew me away! It was absolutely fantastic and I am so excited that it’s coming to Denver in March. The genie was hilarious and the set design was just incredible. The kids were amazed. I am so glad we did it! After the show lots of people were still out and about so we ended up just walking back to the hotel since grabbing a car probably would have taken just as long. IMG_0988.JPG IMG_0987.JPG

Leaving Chicago

We packed up and headed to bed since we had a car coming to get us around 8 for our 11:30 flight. We had time for one last quick hotel breakfast and our driver arrived right on time. Here was the biggest treat of our trip- when booking the cars through A1 limousine I noticed that a stretch limo to the airport was only $10 more than a lincoln towncar! Since I wasn’t sure how the morning traffic would be, I snagged this thinking that at least if it was a long ride, we would have plenty of room (I’ll tell the story of the 4 of us squished together in the backseat of a towncar sitting in the Lincoln tunnel for an hour another time!) I didn’t tell the kids ahead of time and it was so exciting to see that white stretch limo pull up in front of our hotel just for us! It turned out to be a traffic-free ride but still, what a treat!


Chicago is the perfect city to visit with kids! Let me know if you have any questions!



Crafts, DIY, Gifts

Easy Valentine’s Table Runner (no sew!)

I love decorating for Christmas but oh the other holidays…sometimes I just can’t! But then I get onto Pinterest and see all the cute, pretty Valentine’s decorations and it’s hard to resist. I decided a simple table runner would do the trick, put together with some pretty faux tulips in a white pitcher that’s always on the table anyway. You will love this project- you may already have everything you need like I did!

First, I cut out a strip of burlap from a larger piece that I already had. It’s approx. 10″x30″ but use whatever size you need for your table. I gathered some craft paint, glue gun, lace trim (rick rack would be cute too!) and some heart-shaped cookie cutters. I placed a cookie cutter in the corner of the burlap and carefully dabbed the paint into the shape. Lift it carefully, and then repeat your pattern. It might be a good idea to draw an outline before painting to lay out the pattern you would like. Once it was all dry, I hot-glued the trim around the edges and then it was ready for my table!


Easy (but cute!) cards for the kids to do…

As I was planning out our Christmas teacher gift, I wanted something that the kids could add for a personal touch. At Michaels I picked up a pack of blank red cards in the dollar section and then a couple of packages of 3D Christmas stickers which were 50% off! The kids loved it and got very creative. They had a great time and it also kept them busy for a bit while I worked on dinner. Super simple, fun and inexpensive!