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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Passports with Purpose

Passports with Purpose is a travelblogger driven fundraiser for Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate hunger and poverty around the globe. You can learn more about Heifer here.

Travelbloggers everywhere have rounded up amazing prizes to raffle off – the proceeds go directly to Heifer International.

Passports with Purpose is raffling off a scrapbooking collection from Heading North After Naptime! This fantastic prize is full of just the right things to get your vacation scrapbook started. It includes a 12x12 blue scrapbook album and Classy Shortcut papers for quick scrapbooking. It also includes the Classy and Sassy Sampler Paper packs. The sticker packs include Getaway Travel, Green and Olive Jumbo Great Lengths, Variety, Holiday Gathering, Summer Sensations, and Summer Fun. That is not all! This prize also comes with Pastel Fine Tip Markers, a Tape Runner to adhere your pictures, and a Square Maker!!! Everything you see below is included!

But don't order yet! There are more incredible prizes on the prizes page. Before you make your raffle donations, be sure to check out all the other great stuff you can win.

Once you've selected your prize – or prizes – go to First Giving to make your raffle donation. For each ten dollar donation you make, you'll be entered into the raffle for the prize you've selected. Heads up: Be sure to enter your email address and the prize you want to win in the comments field, or we can't notify you if you win! Passports with Purpose promises not to use your email for any other purpose than to notify you if you've won. There's more information on the First Giving page.

The founders will pull winners and notify them via email on December 30th.

Want to know more? Visit Passports with Purpose.

Back at home...

This month we are making three separate trips. The first was this past holiday weekend. We headed to the grandparents for the weekend. The second will be another trip to the same said grandparents for an early Christmas celebration. This trip will be occurring in two weeks. Four days after we come home from that trip, we will head across the pond for our Christmas holiday in Europe. Because we will be gone for quite some time, I decided that I am going to try the Thirty Day Challenge that many of my favorite blogs have participated in at one time or another. I am going to try and blog for 30 days starting on December 15. Stay tuned to read about our many adventures in Europe!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Photo Friday

One of the things that I am so thankful for is the freedom to be able to continue traveling even though I have a family now. I am thankful for their love of travel as well! In honor of this freedom, I bring you pictures from Washington DC! This is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby!

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things I still have to pack before we leave tomorrow...

1. toothpaste and toothbrush

2. the kid's clothes

3. a Christmas DVD for the trip home (maybe Charlie Brown?)

4. my jewelry making supplies so I can work on presents while we are at the inlaws

5. a book to read

6. a book for my kids to read in the car

7. jackets because it is getting cold

8. blankets for the car (they are still in the wash!)

9. my shopping list in case I get to go the new Pier Park

10. my new pants

11. shampoo

12. socks

13. pictures for the grandparents

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

  • In keeping with the Appalachian Trail, I take my excerpt from the book that started it all!

    From A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson Pg 125

    "In consequence, we had shelters to ourselves each night, which was a big treat. You know your life has grown pathetic when you're thrilled to have a covered wooden platform to call your own, but there you are--we were thrilled."

    The End of an Era

    I got an email from my mother the other day with a link to this article about a rock slide at Curry Village in Yosemite. Yosemite Park Service is closing a third of Curry Village because the rock slides have become more common and too deadly to allow people to stay in the tent village. They will be turning the closed section into an awareness exhibit about the history of rock slides. While I am glad that Yosemite is finally recognizing the need to close this area due to the danger, I am extremely sad that I will not be able to take my children to see the Curry Village that I knew. We visited Curry Village and the surrounding areas several times while growing up. The last time I visited was in 1997 (if I am wrong, correct me mom!) with my sister and my mother. My sister and I both agree that Yosemite holds some wonderful memories. Here are some pictures from that last visit.

    My sister and I (looking very young because we are!) at Yosemite

    My mom, my sister and I

    In front of one of the Curry Village tents

    Packing for a short weekend

    With the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of the week, I thought that I would share what I would be packing for the kids. We will be gone for 3 days, 2 nights. Each child gets their own duffle bag and it will contain the following:

    1. 3 pairs of pants
    2. 4 shirts
    3. 3 pairs of socks
    4. sweatshirt
    5. jacket if the weather gets any colder
    6. tennis shoes
    7. jammies

    1. 5 pairs of pants (still in diapers and prone to accidents)
    2. 3 shirts
    3. 3 pairs of socks
    4. sweatshirt
    5. jacket if needed
    6. tennis shoes
    7. jammies
    8. diapers

    Luckily, we are going to Grandma and Grandpa's house so we do not need to bring too many things to entertain the children. They are well-stocked. We do, however, have a short 3 hour drive to our destination so I will pack the following for the car:

    1. a new DVD or one the kids have not seen for awhile
    2. a Christmas DVD for the way home
    3. books for both the kids
    4. an action figure for Seth and a My Little Pony for Sera

    Each child will also have a blanket and their latest stuffed animal favorite. For Seth it is the Taekwondo dressed Alligator named Chomps and for Sera it is the stuffed turkey named Tom!

    Good luck on your travels this week!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Photo Friday! AT Amazement!

    In sticking with the Appalachian Trail theme this week, these are a few pictures from my husband's trip. I, being the photo freak that I am, resisted in forcing him to take the big Canon and its multiple lenses and sent him with a little pocket Olympus. I think he got some great shots!

    This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby! Check out some other great travel photos!

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Thursday Thirteen -- #2 Edition

    Thirteen Things that are must haves on the Appalachian Trail!

    These are the thirteen things that Josh could not live without while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The links will take you to various stores that carry the exact items that Josh has an loves!

    1. lightweight pack
    2. waterproof hiking boots
    3. convertible pants
    4. shirt made from synthetic material
    5. hiking socks
    6. headlamp
    7. lightweight tent
    8. 20 degree down mummy sleeping bag
    9. nalgene bottles
    10. trekking poles
    11. Light My Fire Spork
    12. dehydrated food (avoid pad thai!)
    13. Pocket Rocket Stove

    Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

    1. (leave your link in comments)

    Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

    The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

    10 Things Learned on the Appalachian Trail

    When my husband returned from the Appalachian Trail, I asked him to give me a list of things he learned. Consider this his guest post. In three days time, he, his brother, sister-in-law and a few close friends hiked over 17 miles of the AT. The section they chose to hike has the most elevation changes in Georgia. They started at Dick's Creek Gap and ended at Unicoi Gap, Georgia. We will be making a trip up that way to hike a different section together in March. He learned many things and here are a few of them:

    1. Hey, the privy doesn't have TP...or a roof!
    2. Dehydrated chili mac is "da bomb"...pad thai is not.
    3. What the heck is GORP?
    4. Synthetic underwear are a sweaty man's best friend.
    5. Let the buyer beware...waterproof does not always mean repels water!
    6. Water sources are near all shelters. Near is a relative term.
    7. It is not a good idea to sleep with said chili mac. Put it in a bear bag.
    8. Layers, layers, and more layers.
    9. After a long day of hiking, an AT shelter = 4 star hotel!
    10. If you are cold in the morning, follow these three steps to generate well needed heat: 1. Put your cold clothes on; 2. Put your cold pack on; 3. Start walking!

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    3 Ways I Have Saved So Far

    Christmas in Europe might seem like a pricey venture for a family with two kids. My husband always says that you can't save money while you are spending it, but here are a few ways that I saved money while spending money on this trip!

    1. Airfare -- We bought our tickets directly through the airline agency about 6 months before our departure date. When we decided that we were going to make this trip, we started checking prices obsessively on a nightly basis. They fluctuated from 1500 dollars a ticket to $750 before bouncing back up to 1000 dollars. One night, they were $525! We didn't hesitate and bought them on the spot. Have your trip planned out. Make sure you know when you are going and where you want to go so when the tickets become available, you will be ready to make the purchase without worrying about it. It paid off for us...two days later the tickets had jumped up to 800 dollars!

    2. Hotel -- When we started looking for hotels, we read all the travel books, travel guides on the Internet and got recommendations from friends. Then we got out the maps and searched for hotels on discount hotel websites. After choosing the area of town and street we wanted to stay on, we found a hotel next door to a swankier, more expensive hotel. The reviews are fantastic and we are paying about 75 dollars less a night.

    3. Christmas in Europe -- Christmas in Europe means that we will be bringing our presents to Europe in a suitcase. It means that for the most part, Christmas in Europe IS our family Christmas gift. This has helped cut down some major spending. All of the money that we are saving by buying fewer gifts that are less expensive is going into the family travel pot! This has opened up a few other opportunities that we may not have had otherwise.

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Photo Friday

    Last summer we took the kids to Wyoming and headed to Yellowstone. These are a few pictures of the amazing buffao that you can see all over the park!

    This post is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Thursday Thirteen

    Thirteen Things Places Jennifer is Visiting in the Next Month

    This is my first Thursday Thirteen! Thanks for letting me play along!

    1. Garmisch, Germany

    2. Munich, Germany

    3. Brixen, Italy

    4. Vienna, Austria

    5. Innsbruck, Austria

    6. Salzburg, Austria

    7. Atanta, GA

    8. Panama City Beach, FL

    9. Destin, FL

    10. Mobile, AL

    11. Bratislava, Slovakia

    12. Pensacola Beach, FL

    13. Gulf Breeze, FL

    Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

    The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

    I'm with the Band!

    This weekend was the First Annual Girls' Night away. We headed over to Biloxi about 1.5 hours away. Stopping for coffee and a bathroom break once at the Mississippi/Alabama border, we made fantastic time, checked into the hotel, and got ready to roll. Because we waited so long to get our act together, we had to stay at the Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel. Both the Hard Rock and the Beau Rivage, our first and second choices, were booked. We were pleasantly surprised! Since the hurricane came through, Biloxi has been working at rebuilding and they are doing a great job. The streets on the "main drag" are still torn up and make for slow driving during prime cruising time, but for the most part Biloxi is coming back to life.

    The Treasure Bay checked us in right away without any problems. Our room had a Gulf view (and a view of the air conditioning unit on the roof as pictured below). It was very clean and classy. The bathroom was the kind of bathroom that I would put in my own house. It was in a beautiful beige and black tile with a cool walk in shower. It was one of those showers with no doors. Everyone was extremely pleasant and helpful. There is a free 24 hour shuttle that will run you to and from any casino or tourist spot that you would like to go.

    We headed to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, where I had the tastiest hamburger I have had in awhile. After that we sat around and listened to the band play. We had a blast listening to Five Star Iris. After their set, we got to talk to them for a little while. Next time you are listening to a band in a small setting, sit close to the stage if you can stand the sound! You just might get to meet the band!

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Teaser Tuesday

    This is something that I have recently been doing on my family blog. I love to read and think that Teaser Tuesday is a great way to introduce people to books they might not have heard of. I am going to use my travel books for Teaser Tuesday, seeing as this is a travel blog!

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.

  • Let the book fall open to a random page.

  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

  • Please avoid spoilers!

  • DK Eyewitness Top 10 Vienna Top 10 Viennese Cakes Pg 72

    "#5 -- Linzertorte -- Named after the Austrian city of Linz, this cake has been popular for nearly 300 years, with recipes being included in cookbooks as early as the 18th century. There are various versions but it is essentially an almond pastry filled with rasberry or redcurrant jam."

    I can tell you that I will definitely try to locate one of these cakes while I am in Vienna next month!

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    A Day Off!

    Tomorrow I get a day off from work to honor the veterans who have fought for our country. If you have some time, visit a local memorial or museum in honor of Veteran's Day. Some of my local favorites:

    The National Naval Aviation Museum -- One of my hometown personal favorites! We love to take the kids the Naval Museum. They have a fantastic IMAX that shows several different movies a day. The kids can run and play in the different planes and helicopters. If you time it right, you might even meet a Blue Angel!

    My son checking out one of the helicopters at the the Naval Aviation Museum

    Korean War Memorial
    -- A tribute to honor those who served in the Korean War

    Battleship Park
    -- Go see the USS Alabama Battleship up close! Afterwards, head to Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines in Mobile, AL.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Book Early

    We leave in 39 days for our winter trip to Europe. My father has graciously offered to watch the kids for two nights so that we can go anywhere we want, just me and the hubby. We were going to go to Prague, but after calculating costs, we decided to stay a little closer to "home". After much searching, we decided that we are going to head to Innsbruck right around New Year's. This is the first problem. We cannot find a hotel for under two hundred dollars a night and we can not find one for two nights in a row. So right now, we are at the point where we decide to either a) forgo the trip all together b) change our dates or c) stay for only one night, limiting what we get to do. So, if you haven't already booked your hotels for the holidays, make sure you book them tonight!

    Saturday, November 8, 2008

    It is not always what you think!

    I have become addicted to blogging. Not just blogging myself, but stalking and lurking on other blogs as well. I have just now started commenting on some of the blogs that I have been lurking on. This morning I was reading some of the other blogs that participated in Photo Friday and I came across one post in particular that reminded me of my family trip to Europe. The author of Teacher Meets World talks about how being a child in Europe is a great thing!

    It made me think of my trip through London with my husband and son, then 10 months old. He had to wear a helmet 23 out of 24 hours a day because he had severe brachycephaly and torticollis. We were often stared at and people had some ridiculous comments. Sometimes it was too much to take! We were trying to get on the tube through the stroller entrance and the attendant was staring at us. It was a blatant stare, not the kind where you try to hide the fact that you are staring at someone. His eyes could have bored holes through us. My first reaction was "Bring it on..."

    When he finally found the courage (or audacity in my mind at the moment) to speak, he said "That is the STRANGEST buggy I have ever seen!!!"

    You see, we had bought this Kelty Backpack Stroller (a must have for the stairs and cobblestone streets of Europe) and it is a little strange looking. He couldn't get over how bizarre it was. He probably noticed my little beautiful boy in a helmet, but that was no big deal. He saw past the helmet and just saw this little guy sitting in a big rectangle on wheels! It was an eye opening experience for me!

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    Photo Friday!

    This is of the beautiful beach in Destin, Florida. We had such a blast last weekend. We stayed in the gorgeous Holiday Inn Destin.

    We just enjoyed laughing and relaxing!

    This post is my first go at Photo Friday at Delicious Baby, one of my new favorite blogs. I know I am just starting out, but stay tuned!

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    An evening in Destin

    This weekend, we celebrated a birthday and then headed to Destin, FL to do some more celebrating! We stayed the night in the beautiful Holiday Inn Destin. It is only about an hour and a half drive for us so the kids were relatively good. We put Tinkerbell into the DVD player and the kids were entertained for the entire trip. While in Destin, we took the kids for a walk on the beach, a kid friendly dinner at the Mellow Mushroom, and did some shopping. It was a wonderful night of relaxation. At one point, Josh and I were so frustrated with the children because they would not settle down and fall asleep. Well, we took one look at our daughter, who had managed to get her shirt over and then stuck on her head, and we just busted out laughing. We all laughed so hard all evening. It was just what the doctor ordered! Beach pictures to follow!