Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings: Vacation Planning and Prep

Happy Friday Eve! Well, it’s the last Thursday of the month. Isn’t that so hard to believe?!

That means that I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

1. What trips/vacations do you have planned for the rest of the year?

We will take a summer vacation like usual. Since Hayden won’t be playing summer baseball, we decided to treat ourselves and splurge a bit on a vacay. We’re headed somewhere that needs a passport, and the kids are excited πŸ˜‰

Then, we will go to KC to see my family at the end of the summer. I’d love to plan another quick getaway in the summer, but we’ll see.

We get a week long fall break this year, so we are thinking about going to Florida in October.

2. Best packing tips?

I’d love to say pack ahead of time, but that’s a great packing tip that I never follow. You would think my “type A” personality would shine while packing for a trip, but that’s definitely not the case.

I always have to have all the laundry finished before I start packing. As we put the clean clothes away, I hold out what we’d like to pack for a trip.

I do use packing cubes (more on that with #3), and I do think they are a great way to keep your clothes together, organized, and sorted by person.

As the kids have gotten older, I’ve started making them a list of what they need to pack, and have them do so. Then, I go through and give approval on what’s in their suitcases.

Leading up to a trip, I start a note on my phone of the random things I want to remember: book, Kindle, charger, sound machine, Melatonin, etc. I keep meaning to create a standard packing list to have on hand when we pack, but I’ve never done it. It would be nice to have a “beach” list, “overnight one night somewhere” list, and “KC” list, etc. Maybe this summer I will get to it!

3. Packing cubes. Yes or no?

Heck yes! I started using these cubes (affiliate link) from Amazon a few years ago and haven’t looked back.

Depending on how long we will be gone depends on how I divide these up. If each kid is bringing their own suitcase, I usually just give them a smaller one to hold their underwear, swimsuit, etc. Hadley has used a smaller one for hair stuff and other odds and ends.

If the kids are sharing a suitcase, they each get a color. I actually only have a gray and a teal set, but as I was working on this post, I made a calendar notification to order another set before our summer trip.

When I use them, I typically use a smaller one for undergarments. Then, I use another for workout clothes and swimsuit and cover-up. I will also use one for pjs and shorts, etc. Because I am an over-packer (more on that with #10), these do help condense what I pack. I still usually have a few things like sweaters if it’s the winter, that don’t go in a packing cube.

Travis doesn’t use packing cubes…not because he’s opposed to them but because he’s just a very efficient packer!

4. Favorite travel outfit?

I guess it may depend on the mode of travel. On an airplane, I like to wear a dress with a cardigan or denim jacket. I typically will also wear sneakers rather than pack those since I tend to have a suitcase that’s always pushing the weight limit!

In the car, I love leggings and a sweatshirt with flip flops.

5. Favorite vacation destination? Why?

I shared this post recently on some of the favorite trips we’ve been on. It’s not that we are world travelers, but it is hard for me to choose a favorite destination. If I’m going for comfort and familiarity, I love our trips to Siesta Key beach. We’ve been many times through the years, and it’s a place my entire family loves.


My heart belongs in Charleston! I love SC.


Of course, other family trips like our trek to AZ and then Cali provide such special memories.


If I could get to San Diego (Del Mar) easily and regularly, then hands down that would be my favorite place.

6. Have you flown since March 2020?

We have. As a family, we flew to Florida in the summer of 2020. Then, Travis and I flew to California last summer. I feel like I’ve flown another time as well, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

7. Beach or mountain vacation?

As you can probably tell from all of the photos above…I’m a beach girl. I don’t necessarily need to get in the ocean, but I love sitting on the beach (preferably covered by an umbrella), listening to the waves crash, and reading a book.

photo cred: hadley

That being said, we love going to Asheville when we can.

8. Do you prefer to sightsee or relax on vacation?

Well, growing up with the Major provided early wake-up times when we traveled. He’d open the hotel curtains and say, “What?! I let you sleep until 7!?” haha

I always swore when I was an adult that I would just relax on vacation, and at the beach, that’s what we do. Places like Charleston have so much to offer in regards to sightseeing and the beach which I enjoy. Having kids “forced” us to sightsee a bit more. For example, Hayden’s desire to see the Grand Canyon prompted us to plan that trip…and then added on the California beach part as a compromise.

We still hope to take the kids to NYC and DC in the next couple of years as well.

9. Hotel, camping, Airbnb?

We’ve done it all, but to me, vacation means a hotel or a nice house. To be honest, we’ve been so spoiled with being able to stay at Trav’s aunt’s house in Florida, that when we stay at a hotel, even a nice one with a decent size room, I feel so on top of each other that I just wish we had more space. I guess that’s become more of a thought as the kids have gotten older.

Travis always “does his research,” and we’ve always had good Airbnb experiences.

As far as camping goes, well…I’ve only “glamped” for a few nights in Asheville. It was a great experience, and I would do it again, but that’s about as rustic as I get.

10. Overpacker? Underpacker?

I am an overpacker to a fault! I want to have all the options. To be honest, through the years, I’ve gotten really good at packing “just” a couple of pjs, workout options, etc. I still tend to overpack sweaters and dresses depending on the time of the year. I want to do better. Not to psycho-analyze myself, but I guess the fact that I’m a homebody by nature means that I want whatever it takes to make myself feel at home on vacay?

Making a list and the packing cubes both really help me at least try to rein it in.

One more thought…

This wasn’t on the list, but are you the type to unpack as soon as you get home from a trip, or do you let your suitcase sit on the floor for a while?!

Honestly, depending on the time of the year or how we traveled (car/plane), etc. determines where I fall on this. There have been times that my suitcase hasn’t been unpacked for a week. I know, it’s ridiculous. That being said, once we get home from a trip, we always make sure everything is out of the car and in the correct room. The kids tend to get their clothes put up almost immediately (per my suggestion), and I put away snacks (if it’s been a road trip), and always put away my toiletries. So that just means I’m about 90% unpacked once we return home and then my suitcase might linger for a day or two depending on if I have time. (I will say this is a character flaw that Travis wishes I would re-evalute! haha)

Shew! This post has me thinking about summer. I can’t wait for summer travel.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings

Hey! Hey! I’m linking up with Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings post all about Summer Vacations & Staycations.

Top 5 Items to Pack:

  • Well, I can’t leave home without my Kindle or a book, so that’s the first thing that popped into my mind!
  • Workout bands. I try to at least workout a couple times while on vacation whether it’s a walk or using my workout bands.
  • Sunglasses. I need to have a pair or two on hand.
  • Face wash, Toner, Moisturizer. I try to keep up some kind of skin care routine even if I don’t do all the steps every morning and night while on vacation.
  • A hat. I always have a ball cap on hand or a beach hat if that’s where we are headed.

One more “must have”…

  • Melatonin – especially if I can’t pack my weighted blanket πŸ˜‚
Pic from my Let’s Look (at what’s in your carry on bag.)

Packing Cubes. Yes or No?

Yes! Packing cubes are life changing for packing. I’ve been using these for a couple of years and love them. I use them to keep my items organized, but I also use them for the kids…especially if they share a suitcase. Besides helping with organization, they do condense what fits in the suitcase. I actually need to buy a few more as I only have two colors and I’d like to have a third for each person to have their own color. Trav is on his own when it comes to packing πŸ˜‰

Warm or Cold Destinations?

I’d probably have to say warm destinations, but that’s because most of our vacations are beach vacations. That being said, I love to visit the mountains in Asheville…especially in the fall when the weather is cooler.

Isle of Palm, SC

Favorite Vacation Destination of All Time:

San Diego/Del Mar is my favorite place to visit.

Lake Tahoe is a solid runner up!

Staycation Tips:

  • Learn to love where you live.
  • Try a new restaurant.
  • Hike at a park you usually wouldn’t go to.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go for ice cream before dinner (which is something we sometimes do on vacation)

The kids and I visited McConnell Springs Park this summer which was a first for us.

Camping, Glamping, or Uh No?

Travis and I went camping in 2002. He was testing our relationship πŸ˜‚

Last fall, we went glamping in Asheville with our friends. Overall, we had a great time…but I still prefer a cabin in the woods with a cozy fire…and tv…and cell service! πŸ˜‰

How Many States Have You Been To?

I did a quick count, and I actually think I’ve been to 22 states? Of course, some I’m counting like Missouri where I’m from and Kansas where I visit family. One family vacation when I was in high school, we knocked out three states for one vacation: Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Also, places like Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee are near Kentucky and we’ve visited for both day and overnight trips. We’ve been to California a few times, and then places like Florida and South Carolina many times.

Still…22 states blows my mind. Also, while we love the beach and going to places we know, I’m glad that we are purposeful with planning other trips for the kids like our Grand Canyon/AZ/California trip. We try to plan a spring break trip to visit somewhere new…It doesn’t always work out that way, but we try!

Have You Ever Traveled By RV?

I have not, but definitely think it could be a fun way to travel and see many parts of the United States.

Most Random Place You Have Been To?

This one stumps me…I can’t think of anything off the top of my head…

I keep asking myself, “Have I been to an alligator farm?” or “Have I seen the world’s biggest ball of paint?”

and those answers are “no” and “ball of paint is in Indiana.”

I need to branch out more, I guess!

Check out the highlighted tourist attraction in your state with the link below. πŸ˜‚

First Place to Travel to After Pandemic?

If I could hop in a plane and go anywhere at any time, it would be southern California. That being said, we were supposed to spend Spring Break 2020 in New York City with the kids, so that’s where I’d head first whenever it’s safe to travel and sight see.

Vacations are always fun to think about…and I actually love a good staycation too.

Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget to check out Holly’s post as well as other bloggers’ posts who linked up as well.

See you back here tomorrow for What I’ve Been Reading: July.

Posted in Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites {#25}

Hello and Happy Friday! We’ve had a pretty good week around here, but I can’t get over the weather. Mother Nature needs to get her act together! We have freeze warnings the next couple of mornings. Anyway, we’ve continued in our distance learning and work from home groove, but we are always ready for the weekend!

I’m linking up with Erika and Andrea for Friday Favorites, so check out their posts too!


Last week, Hadley had my phone for a bit. Later, I found this pic plus a few more. She’s so funny…and why does she look 16 in this photo?!?


Hayden was petting Homer and said, “Mom, Homer is like the grown up that lives with his parents but doesn’t pay any rent?!” It was just such a random comment. I don’t even know what he meant by it but it made me laugh.


While the kids have probably been on technology too much or played too many hours of Xbox, I feel like this week they spent some more time outdoors again. Recently, Hadley built a fort in the basement and spent some time hanging out in it. Then, this week, both kids started building an outside fort in the space between our house and the neighbor’s fence. It’s been fun to see their creativity, and it’s always nice when they get along!


We’ve still had cooler weather which I love because I’m a big fan of sweatshirts! So, lots of shorts or leggings with sweatshirts as my momiform.

I wear this Target sweatshirt on repeat; I have it in both blush and camo.

I am also still loving these Hanes sweatshirts from Amazon. They are comfy, and you can’t beat the price. I have it in light pink, black, and this blue color.

Recently, I’ve purchased this style of Amazon Essentials lounge shirt and shorts to use as spring/summer pjs. They are comfy and cute.


This week, I made two recipes that I haven’t made in awhile…Pizza Pork Chops over Orzo and Shay’s Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken & Mushrooms over Rice. Everyone loved them; I need to bring them back into the rotation.

Pizza Pork Chops over orzo


I mentioned in a recent post that while we updated our sunroom a few years ago when we moved in with a fresh coat of paint and new flooring, we still don’t use it much.

This week, we went ahead and made some moves on making this space more functional for our family. I’m talking we went from 0 to 100 in a day! I had my eye on this set after seeing it recommended by Jen Reed as she has it in her outdoor space. It was out of stock at our Walmart, but Travis stopped by on Monday, and they had one! Then, I put our sectional for sale on Facebook Market Place and had multiple offers over asking price within minutes! Another person even asked to buy the rug I had which I wasn’t necessarily planning on selling. Both the couch and the rug were gone by Monday evening! So, Travis put the new furniture together on Tuesday, and we’ve been enjoying it ever since.

It’s still not 100% finished, but the new furniture and new rug certainly have made this our Updated Sunroom 2.0!

As you can see, I’ve been playing with the room arrangement. We are planning on putting a tv in here, so I think the arrangement below may work best even though I prefer the chairs on either side of the rug.

I received a fun surprise on Tuesday. My mom asked my brother to pick up some flowers for me for Teacher Appreciation Week as well as flowers for my sister-in-law as it’s also Nurses Appreciation Week too.

I added them to the sunroom table.


I have always been strict about bedtime (lights out by (9pm) and wake up time (don’t leave your bedroom before 8am) with my kids…but I feel like we are regressing. I remember when they were three and would egg each other on and have lots of energy at bedtime. That’s how it’s been lately. I guess maybe they aren’t burning as much energy during the day to be completely exhausted at bedtime.

Bonus: Flashback Friday:

I remember taking this pic Derby Day 2011. The twins on horsies coming down the hall.

Also, I took a trip down memory lane recapping our best family vacay to date. After finishing the post, I realized, I think it was my favorite post to write on the blog so far.

I hope you have a great weekend! Also, Happy Mother’s Day weekend which is obviously a time to celebrate moms, but through the years, I’ve also realized this day is a tough day for some. Prayers for those who have recently lost a mother and for those who are struggling to start a family. The time will come, continue to be brave, and know the journey is worth it in the end. And for new moms—cherish this time…the years sure do fly by!

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Travel

Today, in my mind, I’m in…


Recently, Lauren shared her “Today in my mind I’m in…” post about her honeymoon in Hawaii. I loved this idea. After having to cancel our spring break NYC trip and having no clue what we can plan for the summer, I thought I’d look back on our best trip as a family…June 2018 when we spent our time in Arizona and California…also known as #Whitesgowest (Travis thought of the hashtag and was very proud of himself!)

Now, before we could get to California, we had to first spend a few days in Arizona.

Hayden mentioned going to the Grand Canyon, and neither Travis nor I had ever been there. I’ve said it before, but I am grateful that Travis plans our trips because I feel like I plan every other second of our lives! I was down with the Grand Canyon idea, but was hesitant to spend a big chunk of vacation somewhere without an ocean. Travis was steps ahead of me and knew that San Diego, our all time favorite vacation spot, was an 8 hour drive from Sedona. So, we put the wheels in motion to start our trip in Arizona and spend the bulk of it in California.

To say the kids were excited for this trip, would be an understatement. To say I was nervous about being gone so long and it being just for four of us for the bulk of the vacay, would be an understatement! Turns out, we actually enjoy spending time together especially with sunshine and an ocean view.

Ready for Takeoff…

We left on a Monday afternoon and drove from Lexington to Cincinnati for a direct flight to Las Vegas.

Ready to fly!

Arizona & Grand Canyon

We landed in Las Vegas, rented a car and drove 4.5 hours to Sedona, AZ. Needless to say, we were happy when we arrived, just as the sun went down, at Amara Resort and Spa. We unpacked, and the kids swam while Travis got us a late night dinner. We stayed there Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.

Due to the time difference, even with a good night’s sleep, we were awake pretty early on Tuesday morning. So, we went ahead and decided to visit the Grand Canyon that day.

The kids were excited and ready to roll.

at the resort…

We stopped for breakfast and drove the almost two hours to the GC. Once we got there, we explored for quite some time. We’d follow the map, drive a bit, sight see, get back in the car, drive a bit more, etc. There was lots of “ooing” and “ahhing” and “Don’t take one more step closer!” during our adventure.

It was a hot day, but the views were breathtaking. Of course, the pics don’t do it justice!

Looks can be deceiving. If we backed up three feet, well–I do’nt want to think about it!

After a few hours, we drove to one of the visitor centers where the kids picked out a souvenir, and we picked up some lunch. They had a picnic area where we had lunch and then got ice cream. Then, it was time to drive the two hours back. I will say…there’s not much to look at on the drive to and from!

Once back at the resort, the kids swam (They love a good pool!), we relaxed and then went out to dinner.

On Wednesday, the kids hiked at Bell Rock with Travis while I had a massage at the resort.

Then, we went to nearby Slide Rock State Park where the kids and Travis were brave enough to slide down the rocks in the cold water. I swear I’m fun…but apparently not that fun!

Pool time, Bell Rock, and Slide Rock Park
They were hesitant at first, but loved it once they got going.

After a couple of hours, we headed back to the resort where the kids swam, we hit up Happy Hour had dinner at one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, and then headed to bed.

Snoopy Rock on the right

Thursday morning, we were up, ready for breakfast and then 8 hour drive to California!

San Diego Part 1

San Diego has my heart. We’ve been there quite a few times through the years, and I just love it. I would have gone to any part of California, but I was so pleased that San Diego made the most sense.

The kids were fine in the car. They are used to 9 hour road trips when we drive to Kansas City. Much like driving to get to the Grand Canyon, there wasn’t much to see. That being said, the terrain did change to sand dunes which was interesting. We drove through the border crossing which was also an interesting experience.

We arrived in La Jolla late afternoon and stayed at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Travis has lots of California friends due to being in the horse business, so they were able to tell us where to stay. While some of the rooms need updating, they were still nice and you couldn’t beat the location and being steps from the beach.

We were a little bummed that the weather was overcast for our first two days in San Diego, but, for me, the weather and view were perfect for reading, watching the kids play, and relaxing.

Upon arrival, the kids played on the beach and checked out the pool, before we walked to dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant. Then, we headed back and went to bed.

I love this pic of Hadley…one of my favorites pics of the trip. First time seeing the Pacific Ocean and just taking it all in. Also, check out her natural highlights…what I wouldn’t give!

Fun at the pool…

On Friday, we spent much of the day on the beach. The kids went for a run with Travis while I continued reading and sipping my coffee. They bounced back and forth between the beach and the pool and even checked out the tennis courts until it was time to shower and go to dinner.

The “I love you so much” was a perfect spot to snap a pic before diiner.

Ready for dinner.

After dinner at a restaurant on the water, we stopped for ice cream (We eat lots of ice cream on vacation!) on our walk back to the beach club. Then, it was time for bed.

San Diego Part 2

If you haven’t traveled with Travis White, then you don’t know that we like to change hotels during our trips πŸ˜‰ By the time we booked the trip, he could only get two days at the beach club but then found two days at a hotel on the beach in Carlsbad.

So, Saturday morning, we loaded up the car, made a pit stop for lunch at the Taco Stand and arrived at Beach Terrace Inn in Carlsbad.

After we unpacked, we hung out on the beach where the sun finally out! Later, we walked to dinner at a pizza place in downtown Carlsbad and then headed back to the hotel to watch a few television shows and go to bed.

I heart the ocean

On Sunday, the weather was again perfect, so it was a beach day.

Now I’m wondering where these sunglasses are…

My kids have been to the beach often, but are used to the calm waves of the Gulf of Mexico when we go to Siesta Key. So, the waves of the Pacific Ocean gave them a run for their money. They enjoyed it anyway!

That Sunday was actually our 13th wedding anniversary. After some hours on the beach, we walked around town for a bit. The English teacher in me geeked out for a minute while seeing the Farenheit 451 Book Store. I went inside for a few minutes while Travis took the kids for ice cream.

Before dinner, we took some quick, informal family beach pics, watched the sunset, and then walked to dinner at Campfire Restaurant.

My 13th anniversary gift…Hayden didn’t argue about putting on a Polo and both let me take their pics as the sun set.
I love these pics so much. Definitely shows how their relationship goes!

When we go on a beach vacation, we usually eat dinner early and head back to the beach for the sunset. Beach sunsets really are my fave. Our reservation was late, so we decided to watch the sunset first and then go to dinner.

Happy anniversary!

Campfire provided an awesome atmosphere, wonderful food, and amazing s’mores for dessert. Truly, it was an anniversary I will always remember spent at our favorite place (San Diego area) with our favorite little people.

Monday morning we had breakfast, hung out at the beach for a few hours (again, the weather was amazing) and then drove to…

Los Angeles

Travis has been blessed with some amazing business opportunities that have turned into friendships. While in Los Angeles, we stayed with one of Trav’s friends at their amazing house. They have young kids too, so our kids had fun playing with their boys while swimming in their pool.

Monday night, we went to the Dodgers game. Justify had won the Triple Crown of racing and Bob Baffert was at the game to throw out the first pitch which was an amazing coincidence!

Go Dodgers!

On Tuesday, we went to Rodeo drive and then to the Santa Monica Pier where there was a kids exhibit with activities.

The kids had fun at this exhibit.

Tuesday night we went out for a sushi dinner.

I knew we wouldn’t escape without going to the horse track! We went to Santa Anita Park, so Travis could watch some horses work out while also meeting up with friends/clients.

They love horses. What choice do they have? πŸ˜‰

Then, we went to breakfast, checked out the Hollywood sign, said our goodbyes and then headed to Las Vegas which was a 4 hour drive.

Goodbye, Cali!

Las Vegas

After the drive, we checked in at Mandalay Bay, had a snack, took a nap (well, I did!), and then had a late dinner at Giada’s restaurant! I was so excited to eat there, and it was a perfect way to cap off our trip.

While we waited for our table, we took a few pics in her photo booth.

It’s hard to get everyone to look at the camera!

I ordered the scallops and risotto because I feel like that’s what Giada would have wanted me to order! πŸ™‚

We had about 4 hours Thursday morning before our flight and kids voted to go to the pool. We went to the pool that has the lazy river and wave pool. It was perfect for them.

Of course, we soaked up all the sunshine and fruity drinks we could causing us to have to rush to pack up. Too long of a story, but while Travis returned the rental car, the kids and I ran Home Alone style through the airport. Travis was literally the last person on the plane with minutes to spare. I thought he was going to have to spend an extra night in Vegas with our car keys in his pocket as the kids and I would have been stuck in the Cinci airport. BUT…it all worked out.


Thankfully, our flight from Las Vegas to Cinci was uneventful as was the drive back to Lexington. We arrived home around 10:00 pm only to realize we were locked out! haha

Our sitter/dog sitter saved the day about twenty minutes later with a key!

We were gone 11 days, and definitely needed that length of time to pace ourselves for both sightseeing and relaxing! We will forever treasure the memories of this vacation…and it all started with Hayden’s idea to see the Grand Canyon!

If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me through the details. When posts like these come up, it reminds me how much I wish I had started blogging sooner as to have all these memories and details in one place. (And to share with anyone who may be interested!)

Thanks for following along on our favorite vacation. I can’t believe that it’s been almost two years since we made that trek. #WhitesgoWest

Where’s your favorite place to vacation?? We usually stick to Florida or South Carolina, but this trip was definitely one worth taking!

I hope you are having a good week!