9 Things We Love About Dad

Lightening lit up the midnight sky and I squinted in the dark to see the clock. 3 A.M.

My husband’s normal spot in bed next to me contained a drooling second grader, arms and legs sprawled.

I could see his shadow as he stood next to the window and watched the rain. “She was scared of the thunder,” he whispered. “The yard is flooded. I’m going to stay awake for awhile and make sure it doesn’t get worse.”

It’s just like him to stand guard over our home and family. To watch and wait. To protect and provide. To give up his warm spot in the bed, to get up at the crack of dawn to make sure the Mercy House warehouse roof isn’t leaking water on our precious fair trade product.

It’s been raining for 30 days here in Texas and the ground can’t hold much more. But I turned over and went back to sleep with an 8 year old’s knee in my back. Because I knew Dad was on duty.

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He’s often the last in bed, locking up and turning out lights and the first up, shaking tired teens awake for school. Many mornings, by the time I’m awake, he’s made lunches and has breakfast in the oven. Yeah, I know. He’s for real.

My husband rocks.

My Husband Rocks

So does their Dad.

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We work together every day and that means sharing car line and dinner duties, after-school practices and late night accounting, travel and speaking engagements. But I think it’s too easy to take the good in our lives for granted. So, I thought we should share 9 things the kids and I love about the man of our house:

9 Reasons Why Dad Rocks

  1. He doesn’t step over the hairball in the kitchen floor or pretend it isn’t there. He picks it up. (And sometimes chases the kids around the house with it).
  2. He puts the family’s needs and dreams in front of his own.
  3. He always make us laugh by singing silly songs, making up goofy words or holding us down and tickling us to Level 41 (and sometimes he embarrasses us. But only when he wears his cowboy hat to school activities).
  4. He protect us. We have never felt afraid with Dad in the house (Mom, on the other hand, is a big chicken).
  5. He can grill anything. And he enjoys it.
  6. He talks to our kids about hard things– past mistakes and hopes for the future.
  7. He is the Master Looker in the house. Nothing is really lost on his watch. (Except for Mom’s keys at the beach on Spring Break. But we all know they are somewhere).
  8. He cherishes his wife and gives his kids a darn good example of what committed love looks like.
  9. He carries pictures of his family where his money used to be.

We love our Union28 shirts! Tell the world the man of your house rocks with “My Dad Rocks” kids shirts and “My Husband Rocks” t-shirts just in time for Father’s Day and get 15% off with coupon code: u28WATF15

We Had The [Groupon] Time of Our Lives

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
Just like you, we live crazy busy lives. And sometimes we need to getaway…not from life, but so that life doesn’t get away from us.
Traveling to new places is a gift. Sometimes traveling with kids can be the challenging gift we give ourselves.
Thanks to Groupon, our family was able to mark two trips off our Family Getaways Bucket List and not only was it painless, it was delightful. Groupon Getaways made it easy to book our family of 5 in hotel rooms in Austin, Texas and Washington D.C. Not only did we have non-stop flights and discover delicious food, we had a lot of fun.
Making memories on the road or in the air, is one of the highlights of our family. We are always dreaming of the next place to explore.
Our favorite moments in Austin, Texas were definitely the food and funkiness. We loved the mix of old and new architecture and visiting the Capital in the state we live in was so informative and educational.
Washington D.C. offered us so many amazing moments. That first glimpse of the White House through my 8 year old’s eyes, the Presidential motorcade and viewing the epic treasures at the Smithsonian were among our trip highlights. Oh, and trying new kinds of food. Always the food.
Here are the 3 reasons why I highly recommend using Groupon to book your next Getaway:
1. Groupon takes the hassle out of trip planning. From booking hotels to flights to all-inclusive packages, Groupon makes this part of travel easier. There are so many options to choose from, based on price, locale and the type of trip you’re looking for. With just a click of the mouse, we were able to quickly and easily plan our trips.
Click here to continue reading why I recommend Groupon for your next getaway!

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Our Favorites in Washington D.C.- Part 2

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We were regular tourists in Washington D.C. (We love Groupon Getaways!) We just couldn’t help ourselves.

. All opinions are 100% mine.

We were regular tourists in Washington D.C. We just couldn’t help ourselves.

We walked a mile to stand at the gate of the White House and get a picture. What you can’t see are the hundreds of people around us. We cropped out the crowd.

Our 8 year old has a small obsession with the grand place and this was definitely a highlight for her.

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The rest of us couldn’t get enough of the museums and historic sites of the city. It was a rainy day, so that made it even better. We got in a huge line to take a tour of the Capital. The lady in front of us turned around and told us it was her third time to try and visit the Capital, but they’d sold out of free tickets every time.

We took our chances and we were in the building in 30 minutes. They handed us the fancy headsets and a guy named Pete (who loved his job very much) talked in our ears for the next hour. Every room and history lesson accompanying it was fascinating.

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The view of  Washington Monument from the Capital.

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This was a special moment. Our family loves Lincoln and there was a sacred hush at this Memorial, with some of the beautiful words he spoke etched on the walls in marble. There was also a really old and cool corner bookstore with everything Lincoln. Terrell was drawn to this book and once we got home he ordered a used copy off of Amazon. He can’t put it down.

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I think one of our favorite places was the Library of Congress. It’s connected to the Capital building. It was gorgeous. It also reminded us of one of our favorite movies: National Treasure 2. I dared my son to ask the librarian at the Information Desk to show us where the President’s Book of Secrets was hidden.

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He did not let me down.

The librarian said, “Oh, it’s here, but I can’t tell you.”

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I think my son totally believed her. I might have, too.

Another highlight and sacred moment was visiting the Vietnam Memorial. People were searching for names and leaving flowers. My husband found a soldier with our last name and we took away his name to remember his sacrifice.

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The two museums we spent the most time in were the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. My husband was as excited as the kids. We saw the Wright Brother’s and Amelia Earhart’s planes and learned so much.  I really loved the Museum of American History. I mean, you can see Julia Childs kitchen, the first American flag and a display of Dorothy’s rube red slippers from Wizard of Oz.  I love America.

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Another highlight was walking everywhere (says the family who goes everywhere by car in Texas). The weather improved and we loved looking at the row houses and architecture everywhere we went.

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And while Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum isn’t the Smithsonian, we got free tickets when we bought a

And while Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum isn’t the Smithsonian, we got free tickets when we bought a Groupon earlier in our trip and walked through it. It was really fun!

earlier in our trip and walked through it. It was really fun!

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Washington DC, you were a knockout!

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Dear Washington D.C.:

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

It might be too soon in our relationship to tell you this, but I just can’t keep it in:

Our family loves you.

When Groupon  gave us the opportunity to choose a getaway destination, there were so many choices. We thought about snow-capped mountains and isolated cabins and exotic destinations.

But you did not disappoint!

(And kudos to Groupon Getaways for a straight-shot flight and adjoining rooms with a king and two double beds at a gorgeous hotel in the shadow of the nation’s Capital!)

Our hotel was in the center of the city with access to all the major tourist spots.

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We loved sleeping under the lights of the capital. And making silly faces, apparently.

v9iUHOLe7wPaofxxZt9HG-bGqc8OHRSXXvf3PVixCJgWe love your food. Within walking distance of our hotel, there were dozens of restaurants and honestly, it was hard to choose.

Who knew the family would take Asian Fusion food so seriously (it was delicious) Who knew my kids will literally try anything?

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Or that Chinatown restaurants known for their duck entrees, really have them hanging in the window. And that sort of changes your mind about what you’re going to order. Get the dumpiness, always the dumplings.

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And don’t get me started on this epic restaurant:

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(Friends of Mercy House own The Portofino, a family-owned authentic Italian restaurant, in Arlington, Virginia and sent us a gift card for our family to dine with them. I highly recommend it! How fun is that?)

We loved walking everywhere.

We loved catching taxis when we couldn’t take another step and meeting drivers from Ethiopia, Iran, Turkey and well, all over the world).

We loved your free museums. I can’t wait to tell you our favorites.

We loved your presidential bobble heads.

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We loved your cherry blossoms. Seriously, everywhere.

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Most of all, we loved your history. With 17 museums a part of the Smithsonian, that all have free entrance, how could I not?

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We loved the way the city shuts down for the presidential motorcade (okay, not really. But still, cool).

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Washington DC, you had us at hello.

We can’t wait to return. (And share more fun details about our trip with you!)

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Getaway: Austin, TX – Part Two

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I love old things- buildings, architecture, furniture. You name it.

I was excited to explore some of the history of Austin on our Groupon Getaways several weeks ago. The Capital did not disappoint.

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It was grand and it was so fun seeing it through my kids eyes. They had so many questions. My husband and I were born and raised in Texas and even though we spent the first ten years of our marriage in other states, we got back here as fast as we could.

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This was the view standing in the center of the room and looking up. Spectacular.

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The grand building took six years to build and completed in 1888. It cost $3 million dollars way back then. And that star in the picture above? It’s 8 feet in diameter.

We spent a lot of time exploring the old building, the basement, antique staircases and unlocked doors. We probably broke some trespassing laws. Oops. My girls took my phone and did a spontaneous photo shoot.

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They are so shy and timid. It’s funny because when I tried to get a great shot of my children on these epic courthouse stairs, this is what I got.

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After we finished our mostly legal exploring, we rolled down the great green hill in the front of the state building. And by “we” I mean my husband and two of my kids. My teenager and I are way too cool for that. We ended the day at Magnolia Cafe and ate our weight in gingerbread pancakes.

We headed back to the Omni Barton Resort and spent the last few hours of our getaway at the beautiful pool. It was a great, relaxing weekend away. Thank you, Groupon!

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Getaway To Austin, Texas: Part One

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

We picked up our kids straight from school at 3pm and hit the road for our local Groupon getaway.

It’s a little less than a 3 hour drive to Austin and our son was shooting the Texas Indoor Archery Championship at University of Texas at 6pm.

That’s how we roll.

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We  sat in the collegiate range for a couple of hours and he shot his personal best! A couple of people down from Olympian Vick Wunderlee. It was awesome.

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While the boys shot day 2 of the tournament, the girls and I explored this beauty in Austin. The Omni Barton Resort we found on the Groupon Getaway site is a sight to behold:

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We explored the vast and spacious property, ate delicious breakfast burritos and drank cappuccinos in the quaint on-property coffee shop. It was the perfect leisure morning.

When the guys returned by noon, we were ready to explore more of Austin. We found a food truck park and everyone split up and tried something new. I had spicy thai noodles, Terrell and Madi ate different versions of tacos, our youngest had a hamburger and the archer ate his fill of wieners. It was a breezy day and perfect outside eating weather.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring local thrift stores. There are dozens in the city and they definitely add to the funky feel of the city. We were hunting for some small fixtures for our new Mercy House warehouse and found a couple of good deals. But the antique chicken coop wouldn’t fit in our car. But we tried.

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We also visited the cool Tom’s store on the main drag and got a lot of great display ideas, including this huge chalkboard wall map. We spent a lot of time on South Congress, one of the main roads in Austin. One of our favorite stores was Ten Thousand Villages, which offers fair trade product from all over the world…right up my alley. We also enjoyed Uncommon Objects. Talk about weird.

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We ended the night eating at a local hotspot and ate fancy. It was a restaurant featured on the Food Network. We always check the app in whatever city we’re in and try to discover delicious unique food.

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We might have even cropped our kids out of the picture and pretended we were on a date. Don’t all moms and dads do that on Groupon Getaways?

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And The Destinations Are . . .

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

After dinner one night, our family did something spontaneous. We made a list of all the places we wanted to travel to before our kids leave home.

That was four years ago.

We debated and narrowed down and the final list was amazing and crazy. It was audacious. We didn’t talk about how our family would travel to Paris, Hawaii, Colorado, New York City, Washington DC, the Grand Canyon and other amazing places.

But that didn’t stop us from dreaming. Since we started Mercy House in 2010, we’ve had the opportunity to travel to Africa periodically and we fell in love with traveling and exploring together.

One by one, we are marking destinations off the list. We won’t see them all, but we will see a few. (One way we save? We label empty water bottles with destinations and tuck every extra (and unexpected) dollar we can spare into the bottles. It’s taken years for some trips, but it’s slowly working).

When Groupon asked if we wanted to take a local and an out-of-state getaway, we jumped at the chance.

For our local getaway, we scoured the Groupon Getaways choices and tried to narrow down them down. Texas is not only huge, there’s so much to see and do. We’ve spent time in Galveston and we love the hills of San Antonio and the plains of West Texas.  Sometimes the most beautiful places are right under our noses. We just have to get in the car and go find them.

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We ended up picking Austin, Texas. There’s so much to see and do there and we’ve never taken the time to fully explore it, even though it’s only three hours from us. We also wanted to do our part to help keep it weird.

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Our son had a chance to compete in the Texas Archery Championship at University of Texas, so we thought it would be a great family getaway. On our list for the weekend: hunting down great thrift shopping and eating at out-of-the-way local restaurants.

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Plus, food trucks.

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Groupon makes it super easy to book a getaway with just a few clicks. You can just add your location and dates of travel and search dozens of destinations. The easy-to-understand layout of the pages allows users to easily clock on calendar dates for the vacation that you want. Plus, Groupon’s discounts can’t be beat.

For our out-of-state trip, the choice (and debate) was extensive. Our kids saw snow last year for the first time (yes, poor Texas children) and a restful snowy mountain getaway sounded appealing. But we also wanted the chance to see, explore and learn about a new city.

Our second grader has been studying US history and she said, “I need to see this.”

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Washington DC won!

Besides getting as close to the White House as possible, we can’t wait to explore the Smithsonian, all the government buildings and Eastern Market. We’ve also heard there are some amazing places to eat and trying new places is always an adventure.

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I can’t wait tell you more about our trips for #MyGrouponGetaway!

credit: image 1, image 2, image 3, image 4

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Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Get Away

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Groupon Getaways. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’d like to say this year (all six weeks of it) has been unseasonably busy. But let’s be honest, it’s been this way for the past 5 years. With job challenges and growing kids and pending book deadlines, end of the year non-profit demands, drainage issues in a very muddy backyard, oil leaks in the car, it’s been hectic.

I also wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Okay, that’s not completely true. I would change that moment yesterday when my dog punctured my large styrofoam cup of sweet tea and it emptied into my shoes during carline drop off.

In general, I love my life and I’m thankful for (almost all of) it. But I do long for a slow, calm day.

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When Terrell asked me what I wanted to do for the long Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend, I said, “I want to get away with my family.” Which should not be confused with”I want to run away from my family.”

Because how can both sound good at the same exact time?

So, it seemed sort of providential that the very next day, the good people at Groupon asked if we wanted to choose a local (and a not-so-local) Getaway of our choice.

Yeah, we will have to really think hard about that one. Give me a second.

Okay, um, yes, please.

We’ve spent some time browsing the Groupon Getaways portal and I was amazed at all the choices! We narrowed down our choice to the hill country in Texas. But do you know what’s hard? Choosing where to stay when there are so many amazing choices. It was a burden. I know you pity us.

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If you could choose a local (by car) spot to getaway to, where would you go? 

Stay tuned…. #MyGrouponGetaway

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