Walking the Trail

*I know my regular visitors might think this is turning in to a hiking blog but I promise there are lots of different articles lined up!  Coming in the next few weeks:  Colorado Gold; 3 Days in Colorado Springs; a review of Boulder Ice Cream; a little waxing poetic about doing things on my own; and more.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

The cooler temperatures brought on by the fall months have kept us outside, away from the house and the computer.  It has been worth every extra late evening I had to spend to get my house back in order and take care of school and work obligations. My obsession with taking pictures of the trail is only getting worse.  My love for trail pictures is beginning to overtake my Instagram feed!

The trail makes me think of what is to come around the corner.  Looking back makes me think of how far I have come.   The trail and what it means is different for everyone.


Near the Highline Canal Trail


 Walking through the aspens at Kenosha Pass


 One of my suburban/city hikes


 The trail up to Devil’s Head Fire Tower Lookout


 Join Instagram Thursday with Skimbaco, Destination Unknown and more.

From Surf to Ski

I used to look for missing swimsuits all year long.  Now, I am looking for missing ski clothing.

ski gear

Also, why is it that I packed all the ski clothing nice and neatly in the same bag after our last trip but when I was gear checking for our next trip I am missing a pair of goggles and two neck gaiters?

Stop by Delicious Baby and R We There Yet Mom for some photo Friday fun!

Travel in My Town: Bainbridge Island, Washington

Please help me welcome Trish from 3 Kids and a Breakdown! She is here sharing some of her favorite things to do with kids in Bainbridge Island, Washington. I am embarrassed to admit that I had to look it up on a map. I can’t imagine having to hop a ferry to get to a nearby city. My kids would think that was an adventure in itself! Be sure to stop by Trish’s blog where she writes an honest account of all things parenthood. There is no sugar coating and I love it! 

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Welcome, Trish!

I’m excited to introduce you to my idyllic town of Bainbridge Island, Washington. We are a 35 minute ferry ride away from Seattle in Puget Sound.  I’m not going to lie it rains on occasion (9 months out of 12, give or take), but it’s still an amazingly beautiful island with a ton of fun things for you and your entire family.  I’m happy to share our family’s favorite island activities with you.

Bloedel Reserve is a beautiful 150 acre public garden. It was once a private estate belonging to Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. The reserve includes landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, and Reflection Pool, and the Bloedel’s former estate home. The grounds are breath taking year round. You can easily spend hours exploring the 150 acres.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

They offer a variety of seasonal activities, such as the squash scavenger hunt my girls took part in last fall.

Fay Bainbridge  is a perfect spot for a family picnic. It’s a beautiful spot to enjoy the sound while sitting on the shore. The kids love the playground just feet from the beach. There are picnic tables and a fireplace/oven that you can use.  You can also camp here. We’ve not done that yet.

Fort Ward is a beautiful park with a 2 mile hiking trail that our family loves. It’s a beautiful hike in any season. We like to walk down to the salmon farm where we are often greeted by seals. My kids love to explore the old bunker.  Once you get to South Beach you are rewarded with a view of Mt. Rainier.  There are also picnic tables, a boat launch and views of Rich Passage where you can see the ferries going by.

Photo Credit

Battle Point Park  There are a lot of great playgrounds on the island, but our family’s favorite is definitely Battle Point Park. The playground has equipment for little ones and big ones, alike. All 3 of my girls are thoroughly entertained when we are at this playground.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Battle Point Park is also home to a lovely duck pond. We enjoy feeding the ducks and seeing the babies each spring.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Another of my girls’ favorites is the Battle Point Park’s planetarium.  At 27½ inches in diameter it is the largest publicly accessible telescope in the Northwest.  The Battle Point Astronomical Association holds free monthly star parties, which include planetarium shows and telescope viewings that are open to the public.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Kidimu – Pronounced kiddy moo and short for Kids Discovery Museum. A short a walk from the ferry and a ton of fun for kids of all ages.  On the entrance level you will find a grocery store full of all sorts of food stuff, a cash register, aprons, shopping carts and a scale to weight your goods. There is also a medical office and a bank, equally out-fitted with play things that are also educational. There is a picnic area for all that loot you bought at the grocery store.  It’s right near the ferry.  You’ll find a small gift shop area and the pirate tree house.  There is a small area for crawlers with all manner of soft toys, puzzles and a rocker for mama (or dada).  Upstairs is a design studio that has craft supplies set out. There is also Science Hall where your little ones can discover velocity, gravity and acceleration while playing with golf balls in the motion madness and fun with physics exhibits. Check the website for special events and exhibits.

Mora Iced Creamery – After all that playing, hiking, star gazing and picnicing you will need to go to Mora for the best ice cream you’ve ever had! Seriously delicious.  Flavors change with the seasons, but my favorite year round is chocolate peanut butter moreo. My girls like to get a banana split with 3 crazy flavors and all manner of toppings.

My daughter (center) and her two bff’s destroying a banana split in celebration of her 8th birthday last August.

Trish is a stay-at-home-mom to 3 girls, a wife, writer,  and blogger at 3 Kids and a Breakdown. She loves martinis, dessert, trash TV, books and 4-letter words.

Posting in Other Places

Happy Holidays!  I hope that the past few weeks were fabulous, no matter which holiday you choose to celebrate in your family.  Even though I took a little break from blogging here, I did have a few posts that are on a few other sites and I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to visit, maybe leave a comment and surf around a bit.  They are great websites and I read them regularly!  I will be using January to clean up the site a little and get back to writing.

Family Friday: NYC – A Traveler’s Library – In this post, I shamelessly admit that I am using my children to help me convince my husband to take us all to NYC this year!

Objects that will Drop in the South on New Year’s Eve – Traveling Mom – From moon pies, pickles, and peaches, read about the funny (and some strange) things that are dropped on New Year’s Eve in destinations around the south.

Holiday Fun at the Gaylord Palms – Travel Mamas – We were so honored to represent Travel Mamas at the Gaylord Palms for their Dreamworks Experience.  We played in snow, saw amazing ice sculptures and had breakfast with Shrek.

Miniature Golf in Myrtle Beach – Traveling Mom – I couldn’t believe the number of mini golf courses in Myrtle Beach.  It seemed like there was one on every corner.  Read about our favorite one.

Do you have a favorite post from your blog or elsewhere that you would like to share?  Leave a link in the comments!

Travel Blogger Tuesday – Passports with Purpose Edition

Reading is such an important part of my life and I can’t even imagine not being able to read for any reason.  I can’t imagine life without the smell of the library, the sound of a book spine cracking open for the first time, and the stacks of brightly colored books on my table just begging me to drop my chores and pick them up.  I will never forget what I felt inside when I finished reading Gone with the Wind for the first time in high school.  To this day, it is my favorite book.  Its tattered cover shows so much wear and tear but all I see is love for a book that kept me company at night when I couldn’t sleep and traveled to several countries with me.  Yes, I did lug that 1037 page tome with me during several trips.


Reading books is not just a favorite pastime, but also part of my career.  As an English teacher, I spent ten years teaching over 800 children to learn to love (or at least tolerate) reading…reading of any kind.  That is the beauty of books.  There is so much reading material from short stories, novels, magazines, poetry collections, nonfiction, comic books and more that it was rare that I couldn’t come up with something that a student would at least try to read and enjoy.  Once I started teaching 9th grade, I was always amazed each year by my students’ reactions towards Fahrenheit 451.  Even the students who hated reading were appalled that the characters actually started fires and burned books.  Now that I stay at home with my children, I love to watch their love for books continue to grow into a mild obsession like my own.

To me, there is nothing more amazing than watching a child read a sentence for the first time and realize that they pronounced it correctly.  Or watching a teenager pick apart a passage in a classic that they would never have chosen to read themselves and get it.  Or helping a child pick out a book in the library.  Or trying to get the attention of a tween that has been pulled so far into a story that they can’t even hear you talking to them.

A life without that?  No thank you.

This year, Passports with Purpose is working to raise $80K  to help Room to Read build two libraries in southern and eastern Zambia.  This is a project I can stand behind.  Not only because of the amazing people behind Passports with Purpose and their previous success, but also because we have friends who run an orphanage in the south of Zambia.

I can’t help but wonder if this library will in some way affect them and the mission that they have chosen as their life’s work.  What an amazing thought…

So how can you help?  Travel bloggers all over the world have procured amazing prizes that are up for grabs.  The prizes range from hotel stays to several Kindle Fire eReaders to gift certificates.  Donate $10 at a time and put your name in the hat for the prizes that you are interested in.  Who knows? You just might win something great while helping to build libraries in Zambia!

What are you waiting for?  Open your pocketbooks.  Open your hearts.  Put books into the hands of both children and adults alike.  Donate.

Gaylord Palms Resort Dreamworks Experience

A few weeks ago, my family and I got the chance to drive to Orlando and meet Shrek and his pals.  It isn’t often that you can see snow and ice in Orlando, Florida but you can if you visit the Dreamworks Experience at the Gaylord Palms.  I was honored to represent Travel Mamas, a site that I love and read often.  Hop on over to Travel Mamas and read about our visit to the Gaylord Palms Resort Dreamworks Experience!



Posts in Other Places

Just a quick post to share where else you can find me this week!

The Vacation Gals is one of my favorite travel blogs and is one of the first that I started reading on a regular basis.  I am so honored to have a guest post over at The Vacation Gals about the things that you should to do before you go on vacation without the kids.

I am also at Traveling Mom sharing four reasons why you should choose Hollywood Studios as one of the theme parks to visit on your Disney trip.  We have always avoided it and when we went recently we fell in love with the park.

Over at my Pensacola with Kids site, I wrote an extensive review of our trip to LEGOLAND Florida in Winter Haven and the things that you need to know before you go.

Happy Halloween!


Week in My Life – Friday

The road to…well, you know what we say about good intentions! Today was a very long day of theme park walking, hotel pool swimming and kid wrangling.  I am exhausted and all I have in me is a few pictures from today!

They can hardly contain their excitement!

Pure joy!

Giving boating school a whirl…

Trading a minifigure with one of the friendly employees!

I am not promising anything, but I will try harder to get more in a post tomorrow.  It is time for bed…we are exhausted!

Stop by Adventuroo to see other fun #weekinmylife posts!

Week in My Life – Thursday

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet because we spent much of it in the car driving from Pensacola to Orlando!  We had to leave Daddy J at home because he has to work so since I was the only driver I wasn’t able to snap many pictures! I dropped the kids off at school and raced home to get one last load of laundry finished.  I packed up my suitcase, loaded up the car, picked the kids up early, and we hit the road.

This is what much of our drive is from Pensacola to Lake City…boooooooooooring.

We only had to make one stop in between Pensacola and Lake City but from Gainesville to Orlando (all of 1.5 hours), we had to stop four times.  Ugh.  Four times.  For this.

Speaking of the bathroom, am I the only one who won’t let me 7 year old go into a strange bathroom by himself? He is allowed to go in a very select few bathrooms by himself.  He is probably getting to old to take in the bathroom with me but this semi-paranoid mama doesn’t care.

We snapped a few fun pictures in the rest area parking lot before we hit the road again.  I love this one! Originally I took one of just the kids but when I showed it to them, they wanted to know where I was.  They liked this one much better.

After about seven hours of driving, we finally made it.  Look at who is sharing our room.

We dropped off our luggage and raced down for a 20 minute dip in the pool.  When we were walking back to our hotel room, we found somebody’s chair!


Don’t forget to stop by Adventuroo to see what everyone else did this week!


Week in My Life – Wednesday

It was a good thing that Monday and Tuesday were quiet days because I made up for it today.  Today we went through the hectic packing rituals before a trip.  We are headed to the Grand Opening of LEGOLAND Florida and my children can hardly believe it!  Unfortunately, because my husband just got out of town he was unable to take any more time off of work so it will just be me and the kids.  We had some practice road tripping without daddy.  Awhile back, we took a quick trip to New Orleans where we were able to stay with Grandma and then I bravely drove 1000 miles from Florida to North Carolina to South Carolina and then back.

Even though my kids are only four and seven, they have been helping us pack their bags for quite some time.  I tell them what they need to get, the go get it from their rooms and make a pile.  It usually looks like this:

I do a quick check to make sure they grabbed appropriate clothing and then I pack it up in the suitcase.  They also pack their own backpacks (see pink backpack in above picture) with toys, books, and other things that they would like to bring with them.  I don’t really check these.  I have found that if they pack their own bags, they actually play with what they bring.  If I pack their bags, they are usually complaining an hour into the trip about how they have nothing to do.  Some trips, we end up with a backpack full of stuffed animals.  Other trips, nothing but Hot Wheels.

Our kitchen becomes a charging station as we get ready to travel!

I also pack up all of our food.  One of our favorite things about traveling is that we indulge in little snacks that we normally don’t eat at home.  We always buy the over priced tiny boxes of cereal for snack and some sort of chips that can be tossed in the backseat!

And the best part of the day?  Daddy is home so that means I am off of homework duty!

Quote of the day: “Your son totally ratted you out this morning when I took him to the bus stop. He told me you skipped dance, didn’t take him to soccer, and they had chicken nuggets and white noodles (fettuccine alfredo!) the whole time I was gone. Hahahahaha!” Daddy J

In my defense, I was sick when we skipped dance and I already told my husband.  Soccer was cancelled by the coach.  And we totally ate chicken nuggets and white noodles every night for dinner…unless we went out to eat!

Tomorrow, we will be on the road so I will be capturing pictures of our stops, our lunch and our arrival at our destination!

Don’t forget to stop by Adventuroo to see other Week in My Life posts!