Category: travel

Family Travel: Visiting Dollywood in Tennessee with Kids

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As a fan of theme parks, roller coasters, and Dolly Parton, loving Dollywood comes naturally for me. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take my family to the park on our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains. I received free tickets to the park to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own. I love Dollywood because it is family friendly, family focused, and has a little something for everyone. Read on to find out how our trip went with two toddlers and how to enter to win a trip to Dollywood for your family.

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Family Travel: Our Smoky Mountain Family Vacation at Hidden Mountain Resort

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Our family loves to spend the summer traveling, and this year we were blessed to spend a few days of our family vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee at Hidden Mountain Resort. The family owned resort features luxury cabin rentals and villas, as well as a motor coach resort. Located in Sevierville, Tennessee, Hidden Mountain is close to all of the action in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, but feels tucked away and secluded. We stayed at Hidden Mountain at no cost in exchange for this review, but all opinions are strictly my own. Read on to find out why we love cabin rentals for frugal family vacations, what we thought about Hidden Mountain Resort, and how you can win a trip of your own to the Smoky Mountains.

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Family Travel: Our Best Beach Tips + 15 Great Resources for Family Beach Vacation Planning #BareFeetontheBeach

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Welcome to #BareFeetontheBeach week here at Bare Feet on the Dashboard. Our family has traveled to the Florida panhandle for a family beach vacation almost every year since I was a toddler. After more than three decades of beaching it, we have it down to a science. Today I’m sharing our best beach tips for your family beach vacation. A family beach vacation can be pure magic if you take the time to plan ahead and be prepared. Read on to find out how we do it and get ready for a great beach trip.

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Family Travel: Visiting Vail in the Summer with Kids #Colorado

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Colorado in the summer is perfection. Crisp, cool air, mountain vistas, playing outside without sweating… what’s not to love? We visited Vail, Colorado, with our family when the Bear was just a toddler and today I’m sharing our favorite things to do in the area with kids. Vail is famous for winter ski slopes and luxury vacations. We managed to have a frugal vacation in the area during the summer and it was awesome. Here are our favorite things about visiting Vail in the summer with kids.

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Family Travel: 20 Fun Ways to Entertain Preschool Kids while Traveling

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Every time we tell friends about our family travel plans with two kids under three, they look at us like we are crazy. We may very well be, but we love to travel and are almost done with our first adventure of the summer and preparing for our next one. Today I’m sharing 20 tips for entertaining preschool kids while traveling, and I hope they will be as useful to you as they have been to us. We love to travel and to take our kids along, so keeping them entertained is a must for our sanity.

We’ve been living and working at Camp Buckner, a beautiful camp in the Texas Hill Country for the last 2 1/2 weeks serving with Young Life. Traveling to and living at camp is challenging, but we are using it as a test run for our big 4 week road trip coming up later this summer. In July we will head out to Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook so you don’t miss our adventures.

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Frugal Family Fun in DFW: Visiting the Dallas Zoo in the Winter {$5 Admission}

We love the Dallas Zoo all year round, but my favorite time to visit is during Penguin Days in January and February.  We are blessed with some gorgeous sunny days during the winter months here in DFW, and our family loves to be outside.  The Dallas Zoo offers discounted $5 admission during January and February, and kids 2 and under are always free.  The Zoo is open from 9-4 daily except on Christmas Day.  Parking is $8 per car, or you can ride the DART Red Line train to the Zoo stop.
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Our Texas Ranchsgiving & My 2013 Thankful List

We spent Thanksgiving at our sister-in-law’s family’s ranch near Huntsville, Texas.  It was cold but sunny and we had a great time.  The MJD Ranch and the Goertz family is always so welcoming to us and we love being there and with them.  Most of Jed’s family joined us there and we had a huge dinner complete with lots of football watching and outdoor playing.  The Bear had the time of his life.  Barns, cows, horses, and tractors are his favorites.  The Pearl girl decided she did not approve of pack-n-play sleeping and let everyone know it throughout the night.  This left us a little sleep deprived, but we still had fun.  Sweet Bear slept through the uproar, but I when I asked if he’d heard her the next day he said, “Baby Ellie was crying all night.”  Sorry buddy.  It was bizarre, because she was waking up so angry and nothing appeased her.  I tried every trick in the mama book.  It stopped as soon as we got home. Babies be crazy. 

Oh hay little Bear.  
This precious boy is definitely on my Thankful list for 2013.
Here’s the rest.  I’m 34, so I listed 34 things. There are many more, but I like the tradition of doing one for every year of life, taught to me by my sweet friend Betsy.  I had all my YoungLives girls start this tradition at campaigners, and it was amazing to hear their lists.  What are you thankful for this year?
1. Jed 2. Fisher 3. Eleanor 4. My parents 5. my siblings 6. YoungLives 7. being debt free 8. our house 9. staying home with my kids 10. this blog & the opportunities it provides 11. Grace 12. fall leaves 13. My grandmother moving to Dallas 14. blue mason jars 15. cupcakes 16. our new church 17. my salvation 18. Being a team with my husband 19. beach vacation 20. Jackson, my wonder wiener dog 21. fresh gulf shrimp 22. 3 playgrounds near our house 23. our neighborhood pools 24. MOPS 25. BSF 26. my new part time job with YoungLives Camp starting in January  27. new tires on our cars 28. a successful VBAC 29. the health of our family 30. the ability to breastfeed Ellie 31. cloth diapers 32. our budget 33. our emergency fund 34. God’s provision for our family.  

Christmas card pic, obviously.
What’s weird about all the attempts at Christmas card pics is that the Pearl girl looks super mad.  She is the happiest baby in the world 99% of the time.  That 1% was during the night of our Thanksgiving trip and any family photo shoots.  Ergh…

I’ve come to love a Texas sunset.

We tried to get a photo with all of the Eby cousins and their Paw Paw, but made the mistake of facing the sun.  The sun is like kryptonite for my blue eyed people.  This is the only one with most of the eyes open.  The Bear loves his big cousins.  We are so thankful for our family.

Tips for Taking a Baby to Disney World

 I love Disney and was blessed to go three times through my former job with Young Life.  Jed asked me to marry him in front of Cinderella’s Castle in 2008 and we were able to take the Bear with us on our last trip.  We are big fans.  I’m hoping and planning to go back when the kids are little bigger, but I want you to know it is possible to take a baby and enjoy it.  The Bear was 8 months old on our last trip, and still nursing.  We did some things right, learned from our mistakes, and had a fabulous time.
Five Tips for Taking  Baby to Disney World
1) Don’t try to do too much.
This was our biggest mistake.  We had a park hopper pass and tried to do 2 parks in one day.  It caused unnecessary stress and it would have been much better to spread the parks out.  Take time to relax and don’t skip out on nap and rest time for your little one.
2) Take your baby on some rides and ride swap on others.
It might sound crazy, but we took the Bear on some rides.  He LOVED It’s a Small World and the Haunted Mansion.  He had no idea the mansion was supposed to be scary and loved all the lights and the gently turning ride.  For more intense rides, ride swap is available.  One parent rides while the other waits with a cast member and the baby, then the parents switch out.
3) Plan ahead for meals. (for everyone)
This was our other big mistake.  We didn’t realize reservations were required months in advance and were laughed at by a haughty hostess at Epcot.  The walk up places are still fine, but we will get reservations next time.  We did bring baby food with us and planned our routes around when Bear would need to nurse.  There are baby care centers at all the parks and they are lovely.  I nursed Bear throughout the day in the baby centers and it was such a nice, quiet break for both of us.  They have everything you need there and the staff are amazing.  One of my favorite things about Disney Parks is how much each cast member seems to love their job.  These ladies were no exception.
4) Pack that stroller like you mean it.
Think through everything your baby might need and then double it.  Extra clothes all around, extra diapers, a blanket, a rain jacket for everyone, everything you might need.  The two best things we brought were a dark rain jacket to cover the stroller for naps and our iPhone with a sound machine app on it.  We turned on the white noise, covered the stroller, and the Bear napped three times and nearly slept through the fireworks.  I highly recommend bringing a sling or Ergo to carry your babe around in so they can have a change of scenery and get out of the stroller.
5) Know when to fold ’em.
You may have to go back to your resort in the middle of the day for a nap.  It is okay.  You may not get to see the fireworks every night of your trip.  Still okay.  Sometimes your baby can be pushed to stay up, nap in the stroller or in the carrier, and go with the flow.  Other times they will bend you to their will like a tiny tyrant.  Flexibility is the name of the game.  Relax and enjoy, but don’t stress out about missing out on the Dumbo ride because your sweet babe was done for the day.

Have you been to Disney World? What would your dream Disney vacation include?
Follow Becca’s board Family Travel on Pinterest.

Family Fun in DFW: Visiting the Owens Big Orange Pumpkin Farm


Fall is my favorite. It might be 90 degrees outside in Texas, but we will set our babies in pumpkin patches and drink pumpkin drinks and eat pumpkin treats anyway, dang it.  One of the fabulous things about DFW is that even though we live in a giant metroplex, there are a ton of rural areas close by.  The Owens Farm is actually smack in the middle of Richardson, and is the original farm started by the Owens family of tasty sausage fame.  Sadly, the Bob Evans company that now owns the farm is closing it in November.  This was our last shot to visit the farm we drive past nearly every day.



The Bear was in farm heaven.  He loved it all.  The horses, goats, mini horses and donkeys, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and plethora of pumpkins all captured his imagination and he ran around with wild abandon.

We all loved the hayride.  
Bear talked about riding on the tractor for days after.
Apparently I dressed Ellie like a boy because folks kept asking, “How old is he?”, which reinforced my theory that I have a looser definition of gender neutral than most people.  I think she looks adorable in her cowgirl boot socks, pumpkin hat, and striped overalls.  

The Owens Big Orange Pumpkin Farm runs through the end of October and costs $7 on weekends and $6 on week days per person.  On week days you may run in to field trips, but you get a pumpkin with your admission price. On the weekends you get a hot dog instead of a pumpkin. I tried to negotiate for a pumpkin instead, but they said no. It is a fun day out, but not exactly frugal.  We thought Bear would get in for free because he is 2, but found out at the gate they charge for 2 and up.  We still had a blast, even though Jed and I were a little frustrated about the unexpected cost.

Do you like to visit a pumpkin patch with your family? Where is your favorite one located?
Don’t forget I have a great list of  fall festival corn maze and pumpkin patch discounts posted here.

Life to the Full: Joy and Discovery

This sweet boy is at such a fun, wild, crazy, stage of exploring his world and learning through discovery every day.  I love being there for every minute of it, even though I sometimes just need a minute where someone isn’t asking me a question.  His speech has really taken off and he is asking new questions nonstop.  He found the shell above and decided it had tiger stripes like the tiger he saw at the Dallas Zoo.  I’m completely biased, but I’m pretty sure he is a baby genius (just like every mother in history).  I long to be the mama who is all in with my kids, loving them fully with the love of Jesus and guiding them through these childhood years.  

Daily I marvel at his inquisitive nature and the pure joy he finds when he learns something new.  He inspires me to look at the world around me with fresh eyes.  He laughs with wild abandon and is so free.  Do you laugh like that?  I hope I do.  In the midst of this depression battle, moments of pure joy and freedom are illusive.  I’m soaking them up and trying my best to be in the moment, on the floor, playing, laughing, teaching, and fighting for freedom from this struggle.    

I hope to laugh like this every day of my life.
What brought you joy today?
You can find more from my Life to the Full series here.