Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Favorites-Baseball Edition

Hey, Friday, are we glad to see you.  ;)

Tab was out of town the first half of the week (skiing with Andrew) so it was the kind of week we ordered in, grabbed food to go, and even had one night of leftovers/scrambled eggs.  We're ready for some normalcy! 

Like every Friday, I'm teaming up with Narci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites.  We'd love for you to join us.  Grab the graphic, link back to one (or all) of us, and add your blog to the link-up. Super easy!

A little bit of everything today for you...

First up, this guy and I spent last Friday at the Dallas Zoo on a field trip.  Most schools in the Dallas area were off last week for Spring Break so there would kids EVERYWHERE and it happened to be St. Patrick's Day which meant EVERYONE was in green.  The good news is I chaperoned, we had a lot of fun, and I returned at the end of the day with all the kids in my group.  Win-win!


This guy finally got his turn on the ball field.

Check out his warm-up.  Ashby (beside him) would cheer for him every time it was his turn.  It was adorable!

 Big Brothers, Nixon and Smith, were dying to get to help.

You have to watch the progression of the sums up beginner tee-ball.  Bowen is on pitcher's mound fielding (with Andrew).  He looks baseball ready.  Right?

Here comes the ball!

And there it goes.  hahaha!

They had fun anyway.  #thatsallthatmatters

 So proud of #4!


Shay and I started a new three month series where we highlight our packing lists plus throw in a few tips and tricks.  This week I shared what to pack for a SKI VACATION.  You guys added to the list.  Thank you!!  And how did I forget sunscreen?!  And you also gave us some great recommendations on places to ski.  If you haven't read through all the comments, you might want to check it out.

Talking about travel is just what I did on Tuesday during Tuesday Talk.  I shared some places our family has vacationed over the last couple years.  My favorite thing about the post was then you guys shared some of your favorite places.  Again, you might want to check out the comments on that one as well.

And if you'd like some help planning a vacation like Disney World, a cruise to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, or Hawaii, or an all-inclusive type Mexico vacation, please e-mail us at  We love helping families plan magical vacations.


Nixon's team had a tournament this weekend.  They started off with a BANG!  First post-game speech this season.  So proud of those boys!

I'm a big fan of spring nights at the baseball fields.


I shared some book recommendations and reviews yesterday.  If you're needing a new read, head over there to get a little book inspiration.


That's if for today, friends.  We family in town visiting so I know we'll have a great weekend.  Hope you do too.  XO

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Entertainment with Erika-Lots of Books Edition

Happy Thursday!

This post is long overdue because I have a ton of books to share with you.  Apparently, when you stop binge watching Netflix you have way more time to read.  Who knew?

I get book recommendations many ways... mostly friends, blog posts, YOU, or the rabbit hole of Amazon's recommendations.  You know what I'm talking about with Amazon.  Right?  :)  Before I was an Amazon Prime member I'd ALWAYS buy enough books to get me to the $50 mark so I could get free shipping.  Amazon kept recommending and they all would sound so good.  I had a stack of books waiting to be read and when we moved (almost two years ago) I packed them up.  I just recently found where I put that assortment of books.  All that to say, some of these might have been newly released in 2015.

Take away Netflix and throw in a Spring Break and we've got ourselves a list of books.

This book (by a Christian author) opens up with the story of when her unmarried young son walked in the room to tell her his girlfriend was pregnant.  She had me hooked right then and there.  We're so quick to judge ourselves and others.  This book is all about how God meets us in each of those moments and forgives.  We're all sinners and we'll all have our messes, but we must "Move On".

Christian non-fiction books like this typically are not books I pick up and read cover to cover.  Usually I read a couple chapters and then need to put them down.  I think it's because they're usually more "lecture style" with not as many stories?  Tell me I'm not the only one!  Although it was a good book with lots of great information...I had to put it down.  

I found this book on some blog post about books similar to Girl On The Train.  I searched and searched to find you the exact post, but apparently there are a ton of blog posts out there about lists of books you should read similar to Girl On the Train-type books.  

This book is crazy suspenseful.  It's written in two parts.  Part One was a little slow but Part Two is full of action.  At the beginning of the book, five-year-old Jacob runs ahead of his mom into the street on a rainy evening and is killed by a hit-and-run.  The mother flees and we follow her to a remote coastal town all the while police investigators are searching for the driver.  

If you like any of those suspense-type books, then I definitely recommend this one.

We've talked about this one a little bit already, but I finally read Present over Perfect.  In this book, Shauna shares her personal struggles with balance (we talked about this on Monday).  Balancing the role of wife, mom, author, speaker, friend, and on and on.  This was not my favorite book because (to me) she kept repeating herself.  Saying the same thing but in a different way.  But Shauna has the gift of writing.  She's an amazing author.  Even in a book that I wasn't loving, she kept my interest the entire time.  (If you're wanting a Shauna Niequist book, I'd recommend Bread and Wine...later in the post.)

I need to start by saying this book is hands-down rated R.  Many of you enjoy deep, dark books like this and others not so much.  This book reminded me of Luckiest Girl Alive, but I thought it was much better.  Thirteen-year-old Julie gets kidnapped from her home.  Her younger sister sees it all go down while hiding in the closet.  Her parents spend years in agony all the while her sister is a bit of mess growing up knowing she witnessed it but didn't speak up.  One day Julie shows up on their doorstep...

Remember, I warned you-it's rated R.  :)

Do you guys remember The Kitchen House?  If you haven't read that one, then call in sick now and get to reading.  It was such a good book.  Glory Over Everything is the sequel.  I don't want to give too much away in case you haven't read either book...but in the sequel, *someone* is living life as a wealthy white (his mother was Africa-American) man when he discovers his mistress is pregnant with his child.  He has major ties with some slaves in the area and sets out in search of helping several of them escape all the while knowing if he's found he'll be killed.  I loved The Kitchen House and this sequel did not disappoint!

This one!  If you're looking for a Shauna Niequist book, let this one be the first you read.  Shauna has a way with words.  This book left me wanting to cook oysters for dinner (I don't even like oysters), take a vacation to a quaint lake in Michigan, and throw a dinner party.  The stories she tells are so good.  I highly recommend it!

PJ Wallis is a writer who's made it big writing novels about "Monica".  Everything PJ does, "Monica" tends to mirror.  She decided she wants to branch out in the writing world, but quickly realizes everyone only cares about "Monica".  Through a divorce, a fire, and many feuds she tries to find her way back to her own self.  This book was just -eh for me.  I'm usually a Bushnell fan, but this novel wasn't my favorite.

This story about the Avis family is simply inspirational.  The Avis' set out to start and family and never would have believed they'd find a family through adoption...three children two of which have Down syndrome.  However they followed God's call for their life and now consider themselves just some of the "lucky few".  Seriously, an inspirational read!  

I grabbed this book out of my book cabinet having no idea what it was about-other than the title.  Isn't it crazy how God knows just what we need at certain times?  I ordered this book back in 2014...THREE YEARS AGO.  God knew I needed to read it three years later.

Hands-down the best book I've read lately.  First of all, Carlos Whittaker is FUNNY!  He's a Christian musician, song writer, and author.  He had a YouTube video that went you remember three kids in the backseat of a car dancing to "All the Single Ladies"?  His two daughters are dancing and then he tells his son he's not a single lady.  His son, whose probably two-years-old at the time, bursts into tears.  And timeline-wise I think he wrote this book right after that.

In Moment Maker, Carlos reminds us we have choices to make every single day about life.  We can be seizing moments or we can be allowing them to slip right by.  He encourages us to make the most of every moment.  With everything going on in my world over the last month, I truly felt this was the book I needed to be reading.  I have no doubt Manda seized every moment she was given.  I want my friends and family to say the same thing about me.  GET THIS BOOK!  You'll be so glad you did.

Up Next...

This book is on my nightstand.  :)

And we need to discuss....
There aren't many family-friendly shows out there right now we can watch with our kids.  I thought my kiddos would enjoy watching Dancing With the Stars so I recorded it on Monday.  Ebby Lee has been taking dance the last several years so I knew she'd be into it.  The boys were kind of -eh about it.  

But I have a couple Mom thoughts...

*The Clothes-Aren't my favorite.

*Some of the dance moves.  I was at the park this week with some moms and one mom mentioned how it's okay to dance side-to-side all day long but there's no reason to be moving front to back.  YES!  Family-friendly, ABC?

*This probably drives me the most crazy.  Why during all the interview portions do the dancer and celebrity hang on each other?  They're either holding hands or they have their arms wrapped around each other?  Do you guys know what I'm talking about?  Why do they do that?  I get wanting to be united as a team, but they don't have to be hanging on each other like that to be a team.  

What are your thoughts about Dancing With the Stars?  Do you watch?

And if you have a book recommendation, please send it my way!  I love reading books you guys recommend.

Have a great day, girls!  XO

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vacations Unpacked-Ski

One of the questions we get asked about most over at Mix and Match Travel is, "What Should I Pack?".   Shay and I decided to do a little mini-series of posts where we highlight things to pack on different types of vacations.  Hopefully, it'll be beneficial to not only current clients but lots of you heading out on a little vacation of your own.


Let me tell you packing for one skier was pretty easy but remembering to bring every glove, base layer, and goggles for a family of five was a little more difficult.  I'm going to refer back to this blog post when I'm packing for our next ski adventure.

#1 Something Comfy for the Flight
First up, is something cute and comfy for the flight.  (Picture on left)-I bought this Barefood Dreams poncho last year before we went to Deer Valley.  It was perfect.  The entire flight I felt like I was wrapped up in a comfy blanket.  (Picture on right)-I've shared before about my love for these Spanx leggings.  They're faux leather so they look cute and can be dressed up or down.  No need to change the second we arrive...I'm set for the day.

#2 Base Layers
I can't believe I don't have a picture of Bowen in his base layer clothes.  He was so cute in his little leggings.  Anyway, make sure you pack a base layer for everyone.  I went to Under Armour and grabbed this, this, and this for the boys.  I got Bowen the 3/4 pair of pants in an XS.  They were a little short, but with his tall socks it worked out just fine.  I got this and this for Ebby Lee.  I took these leggings that I bought last year and then I also took a pair of my Zella leggings.  I paired them both with a top of some kind-in the picture above I'm wearing this long sleeve top.  If it's going to be crazy cold, then I'd double up on base layers. 

#3 Ski Clothes
I bought my pants and jacket last year from Under Armour.  They have quality items and are super affordable.  Tab's been skiing many more times so he's picked up items here and there.  When I washed all our gear from this trip, I had something red in the pockets of my ski jacket so it turned my jacket a weird pink.  I'll be in search of some new gear the next time we go.  I'm pretty sure Tab thinks I did that on purpose.  haha!  #ipromiseididnt

#4 Swimsuits
As crazy as it sounds...don't forget your swimsuit when you're heading to the mountains.  I am not a fan of an indoor pool or hot tub.  The overwhelming scent of chlorine and the humidity in the just isn't my favorite thing.  I didn't grab my suit because I knew I wouldn't want to swim indoors.  Well, I totally could have hung out in the outdoor hot tub.  And after a day full of skiing it would have felt nice!

#5 Cold Weather Accessories
I'm talking gloves, scarves, beanies, buffs, and anything else keeping your body warm.  Nixon is not a fan of a beanie so you'll notice he's never wearing one in any of the pictures.   The first thing on my body that gets cold is my hands so gloves are a must.  

Notice those buffs over their mouths...if the weather is cold where you're skiing, pack one of these!  You'll be so glad you did.

#6 Items for Around Town
Make sure you remember to pack some cute things to wear to dinner.  And a fur vest is always recommended.  ;)  (Can you see mine peeking out from under my coat?)

Outfit in the middle is a dinner outfit, but the left photo and right photo are "spaaing" outfits.  If you plan on hitting up the spa, make sure to pack something comfy to wear to and from.

#7 Ski Gear
We always rent ski, skis, poles, and helmets, so we don't have to worry about packing all of that.  But if you have it, make sure you pack it.

#8 Goggles/Ski Socks
Don't forget your goggles and warm ski socks.  :)

I'm not a professional skier by any means.  You guys have seen my videos.  haha!  So I don't have many tips and tricks but I'd definitely recommend ski school for both newbie adult skiers and kids.  I've shared my thoughts about this already but we decided to take the private instructor route in can have up to six people in one class so the kiddos and I could do it together, I was a little worried they would be upset about going to ski school, and the private instructor was the more economical route.  But six people with a variety of different personalities and abilities was just too much.  Our ski instructor was trying to help me, Bowen, Nixon, Ebby Lee, and my father-in-law.  It would have been better to split up the instructor's day and give us each one to two full hours of his undivided attention.  Or...just put us all in ski school.  :)

Right now we aren't offering ski vacations, but if you're interested in a vacation to Walt Disney World, Mexican all-inclusives, and cruises sailing to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean e-mail us at  We'd love to help you with your next vacation.

Skiing Friends...please share what you pack on a ski vacation?  Where's your favorite place to ski?  And...what's your favorite mountain with lots of green runs (this one is all for me)?

Make sure to hop over to Shay's blog where she's sharing what to pack on a CITY vacation.  Have a great day!  XO

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Talk-Vacations

Hey!  Hey!  It's time for another Tuesday Talk.  Once a month, Fancy Ashley and I host a link-up where we invite you to join us by sharing pretty much anything you want to chat about.  We hope you'll join us!

My crew and I are in McKinney, Texas, a suburb just north of Dallas and I'm not sure where you are or what your weather situation is like but Texas is CONFUSED!  We're having summer-like temperatures in MARCH!  The kiddos and I walked to the park on Sunday and I got a SUN BURN!  In March! All that to say, this warm weather has me daydreaming about vacations and days spent by the pool.

Yes, please.  :)

Mamas with littles...I remember the days.

I wanna chat (and I'd LOVE for you to comment with yours) VACATIONS...where you've been, favorite vacations, where you're planning on going next.  Hopefully, it'll give some last minute planners an idea for the summer and it'll help the rest of us add some destinations to our MUST- VISIT list.

Over Spring Break this year, we hit up Vail, Colorado, for a few days of skiing.  Our kiddos had never been.  We had no clue what to expect-my mom anxiety was expecting them to all ski off the mountain accidentally.  #iwassonervous  But it was a blast!  We left the mountains with nothing but smiles, they loved it, and we can't wait to make another trip.  I was told over and over again how amazing Vail is in the summer so don't count it out for a summer vacation.

We spent the first three days of Spring Break in a fancy hotel suite (courtesy of a fellow employee/friend) seeing the sights and sounds of Denver, Colorado.  There was lots to see and do.  You could always couple this with a trip to the mountains (like we did) to do a little city sightseeing as well.

Earlier this year, we traveled to Park City, Utah, with the Shulls for an adults-only getaway.  The guys hit the slopes while the girls "spaa-ed" and we never had to leave dinner to take someone else to the restroom.  WAHOO!  Our kids would have loved this town as well.  I'm not sure who wouldn't love Park City?!

Tab and I headed to Jacksonville, Florida, for the Tax Slayer Bowl on New Year's Eve.  Since Jacksonville is right on the water, I wish we would have had some warmer weather so we could have taken in the beach during our visit.

In the fall, the whole family packed up and made the trip to New York City.  We toured the city, hit up an Army/Air Force football game, and loved every minute of it.

Last summer right before school started we made a little road trip to San Antonio.  The pictures says "San Antonio", but it should say, "J W Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort".  We checked in to that resort and didn't leave until it was time to come home.  #notevenonce

Our summer vacation last year was to the gorgeous beaches of MEXICO.  The crew and I headed south for a week of fun in the sun-resort style.  Definitely recommend this for a family vacation.

Last year I also took my maiden trip to New York City.  Shay had a little appointment one morning-(totally being sarcastic)-the TODAY show!  We toured our way through the city, enjoyed countless meals, and saw some amazing shows.

Tab and I got to head to Deer Valley, Utah, for an amazing little getaway.  I had all kinds of first time skier thoughts I shared.  This area is gorgeous!

Last Spring Beak, we had a magical adventure on a Disney cruise.  This vacation was so much fun...amazing food, great entertainment, awesome day time activities, and everything was family friendly.  I shared it all here...

We traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, right after Christmas in 2015.  We took a bus tour of celebrity homes, hit up Broadway, and watched the Music City Bowl in freezing temperatures.  We loved Nashville!

One of our favorite places is the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We've spent many summer vacations enjoying all those beach towns have to offer.  Our last Destin, Florida, trip was in 2015.  I have no doubt we'll plan another Florida vacation trip sometime in the future.

This was just a little look over the last couple years.  When Bowen turned three and we weren't packing ALL THE BABY THINGS every time we left our house traveling with our kiddos got so much easier.  I remember packing a HIGH CHAIR for our beach vacation one year.  A HIGH CHAIR!  Now as long as they have an I-Pad for their flight...they are good.

A Few Reveiws...

Best Family Vacation-
Disney Cruise-There's so much to see and do!  Disney does an amazing job of packing a relaxing beach vacation into the magic of Disney with a Disney cruise.  I highly recommend this if you haven't gone yet.

 Disney World-There's nothing like the magic you experience at Disney World.  Right?  Especially through your kiddos' eyes.  We went when Bowen was little so our plan is to go back soon.

Mexico-I love a beach vacation.  Well, let me say I love a beach vacation with an amazing pool and comfy chairs. :) Mexico delivered in this department.  There was lots to do every day at the resort.  We left one day to hit up the water park (AMAZING). Highly recommend this if you've done Disney and are looking for something a little different.

*I wanted to say skiing here too, but then I realized I would have been listing EVERYTHING in the BEST category. :)

Best Road Trip-{Depends on where you live}
Colorado-We flew because we had limited days due to Spring Break but there are so many cute mountain towns in Colorado, which is a great road trippin' distance away from Texas.  I've heard these towns offer GREAT things in the summer as well.

San Antonio-We NEVER left the resort.  Did you hear that?  haha!  If you're taking a trip to San Antonio, I highly recommend the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort.  Water slides, lazy rivers, pools, and'll never want to leave.

Nashville-was one of our favorites.  We loved this city.  There was so much to do!  We could have used a couple more days.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm a travel agent over at Mix and Match Travel.  Right now we're busy sending families on Disney cruises, to Disney World, Caribbean cruises, Alaskan cruises, and Hawaiian cruises.  If you're hoping to take one of those trips soon and would love some help, please reach out to us at  We love sending families on amazing vacations.  And we have a few new things we're hoping to roll out in the next couple months so stay tuned!

Now it's your turn...PLEASE SHARE your favorite place or places to vacation!  What's on your MUST-VISIT list?  I can't wait to read through and get some ideas.  Happy Tuesday, Guys!  XO