Posts tagged vacation
Shell Memories: Endless Summer Projects

This post is sponsored by Bing.

Endless Summer Projects returns this week with the perfect way to combine travel and nature. Ali has crafted these adorable shells that capture their summer adventures. They are a sweet way to relive a wonderful experience, and I think they'd make a great conversation starter when put out during dinner parties, too.

We took the family to the ocean for the first time this summer, and the experience of the ocean's tide was a beautiful discovery for my children. Seeing the constant movement and listening to the well as experiencing all the fresh leftovers the waves reveal...shiny bits of shells, running crabs, bubbles upon bubbles.


Now we have a new way to savor the memories within our shells!

Don't forget to catch up on all of the Endless Summer Project posts:

Vacation Mobile: Endless Summer Projects
This post is sponsored by Bing.

I stink at scrapbooks and photo albums, but a vacation mobile? I can get behind that. Today's Endless Summer Project is a sweet one from Jen over at Classic Play. It's a three-dimensional way for your kids to put together the images, words, and memories of their special trip, and I know my kids are excited to give this one a try.

We had our first visit to the ocean this summer. Living in landlocked Indiana, we rejoice at sport lakes and adore Lake Michigan, but wide-open, amazing ocean space is a whole different story. They were clearly blown away in the most positivie ways. During our long drive and leisurely dinners, we wrote down and sketched our memories so that they would always remain fresh in the pages of our journal. I'd love to see how they'd turn these doodles and writings into a creative mobile like this.

There's still plenty of time to soak up all of the Endless Summer Projects:

Next week we'll be hosting Endless Summer Projects with an outdoor project that you can enjoy well into the fall!

And thank you for your patience with my two posts-a-week schedule lately. Summer is so full, and it's been a wonderful one, but I almost miss investing time here. But that, too, will soon change! Lots of great ideas coming your way in August.

xoxo, MJ

4 must-try ways to enjoy art museums with kids

What are you planning to do this summer with the kids? Water parks or amusement parks? Day trips to historic monuments? Camping? How about hitting the local art museums!! They can be a whole lot of fun, too. Kids and art are a fabulous pair.

And art transforms us, while helping us remember who we are. It defines us as human beings and sometimes even elevates our handiwork to show a sliver of heaven and Divine creation.

But even with all that beauty and awesomeness in an art museum space, a family excursion to a quiet, clean, monitored space can sometimes be a total disaster or at best a giant headache. Today I'm sharing our ideas on how to make these journeys peaceful, enjoyable, and can I even throw in... inspirational? Well, let's start at peaceful.


I know it's an obvious, but it deserves its very own point. Do not take children to a museum and expect them to have energy to walk and interest to look unless they are hydrated, fed, and relatively rested (that goes for the adults, too). Hitting the sculpture garden with a cranky, crying, tired child will leave you beating your head against the wall.

Enter the excursion with a sense of energy and enthusiasm and time it well. Early morning and mid afternoon can be a wonderful time to explore art. Side note: make sure you hit the restrooms before hiking up the stairs to the Renaissance wing.


If you're going to a museum you've never been, take the time to learn the highlights and find your own must-sees. Your children will feel your enthusiasm and want to discover right along with you if you set the tone in the right way. It will also encourage your children to find their own favorites and show them off to you! Let them know you're interested in the art they love.


Never would I have thought this was a good idea until I read this post from Gabrielle. So, we tried it. We went right in to the store (much to my children's delight), and it was a great way to see quickly the most

famous works in the museum. We had each child pick postcards of their two favorite pieces. With art museum map in hand, we made our way around to each of their picks and enjoyed what we saw along the way to these galleries. We then took each child's picture with their favorites, and these works became something personal and a special memory from the visit.


Many of the larger art museums ask that you check your bags. Smaller art museums are more flexible. When we can, we have the kids bring along their sketchbooks and colored pencils (easy to transport, harder to do damage). Whether it's on a bench or right on the floor, sitting and sketching can take the experience to another level for kids. Let them decide the art work that they want to draw and give them as much time as you're able to complete their finished piece.

Do you have any great ways to enjoy art museums with children to add to the list?

Let's get out there and explore these beatiful places... and bring our kids, too!

xoxo, MJ


Taking it

Hi friends!! How are you? Welcome to Monday. We were busy, busy, busy having the time of our lives in Disney World last week, and, well, we made some priceless memories. Thanks to all who followed along via Instagram. :)

This is a week for gratitude, and I'm so thankful to all of you beautiful people. In the last seven months, you've brought me inspiration, support, enthusiasm, comfort, and sheer joy. This blogging thing has been a ton of work and has stretched me in great, new ways.

I'll be popping in and out this week as we recover from vacation (we all need that!), prepare for our holiday, and celebrate my eldest's Nutcracker performance this weekend.

Wishing each of you a fabulous Thanksgiving (and a special shout out to my Canadian and Irish pals on Thursday, too).


Make It Monday: Enjoy it


Happy Monday, friends!! Those of us in the Pars Caeli family are off on an adventure.

Guess what we're making today? Happy memories. We're treasuring the time we've been given and the joys of life. Sometimes these two things are not so easy to do amidst the busyness and stresses of life. And for some of us Mondays can be the hardest day of the week to have a lens of gratitude.

We'll be focusing on Thanksgiving with a big and small T this week with a few guests stopping over to make your day. Hope you'll stop back over!!

Until then, I'm wishing you moments of treasured joys.


Happy Kiddos: What do you take?

As noted in my Simple Tuesday post yesterday (and also noted, I love donuts), the Pars Caeli fam is taking a little break. Ahhhh. I won't claim that we have great need in a world of Hurricane victims and other such devastation. But, I will say that this five-some, well, we could use a time away, a bit of time at play.

We're headed off to a land of imagination, to spend some time with mice and princesses, and mostly just spend a lot of time focusing on laughing, wondering, and memorizing each other's faces (those little expressions change so quickly, I have to study every wrinkle).

There is something so magical about time separate from the ordinary of life, particularly something about time spent on vacation, that gives me the crystal clear focus that I long for on so many fuzzy, hurried days in the routine.

This is a return trip for us, almost two years ago to the week, and I'm excited to see how my kiddos will take in sites old and new, and how they'll share the experience with each other. I found our packing list from our last visit. It's a long document filled with reminders to pack diapers, wipes, baby food, and diaper cream. Oh, the overflowing stuff of babies!!

I'm headed on a flight with three little adventurers who will be pulling their own rolly suitcases, filled only at half capacity as they each plan ahead for the souvenirs that await the homeward journey with them. They are such wondrous companions.

I look forward to restful, complete nights of sleep (knock on wood), and hilarious hash and rehash moments with my hubby.

The chubby fingers and exhausted naps in the stroller will be missed, but they've paved the way for excited hand-holding skips to the front of the parade and quiet parent moments watching from benches.

Bring on the celebrations of all that is and is to come!


PS. Please pass along your recs if you have any must-see, must-dos!




Chicago. Favorite moments

Hi friends, I promise that I'll be back next week with a great two chapters from The Happiness Project. I'm still playing catch-up professionally and domestically, and I totally played blog hookie last night and hung out with my bookclub ladies (and an amazing flourless chocolate cake).

Can I share with you some wonderful moments that can only be found in Chicago? If you're near the city, take advantage. This will not be my-vacation-photos-post, mostly. :)

1. THE ART INSTITUTE - Please promise me you'll take just an hour (or much, much more) and see the amazing array that's available. Here are my top 3 favorites from this trip.

2. A BOAT TOUR- Yes, it is so tourist. I've been to Chicago dozens and dozens of times, and this was our first time on a water tour. I learned a ton about the architecture, and the kiddos got to take a break from all the walking. A lovely way to spend 90 minutes.


3. MILENNIUM PARK - We visited during the rain and in the sunshine. Both times we found new treasures to enjoy. Spend 5 minutes or 5 hours people watching and listening to the symphony.


I've been up in the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the John Hancock building and enjoyed both views. I'm not picky, and again, this is tourist, but on a clear day, the views from up high are so wonderful. Take an opportunity to see it all from a bird's eye perspective. My kiddos loved/were-totally-frightened-of the glass floor possibilities!


These can happen anywhere, and don't need to be in Chicago, or even on vacation for that matter. But, when I think back to what I loved most about our time is the simple stuff like the funny faces we made at each other in the elevator mirrors or bouncing on the beds or splashing in the puddles.

Vacations allow me to really look at my husband and my children and see the incredible blessings they are (all the time), and I'm so thankful for our latest adventure.

How about you, friends? Have you visited Chicago lately and have some great recommendations?



The August Break

Hi friends!

We are just back from a lovely family excursion to Chicago. Trains, subways, boats, cars, and a whole lot of walking have brought us back home. I am pooped from an exciting three days. I was so proud of myself for having Monday and Tuesday posts ready to go while I was away, and now I return home to a whole lot of laundry and dishes so I'm going to do something I rarely do.

Give myself a break.

The August Break.

Have you heard about this one? I heard about it from Melanie, and then I followed over to Susannah Conway's blog. Feel welcome to check and see what it's all about and copy yourself a badge because Katrina made some nice options!

                                                           August Break 2012


We spent 3 hours (without drinks or snacks) soaking up the entire Art Institute of Chicago. This is one of my favorite photos. That's a smile you see appearing on the right cheek of my daughter, C. The kiddos loved experiencing the size and detail of the artwork.

My heart smiles so big from getting to be their Momma for this one. More of Mommy and Daddy School coming soon...for now...full hearts. XOXO, MJ